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+ - Mars Had an Ocean, Scientists Say, Pointing to New Data->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "After six years of planetary observations, scientists at NASA say they have found convincing new evidence that ancient Mars had an ocean.

It was probably the size of the Arctic Ocean, larger than previously estimated, the researchers reported on Thursday. The body of water spread across the low-lying plain of the planet’s northern hemisphere for millions of years, they said.

If confirmed, the findings would add significantly to scientists’ understanding of the planet’s history and lend new weight to the view that ancient Mars had everything needed for life to emerge."

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+ - Fastest Star Ever Seen Will Escape from the Galaxy->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "The compact star US 708 hasn’t had an easy life. Paired with a domineering partner, 708’s mass was siphoned away, reducing it to a dense, helium-filled core. But 708 didn’t go quietly into the night. Instead, scientists believe the feeding frenzy ended in a supernova explosion that catapulted the ravaged remains with such force it’s leaving the galaxy. Fast. A new study shows that the star, classified as a hot subdwarf, is blasting through the Milky Way at about 750 miles per second, faster than any other star in the galaxy."
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+ - Germany says using tax money for nuclear power 'out of the question'-> 1

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Using taxpayers' money to fund nuclear power is "absolutely out of the question", German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Thursday, in an apparent swipe at British plans to finance new atomic generation.

Gabriel was arriving for talks in Brussels on the European Commission's proposal for an energy union, which would deepen cross-border cooperation on energy across the 28-member EU.

Previous efforts to harmonize energy policy have faltered as member states have jealously guarded their right to decide on the kind of energy they use.

Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power sets it at odds with plans by Britain and France to invest in the emissions-free fuel source, which they say plays a major role in combating climate change.

Germany has instead focused on renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

"There are countries in the EU that want to support nuclear power with tax money. We think that is absolutely out of the question," Gabriel said.

"We will not agree by any means that nuclear energy be supported by public money. Nuclear energy is the most expensive kind of generation. It has now been around for 50 years, it is not new and it is dangerous.""

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Comment: Learning Curve (Score 1) 361

by mdsolar (#49188303) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles
What you are calling a growth curve is often called a learning curve. It is the idea that costs reduce as more of the technology is deployed. People get bright ideas as they work in the field, going to greater scale means more can be produced with less labor, etc... You are correct that nuclear power gets more expensive with time. http://thinkprogress.org/clima... There are technologies where the more common behavior is seen. Wind and solar power are growing exponentially owing to lower and lower cost as more are deployed. At their current growth rates either can replace all the world's energy demand around the year 2035. http://www.realclimate.org/ind...

+ - French nuclear industry in turmoil as manufacturer buckles->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "France's nuclear industry is in turmoil after the country's main reactor manufacturer, Areva, reported a loss for 2014 of 4.8 billion euros ($5.3 billion) — more than its entire market value.

The government of France, the world's most nuclear dependent country, has a 29% stake in Areva, which is among the biggest global nuclear technology companies. The loss puts its future — and that of France as a leader in nuclear technology — at risk.

Energy and Environment Minister Segolene Royal said Wednesday she asked Areva and utility giant Electricite de France to work together on finding solutions, amid reports of a possible merger or other link-up.

The government said in a statement that it's working closely with Areva to restructure and secure financing, and would "take its responsibility as a shareholder" in future decisions about its direction.

Areva reported Wednesday 1 billion euros in losses on three major nuclear projects in Finland and France, among other hits.

Areva has lost money for years, in part linked to delays on those projects and to a global pullback from nuclear energy since the 2011 Fukushima accident."

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+ - New Study Says Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian Civil War->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "By now, it’s pretty clear that we’re starting to see visible manifestations of climate change beyond far-off melting ice sheets. One of the most terrifying implications is the increasingly real threat of wars sparked in part by global warming. New evidence says that Syria may be one of the first such conflicts.

We know the basic story in Syria by now: From 2006-2010, an unprecedented drought forced the country from a groundwater-intensive breadbasket of the region to a net food importer. Farmers abandoned their homes—school enrollment in some areas plummeted 80 percent—and flooded Syria’s cities, which were already struggling to sustain an influx of more than 1 million refugees from the conflict in neighboring Iraq. The Syrian government largely ignored these warning signs, helping sow discontent that ultimately spawned violent protests. The link from drought to war was prominently featured in a Showtime documentary last year. A preventable drought-triggered humanitarian crisis sparked the 2011 civil war, and eventually, ISIS.

A new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science provides the clearest evidence yet that human-induced global warming made that drought more likely. The study is the first to examine the drought-to-war narrative in quantitative detail in any country, ultimately linking it to climate change.

“It’s a pretty convincing climate fingerprint,” said Retired Navy Rear Adm. David Titley, a meteorologist who’s now a professor at Penn State University. After decades of poor water policy, “there was no resilience left in the system.” Titley says, given that context, that the record-setting drought caused Syria to “break catastrophically.”"

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+ - Science groups at odds on proble of climate deniers->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "The American Meteorological Society has spoken out against the probe of funding sources of climate deniers by members of congress but the American Geophysical Union points out that asking for disclosure of funding is sound but objects to asking for drafts of testimony and communications about testimony. http://fromtheprow.agu.org/blo...

