Global warming never ‘paused’ and could soon accelerate, warns Nasa scientist
Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, describes suggestions that climate change had slowed down or stopped as ‘delusional’ and ‘bunk’, The Independent, Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent 21 January 2017 The idea that global warming “paused” has been comprehensively refuted by the record warm temperatures over the last three years – and the rate of increase could soon start to accelerate, a leading Nasa scientist has warned.
Dr Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said some people had been “confused” by temperatures that were below the average rate of increase, mistaking what was simply a blip as the sign of a long-term trend.
But the last three years have each seen successive, record average global temperatures, according to Nasa’s figures, partly fuelled by the natural El Nino effect, but mostly because of human-induced climate change.
This, Dr Schmidt said, was “almost certainly” just another blip as random factors take temperatures above the average rising trend, which remains virtually the same as it has since the late 1990s.
But he also said the rising amount of energy being put into the atmosphere and oceans as a result of greenhouse gas emissions had led scientists to believe the pace of global warming would get faster over the next decades…….http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/global-warming-never-paused-acclerate-climate-change-nasa-scientist-gavin-schmidt-environment-a7538116.html
Trump supporters don’t like his climate policies, Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists, 20 JANUARY 2017 Dana Nuccitelli
Recent surveys jointly conducted by Yale University and George Mason University
found that a majority of Republicans (including a plurality of conservative Republicans) support US participation in international climate agreements like the Paris accords. They support regulating or taxing carbon pollution. And they want the United States to get much more of its energy from renewables, and less from fossil fuels.
Yet they also voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, who pledged to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement (though he has since waffled), and to kill the Clean Power Plan and its carbon pollution regulations. And he seems to strongly prefer coal to wind and solar energy, which he has inaccurately described as “not working on large-scale” and “very, very expensive.”………
Republican support for climate-change mitigation policies is broad but shallow. They would prefer that the government take action to curb carbon pollution, but for most, the issue won’t impact their votes.
However, the fossil fuel industry is a major Republican Party donor. Which means that for many Republican politicians, the incentives are thus quite clear—if they obstruct climate policies, they’re rewarded with campaign donations, and they’re not penalized at the ballot box by conservative voters who only mildly disapprove of their actions.
Donald Trump didn’t receive particularly substantial fossil fuel funding during his presidential campaign, which may help explain his wobbly stance on climate change. He simply doesn’t seem to have put much thought into the subject or consider it a high priority, quite like most of his supporters. But many of his nominees to powerful government positions like Scott Pruitt have benefited from oil industry donations, and Trump even nominated the chief executive officer of the world’s largest oil company to be his Secretary of State.
It’s in those key government roles where the rubber meets the road. If Trump’s nominees are approved, the fossil fuel industry will have powerful allies in his administration, and if they do enough damage to America’s efforts to curb carbon pollution, Trump and the GOP may eventually pay the electoral price…….http://thebulletin.org/trump-supporters-don%E2%80%99t-his-climate-policies10411#.WINK_ptkX2s.twitter
Decoding Trump’s White House Energy Plan , Climate Central, By Bobby Magill , 20 Jan 17 Just as President Donald Trump took the oath of office and the White House scrubbed its website of Obama climate change information, it posted Trump’s “America First Energy Plan,” which is replete with misinformation and specious claims about climate and energy policy.
The White House’s new energy plan repackages Trump’s campaign promises to reignite America’s declining coal industry, kill the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan and exploit all of America’s fossil fuel reserves to achieve energy independence — an idea that ignores that America’s oil and gas is part of a truly global fossil fuels market.
Throughout his campaign, Trump expressed contempt
for the Obama administration’s climate policies, which were critical to the success of the Paris Climate Agreement — the international pact aiming to stop global warming from reaching what the world’s scientists agree are dangerous levels.
Obama’s climate and energy policies encouraged the development of low-carbon renewable sources and discouraged the use of coal for electricity as a way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming.
Trump and his transition team called those policies job killers. He falsely claimed that Obama’s policies alone have forced the coal industry into decline. Coal has been on a long, steady decline since 2008 when natural gas was made cheap and abundant because of fracking. Natural gas overtook coal as America’s largest source of electricity for the first time in history in 2016.
