And nukes. . .
First up, this from BBC News:
Kenya Catholic Church tetanus vaccine fears ‘unfounded’
Kenya’s government has dismissed allegations made by the country’s Catholic Church that a tetanus vaccine can cause sterility in women. “It’s a safe certified vaccine,” Health Minister James Macharia told the BBC.
Catholic priests have been telling their congregations to boycott a campaign that begins on Monday to vaccinate women against tetanus.
Tetanus is regarded as a big threat to babies in Kenya, with a new-born child dying every day of the infection. According to Kenya’s health ministry, about 550 babies died of tetanus in Kenya last year.
Our pills, drugging the fish, via the Guardian:
Drugs flushed into the environment could be cause of wildlife decline
- New studies show antidepressants causing starlings to feed less and contraceptive drugs reducing fish populations in lakes
Potent pharmaceuticals flushed into the environment via human and animal sewage could be a hidden cause of the global wildlife crisis, according to new research. The scientists warn that worldwide use of the drugs, which are designed to be biologically active at low concentrations, is rising rapidly but that too little is currently known about their effect on the natural world.
Studies of the effect of pharmaceutical contamination on wildlife are rare but new work published on Monday reveals that an anti-depressant reduces feeding in starlings and that a contraceptive drug slashes fish populations in lakes.
“With thousands of pharmaceuticals in use globally, they have the potential to have potent effects on wildlife and ecosystems,” said Kathryn Arnold, at the University of York, who edited a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. “Given the many benefits of pharmaceuticals, there is a need for science to deliver better estimates of the environmental risks they pose.”
From the Independent, an aquatic conquest dreaded:
Alien species in UK could cause an ‘environmental catastrophe’ for British rivers
Five of Europe’s deadliest freshwater species are now in UK waters wreaking havoc on the environment, a Cambridge University study has warned. At least 10 more are expected in the next half-decade.
Invasive species impact on the biodiversity of Britain by eating native species as well as affecting human health and the economy. Many originate from the Black, Asov and Caspian seas around Turkey and Ukraine. Scientists worry that some may already be in Britain, but as yet undiscovered.
Fears have now been raised by the discovery of the quagga mussel in a reservoir near Heathrow. The molluscs, originally from Ukraine, were identified as the single greatest potential threat to the UK’s wildlife of any alien species in 2013. They have now arrived.
The Ecologist covers other kinds of invasive species:
Big Biotech’s African seed takeover
Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Limagrain are among the companies to buy into Africa’s indigenous seed companies. It’s all part of the corporate takeover of the continent’s agriculture at the expense of the small farmers who feed most of Africa’s people.
French seed giant Groupe Limagrain, the largest seed and plant breeding company in the European Union, has invested up to US$60 million for a 28% stake in SeedCo, one of Africa’s largest home-grown seed companies.
In another transaction, SeedCo has agreed to sell 49% of its shares in Africa’s only cottonseed company, Quton, to Mahyco of India – which is 26% owned by Monsanto.
Mahyco specialises in hybrid cotton varieties, and has a 50:50 joint venture with Monsanto to license its genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton throughout India. By contrast Quton produces unpatented , non-GMO ‘open-pollinated varieties’ (OPVs) of cottonseed.
From the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, organized resistance mounts as a nation’s legislators prepare to pass corporate-backed pro-GMO legislation:
Do not pass the “Plants Breeders Bill”
From the Jakarta Globe, lax ecocidal punishment lamented:
Riau Police Lament ‘Light’ Sentences for Those Burning Forests
As thick haze continues to cover large parts of Sumatra, police in Riau say that those responsible for the problem are getting away with sentences so lenient that there is hardly any deterrent effect.
“It has come to our attention that the sentences are around three months in prison on average, which is very light, and the toughest sentence is only five months,” Brig. Gen. Dolly Bambang Hermawan, the chief of Riau Police, was quoted as saying by state-run Antara news agency on Monday.
Dolly said that the courts are ignoring the fact that the raging forest and bush fires are a major problem. “Many people get sick, flights are disturbed,” he said.
The courts are not only lenient in cases of private individuals caught setting fire to swathes of land, but also to companies, Dolly said, citing the example of Adei Plantation and Industry.
A Bankster’s carbon bubble alert, via the Guardian:
Mark Carney: most fossil fuel reserves can’t be burned
- Bank of England governor lends his support to ‘carbon bubble’ theory that coal, gas and oil assets are at risk, reports BusinessGreen
The governor of the Bank of England has reiterated his warning that fossil fuel companies cannot burn all of their reserves if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, and called for investors to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions.
According to reports, Carney told a World Bank seminar on integrated reporting on Friday that the “vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if global temperature rises are to be limited to below 2C.
Carney is the latest high profile figure to lend his weight to the “carbon bubble” theory, which warns that fossil fuel assets, such as coal, oil and gas, could be significantly devalued if a global deal to tackle climate change is reached.
Pentagonal perceptions of climate change, via the Verge:
Even the Pentagon agrees: climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’
- Climate change makes pretty much everything worse — including terrorist groups
A new report from the Pentagon says that climate change poses a threat to national security — multiplying risks from terrorism, infectious disease, and food and water shortages. The bottom line? There may be a greater need for military response to disasters, as the changing weather creates new catastrophes.
The Pentagon isn’t the only one that’s concerned. Earlier this month, the British Medical Journal called on the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, based on a projected 250,000 additional deaths from 2030 and 2050. Today’s report from the Pentagon suggests ways for the military to respond to rising sea levels, as well as extreme weather such as violent storms or droughts. There are no specific budget recommendations in it, however.
Climate change may cause large-scale migrations of people away from areas affected by drought or heavy weather. That could give rise to more terrorist threats, Marcus King, an expert on climate change at George Washington University, told The New York Times. He suggested that climate change may have played a role in the rise of the Islamic State.
On to Fukushimapocalypse Now! with the Mainichi:
Contracts for interim radioactive waste storage sites in Fukushima due to expire
Property leases for many interim radioactive waste storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture are set to expire staring this month, a Mainichi Shimbun survey of local municipalities has found.
A total of 46 out of 47 municipalities in the prefecture subject to Fukushima nuclear disaster decontamination work responded to the Mainichi survey request, sent out in August this year. According to the results, as of the end of July, there were 859 temporary storage sites in 40 of the municipalities, holding some 3,194,688 cubic meters of radioactive soil and other contaminated waste from the disaster cleanup.
A government plan drawn up in October 2011 stated these sites would be closed in roughly three years. Accordingly, the central and local governments leased properties for many of the facilities for a three-year term. The leases for lands hosting 105 facilities storing 178,192 cubic meters of waste will reach their third year by the end of January 2015 — shrinking storage capacity even as the volume of waste increases as decontamination work continues.
Similar problems elsewhere, via the Japan Times:
As nuclear waste piles up, South Korea faces storage crisis
The world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power has around 70 percent, or nearly 9,000 tons, of its used fuel stacked in temporary storage pools originally intended to hold it for five or six years, with some sites due to fill by the end of 2016.
It plans to cram those sites with more fuel than they were originally intended to hold while it looks for a permanent solution, suggesting little has been learned from the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
In the Fukushima crisis that started in 2011, the storage of large amounts of spent nuclear fuel in elevated pools posed a threat of massive radioactive release on top of meltdowns at three reactors. Spent fuel rods heated up after a quake knocked out water-cooling pumps, underlining the dangers of holding troves of radioactive material in relatively exposed cooling ponds.
And our final item, a British nuclear challenge via the Guardian:
Ecotricity considers legal challenge over EU go-ahead for Hinkley Point C
- Energy supplier joins growing number of firms and organisations seeking to block planned subsidy scheme for new nuclear plan
Independent energy supplier Ecotricity is among companies and organisations considering a legal challenge against the European commission decision to give approval to Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
Austria has already promised to fight the decision in the courts but Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, said he might stand as an “interested party” in the European court of justice to block the planned subsidy scheme for the £24bn project in Somerset.
“This is a mad decision by Brussels and a patriotic issue for us. The financial support agreed for Hinkley would be an enormous burden for the country and there is the costs of decommissioning on top of that. Where is the money going to come from?” said Vince, whose company builds windfarms as well as supplying gas and electricity.