It sounds as though some of Soon's communications about testimony were essentially invoices or receipts for deliverables. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02... Those sorts of business communications probably ought to be open to probing. So, perhaps asking for any drafts of testimony submitted to funders might be appropriate.

Here is the thing that I think ought to be transparent. A donor to a member of congress asks that a particular expert be called to give testimony. That expert prepares testimony and submits a draft to the donor as part of a financial relationship between the donor and the expert. The public should know both that the donor got a favor from the congressperson and that the donor has paid the expert for the testimony. Academic freedom is not contingent upon deceiving the public and probably suffers if that kind of thing is promoted by a misapplication of the principles of academic freedom.

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+ - Inhofe hurls snowball on Senate floor->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes ""Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) threw a snowball on the Senate floor Thursday in an effort to disprove what he sees as alarmist conclusions about man-made climate change.

Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said the snowball was from outside in Washington, which he used to argue against claims that the earth’s temperature is rising due to greenhouse gas emissions.

“In case we have forgotten, because we keep hearing that 2014 has been the warmest year on record, I ask the chair, do you know what this is,” Inhofe said to Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who was presiding over the Senate’s debate, as he removed the snowball from a plastic bag.

“It’s a snowball. And it’s just from outside here. So it’s very, very cold out. Very unseasonable.”

He then warned Cassidy before throwing the snowball at him.

An Inhofe aide said the snowball was caught by a congressional page.

“We hear the perpetual headline that 2014 has been the warmest year on record,” he said, referring to a report last month from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“But now the script has flipped,” he said of the unseasonably cold weather.""

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+ - Vermont Yankee Official Quells Questions on Decommisioning Shortfall->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "An executive with the owner of the mothballed Vermont Yankee nuclear plant sought to clarify comments that environmentalists interpreted as a possibility the company might shirk its responsibility for cleaning up the site decades from now.

At a legislative hearing Feb. 11, Entergy Corp. Vice President Mike Twomey was asked what would happen if a dedicated investment fund doesn’t grow enough to cover the estimated $1.2 billion cost of decommissioning the Vernon, Vt., facility.

He first said he doubted such an outcome, but added, “There would probably be quite a bit of litigation about that.”

Nuclear critics seized on the comment. Arnie Gundersen, a former nuclear industry engineer who now consults with groups critical of the industry, labeled the Entergy executive “So-Sue-Me-Twomey.”

Gundersen pointed to Entergy’s corporate structure as a cause for worry, noting that multiple layers of limited-liability corporations stand between Vermont Yankee and its corporate parent."

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+ - Most Americans see combating climate change as a moral duty->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "A significant majority of Americans say combating climate change is a moral issue that obligates them – and world leaders — to reduce carbon emissions, a Reuters/IPSOS poll has found.

        The poll of 2,827 Americans was conducted in February to measure the impact of moral language, including interventions by Pope Francis, on the climate change debate. In recent months, the pope has warned about the moral consequences of failing to act on rising global temperatures, which are expected to disproportionately affect the lives of the world’s poor.

        The result of the poll suggests that appeals based on ethics could be key to shifting the debate over climate change in the United States, where those demanding action to reduce carbon emissions and those who resist it are often at loggerheads.

        Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said that world leaders are morally obligated to take action to reduce CO2 emissions. And 72 percent said they were “personally morally obligated” to do what they can in their daily lives to reduce emissions."

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+ - Switzerland becomes first country to submit Paris climate deal pledge ->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Switzerland has become the first country to formally communicate its contribution to a UN climate change deal: 50% greenhouse gas cuts on 1990 levels by 2030.

Released on Friday, the Swiss government says 30% of those cuts will be achieved within the country, with the remaining 20% through carbon markets or other forms of offsets.

“This objective of a 50% reduction in emissions reflects Switzerland’s responsibility for climate warming and the potential cost of emissions reduction measures in Switzerland and abroad over the 2020-2030 period,” says the Swiss communication.

“Switzerland, which is responsible for 0.1% of today’s global greenhouse gas emissions and, based on the structure of its economy, has a low level of emissions (6.4 tonnes per capita per year), will use emissions reduction measures abroad to reduce the cost of emissions reduction measures during the period 2020-2030.”

Documents sent to the media say the target is “compatible” with efforts to limit warming to below 2C above pre-industrial levels. The government is also discussing a long term target to reduce emissions 70-85% by 2050 on 1990 levels."

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+ - Exelon-backed bill seeks $2 more a month for nuclear power plants->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Electricity users would have to dip into their pockets a little more to help cover costs of Exelon's nuclear power plants under legislation unveiled Thursday that the influential corporation maintained would save jobs and keep service steady and reliable.

Exelon is backing the proposal because it could prop up what it says are three money-losing nuclear plants that produce relatively clean energy compared to other sources of power. Opponents question whether Exelon would get an unnecessary bailout when a trio of its other nuclear plants are in the black, and supporters of a separate bill prefer a broader approach that would build up renewable resources."

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