Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s very misplaced enthusiasm for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.

The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.

The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.

Keith Orchison reports on the Grattan Institute submission:

‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’

Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as Lego-like’.

Why now?

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..

It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author]  Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.

So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.

In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:

  • Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
  • ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
  • ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals  that could damage the reactor.’
  • ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
  • ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
  • ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….

Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:

  • ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
  • ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
  •  ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
  • ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
  • Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
  • Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
  • Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404

April 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, South Australia, spinbuster, technology | Leave a comment

UK govt admits that sea level rise will wash away its Drigg nuclear waste dump

nuke-&-seaLThis Huge Nuclear Waste Dump Will Be Washed Away By Rising Sea Levels http://gizmodo.com/uk-nuclear-waste-dump-will-be-washed-away-by-rising-sea-1565513267    21 April 14,  Geoff Manaugh A dumping ground for nuclear waste located near the British coast is “virtually certain” to be washed away by rising sea levels, a new report warns. The UK Environment Agency has admitted that constructing the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository so near the coast was a mistake, and that one million cubic meters of nuclear waste will begin leaking into the ocean “a few hundred to a few thousand years from now.”

Sounds bad? Pay no attention, then, to current plans to increase the site’s capacity by another 800,000 cubic meters over the next century, adding new waste that will include “radioactive debris from Britain’s nuclear power stations, nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, hospitals and universities,” the Guardian reports.

It’s interesting to note that, while the site officially contains only low-level waste, there is suspicion that higher-level wastes with correspondingly higher levels of radioactivity could have been dumped there in the past. Recall the incredible tale of Sellafield nuclear power station—the site from which much of the waste now stored at Drigg originates—where records of previous dumping had been thrown away or lost. This led to the terrifying need to advertise in the local newspaper, saying: “We need your help.” Why? Because they had no idea what was buried there.

“Did you work at Sellafield in the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s?” the ad asked with false calm. “Were you by chance in the job of disposing of radioactive material? If so, the owners of Britain’s nuclear waste dump would very much like to hear from you: they want you to tell them what you dumped—and where you put it.”

In any case, the coastal tomb at Drigg is all but guaranteed to break apart in the waves and wash its mysterious and harmful contents into the sea. “A few hundred to a few thousand years from now” sounds like a long time, of course, but think of that as potentially little more than the time between us and Shakespeare (400 years), and the terrifying urgency of this becomes more clear. [Guardian]

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yet another gimmicky nuclear plan bites the dust – Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Another one (or more) bites the dust …http://johnquiggin.com/2014/04/20/another-one-or-more-bites-the-dust/ April 20th, 2014  Coming back yet again to nuclear power, I’ve been arguing for a while that nuclear power can only work (if at all) on the basis of a single standardised design, and that the only plausible candidate for this is the Westinghouse AP1000. One response from nuclear enthusiasts has been to point to possible future advances beyond the Gen III+ approach embodied by the AP1000 (and less promising competitors like EPR). The two most popular have been Small Modular Reactors and Generation IV (fast) reactors. Recent news suggests that both of these options are now dead.

The news on the Small Modular Reactor is that Babcock and Wilcox, the first firm to be selected by the US Department of Energy to develop a prototype, has effectively mothballed the project, sacking the CEO of its SMR subsidiary and drastically scaling back staffWestinghouse already abandoned its efforts. There is still one firm left pursuing the idea, and trying (so far unsuccessfully) to attract investors, but there’s no reason to expect success any time soon.

reactor-types-spin

As regards Generation IV, the technology road map issued by the Gen IV International Forum in 2002 has just been updated. All the timelines have been pushed out, mostly by 10 years or more. That is, Gen IV is no closer now than it was when the GenIV initiative started. In particular, there’s no chance of work starting on even a prototype before about 2020, which puts commercial availability well past 2035. Allowing for construction time, there’s no prospect of electricity generation on a significant scale before 2050, by which time we will need to have completely decarbonized the economy.

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is USA Navy covering up, about radiation exposure to sailors who helped at Fukushima?

questionFlag-USAIs America Abandoning its Bravest Heroes Yet Again?, WhoWhatWhy  By  on Apr 21, 2014  “……….What Did the U.S. Navy Know?

Whether the plaintiffs succeed in holding the Japanese utility liable, the case raises important questions about the role and responsibility of the U.S. Navy:

   Why did the U.S. Navy insist from the beginning that it was safe for its troops to remain in the vicinity of three reactor meltdowns?
   After having gone to the trouble of setting up a medical registry to track radiation-related illnesses—the Operation Tomodachi Registry—why did the U.S. Department of Defense decide not to monitor the health of the nearly 75,000 DOD-affiliated citizens—military personnel and their family members—who were in or near Japan during and after the Fukushima meltdowns?
   Why is there no mention of radiation exposure in many of the sailors’ military medical files, even those people specifically assigned jobs involving radiation decontamination?
   Why, given the mounting evidence of illnesses known to be triggered by radiation exposure, is radiation dismissed as a possible cause?………http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/21/america-abandoning-bravest-heroes-yet/

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ground is sinking below wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactors

Top Nuclear Official: “Ground sinking” beneath Fukushima reactor buildings a concern — Gov’t experts looking closely at risks from changes to flow of underground water http://enenews.com/top-nuclear-official-ground-sinking-beneath-fukushima-reactor-buildings-a-concern-govt-experts-closely-looking-into-risks-from-changes-to-undergroud-water-flow

NHK WORLDApr. 21, 2014: Japan’s nuclear regulator and experts are questioning the safety of plans to build frozen walls to [...] prevent groundwater from flowing beneath the reactor buildings. [...] The government and TEPCO want to start construction in June. [...] The NRA invited experts to a meeting last Friday [...] NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa expressed concern about the risk of the ground sinking. [...] They said all the risks need to be addressed further. The NRA decided to continue to closely look into the safety of the planned frozen walls.

NHK WORLDApr. 21, 2014: Some contamination in the groundwater drawn from near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is making the area’s fishermen uneasy, as the plant’s operator plans to release it into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Company has a plan to pump up groundwater and release it into the Pacific Ocean [...]

USGS“More than 80 percent of the identified subsidence in the United States is a consequence of human impact on subsurface water”

text-Fukushima-2014

See also:

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA’s government is committed to the nuclear industry, rather than to the well-being of its navy men

Obama-puppetIs America Abandoning its Bravest Heroes Yet Again?, WhoWhatWhy  By  on Apr 21, 2014Reason for Navy Cover-up?“………..Because U.S. military personnel are prevented from suing the government, their only recourse is to go after TEPCO. But given the interests involved, the outcome for the Operation Tomodachi victims remains very much in doubt. Robert Alvarez, the nuclear investigator and former DOE deputy assistant secretary, points out that about a quarter of a million U.S. soldiers were subjected to open air nuclear weapons testing in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

“If you use the treatment of atomic veterans who were involved in atmospheric testing as a benchmark, the government did everything it could to downplay the hazards, because from the military perspective, the mission is all important,” he says.

“Right now, the United States government and Japan are closing ranks because of their nuclear-related relationships,” he says. Although Japan’s 54 power-generating nuclear reactors are currently offline, the country still has the third largest number of nuclear reactors in the world.

But more important, Alvarez says, is the “extraordinary co-dependence” with Japan on nuclear-energy-related matters. “Because the U.S. has lost much of its capability in designing and building reactors, we have to depend on the Japanese and the French if we’re going to build any reactors or fabricate fuel or do anything to service the existing reactor fleet,” he explained. “We’re dependent on companies that are now owned by Japan and France.”

The case of the ill Operation Tomodachi veterans shines a spotlight on the intersection of competing interests between victims of radiation exposure, the nuclear power industry, and the U.S. government and its unwavering commitment to nuclear technology for both military and civilian use. So far, by denying the harm from the radiation U.S. military personnel were exposed to as they helped Japan clean up after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011—a position that supports the Japanese government and nuclear industry—the U.S. government is doing what it has almost always done: protect nuclear interests rather than its victims.

As the number of ill Operation Tomodachi veterans climbs, it remains to be seen whether their sacrifice will be acknowledged or if they, like so many others, will be left to fend for themselves.  http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/04/21/america-abandoning-bravest-heroes-yet/#sthash.YiyEeRT1.dpuf

 

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto and ERA made huge profits from Ranger mine: now not paying to restore the land?

Ranger-retention-damRanger mine: ERA attracts ire from local community over uranium rehab, Brisbane Times April 21, 2014  Resources reporter The relationship between Energy Resources of Australia and a crucial group of indigenous people appears to be deteriorating, after the miner raised doubts about its ability to pay for the rehabilitation of the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu.

The open pits at Ranger have already come to the end of their working lives, and the only chance of further mining is if an exploration campaign on site, known as ”Ranger 3 Deeps”, is successful.

ERA surprised its stakeholders last month when it suggested it might struggle to pay for the rehabilitation if Ranger 3 Deeps did not go ahead.

”If the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area,” the company said in its annual report.

ERA is 68 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, but Rio boss Sam Walsh indicated last week that Rio had already contributed to the rehabilitation costs at Ranger when it participated in a $500 million equity raising for ERA in 2011………

The comments have worried the local indigenous group – the Mirarr people – whose permission is required before ERA can conduct any further mining at Ranger.

Justin O’Brien, who runs the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation for the Mirarr people said the group’s land was being held to ransom by the miners.

”The attitude of Rio and ERA shows that little has changed in more than three decades since [land rights campaigner] Galarrwuy Yunupingu described talks over the Ranger mine as ‘like negotiating with a gun to my head’,” he said. ”The mining giants have made enormous profits at the expense of Mirarr traditional lands and are now holding the World Heritage-listed area to ransom.”

ERA has already started some rehabilitation work at Ranger, has made provisions and also has a trust for rehabilitation in place with the Australian government, which was holding $63.9 million at December 31.

A spokesman for ERA said the company’s long-term business plan was to ensure the business could meet its rehabilitation obligations.  http://www.smh.com.au/business/ranger-mine-era-attracts-ire-from-local-community-over-uranium-rehab-20140420-36ymv.html#ixzz2zYdytsJ0

April 21, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The wickedness behind the “Chernobyl wild paradise” myth

highly-recommendedDecay takes a holiday: the wickedness beneath the “Chernobyl wild paradise” myth and the rotten implications for ecosystems and radiation science http://www.beyondnuclear.org/russia-ussr/2014/4/18/decay-takes-a-holiday-the-wickedness-beneath-the-chernobyl-w.html 21 April 14 

Zombie forest?

April 26, 2014 will mark 28 years since the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded causing an unprecedented nuclear catastrophe. In a creepy revelation, the forests around Chernobyl are having difficulty decomposing. A recently published study indicates that forest matter in the contaminated areas around Chernobyl is taking years or even decades longer to decay than it should. In the areas with low radiation, 70 to 90 percent of the leaves were gone after a year. Where radiation levels were higher, “leaves retained around 60 percent of their original weight…”(Smithsonian.comThis indicates a fundamental disruption to the natural cycle of death feeding life, and calls into question the forest’s longer-term viability. Creatures responsible for decay such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects, are essential components of any ecosystem because they recycle organic material back into the soil. Unfortunately, they do not function properly in the areas around Chernobyl, leaving a forest full of “petrified-looking pine trees that no longer seem capable of rotting.” GIZMODO

Map-Chernobyl_FALLOUT

 

Radiation’s effect on decay processes should be expected, considering how it impacts microbes in food; or considering the results of a bizarre, cavalier and extremely ill-advised series of experiments performed using a “naked reactor” in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. These experiments intentionally irradiated a number of varying materials and forest land 40 miles north of Atlanta, GA. Wood subjected to this radiation was produced in small-scale and called “Lockwood”, for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation who operated the Georgia Nuclear Laboratory. The building and land is still contaminated with radionuclides.

The lack of decomposer activity has researchers worried that nutrients which trees require for grow are not being recycled, causing trees in the area to grow more slowly.  Improper plant decay has potential implications for animal decay as well, although there do not appear to be any Chernobyl studies investigating this yet.

