Archive for October, 2017

“Environmental Progress”and Michael Shellenberger -spreading nuclear lies and quack science

October 30, 2017

the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies“.

Is there a future for ‘pro-nuclear environmentalism’? Jim Green, 30 Oct 2017,

Michael Shellenberger is visiting Australia this week. He has been a prominent environmentalist (of sorts) since he co-authored the 2004 essay, The Death of Environmentalism. These days, as the President of the California-based ‘Environmental Progress’ lobby group, he is stridently pro-nuclear, hostile towards renewable energy and hostile towards the environment movement.

Shellenberger is visiting to speak at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne. His visit was promoted by Graham Lloyd in The Australian in September. Shellenberger is “one of the world’s leading new-generation environmental thinkers” according to The Australian, and if the newspaper is any guide he is here to promote his message that wind and solar have failed, that they are doubling the cost of electricity, and that “all existing renewable technologies do is make the electricity system chaotic and provide greenwash for fossil fuels.”

Trawling through Environmental Progress literature, one of their recurring themes is the falsehood that “every time nuclear plants close they are replaced almost entirely by fossil fuels”. South Korea, for example, plans to reduce reliance on coal and nuclear under recently-elected President Moon Jae-in, and to boost reliance on gas and renewables. But Shellenberger and Environmental Progress ignore those plans and concoct their own scare-story in which coal and gas replace nuclear power, electricity prices soar, thousands die from increased air pollution, and greenhouse emissions increase.

Fake scientists and radiation quackery

Environmental Progress’ UK director John Lindberg is described as an “expert on radiation” on the lobby group’s website. In fact, he has no scientific qualifications. Likewise, a South Korean article falsely claims that Shellenberger is a scientist and that article is reposted, without correction, on the Environmental Progress website.

Shellenberger says that at a recent talk in Berlin: “Many Germans simply could not believe how few people died and will die from the Chernobyl accident (under 200) and that nobody died or will die from the meltdowns at Fukushima. How could it be that everything we were told is not only wrong, but often the opposite of the truth?”

There’s a simple reason that Germans didn’t believe Shellenberger’s claims about Chernobyl and Fukushima ‒ they are false. Shellenberger claims that “under 200” people have died and will die from the Chernobyl disaster, but in fact the lowest of the estimates of the Chernobyl cancer death toll is the World Health Organization’s estimate of “up to 9,000 excess cancer deaths” in the most contaminated parts of the former Soviet Union. And of course there are higher estimates for the death toll across Europe.

Shellenberger claims that the Fukushima meltdowns “killed precisely no one” and that “nobody died or will die from the meltdowns at Fukushima”. An Environmental Progress report has this to say about Fukushima: “[T]he science is unequivocal: nobody has gotten sick much less died from the radiation that escaped from three meltdowns followed by three hydrogen gas explosions. And there will be no increase in cancer rates.”

In support of those assertions, Environmental Progress cites a World Health Organization report that directly contradicts the lobby group’s claims. The WHO report concluded that for people in the most contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, the estimated increased risk for all solid cancers will be around 4% in females exposed as infants; a 6% increased risk of breast cancer for females exposed as infants; a 7% increased risk of leukaemia for males exposed as infants; and for thyroid cancer among females exposed as infants, an increased risk of up to 70% (from a 0.75% lifetime risk up to 1.25%).


Applying a linear-no threshold (LNT) risk factor to the estimated collective radiation dose from Fukushima fallout gives an estimated long-term cancer death toll of around 5,000 people. Nuclear lobbyists are quick to point out that LNT may overestimate risks from low dose and low dose-rate exposure ‒ but LNT may also underestimate the risks according to expert bodies such as the US National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

Attacking environment groups (more…)

South Australia’s shonky Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission: stacked with nuclear lobbyists

October 30, 2017

What we saw with the royal commission is that they had a number of paid consultants—paid by you and I, the taxpayers—and they engaged these consultants who had clear, ongoing connections with the nuclear industry, often as lobbyists for the industry.

It became apparent very early on that the state was off on a frolic of its own. It was embarking on this major investigation about having a nuclear waste dump in South Australia when everyone knew that the bulk of the laws that regulate these things are at the commonwealth level.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission – Parliamentary Committee Report, Legislative Council, October 18th, 2017

The final report of the Joint Committee on Findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was tabled in the South Australian Parliament on October 17 2017.  A copy of the report can be found here.

As a Member of the Parliamentary Committee, Mark spoke to the Report on October 18, and outlined his findings and recommendations in the Greens’ Minority Report.

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: The notion that South Australia could become fabulously wealthy if only we would agree to take the world’s high-level nuclear waste was ill-conceived from the very beginning. The committee heard evidence about previous attempts to establish nuclear waste dumps in other parts of the world and in Australia. Those attempts have mostly failed because the fundamentals just do not stack up. The liability lasts forever, the technology is unproven and risky, the economics are flawed and the public do not want it under any circumstances, according to the South Australian citizens’ jury. So, this current proposal for South Australia has predictably and properly gone the way of its predecessors and it has been comprehensively dumped.

Whilst the Greens welcome the inevitable abandonment of this project, it has come at a significant cost to the community. Millions of dollars of public funds have been wasted pursuing this folly, and the community is rightly angry that other worthwhile projects and other investigations have suffered through this unnecessary distraction from the real issues that are facing South Australia.

The committee only had one recommendation that received majority support. That is the recommendation that no further public money be spent on a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.Hear, hear! That is a good recommendation. I fully support that. It was a waste of money and let’s not waste any more. But there are a number of other lessons that we should learn from this process. When I say ‘this process’, I mean the royal commission into the nuclear industry, the government’s consultation program, the citizens’ jury, as well as the joint parliamentary inquiry that I was privileged to be part of.

Another recommendation I think the committee should have adopted refers to the fact that the law that currently prohibits nuclear waste dumps in South Australia was tinkered with last year in order to assuage the nervousness of the government that it might be breaking the law if it was to spend public money on consultation. So, we changed the law. We put in a special clause that says you are not allowed to use public money promoting a nuclear waste dump, but you are allowed to consult the community. We put that clause in. Now that the consultation has finished, now that the government has spoken, the opposition has spoken, and the people have spoken through the citizens’ jury and through other surveys, let’s put the act back to where it was before. Let’s put it back so that there is no doubt about the prohibition on nuclear waste dumps in South Australia.

A third recommendation I think the committee should have adopted is one that relates to the relationship between the federal and state government. It became apparent very early on that the state was off on a frolic of its own. It was embarking on this major investigation about having a nuclear waste dump in South Australia when everyone knew that the bulk of the laws that regulate these things are at the commonwealth level.

The question that was then asked of the state government was, ‘Have you been talking to the feds? Have you been talking to your colleagues in Canberra?’ ‘Oh, no, we haven’t done that.’ We got millions of dollars into the process, months into the process, and still we never had a single assurance from the commonwealth that they were on board with this project, that they were inclined or likely to give any of the authorities, permits or licences that would be needed to have a nuclear waste dump in Australia.

Another recommendation I think the committee should have adopted is one that relates to nuclear secrecy and improving scrutiny. It comes largely, I think, from the findings of the citizens’ jury where, as I said, two-thirds of them, 350 people, had a strong conviction that South Australia should not pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of nuclear waste from other countries under any circumstances. That is a pretty bold statement.

However, the jury also found that there was a lack of trust in the state government and that the state government had a track record of poor performance when it came to managing issues relating to the nuclear industry. The recommendation that should flow from that is that the government should now review all of its nuclear related legislation with a view to removing the secrecy provisions and the exemptions. The aim should be to open up the nuclear industry to greater public scrutiny. That is the only way to rebuild any public trust, if there ever was any, in the government’s competency as a regulator in this area.

Another recommendation I think the committee should have adopted—the Hon. Dennis Hood referred to it—relates to the Aboriginal communities. That was a big part of the discussion. Many parts of the Aboriginal community were very upset that they were not adequately consulted during the process. Ultimately, that fed through into the citizens’ jury finding that this project was really so half-baked that it should not be proceeded with.

So, my recommendation would be that any future proposals for major developments of any kind, industrial in particular, that are likely to impact on traditional lands and the cultures of Aboriginal people, should always be subject to a comprehensive community engagement program that allows all people to participate in the decision-making process in a manner that is inclusive, respectful and culturally appropriate: that is the least we can do, and it was not done in this nuclear waste dump proposal.

The next recommendation relates to the royal commission. I maintained from the outset that the royal commission was the wrong tool for the type of inquiry that the government wanted to undertake. Using a royal commission under the Royal Commissions Act 1917 was unnecessarily formalistic and legalistic and was inappropriate for the nature of this inquiry. For example, the requirement for all written submissions to have to be sworn before a justice of the peace or some other authority before it could be accepted was misguided and put an unnecessary barrier in the way of public participation.

For example, my submission to the royal commission was rejected. I am a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Courts of South Australia and Victoria, am admitted as a practitioner of the High Court of Australia and am a commissioner for signing affidavits, yet my submission was rejected because I did not go and see the clerk or one of the other JPs to validate the submission I was putting in. I told Commissioner Scarce that he did not need to do this, that he was putting unnecessary barriers in the way, but at the end of the day they did what they did—I think it was the wrong process.

Most importantly, though, the commission never once used the extensive coercive powers that royal commissions have in the conduct of this inquiry. Let’s think about it: the power to get reluctant witnesses from Rome (or wherever they might be), bring them back to Australia, quiz people who do not want to have questions asked of them—that is what royal commissions do best: coercive powers, reluctant witnesses, make them answer. This was effectively an inquiry where people were desperate to have their say—they wanted to have their say. They put in their submissions. There was no need to subpoena, if you like, anyone to come and give evidence.

I think that overly formal attitude of the royal commission fuelled concerns in the community that it was elitist and that it was not open to hearing a range of divergent views. So, my recommendation would be that any future proposals that involve complex economic, social or environmental issues should look for a tool more fit for purpose than is a royal commission, and we should limit royal commissions to those situations where the use of statutory powers clearly are necessary, such as compelling reluctant witnesses.

The next recommendation I would make is in relation to how inquiries, in this case a royal commission, choose the experts to advise them. What we saw with the royal commission is that they had a number of paid consultants—paid by you and I, the taxpayers—and they engaged these consultants who had clear, ongoing connections with the nuclear industry, often as lobbyists for the industry. We paid these people to advise the royal commission and, ultimately, advise the government and the parliament about the desirability of a nuclear waste dump.

The fact that the royal commission provided considerable weight to the findings of these consultants cast further doubt, in my view, on the independence and rigor of its analysis. In particular, the lack of any second opinion on the question of the financial viability of the proposed nuclear waste dump was a serious credibility problem for the royal commission.

I say that because I think that even the Hon. Dennis Hood in his contribution would agree that the only reason that was really advanced to do this was that it was a potential economic opportunity. Only one economic analysis was done. Sure, the committee I was part of got further opinions, we sought them, but the commission did not, and I think that was a flaw. So, we need to keep vested interests at arm’s length—we do not want them running the show.

I also believe that the royal commission failed in, I think, its elitist approach to this inquiry by not giving everyone who wanted an opportunity to be heard that chance. We had a number of national and state conservation groups that basically said, ‘The royal commission refused to hear from us.’ I have put this personally to the commissioner. His view was that he did not think many of these people had anything new to add, and so he did not hear from them. Imagine how that would work if we tried to do an inquiry like that in parliament. Inquiries 101, the stakeholders who want to be heard, give them a chance to be heard! It is not rocket science. Then people scratch their heads and say, ‘I wonder why the citizens’ jury thought that this was a bad idea?’ The royal commission was the architect, in many ways, of its own defeat.

I think the recommendation should be that in all future inquiries, of whatever type, make sure that all the divergent views are heard. Do not tell Friends of the Earth or the Australian Conservation Foundation or the Conservation Council that they are not required to give evidence because, for example, ‘We’ve seen your written evidence; we don’t need to bring you in in person.’ Whereas, the proponents were allowed in person to give evidence on multiple occasions. It was an own goal of catastrophic proportions.

I am delighted that this process is almost over. I have described it as not the nail in the coffin of the nuclear waste dump, but the penultimate nail, because we still in this parliament have to deal with the legislation. The legislation was tampered with last year to allow this process to go ahead. Now that the process has run its course, we need to put the legislation back where it was. That will be the final nail in, I think, a very sorry chapter in South Australian history: how to waste tens of millions of dollars on something that was never going to amount to anything, ever.

For more information see a copy of the Report

Deception by Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in naming nuclear waste

October 30, 2017

Steve Dale Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia  21 Oct 17 Lest we forget. The ore we dig up from Roxby has a radioactivity of about 80 Becquerels per gram. The vitrified waste we received back from France has a radioactivity over one Billion Becquerels per gram (one GigaBq/gr). France considers this High Level Waste – but our political system has allowed this to be defined as “Intermediate” – incompetence? corrupt? I will let you decide. (image from…/2006_summar…/files/docs/all.pdf)

Olympic Games 1956: politicians and scientists colluded to hide dangers of nuclear radiation

October 30, 2017

The 1985 Royal Commission report into British Nuclear Tests in Australia discussed many of these issues, but never in relation to the proximity and timing of the 1956 Olympic Games. Sixty years later, are we seeing the same denial of known hazards six years after the reactor explosion at Fukushima?

Australia’s nuclear testing before the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne should be a red flag for Fukushima in 2020,, The Conversation, Susanne Rabbitt Roff. Part time tutor in Medical Education, University of Dundee, 20 Oct 17,  The scheduling of Tokyo 2020 Olympic events at Fukushima is being seen as a public relations exercise to dampen fears over continuing radioactivity from the reactor explosion that followed the massive earthquake six years ago.

It brings to mind the British atomic bomb tests in Australia that continued until a month before the opening of the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne – despite the known dangers of fallout travelling from the testing site at Maralinga to cities in the east. And it reminds us of the collusion between scientists and politicians – British and Australian – to cover up the flawed decision-making that led to continued testing until the eve of the Games.

Australia’s prime minister Robert Menzies agreed to atomic testing in December 1949. Ten months earlier, Melbourne had secured the 1956 Olympics even though the equestrian events would have to be held in Stockholm because of Australia’s strict horse quarantine regimes.

The equestrians were well out of it. Large areas of grazing land – and therefore the food supplies of major cities such as Melbourne – were covered with a light layer of radiation fallout from the six atomic bombs detonated by Britain during the six months prior to the November 1956 opening of the Games. Four of these were conducted in the eight weeks running up to the big event, 1,000 miles due west of Melbourne at Maralinga.

Bombs and games

In the 25 years I have been researching the British atomic tests in Australia, I have found only two mentions of the proximity of the Games to the atomic tests. Not even the Royal Commission into the tests in 1985 addressed the known hazards of radioactive fallout for the athletes and spectators or those who lived in the wide corridor of the radioactive plumes travelling east.

At the time, the approaching Olympics were referred to only once in the Melbourne press in relation to the atomic tests, in August 1956. It is known that D-notices from the government “requesting” editors to refrain from publishing information about certain defence and security matters were issued.

The official history of the tests by British nuclear historian Lorna Arnold, published by the UK government in 1987 and no longer in print, reports tests director William Penney signalling concern only once, in late September 1956:

Am studying arrangements firings but not easy. Have Olympic Games in mind but still believe weather will not continue bad.

This official history doesn’t comment on the implications. And nowhere in the 1985 Royal Commission report is there any reference to the opening of the Olympics, just one month and a day after the fourth test took place 1,000 miles away.

The 1984 report of the Expert Committee on the review of Data on Atmospheric Fallout Arising from British Nuclear Tests in Australia found that the methodology used to estimate the numbers of people who might have been harmed by this fallout at fewer than 10 was inappropriate. And it concluded that if the dose calculations were confined to the communities in the path of the fallout and not merged with the total Australian population “such an exercise would generate results several orders of magnitude higher than those based on conventional philosophy”. There was no mention of the Olympic Games.

Neither Prime Minister Menzies nor his cabinet ever referred publicly to what had been known from the outset – that the British atomic tests in Australia would almost coincide with the Melbourne Olympics. The tests and the Games were planned simultaneously through the first half of the 1950s.

In May 1955, 18 months before the Olympics were due to start, Howard Beale, the Australian minister for supply, announced the building of “the Los Alamos of the British Commonwealth” (a nuclear test site in New Mexico) at Maralinga, promising that “tests would only take place in meteorological conditions which would carry radioactive clouds harmlessly away into the desert”.

An Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee was formed by the Australians but was closely controlled by physicist Professor Ernest Titterton, the only Englishman on the panel. The 1985 Royal Commission stated explicitly that the AWTSC was complicit in the firing of atomic detonations in weather conditions that they knew could carry radioactive fallout a thousand miles from Maralinga to eastern cities such as Melbourne.

Hazards of radioactivity

Professor Titterton, who had recently been appointed to a chair in nuclear physics at the Australian National University after working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, and at Aldermaston in England, explained why the atomic devices were being tested in Australia:

Because of the hazards from the radioactivity which follows atomic weapons explosions, the tests are best carried out in isolated regions – usually a desert area … Most of the radioactivity produced in the explosion is carried up in the mushroom cloud and drifts downward under atmospheric airstreams. But particular material in this cloud slowly settles to the ground and may render an area dangerously radioactive out to distances ranging between 50 and several hundred miles … It would therefore be hazardous to explode even the smallest weapons in the UK, and it was natural for the mother country to seek test sites elsewhere in the Commonwealth.

The AWTSC published two scientific papers in 1957 and 1958 which flat out denied that any dangerous levels of radioactivity reached the eastern states. But their measurements relied on a very sparse scattering of sticky paper monitors – rolls of gummed film set out to catch particles of fallout – even though these could be washed off by rain.

Despite their clear denials in these papers, meteorological records show that prior to the Games there was rain in Melbourne which could have deposited radioactivity on the ground.

The AWTSC papers included maps purporting to show the plumes of radioactive fallout travelling north and west from Maralinga in the South Australian desert. The Royal Commission published expanded maps (see page 292) based on the AWTSC’s own data and found the fallout pattern to be much wider and more complex. The Australian scientist Hedley Marston’s study of radioactivity uptake in animals showed a far more significant covering of fallout on a wide swathe of Australian grazing land than indicated by the sticky paper samples of the AWTSC.

The 1985 Royal Commission report into British Nuclear Tests in Australia discussed many of these issues, but never in relation to the proximity and timing of the 1956 Olympic Games. Sixty years later, are we seeing the same denial of known hazards six years after the reactor explosion at Fukushima?

South Australia: all political parties agree: no more money to be spent on plans to import nuclear waste

October 30, 2017

No more cash for nuclear vision as parties conspire against waste dump. In Daily, Tom Richardson , 18 Oct 17  A parliamentary inquiry into Jay Weatherill’s doomed nuclear waste repository has told the State Government not to spend another cent of public money on the plan, with MPs from both major parties conspiring to drive the last nail into the project’s political coffin.The final report of a committee established to review the findings of former Governor Kevin Scarce’s Nuclear Royal Commission, tabled in parliament yesterday, makes only one recommendation: “That the South Australian Government should not commit any further public funds to pursuing the proposal to establish a repository for the storage of nuclear waste in SA.”

The recommendation was endorsed by Liberal, Greens and Labor members of the committee – surprisingly, including even outspoken nuclear advocate and Labor whip Tom Kenyon………

Earlier this year, InDaily revealed Weatherill’s declaration that the project would not be revisited by his Government.

But the work of the committee has continued, with the inquiry hearing “concerns from witnesses that if market conditions changed, for example through competition or changes in technology, the state may be left with a facility which, from an economic and financial perspective, is a break-even proposition at best”.

“Further, while no direct losses would be incurred, there could be significant costs attached to losing other, potentially higher value, investment opportunities,” the report stated.

“Further still, the minimum pre-commitment, or baseline viability, does not mitigate risk of writing-off pre-commitment expenditure estimated at roundly $600 million if the facility did not proceed.”

The committee noted “the possibility of a customer country unilaterally deciding not to send waste to SA despite contractual agreements to do so which, depending on the timing of the risk impact, could leave the facility significantly under-funded”.

Greens committee member Mark Parnell, a consistent opponent of the repository plan, said today “the project was ill-conceived from the outset”.

“The whole exercise has been a colossal waste of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money, but it’s now good the process has finished and we can move on to talking about more realistic projects that will create employment and opportunity for South Australians,” he said.

Calling the inquiry’s recommendation the “second-last nail in the coffin”, Parnell insisted the Government must now reinstate Section 13 of the Nuclear Waste Storage Facility (Prohibition) Act of 2000, which was repealed last year.

The law prevented the Government from consulting on the merits of a nuclear waste storage facility, holding that “no public money may be appropriated, expended or advanced to any person for the purpose of encouraging or financing any activity associated with the construction or operation of a nuclear waste storage facility” in SA.

Parnell has his own legislation before parliament to re-establish the original act, saying “we need to fix the legislation to make sure no future government comes back with a project like this, without coming to parliament first”……..


Nuclear radiation fallout on Adelaide, Australia 1956

October 30, 2017

Fallout map from the day Adelaide got hit hard, 11 Oct 1956 …

I was luckily living elsewhere at the time, in NSW … I do remember having bad nose bleeds … we moved to Adelaide a few years later so many of my school and uni and work and sport mates and their mothers were in the thick of the fallout from the British bomb test called Buffalo 3 .. and there are many sad stories of retarded siblings and congenital cardiac issues and early cancers.

In 1956 a series of atomic tests were carried out in the far north of the state at Maralinga, including the dropping of a bomb from a plane on October 11th, with devastating impacts on nearby Aboriginal communities.

Australian Atomic Confessions [Full Documentary]

Retired academic Roger Cross’s book “Fallout” focuses on the drift of radiation many hundred kilometres south of the site to Adelaide.

“Fortunately for South Australia it was rather a small bomb, but it was dropped from a Valiant Bomber and was designed to explode in the air which it did do,” Mr Cross told Ian Henschke on 891 ABC Adelaide mornings.

“Part of the cloud blew south towards Adelaide and the minor cloud then blew east as it was supposed to across largely uninhabitated areas towards the towns of Sydney and Brisbane and exit Australia between those two cities.

“But the main part of the cloud actually blew down south towards Adelaide and there was great controversy about that,” he said.

Mr Cross says this wasn’t admitted to at the time, causing great controversy.

He says authorities didn’t realise a man called Hedley Marston who was involved with the tests, checking thyroids of sheep and cattle around the area, also set up a secret experiment at the CSIRO building in Adelaide.

Mr Marston recorded a level of 98 thousand counts per hundred seconds the day after the bomb had been dropped.

“The average count in Adelaide at that time was between 40 and 60 counts per hundred seconds,” said Mr Cross.

Mr Marston also carried out some tests on sheep just south and north of Adelaide, finding elevated levels of radiation material in the sheep that were on pasture but not in others that had eaten hay cut the year before.

“This was a very elegant experiment because by luck he had a control, he had this group of sheep that were penned under cover that were just eating hay from previous harvests.”

Mr Cross says Hedley Marston was concerned about strontium 90 in particular and it getting into milk and then being consumed by young children and pregnant women.

Silent Storm atomic testing in Australia

Anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott entered medical school in Adelaide in 1956 and told Ian Henschke there was no mention of a possible health impact of the tests, and she is not aware of a study of the human population following that test.

“We the population of Adelaide were kept in ignorance and for that I feel very bad about that as a doctor.”

She says you would have to test all the population exposed to radiation throughout their entire life and compare it to people who were not exposed to know if the incidence of cancer was high.

“My prediction is definitely I’m sure it was but we don’t have any evidence.

“Adelaide got a hell of a fallout, and I must say as a young medical student not being taught about that I have deep resentment that the public was not informed about it,” said Dr Caldicott.

(Quote from )

(Map is a detail from…/allowable-lifetime-…/ )


Military terminology explained

October 30, 2017

The military and North Korea: What you hear and what it means,   September 26, 2017

To help you cut through the verbiage and hyperbole, here’s a list of common terms and what they really mean.
NUCLEAR POWERED AIRCRAFT CARRIER  All active US Navy aircraft carriers are powered by nuclear reactors. They would not, however, typically carry nuclear weapons. US aircraft carriers have a displacement of about 97,000 tons. Japan and the US have smaller ships, with a displacement of 24,000 to 43,000 tons, which look like aircraft carriers but are considered helicopter destroyers and amphibious assault ships, respectively.
NUCLEAR SUBMARINE  All active US Navy aircraft carriers are powered by nuclear reactors. They would not, however, typically carry nuclear weapons. US aircraft carriers have a displacement of about 97,000 tons. Japan and the US have smaller ships, with a displacement of 24,000 to 43,000 tons, which look like aircraft carriers but are considered helicopter destroyers and amphibious assault ships, respectively.
FRIGATE Frigates are at the smaller end of what are called major naval surface combatants, displacing around 2,400 to 4,100 tons. The US Navy has no frigates. They have been succeeded by littoral combat ships, lighter-armed more maneuverable next generation vessels. North Korea, South Korea and Japan also operate frigates. Frigates can be armed with a combination of missiles, shells and torpedoes.
DESTROYER The middle range of surface combatants, the destroyer (8,200 to 9,700 tons) is the backbone of the US Navy’s fleet, with more than 60 in service. Destroyers can be armed with a combination of missiles, shell-firing guns and torpedoes. US destroyers carry the Aegis missile defense system, designed to shoot down ballistic missiles. They also carry Tomahawk cruise missiles that can hit targets far inland. Japan and South Korea also operate destroyers.
CRUISER In the US Navy, the Ticonderoga-class cruisers (9,700 tons) are considered the largest of major surface combatants. They are armed with a combination of cruise missiles, standard missiles, shell-firing guns and torpedoes. Some carry the Aegis missile defense system. They are also used to coordinate the air defenses of aircraft carrier task forces. Japan and South Korea also operate cruisers.
STEALTH FIGHTER Stealth fighters are jets designed to be invisible to radar, making it much easier for them to evade enemy air defenses. The US military has two types of stealth fighters, the F-22 and the newer, more versatile F-35. Japan and South Korea are also acquiring F-35s.
STEALTH BOMBER The B-2 is the US bomber with the ability to be invisible to enemy radar. The four-engine jets can be armed with conventional or nuclear weapons. The US has only 20 of the billion-dollar bombers. The US is the only country with stealth bombers.
FIGHTER The US Air Force operates a variety of fighter aircraft, including F-15s and F-16s, as well as F-22s and F-35s. The US Navy and Marines operate F/A-18 aircraft from carriers. Although designated as fighters — an air-to-air combat term — all can attack ground targets with bombs and missiles. Japan and South Korea have versions of the F-15.
BOMBER Besides the B-2, the US operates B-1 and B-52 bombers. B-1s carry only conventional weapons while B-52s can be armed with conventional or nuclear bombs.
ICBM ICBM stands for intercontinental ballistic missile. The US defines missiles this way: intercontinental missiles have a range of more than 5,500 kilometers; intermediate-range missiles have a range of 3,000 to 5,000 kilometers; medium-range missiles have a range of 1,000 to 3,000 kilometers; and short-range missiles have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers. Ballistic missiles are fired on a lofted trajectory, usually going outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The missiles can be tipped with warheads, either nuclear weapons, conventional explosives or chemical agents.
BALLISTIC MISSILE DEFENSE (THAAD AEGIS, PATRIOT) Ballistic missile defense systems are designed to intercept enemy missiles before they reach a target. THAAD — or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — is a ground-based radar and missile system designed to intercept ballistic missiles on their descent. Aegis, operated from US Navy as well as Japanese warships, is designed to kill enemy missiles mid-flight. Aegis and THAAD use kinetic, non-explosive energy to stop a missile, essentially like a bullet hitting a bullet. Patriot systems are designed to shoot down missiles at closer range than THAAD or Aegis.
LIVE-FIRE DRILL, UNILATERAL OR COMBINED A live-fire drill means the military units involved are using real ammunition during the exercise rather than simulating the combat experience. Unilateral drills are carried out by one country or branch of service. Combined drills are carried out by more than one country or branch of service.
HYDROGEN BOMB VERSUS ATOMIC BOMB Hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs use fusion, the same process that powers the sun. In a hydrogen (thermonuclear) bomb, “heavy” isotopes of hydrogen are forced together to release a much bigger punch — hundreds or even thousands of times more powerful than the only nuclear weapons that have been used in warfare. Atomic bombs use a process called fission. They split plutonium and/or uranium into smaller atoms in a chain reaction that releases massive amounts of energy. The bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II were atomic bombs.


International academics refute the pro nuclear propaganda of Australian shill Ben Heard

October 30, 2017

Response to ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems’ AUTHORS W. Browna,(a) , T. Bischof-Niemz (b)  , K. Blok(c) , C. Breyerc(d) , H. Lund (e) , B.V. Mathiesen (f  )  (Their  university positions are listed at the end of this post) September 2017

Abstract A recent article ‘Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems [by Ben Heard, Barry Brook, Tom Wigley and Corey Bradshaw] claims that many studies of 100% renewable electricity systems do not demonstrate sufficient technical feasibility, according to the authors’ criteria.

Here we analyse the authors’ methodology and find it problematic. The feasibility criteria chosen by the authors are important, but are also easily addressed at low cost, while not affecting the main conclusions of the reviewed studies and certainly not affecting their technical feasibility.

A more thorough review reveals that all of the issues have already been addressed in the engineering and modelling literature. Nuclear power, as advocated by some of the authors, faces other, genuine feasibility problems, such as the finiteness of uranium resources and a reliance on unproven technologies in the medium- to long-term. Energy systems based on renewables, on the other hand, are not only feasible, but already economically viable and getting cheaper every day.

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The radioactive puppies of Chernobyl

October 30, 2017

The Puppies of Chernobyl


HUNDREDS OF RADIOACTIVE PUPPIES JUST GOT SPAYED, NEUTERED AT CHERNOBYL DISASTER SITE, BY KATE SHERIDAN An American nonprofit organization, Clean Futures Fund, has started a spay and neuter clinic for the four-legged descendants of survivors of one of history’s worst nuclear disasters.

After the Chernobyl nuclear reactor melted down on April 26, 1986, some dogs and cats left behind survived and began to breed. More than 400 animals were spayed and neutered in the first year of the clinic’s operation at the former reactor, which ended earlier this month.

The laws governing the exclusion zone around Chernobyl strongly advise people to avoid feeding or touching the dogs, due to the risk of contamination. Not only is the dogs’ fur potentially loaded with radioactive particles, but their food and water is contaminated. The radioactive molecules they ingest may also linger in their bodies.

“We could find areas in their bones where radioisotopes had accumulated. We could survey the bones and we could see the radioactivity in them,” a Clean Futures Fund co-founder, Lucas Hixson, told Newsweek. The program funds medical treatment for locals in addition to running the spay and neuter program at the power plant and in the neighboring city.

“These dogs run through [contaminated areas] and it gets stuck on their coat and on the end of their noses and their feet.”

There are nearly 1,000 dogs in the area around the power plant. Only a few dozen cats live in the highly contaminated areas that the dogs frequent.

Hixson has been traveling to Chernobyl for about five years, initially as a radiation specialist. “I go over there expecting to do my work, and I step off the train at the power plant and there’s a dog in my face. Honestly, it was one of the last things I expected to see at Chernobyl,” he said.

To keep the veterinary hospital as free from radioactive contamination as possible, dogs that come to the facility are examined and washed down until their levels of radioactivity are deemed safe.

Despite the potential risk, Hixson said he’s continued to interact with the dogs. “There is a fair amount of handling that happens. This is a natural reaction between humans and dogs,” he said. “You can’t help yourself.”

“They’re not hazardous to your immediate health and wellbeing. But anytime you go pet the dogs, go wash your hands afterwards before you eat.”

Clean Futures Fund got approval from the Ukranian government for its operations. Other partners include SPCA International, Dogs Trust and two U.S. universities, including Worchester Polytechnic Institute and the University of South Carolina.

Hixson also noted the local workers have welcomed the team. “I remember there was a lot of skepticism when we showed up,” he said. “But after about two or three days of us catching dogs, processing them, releasing them, the attitude immediately changed,” he said. “I can’t thank them enough for everything they did.”

Even if every dog and cat in Chernobyl is sterilized and vaccinated, the wider stray dog issue in Ukraine means that more dogs could move into the contaminated area and Clean Futures Fund’s efforts could be somewhat for naught. Ultimately, Hixson would like to work with the Ukranian government on a wider rescue program to get the dogs out of the area and into homes.

He will be returning in November to measure the impact of the program, which is expected to run for five years. The next spay and neuter clinic will happen next summer.

Extreme climate threats mean that a new classification is needed

October 30, 2017

New climate risk classification created to account for potential ‘existential’ threats–ncr091417.php Researchers identify a one-in-20 chance of temperature increase causing catastrophic damage or worse by 2050

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SAN DIEGO A new study evaluating models of future climate scenarios has led to the creation of the new risk categories “catastrophic” and “unknown” to characterize the range of threats posed by rapid global warming. Researchers propose that unknown risks imply existential threats to the survival of humanity.

These categories describe two low-probability but statistically significant scenarios that could play out by century’s end, in a new study by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, and his former Scripps graduate student Yangyang Xu, now an assistant professor at Texas A&M University.

The risk assessment stems from the objective stated in the 2015 Paris Agreement regarding climate change that society keep average global temperatures “well below” a 2°C (3.6°F) increase from what they were before the Industrial Revolution.

Even if that objective is met, a global temperature increase of 1.5°C (2.7°F) is still categorized as “dangerous,” meaning it could create substantial damage to human and natural systems. A temperature increase greater than 3°C (5.4°F) could lead to what the researchers term “catastrophic” effects, and an increase greater than 5°C (9°F) could lead to “unknown” consequences which they describe as beyond catastrophic including potentially existential threats. The specter of existential threats is raised to reflect the grave risks to human health and species extinction from warming beyond 5° C, which has not been experienced for at least the past 20 million years.

The scientists term warming probability of five percent or less as a “low-probability high-impact” scenario and assess such scenarios in the analysis “Well Below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes,” which will appear in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept. 14.

Ramanathan and Xu also describe three strategies for preventing the gravest threats from taking place.

“When we say five percent-probability high-impact event, people may dismiss it as small but it is equivalent to a one-in-20 chance the plane you are about to board will crash,” said Ramanathan. “We would never get on that plane with a one-in-20 chance of it coming down but we are willing to send our children and grandchildren on that plane.”

The researchers defined the risk categories based on guidelines established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and previous independent studies. “Dangerous” global warming includes consequences such as increased risk of extreme weather and climate events ranging from more intense heat waves, hurricanes, and floods, to prolonged droughts. Planetary warming between 3°C and 5°C could trigger what scientists term “tipping points” such as the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and subsequent global sea-level rise, and the dieback of the Amazon rainforest. In human systems, catastrophic climate change is marked by deadly heat waves becoming commonplace, exposing over 7 billion people to heat related mortalities and famine becoming widespread. Furthermore, the changes will be too rapid for most to adapt to, particularly the less affluent, said Ramanathan.

Risk assessments of global temperature rise greater than 5°C have not been undertaken by the IPCC. Ramanathan and Xu named this category “unknown??” with the question marks acknowledging the “subjective nature of our deduction.” The existential threats could include species extinctions and major threats to human water and food supplies in addition to the health risks posed by exposing over 7 billion people worldwide to deadly heat.

With these scenarios in mind, the researchers identified what measures can be taken to slow the rate of global warming to avoid the worst consequences, particularly the low-probability high-impact events. Aggressive measures to curtail the use of fossil fuels and emissions of so-called short-lived climate pollutants such as soot, methane and HFCs would need to be accompanied by active efforts to extract CO2 from the air and sequester it before it can be emitted. It would take all three efforts to meet the Paris Agreement goal to which countries agreed at a landmark United Nations climate conference in Nov 2015.

Xu and Ramanathan point out that the goal is attainable. Global CO2 emissions had grown at a rate of 2.9 percent per year between 2000 and 2011, but had slowed to a near-zero growth rate by 2015. They credited drops in CO2 emissions from the United States and China as the primary drivers of the trend. Increases in production of renewable energy, especially wind and solar power, have also bent the curve of emissions trends downward. Other studies have estimated that there was by 2015 enough renewable energy capacity to meet nearly 24 percent of global electricity demand.

Short-lived climate pollutants are so called because even though they warm the planet more efficiently than carbon dioxide, they only remain in the atmosphere for a period of weeks to roughly a decade whereas carbon dioxide molecules remain in the atmosphere for a century or more. The authors also note that most of the technologies needed to drastically curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants already exist and are in use in much of the developed world. They range from cleaner diesel engines to methane-capture infrastructure.

“While these are encouraging signs, aggressive policies will still be required to achieve carbon neutrality and climate stability,” the authors wrote.

The release of the study coincides with the start of Climate Week NYC in New York, a summit of business and government leaders to highlight global climate action. Ramanathan and colleagues will deliver a complementary report detailing the “three-lever” mitigation strategy of emissions control and carbon sequestration on Sept. 18 at the United Nations. That report was produced by the Committee to Prevent Extreme Climate Change, chaired by Ramanathan, Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina of UC San Diego, and Durwood Zaelke, who leads an advocacy organization, the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, with 30 experts from around the world including China and India.