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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Brazil’s increase in fires in Amazon region – alarming news

The alarming number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon, Mongabay, 8 September 2016 / Commentary by Natália Girão Rodrigues de Mello

For three months, from September to December 2015, Manaus was engulfed in smoke, resembling Beijing. That was an unusual scene, and an undeniable sign that predatory exploration in the Brazilian Amazon has not yet been properly tackled.

  • The sharp decrease in the annual rates of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon is celebrated worldwide. The trend started in 2005 after a peak in deforestation the year before.
  • However, the figures are not so bright when it comes to forest fires, and few people are talking about that.
  • The number of fires in the Brazilian Amazon is alarming, and that was especially true in 2015, when a sharp increase in forest fires occurred………
  • Natural factors alone fail to explain this recent increase, as similar climatic conditions in the past were not associated with the same amount of forest fires.

    Forest fires and precipitation are strongly correlated in the Brazilian Amazon; in dry years, more forest fires occur. 2015 was a dry year, but not as dry as 2010 or 2005 were – years when the region faced anomalous droughts. Nevertheless, in 2015, forest fires increased 115.6 percent and 105.5 percent compared to 2005 and 2010, respectively. Hence it is safe to say that the peak observed last year was strongly associated with unregulated anthropogenic activities in the forest.

    In the region, using fire in order to clear large areas is a common practice. The expansion of roads, settlements, croplands and cattle ranches has been leading fires to reach ever-wider areas of the forest.

    The consequences associated with this issue are vast. They are felt locally, regionally and globally. Forest fires contribute to climate change due to the emission of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. As the forest burns, health-damaging gases – carbon monoxide, non-methane hydrocarbons, methyl chloride, and methyl bromide – are also emitted, as well as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and aerosols. VOCs interact with nitrous oxides to form ozone, a phytotoxic gas. Aerosols cause the suppression of cloud formation and the decrease of precipitation efficiency. Moreover, a positive feedback between fire-induced death of trees and increased solar penetration in the forest occurs, resulting in the intensification of successive fires…….https://news.mongabay.com/2016/09/the-alarming-number-of-fires-in-the-brazilian-amazon/?utm_content=buffer4318b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

September 12, 2016 Posted by | Brazil, climate change | Leave a comment

Don’t fall for the nuclear lobby’s lie about climate change – theme for September 16

The global nuclear lobby’s current favourite lie is the one about climate change.  (they rotate their lies – the next big push will probably be about how “low dose ionising radiation is good for you”

pyramid-of-lies-climate

The last thing that we need is to direct money and energy to the nuclear industry, and away from renewable energy and energy efficiency.

September 10, 2016 Posted by | Christina's themes, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Climate change is a threat to nuclear power, with reactors over-heating and high water demand

nuke-hotAmid climate concerns, nuclear plants feel the heat of warming water , Midwest Energy nuke-tapNews, , 10 Sept 16  Nuclear power proponents say the energy source is crucial to reducing the impact of climate change.

But ironically, “We’ll have to solve global warming if we want to keep using nuclear power,” says Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear safety expert Dave Lochbaum.

text-relevantThat’s because nuclear power plants need large amounts of water for cooling, and overheating can present a major safety risk. As the lakes and rivers that typically supply cooling water become hotter thanks to climate change — and as droughts dry up some water bodies — nuclear power plants face problems, researchers say.

They may need to temporarily shut down or scale back their generation on hot days, which is just when their power is needed most.

This challenge is the focus of ongoing research spearheaded by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and also involves the national laboratories at Sandia, Los Alamos and Argonne. Researchers are modeling predictions about population, temperature, electricity demand, precipitation, land use and other factors to predict the water-related stress on power plants.

“You need to have enough water to cool the power plants and have drinking water and water for agriculture and other industries,” said Melissa Allen, a leader of the team effort and a post-doctoral researcher at Oak Ridge’s Climate Change Science Institute.……..

Hitting limits

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sets limits on how warm the cooling water can be for each nuclear plant.

