Nuclear Power Getting a Second Start

Nuclear power is getting a second start in the U.S. with president Obama’s recent thumbs up for 2 nuke plants in Georgia. The president will roll out the first nuclear plant loan guarantee next week. From what I read, the article stated Southern Company/Georgia Power is building the 2 new plants right on the Plant Vogtle site in Georgia.
http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/80993-obama-to-roll-out-first-nuclear-plant-loan-guarantees-.

Stephen Smith, head of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says that everyone is concerned with what to do with the nuclear waste, that there is currently no national repository for it. Smith also said that nuclear power plants are extremely expensive to build and the same amount of money, (in the billions), could be used for conservation programs, to build greener buildings, wind production, and to take advantage of the biomass opportunities in GA. The head of Georgia Power is all for renewable energy, especially the biomass market, and responded on CNN that he agreed with Stephen Smith.

My greatest concern is about the radioactive waste too. Waste has always been the biggest drawback to nuke plants. But like I said about the Fermi project, the property is already purchased and radioactive waste is already present, likewise for Plant Vogtle. Georgia Power is simply using the same site for newer facilities. Besides, in the past few decades since any reactors were built in the U.S., science has been working frantically to come up with ways to either disable radioactive material and/or shorten the time for radioactive material to dissipate from millions of years to only hundreds of years.

Here are links to some viable possibilities for limiting radioactive waste produced by nuke plants. There is so much coming out of India these days, I can’t begin to tell you. I’m not surprised that a team of German and Indian scientists have come up with a polymer that absorbs cobalt, so it reduces the amount of radioactive waste produced during routine operation of nuclear reactors. When I read about this I thought of the gel like beads that absorb excess water for release later. This process won’t disable radioactive waste but it will decrease the amount we have to dispose of.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090511090842.htm.

There is also a process that may increase the deactivation time for radioactive waste from millions of years to 300-500 years. While this still seems like a lot of time, it’s a start and sounds like something we really need to get moving on if we’re going to start building nukes again.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922100148.htm.

Here is a government website that lists all the methods to deal with radioactive waste. We may as well get informed, because nuclear is happening.

http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/factsheets/doeymp0017.shtml.

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2010, The Year of the Tiger Approaches

I love cats, any size or shape, and I know that big cats are in danger of becoming extinct so an article from Environmental News Service I ran across was encouraging. According to the oriental calendar, 2010 is the “Year of the Tiger,” so the government of Nepal jumped on the opportunity to do something about Nepal’s tiger population in the coming year.

Nepal decided to expand Bardia National Park by 347 square miles to increase critical habitat for wild tigers. The same article reported that in the early 1900′s, 100,000 tigers roamed Asia. Now 3,500 of tigers remain in the wild. It’s Nepal’s goal to double their tiger population through various conservation strategies. Evidently, it’s working already. The article stated: “Earlier this year, the first ever nationwide estimate of Nepal’s tiger population revealed the presence of 121 breeding tigers in the wild within four protected areas of Nepal.”

As I read on, I realized there are a number of nations with tiger populations, and they have united to stem the endangerment of this species. Some of the tiger range states that will participate in a summit of the same name this coming year are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam. There are technical workshops for law enforcement officials of these countries to “facilitate and coordinate law enforcement action between wildlife enforcement officers, Customs, and police,” as part of the strategy to save the tigers.

There is hope on the horizon for endangered species as countries work together and soon. The idea of sustaining and/or increasing protected habitat, as well as, coordinating strategies for enforcement of poaching laws is already paying off in Nepal.

Read the whole article: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2009/2009-12-28-02.asp.

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Obama’s Visit to China Culminates in Clean Energy Relations on Many Fronts

It appears that President Obama’s visit to China culminated in more than one partnership/program between the two nations to usher in serious changes for the world’s environmental future. An article on ENS website stated the two presidents “welcomed significant steps forward to advance policy dialogue and practical cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment,” building on a previous agreement reached in July.

While neither president was compelled to disclose their final positions going into Copenhagen’s Climate Change Summit next month nor did they declare any numerical emissions targets, they publicly agreed that the outcome at Copenhagen “should include emission reductions targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries.” Of course they acknowledged that responsibilities will be different for every country and based on respective capabilities of those countries.

What peaked my attention in all of this is that the U.S. and China both agreed that whatever happens in Copenhagen the “outcome should also substantially scale up financial assistance to developing countries; promote technology development, dissemination and transfer; pay particular attention to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable to adapt to climate change[].” So the U.S. and China agree with financial assistance to developing countries the subject of a recent blog of mine about Third World countries demanding climate reparations in the form of financial assistance from developed countries. http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2009/11/u-s-out-of-step-with-climate-debt-issues/.

I’m not sure whether President Obama or President Hu of China agrees with the concept of these climate reparations per se but they did agree on the financial assistance to poorer countries. I’m just wondering how Obama is going to break this news to climate skeptics divided again along party lines when these skeptics won’t even admit man is creating the climate problem. As I said, many in the U.S. are in a misstep with the rest of the world concerning climate change.
Meanwhile, the two presidents hashed out quite a cooperative between the U.S. and China on many fronts. The article listed six initial elements:

1) Establishment of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center

2) The launch of the U.S.-China Electric Vehicles Initiative

3) The launch of a new U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Action Plan

4) The pledge to promote cooperation on cleaner uses of coal, including large-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration projects

5) The launch of a new U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative

6) U.S.-China Energy Cooperation Program

There is more launching going on with that list then at Cape Kennedy, which is all well and good since so many arguments that keep the U.S. from moving forward on climate initiatives center around pointing the finger at China’s pollution. But considering Americans are contrary, and big polluting industries are gearing up for a fight against cleaning up our act, it’s going to be a big upward struggle to get moving—China or no China.

Read the details: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2009/2009-11-17-01.asp.

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Delisting Wolves Was Illegal?

After thoughtful deliberation, Federal Court Chief Judge Donald Molloy found that the Federal Government likely violated the law by removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, is off to a bad start, but then again no one in the conservation/animal world is too surprised. Salazar is a RANCHER. Although many ranchers in the west are adapting their routines in order to accommodate both wolves and bears in the region, many, many more view them as expendable.

Unfortunately, the same judge failed to issue an injunction to halt the hunts this year. According to ENS, the 13 conservation/animal groups that filed suit against Salazar said that they feared the hunts would “cripple the regional wolf population by isolating wolves into disconnected subgroups incapable of genetic or ecological sustainability. They warn that the wolf hunts would allow the killing of the breeding alpha male and female wolves, disrupting wolf social groups and leaving pups more vulnerable.”

Idaho is allowed to kill 220 wolves and Montana 75 wolves. So how is this done fairly? It ends up being far more than 220 wolves in Idaho or 75 in Montana because of orphaned pups that won’t survive. At 4 to 7 pups on average per litter, 1000 wolves or more could perish in this seemingly small hunt. It’s not well known to the public either that over ¼ of wolf pups succumbed to parvo virus in the spring. So the wolves are taking a bigger hit than we think.

I’ve read the 3 year USDA study of radio collared wolves living around the perimeter of cattle fields and saw the scientific evidence that disputes wolves are just “cold blooded” killers. The wolves crossed the cattle fields nightly. In 3 years only 8 head of cattle disappeared and I’m sure the rancher was awarded money for those few head of cattle lost annually. There doesn’t seem to be as much science as politics in Salazar’s decision. The head of Defenders of Wildlife, one of the 13 groups thinks likewise. This new ruling by Judge Molloy should garner the interest of the Obama Administration relative to Salazar’s thoughtless decision. Hopefully, our wildlife populations will get a fair shake in the future.

Read more: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2009/2009-09-09-091.asp

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Native Americans Stand Up for the Environment and Sue the Secy. of State, and Army Corp. of Engineers

The Native American community is standing up for the environment in the form of a lawsuit against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secy. James Steinbridge, and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers over Enbridge Energy’s Alberta Clipper pipeline set to “deliver 450,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day to be pumped from northern Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, for refining,” according to an article on ENS.

Evidently, the pipeline crosses Native American soil without their approval. It would also “impact over 200 water bodies and would destroy more than 1,200 acres of upland forested lands, more than 650 acres of open lands, and more than 1,300 acres of wetlands.” The Native Americans have support in the legal system through major Environmental Groups like Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation and state environmental groups also.

Tar sand oil is some of the dirtiest and the Native Americans say that the pipeline is not is not keeping the ideology of moving toward cleaner energy promoted by the Obama Administration and that the Obama Administration is not listening to the petitions and voices of a growing number of Americans that want to move to a cleaner future for America.

I have to reiterate here that after the presidential election the number one issue people were concerned about was 1) NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, and 2) THE ENVIRONMENT. I was happy to hear that and blogged about it. I have to admit that I was a little surprised that the Iraq war was not in the one or two slot. I was also surprised to see the Obama Administration put so many conservative leaning politicians at the head of many of the Departments within the government relative to the environment and animal welfare like Ken Salazar, who to me is not any better than Kempthorne that headed up the Dept. of Interior under Bush. Salazar is nothing but a Blue Dog Democrat (might as well be a Republican) RANCHER, and therefore, the plight of polar bear has been ignored and we’re now slaughtering wolves in Yellowstone park even though they never grew to the numbers they were supposed to before control measures were needed.

Just so you know, we’re slaughtering wolves claiming they are over running their numbers when in fact 27% of all wolf pups suffered horrible deaths due to the parvo virus that can strike our own dogs. Nature balances many of our wild animal populations, plus we infringe on them horribly through urban sprawl and loss of habitat, and our pollution, but we insist on hunting them anyway because of the power of the HUNTING LOBBY and glorified NRA.

I’m glad Native Americans are finally speaking out to protect the land that was rightfully theirs to begin with. Hopefully, they will support efforts to keep wolves protected too since wolves have long been an honored part of their culture also.

Read more: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2009/2009-09-03-091.asp

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Major Players Worldwide Establish Global Partnership to Drive Climate-Friendly Technologies

Environmental News Service (ENS) posted an article with the header: “17 Major Economies Pledge to Set Greenhouse Gas Limit by December.” The leaders of Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States said they are “convinced that climate change poses a clear danger requiring an extraordinary global response…”

The leaders promised to ‘spare no effort to reach agreement in Copenhagen, with each other and with the other Parties’ in December in Copenhagen, where the UN Climate Conference will take place. These countries produce 80% of all pollution worldwide.

The major economies realize developing countries have greater priorities for economic and social development and feel that moving quickly to a low-carbon economy is an “opportunity to promote continued economic growth and sustainable development.” There is an urgent need to move forward at lowest possible cost in the area of clean energy.

Part of the plan for lowering CO2 emissions is to prevent future “deforestation and forest degradation and to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emissions by forests, including providing enhanced support to developing countries for these purposes.” The plan also includes doubling investments in clean technologies like solar energy, smart grids, carbon capture, use, and storage, better vehicles, bio energy, etc., by 2015.

Read more: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jul2009/2009-07-09-01.asp.

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President Obama Raises Issue of Permafrost Melt in Russia Relative to Global Warming

President Obama’s current trip to Russia was mainly about both countries being role models for the rest of the world concerning a reduction in nuclear arms and cooperation on climate change. President Obama voiced concern over Russia’s permafrost region in Siberia. He warned, “If the permafrost in Russia completely melts, it could completely transform the weather patterns on the planet, in some cases in very dangerous ways,” according to ENS website and many others.

Environmental News Service had an article back in 2006 regarding the permafrost melt in Russia. It seems the melting permafrost is releasing ten times the methane than originally thought. The article stated, “The research team recorded the bubbling of methane at two thawing lakes in northern Siberia using aerial surveys, remote sensors and year-round measurements. The scientists found the expansion of the lakes between 1974 and 2000, fueled by a period of regional warming, increased methane emissions by 58 percent.”

The amazing thing is that the methane gas in this permafrost dates back to the Pleistocene age—”some 40 thousand years ago, according to study coauthor Jeff Chanton, a scientist with Florida State University.” The article went on to say: “More than 4 million tons of methane is being released by Siberia’s array of lakes and wetlands, the researchers said, a figure that is 10 to 63 percent higher than previous estimates.” Another study released in 2006 by the British Antarctic Survey, “found that in the past 800,000 years methane had never tipped 750 parts per billion (ppb), but [was] 1,780 ppb [already back in 2006].”

To exacerbate the problem of melting permafrost is that much of the freshwater is diluting the ocean’s saltwater content also. The NOAA Status Report: “NOAA’s Arctic Goals for IPY (International Polar Year) & Beyond” states that possible Arctic influences on global climate change include:

Increase in methane in the atmosphere due to a thaw in the permafrost on land and under water

Fresh water/salt water imbalances. Ocean circulation disruption

Changing albedo of the planet due to melting of sea ice and taller vegetation (ALBEDO refers to ratio of reflected light and incident light)

Extinction or migration of many species

Rising sea level due to Greenland’s melting ice sheet

Increase in severe weather

The NOAA also stated: “Atmospheric influences on the total system are profound.”

Read more:
2009 ENS article: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jul2009/2009-07-06-01.asp.
2006 ENS article: http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2006/2006-09-07-01.asp.
NOAA’s report: www.oco.noaa.gov/meetings/OCOSR/…/9_presentation_Calder.ppt.

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Cancer is more easily preventable than cureable

I just read a very interesting article on ENS (Environmental New Service) website. It included a letter to Congressional leaders from medical and scientific experts urging Obama’s Cancer Plan to expand to include cancer prevention. The article stated: “It is now beyond dispute in the independent scientific community that environmental and occupational exposures to carcinogens are the primary cause of non-smoking related cancers. An October 2007 publication on environmental and occupational causes of cancer by one of us (Dr. Richard Clapp) further emphasized that the increasing incidence of cancer is due to preventable exposures to carcinogens in the workplace and environment.”

Since 1975 exposure to cancer causing agents in the environment has increased. Remember the early 70′s the Clean Air and Water Act was enacted because we were polluting horribly. All the reports I’ve read say our air and water have indeed cleaned up a great deal since the early 70′s. Yet this letter states that more work related and environmental pollutants are causing the majority of cancers and that trend began in the mid 70′s. Hmmm.

The NCI still claims 94% of all cancers are caused by smoking, obesity, sun, yada, yada, yada and only 6% to environmental factors. But that consensus came from a 1981 report from Sir Richard Doll in the U.K. Here is where motive changes how we should view Sir Doll’s report. He was also a consultant for Monsanto, and the asbestos industry. Just before he died in 2002, “Doll admitted that most cancers, other than those related to smoking and hormones, “are induced by exposure to chemicals often environmental.”

This was scary stuff I was reading. We’ve been mislead for quite awhile. We are not causing our own cancers as much as we have been lead to believe. There is a list of cancers increasing at a rapid rate caused by factors not under our control. It is clear that other agencies besides the NCI need be involved in the prevention of cancer like the EPA, FDA, and OSHA. The agencies that can control the rise of preventable cancers because what we are breathing, drinking, and eating is affecting our health.

And as far as new cures for cancer, this letter had disturbing facts, but not hard to believe. I’m helping my mother through the aftermath of cancer and do not trust that the standard route works all that well either. My suspicions were confirmed when I read:

Furthermore, the NCI has touted the imminent success of new cancer treatments – promises that have seldom borne out, and which have been widely questioned by the independent scientific community. For instance, in 2004, Nobel Laureate Leland Hartwell, President of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Control Center, warned that Congress and the public are paying NCI $4.7 billion a year, most of which is spent on “promoting ineffective drugs” for terminal disease.

Well then, there you have it. Cancer is more easily preventable than cureable.

Read the very candid letter from the medical and scientific community and list of cancers on the rise and their causes:
http://world-wire.com/news/0906150001.html.

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Greenhouse Gases Are Changing the Dynamics of the Atmosphere

According to new research from NASA scientists and John Hopkins University, greenhouse gases are changing the dynamics of the atmosphere relative to the ozone layer. Remember when depleting the ozone layer was an issue? Aerosol cans and refrigerants were responsible and until the ingredients in these products were changed consumers switched to pump spray bottles that are still around today and a good idea.

According to the article by ENS on sundancechannel.com, “Greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere as high as 6 miles up, but it cools the upper stratosphere from 18 to 31 miles up. This cooling slows the chemical reactions that deplete ozone in the upper stratosphere and allows natural ozone production there to outpace destruction by refrigerants and other ozone depleters.” But scientists found “accumulation of greenhouse gases also changes the circulation of stratospheric air masses from the tropics to the poles.” Again, global warming isn’t just about one process. Over and over again, global warming affects multiple events in the atmosphere depending on location.

Scientists fear the middle latitudes will over-recover ozone to even greater concentrations than before when it posed a real problem, while in the tropics, stratospheric circulation changes could prevent the ozone layer from recovering at all.

Read more:

http://www.sundancechannel.com/sunfiltered/2009/04/climate-change-complicates-ozone-recovery/

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Nearly One Third of All Bird Species in U.S. Threatened

According to a report from the ENS, Environmental News Service website, the first comprehensive report ever produced on U.S. bird populations finds that our birds are “endangered, threatened or in decline due to climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species.” Secy. of Interior Salazar announced:

Just as they were when Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring” nearly 50 years ago, birds today are a bellwether of the health of land, water and ecosystems,” Salazar said. “From shorebirds in New England to warblers in Michigan to songbirds in Hawaii, we are seeing disturbing downward population trends that should set off environmental alarm bells. We must work together now to ensure we never hear the deafening silence in our forests, fields and backyards that Rachel Carson warned us about.

I don’t know about anyone else, but to live in a land without the sound of birds would be a deafening silence for me. From where I am sitting right now, I see my bird feeders about 20 ft. away. Beyond my feeders is a wetlands area that has grown over the years in popularity for all kinds of wildlife. We have nesting swans back there now and all types of different looking ducks. I can’t imagine a life without them. And quite frankly there won’t be a life without them.

The canary in the mine was an actual practice. If the bird died, it was not environmentally safe for humans either. And our birds are dying. Rachel Carson’s work was aimed at the pesticide industry. Unfortunately, shortly after her book “Silent Spring” was published, Carson died of cancer. I think today, Rachel would have had much fodder to work with far beyond the use of pesticides. As the intro on e-notes.com says about “Silent Spring”:

Though an environmental consciousness can be discerned in American culture as far back as the nineteenth century, environmentalism as it is known today has only been around for about forty years, and Carson’s book is one of its primary sources. Her tirade against humankind’s attempt to use technology to dominate nature wrenched environmentalism from its relatively narrow, conservationist groove and helped transform it into a sweeping social movement that has since impacted almost every area of everyday life.

Rachel Carson would have had plenty to tirade about today like mercury, fertilizer runoff, and oil spills. Clean coal would have spurred a book all by itself.

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2009/2009-03-19-01.asp

http://www.enotes.com/silent-spring

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