31 December 2015, Climate News Network, Paris fails to revive the nuclear dream. Charlatans, or planetary saviours? Post-Paris views on the nuclear industry suggest few experts believe it will bring closer a world rid of fossil fuels. In Paris, in early December, the advocates of nuclear power made yet another appeal to world leaders to adopt their technology as central to saving the planet from dangerous climate change. Yet analysis of the plans of 195 governments that signed up to the Paris Agreement, each with their own individual schemes on how to reduce national carbon emissions, show that nearly all of them exclude nuclear power. Only a few big players – China, Russia, India, South Korea and the United Kingdom – still want an extensive programme of new–build reactors. To try to understand why this is so the US-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asked eight experts in the field to look at the future of nuclear power in the context of climate change. One believed that large-scale new-build nuclear power “could and should” be used to combat climate change, and another thought nuclear could play a role, although a small one. The rest thought new nuclear stations were too expensive, too slow to construct and had too many inherent disadvantages to compete with renewables. Industry in distress Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, produced a devastating analysis saying that the slow-motion decline of the nuclear industry was simply down to the lack of a business case. The average nuclear reactor, he wrote, was now 29 years old and the percentage of global electricity generated continued to fall from a peak of 17.6% in 1996 to 10.8% in 2014. “Financial distress stalks the industry”, he wrote. Lovins says nuclear power now costs several times more than wind or solar energy and is so far behind in cost and building time that it could never catch up. The full details of what he and other experts said are on the Bulletin’s site, with some of their comments below. Read More here
30 December 2015, Climate News Network, El Niño and war drive aid agencies to the brink. Governments must act immediately to end conflicts and counter the impact of climate disruption so as to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe affecting millions. The global humanitarian system, designed to save those at risk of dying because of human or natural disasters, faces unprecedented demands in 2016 from levels of strain it has never before had to face, a leading development agency says. With more than 10 million people in a single African country expected to need international help next year, Oxfam says the effects of a super El Niño will intensify the pressures on a system already struggling to help people devastated by conflict.If governments act now, Oxfam says, relief can reach those in the greatest need while there is still time. But if they don’t the crisis will overwhelm it and its counterparts who provide relief, and they will not be able to save those at risk.Oxfam estimates the El Niño weather system could leave tens of millions of people facing hunger, water shortages and disease next year, and says it is already too late for some regions to avoid a major emergency.In Ethiopia the government estimates that 10.2 million people will need humanitarian assistance in 2016, at a cost of US$1.4 billion, because of a drought which is being exacerbated by El Niño. Read More here
29 December 2015 IACentre, Winner of Project Consored top 25 articles for 2009 – 2010 news stories: Pentagon’s role in global catastrophe. In evaluating the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — with more than 15,000 participants from 192 countries, including more than 100 heads of state, as well as 100,000 demonstrators in the streets — it is important to ask: How is it possible that the worst polluter of carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions on the planet is not a focus of any conference discussion or proposed restrictions? By every measure, the Pentagon is the largest institutional user of petroleum products and energy in general. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.
The Pentagon wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; its secret operations in Pakistan; its equipment on more than 1,000 U.S. bases around the world; its 6,000 facilities in the U.S.; all NATO operations; its aircraft carriers, jet aircraft, weapons testing, training and sales will not be counted against U.S. greenhouse gas limits or included in any count. The Feb. 17, 2007, Energy Bulletin detailed the oil consumption just for the Pentagon’s aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities that made it the single-largest oil consumer in the world. At the time, the U.S. Navy had 285 combat and support ships and around 4,000 operational aircraft. The U.S. Army had 28,000 armored vehicles, 140,000 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, more than 4,000 combat helicopters, several hundred fixed-wing aircraft and 187,493 fleet vehicles. Except for 80 nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, which spread radioactive pollution, all their other vehicles run on oil. Even according to rankings in the 2006 CIA World Factbook, only 35 countries (out of 210 in the world) consume more oil per day than the Pentagon. Read More here
29 December 2015, New York Times, Countries Rush for Upper Hand in Antarctica. On a glacier-filled island with fjords and elephant seals, Russia has built Antarctica’s first Orthodox church on a hill overlooking its research base, transporting the logs all the way from Siberia. Less than an hour away by snowmobile, Chinese laborers have updated the Great Wall Station, a linchpin in China’s plan to operate five bases on Antarctica, complete with an indoor badminton court, domes to protect satellite stations and sleeping quarters for 150 people. Not to be outdone, India’s futuristic new Bharathi base, built on stilts using 134 interlocking shipping containers, resembles a spaceship. Turkey and Iran have announced plans to build bases, too. More than a century has passed since explorers raced to plant their flags at the bottom of the world, and for decades to come this continent is supposed to be protected as a scientific preserve, shielded from intrusions like military activities and mining. But an array of countries are rushing to assert greater influence here, with an eye not just toward the day those protective treaties expire, but also for the strategic and commercial opportunities that exist right now. “The newer players are stepping into what they view as a treasure house of resources,” said Anne-Marie Brady, a scholar at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury who specializes in Antarctic politics. Read More here