First up, a fait accompli from the Guardian:
Floods, forest fires, expanding deserts: the future has arrived
- Evidence from around the world supports scientists’ assertion that global warming is already happening
Climate change is no longer viewed by mainstream scientists as a future threat to our planet and our species. It is a palpable phenomenon that already affects the world, they insist. And a brief look round the globe certainly provides no lack of evidence to support this gloomy assertion.
In Bangladesh, increasingly severe floods – triggered, in part, by increasing temperatures and rising sea levels – are wiping out crops and destroying homes on a regular basis. In Sudan, the heat is causing the Sahara to expand and to eat into farmland, while in Siberia, the planet’s warming is causing the permafrost to melt and houses to subside.
Or consider the Marshall Islands, the Pacific archipelago that is now struggling to cope with rising seas that are lapping over its streets and gardens. Even the home of the country’s president Christopher Loeak is feeling the effects. “He has had to build a wall around his house to prevent the salt water from inundating,” Tony de Brum, the islands’ foreign minister, revealed recently.
From the Associated Press, water woes in parched California:
California’s water agencies look to budget water
As California’s severe drought continues, state and local agencies are looking at budgeting water use by creating a daily water allocation for each household.
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1xsETsi ) that under such a scheme, a household would be allotted a certain number of gallons for indoor water use and another for outdoor water use.
The amount allocated is calculated using census data, aerial photography and satellite imagery to determine a property’s efficient water usage amount. Those using above their designated amount would pay extra.
Such a system is already in use or being considered by several municipalities statewide.
A similar crisis half a world away from the Los Angeles Times:
Iran prays for rain amid acute water shortage
Concern is mounting about dwindling water supplies across Iran, from the densely populated, smog-ridden capital and its parched suburbs to provincial towns and cities to far-flung corners of the nation, much of which is desert. Lakes and rivers have been drying up, reservoirs are at historic lows and water supplies have been cut in some areas. The annual snowmelt from the mountains is on the decline.
On the streets here, people grumble about cuts in water service. Many buildings have tanks on the roofs to collect rainwater. Unfortunately, it hasn’t rained in months. Bottled water is available, but many Iranians have little excess income for purchasing it. Most Iranians rely on tap water for both drinking and washing.
“On some days of the week, our tap water is cut for seven or eight hours,” said Akbar Aziz, 40, a printing-house employee who lives in the capital’s working-class Khorasan district. “We are consuming as little as possible,” said Aziz, a father with young daughters. “We shower only two times a week. So we are not responsible for the water shortages.”
Environmental Health News covers another water woe:
Fish still contaminated with phased-out Scotchgard chemical
A persistent chemical formerly used in Scotchgard still contaminates most fish in U.S. rivers and the Great Lakes despite a phase-out a dozen years ago, a new federal study shows.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researchers found perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in all of the 157 fish sampled from nearshore waters in the five Great Lakes and in 73 percent from 162 rivers.
The study, the largest of its kind in freshwater fish, suggests that eating bass, trout, walleye and catfish could be a major source of exposure for anglers and their families. The chemical remains widespread in wildlife, people and water around the world.
From BBC News, a body count:
Japan volcano: Mt Ontake rescue teams find 31 bodies
The bodies of 31 hikers have been found near the top of Japan’s Mount Ontake a day after a sudden volcanic eruption.
The hikers were not breathing and their hearts had stopped. The search for a total of 45 missing climbers has now been called off for the night.
The volcano, about 200km (125 miles) west of Tokyo, erupted without warning on Saturday, spewing ash and rocks. About 250 people were trapped on the slopes of the popular beauty spot, but most got down safely.
Deutsche Welle covers the story:
Hikers killed in Japan earthquake
More than 30 people have been killed after a volcano in Japan erupted unexpectedly. Mount Ontake continues to spew ash and smoke into the air, creating difficulties for rescue teams attempting to reach hikers still stranded on the slopes. Experts were taken by surprise by the eruption; they say there were no warning signs in the preceding hours.
From BBC News, Big Oil taps an arctic vein:
Rosneft and Exxon discover Arctic oil
Russian energy giant Rosneft says it has discovered oil with its US project partner Exxon Mobil at a controversial well in the Arctic. Drilling was completed in record time, it said, but questions remain about how quickly the well can be developed.
Exxon has said it will “wind down” the project following US sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine. Environmentalists have campaigned hard against drilling for oil in the pristine region.
“Rosneft successfully completed the drilling of the northernmost well in the world – the Universitetskaya-1 well in the Arctic,” the company said in a statement.
Big Oil fracks your British basement, via the Guardian:
Fracking trespass law changes move forward despite huge public opposition
- Ministers reject 40,000 objections to allow fracking below homes without owners’ permission
Fracking will take place below Britons’ homes without their permission after ministers rejected 40,000 objections to controversial changes to trespass laws.
The UK government argued that the current ability for people to block shale gas development under their property would lead to significant delays and that the legal process by which companies can force fracking plans through was costly, time-consuming and disproportionate.
There were a total of 40,647 responses to a consultation on the move to give oil and gas companies underground access without needing to seek landowners’ permission, with 99% opposing the legal changes. Setting aside the 28,821 responses submitted via two NGO campaigns, 92% of the remaining responses objected to the proposals.
Channel NewsAsia Singapore signals a major nuclear [power] proliferation:
India turns to nuclear as energy crisis deepens
- Energy-starved India relies on coal to produce two thirds of its electricity, and it is now looking at nuclear options to ease a power crisis
India’s new prime minister is turning to nuclear energy to ease a power crisis made worse by the cancellation of hundreds of coal mining permits, but he faces scepticism both at home and abroad.
Energy-starved India relies on coal to produce two thirds of its electricity, but power blackouts are common and demand is rising quickly as the economy and middle class expand.
On Wednesday (Sep 24), the Supreme Court cancelled over 200 coal mining permits because the licensing process was deemed illegal, making the need for alternative energy sources yet more pressing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made nuclear a priority as he seeks to fulfil his campaign pledge to kickstart the country’s flagging economy.
Want China Times takes seaborne nuclear power in a whole new direction:
China ready to construct floating nuclear power plant
The 719th Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation was appointed to establish China’s first R&D center for floating nuclear power plants in central China’s Hubei province, reports our Chinese-language sister newspaper Want Daily.
President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a contract with president Xi Jinping of China during his visit to Shanghai in May for the two nations to collaborate in constructing such a plant. As China Shipbuilding Industry Corp’s website writes, the floating plant will be used to provide electricity to Chinese facilities in the disputed South China Sea.
Equipped with a smaller nuclear reactor, some vessels can also be used to exploit the natural resources beneath the sea floor. When natural disasters and accidents strike, emergency assistance can be deployed from the floating station. If China gathers experience in operating such plants, they will be able to construct nuclear reactors for nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the future.
And for our final item, a nuclear reminder from the Mainichi:
Ex-mayor raps gov’t before 15th anniv. of Japan’s 1st criticality accident
The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 was brought about as the government neglected to learn lessons from Japan’s first criticality accident that occurred 15 years ago, the former mayor of the affected village said Sunday.
Speaking before an audience of some 350 people who gathered for a public meeting ahead of the accident’s 15th anniversary, Tatsuya Murakami, who served as mayor of Tokaimura in Ibaraki Prefecture until last year, said despite the accident Japan has persisted to maintain a “safety myth.”
“Japan was caught up in a ‘safety myth’ that a serious nuclear accident would not happen in this country when the criticality accident occurred at a nuclear fuel processor in this village” on Sept. 30, 1999, he said.
The myth and the failure to firmly clarify the cause of the accident eventually led to the Fukushima meltdown, he said.