The owners of the Millstone plant in Connecticut, Turkey Point in Florida andBraidwood in Illinois have sought and obtained permission from the NRC to increase the maximum temperature limit for their cooling water, Lochbaum noted.

“Millstone uses the Atlantic Ocean, Turkey Point uses a canal system supplemented by water from the Atlantic Ocean, and Braidwood uses river water,” he said. “As global warming increases the temperature of oceans, lakes and rivers, they will hit these limits more often. There are two choices: to reduce power because you can’t exceed those limits. Or do what Turkey, Braidwood and Millstone did — do the homework to get the limit raised.”

Lochbaum analyzes reports from the NRC showing when nuclear plants scale back generation because of warm water.

In June, nuclear plants in Georgia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania scaled back their generation multiple times because of hot temperatures warming their cooling water. The Limerick power plant on the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia has scaled back because of high temperatures frequently over the past decade, according to the reports.

The Dresden and Quad Cities plants in Illinois had to scale back because of high water temperatures multiple times over the past five years. The Duane Arnold plant in Iowa and the Monticello plant in Minnesota also reported scaling back generation because of temperatures.

When cooling water is warmer, greater volumes are needed to cool the reactor. Plants also typically need approval from the NRC to increase the amount of water they use for cooling or to install new technology — like larger pumps — in order to deal with warmer conditions.

Such changes cost money, and scaling back generation means less profit.

“With plants in the Midwest and Northeast facing competition from natural gas and so on, it’s difficult to find the money even if you can make the justification that the money [invested in new cooling systems] would pay off in two years,” said Lochbaum……..http://midwestenergynews.com/2016/09/09/nuclear-plants-feel-the-heat-of-warming-water/

September 10, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Closure of Japan’s nuclear reactors in 2011 did not result in a boom for fossil fuels

Japan’s lurch away from nuclear hasn’t caused fossil fuels to boom http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/09/japans-lurch-away-from-nuclear-hasnt-caused-fossil-fuels-to-boom/

The emergency shutdown of nuclear reactors hasn’t been an emissions disaster.  TIMMER –
9/10/2016, In the wake of the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, Japan shut down its entire nuclear fleet in order to develop more rigorous safety standards and inspect the remaining plants. As of now, plants are only beginning to come back online.

Given that Japan had recently relied on nuclear for over a quarter of its electricity, the expectation is that emissions would rise dramatically. But that hasn’t turned out to be the case. While coal use has gone up, it hasn’t risen by more than 10 percent. And a heavy dose of conservation has cut Japan’s total electricity use to below where it was at the end of last decade The data indicates that nuclear was playing a decreasing role in Japan’s energy mix even prior to Fukushima, being displaced in part by natural gas and in part by petroleum. By 2012, however, nuclear was mostly gone. Conservation had already dropped Japan’s electricity use below a PetaWatt-hour, and further efforts have turned the drop in electricity use into an ongoing trend.

Fossil fuel use has gone up, but not by as much as might be expected. Coal rose by eight percent, and natural gas (transported in its liquefied form) rose by nine percent. These have largely reversed the expansion of petroleum use that began prior to the meltdown at Fukushima. Non-hydro renewables have also more than doubled their electrical production since that time. Combined with hydroelectric plants, they now provide more electricity than petroleum.

The net result of all of this? Carbon emissions have been relatively flat and have not exceeded the nation’s record year back in 2007

September 10, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Japan | Leave a comment

Effect of Global Warming on World’s Ocean Circulation – an unknown quantity

A single Atlantic Ocean current system accounts for up to a quarter of the planet’s heat flux.

For now, everyone awaits more data to see whether the AMOC is slowing down and, if so, what that will mean for the planet

climate-changeHow Climate Change Could Jam The World’s Ocean Circulation, 06 SEP 2016: ANALYSIS Scientists are closely monitoring a key current in the North Atlantic to see if rising sea temperatures and increased freshwater from melting ice are altering the “ocean conveyor belt” — a vast oceanic stream that plays a major role in the global climate system.