The White House’s “America First Energy Plan” reflects those claims and Trump’s disdain for climate science and renewable energy. Here is a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the plan:
Energy is an essential part of American life and a staple of the world economy. The Trump Administration is committed to energy policies that lower costs for hardworking Americans and maximize the use of American resources, freeing us from dependence on foreign oil.
Few people question that energy is essential, but Trump’s statement that his administration is committed to low-cost energy and maximizing the use of American resources is seen by many as code for unfettered exploitation of oil, coal and natural gas in the U.S. Trump has called renewables “an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves,” and says a cheaper way to energy independence is through oil, gas and coal.
Fossil fuels are abundant in the U.S. thanks to fracking, which brought about the shale oil and gas boom of the past decade. But oil drilled in the U.S. isn’t necessarily staying in the U.S. and contributing to energy independence. Congress lifted a 40-year ban on oil experts a year ago, and now U.S. oil is being shipped all over the world, even as the U.S. is importing oil from Canada and the Middle East.
At the same time, the costs of renewables has been falling dramatically in recent years, and America’s largest oil refiner and carbon emitter — Texas — has become the nation’s leader in wind power production.
Trump’s skepticism of renewables contrasts starkly with Obama, who said that wind and solar power are a critical a component of energy independence. For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.
“Burdensome regulations” has long been Republican messaging for what they consider odious Obama-era climate policies and regulations that encourage the use of renewables and natural gas instead of fossil fuels to address climate change, or restrict the development of oil and gas on federally owned public lands and waters.
For example, one of Obama’s last-minute actions was to close off most of the Arctic Ocean off of Alaska’s North Coast for oil and gas development as a way to protect the seashore from oil spills and prevent more and more of the carbon pollution driving climate change. That followed a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands and the closure of large swaths of the Atlantic coast to future oil drilling.
Each of those moves angered fossil fuel boosters in the Republican Party and were motivated in part by Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which involved a variety of measures to help slash America’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Trump’s claim that lifting those and other restrictions would increase workers’ wages by more $30 billion wildly mischaracterizes the potential for workers to benefit from killing U.S. climate policy. The figure seems to come from a 2015 report by Louisiana State University banking professor Joseph R. Mason, which was released by the Institute for Energy Research, an oil-industry funded organization run by Trump’s energy transition team chief,Tom Pyle.
The report claims that $32 billion in annual worker wages over seven years would be earned if all of America’s public lands were opened to oil, gas and coal development — even the lands protected by law from energy development, including wilderness areas and national parks.
That means Trump is saying that if Yellowstone, the White House lawn, Yosemite Valley, the Great Smoky Mountains and Mt. Rushmore were opened to fracking, workers would reap billions in benefits.
Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. We will use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. Less expensive energy will be a big boost to American agriculture, as well.
“Sound” energy policy is a play on “sound science” in an effort to lend it legitimacy.
It is true that the U.S. has vast untapped domestic energy sources — and that includes renewables. While fracking and the shale oil and gas boom led to discoveries of millions of barrels of oil that were once thought too expensive to reach, renewables are some of America’s largest untapped sources of energy.
For example, America’s offshore wind power potential is so huge that if fully developed, offshore wind farms could produce four times the electricity currently generated in the U.S. today, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. America’s first offshore wind farm was completed in December, with more expected to be built over the next five years.
Trump’s estimated $50 trillion in untapped oil and gas reserves is a huge mischaracterization of the fossil fuels that can be developed in the U.S., said Mark Squillace, a professor of natural resources law at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
“The problem with numbers like this is that they do not tell the whole story,” Squillace said. “The United States certainly has vast oil and gas and coal reserves and if you just add them up and multiply by their market value you get a big number. But most of those reserves cannot be economically developed any time in the foreseeable future.”
He said the figure originates from Kathy Hartnett White, a Trump advisor affiliated with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, who told Fox Business in June that the U.S. is sitting on $50 trillion of oil and gas, “but the government is stopping us from getting it.”…….
President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water………….Trump’s energy policy says nothing about climate change, which will be made drasticly worse if the U.S. develops as much oil, gas and coal as Trump suggests.
America’s air and water have been kept clean over the past 40 years because of environmental laws enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, which Trump previously said he wants to abolish. Trump has appointed one of the EPA’s most ardent foes to head the agency — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has sued the EPA 14 times and is involved in a lawsuit aiming to kill one of Obama’s most sweeping climate policies.
