Climate change played key role in Syrian civil war and helped Brexit, Al Gore says, http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/nation-world/national/article140523093.htmlAn 24 Mar 17, historic drought in Syria led to that nation’s civil war, which, in turn, helped Brexit pass in England, according to former United States Vice President Al Gore who explained his theory at a conference in London this week.
Gore, who has long argued that humans are causing climate change, won an Oscar for his climate-change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
“From 2006 to 2010, 60 percent of the farms in Syria were destroyed and had to be abandoned. Eighty percent of the livestock were killed. The drought in the eastern Mediterranean is the worst ever recorded,” Gore said according to several press reports.
The drought, Gore says, forced more than a million Syrians into cities where they “collided” with refugees from the Iraq War, setting the stage for the Syrian Civil War. Gore said that WikiLeaks documents revealed internal conversations among the Syrian government.
“They were saying to one another, ‘We can’t handle this. There’s going to be a social explosion.’ There are other causes of the Syrian civil war,” Gore said, “but this was the principle one.”
That conflict, which began in July 2011, has killed more than 450,000 Syrians and displaced more than 12 million Syrians, according to Al-Jazeera. CNN reports more than 4.8 million Syrians have left the country due to the conflict, which started as a government crackdown in response to protests.
Many of those fleeing the country have migrated to Europe, creating crises in several European nations. That, Gore says, helped lead to Brexit. In June of 2016, citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Many linked the ongoing refugee crisis to the vote to leave.
“It has unleashed with other factors this incredible flow of refugees into Europe, which is creating political instability in Europe,” Gore said, “and which contributed in some ways to the desire of some in the U.K., to say, ‘Wow, we’re not sure we want to be a part of that anymore.’ ”
The Trump administration does not share Gore’s views on human-caused climate change and has already rolled back numerous Obama-era environmental protections.
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt told CNBC that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, said climate change research programs are “a waste of your money” while unveiling Trump’s first budget proposal.
“Regarding the questions as to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward. We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that,” Mulvaney said.
How Russia Is Turning Syria into a Major Naval Base for Nuclear Warships (and Israel Is Worried), National Interest, Michael Peck, 18 Mar 17, During the 1970s, the Syrian naval base of Tartus became a major port servicing warships of the Soviet Union’s Fifth Mediterranean squadron.
The Soviet Union is gone, and so is Syria as a unified nation. But Russia is back, and it’s building up Tartus again as a naval base that can handle Russia’s largest nuclear-powered ships.
Already, Israel says the Tartus base is affecting its naval operations. U.S. and NATO operations could be next.
Under the forty-nine-year agreement inked late last year by Russia and Syria, “the maximum number of the Russian warships allowed at the Russian naval facility at one time is 11, including nuclear-powered warships, providing that nuclear and ecological security rules are observed,” according to Russia’s RT news site. Russia will also be allowed to expand port facilities to accommodate the vessels.
The specification allowing nuclear-powered warships means that Russia wants to be able to base in Syria large surface ships, namely Kirov-class nuclear-powered battle cruisers, as well as nuclear submarines.
In addition, the treaty allows “Russia is allowed to bring in and out any kind of ‘weaponry, ammunition, devices and materials’ to provide security for the facility staff, crew, and their families throughout the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic ‘without any duties or levies,’” according to RT.
Expansion of the port will take about five years, according to an anonymous source cited in Russia’s Sputnik News. “The source added that the works would focus on dredging operations to allow cruisers and even possibly aircraft carriers to use the facility’s infrastructure,” Sputnik News reported. “According to the source, Russia also needs to develop the facility’s ground infrastructure, through construction of canalization, electricity generation facilities and barracks for the servicemen.”
Sputnik News also listed other provisions of the agreement. These include:
• Russia will be responsible for sea and air security of the base, while Syria handles the land defenses.
• Russia can deploy “temporary mobile outposts” beyond the base, as long as they coordinate them with the Syrians.
• Russia can renovate the base at will, including underwater construction, and build offshore platforms.
• Upon Syrian request, Russia will send specialists to service Syrian warships, conduct search and rescue in Syrian waters, and organize the defense of Tartus.
• Syria agrees not to “make any objections related to the military activities of the base, which will also be beyond Damascus’ jurisdiction.”
• “Syria also pledges to solve any conflicts that may arise if a third party objects to the activities of the base.”
The Tartus deal is significant on several levels…… http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/how-russia-turning-syria-major-naval-base-nuclear-warships-19813
NUCLEAR TURKEY? Imam close to Erdogan calls for weapons NOW amid tensions with EU, Express UK, 17 Mar 17 TURKEY should ignore rules set by ‘the West’ and build its own NUCLEAR WEAPONS – an Imam close to president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has advised – as the fallout between Brussels and Ankara deepens. By ZOIE O’BRIEN, Mar 16, 2017 The worrying advice has been called weeks ahead of a Turkish referendum aimed at giving more power to President Erdogan – and in the midst of a keeping fallout between Ankara and EU leaders.
Hayrettin Karaman, the Turkish AK Party’s go-to religious leader, attacked ‘the West’ in a letter which insisted Erdogan should immediately invest in weapons of mass destruction.
In the online post the imam accused Christian countries in the West of egotism and racism – stating the bad attitude towards Turkey has been “accelerated”.
President Erdogan is in the midst of a deep fall out with European nations including Germany and the Netherlands after both countries banned rallies and kicked out his ministers who had sworn to campaign for his referendum. Mr Erdogan retaliated by comparing them to Nazis and protests were held outside the Dutch embassy in Ankara.
The fallout threatens the £5billion one-for-one migrant deal.
But, if Mr Erdogan listens to his favourite religious leader, the tensions could be ramped up even further……..http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/780240/TURKEY-Imam-Erdogan-nuclear-weapons-NOW-EU-tension-Germany-Netherlands
Iran accuses Israel of hiring assassins to take out nuclear scientists http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4933589,00.html
Iranian rep. at International Atomic Energy Agency describes Israel as a threat to entire Middle East, claims it targeted Iranian experts and criticizes Israel for not joining Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Iran and Middle East could adopt fully renewable electricity systems http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/50746 Iran can transition to a fully renewable electricity system and financially benefit from it by 2030. Researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) show that major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could turn their abundant renewable energy resources into lucrative business opportunities in less than two decades.
According to the study, a fully renewable electricity system (100% RE) is roughly 50-60 percent cheaper than other emission-free energy options for the MENA region. For example, new nuclear power costs around 110 euros per megawatt hour. Fossil-CCS option costs around 120 euros per megawatt hour. But the cost of the fully renewable energy electricity is around 60–40 euros per megawatt hour, based on financial and technical assumptions of the year 2030.
The cost of wind and solar electricity would reduce further to 37-55 euros per megawatt hour if different energy resources were connected with a super grid that allows the transmission of high volumes of electricity across longer distances. For Iran, the price could go as low as 40-45 euros per megawatt hour. Such low cost show that the transition of the current fossil-based electricity system towards a fully renewable electricity system can cover all electricity needs in the decades to come.
“The low cost renewable electricity system is a driver for growing standards of living, continued economic growth, in particular also for energy intensive products, and finally more peace,” emphasizes Professor Christian Breyer.
Read more at Lappeenranta University of Technology
The UAE’s Nuclear Push And the Potential Fallout for the Middle East, Foreign Affairs 21 Feb 17,
Samuel Oakford: US promised it wouldn’t use Depleted Uranium in Syria. But then it did. February 14, 2017. Officials have confirmed that the US military – despite vowing not to use controversial Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria – fired thousands of rounds of such munitions during two high-profile raids on oil trucks in Islamic State-controlled Syria in late 2015. The air assaults mark the first confirmed use of this armament since the 2003 Iraq invasion, when hundreds of thousands of rounds were fired, leading to outrage among local communities which alleged that toxic remnants caused both cancer and birth defects.https://airwars.org/news/depleteduranium1/
ICBUW: United States confirms that it has fired depleted uranium in Syria 21 October 2016. US admits that it fired DU on two occasions in November 2015, contrary to earlier claims; military justification for use unclear after target analysis; ICBUW and PAX call for full disclosure to facilitate harm reduction measures; Russia takes advantage of news to distract from its own conduct in the conflict. http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/united-states-confirms-fired-du-syria
Europe should act fast to preserve the Iran nuclear deal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Ellie Geranmayeh, 2 FEBRUARY 2017 US President Donald Trump has stirred all kinds of controversy with European allies during his first fortnight in office. Now, his administration’s evolving policy on Iran is becoming another source of concern across the Atlantic. Europe has a crucial but short window to clearly outline its position on the Iran nuclear deal in ways that could influence policymakers in Washington. In doing so, Europe should focus on preserving the agreement under existing terms as enshrined by the United Nations, and charting a course that minimizes confrontation—whether intentional or accidental—between Iran and the United States in an already turbulent Middle East.
On Wednesday, new National Security Advisor Michael Flynn declared that the United States was “putting Iran on notice.” While it is not clear what exactly he meant, he also criticized Iran’s missiles tests and behavior in the region, calling Tehran’s actions “provocative” and staking out a US position distinctly different from those of Europe and Russia. Although Flynn didn’t directly attack the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July 2015, a war of words could easily escalate in ways that threaten it.
The Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), scaled back the country’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. As a presidential candidate, Trump suggested he would “dismantle the disastrous deal” or renegotiate it. As president-elect he condemned the deal, but has since said he would “rigorously” enforce it. And during a White House briefing the same day as Flynn’s comments, US officials stressed “that they were not linking Iran’s missile and regional actions to the nuclear deal at this point,” as Al-Monitor reported. On Thursday, though, Trump tweeted that Iran “should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them.” Going forward, it seems likely that Trump’s calculations over the nuclear deal and sanctions will be influenced by developments on non-nuclear issues and also events abroad—among Russia, US allies in Europe, the Gulf Arab states, and Israel.
An early test of the US administration’s stance will come this spring, when the president is required to renew sanctions waivers that enable non-US companies to do business with Iran, in accordance with the terms of the nuclear deal. ……
The Iran nuclear deal steered the United States and its allies away from resorting to yet another futile military encounter in the Middle East. It was never intended to solve every problem between the West and Iran, and the two sides continue to take opposing views on a number of critical issues. However, the agreement has proven that Iran and the West have the capacity to resolve complex security challenges through a transactional relationship if there are mutually beneficial outcomes. Instead of watching Tehran and Washington relapse into the rhetoric of war and conflict, Europe should encourage them to build on this winning formula. http://thebulletin.org/europe-should-act-fast-preserve-iran-nuclear-deal10488
Iran tested nuclear-capable cruise missile: German newspaper http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-missiles-cruise-idUSKBN15H0WR?il=0 eb 2, 2017 Iran has tested a cruise missile called “Sumar” that is capable of carrying nuclear weapons in addition to test-firing a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday, German newspaper Die Welt reported Thursday, citing unspecified intelligence sources.
No comment was immediately available from Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency or from Iranian authorities.
The newspaper said the Sumar cruise missile was built in Iran and traveled around 600 km in its first known successful test. The missile is believed to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons and may have a range of 2,000 to 3,000 km, the paper said, citing intelligence sources.
Cruise missiles are harder to counter than ballistic missiles since they fly at lower altitudes and can evade enemy radar, confounding missile defense missiles and hitting targets deep inside an opponent’s territory.
But the biggest advantage from Iran’s point of view, a security expert told Die Welt, was that cruise missiles are not mentioned in any United Nations resolutions that ban work on ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
International sanctions on Tehran were lifted in January last year under a nuclear deal brokered in 2015 by Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States.
Under the nuclear deal Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of most sanctions. According to a 2015 U.N. resolution endorsing the deal, Iran is still called upon to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.
News of Iran’s reported cruise missile test came hours after Washington said it was putting Iran “on notice” for its ballistic missile test and signaled that it could impose new sanctions.
Iran confirmed on Wednesday that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile, but said the test did not breach the Islamic Republic’s nuclear agreement with world powers or a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.
(Writing by Andrea Shalal, Addirional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Ankara; editing by Ralph Boulton)
Leonardo DiCaprio highlights Israeli solar tech http://www.israel21c.org/leonardo-dicaprio-highlights-israeli-solar-tech/ Actor and environmentalist puts international spotlight on Megalim Solar Power project. JANUARY 22, 2017,Hollywood actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio uses his instagram account to spotlight environmental challenges facing the world and environmental breakthroughs.
As such, his 13.8 million followers were sent a photo of Megalim Solar Power’s Ashalim power station now being built in the Negev desert.
“The arid landscape of Israel’s Negev Desert will look like a futuristic movie in the near future. The country is building the tallest solar thermal tower in the world above its dusty sands,” writes DiCaprio on his post alongside the photo.
The Ashalim project will comprise 55,000 mirrors which will feed solar heat into a 240-meter-tall solar tower — believed to be the highest in the world.
“The tower should be able to produce enough power for about 5% of Israel’s population when it’s concluded,” writes DiCaprio. “The sunlight will be reflected by the mirrors to a boiler at the top of the tower. The boiler will then be able to convert them and heat water to steam to turn the turbine in a conventional power plant.”
The Ashalim power station, scheduled to be up and running by the end of the year, will combine three types of energy: solar thermal, photovoltaic and natural gas.
Nuclear fuel to be shipped from South Korea to the UAE before being transported to the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant “….the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) announced on Sunday that it approved the licensing for transporting and storing nuclear fuel at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.
The two licences have been granted to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Nawah Energy Company respectively, with the former getting the licence to transport the nuclear fuel, and the latter getting the licence to store the nuclear fuel at the Barakah site…..
Ian Grant, Deputy Director General for Operations at FANR, explained that the nuclear fuel would be shipped in transport casks from South Korea to the UAE, and then loaded onto trucks to transport the fuel to the nuclear reactor site.
“The fuel assemblies are loaded into transport casks and shipped from the Republic of Korea, [afterwards they are] trucked by road from the UAE port to the Barakah site. The transport casks are unloaded, checked and opened. [The] fuel assemblies are inspected individually and moved to the storage locations.”……http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/environment/uae-gets-licence-to-transport-store-nuclear-fuel-1.1966008
Iran, ROSATOM sign roadmap for nuclear cooperation http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/410263/Iran-ROSATOM-sign-roadmap-for-nuclear-cooperation January 20, 2017 TEHRAN – The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the Russian ROSATOM signed on Thursday a roadmap for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The document was signed in Russia by Behrouz Kamalvandi, the AEOI deputy chief, and Nickolay Spasskiy, ROSATOM deputy director general, as a follow-up to a memorandum of understanding in Nov. 11, 2014.
Also, the two sides finalized a pre-project contract for the retrofitting of two gas centrifuge cascades in the Fordo facility.
The documents were approved and prepared for signing as a result of recent negotiations between the AEOI and ROSATOM.
The agreement is in line with a 2015 international nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which resulted in removal of sanctions against Iran in exchange for limits on the country’s nuclear program.
Under the deal, Iran has committed to convert the Fordo facility into a nuclear, physics and technology center to benefit from international collaboration including in the form of scientific joint partnerships in agreed areas of research.
Also, by the accord, two of the six centrifuge cascades at the Fordo facility have to spin without uranium and will be transitioned, including through appropriate infrastructure modification, for stable isotope production.
Stable isotopes are used for medical and industrial purposes.
Iran launched a facility to produce raw material for stable isotopes in August 2016.
Also, in an August interview with Azerbaijani state news agency AZERTAC, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, “We will further assist our Iranian partners in implementing the Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program, including the processing of enriched uranium and the conversion of facilities to produce stable isotopes.”
Saudi Arabia to focus on solar, wind in $US50bn clean energy plan REneweconomy By Ilias Tsagas on 18 January 2017 PV Magazine Speaking yesterday at an Abu Dhabi’s Sustainability Week (ADSW) event, Saudi Arabia’s energy, industry and mineral resources minister Khalid Al-Falih announced a new grand energy plan for the country. The new program is set to commence in a few weeks’ time, when Saudi Arabia’s government will launch the first round of bidding for a new renewable energy tender, energy minister Al-Falih announced at the World Future Energy Summit 2017 (WFES) in Abu Dhabi.
The energy minister did not, however, provide any details regarding the capacity that will be auctioned in the tender.
He did inform the attendants that Saudi Arabia’s new master program for the energy sector will require between USD 30 to 50 billion investment, which will need to come via the private sector.
Solar and wind power will be the preferred technologies in the auctions, but geothermal and waste projects will also be considered, just with a smaller role to play.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest oil producer, is aiming for renewable energy installations, primarily of solar and wind, of 9.5 GW by 2023, but this is just the starting point, the country’s energy minister told the ADSW.
By 2030, the country will generate 70 percent of its electricity from natural gas and 30 percent from renewables and other sources, promised Al-Falih.
“Other resources” include nuclear power plants, of which plans for two nuclear reactors totaling 2.8 GW are currently in the early stages of consideration and planning…….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/saudi-arabia-to-focus-on-solar-wind-in-us50bn-clean-energy-plan-35690/
Israel to build world’s tallest solar tower in symbol of renewable energy ambition, Independent, 5 Jan 17 With Israel traditionally running its economy on fossil fuels, renewable energy has long been hobbled by bureaucracy and a lack of incentives. In sunny Israel, solar energy supplies only a small percentage of the nation’s power needs, leaving it far behind countries with cloudier and colder climates.
Now the fledgling solar industry is trying to make a leap forward with a large-scale project boasting the world’s tallest solar tower, as a symbol of Israel’s renewal energy ambitions.
The Ashalim project, deep in the Negev desert, is made up of three plots, with a fourth planned for the future, each with a different solar technology. Together, the fields will be Israel’s largest renewable energy project when completed by 2018. They are set to generate some 310 megawatts of power, about 1.6 percent of the country’s energy needs — enough for about 130,000 households, or roughly 5 percent of Israel’s population, according to Israel’s Electricity Authority. …….
Another solar-thermal plot at Ashalim will be able to store energy even when the sun goes down. A third plot will use photovoltaic solar technology to produce energy.
Yaron Szilas, CEO of Shikun & Binui Renewable Energy, the lead developer of the second solar-thermal plot, said combining the three technologies was a wise move because each has its own advantage. The amount of electricity it produces will be comparable to large-scale solar fields in California and Chile……..
Israel has developed some of the world’s most advanced solar energy equipment and enjoys a nearly endless supply of sunshine. But Israeli solar companies, frustrated by government bureaucracy, have mostly taken their expertise abroad.
Countries with cooler climates have outpaced Israel. Germany, for example, gets nearly 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources.
“Israel has a potential to be a sunshine superpower,” said Leehee Goldenberg, director of the department of economy and environment at the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, a non-governmental organization. Despite some steps in the right direction, “Israel’s government hasn’t really been pushing to reach its small goals regarding solar energy.” …….. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-solar-tower-power-energy-renewable-tech-ambitions-a7510901.html
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