Environment 360, by nicola jones Susan Lozier is having a busy year. From May to September, her oceanographic team is making five research cruises across the North Atlantic, hauling up dozens of moored instruments that track currents far beneath the surface. The data they retrieve will be the first complete set documenting how North Atlantic waters are shifting — and should help solve the mystery of whether there is a long-term slowdown in ocean circulation. “We have a lot of people very interested in the data,” says Lozier, a physical oceanographer at Duke University.

A similar string of moorings across the middle of the Atlantic, delving as deep as 3.7 miles from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas, has already detected a disturbing drop in this ocean’s massive circulation pattern. Since those moorings were installed in 2004, they have seen the Atlantic current wobble and weaken by as much as 30 percent, turning down the dial on a dramatic heat pump that transports warmth toward northern Europe. Turn that dial down too much and Europe will go into a deep chill. 

Researchers have been worried about an Atlantic slowdown for years. The Atlantic serves as the engine for the planet’s conveyor belt of ocean currents: The massive amount of cooler water that sinks in the North Atlantic stirs up that entire ocean and drives currents in the Southern and Pacific oceans, too. “It is the key component” in global circulation, says Ellen Martin, a paleoclimate and ocean current researcher at the University of Florida. So when the Atlantic turns sluggish, it has worldwide impacts: The entire Northern Hemisphere cools, Indian and Asian monsoon areas dry up, North Atlantic storms get amplified, and less ocean mixing results in less plankton and other life in the sea.

Paleoclimatologists have spotted times in the deep past when the current slowed quickly and dramatically, cooling Europe by 5 to 10 degrees C (10 to 20 degrees F) and causing far-reaching impacts on climate.

A single Atlantic Ocean current system accounts for up to a quarter of the planet’s heat flux.

Modelers have tried to predict how human-caused climate change might impact the Atlantic current, and how its slowdown might muck with the world’s weather even more. But years of intensive peering at this question haven’t yet provided much clarity.

Now, debate is raging about whether the recent Atlantic slowdown has been triggered by climate change, or is just part of a normal cycle of fast and slow currents. New studies in the last few years and months have come out supporting both prospects. The new data from the north, Lozier and others hope, might help to sort things out.

……..The last review by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that the AMOC is very likely to slow by the end of the century, perhaps by as much as 54 percent in the worst-case scenario, where emissions keep going up and global temperatures rise about 4 degrees C. But the range of possible slowdowns in these predictions is huge, starting at just 1 percent for an emissions-restricted world.

If the North Atlantic current slows dramatically, then the entire Northern Hemisphere would cool; a complete collapse of the current could even reverse global warming for about 20 years. But the heat that ocean currents fail to transport northwards would make parts of the Southern Hemisphere even hotter. And a cooler north isn’t necessarily good news.

The jury is still out. Weakening is a possibility, but it hasn’t been proven yet,’ says one scientist.

Should the AMOC shut down, models show that changes in rainfall patterns would dry up Europe’s rivers, and North America’s entire Eastern Seaboard could see an additional 30 inches of sea level rise as the backed-up currents pile water up on East Coast shores.

But to pin down what the AMOC is going to do, researchers need to better understand what it’s doing right now. And that is proving tricky. ………

For now, everyone awaits more data to see whether the AMOC is slowing down and, if so, what that will mean for the planet……..http://e360.yale.edu/feature/will_climate_change_jam_the_global_ocean_conveyor_belt/3030/

September 9, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The world had better pay attention NOW – to soaring ocean temperatures

Soaring ocean temperature is ‘greatest hidden challenge of our generation’
IUCN report warns that ‘truly staggering’ rate of warming is changing the behaviour of marine species, reducing fishing zones and spreading disease,
Guardian, . 6 Sept 16, The soaring temperature of the oceans is the “greatest hidden challenge of our generation” that is altering the make-up of marine species, shrinking fishing areas and starting to spread disease to humans, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of ocean warming.

ocean-heating

The oceans have already sucked up an enormous amount of heat due to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, affecting marine species from microbes to whales, according to an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reportinvolving the work of 80 scientists from a dozen countries.