During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt said he wants states to have more control over how they are regulated by the EPA, suggesting that the federal laws protecting America’s air and water would be applied unevenly from state to state. Some states are much more vigilant in enforcing environmental regulations and have more resources than others,
Trump has said nothing about how a weakened EPA would accomplish his goal of keeping America’s air and water clean.http://www.climatecentral.org/news/decoding-trumps-white-house-energy-plan-21097
It also appeared to remove any reference to combating climate change, a topic that had been featured prominently on the White House site under President Barack Obama. The page that once detailed the potential consequences of climate change and the Obama administration’s efforts to address it vanished on Friday just as President Trump was sworn in. It now redirected to a broken link: “The requested page ‘/energy/climate-change’ could not be found.”
In its place, listed among the top issues of the Trump administration, was a page entitled, “An America First Energy Plan.”
The incoming administration vows to eliminate “harmful and unnecessary policies” such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule. The first represents a variety of efforts Obama pursued to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, while the second is a rule issued by the EPA to protect not only the largest waterways but smaller tributaries that others believe should fall under the jurisdiction of states rather than the federal government.
The new White House site says that Trump would “refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.”
It also says the incoming president will pursue “clean coal technology,” a reference to efforts to remove carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning plants and bury those emissions in the ground to use them to enhance oil recovery. The Obama Energy Department has already been funding a variety of projects in this area. Though, without nearby enhanced oil recovery projects, the technology is not economic. Trump’s White House site says the new administration would aim at “reviving America’s coal industry.”
People of color are bracing for climate injustice under Trump, Guardian, Elizabeth C Yeampierre, 20 Jan 17 When things are bad for everyone, they are particularly bad for people of color – which doesn’t bode well as the Trump administration sets up shop. hen things are bad for everyone, they are particularly bad for people of color. The Trump administration is about to legitimize injustice in all of our communities. People of color have endured the extraction of our land and labor – and its legacy – since the creation of these United States. Now, we are bracing ourselves for worse things to come.
The environmental and climate justice movement has had substantial successes on both the local and national fronts. We have cleaned up brownfields, stopped the siting of power plants, facilitated community-based planning for climate adaption and resilience, all while developing a framework known as Just Transitions, which rejects the “dig, burn, dump” economy and wants to push it away from an extractive economy to a regenerative one.
Always frontline-led and solutions–oriented, we have been working diligently to operationalize this transition through such initiatives as community-owned solar, offshore wind and local cooperatives that model another way to live without a carbon footprint. Energized by the momentum created by the People’s Climate March and the breadth of knowledge shared by the Climate Justice Alliance’s Our Power Campaign, the last few years have been all about the possibilities.
And then Trump was elected.
The solutions to unresolved environmental justice crises in low-income communities of color that the environmental and climate justice movement and allies have been diligently working to resolve now suddenly appear unattainable……..
Our communities across the nation have struggled but survived with administrations that moved slowly. We have never faced an administration that on all underlying tenets of climate justice – including the very existence of climate change – is at best indifferent and at worst actively antagonistic.
The appointments of climate denier Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, fossil fuel-backed Ryan Zinke as head of Department of Interior, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, neo-Confederate Jeff Sessions as attorney general and fast food executive Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor all constitute direct attacks on these tenets and communities of color.
As we face a full-scale assault on our very existence, we are planning, organizing, building, educating and resisting with an understanding of what this means for our communities.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/19/trump-administration-climate-change-people-of-color-injustice
Climate change will hurt crops more than it helps them, study suggests, WP Out of the many consequences of climate change, from melting glaciers to changing weather patterns, its effect on agriculture has emerged as one of the most complex issues for scientists to investigate. It’s also among the most globally significant.
As the world’s population approaches 8 billion people — and is expected to exceed 9 billion before midcentury — protecting global food security has become a top priority for scientists and policymakers alike. And figuring out how climate change might affect the world’s future crop yields is a major concern.
[U.S. scientists officially declare 2016 the hottest year on record. That makes three in a row.]
Previous studies have suggested a “nonlinear behavior of U.S. [crop] yields,” said Bernhard Schauberger, a PhD student and researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. One study suggested that in temperatures above 86 degrees, crops suddenly experience strong declines, he noted.
