Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Dutch emergency services battle fire at abandoned NUCLEAR PLANT, urge residents to lock windows and doors

RT | May 21, 2020

Dozens of firefighters have been deployed to tackle a blaze at a disused nuclear facility in Dodewaard in the Netherlands. Police have asked the public to stay away and lock all doors and windows to avoid exposure to the fumes.

The fire broke out shortly before noon local time on Thursday in Dodewaard, which is roughly 100 km from Amsterdam. Eyewitness video from the scene shows fire crews battling the blaze on the roof.

The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but it may have started after work was carried out on the roof recently, according to a spokesperson for the Gelderland-Zuid Safety Region, who added that there may be gas bottles up there. Nearby residents have been told to remain indoors and lock all doors and windows and cut off any ventilation systems.

Police have established a security cordon, while asking cyclists, motorists and other passers-by eager for a look at the incident to leave the area immediately.

The plant has been out of service since 1997 but is not expected to be dismantled until 2045, when radiation at the site drops to safe levels. All fuel rods were removed from the site in 2003, so there is no immediate danger of radioactive fallout.

The main operational areas of the plant were bricked up and contained within a so-called ‘safe zone’, to prevent areas that previously housed radioactive material from being exposed to the outside world.

The power company conglomerate behind the facility is embroiled in a legal battle with the government over who should cover the estimated €80 million cost of decommissioning.

May 21, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Planet of the Greens : why eco-activists turn on each other

GWPF | May 18, 2020

Attempts by eco-activists to censor and shut down Planet of the Humans reveals the green movement’s authoritarian nature that turns most aggressively on its own apostates.

Jeff Gibbs’ and Michael Moore’s new film, Planet of the Humans has been watched more than eight million times. It has cast doubt on the green movement’s claims to be concerned with the environment and questioned the motivations and integrity of its leaders and backers.

In reply, environmental activists have attacked Moore and Gibbs, and called for their film to be censored. What this reveals is that the green movement is incapable of responding to criticism and that it turns most aggressively on its apostates.

Gibbs and Moore’s film has been attacked for supporting the interests of fossil fuel companies. But the film itself exposes deep links between even the most vilified energy producers and the green agenda. Other critics have accused the pair of ‘ecofascism’ for their allusions to population control, yet Planet of the Humans says nothing that celebrated green film makers such as David Attenborough have not said.

Neither the film revelations nor the green movement’s hostility should surprise anyone. A deep contradiction lies at the heart of the green agenda, the exposure of which has triggered campaigners whose interests depend on it. Since its first days, it has been wealthy industrialists such as oil tycoon Maurice Strong who have used their power to establish environmental concerns on the global political agenda. And it is wealthy philanthropists, whose fortunes were made from fossil fuels, such as the Rockefeller family, who have backed green organisations.

Despite the failure of greens’ dire prognostications, the green movement’s message of despair and its demands for draconian and authoritarian policies have change little over the last half century. And the very nature of the green movement has changed little, too – it is still the PR tool of billionaires such as Jeremy Grantham, who, having made part of his fortune from fossil fuels, now profits from the environmentally-destructive technologies that the green movement campaigns for.

Campaigners’ anger at Gibbs and More is not owed to the pair making false technical arguments about the shortcomings of ‘renewable’ energy technology, but for their exposing the lie at the heart of the green movement.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Film Review, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Nations Spent $73bn on Nuclear Arms Amid COVID-19, UK in 3rd as US Tops at Half of Global Costs

By Demond Cureton – Sputnik – 13.05.2020

Despite being the global epicentre of COVID-19 cases and deaths, the world’s leading nuclear power accounted for roughly half of total global spending on nuclear arms, a shock report from a major Swiss nonprofit coalition found.

Nuclear armed states spent a record $73bn on nuclear weapons amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a report from the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) revealed.

The report, entitled Enough Is Enough: 2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending, found an increase of nuclear weapons spending in 2019, up $7.1bn from 2018.

The findings, which assessed the world’s leading nuclear powers – The United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea – revealed that top nuclear powers spent $138,699 on over 13,000 nuclear weapons every minute of 2019.

The amount of money the US spent in 2019 alone could pay for 300,000 intensive care unit beds, 150,000 nurses, 75,000 doctors and 35,000 ventilators, the report found.

But the United Kingdom was the third highest spender at $8.9bn after the US and China at $35bn and $10.4bn, respectively, according to the report.

“It is absurd to be spending $138,700 every single minute on weapons that cause catastrophic human harm rather than spending it to protect the health of their citizens. They are abdicating their duty to protect their people,” ICAN executive director, Beatrice Fihn, said in a statement.

Nuclear arms were banned by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which the UN will enforce after all participating 50 nations ratify or accede the document, effectively criminalising such expenditures under international law.

But the figures only included direct spending on nuclear warheads and delivery systems costs for operation and deployment, with real numbers skyrocketing after factoring in costs due to environmental damage and victim compensation, with ICAN calling on governments to remain transparent in disclosing expenses, the statement read.

2019 Nuclear Defence Spending ICAN

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, author of the report, said: “The figures do not include the massive humanitarian costs and the environmental toll from a legacy of nuclear testing and production. Even in the unlikely chance these weapons are never used, governments are paying massive sums to poison their environments and put their people at grave risk.”

The news comes as British MPs slammed the Ministry of Defence for wasting £1.3bn ($1.6bn) on upgrading the country’s nuclear Trident programme, which is currently six years behind schedule. Costs were estimated at £2.5bn for the three upgrade programmes, which have spiked an additional £1.35bn, according to reports.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

New “Chimera” to Target the World

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 06.05.2020

Nowadays, as the attention of the global community is drawn to discussions about whether the Coronavirus is man-made or not and the potential involvement of US biolabs in its creation, it is certainly worth mentioning the latest invention: a new “mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours.”

According to The Guardian, scientists from the company Carbios created a mutant bacterial enzyme “that recycles plastic bottles in hours.” An article about this research was even published in Nature, a highly respected journal. “It’s a real breakthrough in the recycling and manufacturing of PET (polyethylene terephthalate),” said Dr. Saleh Jabarin, a Professor at The University of Toledo, Ohio and a member of Carbios’ Scientific Committee. “Our goal is to be up and running by 2024, 2025, at large industrial scale,” Martin Stephan, the Deputy Chief Executive at Carbios, stated. With that in mind, the Consortium, Carbios and L’Oréal, has partnered with other companies, such as Pepsi and Nestlé Waters, which will “help support the circular plastics economy using Carbios’ breakthrough enzyme-based enhanced recycling technology.”

Considering the fact that billions of tonnes of “plastic waste have polluted the planet, from the Arctic to the deepest ocean trench”, the bacterial enzyme is already being promoted as a novel solution to a global problem. According to the article in The Guardian, 100,000 micro-organisms were screened to find promising candidates, such as the “leaf compost bug”. Mutations were subsequently introduced into it “to improve its ability to break down the PET plastic from which drinks bottles are made.” It also said that the research team had “used the optimized enzyme to break down a tonne of waste plastic bottles, which were 90% degraded within 10 hours.”

In 2018, another team of scientists revealed “that they had accidentally created an enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles.” A separate report has stated that German researchers identified a strain of bacterium that can metabolize some of the chemical components that make up polyurethane (PU). PU in landfills decomposes slowly releasing toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that usually kill most bacteria. It was, therefore, surprising that the identified strain not only survived, but also used polyurethane to thrive. “This finding represents an important step in being able to reuse hard-to-recycle PU products,” said microbiologist Hermann Heipieper from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ in Germany.

In light of recent developments, a cautionary tale comes to mind. It is about the creation of another “Chimera” in the United States: Mycoplasma laboratorium or Synthia, a synthetic species of bacterium. It can self-replicate and has numerous uses. Although there have not been many reports in mainstream media that Synthia was used to clear an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some suspect that it was. Apparently, in 2011, synthetic bacteria were introduced into the ocean to eliminate oil droplets that posed a threat to the environment. The poorly researched and thought through decision soon resulted in disastrous consequences, as the microorganisms became uncontrollable. There were several reports about diseases caused by bacteria, and deaths of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. Incidentally, all the aforementioned articles about the negative impact of the measures taken to deal with the oil spill were published by media outlets and not by scientific journals.

A number of news sources printed photographs that showed the effect of the cleanup on people and marine life. And according to The Huffington Post, the number of oil-eating bacteria, including the genetically modified strains, had been expected to soar as a result of the oil leak. Vibrio vulnificus (a species of Gram-negative bacteria) was suspected of proliferating in ocean waters polluted with oil and chemicals used to clear it. Vibrio can infect humans through contact with a cut or wound. Once in the body, “the bacteria infiltrates the layer of flesh between muscle and skin, where it releases a toxin that destroys the tissue.”

There were also reports about people whose deaths were attributed to Vibrio. Some of them passed away after having swum in the Gulf of Mexico. According to The Guardian, Vibrio vulnificus had “infected the shores of the Gulf Coast”, from Texas to Florida. In fact, there is no central authority tracking such infections in the USA, as individual states are not “required to report cases to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in Atlanta” but can do so voluntarily. The article stated that several people got sick after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Vibrio can also cause sickness in humans who consume raw seafood, such as oysters. According to experts, the potentially lethal bacteria can infect people through raw or undercooked shellfish or through scratches and open wounds.

The scale of the impact of the efforts to clear the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been covered up by the US government.

There is no known treatment for Vibrio vulnificus and people can die as a result of infection with this pathogen. Having entered the blood stream via a small wound, the bacteria proceeds to damage tissue unless the infected part of the body is amputated.

Vibrio vulnificus, which can adapt to different environments, can eventually spread to the rest of the world via the Atlantic Ocean and rain clouds, and then cause fear among swimmers in oceans, seas and even rivers, and among those who consume raw sea food (including oysters and sushi).

As for Synthia, researchers who had created it said that they were creating new life from existing life. The synthetic bacterial cell can be utilized to develop more effective pharmaceuticals and efficient new biofuels, etc. However, experts also believe that the knowledge used to synthesize Mycoplasma laboratorium could also be employed to create a pathogen.

Researchers are currently studying the rate at which the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, mutates.

Microbiologists are well aware of spontaneous mutations caused by chance errors during replication of bacteria and viruses that can lead to changes in structural or colony characteristics.

Hence, we sincerely hope that the latest Chimera from Carbios does not play a similar dirty trick on us.

May 6, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

It is Time for Japan to Become a Truly Independent State

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 03.05.2020

As the entire world suffers the tragic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest anti-American scandals are gaining momentum in Japan.

The Kyodo News agency was the first to report the announcement made by Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono on April 17 that a joint investigation would be conducted by the Japanese and United States military into a leakage of carcinogenic organic substances (firefighting foam) at the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on the southern island of Okinawa. However, the Japanese Minister did not provide any details on the nature of this investigation. The article briefly mentions that before this announcement, the Vice Governor of Okinawa Prefecture Kiichiro Jahana had met with the Marine General in charge of the American air base to voice his protest over this spill.

The incident took place on April 10, when about 143 thousand liters of firefighting foam leaked out at the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, which contains PFOS, suspected to be carcinogenic to humans. In terms of area, 70% of all American military facilities in Japan are located on this island. All kinds of accidents have been a regular occurrence at the Futenma military base. Okinawa authorities have long been calling for the Futenma air base to be closed, which is located in the densely populated urban area of Ginowan City.

The incident that took place on April 10 has heightened the demands being made by Okinawa Island’s residents and the Okinawa Prefectural Assembly to have operations at the US Futenma air base shut down, but the US have not taken any action in response to these demands, nor have they done anything to prevent these undesirable accidents from taking place.

Another scandal that is gaining momentum also has to do with the military and political alliance between the United States and Japan. As noted in the Japanese Shūkan Gendai magazine, Japan has fallen into America’s trap, and is now effectively their loyal little “vassal state”, which is the cause of the new misfortunes than have befallen Japan. The publication emphasizes that America is to blame for the chaos that the Middle East has long been mired in, and now it seems that Japan will have to answer for all of America’s actions. However, is an alliance with America worth all of this? That is the question posed in the Shūkan Gendai, which has published information about the plight that the Japan Self-Defense Forces stationed in the Middle East have been suffering, who have practically been immured in their ships, as they come face-to-face with the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to get to the bottom of the problems Japan is currently experiencing, the Shūkan Gendai reminds readers of a special plan adopted by Abe’s Cabinet in December 2019 without having received prior approval from the Diet. Under the pretext of the worsening political and military situation “amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran”, two P-3C anti-submarine patrol airplanes with more than 100 flight and technical personnel were deployed to the region for “intelligence-gathering” purposes at the beginning of 2020, as well as a Takanami guided-missile destroyer, which began operating in the Gulf of Oman, where no coalition forces are providing Japan with any serious back up. The Japan Self-Defense Force Base is in Djibouti. It is worth noting that even though the United States invited more than 60 countries to participate in an anti-Iranian coalition (formally created by Washington in November 2019), only 6 countries have joined the US-led Persian Gulf naval coalition. Apart from America,  they are the United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Albania. The coalition was joined by Lithuania at a later stage. Japan is not officially a member of the coalition, but the Japanese military says that if the Japanese troops were to pull out of the region, a gap would be created, leaving the coalition vulnerable.

Since March, the likelihood of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces remaining there has been seriously jeopardized due to the outbreak of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. This is mainly due to restrictions on the 200 crew members on the Takanami destroyer, who are refraining from leaving the ship to avoid becoming infected with Covid-19, and also due to the closure of Djibouti’s borders, which is not allowing the crews and maintenance personnel for the two P-3C anti-submarine patrol airplanes to be rotated. As the sailors cannot leave the ship, they are living in cramped and crowded conditions, and the Japan Self-Defense Forces were deployed to the Middle East without the necessary medical test kits, have not had enough rest, and are suffering severe stress. Given this situation, the Shūkan Gendai questions whether it is worth risking the lives of these crew members in order to clean up the mess made by the US, whose actions have unleashed chaos in this region.

At the same time, the Japanese press recall a statement made by Defense Minister Taro Kono back in January after holding talks with Pentagon chief Mark Esper, who said that Japan would not be participating in US operations to protect the Persian Gulf from possible attacks from Iran. Even the largely conservative Mainichi Shimbun newspaper has stressed that Japan’s complete dependence on the United States has led to Japan “blindly” following American foreign policy, and the decision taken by Abe’s Cabinet to deploy a limited Japan Self-Defense Forces unit to the Middle East is a clear proof of this. The controversial plan to build a new American military base at Henoko is further proof of this. The newspaper emphasizes that the Japanese government is wrong to be cracking down on the protests held by local residents against this new base being constructed. The government also needs to take urgent action to address the numerous civil rights and security violations that citizens living on Okinawa Island have suffered at the hands of the US military. This erodes mutual trust between the parties to the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan and weakens it.

A common theme runs through an article published in the liberal Asahi Shimbun newspaper, which is the belief that since President Trump was elected with slogan “America first!”, America’s own short-sighted military and political decisions have exposed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan to risks. The question of how Japan should cooperate with America is currently a real headache, as the United States has gone from being the “guardian” of the current world order to the instigator of disorder and chaos.

The Hokkaido Shimbun daily recalls the mass protests that broke out in Japan when the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan was signed in 1960, as well as the fact that its approval by the Diet was practically forced through.

The Akahata newspaper draws particular attention to the fact that a number of secret annexes were included when the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan was signed, according to which the American army can deploy nuclear weapons on Japanese islands and carry out military operations from them without notifying Japan, and this is not limited to operations in the Far East, they can be anywhere in the world. The US has already used Japanese territory to launch attacks on Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.

To this day, Japan remains one of America’s closest partners in East Asia. This situation is certainly a paradox, given how many times the actions taken by the US have been unfriendly towards Japan and Japanese citizens. One example which stands out was the internment of Japanese Americans from March 17, 1942, when 120 thousand US residents who were ethnic Japanese or of Japanese descent were forcefully relocated and incarceration in concentration camps, even if these were American citizens who only had one Japanese ancestor, a great-grandmother or great-grandfather who was a Japanese national. What was happening to the Japanese on the territory of the United States at that time was purely fueled by racism, and there was no military justification for it. Then, on the night of March 9-10, 1945, the Bombing of Tokyo took place, which is regarded as the single most destructive bombing raid in human history, even more so than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Time and time again over the 60 years that have passed since the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States was signed, Japan has had to endure lawless acts committed by American occupying forces in their country.

It is therefore no wonder that although there is a desire among today’s Japanese government circles to demonstrate a practically servile willingness to follow in Washington’s footsteps, the Japanese public are taking to the streets in rather frequent demonstrations, and are clearly trying to voice their rejection of US policies and America’s actions, both in Japan and in other parts of the world.

May 3, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Hopefulness Despite 2.9 Billion Lost Birds

By Jim Steele | Watts Up With That? | May 1, 2020

What’s Natural

In 2019 bird researchers published Rosenberg et al “Decline of the North American Avifauna”, reporting a decline in 57% of the bird species. They estimated a net loss of nearly 2.9 billion birds since 1970, and urged us to remedy the threats, claiming all were “exacerbated by climate change”, and we must stave off the “potential collapse of the continental avifauna.” Months before publication the researchers had organized an extensive media campaign. Typical doomsday media like the New York Times piled on with “Birds Are Vanishing From North America” and Scientific American wrote, “Silent Skies: Billions of North American Birds Have Vanished.”

As I have now been sheltering in place, I finally had ample time to thoroughly peruse Rosenberg’s study. I had a very personal interest in it, having professionally studied bird populations for over 20 years and had worked to restore their habitat. I also had conducted 20 years of surveys which were part of the study’s database. Carefully looking at their data, a far more optimistic perspective is needed. So here I join a chorus of other ecologists, as reported in Slate, that “There Is No Impending Bird Apocalypse”. As one ecologist wrote, it’s “not what’s really happening. I think it hurts the credibility of scientists.”

First consider since 1970 many species previously considered endangered such as pelicans, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, trumpeter swan, and whooping crane have been increasing due to enlightened management. Despite being hunted, ducks and geese increased by 54%. Secondly, just 12 of the 303 declining species account for the loss of 1.4 billion birds, and counterintuitively their decline is not worrisome.

Three introduced species – house sparrows, starlings and pigeons – account for nearly one half billion lost birds. These birds were pre-adapted to human habitat and are considered pests that carry disease and tarnish buildings and cars with their droppings. Across America, companies like Bird-B-Gone are hired to remove these foreign bird pests. Furthermore, starlings compete with native birds like bluebirds and flickers for nesting cavities, contributing to native bird declines. The removal of starlings is not an omen of an “avifauna collapse”, but good news for native birds.

clip_image002

When European colonists cleared forests to create pastures and farmland or provide wood for heating, open-habitat species “unnaturally” increased. Previously confined to the Great Plains, brown‑headed cowbirds quickly invaded the newly opened habitat. Unfortunately, cowbirds parasitize other species by laying its eggs in their nests. A cowbird hatchling then pushes out all other nestlings, killing the parasitized species’ next generation. The loss of 40 million cowbirds only benefits our “continental avifauna”.

Several bird species had evolved to colonize forest openings naturally produced by fire, or floods or high winds. Those species “unnaturally” boomed when 50% to 80% of northeastern United States became de-forested by 1900. Still, eastern trees will reclaim a forest opening within 20 years, so open habitat species require a constant supply of forest openings. However as marginal farms and pastures were abandoned, fires were suppressed and logging reduced, forests increasingly reclaimed those openings. With a 50% decline in forest openings, their bird species also declined; now approaching pre-colonial numbers. Accordingly, birds of the expanding forest interior like woodpeckers are now increasing.

White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos quickly colonize forest openings but then disappear within a few years as the forest recovers. Those 2 species alone accounted for the loss of another quarter of a billion birds; not because of an ecosystem collapse, but because forests were reclaiming human altered habitat. Nonetheless those species are still 400 million strong, and juncos remain abundant in the open habitat maintained by suburban back yards. If environmentalists want to reclaim the abundance of their boom years, they must manage forest openings with logging or prescribed burns.

Insect outbreaks also create forest openings. For hundreds of years forests across Canada and northeastern US have been decimated every few decades by spruce bud worm eruptions. So, forest managers now spray to limit further outbreaks. Today there are an estimated 111 million living Tennessee Warblers that have specialized to feed on spruce bud worms. But the warbler’s numbers have declined by 80 million because insect outbreaks are more controlled. Still they have never been threatened with extinction. Conservationists must determine what is a reasonable warbler abundance while still protecting forests from devastating insect infestations.

The grassland biome accounted for the greatest declines, about 700 million birds. Indeed, natural grasslands had been greatly reduced by centuries of expanding agriculture and grazing. But in recent times more efficient agriculture has allowed more land to revert to “natural” states. However fossil fuel fears reversed that trend. In 2005 federal fuel policies began instituting subsidies to encourage biofuel production. As a result, 17 million more acres of grassland have been converted to corn fields for ethanol since 2006.

Although still very abundant, just 3 species account for the loss of 400 million grassland birds: Horned Larks, Savannah Sparrows and Grasshopper Sparrows. Horned Larks alone accounted for 182 million fewer birds due to a loss of very short grass habitats with some bare ground. To increase their numbers, studies show more grazing, mowing or burning will increase their preferred habitat.

clip_image004

It must be emphasized that the reported cumulative loss of 2.9 billion birds since 1970, does not signify ecosystem collapses. But there are some legitimate concerns such as maintaining wetlands. And there are some serious human-caused problems we need to remedy to increase struggling bird populations. It is estimated that cats kill between 1 to 3 billion birds each year. Up to 1 billion birds each year die by crashing into the illusions created by window reflections. Collisions with cars and trucks likely kill 89 to 350 million birds a year. Instead of fearmongering ecosystem collapse, our avifauna would best be served by addressing those problems.

Questioning Bird Models

Population estimates for most land birds are based on data from the US Geological Surveys Breeding Bird Surveys (BBS). I conducted 2 BBS surveys on the Tahoe National Forest for 20 years. Each survey route consists of 50 stops, each a half‑mile apart. At each stop for a period of just 3 minutes, I would record all observed birds, the overwhelming majority of which are heard but not seen. Many birds can be missed in such a short time, but the BBS designers decided a 3-minute observation time allowed the day’s survey to cover more habitat. Each year on about the same date, the BBS survey was repeated.

Each BBS route surveys perhaps 1% the region’s landscape. To estimate each species’ population for the whole region, the survey’s observations are extrapolated and modeled. However, models rely on several assumptions and adjustments, and those assumptions can inflate final estimates. For example, in 2004 researchers estimated there were 6,500,000 Rufous Hummingbirds. By 2017, researchers estimated there were now 21,690,000. But that larger population cannot be deemed a conservation success. That tripling of abundance was mostly due to new adjustments.

Because singing males account for most observations, the number of observed birds is doubled to account for an unobserved female that is most likely nearby. Furthermore, it is assumed different species are more readily detected than others. The models assume that each stop will account for all the birds within a 400‑meter radius. Because a crow is readily detected over that distance, no adjustments are made to the number of observed crows. But hummingbirds are not so easily detected. The earlier surveys assumed a hummingbird could only be detected if it was within an 80‑meter radius. So, to standardize the observations to an area with a 400‑meter radius, observations were multiplied by 25. Recent survey models now assume hummingbirds can only be detected within 50 meters, so their observations are now adjusted by multiplying by 64.

Thus, depending on their detection adjustments, one real observation could generate 50 or 128 virtual hummingbirds. That number is further scaled up to account for the time‑of‑day effects and the likely number of birds in the region’s un-surveyed landscapes.

Setting aside assumptions about the regional homogeneity of birds’ habitat, one very real problem with these adjustments that has yet to be addressed. If one bird is no longer observed at a roadside stop, the model assumes that the other 127 virtual birds also died.

Survey routes are done along roadsides and up to 340 million birds are killed by vehicles each year. Many sparrows and warblers are ground nesters and will fly low to the ground. Many seed eating birds like finches will congregate along a roadside to ingest the small gravel needed to internally grind their seeds. Every year I watched a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks ingesting gravel from the shoulder of a country road, get picked off one by one by passing cars. Roadside vegetation often differs from off-road vegetation. Roads initially create openings that are suitable for one species but are gradually grown over during the lifetime of a survey to become unsuitable habitat. So, it should never be assumed that the loss of roadside observations represents a decline for the whole region.

The larger the models’ detectability adjustments are for a given species, the greater the probability that any declining trend in roadside observations will exaggerate a species population loss for the region. The greatest population losses were modeled for warblers and sparrows and most warbler and sparrow data are adjusted for detectability by multiplying actual observations 4 to 10-fold. It is worth reporting good news from recent studies in National Parks that used a much greater density of observation points and were not confined to roadsides. Their observation points were also much closer together and thus required fewer assumptions and adjustments. Of the 50 species they observed, all but 3 populations were stable.

Pushing a fake crisis, Rosenberg et al argued that declining numbers within a species that is still still very abundant doesn’t mean they are not threatened with a quick collapse. He highlighted the Passenger Pigeon was once one of the most abundant birds in North America and they quickly went extinct by 1914. That doomsday scenario was often repeated by the media. But comparison to the Passenger Pigeon’s demise is a false equivalency. Passenger Pigeons were hunted for food when people were suffering from much greater food insecurity.

Rosenberg et al summarized their study with one sentence: “Cumulative loss of nearly three billion birds since 1970, across most North American biomes, signals a pervasive and ongoing avifaunal crisis.” But it signals no such thing. Wise management will continue. With better accounting of the natural causes of each species declines, plus more accurate modeling, it will be seen that Rosenberg’s “crisis” was just another misleading apocalyptic story that further erodes public trust in us honest environmental scientists.

Jim Steele is director emeritus of the Sierra Nevada Field Campus, SFSU and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism.

May 1, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | 5 Comments

‘Imminent’ 9.0 Earthquake, 30M Tsunami Could Wreck Fukushima, Government Panel Says

Sputnik – 23.04.2020

A specially set up working group has been projecting the possible repercussions of new probable natural disasters off Japan’s coastline and drawing up measures to prevent them.

A Japanese government panel has warned that a tsunami as high as 30 metres could land on Hokkaido if a 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurs, the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported.

The panel, set up by the Cabinet Office, said it is the “worst-case scenario”, admitting that it is difficult to calculate the probability of such a quake. The panel pointed out that such disasters occur every 300-400 years, with the latest one dating back to the 17th century.

An earthquake is portrayed as imminent in the area around the Japan Trench and the Kuril Trench, following a panel studying simulations of tsunamis that occurred over the past 6,000 years and covered seven prefectures including Hokkaido, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibarak, Aomori, and Chiba.

The working group concluded that Iwate might have to bear the brunt of a tsunami of around 29.7 metres, followed by Hokkaido which will potentially be hit by 27.9-metre waves.

The worrisome predictions and media reports have meanwhile stoked concerns that a massive tsunami may wreck the Fukushima nuclear station, which its operator TEPCO has been cleaning up from toxic waste ever since the 2011 tsunami.

For instance, according to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a Japanese government study projected that a tsunami with waves as high as 13.7 metres could sweep away the 11-metre high seawall built by TEPCO on the ocean side of the compound of the Fukushima Daichi plant. The out-of-service plant reportedly stores around 1,000 tanks of wastewater in one of its compounds.

In response, TEPCO announced, as cited by Reuters, that the company is set to dig into the latest prognosis and “analyse the impact on the ongoing preventive measures” against natural disasters.

April 23, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | | 3 Comments

Michael Moore-Backed Documentary Reveals Massive Ecological Impacts Of Renewables

By Michael Shellenberger | Forbes | April 21, 2020

Over the last 10 years, everyone from celebrity influencers including Elon Musk, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Al Gore, to major technology brands including Apple, have repeatedly claimed that renewables like solar panels and wind farms are less polluting than fossil fuels.

But a new documentary, “Planet of the Humans,” being released free to the public on YouTube today, the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, reveals that industrial wind farms, solar farms, biomass, and biofuels are wrecking natural environments.

“Planet of the Humans was produced by Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. “I assumed solar panels would last forever,” Moore told Reuters. “I didn’t know what went into the making of them.”

The film shows both abandoned industrial wind and solar farms and new ones being built — but after cutting down forests. “It suddenly dawned on me what we were looking at was a solar dead zone,” says filmmaker Jeff Gibbs, staring at a former solar farm in California. “I learned that the solar panels don’t last.”

Like many environmental documentaries, “Planet of Humans” endorses debunked Malthusian ideas that the world is running out of energy. “We have to have our ability to consume reigned in,” says a well-coiffed environmental leader. “Without some major die-off of the human population there is no turning back,” says a scientist.

The film unearths a great deal of information I had never seen before. It shows Apple’s head of sustainability, former EPA head Lisa Jackson, claiming on-stage at an Apple event, “We now run Apple on 100% renewable energy,” to loud applause.

But Gibbs interviews a scientist who researched corporate renewables programs who said, “I haven’t found a single entity anywhere in the world running on 100% solar and wind alone.” The film shows a forest being cut down to build an Apple solar farm.

After Earth Day Founder Denis Hayes claims at a 2015 Earth Day concert that the event was being powered by solar, Gibbs goes behind the stage to find out the truth. “The concert is run by a diesel generation system,” the solar vendor said. “That right there could run a toaster,” said another vendor.

The film also debunks the claim made by Elon Musk that his “Gigafactory” to make batteries is powered by renewables. In fact, it is hooked up to the electric grid.

“Some solar panels are built to only last 10 years,” said a man selling materials for solar manufacturing at a corporate expo. “It’s not like you get this magic free energy. I don’t know that it’s the solution and here I am selling the materials that go in photovoltaics.”

“What powers a learning community?” said [Bill] MicKibben at the unveiling of a wood-burning power plant at Middlebury College in Vermont. “As of this afternoon, the easy answer to this is wood chips. It’s incredibly beautiful to look at the bunker of wood chips. Anything that burns we can throw in there! This shows that this could happen everywhere, should happen everywhere, and must happen everywhere!”

The film reveals that McKibben and Sierra Club supported a Michigan ballot initiative that would have required the state get 25% of its electricity from renewables by 2025, and that the initiative was backed by biomass industrial interests, and that efforts to build a biomass plant at Michigan State University were hotly opposed by climate activists — including ones from 350.org.

Read the full article here

The film:

The film description says:

Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, a documentary that dares to say what no one else will this Earth Day — that we are losing the battle to stop climate change on planet earth because we are following leaders who have taken us down the wrong road — selling out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America.

This film is the wake-up call to the reality we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the environmental movement’s answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. It’s too little, too late. Removed from the debate is the only thing that MIGHT save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption.

Why is this not THE issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business. Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, “green” illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end—and we’ve pinned all our hopes on biomass, wind turbines, and electric cars? No amount of batteries are going to save us, warns director Jeff Gibbs (lifelong environmentalist and co-producer of “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “Bowling for Columbine”).

This urgent, must-see movie, a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows, is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late. Featuring: Al Gore, Bill McKibben, Richard Branson, Robert F Kennedy Jr., Michael Bloomberg, Van Jones, Vinod Khosla, Koch Brothers, Vandana Shiva, General Motors, 350.org, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Nature Conservancy, Elon Musk, Tesla.