The profound changes underway in the oceans are starting to impact people, the report states. “Due to a domino effect, key human sectors are at threat, especially fisheries, aquaculture, coastal risk management, health and coastal tourism.”…..

The scale of warming in the ocean, which covers around 70% of the planet, is “truly staggering”, the report states. The upper few metres of ocean have warmed by around 0.13C a decade since the start of the 20th century, with a 1-4C increase in global ocean warming by the end of this century.

The ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat created by human activity. If the same amount of heat that has been buried in the upper 2km of the ocean had gone into the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth would have warmed by a devastating 36C, rather than 1C, over the past century.

At some point, the report says, warming waters could unlock billions of tonnes of frozen methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the seabed and cook the surface of the planet. This could occur even if emissions are drastically cut, due to the lag time between emitting greenhouse gases and their visible consequences.

Warming is already causing fish, seabirds, sea turtles, jellyfish and other species to change their behaviour and habitat, it says. Species are fleeing to the cooler poles, away from the equator, at a rate that is up to five times faster than the shifts seen by species on land.

Even in the north Atlantic, fish will move northwards by nearly 30km per decade until 2050 in search of suitable temperatures, with shifts already documented for pilchard, anchovy, mackerel and herring.

The warming is having its greatest impact upon the building blocks of life in the seas, such as phytoplankton, zooplankton and krill. Changes in abundance and reproduction are, in turn, feeding their way up the food chain, with some fish pushed out of their preferred range and others diminished by invasive arrivals.

With more than 550 types of marine fishes and invertebrates already considered threatened, ocean warming will exacerbate the declines of some species, the report also found…….

Ocean acidification, where rising carbon dioxide absorption increases the acidity of the water, is making it harder for animals such as crabs, shrimps and clams to form their calcium carbonate shells.

The IUCN report recommends expanding protected areas of the ocean and, above all, reduce the amount of heat-trapping gases pumped into the atmosphere.

“The only way to preserve the rich diversity of marine life, and to safeguard the protection and resources the ocean provides us with, is to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and substantially,” said Inger Andersen, director general of the IUCN.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/05/soaring-ocean-temperature-is-greatest-hidden-challenge-of-our-generation

September 7, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

More frequent, more powerful Super Typhoons, with climate change

text-cat-questionIs not the push for nuclear reactors in East Asia (almost always located on coast) a dangerous trend, in view of increasing typhoons?

 

Super typhoons becoming more powerful and more frequent, new study finds, SMH,  Peter Hannam  6 Sept 16  The most destructive categories of tropical storms to strike the heavily populated regions of east Asia are becoming more intense and increasing as much as four-fold in frequency because of climate change, according to new research by US-based scientists.

typhoon-china-2015

Since the late 1970s, typhoons making land in a region stretching from Vietnam and the Philippines to Korea and Japan have become 12 per cent to 15 per cent more intense.

Those hitting south-east Asia with a category 4 or 5 strength have more than doubled in number, with the increase even more for China and Taiwan and regions north, the paper published in Nature Geoscience on Tuesday found.

The increase in sea-surface temperature is key to providing extra energy to tropical storms, with the outcome for the megacities of the region looking grimmer……..

“The intensification is strongest for typhoons that tend to make landfall because of the stronger warming of the coastal waters near east and south-east Asia,” said Wei Mei, a researcher in the department of marine sciences at the University of South Carolina and co-author of the paper.

Additional warming is expected to intensify the storms, particularly in some of east Asia’s main economic centres, Dr Mei said: “The typhoons striking mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea will intensify further because of the faster warming of waters of 20 degrees north.”…….

The north-west Pacific basin has both the largest data set of super typhoon-strength storms and the clearest trend towards intensification as the planet warms, Steve Turton, an adjunct professor at the Central Queensland University, said.

This year has also been an active one for the region………http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/super-typhoons-becoming-more-powerful-and-more-frequent-new-study-finds-20160905-gr8rch.html

September 7, 2016 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Flooding – a dire hazard to nuclear power stations

Flag-USANuclear Reactors and Flood Protection  , DIRECTOR, NUCLEAR SAFETY PROJECT | SEPTEMBER 6, 2016 DISASTER BY DESIGN/ SAFETY BY INTENT #48    Safety by Intent  Oconee Flood Protection Issue

Flood Fort-Calhoun-nukeplant

In August 2006, NRC inspectors identified a deficiency in a flood protection measure at the Oconee Nuclear Station in South Carolina. Specifically, the inspectors discovered that workers removed a 6-inch by 10-inch panel in the 5-foot tall flood wall around the Standby Shutdown Facility (SSF) to allow temporary cables to be used during a modification. When the work was completed and the cables removed, the panel was not re-installed.

The SSF houses power supplies and emergency equipment that provide core cooling for all three Oconee reactors during certain accidents. The opening in the flood wall could have allowed water to enter the SSF and submerge the equipment, disabling it. The NRC’s preliminary determination was that the problem warranted a white finding.

The owner contested the white finding in October 2006 on grounds that the lower end of the opening is 4.71 feet above the ground and no credible flood could cause water to rise high enough to flow through the opening to threaten the equipment inside the SSF. The NRC considered the argument, then decided against it and issued the white finding in November 2006.

The owner appealed the white finding in December 2006 on largely the same grounds that the NRC had considered and rejected. The NRC formed a five-member panel to review the owner’s appeal. In February 2007, the NRC panel recommended that the appeal be denied. The NRC notified the owner on March 1, 2007, that the appeal was denied.

The owner appealed the denial of the first appeal in May 2007 on largely the same grounds that it had unsuccessfully trod twice before. Once again, the NRC formed another panel to handle the appeal.

The flood of appeals forced the NRC to closely examine the design basis flood event for Oconee. Included in the mix of things that could inundate the Oconee site was the failure of the Jocassee Dam, upriver about 20 miles. The NRC discovered that the owner made a mistake when calculating the probability of the dam’s failure—the dam’s failure was more than 10 times more likely than the owner had calculated. The NRC denied the second appeal in November 2007 to let the white finding stand.

But the owner’s failed appeals resulted in far more than a white finding. Along the way, the NRC discovered a larger problem than a 6-inch by 10-inch opening in a 5-foot tall flood wall. The NRC learned of a study completed in the early 1990s showing that Jocassee Dam’s failure could inundate the Oconee site up to 16.8 feet and cause the meltdown of all three reactors, rendering the presence or absence of a hole in a 5-foot tall flood wall somewhat moot. The NRC mandated in August 2008 that the owner respond, under oath or affirmation, with information explaining how Oconee is adequately protected against floods. The owner responded to the NRC’s mandate in September 2009.

The NRC sat down with the owner in November 2008 about flood protection deficiencies at Oconee. The NRC informed the owner that its response to the NRC’s mandate was “insufficient.” The NRC seemed more than a little perturbed by the owner’s insistence that Oconee could not possibly be inadequately protected against flooding caused by failure of the Jocassee Dam, because Oconee did not legally have to be protected against dam failures.

The owner and the NRC discussed/debated the matter until they agreed upon 15 compensatory measures to be taken at Jocassee and Oconee to reduce the chances of the dam’s failure and increase the chances of Oconee surviving a flood……….

Fort Calhoun Flood Protection Issue

As described in an All Things Nuclear post, the NRC identified in July 2010 several deficiencies in protective measures against flooding at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant (Nebraska). The owner attempted to justify the configuration as-is, largely on grounds that the plant had operated for over three decades without experiencing a flood requiring the protections the NRC deemed inadequate. The NRC considered that argument, then decided against it and issued a yellow finding in October 2010. (For context, the NRC issued 827 findings to plant owners during 2010 and only two were yellow in the green, white, yellow, and red hierarchy; it issued no red findings that year). The NRC pointed out that the flood barriers and related measures were installed for protection against the postulated failure of upriver dams, and the fact that the dams had not yet failed had little relevancy on the acceptability of deficient barriers.

The NRC’s identification of the flood protection deficiencies and their strong inducement for the owner to remedy them expeditiously came in handy when Fort Calhoun literally became an island in the Missouri River in June 2011.

Nationwide Flood Protection Issues

Prior to a flood in March 2011 causing three reactors at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan to melt down, the NRC discovered from Oconee, Bellefonte, and Fort Calhoun that protection against flooding hazards might not be as reliable and robust as necessary. On July 19, 2010, the NRC initiated Generic Issue 204 (GI-204), “Flooding of Nuclear Power Plant Sites Following Upstream Dam Failures.” The NRC was conducting due diligence for GI-204 (i.e., researching postulated floods and associated protections to assess which reactors might have what vulnerabilities) when Fukushima happened. The NRC finished its screening study for GI-204 in July 2011and accepted GI-204 as a generic issue in February 2012. The GI-204 effort helped inform the NRC’s decision-making about steps to be taken to reduce flooding vulnerabilities, the potential consequences of which had been vividly revealed by the Fukushima disaster………

Disaster by Design

Floods pose dire hazards to nuclear power plant safety for two reasons. First, flood waters can submerge and disable primary safety systems and their backups. Flooding can thus breach multiple barriers in the defense-in-depth approach to safety. Second, flood waters can impair efforts by workers to compensate for disabled systems and breached barriers.

The one-two punch of knocking out installed systems and impairing manual compensatory measures make floods a genuine risk to be reckoned with.

UCS’s Disaster by Design/ Safety by Intent series of blog posts is intended to help readers understand how a seemingly unrelated assortment of minor problems can coalesce to cause disaster and how effective defense-in-depth can lessen both the number of pre-existing problems and the chances they team up. http://allthingsnuclear.org/dlochbaum/nuclear-reactors-and-flood-protection

September 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Australia, the Pacific pariah on climate change

It is the world’s largest coal exporter, and both major political parties are financially backed by the coal lobby. Rather than move away from coal, the government is seeking to expand exports dramatically, with public subsidies and taxpayer-funded infrastructure.

The contrast could not be starker. While Pacific leaders are praised for their efforts to develop global climate solutions, Australia faces ignominy. Unless Australia changes direction, it will continue to be seen as an irresponsible middle power – a rogue state undermining global efforts to tackle climate change.

australias-politiciansPacific pariah: how Australia’s love of coal has left it out in the diplomatic cold, https://theconversation.com/pacific-pariah-how-australias-love-of-coal-has-left-it-out-in-the-diplomatic-cold-64963 The Conversation, , 7 Sept 16, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have some explaining to do when he attends the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in Pohnpei, Micronesia, this week.

Australia’s continued determination to dig up coal, while refusing to dig deep to tackle climate change, has put it increasingly at odds with world opinion. Nowhere is this more evident than when Australian politicians meet with their Pacific island counterparts.

It is widely acknowledged that Pacific island states are at the front line of climate change. It is perhaps less well known that, for a quarter of a century, Australia has attempted to undermine their demands in climate negotiations at the United Nations.

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) – organised around an annual meeting between island leaders and their counterparts from Australia and New Zealand – is the Pacific region’s premier political forum. But island nations have been denied the chance to use it to press hard for their shared climate goals, because Australia has used the PIF to weaken the regional declarations put forward by Pacific nations at each key milestone in the global climate negotiation process. Continue reading

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Once Again, Australia is the laggard on climate change action

US-China ratification of Paris Agreement ramps up the pressure on Australia, The Conversation,   September 5, 2016When President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping announced their countries’ ratification of the Paris climate agreement ahead of last weekend’s G20 meeting in Hangzhou, they boosted its chances of coming into force by the end of this year, some 12 months after the deal was brokered last December.

To enter into force, the Paris Agreement requires ratification by at least 55 nations which together account for at least 55% of global greenhouse emissions. It will then become legally binding on those parties that have both signed and ratified it. These thresholds ensure that the deal has broad legitimacy among states, but are also low enough to limit the opportunities for blocking by states that may oppose its progress.

Aside from China and the United States – the world’s two largest emitters, which together produce 39% of the world’s emissions – another 24 countries have ratified the agreement.

To get over the threshold, it now only needs the support of a handful of major emitters like the European Union (a bloc of 27 countries producing some 10% of global emissions), India, Russia or Brazil. Ratification by countries such as Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom (each of which contributes about 1.5% of emissions) would also contribute significantly to this momentum………

australias-politiciansAustralia left as a laggard

The US-China announcement not only increases the momentum for ratification, but also increases pressure on Australia. With the Kyoto Protocol, Australia loyally supported the United States and refused to ratify until 2007. This time, similar recalcitrance is likely to be met with strong international disapproval.

However, ratification is only the beginning. Australia will then be required to revise and toughen its targets for 2030 and beyond. Its weak 2030 mitigation target is accompanied by policies inadequate to meet this goal.

The Paris Agreement, once in force, will require a more robust Australian target to be announced by 2023 at the latest. This in turn will further highlight the gap between current and sufficient implementation measures.

The US-China ratification announcement is the next step along a path that must see Australia climb – or be dragged – out of its current climate policy torpor. https://theconversation.com/us-china-ratification-of-paris-agreement-ramps-up-the-pressure-on-australia-64821

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Hypocrisy of big USA companies on climate change

hypocrisyU.S. companies tout climate policies, fund climate skeptics. Reuters,  6 Sept 16, By Richard Valdmanis and Grant Smith | BOSTON/NEW YORK

U.S. companies that have expressed the most fervent public support for President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda are also funding its biggest enemies – the scores of U.S. lawmakers who are climate change skeptics and oppose regulation to combat it, according to a Reuters review of public records.

Ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential and congressional elections, the donations from companies including PepsiCo, Dupont, and Google reveal a disconnect between how these companies present themselves to the public on environmental issues, and how they manage their political contributions to support business-friendly policy.

Many companies active in U.S. politics spread their political donations broadly on both sides of the aisle and consider multiple issues when deciding whom to support.

But inconsistency between a company’s environmental positions and its political giving may point up a need for better oversight, according to Jon Lukomnik, head of the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute.

“There really needs to be a process that looks at these issues … at C-suite and board levels on a periodic basis,” Lukomnik said.

The Reuters review covered donations made during the 2016 election cycle by the political action committees (PACs) of 30 of the biggest publicly traded U.S. companies that signed Obama’s “American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge” in 2015, a public promise to enact climate-friendly corporate policies and support strong climate change oversight like the global climate accord signed in Paris.

The review found that 25 of the 30 companies are funding the campaigns of lawmakers featured on a “climate deniers” list that was put together by Organizing For Action, a non-profit created by former Obama campaign aides to advocate his agenda.

The list includes more than 130 members of Congress, nearly all Republicans, and is a who’s who of the biggest opponents of Obama’s plan to combat climate change. Some of those on the list dispute the label “denier” and describe themselves as climate change “skeptics”.

The list includes Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, an energy advisor to presidential candidate Donald Trump who once argued the Earth was cooling not warming, and Republican U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who last year held up a snowball on the Senate floor as evidence global warming does not exist.

The review found PepsiCo and DuPont’s political action committees gave about half or more of the money from their top donations in support of senators and congressmen on the list. That amounted to $56,500 from the Pepsi PAC’s 29 donations of $2,500 and above, and $40,000 from the DuPont PAC’s 19 donations of $2,000 and above.

Other signatories to the American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge that gave more than a third of their top political contributions to lawmakers on the list include Google, AT&T, GE, Verizon, and Mondelez, according to the review.

Those levels of donations given to climate skeptics are relatively high given that the list covers about a quarter of U.S. Congress members……… http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-climate-donations-idUSKCN11C0ED

September 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Study: Future drought will offset benefits of higher CO2 on soybean yields

EurekAlert, 6 Sept 16 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, CHAMPAIGN, ILL. — An eight-year study of soybeans grown outdoors in a carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere like that expected by 2050 has yielded a new and worrisome finding: Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations will boost plant growth under ideal growing conditions, but drought – expected to worsen as the climate warms and rainfall patterns change – will outweigh those benefits and cause yield losses much sooner than anticipated.

The new discovery, reported in the journal Nature Plants, contradicts a widely accepted hypothesis about how climate change will affect food production, said University of Illinois plant biology professor Andrew Leakey, who led the new research…….http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-09/uoia-sfd090116.php

September 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

USA and China formally ratify Paris climate agreement

logo Paris climate1Flag-USAflag-ChinaUS joins China in ratifying Paris climate agreement in ‘turning point’ for planet , ABC News 4 Sept 16 America and China have formally joined the Paris climate change agreement, with US President Barack Obama hailing the accord as the “moment we finally decided to save our planet”.

The move by the world’s two biggest polluters is a major step forward for the 180-nation deal, which sets ambitious goals for capping global warming and funnelling trillions of dollars to poor countries facing climate catastrophe.

Mr Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping handed ratification document to United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, who said he was now optimistic the agreement will be in force by the end of the year.

Mr Ban described the two leaders as far-sighted, bold and ambitious.

“China and the United States represent nearly 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“Now by formally joining the Paris agreement your have added powerful momentum to the drive for the agreement to enter into force this year.”

Mr Obama said history would show that the Paris deal would “ultimately prove to be a turning point, the moment we finally decided to save our planet”……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-04/us-joins-china-in-ratifying-paris-climate-agreement/7812366

September 5, 2016 Posted by | China, climate change, USA | Leave a comment

China ratifies Paris climate agreement

logo Paris climate1China has ratified Paris climate agreement, state media says, ABC News 3 Sep 16  China has ratified the Paris agreement on climate change, according to state media, a key move by the world’s biggest polluter that brings the deal a major step closer to coming into force.

The National People’s Congress legislature voted to adopt “the proposal to review and ratify the Paris Agreement”, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Paris pact calls for capping global warming at well below two degrees Celsius, and 1.5C if possible, compared with pre-industrial levels.

China is responsible for about 25 per cent of global carbon emissions, with the US in second place on about 15 per cent, making their efforts crucial in the fight against warming.

The Paris deal will come into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified it……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-03/china-ratifies-paris-climate-agreement3a-xinhua/7811778?section=environment

September 5, 2016 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

30 Big City leaders join forces to make a stand on climate change action

climate SOSSadiq Khan and megacity mayors urge G20 climate change action, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/02/sadiq-khan-and-megacity-mayors-urge-g20-climate-change-action

30 mayors from cities including London, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, New York, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro call for rapid ratification of Paris climate deal, Guardian, 2 Sept 16London Mayor Sadiq Khan has joined forces with city leaders from around the world to call on governments to take urgent action on climate change.

Ahead of a meeting of the G20 group of leading nations in Hangzhou, China, 30 mayors from cities including London, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, New York, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro called on national leaders to work with them to “build a low carbon, climate safe world”.

They welcomed government moves to secure the Paris Agreement, the world’s first comprehensive global deal to tackle climate change, in December last year, and efforts to ratify it as soon as possible so it could come into force rapidly.

But they warned “this is only the first step along the road towards our low carbon, climate safe future”.

In an open letter, the mayors from the C40 group of cities championing climate action said: “To limit the global temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak by 2020.

“Achieving such a rapid shift is probably one of the greatest political, economic and practical challenges faced by every national leader, but you do have great allies in this task: we, the mayors of the megacities of the world.”

They said they were already dealing with the consequences of climate change in their cities, battling floods to heatwaves.

But city leaders were also taking action such as banning the most polluting cars, rolling out fleets of electric buses and improving energy efficiency, which also had benefits for health, well-being and economic growth, they said.

“For the major cities of the world it is already clear that the faster we move to a low carbon economy, the greater will be the improvement in urban citizens’ standards of living, and the stronger and more sustained will be the economic development that makes that possible.”

The leaders have committed to setting out concrete plans for how they will deliver the greenhouse gas cuts in their cities needed to help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to avoid dangerous climate change.

“We want our citizens, markets and other political leaders to know that we are serious about making the Paris Agreement a reality. We call on the heads of states from our respective nation states to do the same,” they said.

September 3, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment