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The Age of Women

Pearls and Irritations, By Julian Cribb, Jul 22, 2022

 Leadership by wise women is indispensable if we are to escape the catastrophe that male leadership is presently building for humanity.

If humanity is to survive the vast and growing threats it faces, women must assume the leadership of government, business, religion and social institutions around the world. Female leadership is a required solution to the ten catastrophic risks which now confront the whole of our civilisation.

As a rule, women don’t start wars, mine coal or oil, destroy landscapes and forests, pollute air and oceans or poison their children – though they may benefit from those male actions. They tend to think more about the longer term than do men, and to consider the future needs of their children and grandchildren more fully. They tend to seek peaceful and constructive solutions to problems rather than warring over differences in values and beliefs, or over resources.

Since the time our species first differentiated its gender roles, over a million years ago, pragmatic male thought has largely driven our remarkable ascent, our great technological achievements up to the start of the present century. But men are also risk takers – and often ignore or make light of the risks created by the use, misuse or overuse of these technologies. Furthermore, in the hot, overcrowded, resource-depleted, poisoned world of the present and immediate future, competitive male attitudes are also our potential downfall, especially if they lead to wars and mass destruction.

In a world beset by catastrophic risks such as global ecological collapse, nuclear weapons, climate change, universal chemical poisoning, resource scarcity, food insecurity, overpopulation, pandemic disease, deadly new technologies and self-delusion, a fresh human perspective is needed – one which accentuates peaceful co-operation, caring, repair, healing and restoration. One which values food above weapons, health above chemicals, re-use and thrift above wastage, nature above profit, thought for the next generations above immediate self-gratification – and wisdom over mere intelligence or technical skill.

The most striking example of global female leadership is the decision by women everywhere to have far fewer babies. This has brought the birth rate down from 5 babies per woman in the mid-1960s to 2.4 babies in the early 2020s – and it is still falling, in every continent and in almost every country, albeit more slowly. Moreover many women have taken the decision to control their fertility without seeking male approval. They just did it. It is a responsibility the female of our species has undertaken because she instinctually understands the dangers and costs inherent in uncontrolled family and population growth. Women have, on their own initiative, tackled one of the thorniest and most controversial issues affecting the human future – and with demonstrable success. Unswayed by the selfish arguments of economics, nationalism, religion, paternalism or social pressure, they have willingly had fewer children in order that those whom they do bear may live better – or even live at all.

Women are also  peacemakers. History offers few, if any, examples of wars of aggression waged by female leaders. Although perfectly capable of responding to military attack, female rulers from Elizabeth I, Maria Theresa and Catherine the Great to Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher defended their countries against attack by others or else ended wars which they had inherited from their male antecedents. Typically, they pursued their aims through diplomacy. All of the great wars of recent centuries, on the other hand, were started either by male monarchs, dictators or by male-dominated governments. 

……….. Women are also  peacemakers. History offers few, if any, examples of wars of aggression waged by female leaders. Although perfectly capable of responding to military attack, female rulers from Elizabeth I, Maria Theresa and Catherine the Great to Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi and Margaret Thatcher defended their countries against attack by others or else ended wars which they had inherited from their male antecedents. Typically, they pursued their aims through diplomacy. All of the great wars of recent centuries, on the other hand, were started either by male monarchs, dictators or by male-dominated governments. 

In a world where conflict over declining resources of land, water, food, minerals, timber, fish and other vital necessities of life is increasingly probable, male leadership is far more likely to result in mass destruction and death than female leadership. Males in most societies are taught from youth to compete for what they want, and if competition doesn’t work, then to fight for it, often to the death. Sporting role models, gang behaviour, worship of military virtues and imposed patriarchal values cement the process. This masculine ideal is so firmly imprinted on society and on young males as to make questioning it tantamount to heresy – and most men fear to do so. Indeed, the dawning realisation that traditional male values are redundant in a world where humans can eliminate themselves has given rise to  anxiety and confusion in many males over the likely loss of their ‘traditional’ roles of warrior and protector.

However, there is nothing compulsory about these traditional roles, ………………….. These stereotypes have endured centuries after the biological necessity for them has passed away. The preservation of these stone age roles in a 21st Century civilisation on the brink of catastrophe is an absurdity. Indeed, they will only hasten it.

Females learn or are taught to achieve their goals by other means, generally peaceful, diplomatic, negotiatory and co-operative. It follows that female leadership is better suited to the conditions of the C21st than it perhaps was to previous centuries – and male leadership less so. Thus, majority female rule can reduce the chances of civilisational collapse, or even human extinction, by war……………

It is noteworthy that women already tend to lead international organisations concerned with human health and wellbeing, with peace, with children and their future – whereas men tend to dominate organisations that pollute, manufacture poisons or weapons, plough up landscapes, pillage the oceans and destroy the climate. There are very few female leaders of the $7 trillion fossil fuels / petrochemicals sector, for example, and the male groupthink in that industry plainly values short-term profit above the safety and survival of humanity (including their own). This is classic male risk-taking behaviour ……….

Petrochemicals kill 12 million people every year and the toll is rising with climate change and the universal spread of poisons. In this case, a male-led industry prizes profit above human life on the largest scale ever to occur in history. But it is by no means unique. Other male-dominated sectors including agriculture, mining, forestry, corporate food and pharmaceuticals, electronics, advertising, armaments and the military, cause similar havoc among humanity, the natural world or both. For the sake of human survival, it is time their leadership underwent a radical repositioning in values, ethics and common sense.

The issue of whether  women should lead humanity in the 21st century is thus not a question of gender equality or politics. It is not about ‘feminism’.

It is, quite simply, a foundational rule for human survival at the very time we face a major threat to our existence, arising from our own behaviours.

It is now a matter of choosing the kind of  leadership which can best get us through the most dangerous era in all of human history.

Female thinking and leadership can protect a habitable planet and save humanity – or at least, some of it. And this means female thinking by enlightened men as well as by women. To influence global society towards more sustainable, healthy and peaceable solutions to our risks, we need many  wise women in positions of power. This is indispensable, if we are escape the fate which male-led competition, aggression, overconsumption and pollution are building for us.

July 23, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Women | 2 Comments

Nuclear power is racist, sexist and ageist — Beyond Nuclear International

Progressive Democrats should reject, not embrace it.

Nuclear power is racist, sexist and ageist — Beyond Nuclear International

So why do some progressives support it?

By Linda Pentz Gunter

I am sure that certain Democratic senators such as Cory Booker and Sheldon Whitehouse, who are reasonably progressive on a host of social issues, would not considers themselves racist, sexist or ageist.

Nuclear power is all three of these things, yet Booker, Whitehouse and a number of others on the Democratic left, support nuclear power with almost fervent evangelism.

Let’s start with racism. The fuel for nuclear power plants comes from uranium, which must be mined. The majority of those who have mined it in this country — and would again under new bills such as the ‘International Nuclear Energy Act of 2022’ forwarded by not-so-progressive “Democrat”, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) — are Native Americans.

As such, they have taken the brunt of the negative health impacts as well as the environmental degradation both created and then left behind by uranium mines when they cease to operate, as most in the U.S. now have.

Studies conducted among members of the Navajo Nation have shown increases in a number of diseases and lingering internal contamination from uranium mine waste among newborns and children. Chronic ailments including kidney disease and hypertension found in these populations are medically linked with living near –and contact with — uranium mine waste. 

At the other end of the nuclear power chain comes the lethal, long-lived and highly radioactive waste as well as the so-called low-level radioactive waste stream of detritus, including from decommissioned nuclear power plants. Again, Indigenous peoples and poor communities of color are routinely the target.

The first and only high-level radioactive waste repository identified for the U.S. was to have been at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, against the strong wishes of the Western Shoshone Nation of Indians, on whose land the now canceled site is located. The Western Shoshone had already suffered the worst of the atomic testing program, with the Nevada atomic test site also on their land, making them “the most bombed nation on Earth,” as Western Shoshone Principal Man, Ian Zabarte, describes it.

An attempt to site a “low-level” radioactive waste dump in the largely Hispanic community of Sierra Blanca, TX was defeated, as was an allegedly temporary high-level radioactive waste site targeted for the Skull Valley Goshute Indian reservation in Utah.

Currently, efforts are underway to secure what are euphemistically known as “Consolidated Interim Storage Sites” in two communities in New Mexico and Texas, again with large Hispanic populations and considerable opposition.

Needless to say, these waste projects come with notable incentives — sometimes more accurately characterized as bribes — for the host community, in an effort to describe the deal as “voluntary.” But this preys upon the desperate economic needs of the most vulnerable communities, which are usually those of color.

The only two new U.S. nuclear reactors still under construction sit close to the African American community of Shell Bluff, Georgia, a population riddled with cancers and other diseases and who bitterly opposed the addition of more reactors to an already radioactively contaminated region.

Nuclear power is sexist because exposure to the ionizing radiation released at every stage of the nuclear fuel chain harms women more easily than men. Women are more radiosensitive than men — the science is not fully in on this but it is likely connected to greater hormone production — but women are not protected for.

Instead, the standard guidelines on which allowable radiation exposure levels are based (and “allowable” does not mean “safe”), consider a healthy, White male, in his mid-twenties to thirties and typically weighing around 154 pounds. He is known as “Reference Man”.

Women’s more vulnerable health concerns, and especially those of pregnant women, the fetus, babies and small children — and in particular female children — are thus overlooked in favor of the higher doses a healthy young male could potentially withstand.

As my colleagues Cindy Folkers and Ian Fairlie wrote:” “Women, especially pregnant women and children are especially susceptible to damage from radiation exposure. This means that they suffer effects at lower doses. Resulting diseases include childhood cancers, impaired neural development, lower IQ rates, respiratory difficulties, cardiovascular diseases, perinatal mortality and birth defects — some appearing for the first time within a family in the population studied.”

Even around nuclear power plants, the very young are at greater risk. Numerous studies in Europe have demonstrated that children age five or younger living close to nuclear power plants show higher rates of leukemia than those living further away. The closer they lived to the nuclear plant, the higher the incidences.

Similarly, the elderly are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of radiation exposure than adults in the prime of life. They, too, are overlooked in favor of protecting a robust man. Elders exposed to radiation are mainly to be found in the uranium mining and milling communities, or where waste dumps are located, and are therefore more likely to be low-income with poorer access to health care and fewer finances to pay for it.

The urgency of the climate crisis is a valid reason to revisit all electricity sources and make some important choices about lowering — and ideally eliminating — carbon emissions. Ruling out fossil fuel use is a must. But turning to nuclear power — rather than the faster, cheaper and safer options of renewable energy and efficiency — is not a humane choice. 

If health is the concern, along with climate change, as it most certainly is for someone like Cory Booker, then choosing nuclear power as a substitute for fossil fuels is simply trading asthma for leukemia and asking frontline and Indigenous communities to, once again, suffer the greatest harm for the least return.

A truly progressive energy policy looks forward, not back. Nuclear power is an energy of the past — borne of a public relations exercise to create something positive out of splitting the atom. It was a mistake then. And it is a mistake now. If we are to address our climate crisis in time, and to do so with justice and equality, then we must ensure a Just Transition that considers the most vulnerable and discriminated among us, not what is best for that healthy, White Reference Man.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear and writes for and curates Beyond Nuclear International.

July 16, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, indigenous issues, Women | Leave a comment

New film: The ‘Mothers of the Revolution’ Who Stared Down Nuclear Weapons

The ‘Mothers of the Revolution’ Who Stared Down Nuclear Weapons,   The doc ‘Mothers of the Revolution’ chronicles the women who spent years protesting the nukes at RAF Greenham Common. One of those brave women, Rebecca Johnson, tells their story.   Daily Beast, Rebecca Johnson Nov. 21, 2021  In September 1981, a ten-day walk from Wales under the banner of Women for Life on Earth arrived at the main gate of RAF Greenham Common, sixty miles west of London. Home to the 501st Tactical Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force, this nuclear base was designated by NATO to deploy nuclear-armed cruise missiles in Europe. We called for this decision to be publicly debated.

When ignored, Women for Life on Earth grew into the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. I began living there in 1982 and stayed until the 1987 U.S.-Soviet Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty banned and eliminated all land-based medium-range nuclear weapons from Europe, including Cruise, Pershing and SS20s.

After years of being airbrushed out of histories of the Cold War, Greenham’s actions, struggles and legacy are being spotlighted in a new film, Mothers of the Revolution, from acclaimed New Zealand director Briar March. Showing contemporaneous news footage from the 1980s along with dramatized vignettes and reflections from women who got involved with the Greenham Women’s Peace Camp in the 1980s, the film weaves an illustrative narrative from the experiences of a small cross section of activists—not only from Britain, but Russia, East and West Europe, the United States, and the Pacific.

Though it’s taken a long time for our contribution to the INF Treaty to be publicly recognized, other treaties have been influenced by Greenham’s feminist-humanitarian activism and strategies, most notably the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into international law in January 2021.

While living at Greenham for five years I came to understand what we really need: Not weapons and power over others, but communities that are empowered to love, question and create. We took forward new theories and practices of nonviolence that were feminist and assertive. We didn’t suppress deep human emotions like fear, love and anger, but channelled them into power for change. We needed to be activist and analytical, passionate and diplomatic, stubborn and flexible, courageous and truthful—no matter who tried to silence us.

The cruise missiles arrived in November 1983, which felt like a bitter defeat at first. Yet we refused to give up. …………….

Were we mothers of a revolution? If anything, I think we were part of a long continuum of struggles for women’s rights and safety, following in the footsteps of the women who fought so hard to vote and live free from oppression, slavery, and misogyny. Not mothers but daughters—of all those brave feminist revolutionaries.

I’m so glad Mothers of the Revolution ends with such an inspiring call to action showing the faces and voices of a new generation of fierce Daughters who are campaigning for girls’ education, climate justice, peace, and women’s rights to live free of patriarchal perpetrators and their greedy, oppressive systems of violence. Together we can stop the destroyers and strengthen the naturally diverse, interdependent lives that share and protect our beautiful Mother Earth. That’s our revolution, and we are not finished yet.

November 22, 2021 Posted by | Reference, Resources -audiovicual, UK, weapons and war, Women | Leave a comment

Kamala Harris became the first woman to have control over US nuclear weapons, but only briefly

Kamala Harris became the first woman to have control over US nuclear weapons, but only briefly, Business Insider, Ryan Pickrell, Nov. 19, 2021,  

President Joe Biden briefly transferred presidential authority to Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday.That included the ability to use nuclear weapons, making Harris the first woman in US history to hold that authority.Presidential power was returned to Biden following the completion of a medical procedure.

President Joe Biden temporarily transferred his presidential authority to Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday as he underwent a routine colonoscopy, which briefly made her the first woman in US history to have power as commander-in-chief and the first woman to have control of the US nuclear arsenal and nuclear strike authority…………………

November 20, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, Women | Leave a comment

Women to bring a wake-up call to a world facing nuclear annihilation

Women To Claim Their Seat at the Nuclear Table

With women still underrepresented in nuclear policymaking and national security planning while being disproportionately impacted by nuclear weapons due to ionizing radiation from their use, testing, manufacturing, storage, and transport, Lazaroff reimagines and redefines national security with her Women Transforming Our Nuclear Legacy (WTONL) global online mentoring program.

Convinced that strong leadership demands “new thinking, not new weapons,” WTONL’s gathering of minds–with U.S. and Russian women experts and citizen diplomats reimagining security–has engaged 400 women from 40 countries including eight of the nine nuclear-armed states.

Excluding women–half of the human race–for much of the nuclear age has brought us to the brink of possible extinction,” Lazaroff advocates for a feminist foreign policy. “We need dialogue over silence, engagement over isolation, cooperation and diplomacy over conflict and war.”

After Her Nuclear Disaster Dress Rehearsal, Cynthia Lazaroff Has A Wake-Up Call For Our World As We Sleepwalk Into Nuclear Extinction Jackie Abramian ForbesWomen, 22 Sept 21, “There are nearly 13,500 nuclear warheads in current arsenals of nine nuclear-armed states. That the U.S. has more nuclear warheads than hospitals should be a wake-up call,” says award-winning documentary filmmaker, environmentalist, nuclear weapons abolition activist, Cynthia Lazaroff who having lived through a 38-minute nuclear cataclysm dress rehearsal in January 2018, hopes to wake up our world to the looming threat of sleepwalking into a nuclear disaster. 

Lazaroff’s wake-up call came on the morning of January 13, 2018, when, along with all Hawaiian residents, she received a text: “Emergency Alert: Ballistic Missile Threat Inbound to Hawaii. Seek Immediate Shelter. This is not a drill.” As the reality of the moment unfolded, she scurried about her home, as a nuclear age refugee, hastily deciding which objects to take to the security of a nearby cave–while desperately trying to reach her daughter’s cellphone to let her know, perhaps for the last time to say “goodbye and I love you.” She detailed the harrowing 38-minutes–later confirmed as a false alarm–in her Dawn of a New Armageddon, published on August 6, (Hiroshima Day) in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

The experience led Lazaroff to found NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to abolishing nuclear weapons with a focus on the U.S. and Russia–which combined have over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. She is also on the Board of American Committee for U.S.-Russia Accord, which issued an open letter calling for a new era of diplomacy and engagement between the U.S. and Russia prior to the Biden-Putin summit. She applauds the resumed Biden-Putin dialogue and the “signs of hope”–the New START treaty extension for another five years, Secretary John Kerry’s Moscow visit and meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov as “realizing our shared interest to address the existential threat of climate change,” and the late July U.S.-Russia strategic stability talks in Geneva following the Summit. 

“Our demonization of Russia, N. Korea, Iran, and China is justifying the continued military buildup. In 2020, during the global pandemic, the nine nuclear-armed states spent nearly $73 billion on nuclear weapons–over $137,000 per minute, with the U.S. spending over half of this total–$37.4 billion, $70,881 per minute,” Citing Elisabeth Eaves’ article on the newly commissioned $100 billion ground based strategic deterrent (GBSD), Lazaroff underscores the “insane” might of the military industrial complex amidst layers of existential threats of climate change, the pandemic, and racial and socio-economic injustices of our world.

Another sign of hope is 122 countries adopting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) with 86 signatory states, while 55 countries have ratified the treaty which entered into force this January. The first treaty Lazaroff says, that is “based not on military law but on humanitarian law” addressing “nuclear colonialism and radioactive racism, the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on indigenous peoples, and on women and girls due to ionizing radiation. It is also the first providing assistance to victims of nuclear use and testing and for the remediation of contaminated environments.”

Even with everything I knew about nuclear weapons, nuclear war was unimaginable to me until I lived through those 38 minutes. Now this experience lives inside of me as a mother, as a human being, with a responsibility to wake up and transform our nuclear legacy. It’s never going to go away until we eliminate the risk 100%–I know eliminating nuclear weapons is a tall order. I have no illusions about the formidable obstacles, but we must act. We still have a chance to get this right,” Lazaroff offers a Nuclear Playbook–a 10-step action program with critical recommendations for averting a nuclear catastrophe put forth by Congressional leaders, arms control and security experts, and NGOs such as the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), William J. Perry Project, Ploughshares Fund, Global Zero, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Back from the Brink, among others…………..

Decriminalizing Diplomacy of Peace

“Part of my work is to decriminalize diplomacy with Russia, North Korea, Iran and China. It’s omnicidal behavior not to talk to your nuclear adversary. You can’t just obtain denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula without changing the relationship, without creating the conditions for peace,” says Lazaroff.

The “commercially driven millisecond news cycles,” harboring the “us vs. them” mentality fuels greater divides, “deterring alliance around shared global threats, while lacking introspection,” Lazaroff believes. She commends JFK’s 1963 American University speech, ‘Strategy of Peace’ following the Cuban Missile Crisis when JFK courageously called for ‘introspection’, not to be ‘blind to our differences,’ and addressed our common and ‘mutually deep interests’ with the Soviet Union ‘in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race.’

Continue reading

September 23, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Women | Leave a comment

Greenham Common’s renowned Women’s Peace Camp, the world’s longest-running anti-nuclear demonstration

  Greenham Common 40 years on – when ordinary women drove nuclear weapons
out of UK. Three Welsh protesters reveal what they learnt after being part
of the renowned Women’s Peace Camp, the world’s longest-running
anti-nuclear demonstration, forty years ago in Berkshire.

   Mirror 21st Aug 2021

August 23, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK, Women | Leave a comment

Astronauts to Mars – a game of cancer-russian-roulette, especially dangerous to women

women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation.

the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

New Space Radiation Limits Needed for NASA Astronauts, Report Says, Scientific American, By Ramin Skibba on July 14, 2021   Although meant to minimize risks to human health, the proposed new limits would still be exceeded by any conceivable near-future crewed voyage to MarsAstronaut Scott Kelly famously spent an entire year residing onboard the International Space Station (ISS), about 400 kilometers above Earth, and his NASA colleague Christina Koch spent nearly that long “on station.” Each returned to Earth with slightly atrophied muscles and other deleterious physiological effects from their extended stay in near-zero gravity.

But another, more insidious danger lurks for spacefarers, especially those who venture beyond low-Earth orbit.

Space is filled with invisible yet harmful radiation, most of it sourced from energetic particles ejected by the sun or from cosmic rays created in extreme astrophysical events across the universe. Such radiation can damage an organism’s DNA and other delicate cellular machinery. And the damage increases in proportion to exposure, which is drastically higher beyond the protective cocoon of Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field (such as on notional voyages to the moon or Mars). Over time, the accrued cellular damage significantly raises the risk of developing cancer.

To address the situation, at NASA’s request, a team of top scientists organized by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report in June recommending that the space agency adopt a maximum career-long limit of 600 millisieverts for the space radiation astronauts can receive. The sievert is a unit that measures the amount of radiation absorbed by a person—while accounting for the type of radiation and its impact on particular organs and tissues in the body—and is equivalent to one joule of energy per kilogram of mass. Scientists typically use the smaller (but still quite significant) quantity of the millisievert, or 0.001 sievert. Bananas, for instance, host minute quantities of naturally occurring radioactive isotopes, but to ingest a millisievert’s worth, one would have to eat 10,000 bananas within a couple of hours.

Every current member of NASA’s astronaut corps has received less than 600 millisieverts during their orbital sojourns, and most, including Koch, have received much less and can thus safely return to space. But a year on the ISS still exposes them to more radiation than experienced by residents of Japan who lived near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents of 2011.

Everybody is planning trips to the moon and Mars,” and these missions could have high radiation exposures, says Hedvig Hricak, lead author of the report and a radiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Using current spaceflight-proved technologies, long-distance voyages—especially to the Red Planet—would exceed the proposed threshold, she says.

That could be a big problem for NASA’s Artemis program, which seeks to send astronauts to the moon in preparation for future trips to Mars. Another problem for the space agency is that the epidemiological data it uses mostly come from a longevity study of Japanese survivors of atomic bomb blasts, as well as from the handful of astronauts and cosmonauts who have endured many months or even years in low-Earth orbit. NASA’s current space radiation limit, which was developed in 2014, involves a complicated risk assessment for cancer mortality that depends on age and sex, yet more relevant data are necessary, Hricak argues. In the atomic bomb survivor study, for instance, women were more likely to develop lung cancer than men, suggesting a greater sex-based vulnerability to harmful radiation. “But with the knowledge we presently have, we know we cannot make a comparison between high exposure versus chronic exposure,” Hricak says. “The environment is different. There are so many factors that are different.”

NASA wants to update its standards now because the agency is on the cusp of sending so many astronauts well beyond low-Earth orbit, where greater amounts of space radiation seem destined to exceed previously mandated exposure limits. Furthermore, Hricak says, having a single, universal radiation limit for all space travelers is operationally advantageous because of its simplicity. A universal limit could also be seen as a boon for female astronauts, [ Ed. a boon?when they still are more susceptible to cancer than men are?] who had a lower limit than men in the old system and therefore were barred from spending as many days in space as their male counterparts.

The new radiation limit proposed by Hricak and her team is linked to the risks to all organs of a 35-year-old woman—a demographic deemed most vulnerable in light of gender differences in the atomic bomb survivor data and the fact that younger people have higher radiation risks, partly because they have more time for cancers to develop. The goal of the radiation maximum is to keep an individual below a 3 percent risk of cancer mortality: in other words, with this radiation limit, at most three out of 100 astronauts would be expected to die of radiation-induced cancer in their lifetime.

“NASA uses standards to set spaceflight exposure limits to protect NASA astronauts’ health and performance, both in mission and after mission,” says Dave Francisco of NASA’s Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer. He acknowledges that, while astronauts on Mars missions would benefit from the thin Martian atmosphere that provides some limited protection, “transit in deep space has the highest exposure levels.”

That means long-haul space trips come with the biggest risks. A stay on the lunar surface for six months or more—presuming, of course, that astronauts eventually have a presence there and do not spend most of their time in subsurface habitats—would involve nearly 200 millisieverts of exposure, a higher amount than an extended visit to the ISS. And an astronaut traveling to Mars would be exposed to even more radiation. Whether they reached the Red Planet through a lunar stopover or on a direct spaceflight, they could have experienced significant radiation exposure en route. Even before they embarked on the trip back home, they could have already exceeded the 600 millisievert limit. The entire voyage, which would likely last a couple of years, could involve well more than 1,000 millisieverts. So if astronauts—and not just robots—will be sent to Mars, NASA likely will need to request waivers for them,

Hricak says, although the exact process for obtaining a waiver has not yet been laid out.

The report’s proposal for a new radiation maximum is not without its critics. “For a mission to Mars, a 35-year-old woman right at that limit could have an over 10 percent chance of dying in 15 to 20 years. To me, this is like playing Russian roulette with the crew,” says Francis Cucinotta, a physicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and former radiation health officer at NASA. Despite the supposed benefits the new limits would have for female astronauts, he is concerned that the risks are particularly pronounced for younger women in space.

On the contrary, Hricak says, in its request for new limits, NASA has sought to be conservative. The European, Canadian, and Russian space agencies all currently have a higher maximum allowed dose of 1,000 millisieverts, while Japan’s limit is age- and sex-dependent like NASA’s current one, mainly because of a shared dependence on the atomic bomb survivor data.

But unlike someone in the vicinity of a nuclear explosion, the risk to an astronaut exposed to space radiation is long-term rather than immediate. Without proper shielding (which tends to be rather heavy and thus prohibitively expensive to launch) their chances of developing cancer, as well as cardiovascular disease, cataracts and central nervous system damage, slightly increase each day they are in space. In a person’s cells, space radiation can sever both strands of a DNA molecule’s double helix. And while a few such instances might come with very limited risks, each additional severance raises the odds of developing a harmful mutation that could cause cancer………

considering how little is known about various health risks from different kinds of space radiation, compared with radiation we are familiar with on Earth, researchers will surely continue with more studies like these to protect astronauts as much as possible. “I can tell you exactly how much exposure you’re going to get from a CT scan,” Hricak says, “but there are many uncertainties with space radiation.”…..  

July 15, 2021 Posted by | radiation, Reference, space travel, Women | Leave a comment

Extinction Rebellion climate activists block Faslane nuclear base

Extinction Rebellion block Faslane nuclear base entrance,  Climate activists set up a blockade at the Faslane nuclear base by attaching themselves to plant pots. 30 Apr 21,

Members of Extinction Rebellion Scotland staged the protest at the north gate of the base on the Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute.

The all-female group placed three planters painted with the words “Safe”, “Green”, and “Future” on the road.

Police Scotland said they were made aware of the incident at 06:20 and officers were at the scene.

HMNB Clyde – known as Faslane – is the Royal Navy’s main presence in Scotland.

It is home to the core of the submarine service, including the UK’s nuclear weapons, and the new generation of hunter-killer submarines.

The protest group said they were demanding a future “safe from the threat of nuclear weapons and environmental destruction”.

Extinction Rebellion said the action was part of the Peace Lotus campaign, a global day of anti-war resistance celebrating the anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

An HMNB spokesman confirmed police were in attendance and assisting Ministry of Defence officers in dealing with the protest. He added: “Well-established, fully co-ordinated procedures are in place to ensure the effective operation of HMNB Clyde is not compromised because of protest action.”

May 1, 2021 Posted by | UK, weapons and war, Women | 1 Comment

Women in government – the key to getting rid of nuclear power

Nuclear withdrawal was thanks to women, says former energy minister,–says-former-energy-minister/46423854  5 Mar 21, Having four women in Switzerland’s seven-person government played a key role in the decision to phase out nuclear energy ten years ago, according to Doris Leuthard, who was energy minister at the time of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima on March 11, 2011.

The three other female cabinet ministers at the time were Micheline Calmy-Rey and Simonetta Sommaruga from the left-wing Social Democratic Party and Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf from the centre-right Conservative Democratic Party.Leuthard, from the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, admitted that she didn’t immediately realise the scale of the disaster at Fukushima.

“My first reaction was to say that that’s very far away from us, in Japan, in a country that deals seriously and professionally with events of this kind. I didn’t realise right away that it was a major disaster,” she told Le Temps.

In an interviewExternal link with Swiss newspaper Le Temps on Thursday, Leuthard said she would have had a hard time convincing men on the political right to abandon nuclear power.

“I think women are generally more sensitive to the environment and to the risks to which the population is exposed. When safety is at stake, they are willing to look at new solutions, even if it means paying a little more. They were more quickly convinced that we could opt for a new energy mix,” said Leuthard, who stepped down from the government at the end of 2018.

Only gradually did it become clear how serious the disaster was and that Switzerland had to act. On March 14 the government imposed a moratorium on nuclear projects.

“It was a decision that had to be taken quickly because, at the time, we intended to replace the three oldest [nuclear] plants with a modern, new-generation facility. We had to carry out a new risk analysis and see whether we could maintain the nuclear option in our energy policy. We informed the owners of the Swiss power plants, who had submitted applications to build this new-generation facility. It was a difficult moment, as our decision could cause them significant damage. […] I must admit that I didn’t sleep very well for two nights.”

In the end Switzerland did decide in 2011 to phase out nuclear power, which supplies about a third of the country’s electricity production.

In 2017 Swiss voters endorsed a new energy law that aims to promote renewable energy by banning new nuclear power plants and reducing energy consumption.

In December 2019 the 47-year-old Mühleberg nuclear power plant near Bern was permanently switched off – the first of five Swiss nuclear power reactors to be decommissioned. The event was considered so important that viewers could follow the progress live on Swiss television.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Switzerland, Women | Leave a comment

I am appalled at the idea of ”Mothers For Nuclear”

As a mother myself, I am appalled that such a group as ”Mothers For Nuclear” even exists.  Dont

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

they know about the effects of ionising radiation on women, especially pregnant women?   Don’t they know about the breast cancers, the birth deformities in irradiated areas such as Pacific atomic bomb sites, and Belarus-Ukraine, near the Chernobyl site.  No, they don’t seem to.  (Perhaps that ‘s the beauty of a narrowly S.T.E.M. education?)

Both Heather Hoff and Kristin Zaitz work at the Diablo Nuclear Power Plant.   Hoff worked as a plant operator, and now as a procedure writer.  Zaitz works as a civil engineer.

Hoff was inspired by none other than that top nuclear schill Michael Shellenberger, and by the glossy  nuclear advertising film ”Pandora’s Promise”.

They sound very sincere, but also very ignorant of the negative issues around the nuclear industry.

Why am I not surprised?   The nuclear industry is busting its guts trying to get women onside.  Their favourite thing is getting (preferably young and attractive) women into engineering, and at the top of nuclear companies.    (This is good in two ways  – good to promote the industry’s ‘gender equality’ image, and good if they muck up, as Leslie Dewan did, in her bogus claims for Transatomic’s molten salt reactor –  let a woman take the flak!)

The thing is – lots of women have expertise in biology, genetics – and an understanding of the effects of ionising radiation.  But the nuclear industry has got us all conned that these are ”soft”sciences.  So – if you’ve got ”hard” scienvce knowledge – like engineering, then you can be an authority on nuclear issues.

These two women sound very sincere – alarmingly so.

The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power, New Yorker, By Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, February 19, 2021

“……… But Hoff and Zaitz work at a nuclear plant and have been flown to give talks at industry-sponsored events; Mothers for Nuclear has received small donations from others who work in the industry. There is no denying the conflict of interest posed by their employment; even within the pro-nuclear community, their industry ties provoke uneasiness. Nordhaus, the executive director of the Breakthrough Institute, wrote in an e-mail that, although he thinks Hoff and Zaitz are “well-intentioned,” nuclear advocacy should be independent of what he called “the legacy industry.” ……..
On the air, Hoff explained who they were. “Mothers for Nuclear offers a different voice,” she said. “Nuclear power plants are run by lots of men, and women have been more scared of nuclear energy. We’re here to offer the motherly side of nuclear—nuclear for the future, for our children, for the planet.”…….

To be fervently pro-nuclear, in the manner of Hoff and Zaitz, is to see in the peaceful splitting of the atom something almost miraculous. It is to see an energy source that has been steadily providing low-carbon electricity for decades—doing vastly more good than harm, saving vastly more lives than it has taken—but which has received little credit and instead been maligned. It is to believe that the most significant problem with nuclear power, by far, is public perception. ………..—the pro-nuclear world view can edge toward dogmatism. Hoff and Zaitz certainly seem readier to tout studies that confirm their views, and reluctant to acknowledge any flaws that nuclear energy may have. ……

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Christina's notes, spinbuster, USA, Women | 3 Comments

Dr Helen Caldicott as mentor for anti-nuclear activists

My Six Mentors,  “………Helen Caldicott, MD,  by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121

Helen Caldicott deserves a much greater place in our histories of the Cold War and ending the USA / USSR arms race than she generally gets. This is, perhaps, because she is powerful and a woman. A pediatrician, who in the 1970’s would not tolerate the radioactive fallout she and her patients were suffering from nuclear weapons tests in Australia, Helen and her family came to the USA. She and another physician named Ira Helfand revived what had been a local Boston organization of physicians and created a Nobel Prize winning organization called Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), which later participated in the creation of another Nobel Prize winning group, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). These two along with hundreds of other organizations committed to peace and nuclear disarmament formed the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) which has helped to create the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (see ) and also won the Nobel Prize (2017).

Helen herself is a powerful communicator and will move audiences at a level that can change the course of someone’s life and work. She followed her own destiny to winning meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the Soviet Union, where she educated him about Nuclear Winter and the fact that nuclear is not a war that anyone can win. She also met with President Reagan in the era and diagnosing early-stage dementia… Her ability to bring the reality of the world to these men, and reality of these men to the world set her aside, in a class by herself—and was an enormous contribution to us all.

I first met Helen in the body of her Cold War block-buster book “Nuclear Madness.” I was in the midst of an existential crisis that could have become an even bigger health crisis.  After college I needed a job (not yet a career) because I was broke, broken up from my first “true” love, and far from home. I got a job as a research assistant in a lab at a prestigious medical school; it was 1984.

Within 2 weeks, I was inadvertently contaminated with radioactivity (without my knowledge) by carelessness of a lab-mate. The radioactive material, Phosphorus-32 is used in research to trace biochemical activity in living organisms. This type of radioactivity is not deeply penetrating, so there was some reason not to panic, however the I was exposed continuously for over a week, and I also found radioactivity at home– my toothbrush was “hot”—so I had also had some level of internal exposure. I was terrified. The lab used concentrations of the tracer thousands of times higher than is typical.

The institution told me there was no danger, but because I was upset, they helped me transfer to a different job. No accident report was filed, and in the midst of transition, my radiation detection badge was never processed. It is not possible to know the dimensions of my exposure—I began having symptoms that were not normal for me. Many people, including some family members told me I was imagining things. No one in my circle understood how terrified I was.

I was fortunate that Helen had already written “Nuclear Madness”—the first edition came out in 1978, just before the March 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in Harrisburg PA—an event that propelled the book into multiple printings including a Bantam Paperback edition that I found. It turned out that 7 years later I helped Helen to revise and update the same text for the 1994 WW Norton edition. It was Helen’s deep commitment to truth, to speaking and writing that truth, to empowering people to take action for good. Helen’s words accurately described radiation and its potential for harm, and in my panic about the unknown, this calmed me.

Every other authority I had encountered was trying to tell me there was no problem—when I knew they had no right to dismiss what had happened to me.  I am quite certain that had I remained alone with my fear, despair, and confusion my panic would have resulted in behaviors that would have compounded any harm bodily from that radioactive contamination. Reading Helen’s work let me know there was at least one woman walking the Earth who did know what I was going through… it made it possible for me to choose recovery and walk away from a legal battle that would have forced me to maintain, hold and prove a myself a victim. Instead, following in Helen’s wake, I chose Peaceful Warrior. Thank you Helen! : ………..

January 2, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, opposition to nuclear, Reference, Women | Leave a comment

Mary Olson pays tribute to Rosalie Bertell, the great explainer of radiation impacts on health.

My Six Mentors,   by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121 

“……………. Rosalie Bertell, PhD

It was Rosalie who most let me know that I am able to contribute original work towards the day that People, to decide not to split atoms any more. Human beings began splitting atoms in Chicago, in 1942. Rosalie, a PhD in mathematics and member of the Order of Gray Nuns, knew more than anyone else I have worked with, that all of it—every last nuclear license, and radioactive emission, all the waste and all the bombs and all the money congress gives to nuclear activities are choices. People made, and continue to make these decisions…and we can change our mind.

Rosalie studied radiation impacts and was committed to service on behalf of future generations. She won the Right Livelihood award for her work with communities impacted by nuclear industry. Often called the “alternative Peace Prize” – she was one of the first women to be honored. As a laureate, she was encouraged to find and mentor students. Rosalie hoped that I, and my coworker Diane D’Arrigo would go to graduate school and she could be our mentor. We decided since we were already in our 50’s to simply study with her, informally. We traveled, 5 or 6 times to the Mother House where she resided and she generously met with us in the last two years of her life. She was always small in stature, but at that point her back was bent and she barely came up to my chest, but still had the intensity of a wolverine!

It was Rosalie Bertell who helped me tackle one of the biggest challenges I have faced. After a public talk on radioactive waste policy that I gave during this time, a woman asked me if radiation was more harmful to women, to her, compared to a man. Even though I had studied and known many of the top independent radiation researchers, including Bertell, I had never heard that biological sex could be a factor for harm—other than in reproduction (pregnancy)—but that is more about the embryo and fetus than the woman. I told her that I was sorry, I did not know and would get back to her. In fact, I forgot.

Two years later, when nuclear reactors exploded in Japan at a site called Fukushima Daiichi, I remembered that question and knew it urgently needed an answer. I was unaware that Dr Arjun Makhijani and a team had written on sex differences in radiation harm in 2006 (see ) and also did not turn that up as I searched for any information on differences between males and females. My findings, five years later are an independent confirmation of the IEER work.

Since I found nothing on a basic google dive, I called Rosalie, who was at that point nearing the end of her life, to ask if she had studied biological sex. She had not, and the one report she pointed me to was out of print. It was my second call, a week later, that prompted her to tell me that I would have to look at the data myself.

I had no idea that the National Academy of Science (NAS) had published tables with 60 years of data on cancers and cancer deaths among the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rosalie told me to find out for myself. I was shocked. I had stopped any formal study of math in the 6th grade…she was a mathematician—I asked her to do it, and she reminded me that she was dying. I protested again. It was her next words that pushed me. Rosalie said, “The data is divided by males and females so you can look at this question—and if there is a difference, it will be a simple pattern. It is good you do not have more math because if there is a difference, you will find it and not make it more complicated than it is.” She said to get a few pencils, a sharpener, an eraser and lots of paper, and go to it. I did.

The result was my first paper on the topic, “Atomic Radiation is More Harmful to Women,” (October 2011) published to the web in time for Rosalie to congratulate me. Three years later the paper was the basis for my invitation to speak at the global Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons. Three years later as the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was in the work, I founded the Gender and Radiation Impact Project. Rosalie is the one who put rocket fuel in my determination to help. If the world decides to base radiation protection on Refence Little Girl—make every regulation in terms of protecting females who are infants—five years old, future generations have a chance. Rosalie is the one who modeled for me that it is possible to reach for the best possible outcome, and, indeed, we have an obligation to do so………..……


January 2, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, PERSONAL STORIES, radiation, Reference, women, Women | Leave a comment

Mary Olson on 4 mentors about radiation -Diana Bellamy, Sharon Barry, Judith Johnsrud, Joanna Macy

My Six Mentors,   by Mary Olson, Gender and Radiation Impact Project, 1 January 20121 

…in these atomic times…

[September, 2020] I was born in 1958—full-on Cold War… my family lived upwind of the Nevada nuclear weapons test site in California and even there air quality was the reason my parents gave when they moved our family back to the Midwest… I was in kindergarten in a tiny town in Illinois during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when a bomb drill caused me to become aware of nuclear annihilation at that age. I opted out: that very night I got sick and stayed chronically ill dropping out of kindergarten and was mostly homeschooled for the next 12 years. I am fortunate that my brilliant parents were my teachers and I learned a lot on that journey. When I emerged well enough to go college and work, I learned even more from amazing women. These six, my MENTORS:

Diana Bellamy, MFA

At Reed College I majored in Biology—focused on evolution, and History of Science. As a Junior I fulfilled an arts requirement by taking a theater course, for the first time. Professor Diana Bellamy was a working actor, and in her Introduction to Acting class I discovered that embodiment of an experience is something that others can see and recognize, and at times, experience with the actor. My ability was spotted by Bellamy. She invited—urged me–to change my major and come to the Theater Department, even so late in my coursework. I was shocked into an evaluation of my own priorities and goals.

The following summer was a deep-dive into determining whether to stay the course in my original science major, or jump. The process of discernment, largely via discussions with my father, brought me to a deep understanding of WHY I was studying science: I knew that society’s decisions and actions would be, more and more, made in the worlds of research and technology, and I also knew that ordinary people do not speak those languages. I wanted to become fluent enough in that world to be able to help translate for those who are affected, but outside that bubble. Eventually, ten years out, I attained that role…and have stayed with it.

Diana’s recognition of my ability to project experience challenged me to find the reason I would stay in Biology besides a more stable work-life. It was an empowerment for me to find how to use my gift as a communicator.  I bow to her every time I take the stage to speak to 10’s or to 1000’s of people, and help them experience the vital importance of what I am there to say. …………

Sharon Barry, CPA

As I left research behind at age 25, I needed stability, clean air and water, and a different kind of stress as I rebuilt my health. In 1986 I got a job running the retreat, conference center, and camp in Michigan where my parents had been summer staff when I was a toddler—and I had attended camp. Circle Pines Center is both legendary, and unknown. I created, and served on a Management Team for five years and built a strong tool-box of non-profit organizational skills. That portfolio includes business management and administration. It was my dear friend and mentor, Sharon who helped me learn. Our relationship was not easy—but Sharon stood by me as she taught me the craft, and helped with the art by serving on the Finance Committee of the Board. We rebuilt the Center which had been in tough shape…to its strongest financial footing in decades. Sharon went on to win her own CPA and has been part of my financial life ever since as my accountant. I am not wealthy, but I am also deeply committed to accountability. Sharon taught me, and continues to support me in this. It is her strength I pull on to get through my own tough times. THANK YOU!

Judith Johnsrud, PhD

I met Judy in 1990 at the Backyard Eco Conference in Michigan. I left my submersion job at Circle Pines and drove to the gathering, expressly to hear Johnsrud speak about radioactivity in the environment. I had been recovering from my radiation exposure, and learning about new proposals from the federal government to deregulate a large share of the radioactive waste generated in the processing of uranium for nuclear fuel, and the operation of nuclear reactors for energy and nuclear weapons materials production. The Below Regulatory Concern Policy would put metals, building materials, soil and many other materials that were measurably radioactive into unregulated county landfills and also allow recycle into consumer products, with no warning or label. The deregulation is what I wanted to talk to her about. It seemed to me that what happened in the lab with a tiny plastic petri dish might happen in a Walmart to someone who never knew what had happened since radioactivity is invisible, has no smell or taste…

When I got to the conference, event organizers were looking for a volunteer to drive Judy across the state to the airport near Detroit. I immediately volunteered—it was a 5 hour drive and that gave us plenty of time to get to know each other. Judy remained my friend, my confidant and my teacher for the next 20 years as I moved into working at the national and global level for the peaceful end of the nuclear era—ending the production of more nuclear waste and better protection for our living systems from the waste we already have made. Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) was founded by a small group, including Judy Johnsrud. I was hired in 1991 as Staff Biologist and Radioactive Waste Specialist, and Judy was always there—and in the first decade, we were often the only women in the room. Judy died in 2014; I retired from NIRS, five years later, in 2019.


Joanna Macy

The paths of Joanna Macy and I have crossed and re-crossed—I first met her work in her first book, ‘Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age,’ published in 1983, before my radiation accident…I actually met her in-person, briefly at that time because of her leadership in the Buddhist Peace Fellowship… and our paths crossed again, briefly, when she and her husband Fran introduced me to their concept of Nuclear Guardianship. It was not until a younger friend and protégé of mine convinced me to attend a short-course at Schumacher College in Devon England (1998) led by both Fran and Joanna that I got to know her…a little. It was a two-week session rooted in community work that formed the later book, ‘Coming Back to Life’ (1998). I include Joanna here, as a Mentor, even though we have spent little time together, because when I open my mouth to speak, it is most often her influence I hear. The basic insight that we are all one is a foundation for me—and she brings that insight to the nuclear work. I honor her, and in doing so, I hear echoes of her in me……


January 2, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, women, Women | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) if they work, will arrive too late to make a difference to global heating

Is nuclear power the answer?, DECEMBER 8, 2020 JOHN QUIGGIN

The last (I hope) extract from the climate change chapter of Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. I’m in two minds about whether this is really needed. The group of pro-nuclear environmentalists seems to be shrinking towards a hard core who can’t be convinced (and some of them, like Shellenberger turn out to have been concern trolls all along). But every now and then I run across people who seem open-minded enough, but haven’t caught up with the bad news on nuclear.

Debates about decarbonizing electricity generation inevitably raise the issue of nuclear power. Since nuclear power generates no carbon dioxide emissions (except in the construction phase) it is a potential solution to climate change, with a strong body of advocates.

Some of this advocacy may be dismissed as point-scoring. Rightwing pundits who oppose any action on climate change simultaneously promote nuclear power as carbon free, with the aim of embarrassing environmentalist. There is, however, a small but vocal group of nuclear power advocates who are convinced that a massive expansion of nuclear power is the only way to replace coal-fired power………

Today the choice is not between new nuclear and new or existing coal. It is whether to allocate investment to building nuclear plants or to accelerating the shift to solar and wind energy.

The key problem is not safety but economics. New plants are safer and more sophisticated than those that failed in the past, but they are also massively more expensive to build, and quite costly to operate. The capital costs of recent projects in the US, France and Finland (none yet complete) have been around $10/kw, compared to $1/kw or less for solar. And, whereas solar PV is essentially costless to operate, the operating costs of nuclear power plants are around 2c/kwH. Even when solar PV is backed up with battery storage, it is cheaper to build and to operate, than new nuclear.

The facts speak for themselves. Over the last decade, only two or three reactors have commenced construction each year, not even enough to replace plants being retired. This isn’t the result of pressure from environmentalists or alarm about the safety of nuclear plants. The slowdown is evident in countries like China, where public opinion has little influence on policy decisions, and in countries where public opinion is generally favorable to new nuclear power. China failed to reach its 2020 target of 58 GW of installed power, and currently has only about 15 GW of nuclear power under construction. That compares to 55 GW of new solar and wind capacity installed in 2019 alone.

It is clear by now that large-scale nuclear reactors have no future. The last hope for nuclear power rests on Small Modular Reactors. The idea is that, rather than building a single large reactor, typically with a capacity of 1 GW, smaller reactors will be produced in factories, then shipped to the site in the required number. The leading proponent of this idea is Nuscale Power, which currently has a contract with UAMPS to supply a pilot plant with a dozen 60MW modules.

It remains to be seen whether SMR’s will work at all. Even if they do, it is not clear that the reduced costs associated with off-site manufacturing will offset the loss of the scale economies associated with a large boiler, let alone yield power at a cost competitive with that of solar PV.

In any case, the issue is largely irrelevant as far as the climate emergency is concerned. NuScale’s pilot plant, with a total capacity of 720 MW, is currently scheduled to start operation in 2029. Large-scale deployment will take at least a decade more .

If we are to have any chance of stabilising the climate, coal-fired power must be eliminated by 2030, and electricity generation must be decarbonized more or less completely by 2035. SMRs, if they work, will arrive too late to make a difference. ….

December 8, 2020 Posted by | climate change, Women | Leave a comment

The world’s banks must start to value nature and stop paying for its destruction

The world’s banks must start to value nature and stop paying for its destruction, Guardian, Robert Watson 28 Oct 20, As a new report spells out how financial institutions contribute to biodiversity loss, the clamour is growing for a new approach.

  • Banks lent $2.6tn linked to ecosystem and wildlife destruction in 2019 – report
  • The scientific community has long been unequivocal about biodiversity destruction. Last month, the UN reported that the world had failed to meet fully any of the 2020 Aichi bioiversity targets that countries agreed with fanfare in 2010, even as it found that biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, and the pressures driving this decline are intensifying.This week’s Bankrolling Extinction report finds that financial institutions provide the capital that is funding over-exploitation of our lands and seas, putting biodiversity in freefall. Last year, the world’s 50 biggest banks provided $2.6tn (£1.9tn) in loans and other credit to sectors with a high impact on biodiversity, such as forestry and agriculture. Bank by bank, the report authors found a cavalier ignorance of – or indifference to – the implications, with the vast majority unaware of their impact on biodiversity.

    In short, this report is a frightening statement of the status quo.

  • Fortunately, signs are emerging that some governments are – slowly – taking aim at financial backers of the destruction of the natural world. They must now push more forcefully. In the wake of Covid-19, treasury cupboards may be bare, but with new policies and limited recovery funds, they can steer trillions of dollars of private capital towards a nature-positive response to coronavirus, to spur growth, prosperity and resilience without returning to business as usual over-consumption and climate and biodiversity risk.
  • Voices from economics and finance are starting to add impetus and rationale for such momentum. One of the world’s foremost business groups, the World Economic Forum (WEF), has recognised the economic importance of nature. In its annual Global Risks Report, published earlier this year, WEF found that for the first time environmental risks dominated perceived business threats. Biodiversity loss was considered among the five most impactful and most likely risks in the next decade, with concerns ranging from the potential collapse of food and health systems to the disruption of entire supply chains. …………….

October 29, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, environment, Women | Leave a comment