Archive for the ‘climate change – global warming’ Category

Where climate threat and nuclear threat meet: Top Secret US Cold War Nuclear Base in Greenland

April 7, 2019

Melting Ice Sheets Could Reveal Top Secret US Cold War Nuclear Base https://www.iflscience.com/environment/melting-ice-sheets-could-reveal-top-secret-us-cold-war-nuclear-base/ 11 Mar 19, Among the many Bond villainesque plans dreamed up during the Cold War, few come stranger than “Project Iceworm,” the shady US program to build a network of top secret nuclear missile launch sites beneath the Danish territory of Greenland. The largest and most impressive of the US bases was Camp Century, a warren of tunnels and labs under northwest Greenland’s ice sheet that was powered by its own portable nuclear reactor.

After just eight years of operation, Camp Century was decommissioned in 1967 due to engineering woes and a political scandal centered on whether Denmark had actually given the US full permission to house nuclear materials in their territory.

As the Cold War ended, the base was largely forgotten, not least because it was hoped to remain “preserved for eternity” under a blanket of snow and ice. However, with climate change knocking at the door, it looks like a different kind of thaw could reveal all.

A study published in 2016 used simulations to show that the ice above and around Camp Century could thaw by 2090 under a “business-as-usual” climate change scenario. Not only would this unearth the once-secret abandoned military base, but it also holds the potential to let loose the huge amounts of chemical and nuclear waste left at the site. These pollutants could leech into the surrounding surface water and spark a plethora of problems for the island’s human population and ecosystem.

Another study, published last year in the journal Global Environmental Politics, took a further look at the situation at Camp Century, arguing it has the potential to fire up some long-frozen geopolitical tensions. It’s not very clear how much Denmark knew about the US’ plans in Greenland. While they agreed the US could have the Thule Air Base in northwest Greenland, the issue of nuclear weapons in Danish territory was a big no-no. To make matters even thornier, Greenland has since transitioned to a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark.

If the climatic scenario predicted does hit, as anticipated, who will be responsible for the clean-up of toxic chemicals and radioactive materials?

As the study argues, Camp Century is not the only problem. This scenario serves as just one example of how climate change could trigger a huge number of unforeseen consequences in international politics, especially when it comes to overseas military bases.

“The case could be the proverbial canary in the coal mine for future politics surrounding overseas military bases,” according to study author Jeff Colgan.

“Climate change can create knock-on environmental problems associated with a military base’s infrastructure or waste that disrupt the international politics that govern the base,” he wrote in the study. “Any cleanup costs or compensation related to the knock-on environmental problems create an unfunded liability for the host country, the country operating the base, or both.”

This is just another unexpected fallout of the climate issue we’re facing that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

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On this warming planet, mosquito-borne diseases are increasing

April 7, 2019

Climate Change Will Expose Half of World’s Population to Disease-Spreading Mosquitoes By 2050  https://e360.yale.edu/digest/climate-change-will-expose-half-of-worlds-population-to-disease-spreading-mosquitoes-by-2050  MARCH 5, 2019 Scientists and public health officials have documented an increasing number of outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses across the globe in recent years, including yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika. Now, an international team of researchers has found that by 2050, two key disease-spreading mosquitoes — Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus — will significantly expand their range, posing a threat to 49 percent of the world’s population.

“If no action is taken to reduce the current rate at which the climate is warming, pockets of habitat will open up across many urban areas with vast amounts of individuals susceptible to infection,” said Moritz Kraemer, an infectious disease scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital and the University of Oxford and a co-author of the new research, published in the journal Nature Microbiology,.

The researchers analyzed historical distribution data from more than 3,000 locations in Europe and the United States, dating back to the 1970s. They then modelled future distribution using projections for climate change, urbanization, and human migration and travel. Kraemer and his colleagues found that in the last five years, Aedes aegypti has spread northward in the U.S. at about 150 miles per year. In Europe, Aedes albopictus has spread at a rate of 93 miles per year.

The scientists also found that within the next 5 to 15 years, human travel and migration will be the largest factors driving the spread of mosquitoes. After that, however, climate change and accelerating urbanization will create new mosquito habitats. Aedes aegypti could reach as far north as Chicago and Shanghai by 2050. However, the species will likely decline in parts of the southern U.S. and Eastern Europe, which are expected to become more arid as global temperatures rise. Aedes albopictus, on the other hand, is forecast to spread widely throughout Europe over the next 30 years, as well as establish small populations in parts of the northern U.S. and the highland regions of South America and East Africa.

Climate change and the uncertain future for migratory birds

April 7, 2019

Study: Climate change is leading to unpredictable ecosystem disruption for migratory birds, Phys Org, March 5, 2019Cornell University   Using data on 77 North American migratory bird species from the eBird citizen-science program, scientists at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say that, in as little as four decades, it may be very difficult to predict how climate change will affect migratory bird populations and the ecosystems they inhabit. Their conclusions are presented in a paper published in the journal Ecography.

Climates have natural variation and we’re moving rapidly into territory where the magnitude of climate change will consistently exceed this variation,” says lead author and Cornell Lab researcher Frank La Sorte. “There will be no historic precedent for these new climates, and migratory bird populations will increasingly encounter ‘novel’ climatic conditions. The most likely outcome will be a period of ecological disruption as migratory birds and other species try to respond or adapt to these new conditions.”

Cornell Lab scientists generated new climate models incorporating multiple sources of data. This produced a timeline indicating when and where migratory bird populations are likely to be significantly affected by novel climates during each phase of their annual life cycles. It’s not that far off:

  • Last 40 to 50 years of this century. During this period, migrants such as the Black-and-white Warbler, are likely to first experience novel climates on their tropical wintering grounds (regions south of Florida) and also during the late summer on their breeding grounds in the North American temperate zone (above the nation’s midsection).
  • First 50 years of the next century. This is when novel climates are likely to emerge for birds that winter in the subtropics—the southern half of the U.S.

The study authors conclude that by the middle of the next century migratory bird populations will experience novel climates during all phases of their annual life cycles………. https://phys.org/news/2019-03-climate-unpredictable-ecosystem-disruption-migratory.html

International co-operation works: the healing of the ozone layer

December 4, 2018
Ozone layer finally healing after damage caused by aerosols, UN says https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/05/ozone-layer-healing-after-aerosols-un-northern--hemisphere Fiona  HarveyEnvironment correspondent

“Climate change, nuclear power, and the adaptation–mitigation dilemma”

December 4, 2018

“Climate change, nuclear power, and the adaptation–mitigation dilemma”  https://nuclearexhaust.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/climate-change-nuclear-power-and-the-adaptation-mitigation-dilemma/ Natalie Kopytko and JohnPerkins The University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK The Evergreen State College, 1806 24th Avenue NW, Olympia, WA 98502, USA, Available online 30 October 2010.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421510007329?via%3Dihub

Abstract
Many policy-makers view nuclear power as a mitigation for climate change. Efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, however, interact with existing and new nuclear power plants, and these installations must contend with dilemmas between adaptation and mitigation. This paper develops five criteria to assess the adaptation–mitigation dilemma on two major points:

(1) the ability of nuclear power to adapt to climate change and

(2) the potential for nuclear power operation to hinder climate change adaptation.

Sea level rise models for nine coastal sites in the United States, a review of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission documents, and reports from France’s nuclear regulatory agency provided insights into issues that have arisen from sea level rise, shoreline erosion, coastal storms, floods, and heat waves. Applying the criteria to inland and coastal nuclear power plants reveals several weaknesses.

Safety stands out as the primary concern at coastal locations, while inland locations encounter greater problems with interrupted operation. Adapting nuclear power to climate change entails either increased expenses for construction and operation or incurs significant costs to the environment and public health and welfare. Mere absence of greenhouse gas emissions is not sufficient to assess nuclear power as a mitigation for climate change.

Research Highlights
►The adaptation-mitigation criteria reveal nuclear power’s vulnerabilities. ►Climate change adaptation could become too costly at many sites. ►Nuclear power operation jeopardizes climate change adaptation. ►Extreme climate events pose a safety challenge.     end quote of abstract. see original link above.

Annabel Crabb outlines the demise of Australia’s climate policy in 7 killings

November 3, 2018

Australia’s recent climate change policy: A brief history of seven killings http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-23/climate-change-policy-a-brief-history-of-seven-killings/10152616, By Annabel Crabb  

The story starts in 1997, when the brand-new Howard government (sweating through a brief and cock-up-infested first term during which it lost a series of ministers and most of the margin with which it had wrested power from Paul Keating) sends its environment minister, Robert Hill, to Japan for the seminal Kyoto Climate Summit.

At the summit, Senator Hill negotiates generous terms for his country in the global deal; Australia emerged with large concessions for its agricultural activities and is one of only three countries permitted to increase its emissions under the deal.

Senator Hill is welcomed home as a conquering hero.

However, over the years enthusiasm for the compact is replaced within the government by scepticism.

First casualty (more…)

What the IPCC Report 2018 says about nuclear power

November 3, 2018
Nuclear energy can increase the risks of proliferation (SDG 16), have negative environmental effects (e.g., for water use, SDG 6), and have mixed effects for human health when replacing fossil fuels (SDGs 7 and 3) (see Table 5.2)   (CH 5 p 23) )  http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_chapter5.pdf
Nuclear power increases its share in most 1.5°C pathways by 2050, but in some pathways both the absolute capacity and share of power from nuclear generators declines (Table 2.15). There are large differences in nuclear power between models and across pathways (Kim et al., 2014; Rogelj et al., 2018). One of the reasons for this variation is that the future deployment of nuclear can be constrained by societal preferences assumed in narratives underlying the pathways (O’Neill et al., 2017; van Vuuren et al., 2017b). Some 1.5°C pathways no longer see a role for nuclear fission by the end of the century, while others project over 200 EJ yr–1 of nuclear power in 2100 (Figure 2.15).   CH 2

Chapter 5 – Table 5.3    In spite of the industry’s overall safety track record, a non-negligible risk for accidents in nuclear power plants and waste treatment facilities remains. The long-term storage of nuclear waste is a politically fraught subject, with no large-scale long-term storage operational worldwide. Negative impacts from upsteam uranium mining and milling are comparable to those of coal, hence replacing fossil fuel combustion by nuclear power would be neutral in that aspect. Increased occurrence of childhood leukaemia in populations living within 5 km of nuclear power plants was identified by some studies, even though a direct causal relation to ionizing radiation could not be established and other studies could not confirm any correlation (low evidence/agreement in this issue).   Table 5.3  http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_chapter5_table5_3.pd

Politicians, media, the world – does no-one care about the unfolding horror of the melting Arctic?

October 9, 2018

It’s not only summer weather that is changing. Earlier this year, one study showed that when the Arctic is unusually warm, extreme winter weather is two-to-four times more likely in the eastern U.S.

Think of the Arctic as our early warning system, a big screaming alarm that is alerting us to the fact that the planet we will live on tomorrow is nothing like the planet we lived on yesterday, and we better get ready.

The Melting Arctic Is a Real-Time Horror Story — Why Doesn’t Anyone Care?https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/arctic-ice-melting-716647/ This summer’s epic wildfires and other extreme weather events have a root cause By 

Is nuclear power REALLY a worthwhile method of dealing with climate change?

October 9, 2018

Climate change, nuclear power, and the adaptation–mitigation dilemma https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421510007329  NatalieKopytkoaJohnPerkins  

Abstract

Many policy-makers view nuclear power as a mitigation for climate change. Efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change, however, interact with existing and new nuclear power plants, and these installations must contend with dilemmas between adaptation and mitigation. This paper develops five criteria to assess the adaptation–mitigation dilemma on two major points:

(1) the ability of nuclear power to adapt to climate change and

(2) the potential for nuclear power operation to hinder climate change adaptation.

Sea level rise models for nine coastal sites in the United States, a review of US Nuclear Regulatory Commission documents, and reports from France’s nuclear regulatory agency provided insights into issues that have arisen from sea level rise, shoreline erosion, coastal storms, floods, and heat waves. Applying the criteria to inland and coastal nuclear power plants reveals several weaknesses. Safety stands out as the primary concern at coastal locations, while inland locations encounter greater problems with interrupted operation.

Adapting nuclear power to climate change entails either increased expenses for construction and operation or incurs significant costs to the environment and public health and welfare. Mere absence of greenhouse gas emissions is not sufficient to assess nuclear power as a mitigation for climate change.

Research Highlights

►The adaptation-mitigation criteria reveal nuclear power’s vulnerabilities. ►Climate change adaptation could become too costly at many sites. ►Nuclear power operation jeopardizes climate change adaptation. ►Extreme climate events pose a safety challenge.

The Impact of Climate Change on Nuclear Power Supply

October 9, 2018

Kristin Linnerud*, Torben K. Mideksa** and Gunnar S. Eskeland***

A warmer climate may result in lower thermal efficiency and reduced load—including shutdowns—in thermal power plants. Focusing on nuclear power plants, we use different European datasets and econometric strategies to identify these two supply-side effects. We find that a rise in temperature of 1C reduces the supply of nuclear power by about 0.5% through its effect on thermal efficiency; during droughts and heat waves, the production loss may exceed 2.0% per degree Celsius because power plant cooling systems are constrained by physical laws, regulations and access to cooling water. As climate changes, one must consider measures to protect against and/or to adapt to these impacts.

  1. INTRODUCTION Climate change may affect thermal power plants in two ways. Firstly, increased ambient temperature reduces the efficiency of thermal power plants in turning fuel into electricity (i.e. lowers the ratio of electricity produced to the amount of fuel used in producing it). For example, the difference in sea temperature between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea will play a role in where Turkey builds 10 planned nuclear plants because the efficiency of these plants is negatively related to the temperature of the coolant (Durmayaz and Sogut, 2006).Secondly, at high ambient temperatures, the load of a thermal power plant may be limited by maximum condenser pressure, regulations on maximum allowable temperature for return water or by reduced access to water as a result of droughts. For example, during the 2003 summer heat wave in Europe, more than 30 nuclear power plant units in Europe were forced to shut down or reduce their power production (IAEA 2004; Zebisch et al., 2005; Rebetez et al., 2009; Koch and Vo¨gele, 2009). Our analysis focuses on these two temperature-induced impacts: reduced efficiency and increased frequency of shutdowns.

Although all thermal power plants are exposed to these two impacts, nuclear power plants are especially vulnerable. The average efficiency is lower and the water requirement per electricity output is higher in nuclear power plants compared to most other thermal power plants. More importantly, energy disruptions at nuclear power plants may cause a threat to energy supply security since each nuclear reactor accounts for a considerable amount of power and nuclear reactors are typically located in the same geographical area with access to the same source of cooling water (Vo¨gele, 2010).

The two climate impacts have been addressed in the climate and energy literature. The 4th Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007, p. 556) reported that climate change could have a negative impact on thermal power production since the availability of cooling water may be reduced.

……..Cooling water shortages or regulatory limitations on the increase in water temperature put further restrictions on a nuclear power plant’s operations.8 The temperature of the returned cooling water is most often subject to regulations. The allowable return temperature varies depending on the source of the water, ambient conditions and local regulations. As the temperature of river or sea water rises, the water will be able to absorb less heat before exceeding the maximum allowable temperature limit for return water. In such circumstances, the plant must reduce power production until the return temperature is below the limit.

……Droughts may also reduce plants’ access to cooling water, and plants in drought-prone areas are especially vulnerable to climate change.

In sum, as ambient temperature rises, production of electricity at nuclear power plants may decrease as a result of both efficiency losses and cooling system …….https://bwl.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/lehrstuhl_ind_en_uw/lehre/ws1213/SE_Energy_WS12_13/The_Impact_of_Climate_Change_on_Nuclear_Power_Supply.pdf