April 21, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular, Video | 4 Comments

Might the Russia-China-USA Alliance for Space Exploration Define the New ‘New World Order’?

By Matthew Ehret | Strategic Culture Foundation | April 15, 2020

Whatever forces are behind the current spread of the current coronavirus justifying the shutdown of major nations across the globe, one thing is increasingly certain: a new system will absolutely emerge from the current one. What remains to be seen is whether this new system will be shaped by those fascist crisis-loving technocrats pushing for a unipolar world order, or whether it will be organized by sovereign nation states working together under a multi-polar community of principle.

Amidst the confusion and fear driven by the global pandemic, President Trump passed a fascinating Executive Order on April 6 calling for the mining of asteroids and the Moon which may serve as the gateway to shaping a new system of economic relations, rules and values around a shared future for humankind. Trump’s Executive Order states in part that “successful long term exploration and scientific discoveries of the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies will require partnerships with commercial entities to recover and use resources, including water and certain minerals in outer space.”

In stark opposition to those cynics who wish to analyse every event from the lens of simple geopolitics, the executive order goes on to reject unilateralism in space (promoted by the Space Force ideologues seeking to extend militarisation beyond earth) and rather calls for cooperation, stating that the USA “shall seek to negotiate joint statements, and bilateral and multilateral arrangements with foreign states regarding safe and sustainable operations for the public and private recovery and use of space resources.”

This potential for a shared future for global (and celestial) development stands in stark opposition to certain forces who would rather use the two-fold crisis of economic collapse and viral pandemics to usher in a new age of fascism and world government under a Global Green New Deal. As I wrote in an earlier paper, this clash is exemplified by the closed system thinking of Malthusians and neocons vs. the open system thinking of genuine patriots and world citizens.

How the Dream of Open System Economics Was Lost

It was once believed in the west that the future would be beautiful, just, and as plentiful as it was peaceful. Under John F. Kennedy’s bold leadership the idea of space exploration was more than a simple “space race” or plopping a human being on the moon “within the decade and returning him safely back home”. Far from this narrow view, JFK and many leading American scientists saw this goal as a springboard to a new age of creative growth for all humanity both on the Moon and beyond. These stirring forecasts of an age of reason can still be heard in recordings of Kennedy’s Rice University address of September 12, 1962.

Unbeknownst to many, JFK also called for a USA-Russia joint Moon landing in order to defuse the Cold War formula of MAD and had this plan not been derailed, the world would have found itself on a much different trajectory.

Unfortunately, history unfolded on a different course. After JFK’s murder (weeks after the above speech), his program to remove troops from Vietnam was reversed and the USA was plunged into the disastrous Vietnam war for over a decade. As the war grew, federal funds needed for science and exploration were increasingly absorbed by the military industrial complex.

By 1972, the last human mission on the Moon took place and by 1976, Russia’s last lunar project also occurred with Luna 6. Although small efforts to keep the dream alive continued in piecemeal form over the years, Apollo was scrapped and national support for long-term objectives slowly decayed and a generation of space scientists and engineers found themselves disillusioned by decades of broken promises and a lost dream. Russian scientists suffering the debilitating effects of Perestroika shared in this dismal experience and found themselves unemployed throughout the 1990s and in many cases forced to use their powerful mathematical skills in the financial services sector of London in order to make ends meet (giving rise to the age of quants and speculative high frequency derivatives trading).

During this period of disenchantment, China arose silently under the radar patiently building its capacities from scratch.

The Rise of China’s Space Program

Although its first satellite launch took place during the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1970, the Chinese space program grew much more slowly than its counterparts in Russia or the USA. Patiently learning from the best engineering feats of the west, under the wise guidance of Deng Xiaoping, China finally became the third nation to successfully send a human into orbit in 2003 and one decade later, became the first nation in 37 years to return to the Moon with the successful landing of the Chang’e-3 rover in December 2013. Lieutenant General Zhang Yulin called this program “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and the world came to soon see what incredible plans were yet in store for China’s goals in space.

Soon China had launched the Tiangong 1 and 2 (Heavenly Palace) test space stations in preparation for the 2021 launching of the Large Modular Space Station named Tianhe (“Harmony of the Heavens”) which will be a vital platform for the earth-lunar economy for decades.

On January 3, 2019, China set a world milestone by becoming the first nation to successfully land a rover on the far side of the moon with Chang’e 4, which has begun topographical, resource and geological mappings of the lunar surface. Change’e 5, 6, and 7 will continue these explorations while adding the feature of returning samples to the earth and preparing the groundwork for a permanent lunar base by 2030. Chang’e-8 will be especially important as it will print the first ever 3D structures on the Moon by 2028.

Unfortunately, due to the Obama-era “Wolf Act” of 2011, American scientists could not participate in these achievements and had to watch from afar as China swiftly leapt to the forefront of space science dethroning America from the unchallenged stature she once enjoyed.

Asteroid Threats

Earlier in 2013, before Chang’e-3 landed on the Moon, another humbling event took place and served as a sort of divine slap in the face for many. This wake up call took the form of a 9000 ton asteroid which exploded 22 km over Chelyabinsk, Russia sending shock waves that shattered windows and injured over 2000 citizens. The Chelyabinsk incident served as a timely reminder that the universe offers enough existential challenges for humanity without the additional man-made calamities of regime change wars and fighting over diminishing returns of resources.

From this Russian incident, NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office was created to begin to establish a plan for asteroid threats from space alongside similar departments in Roscosmos, and the European and Chinese Space Agencies. Ouyang Ziyan (the father of China’s lunar program) stated that asteroid defenseis worth attention while we are devoted to building a community with a shared future for humanity… Scientists around the world should cooperate to monitor near-Earth asteroids.”

In November 2019, Roscosmos Director of Science and Long Term Programs (Alexander Bloshenko) stated that Russia’s lunar development goals which included a base on the underside of the Moon within a decade were intertwined with asteroid defense stating: “There are plans to install equipment on this [lunar] base to study deep space and special telescopes to track asteroids and comets that pose a danger with their collision with earth.”

By Summer 2019, NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine also announced his intention for USA-Russian cooperation on asteroid defense- joining the earlier call made by Roscosmos’ head Dimitri Rogozin for a “Strategic Defense of Earth” which Rogozin described as a way to redirect nuclear weapons towards a common threat in space rather than towards each other. This call for cooperation dovetails the two-fold space strategy unveiled by President Trump in December 2017 with Space Policy Directive 1: Reinvigorating America’s Human Space Exploration Program, where he called for 1) The creation of the Lunar Gateway space station to orbit the Moon and 2) the launching of the Artemis Project that will “lead the return of humans to the Moon for long term exploration and utilisation, followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations.”

These developments were punctuated by Trump who took the time from his impeachment fiasco to call for an alliance that too many analysts have chosen to ignore saying on: “Between Russia, China and us, we’re all making hundreds of billions of dollars worth of weapons, including nuclear, which is ridiculous… I think it’s much better if we all got together and didn’t make these weapons… those three countries I think can come together and stop the spending and spend on things that are more productive toward long term peace.”

Although the COVID-19 lock down has done major damage to the schedule for the Orion capsule and space launch system mega rocket needed to carry out the Artemis Project, the scheduled 2024 landing of a man and woman onto the moon’s surface is still on course.

A Revolution in Mining: Redefining “Resources”

But it doesn’t end there. Leading officials among all three Russian, Chinese and American space agencies have called for going beyond asteroid defense, and colonization with the call for lunar, mars and asteroid resource development strategies. These strategies require that humanity redefine the practice of “mining” as it has hitherto been known for thousands of years, but also re-define what a “resource” is, what “energy” is and what are the limits (if any) to human growth?

A helpful tool to conceptualize this revolution in thinking can be found in the 10 minute video All the World’s A Mine made in 2013:

In carefully mapping the lunar terrain with a focus on the far side of the moon, China wishes to come to a better understanding of the mineral distribution of vital resources like Titanium, Iron, silicon, aluminium, water, oxygen and hydrogen and especially Helium-3 which are abundant on the Lunar regolith. Helium-3, long called the “Philosophers’ Stone” of energy is the most efficient fuel source for fusion power when fused with deuterium or tritium in a plasma and though it is nearly non-existent on the earth it exists in vast quantities on the moon due to the absence of a geomagnetic field. As the Moon’s far side never faces the earth or the earth’s magnetic field, there are far more abundant volumes of solar-produced Helium-3 that have accumulated there over millennia.

Ouyang Ziyuan stated clearly that Helium-3 could “solve humanity’s energy demand for 10,000 years at least” since “each year, three space shuttle missions could bring enough fuel for all human beings across the world.”

In 2013, Ziyuan stated “The Moon is full of resources- mainly rare Earth elements, titanium and uranium which the Earth is really short of, and these resources can be used without limitation… There are so many potential developments -it’s beautiful- so we hope we can fully utilize the Moon to support sustainable development for humans and society.”

China’s Premier Li Keqiang added his voice to the mix stating: “China’s manned space and lunar probe missions have a twofold purpose: first, to explore the origin of the universe and mystery of human life; and second, to make peaceful use of outer space… Peaceful use of outer space is conducive to China’s development. China’s manned space program has proceeded to the stage of building a space station and will move forward step by step.”

In September 2019, Russia and China signed a historical agreement to jointly collaborate on lunar development uniting the Chang’e-7 plans with Russia’s Lunar 26 Orbiter and lunar base development which both nations have on the agenda for 2030-2035.

A Word on the Moon Treaty of 1979

Donald Trump’s explicit rejection of the Moon Treaty of 1979 in his recent executive order, has garnered many angry criticisms which on closer inspection are completely unfounded. The 1979 Treaty requiring that all commercial activities in space must be defined by an international framework appears on the surface to be quite sensible. So is Trump’s rejection of any obedience to an “international framework” at this moment in history evidence of his selfish-nationalistic impulses to impose gangster capitalism onto the whole universe? Not at all.

As stated at the beginning of this report, President Trump’s order calls explicitly for “encouraging international support for the recovery and use of space resources” which is in no way characteristic of “narrow minded selfish nationalism” or “unilateral militarism” extolled by the many neocon ideologues struggling to take control of U.S. Space policy. Also when one considers that only 4 nations ratified that 1979 treaty (France, Guatemala, India and Romania), Trump’s refusal to obey it is not nearly as renegade and selfish as those critics make it appear.

Finally, when one considers who would define that “international framework” and considers the zero-growth paradigm currently dominant across the UN and European Union technocracy, then it quickly becomes clear that the Green New Deal agenda for shutting down industrial civilization is totally incompatible with the pro-growth, pro-space mining orientation of Russia, China and Trump’s USA alike.

April 15, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

For the green zealots, Covid-19 is our penance for sins against the planet

By Frank Furedi | RT | March 20, 2020

Green zealots want to turn the global catastrophe of Covid-19 into fuel for their alarmist extinction narrative. By blaming humanity’s impact on the planet for the outbreak, they hope to mobilize support for their cause.

The hastily cobbled together green playbook on the unfolding global pandemic seeks to hold humanity responsible for the outbreak of Covid-19. Its rhetoric of blame is often just that – rhetoric.

The communications strategy adopted by green scaremongers is to continually raise questions about the possibility that our neglect of nature has brought Covid-19 down upon us. The more frequently such questions are posed the more likely that their speculation will mutate into a taken-for-granted fact. “Tip of the iceberg: is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?” asks a headline in the Guardian. The manner in which this question is posed invites readers to respond, “quite likely.”

To pose questions about the link to man-made climate change is often presented as the normal response to the crisis. A commentary on Inside Climate News illustrates this rhetorical strategy.

“Now, questions have arisen about whether climate change contributed to the outbreak of Covid-19, whose spread the World Health Organization declared a pandemic on Wednesday. For example, did habitat loss, driven in part by climate change, make it easier for pathogens to spread among wildlife and for the virus to jump to humans? Does air pollution, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, make some people more vulnerable to contracting the illness?”

As one question reinforces the next, the reader is encouraged to imagine that in some shape or form, climate change is likely to be connected to the Covid-19 outbreak.

It is almost as if green activists are desperately hoping that someone will come up with a shred of evidence that can be used to prove that one way or another that human-created global warming is responsible for the outbreak. Their interest is far removed from containing the virus’ threat. On the contrary, their narrative takes great delight in using Covid-19 as a weapon to be wielded against environmentally irresponsible people. Statements on this score transmit the message ‘that it is all your fault’. In this vein, Dr Aaaron Bernstein, Interim Director Of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, offers a cautionary tale about the impact of human behaviour on the planet:

“You look at climate change, we have transformed the nature of the Earth. We have fundamentally changed the composition of the atmosphere, and as such, we shouldn’t be surprised that that affects our health. We have, as a species, grown up in partnership with the planet and life we live with. So, when we change the rules of the game, we shouldn’t expect that it wouldn’t affect our health, for better or worse. That’s true of the climate. And the same principle holds for the emergence of infections.”

Bernstein does not provide any arguments for his casual linking of the transformation of the world by humans to the emergence of infections. That’s not the point of his statement. His objective is to morally condemn the very human aspiration to change the world and to imply that we have brought the current global tragedy upon ourselves.

Not so long ago, with the development of science we learned that a disaster, such as a plague or an earthquake, was not caused by mysterious vengeful forces – they were rightly called ‘Acts of Nature’. For the green zealot, disasters are never just Acts of Nature; they are a penalty that humanity pays for seeking to modernize the world.

For green ideologues, the pandemic provides an opportunity to mobilize support for their cause. For us, the flu outbreak constitutes a threat that will be overcome with single minded commitment to the cause of humanity. History shows that – contrary to the green world view – humans are not the problem, they are the solution.


Frank Furedi is an author and social commentator is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 3 Comments

Dumping contaminated water from Fukushima plant into ocean – the lesser evil?

By Vladimir Odintsov – New Eastern Outlook – 11.03.2020

In February this year, a number of media outlets reported that the Japanese authorities intended to drain more than one million tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. According to some experts, this method is the lesser evil because the ocean is able to dilute contaminated water, thus making it safe for people.

Nevertheless, this proposal has already caused discontent, both in Japan and in its neighboring countries.

The Japanese government has not yet officially announced this plan, but the intentions of the Shinzo Abe administration to follow through with this idea are becoming increasingly clear, especially considering the media campaign launched by the authorities in support of the proposal to release the contaminated Fukushima water into the ocean.

Let us remind the reader that 9 years have passed since the accident at the Fukushima power plant, but three of its damaged reactors are far from being dismantled. TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, delivered an ultimatum to the Japanese government demanding that it resolve the problem with radioactive water immediately. Every day, cooling the molten reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant yields an additional 150 cubic meters of contaminated water containing tritium (a radioactive isotope of hydrogen) and other chemicals. The issue concerns the water originally used in the reactors’ cooling circuits during the disaster, and that used to cool the wrecked plant and the remaining fuel. A significant amount of water from underground sources flowing through the land towards the ocean is also being polluted. In total, TEPCO is currently storing 1.1 million cubic meters of radioactive water in one thousand special tanks on the territory of the nuclear power plant (NPP), but based on company’s estimates, it will run out of space for the contaminated water by the summer of 2022. TEPCO announced this in August 2019 and made a proposal to pump the contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi NPP into the Pacific Ocean.

The operator has so far failed to convince local fishermen and residents that draining water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean is the best solution. All other ways of resolving the problem, according to TEPCO management, are difficult.

The Japanese government has also not responded as yet to TEPCO’s ultimatum, not only for political reasons, but also in view of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, which are scheduled to be held in Japan after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assurances that the Japanese government had the situation under control after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Stating that radioactive water would have to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean in the current climate would be an extremely unfortunate option today, as it would, at the very least, lead to a heated discussion about the health of athletes who will be arriving for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. Surfers, for example, will compete for medals 250 kilometers south of Fukushima, at Tsurigasaki Beach on the Pacific Ocean.

It is no secret that leakages of Fukushima water into the ocean earlier on have already resulted in serious environmental problems, i.e. deposits of Cesium-137 on sandy beaches at a considerable distance from the plant. They were brought there by the current. This was discovered in September 2017 (i.e. six and a half years after the nuclear accident), when researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (USA) studied soil samples from a vast area around the nuclear power plant. The only saving grace was the fact that the region in question was uninhabited and there was no risk of radiation exposure.

There was another rather unpleasant incident for the Japanese authorities in 2018, when the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was forced to apologize after admitting that its systems used to filter the water discharged into the ocean did not remove all hazardous materials from it.

In 2018, American wine from California was found to contain radioactive particles from the accident at Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima seven years prior. This was reported by scientists of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Michael Pavikoff, Christine Marquet and Philippe Hubert, who were studying batches of Californian red and rose wines from grapes harvested in 2009-2012 when they found Cesium-137 particles, a.k.a. radiocesium, in them. This is a man-made isotope formed by nuclear fission in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. In the wine produced after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the level of radioactive particles was higher than before the disaster.

Small amounts of radioactive isotopes of Iodine and Cesium were also found in vegetables grown in South Korea and in fish caught off the Japanese coast. This caused a crisis in South Korea’s long-established industry: the seafood trade. Based on analyses, one in four fish caught one kilometer from Ibaraki (the main town of the Japanese prefecture of the same name, situated north of the Fukushima NPP) was found to have a slightly higher cesium content than allowed. According to traders, the reports of radiation leaking into the sea led to a 50% decrease in sales of seafood products. As a result, South Korea’s government banned imports of products from the areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The authorities have repeatedly stated that all fish products from Japan are being thoroughly checked.

And these are just some of the cases covered by local and international media outlets.

The sheer scale of consequences stemming from the Fukushima disaster, as well as the previous Chernobyl accident, is such that the problems arising as a result cannot be resolved effectively and completely unless the best world experts are involved. Otherwise, incorrect decisions may not only cause undesirable environmental consequences and affect the health of people in the region, but also further undermine confidence in the nuclear industry. The current Japanese government still has faith in nuclear power and wishes to increase the amount of energy produced by NPPs by 20-22% before 2030.

On February 4, 2020, Japanese authorities held a meeting with embassy officials where they tried to convince the latter of the advantages of the plan to release radioactive water from storage facilities at Fukushima.

It is understandable, to a certain extent, why TEPCO, the Japanese government and individual experts would like to resolve the issue with contaminated water as soon as possible, rather than put it off indefinitely. But it is difficult to support their approach to the problem at hand. Lack of transparency and essentially, the government’s reluctance to fully engage in cooperation with the international community in solving this problem are not beneficial for everyone.

It is still unknown what will eventually happen to the radioactive water from the Fukushima NPP. But so far, the Japanese government has decided to involve a wider group of experts in addressing the issue.

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment