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Nuclear power holds back action on climate change – new study shows

New Study Shows How Clinging to Nuclear Power Means Climate Failure http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/08/22/new-study-shows-how-clinging-nuclear-power-means-climate-failure “By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive” by Andrea Germanos, staff writer  23 Aug 16 

While it’s been touted by some energy experts as a so-called “bridge” to help slash carbon emissions, a new study suggests that a commitment to nuclear power may in fact be a path towards climate failure.

climate-change-time

For their study, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies grouped European countries by levels of nuclear energy usage and plans, and compared their progress with part of the European Union’s 2020 Strategy.

That 10-year strategy, proposed in 2010, calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by least 20 percent compared to 1990 levels and increasing the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption to 20 percent.

The researchers found that “progress in both carbon emissions reduction and in adoption of renewables appears to be inversely related to the strength of continuing nuclear commitments.”

For the study, the authors looked at three groupings. First is those with no nuclear energy. Group 1 includes Denmark, Ireland and Portugal. Group 2, which counts Germany and Sweden among its members, includes those with some continuing nuclear commitments, but also with plans to decommission existing nuclear plants. The third group, meanwhile, includes countries like Hungary and the UK which have plans to maintain current nuclear units or even expand nuclear capacity.

“With reference to reductions in carbon emissions and adoption of renewables, clear relationships emerge between patterns of achievement in these 2020 Strategy goals and the different groupings of nuclear use,” they wrote.

For non-nuclear Group 1 countries, the average percentage of reduced emissions was 6 percent and they had an average of a 26 percent increase in renewable energy consumption.

Group 2 had the highest average percentage of reduced emissions at 11 percent and they also boosted renewable energy to 19 percent.

Pro-nuclear Group 3, meanwhile, had their emissions on average go up 3 percent and they had the smallest increase in renewable shares—16 percent.

“Looked at on its own, nuclear power is sometimes noisily propounded as an attractive response to climate change,” said Andy Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at the University of Sussex, in a media statement. “Yet if alternative options are rigorously compared, questions are raised about cost-effectiveness, timeliness, safety and security.”

“Looking in detail at historic trends and current patterns in Europe, this paper substantiates further doubts,” he continued. “By suppressing better ways to meet climate goals, evidence suggests entrenched commitments to nuclear power may actually be counterproductive.”

The new study focused on Europe and Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy and director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, stated, “If nothing else, our paper casts doubt on the likelihood of a nuclear renaissance in the near-term, at least in Europe.”

Advocates of clean energy over on the other side of the Atlantic said the recent plan to close the last remaining nuclear power plant in California and replace it with renewable energy marked the “end of an atomic era” and said it could serve as “a clear blueprint for fighting climate change.”

Natural Resources Defense Council President Rhea Suh wrote of the proposal: “It proves we can cut our carbon footprint with energy efficiency and renewable power, even as our aging nuclear fleet nears retirement. And it strikes a blow against the central environmental challenge of our time, the climate change that threatens our very future.”

August 24, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Barack Obama’s climate change achievements

Obama solarObama’s science legacy: climate (policy) hots up President sidesteps Congress to curb US greenhouse-gas emissions. http://www.nature.com/news/obama-s-science-legacy-climate-policy-hots-up-1.20468 Jeff Tollefson 23 August 2016 Global warming was one of Barack Obama’s top priorities — and one of the most difficult to address, given strong opposition from Republicans in Congress. Yet he managed to help broker a global climate accord and push through regulations to curb greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, trucks and power plants.

“Obama has established a terrific climate legacy,” says David Doniger, who directs the climate and clean-air programme at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group in New York.

The president’s earliest actions capitalized on the global financial crisis. In February 2009, Obama signed economic-stimulus legislation that included nearly $37 billion for clean-energy research and development (R&D) at the Department of Energy. Four months later, with failing car companies seeking a federal bailout, the Obama administration proposed higher fuel-efficiency requirements and the first greenhouse-gas standards for passenger vehicles. Theregulations, which took effect in 2012, will nearly double the average fuel efficiency of vehicles by 2025, to around 23 kilometres per litre.

And after his campaign for a comprehensive climate bill failed in 2010, an emboldened Obamaused existing laws to issue regulations that curbed greenhouse-gas emissions, bolstered energy-efficiency standards and expanded energy R&D programmes.

But the president’s big push on climate came in advance of the United Nations climate summit in Paris in 2015. He committed the United States to reduce emissions by at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025, and negotiated directly with countries such as China to build support for a global climate agreement. The final version, adopted on 12 December, aims to hold average global temperatures to 1.5–2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

“Paris is a major achievement for the world,” says Robert Socolow, a climate scientist at Princeton University in New Jersey. “I don’t think it would have happened without Obama.”

Yet Obama’s domestic achievements could be undone by legal challenges. In February, the US Supreme Court temporarily blocked a federal regulation to reduce emissions from existing power plants. The fate of that rule— the cornerstone of Obama’s plan to reduce emissions — could depend on the election in November. The Supreme Court is down one member and the next president will choose a replacement, who could decide whether the climate rule stands.

Some environmental experts say that Obama should have pushed harder for a comprehensive climate bill, rather than settling for piecemeal regulations. “All of these things are actually small bites at the apple that won’t achieve meaningful emissions reductions over time,” says Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy at the R Street Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington DC.

Others criticize Obama for encouraging a vast expansion of domestic oil and gas development, even as he sought to wean the country off coal and curb its greenhouse-gas emissions. “The administration is still trying to have it both ways,” says Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, an advocacy group in Washington DC.

Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried oil from the Canadian tar sands to US refineries, and has said that some fossil fuels should be kept “in the ground”. But his administration continues to push an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that leads to higher production of domestic fossil fuels, Kretzmann says.

Nonetheless, Obama has helped to change the conversation about global warming at home and abroad, says Doniger. “The next president needs to do more,” he says, “but did the Obama administration move the ball forward? They sure did.”

August 24, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Climate Change Gravest Health Threat of 21st Century

flag-canadaLeading Doctor Calls Climate Change Gravest Health Threat of 21st Century http://commondreams.org/news/2016/08/23/leading-doctor-calls-climate-change-gravest-health-threat-21st-century?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=socialnetwork

‘When you cannot feed your children, you will do anything, even if it means going to war. This is the reality of climate change’

Climate change is the greatest threat to public health worldwide and doctors must step up to help mitigate it, according to a leading advocate speaking at the annual Canadian Medical Association (CMA) meeting in Vancouver on Monday.

Dr. James Orbinski, a former top official with the medical charity Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who is now an an associate professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, urged physicians to “step up and step out” in the fight against climate change as part of their duties to create “health-in-all” policies.

“We’re not separate from our biosphere, or our planet,” Orbinski told the audience of 600. “We can’t possibly live, survive, and thrive without our biosphere. It affects us and we affect it.”

“Climate change is very much of our own making…but as doctors, we have a vital responsibility to urge the development of a health-in-all-policies approach,” he said.

The summit is taking place following extreme weather events and other environmental catastrophes throughout Canada, from wildfires in Fort McMurray to a massive oil spill in Saskatchewan.

The Vancouver Sun reports on Orbinski’s comments:

Droughts, fires like the one in Fort McMurray in May, floods, food security and infectious diseases are all linked to climate change.

Mental health problems and respiratory ailments from air pollution as well as rising rates of infectious diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease are also some of the consequences of climate change.

He also noted that Canada’s yearly rate of warming is twice the global pace, which means the effects of climate change will increase as time goes on, absent a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

“The implications are utterly profound,” Orbinski said.

“People go to war over water, food and territory, and when you cannot feed your children, you will do anything, even if it means going to war. This is the reality of climate change.”

CMA president Dr. Cindy Forbes said the organization would attempt to create an action plan. “I appreciated greatly Dr. Orbinski’s call to action, and I agree as a nation and as a planet we cannot ignore climate change,” she said.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | climate change, health | Leave a comment

Conflicts increase as a result of climate-related events

climate-changeClimate-related disasters raise conflict risk, study says,  Skeptical Science 19 August 2016 by dana1981This is a re-post from Carbon Brief by Robert McSweeney   Extreme weather increases the risk of armed conflict in ethnically-diverse countries, a new study suggests. Around 23% of conflict outbreaks in these countries over the last three decades have occurred during climate-related disasters, such as droughts and heatwaves, the paper says. The results don’t suggest that weather extremes directly trigger conflict, the researchers say, but that they can be one of many contributing factors.

Carbon Brief speaks to a number of experts to dig a bit deeper into what has become quite a controversial field of climate research.

Climate-related disasters  A host of different factors can increase the risk of armed conflict breaking out in a country. Some examples picked out by previous research include povertyweak governance, a history of conflictincome gaps between rich and poor, and disputes over natural resources.

The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that climate-related disasters should be added to this list.

This conclusion stems from a statistical analysis of armed conflicts and the economic damage caused by extreme weather events over the period 1980-2010. The researchers looked at three categories of climate-related disasters. These include meteorological events (blizzard/snowstorm, hailstorm, tornado, tropical cyclone, winter storm), hydrological events (avalanche, flash flood, general flood, landslide, storm surge), and climatological events (cold wave/frost, drought, heatwave, wildfire). The results suggest that around 9% of all armed conflicts over the past 30 years have occurred during – i.e. in the same month as – an extreme climatological event.

Taking all three disaster types together, the researchers only found a link when they added another factor – “ethnic fractionalisation” – into their analysis. This is a measure of how how ethnically diverse a country is.

The researchers find that in top-50 most fractionalised countries, around 23% of armed conflicts have occurred at the same time as a climate-related disaster of any kind.  Other studies of highly fractionalised countries have identified similar links, the paper notes. Prolonged droughts, for example, may have contributed to outbreaks of conflict in Somalia and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The results suggest that disasters may increase the risk of conflict – though not directly cause it, says lead author, Dr Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, from the Potsdam Institute forClimate Impact Research. He tells Carbon Brief:

“We do not report evidence that climate disasters are directly triggering conflict outbreak, but rather that they may enhance the risk of an outbreak of a conflict rooting in context-specific circumstances.”

While more work is needed to establish exactly how disasters enhance the risk of conflicts, the findings suggest they add pressure to existing ethnic divides, says Schleussner:

“It seems…plausible that such disruptive events fuel smoldering social tensions.”

With extreme weather (pdf) likely to be more intense and frequent as global temperatures rise, the climate could be become a more prominent factor for conflict in the future, says Schleussner:

“Several of the world’s most conflict-prone regions – including North and Central Africa as well as Central Asia – are both exceptionally vulnerable to human-made global warming and characterised by deep ethnic divides.”

This means that a changing climate should be taken into account when developing security policies in these regions, Schleussner says. No clear picture………http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-disasters-raise-conflict-risk.html

 

August 21, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

While Louisiana drowns, sociopaths sabotage action on climate change

Koch-brothersThe Path of the Sociopath They did it while Louisiana drownedhttp://washingtonmonthly.com/2016/08/20/the-path-of-the-sociopath/#.V7jF_CUlnoY.twitter  by D.R. Tucker August 20, 2016

They didn’t give a damn about how many people had lost their lives, or how many people will lose their lives if we don’t transition as quickly as possible away from fossil fuels. They couldn’t care less about the health impacts of carbon pollution, and the fact that it is inherently unfair to deprive innocent people of a stable climate and clean air. Their arrogance has reached new heights–in fact, the level of their arrogance is as high as the sea levels will be in a few decades.

As DeSmogBlog’s Sharon Kelly reports:

A long-awaited campaign to rebrand fossil fuels called Fueling U.S. Forward made its public debut at the Red State Gathering 2016 [in Denver, Colorado last] Saturday, where the organization’s President and CEO Charles Drevna gave attendees the inside scoop on the effort, and confirmed that the campaign is backed financially by Koch Industries. 

Back in February, Peter Stone first reported in the Huffington Post that a $10 million-a-year effort was proposed by a Koch Industries board member, James Mahoney, and Mr. Drevna, aiming “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” In early August, the Fueling U.S. Forward website launched, and on Saturday, the first public comments were made about the campaign by Mr. Drevna, and they revealed a lot about how the Koch-backed initiative is working to re-frame fossil fuels…

The top line takeaway from Mr. Drevna’s comments is that the Koch-funded Fueling U.S. Forward is an effort to rebrand fossil fuels, focusing on the “positive” sides of oil, gas and coal.

The new initiative comes at a time when the impacts of climate change are becoming more difficult to ignore. 2016 is already on track to be the hottest year ever recorded, a mid-year climate analysis from NASA reported, and unusual storms, like the torrential rainfall that struck the Gulf Coast over the past few days causing historic flooding, have become more frequent.

Charles and David Koch built this, this monument to malevolence. We always knew they were ruthless…but to do this while Louisiana drowned as a clear result of fossil-fueled climate change is beyond heartless. This is Trumpian in its treachery.

Spare me the nonsense that the Koch family doesn’t like Trump. Yes, Charles and David may scorn Trump in public, but if the bigoted billionaire manages to turn things around and win the White House, both men will be wholly satisfied with Trump’s dirty-energy agenda. (In addition, let’s not forget that another Koch Brother, William “Death to Cape Wind” Koch, has officially boarded the Trump train.)

When Bill McKibben calls for a “war” on climate change, he’s calling for a war on Koch ideology. It’s a war that progressives, moderates and whatever remains of the rational right must be prepared to fight and win. This is an enemy that must be conquered before it conquers us.

The sociopathy of the Kochs shocks the conscience. Looking at a world on fire, they call for the use of more fossil fuels to further increase their profits as they further inflame the planet. If Joseph Welch were alive today, he wouldn’t ask the Kochs if they had any sense of decency; he’d tell them he already knew they had none.

I’ve yet to read Daniel Schulman’s 2014 Koch biography Sons of Wichita, though I imagine that Schulman was thoroughly disgusted by their disregard for their fellow human beings. (Considering their latest actions, I have to say Schulman’s title is incomplete, since obviously Wichita is not the only thing these fossil-fuel fiends are sons of.)

I give Wisconsin talk radio star Charlie Sykes credit for admitting, at long last, that the right-wing media noise machine has created a “monster” comprised of millions of Americans who are resistant to facts and logic. Of course, Janeane Garofalo basically said the same thing seven years ago, and received nothing but scorn from the right for saying so:

Fox News loves to foment this anti-intellectualism because that is their bread and butter.  If you have a cerebral electorate, Fox News goes down the toilet, you know, very, very fast…They‘re been doing this for years.  That‘s why Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch started this venture; it is to disinform and to coarsen and dumb-down a certain segment of the electorate.

Thanks to right-wing radio, Fox and the wingnut blogosphere, we have far too many Americans who scorn science and reject reason…far too many Americans who think the lies of Charles, David and William Koch are the truth…far too many Americans who will suffer as a result of the actions of the fossil fuel industry and its media allies.

They did it while Louisiana drowned.

While Louisiana drowned.

Damn them.

August 21, 2016 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Get used to extreme floods: climate change is becoming urgent

climate SOSExtreme Floods May Be the New Normal Communities should plan defenses and emergency responses based on the climate of the future, not the past, Scientific American By Erika BolstadClimateWire on August 18, 2016 

Over the past year alone, catastrophic rain events characterized as once-in-500-year or even once-in-1,000-year events have flooded West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and now Louisiana, sweeping in billions of dollars of property damage and deaths along with the high waters.

flood Louisiana 16

These extreme weather events are forcing many communities to confront what could signal a new climate change normal. Now many are asking themselves: Are they doing enough to plan for and to adapt to large rain events that climate scientists predict will become more frequent and more intense as global temperatures continue to rise?

The answer in many communities is no, it’s not enough.

They could be doing much, much more to adapt—not just people and how they respond to climate change, but homes, buildings, roads, and levees and other infrastructure, said Gavin Smith, director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence and a research professor at the University of North Carolina’s Department of City and Regional Planning.

One of the first shifts that must happen, many experts in hazard mitigation say, is to stop using the climate of the past to plan for the future.

“One of the great challenges is to recognize that a lot of communities, a lot of cities, a lot of human settlements in general were designed to reflect the climate of the past,” said Smith, who also served as the director of the Mississippi Office of Recovery and Renewal after Hurricane Katrina.

“These issues, they are happening and they’re going to become worse, and the changes are occurring within a context where we’ve designed cities to reflect a previous climate,” he said…….

What climate scientists do know is that the intensity of extreme precipitation events is on the rise. With rising global temperatures, the 2014 National Climate Assessment predicts that many communities will see such extreme precipitation events more frequently.

More frequent events could defy traditional methods of planning for floods, like using 100- and 500-year floodplain maps to plan communities and develop flood insurance rates and who has to have it. It could also radically shift how engineers and architects design buildings. Coupled with sea-level rise in some places, such rain events could also affect how emergency response teams issue storm warnings or prepare people for weather events…….

Climate change could expose vast swaths of U.S. infrastructure to additional natural hazards that are likely to intensify as sea levels rise, temperatures increase and precipitation patterns shift, the report found. Power transmission lines, ports, refineries and wastewater treatment facilities across the country are vulnerable to climate change……http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/extreme-floods-may-be-the-new-normal/

August 19, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change is more urgent than we realised

poster-climate-France

Climate urgency:we’ve locked in more global warming than people realize Skeptical Science  15 August 2016 While most people accept the reality of human-caused global warming, we tend not to view it as an urgent issue or high priority. That lack of immediate concern may in part stem from a lack of understanding that today’s pollution will heat the planet for centuries to come, as explained in this Denial101x lecture:

So far humans have caused about 1°C warming of global surface temperatures, but if we were to freeze the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide at today’s levels, the planet would continue warming. Over the coming decades, we’d see about another 0.5°C warming, largely due to what’s called the “thermal inertia” of the oceans (think of the long amount of time it takes to boil a kettle of water). The Earth’s surface would keep warming about another 1.5°C over the ensuing centuries as ice continued to melt, decreasing the planet’s reflectivity.