Actual in-the-field examinations of regions contaminated by radioactivity from Chernobyl also reveal evidence for increased mutation rates, abnormal sperm with reduced swimming ability, developmental abnormalities, cataractstumors, smaller brains in both birds and mammals, and decreased tree growth rates, a finding of fundamental importance for ecosystem functioning that likely relates to effects on the microbial community. Fewer spiders and insects including bees, butterflies and grasshoppers—live there. Animals and plants show other impacts of radiation after the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in the US and the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, who collaborated on many of these studies, contends that, fundamentally, this evidence indicates  low-dose rate exposures cause significant measurable impacts for the biota inhabiting contaminated regions of Chernobyl. Further, this evidence supports a hypothesis that suggests effects down to very low levels.  Further implications for Fukushima should not be ignored.

Humans and animals alike: healthy looking on the outside, disintegrating on the inside

Referencing studies summarized in his book, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, Alexey Yablokov states:

“Wildlife in the heavily contaminated Chernobyl zone sometimes appears to flourish, but the appearance is deceptive,” says Yablokov. “Levels of incorporated radionuclides remain dangerously high for mammals, birds, amphibians, and fish. Long-term observations of both wild and experimental animal populations in the heavily contaminated areas show significant increases in morbidity and mortality that bear a striking resemblance to changes in the health of humans – increased occurrence of tumours and immuno­deficiencies, decreased life expectancy, early aging, changes in blood and the circulatory system, malformations, and other factors that compromise health.

“All of the populations of plants, fishes, amphibians and mammals studied there are in poor condition,” he continues. “This zone is analogous to a ‘black hole’, in which there is accelerated genetic degeneration of large animals – some species may only persist there via immigration from uncontaminated areas. The Chernobyl zone is a micro-evolutionary ‘boiler’, where gene pools of living creatures are actively transforming, with unpredictable consequences. We ignore these findings at our peril.”

Dr. Yablokov’s statement deftly presents the dichotomy between what is observed by a dilettante’s eye – such as lots of members in a wild animal population — versus what is actually happening to these members over time. What is happening to this wildlife has parallel implications for human health.

So where did this “paradise for wildlife” and “biodiversity sanctuary” myth come from? In 2006 the International Atomic Energy Agency, a nuclear power promoter and a member body of the United Nations, released a report entitled Environmental Consequences of the Chernobyl Accident and their Remediation: Twenty Years of Experience. This report references the creation of a nature preserve within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone and remarks Without a permanent residence of humans for 20 years, the ecosystems around the Chernobyl site are now flourishing. The CEZ has become a wildlife sanctuary…, and it looks like the nature park it has become.” From another report: “Indeed, the Exclusion Zone has paradoxically become a unique sanctuary for biodiversity.”

The Chernobyl Forum coalition makes this statement in support of “unique biodiversity” in spite of their recognition that “Genetic effects of radiation, in both somatic and germ cells, have been observed in plants and animals of the Exclusion Zone during the first few years after the Chernobyl accident. Both in the Exclusion Zone, and beyond, different cytogenetic anomalies attributable to radiation continue to be reported from experimental studies performed on plants and animals.” They conclude, however, “[w]hether the observed cytogenetic anomalies in somatic cells have any detrimental biological significance is not known.” In order to know this, one has to actually look.

The study summaries compiled by Alexey Yablokov, et al. (studies which had been mostly unavailable in the west until 2009) and the published examinations of researchers Mousseau, et al., indicate rather strongly that there is significant biological detriment to wildlife in the contaminated areas surrounding Chernobyl. And unlike these studies, the Chernobyl Forum documents provide very few references (under ten total) for any claims they make regarding the flourishing of wildlife.

 

 

April 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear power could prove uneconomic for United Arab Emirates

antnuke-relevantNuclear Power: Boon Or Bane For The GCC?, Gulf Business, 
As the UAE and Saudi race to build nuclear reactors to meet mounting energy needs, the inevitable question arises – is nuclear a viable option?, Gulf business By Aarti Nagra 18 April 14

Fuelled by rising energy demand and depleting oil and gas resources, nuclear energy has gained strong momentum in the GCC, particularly in countries like the UAE. The country has lofty ambitions to generate up to 25 per cent of its electricity needs – or 5.6GW – through nuclear means by 2020.
Abu Dhabi began construction of its first nuclear reactor, Barakah 1, in July 2012, and it is in the process of building three more plants.

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, the body responsible for the project, announced in February that the first two plants are on schedule and are up to 35 per cent complete……..However, nuclear energy may not necessarily be the best option for the GCC region, states Mohammed Atif, area manager, Energy Advisory, Middle East at DNV GL – Energy.

“A reasonable diversification of fuels is always beneficial for a region in order to reduce risks and price volatility,” he says.

“The right composition of a generation portfolio is always a difficult question and has to take political, economic, technical and environmental aspects into consideration.

“We would suggest entering into a roadmap to achieve security of supply at a good price level even without nuclear energy.”……….An Oxford report on nuclear power production in the GCC published in December 2012 also pointed out that nuclear power generation could prove an expensive option for GCC states.

“The substantial initial investment costs, coupled with the high expected level of long run variable costs, is unlikely to render nuclear power cost effective vis-à-vis conventional oil and gas fired power plants in the region,” it says.

“The existing absence of cost-recovering power tariffs throughout the GCC already renders effective cost recovery for nuclear power unlikely, implying a substantial bill in the form of nuclear power subsidies to be picked up by GCC governments.”

There are also other hidden costs, such as national and regional security concerns and the future disposal of nuclear waste.

“And the acquisition of nuclear technology by GCC states, albeit for civilian purposes, provides fuel to those critics of nuclear power in the region who fear a nuclear arms race in the Gulf should Iran pursue a nuclear weapons programme in the future.

“All these concerns make nuclear power a potentially costly option for the GCC,” the report cautions………….http://gulfbusiness.com/2014/04/nuclear-power-boon-bane-gcc/#.U1WPalVdWik

April 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sir George Brandis, Defender of the Fossil Fuel Faith

Hear-This-wayGreens hit back at Brandis’ comments on climate change, ABC Radio Saturday AM 19 April 14 Will Ockenden reported this story on Saturday, April 19, 2014 ASHLEY HALL: The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, says people who say the science is settled on climate change are ignorant and medieval.

In an article published in the online political magazine Spiked, Senator Brandis says he’s been shocked by the “sheer authoritarianism” of those who’ve excluded climate-change deniers from the debate.

The Greens have hit back, saying it’s a feudal way of thinking to say that everyone’s view of climate change is equally valid.

Brandis,-George-knight

Will Ockenden spoke to acting leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt.

ADAM BANDT: This Abbott Government is using every trick in the book to hide the fact that they’re not taking the action that the science calls for on climate change. And to suggest that somehow people in this country are being restricted from airing albeit very wrong views on climate change is completely misleading. I mean, if someone said ‘two plus two equals five’, would you insist on giving them as much airtime in the media as someone who said ‘two plus two equals four’? That’s in effect what the country’s highest law officer is arguing, and it’s very worrying……..

ADAM BANDT: The science has been through one of the most rigorous peer-reviewed processes it can go through. And the answer that’s coming out from people right across the political spectrum, if you take your ideological goggles off for a moment, is that unless we act soon, the Australian way of life is under enormous threat from global warming.

WILL OCKENDEN: Should people be able to, though, nonetheless be able to say that climate change doesn’t exist?

ADAM BANDT: Well people are saying that, and they’re saying it at the moment and they’re wrong. The science community is now essentially speaking with one voice. 

To say someone without science training can somehow simply on a free speech basis say that they’re all wrong is a very feudal way of thinking….
ASHLEY HALL: The acting leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, speaking to Will Ockenden. 
Saturday AM requested an interview with Senator George Brandis, but we haven’t heard back from him.  http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2014/s3988495.htm

April 21, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Sea level rise already threatening properties

nuke-&-seaLRising tides threaten communities on the beach — and far from it, too USA Today, Matt Alderton, Green Living  April 19, 2014  The mud in Folsom Lake, near Sacramento, Calif., is dry and chapped, like cracked heels. The bottom of the reservoir, once under water, now is largely barren, save for its shallow center and a smattering of stray puddles.

That’s because California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in state history. Conditions are so bad that antnuke-relevantGov. Jerry Browndeclared a state emergency in January. He urged state residents to voluntarily reduce personal water consumption by 20 percent.

In the context of having so little water, it might seem strange to worry about having too much. And yet, that’s exactly the dilemma facing California today. Even as it reels from drought, it must begin planning for floods. And make no mistake: Floods are coming. Not only to California, but to coastal cities across the country and around the world, which face a certain influx of water as oceans rise under the specter of climate change.

“We analyzed 55 different water level stations throughout the United States and found that for about two-thirds of them, sea level rise from climate change has already more than doubled the risk of extreme flooding,” says Dr. Ben Strauss, director of the Program on Sea Level Rise at Climate Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to communicating the science and effects of climate change.

Based on the analysis, Climate Central developed Surging Seas, an interactive website (sealevel.climatecentral.org) that maps the flood threats from sea level rise and storm surges. The map shows how more than 3,000 coastal communities in the contiguous United States would be affected if sea levels were to rise from 1 to 10 feet.

“Sea level rise is already happening, and its continuation is inevitable,” Strauss says. “At some point it will be obvious to every family living in a coastal area, and every community will be looking to protect itself.”

A scary proposition

Multiple forces are colluding to make the oceans swell.

One is warming oceans. “Because of that, you have an expansion of ocean waters, and the only place they can go is up,” says Rachel Cleetus, a senior economist in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an alliance of citizens and scientists who collaborate on solutions to global problems.

Another is melting land-based ice forms such as glaciers and ice sheets. “You’re adding volume to the world’s oceans, and that’s causing them to rise,” Cleetus says.

Because the rate of ice loss is accelerating, oceans are rising faster than ever before. Cleetus says sea level could rise anywhere from 8 inches to 6.5 feet by the end of the century. Some scientists put estimates as high as 10 or 15 feet. That’s on top of approximately 8 inches of sea level rise already logged in the last century.

“Those 8 inches of sea level rise from climate change are already making every single coastal flood bigger, deeper and more damaging,” Strauss says.

Although scientists typically project sea level rise through the year 2100, communities likely will be impacted much sooner than that. The culprit? Incremental storm surges……….

Ultimately, then, the best solution might be the hardest to swallow: retreat.

“We need to pull back, in essence, from the shore,” says environmental and land-use planning consultant Barry Chalofsky. “If you live (in a coastal floodplain) and you’re counting on your house to be your nest egg when you retire, or you want to pass it on to your children, I would strongly think about elevating your property, then selling it over the next five to 10 years.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2014/04/19/green-living-coastal-communities/7871349/

April 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Aboriginal science: their knowledge completely underestimated by white Australia

Aboriginal people – how to misunderstand their science, The Conversation, Ray Norris, 21 April 14 Just one generation ago Australian schoolkids were taught that Aboriginal people couldn’t count beyond five, wandered the desert scavenging for food, had no civilisation, couldn’t navigate and peacefully acquiesced when Western Civilisation rescued them in 1788.

How did we get it so wrong?

book-biggest-EstateAustralian historian Bill Gammage and others have shown that for many years land was carefully managed by Aboriginal people to maximise productivity. This resulted in fantastically fertile soils, now exploited and almost destroyed by intensive agriculture.

In some cases, Aboriginal people had sophisticated number systems, knew bush medicine, and navigated using stars and oral maps to support flourishing trade routes across the country.

They mounted fierce resistance to the British invaders, and sometimes won significant military victories such as the raids by Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy. Only now are we starting to understand Aboriginal intellectual and scientific achievements.

The Yolngu people, in north eastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, long recognised how the tides are linked to the phases of the moon.

Back in the early 17th century, Italian scientistGalileo Galilei was still proclaiming, incorrectly, that the moon had nothing to do with tides.

Some Aboriginal people had figured out how eclipses work, and knew how the planets moved differently from the stars. They used this knowledge to regulate the cycles of travel from one place to another, maximising the availability of seasonal foods.

Why are we only finding this out now?………..

Still to learn

In recent years, it has become clear that traditional Aboriginal people knew a great deal about the sky, knew the cycles of movements of the stars and the complex motions of the sun, moon and planets………

kids studying science today could also learn much from the way that pre-contact Aboriginal people used observation to build a picture of the world around them.

This “ethno-science” is similar to modern science in many ways, but is couched in appropriate cultural terms, without expensive telescopes and particle accelerators.

So if you want to learn about the essence of how science works, how people learn to solve practical problems, the answer may be clearer in an Aboriginal community than in a high-tech laboratory. http://theconversation.com/aboriginal-people-how-to-misunderstand-their-science-23835

April 21, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Aboriginal protest against the royals

Aboriginal activists stage royal protest http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/aboriginal-activists-stage-royal-protest/story-fn3dxiwe-1226889841334 AAP APRIL 19, 2014  ABOUT 30 Aboriginal activists are staging a protest at South Bank, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to arrive soon.

The protesters are gathered at the park precinct, where the couple is due to attend a civic reception before a brief public walk later this afternoon.

“Always was, always will be Aboriginal land,” the protesters chanted.

One held a yellow placard that read: “Give back what is ours.”

Police told AAP a small number of Aboriginal protesters had been moved on at South Bank.

One activist was ushered away after going behind barricades meant to keep the royal route along Grey Street clear, outside the South Brisbane train station.

No arrests have been made.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Abbott government’s RET review policy designed to stop investment in renewable energy

Abbott-destroys-renewablesFederal renewable energy review leaves investors nervous, ABC News By Lucy Shannon. 19 Apr 2014A Federal government review of the renewable energy target scheme appears to be making industry investors nervous.

The Environment Protection Authority approved a $200 million wind farm proposal for Tasmania’s west coast earlier this month.

Despite the approval, the proponent of the Granville Harbour wind farm, West Coast Wind, is not confident of securing investment until the outcome of the Commonwealth review is known.

The renewable energy target scheme, set up by the Howard Government in 2001 aims to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s energy is produced from renewable sources by 2020.

The scheme is required to be reviewed every two years.

Reports the Prime Minister Tony Abbott has faced strong internal pressure to scrap the RET from both the Nationals and the Liberals have led to fears it will be watered down.

West Coast Wind Director Royce Smith says he does not expect to secure investment for the 33 turbine project while the review is underway.

“It’s certainly got a few investors a bit shy at the moment, until we get the review in from the Federal Government everything’s on hold certainly at the moment,” Mr Smith said.

“It’s just a bit hard to invest money if you don’t know what the outcome is going to be, they’re just a bit nervous.”……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-19/renewable-energy-review-makes-investors-nervous/5399996

April 21, 2014 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Koch brothers use wealth to lobby against renewable energy

Abbott-Koch-policiesKoch Brothers, Conservatives & Oil Companies Lobby States Using Renewable Energy Sources: Alternative, Solar Power And Environmentalism Gaining Popularity Latin Post,   By Shawn Raymundo (staff@latinpost.com) 20 April 14,  As more and more states are beginning to utilize solar energy and adapt other clean green energy solutions, conservative lobby groups and oil tycoons have aggressively started pushing back against alternative energy.

The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and a number of powerful companies in the nation have started running campaign ads in Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina that paint renewable energy as a greedy bad guy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

With the help of solar power companies, environmentalists are battling back against big oil companies and their lobbyists over states that have implemented two types of energy policies: net metering and renewable energy requirements.

Net metering allows homeowners or businesses that have solar panels installed on roofs to sell back extra electricity to the power grid at attractive rates. The other policy requires utility companies to generate at least 10 percent of renewable energy, the Times reported. The majority of states in the U.S. have begun operating under at least one of the two policies if not both. The only states to not use net metering or generate power from renewable energy are Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi and Tennessee.

South Dakota and Texas are the only two states without metering programs but generate a percentage of their power from renewable energy, according to the Times………

The power industry fears that as more people install solar panels, less money is being paid to maintain transmission lines, substations and computer systems that many people rely on……

Edison Electric Institute, an advocacy group for the power industry, warned power companies that renewable energy policies could irrevocably damage the industry. The institute issued a report that stated, “it may be too late to repair the utility business model” if electric companies do not take action.

Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, told the Times in an email that “state governments are starting to wake up” and challenge renewable energy polices.

“These green energy mandates are bad policy,” Hanson said. http://www.latinpost.com/articles/10814/20140420/koch-brothers-conservatives-oil-companies-lobby-states-using-renewable-energy-sources-alternative-solar-power-and-environmentalism-gaining-popularity.htm

April 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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