The United Nations has just held the first of two global summits to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. Sponsored by 57 nations, and with 125 nations represented. But the nuclear weapons nations did not participate.
Does this mean that the conference is meaningless? Perhaps. Yet, increasingly, public opinion supports nuclear disarmament, and those governments are being challenged, to explain their support for nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, it is something of a turbulent time in international politics, with elections in European nations, with UK and “Brexit” , with North Korea a continuing nuclear weapons worry, and with the unpredictability of USA’s President Trump, and his belligerent attitude to China. In this political climate, the risk of nuclear war continues to grow.
Yet the somewhat frenzied promotion of nuclear power goes on. Why? Perhaps because it is uneconomic in the home country, so it’s imperative to sell it off to other countries. Perhaps because non-nuclear countries in south Asia, the Middle East, Africa, covet nuclear weapons – and “peaceful” nuclear power is the first step towards nuclear weapons.
It really is time that civil society of every country prevailed, over the militaristic leaders of nations, who are beholden to the nuclear weapons industry. Intelligent military personnel know that there will be no winners in a nuclear war. And nuclear weapons are useless against the suicidal individual terrorists, who now frighten the world.
It is time that civil society rejected the dirty dangerous, (and super expensive) “peaceful” nuclear industry, including those billionaire zealots for geewhiz “new nukes”. Global energies, talents and funds, are needed for truly beneficial technologies in energy efficiency and clean renewables.
The largest nuclear disaster in history occurred 30 years ago at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in what was then the Soviet Union. The meltdown, explosions and nuclear fire that burned for 10 days injected enormous quantities of radioactivity into the atmosphere and contaminated vast areas of Europe and Eurasia. The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that Chernobyl released 400 times more radioactivity into the atmosphere than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Radioactive cesium from Chernobyl can still be detected in some food products today. And in parts of central, eastern and northern Europe many animals, plants and mushrooms still contain so much radioactivity that they are unsafe for human consumption.
The first atomic bomb exploded at Alamogordo, New Mexico more than 70 years ago…
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Pine Gap is more than a giant electronic vacuum cleaner. The facility is also involved in tactical warfare, through programs like “The Red Dot Express”.
More controversial is Pine Gap’s role in drone strikes.
Instead of trying to pump up hysteria over a non-existent North Korean missile strike, The Turnbull Government should take a hard look at the very real threat that Pine Gap and Northwest Cape pose to Australia.
Pine Gap is still there — bigger and badder than ever, Independent Australia Norm Sanders 25 April 2017 With Donald Trump putting a blowtorch to the Cold War, it is time to take another look at all the U.S. bases in Australia, including Pine Gap, writes Dr Norm Sanders.
PINE GAP, Northwest Cape and Nurrungar were the focus of the Australian Peace Movement in the 1980’s. Then the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock crept slowly away from midnight and the removal of the bases didn’t seem so urgent. The clamour to close the bases died down………
I actually knew quite a bit about what Pine Gap was up to at the time, but it was child’s play compared to what they are doing at present. A simple place to start is Pine Gap’s assumption of the function of Nurrungar in 1999. Nurrungar was located at Island Lagoon, Woomera and was crucial to America’s defenses during the Cold War. Nurrungar furnished “Launch on Warning” surveillance of ICBM or other rocket launches anywhere on the globe. Analysts regarded it as one of the USSR’s top ten targets.
Now, Pine Gap has probably surpassed Nurrungar in the rankings. It is one of the largest satellite ground stations in the world, with over 33 satellite antennas. Pine Gap houses a number of U.S. Government agencies, such as the National Reconnaissance Office (spy satellites,) the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Geospatial-intelligence Agency. In addition, all branches of the U.S. Military are represented. Continue reading
North Korea highlights 1250 US marines in Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war, SMH, Kirsty Needham, James Massola, 25 Apr 17,
North Korea’s state newspaper has singled out the United States’ deployment of 1250 marines to Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war.
And as regional tensions escalate and a US carrier strike group approaches the Korean peninsula, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the secretive regime “must be stopped” as it represented a threat to the region and, potentially, globally.
In a phone call with US president Donald Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping said China opposed any actions that went against UN security council resolutions, as Japan confirmed it was joining drills with the strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson that is headed to Korean waters.
Pusan National University associate professor Robert Kelly told Fairfax Media North Korea’s missiles might have the range to reach northern Australia, but played down the threat as “the question is guidance, not range”.
Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, highlighted the US marines’ arrival in northern Australia on April 18. The marines will be joined by 12 military helicopters including five Cobra helicopters and four Osprey carriers.
“This is the largest scale US military presence in Australia after World War 2,” the newspaper reported on Monday. “America is fanatically, crazily trying to optimise its nuclear war readiness,” it claimed.
The story, on page six of the North Korean newspaper, was headlined: America prepares for nuclear war in different overseas military deployments. Darwin was the only city named…….
Australia-based defence experts believe it is unlikely North Korea has the capacity to strike Australia yet, though they may do within the next three years. The nation’s most recent missile test, earlier this month, failed just seconds after launch…….
The deployment of 1250 marines is the largest to Darwin since the former prime minister Julia Gillard and former president Barack Obama struck a deal back in 2011 to undertake the yearly rotation of troops.
The numbers of cases rose into the thousands, too high to dismiss, and in 1996 the WHO and the IAEA finally admitted that skyrocketing rates of childhood thyroid cancer were most likely due to Chernobyl exposures.
Today we know little about the non-cancerous effects that Soviet scientists working in contaminated zones reported in the late 1980s, and which they attributed to internal and external exposures to ionizing radiation. Are these effects as real as the childhood thyroid cancers proved to be? The Soviet post-Chernobyl medical records suggest that it is time to ask a new set of questions about long-term, low-dose exposures.
Chernobyl’s hidden legacy http://live.iop-pp01.agh.sleek.net/physicsworld/reader/#!edition/editions_Nuclear_2017/article/page-19330 Kate Brown is a historian at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, US, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Historian Kate Brown argues that scientists should re-examine Soviet-era evidence of health effects from low doses of radiation
In June 1980 a doctor with the Oak Ridge Associated Universities in the US wrote a letter to a colleague at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in upstate New York. The pair were corresponding about a forthcoming study of employee health at the Knolls reactor, and the doctor, C C Lushbaugh, wrote that he expected “little ‘useful’ knowledge” from this study “because radiation doses have been so low”. Even so, he agreed that the study had to be done because “both the workers and their management need to be assured that a career involving exposures to low levels of nuclear radiation is not hazardous to one’s health”. The results of such a study, he surmised, would help to counter anti-nuclear propaganda and resolve workers’ claims. However, they could also be a liability. If a competing union or regulatory agency got hold of the employees’ health data, Lushbaugh fretted, it could be weaponized. “I believe,” he continued, “that a study designed to show the transgressions of management will usually succeed.”
Lushbaugh’s dilemma is characteristic of research on the human health effects of exposure to low doses of radiation. He assumed he knew the results – good or bad – before the study began, because those results depended on how the study was designed. The field was so politicized, in other words, that scientists were using health studies as polemical tools and, consequently, asking few open-ended scientific questions.
A few years after Lushbaugh posted this letter, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant blew up, killing 31 workers and firefighters and spreading radioactive material across a broad area of what was then the Soviet Union (now Ukraine and Belarus) and beyond. The accident also exploded the field of radiation medicine and, for a while, promised to rejuvenate it. In August 1986, months after the accident, the chief of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), Giovanni Silini, advocated an enduring epidemiological investigation similar to research on atomic-bomb survivors in Japan . Many other scientists concurred, hoping that Chernobyl could clear up ongoing controversies and uncertainties surrounding low-dose exposures.
It never happened. No long-term epidemiological study took place. That’s not to say there isn’t any information. A few summers ago I went to the Ukrainian national archives in the dusty, bustling outskirts of Kiev and asked the archivists for files on Chernobyl from Soviet Ukraine’s Ministry of Health. They laughed, telling me Chernobyl was a banned topic in the Soviet Union. “You won’t find anything,” they said.
They were wrong. I found dozens of collections labelled “The medical effects of the Chernobyl disaster”. I started reading and have not yet been able to stop. Continue reading
The three-tier disposal scheme for the waste generated by the Tokai Reprocessing Plant is based on radiation level.
Waste with the highest radiation level, which will fill some 30,000 drums, will be buried more than 300 meters underground.
Mid-level waste, which will fill about 24,000 containers, is expected to be buried several dozens of meters underground.
Low-level waste, involving another 81,000 drums, will be buried close to the surface, the JAEA said. In the meantime, the plant’s tainted equipment and facilities will need to be decontaminated and scrapped before being filled with cement and mortar and put in drums for transport to a final disposal site.
The big problem is, there has been little progress in deciding where to bury the drums because they can’t find anyone willing to accept them.
Closure of Tokai Reprocessing Plant to cost an estimated ¥800 billion: JAEA source http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/23/national/closure-tokai-reprocessing-plant-cost-estimated-%C2%A5800-billion-jaea-source/#.WP_gPUWGPGg The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has revealed that the scrapping of the Tokai Reprocessing Plant, the nation’s first facility for reusing spent nuclear fuel, will cost an estimated ¥800 billion, an official said.
The state-backed JAEA did not reveal the cost to taxpayers in 2014, when it made the decision to shut down the plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, over a 70-year period.
The facility started operation in 1977 as part of Japan’s desire to establish a nuclear fuel cycle, in which all spent fuel is reprocessed to extract its plutonium and uranium to make more fuel. The policy is designed to ensure resource-dependent Japan uses its nuclear fuel as efficiently as possible.
The JAEA decided to scrap the sprawling plant after it became too costly to run Continue reading
So why is there so little public protest today?………
It would be a terrible thing if it takes a disastrous nuclear war between the United States and North Korea to convince people that nuclear war is simply unacceptable.
‘In three years’: N Korea making missiles which ‘could hit Australia’ on April 24, 2017, North Korea could potentially hit Australia with one of its under-development intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) within the next three years, according to military experts………
Theresa May would fire UK’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’, says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon ‘We have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike’ Independent, Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor @Rob_Merrick , 24 Apr 17
2 days agoTheresa May would fire Britain’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’ if necessary, the Defence Secretary has said.
Michael Fallon said the Prime Minister was prepared to launch Trident in “the most extreme circumstances”, even if Britain itself was not under nuclear attack.
The statement came as the Conservatives continued to exploit Labour divisions on the retention of the Trident deterrent, to warn of the“very dangerous chaos” if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister……..
“In the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” Mr Fallon said.
Asked in what circumstances, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.
“The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country.”
Mr Fallon also insisted that critics of Trident – including senior military figures who have ridiculed the idea that it is an effective deterrent – were “absolutely wrong”……..
“The Labour party is very clear we are committed to a credible nuclear credibility at the minimum end of the scale. That is Labour party policy and it will be in the manifesto,” Mr Gwynne said.
But he appeared to rule out a first strike, adding: “We would not be in a position where the first choice would be to press that red button. It is a deterrent because we have them.
“We believe in multilateralism, we believe in negotiating away our nuclear weapons system to create a nuclear weapon free world.”…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-nuclear-weapons-first-strike-michael-fallon-general-election-jeremy-corbyn-trident-a7698621.html
Britain would be ‘literally erased from the face of the earth’ if it launched a nuclear attack, warns Russian MP. Another translation says Britain would be ‘razed to the ground’ in a retaliatory strike, Independent, Samuel Osborne @SamuelOsborne93, 24 Apr 17, Britain would be “literally erased from the face of the earth” in a nuclear war, a Russian MP has warned.
Franz Klintsevich, a retired colonel, was responding to comments from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who said “in the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.”
Mr Klintsevich said if Britain were to launch a preemptive strike, then “not having the biggest territory, it will literally be erased from the face of the earth.” Another translation, carried by the Russian news agency TASS, says Britain would be “razed to the ground” in a retaliatory strike. Continue reading
US prepares charges to seek arrest of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange – sources | 20 April 2017 | US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN. The Justice Department investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained wide attention for posting thousands of files stolen by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.
Mundine reduces Aboriginal land rights and First Nations treaties to ‘a fantasy business transaction’ Wangan and Jagalingou http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/mundine-reduces-aboriginal-land-rights-and-first-nations-treaties/ 24 April 2017:
“In his opinion piece , “Activists undermine principles of self-determination”, 20 April 2017,
Warren Mundine makes exaggerated, false and misleading comments.
As his views still gain considerable national attention as the former head of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council , it is necessary for us to respond.
“While we agree that “making your own decisions and controlling your own destiny… is something for which Indigenous people long campaigned” – he does much to undermine this premise in his article.
His uninformed characterisations of the Wangan and Jagalingou situation regarding the proposed Adani Carmichael mine do us and our campaign for self-determination a great disservice.
“Our forebears, like many others, pursued “sources of self-determination, like land rights”. We too celebrate Koiki Eddie Mabo’s achievement to gain “recognition of his people’s fundamental and original right to the land and seas on which they’d lived and subsisted since time immemorial”.
“But to then build an argument on Mabo’s legacy, as Mundine does, and say that the Native Title Act in its present form is fostering “Indigenous economic participation by allowing traditional owners to use land as an economic asset”, is ludicrous. He fails to position the importance of traditional lands in the full spectrum of Indigenous values and uses (not just economic and extractive relations to resources), alongside the manifest failures of the Native Title Act to deliver anything remotely like land rights for most Aboriginal people.
“His elevation of the role of businesses in empowering Traditional Owners through Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) compounds the folly. And to go further and state that there’s “little difference in substance between a treaty and an ILUA entered into with a government” reaches the height of absurdity. …
“As Deakin University’s Emeritus Professor Dr Jon Altman states , “Warren Mundine is poorly informed about the workings of the Native Title Act. His views run contrary to three Federal Court Judges. He confuses correlation with causation. In other words, just because key Traditional Owners and some ‘greenies’ agree, doesn’t mean one caused the other. It just means they share a similar view on Adani’s Carmichael mine proposal.” …
“We will argue our case to the Australian public. These are the people who support us, morally and financially. We welcome the many thousands of contributions that assist with our legal and other actions.
“We make no apologies for taking a stand, like so many Aboriginal rights campaigners,
against a dubious company intent on overriding our decisions, destroying our heritage, dividing our people and offering an insulting pittance in return.
“Mundine can characterise it however he likes, but we have no doubt that our stand is exactly an assertion of Indigenous self-determination. We don’t need his approval, or care about his disapproval.
“Though we’re sure his mates in the mining sector  and the halls of Government will welcome his opinions.”
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-letters/north-korea-by-opposing-un-we-have-increased-insecurity-20170425-gvs00p.html Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has excoriated North Korea for squandering vast resources on weapons of mass destruction instead of meeting the basic needs of its citizens. Yet in recent years, Ms Bishop has argued stridently against the global prohibition on nuclear weapons, believing that US nuclear forces are essential for Australia’s security and prosperity.
It is on this basis that she decided to boycott a major UN nuclear disarmament process that began in March – potentially violating Australia’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. More than 130 nations are part of these historic negotiations, the success of which is vital to our collective security. While this process will not result immediately in a denuclearised Korean Peninsula, that goal will be more readily achieved in a world moving towards disarmament. By opposing this UN effort and encouraging the US to bolster its nuclear arsenal, Australia has very much contributed to the global insecurity we now face.
Push for a mini hydro-electric scheme in Yarra Valley town of Warburton, The Age Darren Gray, 25 Apr 17, Up to 120 homes could be powered by a mini hydro-electric scheme that’s been proposed by locals for Warburton, in the upper reaches of the Yarra Valley.
The hydro project, which would involve using water from the fast-flowing Ythan Creek as it flows through the local golf course, would produce year-round power to be fed into the electricity grid.
The proposed scheme would also restore some of the picturesque town’s early 20th century heritage, by reviving hydro power at the site of an old hydro scheme that operated at the property from 1919 onwards.
The historic hydro plant powered the old Parbury Timber Mill during the daytime, while at night it powered local street lights and part of the town for years, before Warburton was connected to the electricity grid.
The modern hydro project, expected to cost close to $1 million, is the brainchild of Warburton residents Luke Whiteside and Nick Killey…….http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/push-for-a-mini-hydroelectric-scheme-in-yarra-valley-town-of-warburton-20170424-gvrf2d.html
Could South Australia be the nation’s hydrogen state, too? REneweconomy, By Valdis Dunis on 24 April 2017 South Australia is already tops for solar and wind use in Australia, crossing over its 50 per cent generation goal from these clean renewable sources last year – eight years ahead of schedule.
Soon the state is will be Australia’s (and a world) leader in battery storage, led by its government’s new tender for a 100MW/100MWh battery system for the state’s grid, plus the other private initiatives from the Lyon Group, AGL’s 1,000 battery virtual power plant in Adelaide, and other companies building large storage systems in the state.
It also is likely to become a leader in new large scale pumped hydro storage thanks to Energy Australia’s detailed work now being done on the feasibility of building a 100MW version near Whyalla in the state’s North, thanks to support funding from ARENA.
Finally, the most high-profile and long-fought-for renewable project in the state – the 24/7 despatchable solar thermal plant near Port Augusta – will now hopefully get over the line, thanks to a new $110M low-cost loan that SA Senator Nick Xenophon was able to wrench out of the federal government last month.
However, South Australia might soon have a new clean feather to add to its cap:
Last Friday, the state’s Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis surprised most at a CEDA lunch to announce the state will also now go heavily in to implementing a hydrogen industry, leveraging the state’s increasing supply of clean and low cost- renewable energy to power the creation of this fuel from water.
Hydrogen is well known as a clean way to power transport – from cars to trucks to trains and eventually planes potentially, and for driving power turbines and other equipment needing large amounts of power quickly on demand. Best of all is that it does it all without the pollution (assuming water vapour from the tailpipe noone considers pollution!).
The Minister presented a set of slides on this new goal, with the “aim to capitalise on our abundance of renewable resources to become the green hydrogen capital of Australia”.
The hydrogen fuel would not just be for local state use, but as a new export industry both to other states and internationally. The Minister conceded Victoria was currently ahead of South Australia, but said the state will be able to leverage its existing strong engineering expertise in gas processing, pipelines and storage. He also said Asia, in particular Korea and Japan, are large potential markets for hydrogen. …….http://reneweconomy.com.au/could-south-australia-be-the-nations-hydrogen-state-too-11243/
Even in Australia, which gets no special mention in Deutsche Bank’s report, the cost of building large scale solar farms is falling to a fraction of the cost of new coal or gas plants. Indeed, according to the former head of Victoria’s Hazelwood brown coal generator, Tony Cancannon – who now heads up Reach Energy – the cost of large scale solar and storage is already competitive with gas-fired generation, and within a few years will be well below $100/MWh.
Solar juggernaut marches on as costs continue to fall http://reneweconomy.com.au/solar-juggernaut-marches-costs-continue-fall-47153/ [good graphs] By Sophie Vorrath on 24 April 2017 The global solar market looks set to continue on its trajectory of extraordinary growth, driven by further reductions in the costs of the technology, and a possible post-Trump “gold rush” that is brewing in the US.
The onward march of the solar juggernaut has been predicted by global investment group Deutsche Bank, whose latest report bumped up its 2017 estimate for total demand to 82GW, from a previous forecast of 74GW.
This has certainly been the pattern of recent decades, with dramatic growth rates of PV consistently beating – and sometimes smashing – analyst predictions. And while Deutsche Bank and other analysts continue to flag a slow-down in the market’s near future, it is not expected to happen this year, mainly due to stronger growth forecast for China. Continue reading