Now a new study, led by Schauberger along with colleagues from institutes around the world, reaffirms the idea that high temperatures could seriously harm the production of some of the world’s most important food crops, including corn, soybeans and wheat. And that could have big implications for the world’s food supply — as the paper notes, these three crops alone account for about a third of total harvested land worldwide. ………https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/01/19/yet-another-study-suggests-that-climate-change-will-hurt-crops-more-than-it-helps-them/?utm_term=.cfee81eee106&wpisrc=nl_green&wpmm=1
Parts of United States are heating faster than globe as a whole A new study shows the Northeast USA will reach the dangerous 2°C warming threshold faster than most of the rest of the planet, Guardian, John Abraham, 17 Jan 17, A new study shows the Northeast USA will reach the dangerous 2°C warming threshold faster than most of the rest of the planet,
Global warming obviously refers to temperature increases across the entire globe. We know the Earth is warming, we know it is human-caused, we have a pretty good idea about how much the warming will be in the future and what some of the consequences are. In fact, when it comes to the Earth’s average climate, scientists have a pretty good understanding.
On the other hand, no one lives in the average climate. We live spread out north, west, east, and south. On islands, large continents, inland or in coastal regions. Many of us want to know what’s going to happen to the climate where we live. How will my life be affected in the future?
This type of question is answered in a very recent study published by scientists from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The team, which includes Dr. Raymond Bradley and researcher Dr. Ambarish Karmalkar looked specifically at the Northeastern United States. They found that this area will warm much more rapidly than the globe as a whole. In fact, it will warm faster than any other United States region. The authors expect the Northeast US will warm 50% faster than the planet as a whole. They also find that the United States will reach a 2 degree Celsius warming 10–20 years before the globe as a whole.
So why does this matter? Well first, it matters because some of the effects people will experience are directly tied to the temperature increase in their region. For instance, we know that warmer air leads to more intense precipitation. In fact, we are already observing increases in very heavy rainfall across the United States (especially in the Northeast). Based on this new research, that trend will only get worse. It means that winters in this region will get warmer and wetter – more winter precipitation will likely occur as rain rather than snow. This affects the availability of water into the spring months. It also means that summers will have more intense heat waves which will lead to more severe droughts.
However, there is another impact to this study……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/jan/17/parts-of-united-states-are-heating-faster-than-globe-as-a-whole
Zika outbreak ‘fuelled by’ El Niño and climate change, Skeptical Science 13 January 2017 The combination of a strong El Niño event and human-caused climate change created optimal conditions for the recent outbreak of the Zika virus in South America, a new study says.
The spread of Zika during 2015-16 caused hundreds of thousands of infections, a surge in cases of birth defects linked to the disease, and saw athletes withdrawing from the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The warm conditions of 2015-16 were “exceptionally conducive” to mosquitoes spreading the disease across the continent, the researchers say, helped by the lack of natural immunity in the South American population.
And their results suggest there is a significant risk of summer outbreaks of Zika in the southeastern states of the US, southern China and southern Europe………
The new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the outbreak was very likely fuelled by the unusually high temperatures of the last two years – a result of a very strong El Niño event on top of ongoing human-caused climate change.
El Niño is a weather phenomenon that originates in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to increase global temperature for a couple of years by releasing heat from the ocean to the atmosphere. The El Niño that developed in 2015 – and petered out in June 2016 – was one of the strongest on record.
An outbreak of Zika needs three main ingredients, says lead author Dr Cyril Caminade, a research associate in the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool. He tells Carbon Brief:
“The minimum requirement for a vector-borne disease outbreak is the presence of competent mosquito vectors (Aedes mosquitoes), the presence of the pathogen (Zika is believed to have entered Brazil in 2013 but the World cup in 2014 must have helped too), and the presence of a suitable host (humans).”
There are then a series of factors that affect how far and how quickly an outbreak can spread. Some are socio-economic – such as poverty, access to sanitation, and the availability of healthcare and vaccines – but the climate ultimately “sets the background” to disease transmission, Caminade says……..
climate change has the potential to push vector-borne diseases like Zika into higher latitudes and altitudes, says Caminade. Though the scale of any outbreak will depend on other non-climate factors too, he adds……..https://www.skepticalscience.com/zika-outbreak-fuelled-el-nino-climate-change.html
Thanks, Obama: 6 Big Climate Accomplishments From President Obama’s Tenure, Clean Technica, January 12th, 2017 Originally published on The Climate Reality Project.
“……….Here are six big climate accomplishments from President Obama’s time in office……..
THE CLEAN POWER PLAN In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever standards to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. The EPA projected the plan would bring many, many benefits for Americans, including creating tens of thousands of jobs, saving US citizens as much as $155 billion in energy costs between 2020—2030, and helping prevent some 90,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030.
The benefits didn’t end at our borders, either, as the plan showed the rest of the world we were serious about reducing emissions, leading to a landmark climate deal with China in 2015 that helped energize international climate talks at COP 21. These talks led to the historic Paris Agreement being forged in December 2015.
The Clean Power Plan was a cornerstone of the US commitment to reduce overall emissions 26—28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 in the agreement.
A BAN ON DRILLING IN US-OWNED PARTS OF THE ARCTIC AND ATLANTIC OCEANS In December, President Obama worked to seal his environmental legacy by permanently banning offshore drilling in Arctic and Atlantic waters controlled by the US federal government – an incredible 3.8 million acres. This is an important move not only to protect marine life, but also to protect our climate. This is especially important in the Arctic. According to NOAA, the region is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world on average.
Some have gone as far as to call President Obama the “Ocean President” because he’s protected more marine areas from development than any other president before him. Since the beginning of Obama’s presidency, his administration has quadrupled the area of protected waters around the US.
COAL LEASING MORATORIUM Between 2009 and 2014, companies mined enough coal on public lands to put more than 3.9 billion metric tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent emissions of over 825 million cars on the road – every year.
In January 2016, though, the climate community had a major win when the Department of the Interior put a temporary freeze on leasing our public lands for coal mining (called a moratorium). The moratorium is a big deal because when coal is burned for energy, it creates more carbon dioxide per unit than any other fossil fuel.
The bottom line? When we lease our federal lands for coal, we’re helping fuel climate change. The moratorium – though temporary – helps stop that.
PROPOSED NEW FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS One of the more important moves by the Obama Administration (and it’s gone under the radar in some ways) has been to significantly push fuel economy standards for the vehicles filling our roads and highways – and sending carbon pollution into the atmosphere. In 2011, the White House proposed new fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles, requiring an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The administration also finalized new fuel economy standards for commercial trucks, vans, and buses, which are projected to save over 500 million barrels of oil and save American drivers an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs.
These new standards are the most ambitious any US president has implemented, and will save consumers money at the pump, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce US demand for oil.
IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN HOMES AND BUSINESSES The Obama Administration has focused on increasing energy efficiency not only to protect our environment, but also save Americans money and create jobs. One of the major ways the White House is accomplishing this is through the Better Buildings Challenge, a US Department of Energy initiative focused on making homes, commercials buildings, and industrial plants more energy efficient.
The Better Buildings Challenge is projected to improve energy efficiency in commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020 through investments in upgrading offices, universities, hospitals, and other commercial buildings. It’s also projected to save companies and business owners about $40 billion per year on energy bills, which can be used to hire more workers and benefit companies in other ways.
CUTTING METHANE EMISSIONS In May 2016, the EPA announced final regulations to curb harmful methane emissions from new and modified oil and gas facilities. These first-ever federal methane pollution standards are a big part of how the US will reach its goal of cutting this pollution by 40–45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025.
While there’s less methane than CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s much more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat – 84 times more potent over 20 years, in fact. Which means it can still do a lot of harm to our climate. These new rules will help rein in the millions of tons of methane the oil and gas industry is leaking into the air, and is a big climate win for the Obama Administration – and all of us………. https://cleantechnica.com/2017/01/12/thanks-obama-6-big-climate-accomplishments-president-obamas-tenure/
Faith leaders reframe climate change as moral issue
Priests, pastors and ministers nationwide are spreading the gospel of climate change — as are imams and rabbis.
In recent years, faith-based advocacy has emerged as a powerful tool in the environmental movement. By reframing climate change and sustainability as moral issues, religious leaders hope to advance environmentalism by elevating it above the political fray.
“I believe that all religions, all faiths share a common goodness,” said Zerqa Abid, founder of My Project USA, a Muslim youth organization in Columbus. “All of us have to look within our houses, within our cities, in our everyday lives.
“We take care of the Earth, or we destroy it.”
Americans report fairly high levels of spirituality, but most do not view climate change as a moral issue, according to a 2015 survey by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Presenting climate change as a spiritual issue could be a successful strategy for attracting religious folks to environmental causes, the report suggests.
In Ohio, three-fourths of voters identify as religious, but little more than half say environmental laws are worth the cost, according to 2016 Pew Research Center surveys.
“Hitting people in the head with science doesn’t get them in the heart,” said Deborah Steele, fiscal officer for Clinton Township who previously worked for three years as an Ohio Interfaith Power and Light coordinator. “What gets people is a matter of conscience and not the logic of science.”
As leaders of intimate community spaces, religious officials are beginning to address the human-rights implications of climate change.
For example, exploitation of natural resources severely affects the world’s poorest populations and violates divine dictates on how people should treat the planet, said Rabbi Alex Braver of Tifereth Israel.
“The big-picture view, that’s what religion can offer,” Braver said. “I think (environmentalism) has very deep roots in ancient text and tradition, but it’s been lifted up in a different way now that we’re seeing the immense power we can have over the environment.”……….
At a rally on Monday, people from across several faiths and campaigns called on U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, to reject nominees for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet who deny climate change or come from the fossil-fuel industry.
Among the people who attended was Aline Yamada and her two children. Yamada, a Buddhist from Clintonville, said she feels a parallel between her beliefs and the protest’s message.
“We are all connected,” she said. “I think this is the biggest moral challenge of our time.” email@example.com
An engineer’s perspective on the Indian Point shutdown http://enformable.com/2017/01/an-engineers-perspective-on-the-indian-point-shutdown/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Enformable+%28Enformable%29 Author: Karl Grossman, 11 Jan 17
The good—the very good—energy news is that the Indian Point nuclear power plants 26 miles north of New York City will be closed in the next few years under an agreement reached between New York State and the plants’ owner, Entergy.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has long been calling for the plants to be shut down because, as the New York Times related in its story on the pact, they pose “too great a risk to New York City.” Environmental and safe-energy organizations have been highly active for decades in working for the shutdown of the plants. Under the agreement, one Indian Point plant will shut down by April 2020, the second by April 2021.
They would be among the many nuclear power plants in the U.S. which their owners have in recent years decided to close or have announced will be shut down in a few years.
This comes in the face of nuclear power plant accidents—the most recent the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan—and competitive power being less expensive including renewable and safe solar and wind energy.
Last year the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in Nebraska closed following the shutdowns of Kewanee in Wisconsin, Vermont Yankee in Vermont, Crystal River 3 in Florida and both San Onofre 2 and 3 in California. Nuclear plant operators say they will close Palisades in Michigan next year and then Oyster Creek in New Jersey and Pilgrim in Massachusetts in 2019 and California’s Diablo Canyon 1 in 2024 and Diablo Canyon 3 in 2025.
This brings the number of nuclear plants down to a few more than 90—a far cry from President Richard Nixon’s scheme to have 1,000 nuclear plants in the U.S. by the year 2000.
But the bad—the very bad—energy news is that there are still many promoters of nuclear power in industry and government still pushing and, most importantly, the transition team of incoming President Donald Trump has been “asking for ways to keep nuclear power alive,” as Bloomberg news reported last month.
As I was reading last week the first reports on the Indian Point agreement, I received a phone call from an engineer who has been in the nuclear industry for more than 30 years—with his view of the situation.
The engineer, employed at nuclear plants and for a major nuclear plant manufacturer, wanted to relate that even with the Indian Point news—“and I’d keep my fingers crossed that there is no disaster involving those aged Indian Point plants in those next three or four years”—nuclear power remains a “ticking time bomb.” Concerned about retaliation, he asked his name not be published.
Here is some of the information he passed on—a story of experiences of an engineer in the nuclear power industry for more than three decades and his warnings and expectations.
THE SECRETIVE INPO REPORT SYSTEM
Several months after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania in March 1979, the nuclear industry set up the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) based in Atlanta, Georgia. The idea was to have a nuclear industry group that “would share information” on problems and incidents at nuclear power plants, he said.
If there is a problem at one nuclear power plant, through an INPO report it is communicated to other nuclear plant operators. Thus the various plant operators could “cross-reference” happenings at other plants and determine if they might apply to them.
The reports are “coded by color,” explained the engineer. Those which are “green” involve an incident or condition that might or might not indicate a wider problem. A “yellow” report is on an occurrence “that could cause significant problems down the road.” A “red” report is the most serious and represents “a problem that could have led to a core meltdown”—and could be present widely among nuclear plants and for which action needs to be taken immediately.
The engineer said he has read more than 100 “Code Red” reports. What they reflect, he said, is that “we’ve been very, very lucky so far!”
If the general public would see these “red” reports, its view on nuclear power would turn strongly negative, said the engineer.
But this is prevented by INPO, “created and solely funded by the nuclear industry,” thus its reports “are not covered by the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and are regarded as highly secretive.” The reports should be required to be made public, said the engineer. “It’s high time the country wakes up to the dangers we undergo with nuclear power plants.”
THE NRC INSPECTION FARCE
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is supposed to be the federal agency that is the watchdog over nuclear power plants and it frequently boasts of how it has “two resident inspectors” at each nuclear power plant in the nation, he noted.
However, explained the engineer, “the NRC inspectors are not allowed to go into the plant on their own. They have to be escorted. There can be no surprise inspections. Indeed, the only inspections that can be made are those that come after the NRC inspectors “get permission from upper management at the plant.”
The inspectors “have to contact upper management and say they want to inspect an area. The word is then passed down from management that inspectors are coming—so ‘clean up’ whatever is the situation is.”
“The inspectors hands are tied,” said the engineer.
THE 60- AND NOW 80-YEAR OPERATING DELUSION
When nuclear power plants were first designed decades ago, explained the engineer, the extent of their mechanical life was established at 40 years. The engineer is highly familiar with these calculations having worked for a leading manufacturer of nuclear plants, General Electric.
The components in nuclear plants, particularly their steel parts, “have an inherent working shelf life,” said the engineer.
In determining the 40-year total operating time, the engineer said that calculated were elements that included the wear and tear of refueling cycles, emergency shutdowns and the “nuclear embrittlement from radioactivity that impacts on the nuclear reactor vessel itself including the head bolts and other related piping, and what the entire system can handle. Further, the reactor vessel is the one component in a nuclear plant that can never be replaced because it becomes so hot with radioactivity. If a reactor vessel cracks, there is no way of repairing it and any certainty of containment of radioactivity is not guaranteed.”
Thus the U.S. government limited the operating licenses it issued for all nuclear power plants to 40 years. However, in recent times the NRC has “rubber-stamped license extensions” of an additional 20 years now to more than 85 of the nuclear plants in the country—permitting them to run for 60 years. Moreover, a push is now on, led by nuclear plant owners Exelon and Dominion, to have the NRC grant license extensions of 20 additional years—to let nuclear plants run for 80 years.
Exelon, the owner of the largest number of nuclear plants in the U.S., last year announced it would ask the NRC to extend the operating licenses of its two Peach Bottom plants in Pennsylvania to 80 years. Dominion declared earlier that it would seek NRC approval to run its two Surry nuclear power plants in Virginia for 80 years.
“That a nuclear plant can run for 60 years or 80 years is wishful thinking,” said the engineer. “The industry has thrown out the window all the data developed about the lifetime of a nuclear plant. It would ignore the standards to benefit their wallets, for greed, with total disregard for the country’s safety.”
The engineer went on that since “Day One” of nuclear power, because of the danger of the technology, “they’ve been playing Russian roulette—putting one bullet in the chamber and hoping that it would not fire. By going to 60 years and now possibly to 80 years, “they’re putting all the bullets in every chamber—and taking out only one and pulling the trigger.”
Further, what the NRC has also been doing is not only letting nuclear plants operate longer but “uprating” them—allowing them to run “hotter and harder” to generate more electricity and ostensibly more profit. “Catastrophe is being invited,” said the engineer.
THE CARBON-FREE MYTH
A big argument of nuclear promoters in a period of global warming and climate change is that “reactors aren’t putting greenhouse gases out into the atmosphere,” noted the engineer.
But this “completely ignores” the “nuclear chain”—the cycle of the nuclear power process that begins with the mining of uranium and continues with milling, enrichment and fabrication of nuclear fuel “and all of this is carbon intensive.” There are the greenhouse gasses discharged during the construction of the steel and formation of the concrete used in nuclear plants, transportation that is required, and in the construction of the plants themselves.
“It comes back to a net gain of zero,” said the engineer.
Meanwhile, “we have so many ways of generating electric power that are far more truly carbon-free.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
“The bottom line,” said the engineer, “is that radioactivity is the deadliest material which exists on the face of this planet—and we have no way of controlling it once it is out. With radioactivity, you can’t see it, smell it, touch it or hear it—and you can’t clean it up. There is nothing with which we can suck up radiation.”
Once in the atmosphere—once having been emitted from a nuclear plant through routine operation or in an accident—“that radiation is out there killing living tissue whether it be plant, animal or human life and causing illness and death.”
What about the claim by the nuclear industry and promoters of nuclear power within the federal government of a “new generation” of nuclear power plants that would be safer? The only difference, said the engineer, is that it might be a “different kind of gun—but it will have the same bullets: radioactivity that kills.”
The engineer said “I’d like to see every nuclear plant shut down—yesterday.”
In announcing the agreement on the closing of Indian Point, Governor Cuomo described it as a “ticking time bomb.” There are more of them. Nuclear power overall remains, as the experienced engineer from the nuclear industry said, a “ticking time bomb.”
And every nuclear power plant needs to be shut down.
Massachusetts judge requires Exxon to hand over climate documents, Reuters 11 Jan 17
A Massachusetts judge has refused to excuse Exxon Mobil Corp from a request by the state’s attorney general to hand over decades worth of documents on its views on climate change, state officials said on Wednesday.
The decision by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger denying Exxon’s request for an order exempting it from handing over the documents represents a legal victory for Attorney General Maura Healey, who is investigating the world’s largest publicly traded oil company’s climate policies.
“This order affirms our longstanding authority to investigate fraud,” Healey said on Twitter following the decision, adding that Exxon “must come clean about what it knew about climate change.”……
The investigations follow separate reports by online news publication Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times showing that Exxon worked to play down the risks of climate change despite its own scientists’ having raised concerns about it decades earlier.
The news came on the day former Exxon Chief Executive Rex Tillerson faced a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state…….http://www.reuters.com/article/us-exxon-mobil-massachusetts-idUSKBN14W04Z
Tillerson Backs Paris Climate Agreement At Confirmation Hearing http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Tillerson-Backs-Paris-Climate-Agreement-At-Confirmation-Hearing.html
Climate change was among the topics on which a 21-senator panel grilled Tillerson yesterday, and was also one of the topics on which his stance differed from that of Trump. Also among these were nuclear proliferation, and to a certain extent, Iran.
Asked to comment on Trump statements that he would not object if U.S. allies such as Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia obtained nuclear weapons, Tillerson said that hardly anyone would advocate the global proliferation of nuclear weapons.
As for the Iran deal that several Western governments closed with Iran last year to deter the country from building its own nuclear weapons, Tillerson was wary in his approach, telling the Foreign Relations Committee he would recommend “a full review” of the deal.
Tillerson was also measured in his responses to questions concerning Russia and bilateral relations. Urged by Republican senator – and former Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination – Marco Rubio to agree that Russia’s President Putin was a war criminal because of Russia’s involvement in Syria, Tillerson declined, saying these were “serious charges to make,” adding that he needed more information before reaching that determination.
Back to climate change and more specifically Exxon’s role in it and its alleged attempt to hide knowledge about the effect of human activity on climate, Tillerson referred the panel to Exxon itself. Asked whether he was unwilling to answer or rather lacking the knowledge that would allow him to do so, Tillerson responded with “A little of both.”
Another Climate Change Push Comes From Exxon Shareholders, Inside Climate News,
Investors have introduced seven more resolutions, asking the company to address climate change and its risks, moving beyond Rex Tillerson’s resistant stance. David Hasemyer, 12 Jan 17
By TATSUYUKI KOBORI/ Staff Writer January 11, 2017 Coral bleaching has killed 70.1 percent of the nation’s largest coral reef as of the end of 2016, up from 56.7 percent just a few months earlier, the Environment Ministry said.
Warmer seawater temperatures last summer are believed to have caused coral bleaching to spread to 90 percent of the Sekiseishoko coral reef in Okinawa Prefecture…….http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701110028.html