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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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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - Eiffel tower embraces wind power->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "One of the world’s most iconic sites has become the latest high profile venue to embrace renewable energy, after the installation of two vertical axis wind turbines as part of the Eiffel tower’s high profile renovation project.

US-based onsite renewables specialist Urban Green Energy (UGE) announced on Tuesday that it has fitted two turbines at the site capable of delivering 10,000kWh of electricity annually, equivalent to the power used by the commercial areas on the Eiffel tower’s first floor.

The company said the two UGE VisionAIR5 turbines are “virtually silent” and have been painted to match the rest of the tower.

It added that the site for the turbines 400 feet above the ground had been strategically chosen to maximise energy production and allow the turbines to take advantage of relatively steady winds."

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+ - Most French Nuclear Plants 'Should Be Shut Down' Over Drone Threat-> 1

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "“You don’t need massive amounts of force to allow a nuclear plant to go into instability. The plant has enough energy to destroy itself. Drones can be used to tickle the plant into instability.”

With devastating simplicity, John Large explains how drones could be used to coordinate a terror attack on a nuclear power station. First, one drone hits the distribution grid serving the plant, depriving the facility of off-site power, making it dependent on its diesel generators to cool the reactor, which generates up to 1,000 megawatts of power – enough to light up half of Paris. Then the generators are easily taken out by an unmanned drone with a relatively small payload. Without power to cool the radioactive fuel, Large estimates it would take approximately 30 seconds before the fuel begins to melt, leading to potential leakages of nuclear waste.

It’s the same cause behind the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after it was hit by a tsunami in March 2011. But potential terrorists wouldn’t need to trigger an earthquake, just be able to accurately pilot a pair of readily-available commercial drones carrying small payloads of explosive. Last year, unmanned drones were spotted flying over at least 13 nuclear power stations in France. The last widely-reported sighting was on 3 January, when two aircraft were seen flying over a nuclear facility in Nogent-sur-Seine, in northern-central France."

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+ - Areva, French Nuclear Giant, Warns of $5.6 Billion Loss->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Areva, the French nuclear technology giant, warned on Monday that it was facing a loss of a magnitude that raises doubts about its ability to continue operations without an injection of state funds to restore its capital.

The state-controlled company expects a 2014 net loss of about 4.9 billion euros, or $5.6 billion, from a loss of €500 million a year earlier, it said in a preliminary statement. The loss is substantially larger than Areva’s market capitalization of about €3.7 billion, suggesting it may need new funds to continue operating. ...

In its statement, Areva cited a variety of reasons for its weak results, including asset write-downs; provisions against losses at its nuclear plant project on the Finnish island of Olkiluoto, which is far behind schedule and over budget; and unprofitable renewable energy contracts. It also cited the cost of complying with regulations governing the shuttering of plants and writing down deferred tax assets. ...

Construction of the Olkiluoto plant in Finland started in 2005; in those optimistic days, Areva had projected it would begin operating in 2009. Today, Areva and Siemens, with which it is building the plant, are battling in court with the Finnish utility TVO over financial responsibility for construction delays and cost overruns. Some analysts predict the plant will not begin operating before the end of this decade."

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+ - President Obama Has, In Fact, Expressed Love for His Country-> 1

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "At the heart of the Giuliani-led critique of president’s patriotism is the suggestion that Barack Obama has never expressed love for the United States.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, has even challenged the media to find examples of Mr. Obama expressing such affection.

Has the president done so?

Yes, he has.

A review of his public remarks provides multiple examples.

In 2008, when he was still a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama uttered the magic words in Berlin, during a speech to thousands.

“I also know how much I love America,” he said at the time.

He did it again that same year during his speech at the Democratic National Convention, observing that “I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain.”

Mr. Obama used a similar construction, as president, in 2011, during a town hall meeting in Illinois, when he recalled “why I love this country so much.”

Mr. Giuliani told Fox News that “I don’t hear from him what I heard from Harry Truman, what I heard from Bill Clinton, what I heard from Jimmy Carter, which is these wonderful words about what a great country we are, what an exceptional country we are.”

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin joined the debate over the weekend, saying he did not know whether Mr. Obama loves the United States.

But over hundreds of speeches, Mr. Obama has paid tribute to the United States as “the greatest democratic, economic, and military force for freedom and human dignity the world has ever known,” vowed that “we will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense,” and declared that “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”"

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+ - NC College Pulling Investments Out Of Fossil Fuels; 1st In Southeast->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Brevard College in Transylvania County is the first school in the Southeast to commit to pulling investments out of fossil fuels after a vote by trustees, and officials are calling the move a symbolic step to bring further public awareness to climate change.

"This sets a precedent," said Emily Crowley, a senior and student organizer for the campaign. "It might not make a dent in the profits of the oil companies, but it tells the nation that we're done with fossil fuels and an unsustainable business."

In the Friday vote, trustees moved ahead with a resolution to divest the college's $25 million endowment from fossil fuels by 2018. Less than 4 percent, or approximately $600,000, is invested in fossil fuels."

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