To put this in context, the international community agreed in last year’s Paris climateaccords that we should limit climate change risks by keeping global warming below 2°C, and preferably closer to 1.5°C. Yet from the carbon pollution we’ve already put into theatmosphere, we’re committed to 1.5–3°C warming over the coming decades and centuries, and we continue to pump out over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The importance of reaching zero or negative emissions

We can solve this problem if, rather than holding the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide steady, it falls over time. As discussed in the above video, Earth naturally absorbs more carbon than it releases, so if we reduce human emissions to zero, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide will slowly decline. Humans can also help the process by finding ways to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it.

Scientists are researching various technologies to accomplish this, but we’ve already put over 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Pulling a significant amount of that carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it safely will be a tremendous challenge, and we won’t be able to reduce the amount in the atmosphere until we first get our emissions close to zero.

There are an infinite number of potential carbon emissions pathways, but the 2014 IPCC report considered four possible paths that they called RCPs. In one of these (called RCP 2.6 or RCP3-PD), we take immediate, aggressive, global action to cut carbon pollution, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels peak at 443 ppm in 2050, and by 2100 they’ve fallen back down to today’s level of 400 ppm. In two others (RCPs 4.5 and 6.0) we act more slowly, and atmospheric levels don’t peak until the year 2150, then they remain steady, and in the last (RCP8.5) carbon dioxide levels keep rising until 2250.

This is the critical decade

We don’t know what technologies will be available in the future, but we do know that the more carbon pollution we pump into the atmosphere today, the longer it will take and more difficult it will be to reach zero emissions and stabilize the climate. We’ll also have to pull that much more carbon out of the atmosphere.

It’s possible that as in three of the IPCC scenarios, we’ll never get all the way down to zero or negative carbon emissions, in which case today’s pollution will keep heating the planet for centuries to come. Today’s carbon pollution will leave a legacy of climate change consequences that future generations may struggle with for the next thousand years.

Five years ago, the Australian government established a Climate Commission, which published a report discussing why we’re in the midst of the ‘critical decade’ on climate change…..http://www.skepticalscience.com/climate-urgency-locked-in-more-gw-people-realize.html by dana1981

August 17, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Regions hit by world’s hottest month

global-warming1World’s hottest month shows challenges global warming will bring
July was hotter than any month globally since records began – but some areas, such as the Middle East, suffer more than others,
Guardian, , 17 Aug 16, In Siberia, melting permafrost released anthrax that had been frozen in a reindeer carcass for decades, starting a deadly outbreak. In Baghdad, soaring temperatures forced the government to shut down for days at a time. In Kuwait, thermometers hit a record 54C (129F).

July was the hottest month the world has endured since records began in 1880, scientists have said, and brought a painful taste of the troubles people around the world may have to grapple with as global warming intensifies. Results compiled by Nasa showed the month was 0.84C hotter than the 1951-1980 average for July, and 0.11C hotter than the previous record set in July 2015.

The temperature increase last month was not all due to climate change. Part of the increase came from the tail end of the El Niño phenomenon, which spreads warm water across the Pacific, giving a boost to global temperatures.

But scientists said the July record, which came after a string of new month-high temperatures, was particularly striking because it came as the impact of El Niño faded, and added weight to fears that 2016 will go down in history as the hottest year since records began.

“Even if we have it augmented by El Niño, it’s quite concerning as a citizen to see that we are flirting with very high numbers, and a record is a record,” said Jean-Noël Thepaut, head of Europe’s Copernicus climate change service……

The challenge for climate scientists, and politicians seeking to drive climate policy, has often been linking changes in global averages to shifting weather patterns at home that may or may not appear to reflect the worldwide data.

“This is a global average, so it can be difficult for people everywhere to perceive it themselves,” said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the LSE’s Grantham research institute on climate change and the environment……https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/16/worlds-hottest-month-shows-challenges-global-warming-will-bring

August 17, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The health impacts of wildfires in America’s West

Wildfires burn in Alberta on May 7. Photo by Darryl Dyck / BloombergMapping the health threat of wildfires under climate change in US West Tens of millions will experience longer, more intense ‘smoke waves’ YALE SCHOOL OF FORESTRY & ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, Eureka Alert, 15 Aug 16 A surge in major wildfire events in the U.S. West as a consequence of climate change will expose tens of millions of Americans to high levels of air pollution in the coming decades, according to a new Yale-led study conducted with collaborators from Harvard.

The researchers estimated air pollution from past and projected future wildfires in 561 western counties, and found that by mid-century more than 82 million people will experience “smoke waves,” or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.

The regions likely to receive the highest exposure to wildfire smoke in the future include northern California, western Oregon, and the Great Plains.

Their results, published in the journal Climatic Change, point to the need for new or modified wildfire management and evacuation programs in the nation’s high-risk regions, said Jia Coco Liu, a recent Ph.D. graduate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) and lead author of the study.

“Our study illustrates that smoke waves are likely to be longer, more intense, and more frequent under climate change,” Liu said. “This raises critical health, ecological, and economic concerns. Identifying communities that will be most affected in the future will inform development of fire management strategies and disaster preparedness programs.”…..http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-08/ysof-mt081516.php

August 17, 2016 Posted by | climate change, health, USA | Leave a comment

Obama’s climate change accounting is upheld by federal appeals court

judge-1climate-changeCourt backs Obama’s climate change accounting http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/290859-court-backs-obamas-climate-change-accounting  By Timothy Cama – 08/09/16 

A federal appeals court is upholding the Obama administration’s accounting of the costs of greenhouse gas emissions as applied to a Department of Energy (DOE) regulation. In a unanimous decision late Monday, the Chicago-based 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an industry-backed request to overturn a 2014 rule that set energy efficiency standards for commercial refrigerators.

 In doing so, the court specifically backed the so-called social cost of carbon, President Obama’s administration-wide estimate of the costs per metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere — currently $36.

The DOE used the carbon cost in its cost-benefit analysis, justifying the rule in part because of the amount of climate change regulators believe it would avoid.

It’s the first time a court has considered the legality of the carbon accounting, according to the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University, which supports the policy and filed a brief backing the DOE in the case. Congressional Republicans, business interests and energy companies have criticized the accounting as bad math and improper forecasts.

The court said the carbon cost is entirely within the DOE’s discretion to use.

“To determine whether an energy conservation measure is appropriate under a cost‐benefit analysis, the expected reduction in environmental costs needs to be taken into account,” the judges wrote. “We have no doubt that Congress intended that DOE have the authority under the [Energy Policy and Conservation Act] to consider the reduction in SCC.”

They went on the say that the industry challengers were incorrect in stating that the carbon cost is “irredeemably flawed,” concluding instead that “DOE’s determination of SCC was neither arbitrary nor capricious.”

The Institute for Policy Integrity said the ruling is significant for including climate change in cost-benefit analyses.

August 14, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Legal, politics, USA | Leave a comment

$billion push to portray nuclear power as climate saviour

climate-change-lie

Reactors subsidies pitched to curb greenhouse gases, Press Republican, By JOE MAHONEY CNHI Reporter, 14 Aug 16  ALBANY — Three nuclear power plants are in line for nearly $1 billion in subsidies as part of a plan to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

But environmental groups want to derail the state plan, arguing that the reactors are a threat to public safety and the state instead should encourage the development of solar and wind energy.

“There are cheaper and better ways to get to zero emissions than having rate-payers give multi-million-dollar subsidies to aging, dangerous and expensive nuclear plants,” said Richard Brodsky, a former assemblyman from Westchester County who is working with the Alliance for a Green Economy.

 The subsidies are part of a recommendation being advanced by the Department of Public Service as it seeks to hit the target set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of having renewable energy account for half of the state’s power mix by 2030.

Under its plan, utilities would buy power at inflated rates over two years from the operators of the two reactors at Nine Mile Point on the shore of Lake Ontario: the James FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County and the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Plant in Wayne County……….

OLDEST U.S. REACTOR

But Brodsky, who once led a legislative committee that oversaw utilities, said the subsidy is unnecessary and would be a burden on electric bills.

“The big news here is that New York now wants to subsidize nuclear power,” he said. In a legal brief filed with the Public Service Commission, Brodsky said the No. 1 reactor at Nine Mile Point turned 47 years old this year and is the country’s oldest reactor.

The Ginna reactor is the fourth-oldest, he said.

Subsidies would not extend to the controversial Indian Point reactor in Westchester County, just north of New York City. Cuomo has advocated for its closure.

The governor has also said he wants the FitzPatrick reactor, slated to close next January, to remain open. Both reactors are owned by Entergy.http://www.pressrepublican.com/news/local_news/reactors-subsidies-pitched-to-curb-greenhouse-gases/article_d7e85bb0-5fca-5a61-970e-cc1a7ff409e6.html

August 14, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Global warming brings worse wildfires – United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

fire-UkraineThreat of wildfires expected to increase as global temperatures rise http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/49892The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has warned that wildfires could become more frequent and more destructive as global temperatures rise and drought conditions plague many regions of the world.

“Last year was the hottest year on record and was above average for the number of reported major droughts and heatwaves. This year we are seeing a similar pattern with new temperature records being set on a monthly basis,” UNISDR chief Robert Glasser said yesterday in a news release issued by the Office.

He noted that a number of risk factors, such as lack of forest management, growth of urban areas in proximity to forests and human induced fires need to be addressed by disaster management authorities.

“The most frightening scenario is when major towns are threatened as we have seen this week in the case of Funchal and Marseille,” the senior UN official added.

Continue reading at UN News Centre

August 13, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The costs of New York nuclear bailout – both financial and environmental

N.Y. Public Service Commission OKs multi-billion dollar nuclear industry bailout funded by ratepayers statewide, Riverhead Local,  by  Aug 12, 2016 Riverhead and Southold Town residents, indeed people throughout Suffolk County and New York State, will be getting higher utility bills because the State Public Service Commission this month approved — despite strong opposition — a $7.6 billion bailout of aging nuclear power plants in upstate New York. Their owners have said are uneconomic to run without government support.

As a result, there will be a surcharge for 12 years on electric bills paid by residential and industrial customers through the state.

Governor Andrew Cuomo — who appoints the members of the PSC — has called for the continued operation of the nuclear plants in order to, he says, save jobs at them.

The bailout would be part of a “Clean Energy Standard” advanced by Mr. Cuomo. Under it, 50 percent of electricity used in New York by 2030 would come from “clean and renewable energy sources” — with nuclear power considered clean and renewable.

A North Fork resident, PSC member Patricia Acampora of Mattituck, joined the other three members of the commission in voting Aug. 1 for the bailout and “Clean Energy Standard.” She is a former New York State assemblywoman representing a district including Riverhead and Southold Towns. She is also ex-chairwoman of the Suffolk County Republican Party.

“Nuclear energy is neither clean nor renewable,” testified Pauline Salotti, vice chair of the Green Party of Suffolk County, at a recent hearing in Riverhead on the plan.

“Without these subsidies, nuclear plants cannot compete with renewable energy and will close. But under the guise of ‘clean energy,’ the nuclear industry is about to get its hands on our money in order to save its own profits, at the expense of public health and safety,” Jessica Azulay, program director of the Syracuse-based Alliance for a Green Economy, declared. Moreover, she emphasized, “Every dollar spent on nuclear subsidies is a dollar out of the pocket of New York’s electricity consumers—residents, businesses and municipalities” that should “instead” go towards backing “energy efficiency, renewable energy and a transition to a clean energy economy.”

The “Clean Energy Standard” earmarks twice as much money for the nuclear power subsidy than it does for renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Its claim is that nuclear power is comparable because nuclear plants don’t emit carbon or greenhouse gasses—the key nuclear industry argument for nuclear plants nationally and worldwide these days because of climate change. What the industry does not mention, however, is that the “nuclear cycle” or “nuclear chain”—the full nuclear system—is a major contributor to carbon emissions. Numerous statements sent to the New York PSC on the plan pointed to this.

“Nuclear is NOT emission-free!” Manna Jo Greene, environmental director of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, wrote the PSC. The claim of nuclear power having ‘zero-emission attributes’ ignores emissions generated in mining, milling, enriching, transporting and storing nuclear fuel.” Further, “New York no longer needs nuclear power in its energy portfolio, now or in the future.

“Nuclear power is not carbon-free,” wrote Michel Lee, head of the Council on Intelligent Energy and Conservation Policy. “If one stage,” reactor operation itself, “produces minimal carbon…every other stage produces prodigious amounts.” Thus the nuclear “industry is a big climate change polluter…Nuclear power is actually a chain of highly energy-intensive industrial processes which—combined—consume large amounts of fossil fuels and generate potent warming gasses. These include: uranium mining, milling enrichment, fuel fabrication, transport” and her list went on. Further, “New York no longer needs nuclear power in its energy portfolio, now or in the future. Ten years ago the transition to a renewable energy economy was still a future possibility. Today it is well underway.”

global warming A

In opposing the New York nuclear subsidy, Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, wrote in an op-ed in Albany Times Union, the newspaper in the state’s capitol, that he was “shocked” by the PSC’s “proposal that the lion’s share of the Clean Energy Standard funding would be a nuclear bailout.” He said “allowing the upstate nuclear plants to close now and replace them with equal energy output” from offshore wind and solar power “would be cheaper and would create more jobs.” The closure of the upstate plants “would jeopardize fewer than 2,000 jobs” while a “peer-reviewed study” he has done “about converting New York State to 100 percent clean, renewable energy – which is entirely possible now — would create a net of approximately 82,000 good, long-term jobs.”

The upstate nuclear power plants to be bailed out under the plan would be FitzPatrick, Nine Mile Point 1 and 2 and Ginna.

Reported Tim Knauss of the Post-Standard of Syracuse: “Industry watchers say New York would be the first state to establish nuclear subsidies based on environmental attributes, a benefit typically reserved for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.” The ‘zero emission credits’ would be paid to nuclear plants based on a calculation of the economic value of avoiding greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.” Cuomo “directed the PSC to create subsidies for upstate reactors,” he wrote.

Reuters has reported that the nuclear “industry hopes that if New York succeeds, it could pressure other states to adopt similar subsidies” for nuclear plants. The headline of the Reuters story: “New York could show the way to rescue U.S. nuclear plants.”

The two Indian Point nuclear power plants 26 miles north of New York City are not now included in the plan but it “leaves the door open to subsidies” for them, Azulay says.

This would mean “the costs [of the bailout] will rise to over $10 billion.”…….http://riverheadlocal.com/2016/08/12/n-y-public-service-commission-oks-multi-billion-dollar-nuclear-industry-bailout-funded-by-ratepayers-statewide/

August 13, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, politics | Leave a comment

Climate Change – a serious matter now – will threaten future Olympic Games!

text-cat-questionAnd for 2020 Olympic Games, what about the nuclear radiation risk, too – close to Fukushima’s continuing disaster?

Climate change puts heat on future Games venues http://www.nzherald.co.nz/climate-change/news/article.cfm?c_id=26&objectid=11692866   Ben Hill 13 Aug 16 Climate change is set to make it too hot to host the Olympics in the world’s biggest cities, according to a university study.

University of Auckland collaborative research found about 90 per cent of the Northern Hemisphere’s most populous cities will become too hot and humid over the next 70 years to safely hold the Games.

Professor Alistair Woodward said the study focused on whether cities in the Northern Hemisphere would be able to stage the marathon without posing a significant risk to athletes.

“Only three cities in North America, two in Asia and none in Africa will fall in the low risk category,” he said.“Projections suggest the last cities with low-risk summer conditions will be Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“Increasing restrictions on when, where, and how the Games can be held owing to extreme heat are a sign of a much bigger problem,” Woodward said.

“If the world’s most elite athletes need to be protected from climate change, what about the rest of us?”

The study has been published in British medical journal the Lancet.

August 13, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Middle East scorched with record high temperatures

heat_waveAn epic Middle East heat wave could be global warming’s hellish curtain-raiser WP, By Hugh Naylor August 10 BAGHDAD — Record-shattering temperatures this summer have scorched countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and beyond, as climate experts warn that the severe weather could be a harbinger of worse to come.

In coming decades, U.N. officials and climate scientists predict that the mushrooming populations of the Middle East and North Africa will face extreme water scarcity, temperatures almost too hot for human survival and other consequences of global warming.If that happens, conflicts and refugee crises far greater than those now underway are probable, said Adel Abdellatif, a senior adviser at the U.N. Development Program’s Regional Bureau for Arab States who has worked on studies about the effect of climate change on the region.

“This incredible weather shows that climate change is already taking a toll now and that it is — by far — one of the biggest challenges ever faced by this region,” he said.

These countries have grappled with remarkably warm summers in recent years, but this year has been particularly brutal. Parts of the United Arab Emirates and Iran experienced a heat index — a measurement that factors in humidity as well as temperature — that soared to 140 degrees in July, and Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, recorded an all-time high temperature of nearly 126 degrees. Southern Morocco’s relatively cooler climate suddenly sizzled last month, with temperatures surging to highs between 109 and 116 degrees. In May, record-breaking temperatures in Israel led to a surge in ­heat-related illnesses.

Temperatures in Kuwait and Iraq startled observers. On July 22, the mercury climbed to 129 degrees in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. A day earlier, it reached 129.2 in Mitribah, Kuwait. If confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, the two temperatures would be the hottest ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere.

[Two Middle East locations hit 129 degrees]

The bad news isn’t over, either. Iraq’s heat wave is expected to continue this week……..https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/an-epic-middle-east-heat-wave-could-be-global-warmings-hellish-curtain-raiser/2016/08/09/c8c717d4-5992-11e6-8b48-0cb344221131_story.html

August 12, 2016 Posted by | climate change, MIDDLE EAST | 1 Comment

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