Climate/nuclear news – the week to 15 July

GR: Here’s a list of some of the critical global concerns for the week.

Posted by Christina MacPherson.

It’s a toss-up as to which issue is now the most critical – climate change or nuclear war danger. I’m inclined to think – climate change. Some, like Paul Beckwith, Canadian Climate System Scientist, say that abrupt climate change is already with us, and drastic emergency measures are needed. Others are very concerned, pointing out severe problems – e,g today’s news – Asia faces climate change disaster.

On the nuclear scene, the world could be teetering at the brink of nuclear war, with North Korea ramping up its nuclear weapons, and Donald Trump tweeting belligerently.when what is needed is some new strategic foreign policy thinking

Christina MacPherson Climate/nuclear news – the week to 15 July « nuclear-news

After Midnight, Special Edition, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

After Midnight – Today’s Nuclear Threat

Licorne nuclear test – French Polynesia, 1970

GR: We are destroying the world. Gradually by building, introducing invasive-species, removing forests, and polluting (including such accomplishments as ocean acidification and global warming). Our species is slowly erasing all Earth’s ecosystems from the tiniest million lives of a single cell, to the 100 trillion lives within a tiger, to the billion trillion lives of a forest. We’ve passed the “golden years” of old age and begun the long slide into oblivion. Not without moments of joy, a slow death is preferable to abrupt ends by accident or malice. But now the most powerful human on Earth has asked “Somebody hits us within ISIS — you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?” (Trump to Chris Matthews, MSNBC, March 30, 2016). Today, Eliot’s Hollow Men could end “Not with a whimper but a bang.”

The piece below is from the introduction to a special edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists titled After Midnight. Click for more blog posts on the growing nuclear threat.

“Since its founding more than 70 years ago, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been dedicated to the proposition that nuclear weapons should never again be used. Over the decades since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the Bulletin has published countless articles arguing in favor of arms control, disarmament, and policy changes like no-first-use and the de-alerting of missiles that make nuclear warfare less likely. These articles have been premised, generally, on the idea that the limited battlefield use of nuclear weapons is a dangerous fantasy, that any use of nuclear weapons threatens to (and likely will) escalate into a worldwide, civilization-ending thermonuclear war. With the end of the Cold War, this taboo against the use of nuclear weapons appeared to strengthen; the prospect of atomic Armageddon seemed passé.

“In the age of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, however, the possible use of nuclear weapons has, horrifyingly, crawled from the dustbin of history. Leaders in the United States and Russia have rattled their nuclear sabers with extraordinary carelessness and stupidity. North Korea continues to test nuclear warheads and the missiles they might be mated to – and to threaten to use them. India and Pakistan periodically flaunt their ability and willingness to nuke one another, should the need arise, in a war that would likely have worldwide environmental consequences. And the probability that terrorists might acquire and use a nuclear weapon is certainly greater than zero. (Here’s how former Defense Secretary William Perry’s website puts it: “Experts differ on the likelihood of an attack but most believe that it is no longer a matter of if a terrorist attack will occur, but when.”)

“I would prefer to inhabit a more reasonable and safer world, and working toward one is at the center of the Bulletin’s mission. But the world as it actually exists – with its panoply of irrationality and purblind ignorance – demands attention. In this special issue, “After midnight,” top experts examine the ethics and practicalities of preparing a humanitarian response to the use of nuclear weapons, some realistic scenarios that could lead to regional nuclear weapons use – mini-Armageddons, if you will excuse the oxymoron – and various ways in which nuclear warfare might be forestalled or, in the event the unthinkable begins, stopped.

“It is my honest hope that these articles describe the horror of the aftermath of nuclear weapons use in a way that reinforces the taboo, and ensures that horrific aftermath never arrives. It is my honest fear that some world leaders lack the imagination to foresee and head off that horror.” –John Mecklin (Introduction: Into the aftermath: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Vol 73, No 4).

Here are the links for stories within the Journal. Some are free.

Introduction: Into the aftermath

John Mecklin
Free-access article

Interview: NUKEMAP creator Alex Wellerstein puts nuclear risk on the radar

Elisabeth Eaves
Free-access article

US cities are not medically prepared for a nuclear detonation
Jerome M. Hauer
Free-access article

The right planning now will save countless lives after a nuclear attack
Dan Hanfling, Frederick M. Burkle, Jr., and Cham Dallas

After nuclear midnight: The impacts of a nuclear war in India and Pakistan

Karthika Sasikumar

A plausible scenario of nuclear war in Europe, and how to deter it: A perspective from Estonia
Jüri Luik and Tomas Jermalavičius

Nuclear foreboding:  Future shadows cast by nuclear winter
Richard Turco

The N.EX.T. Project: Arms control and disarmament approachesfor a deadlocked age

Introduction: Nuclear disarmament and arms control for the next decade
Ulrich Kühn
Free-access article

Europe’s nuclear woes: Mitigating the challenges of the next years
Ulrich Kühn, Shatabhisha Shetty, and Polina Sinovets

What arguments motivate citizens to demand nuclear disarmament?
Anne I. Harrington, Eliza Gheorghe, and Anya Loukianova Fink

Nuclear disarmament summits: A proposal to break the international impasse
Kelsey Davenport, Jana Puglierin, and Petr Topychkanov

The future of US-Russian nuclear deterrence and arms control

Tatiana Anichkina, Anna Péczeli, Nickolas Roth

Amid high tensions, an urgent need for nuclear restraint
Anastasia Malygina, Sven-Eric Fikenscher, and Jenny Nielsen

Nuclear Notebook

Indian nuclear forces, 2017
Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris
Free-access article

Book Review

Preserving biodiversity, preventing climate disaster: Childish dreams or audacious strategies?
Liam Heneghan

Additional Reading

Bunkers for the 0.003 percent
An interview with Garrett M. Graff
Elisabeth Eaves
Free-access article on the Bulletin website

Let’s end on a lighter note. Here’s a short video you might have missed:

The nuclear industry and the concept of ENOUGH

GR: The grow-or-die business philosophy dominating global commerce leads to overuse of resources, accumulating wastes, plant and animal extinctions, and ecosystem losses. MacPherson writes about the nuclear industry which she finds be as dedicated to growth as all the others.

“To the nuclear industry the concept of ENOUGH is anathema. If you saw their slick advertising film “Pandora’s Promise” you would note that their major theme is endless GROWTH that will perpetually require ENDLESS ENERGY.

“The nuclear industry’s shills, and there are many of them, love to portray the anti-nuclear movement as wanting to send people back to living in a “dark ages” style.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Genuine environmentalists want all people to have a life of more light, of reasonable comfort and leisure time, of enough of the good things of this world, rather than of too much.

“It’s time that governments, bankers, industry leaders woke up to the reality that the world economy is threatened by growth, threatened by the accelerating destruction of this planet’s  air, water, land, and biodiversity. The destroyer is the growing human population and its growing consumption of ever more unnecessary products and unnecessary energy use.

“It’s time that people stepped away from endless individualistic  consumption, and towards a reasonable life of more cooperation, of working less hours. It’s time to move from our suicidal consumer culture, to a conserve culture.” –Christina MacPherson (Continue reading: The nuclear industry and the concept of ENOUGH – theme for June 2017 « Antinuclear.)

How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

GR:  Nuclear war poses a massive threat to life on Earth. In fact, few analysts believe that anyone would survive a nuclear war. The security achieved by mutually assured destruction is madness. However, when madmen control governments nothing and everything is insane.

Members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unveil the 2017 time for the “Doomsday Clock” January 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. For the first time in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the clock forward 30 seconds to two and a half minutes before midnight, citing “ill-considered” statements by U.S. President Donald Trump on nuclear weapons and climate change, developments in Russia, North Korea, India and Pakistan. From left to right are theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering and retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral David Titley. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Members of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unveil the 2017 time for the “Doomsday Clock” January 26, 2017 in Washington, DC. For the first time in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the clock forward 30 seconds to two and a half minutes before midnight, citing “ill-considered” statements by U.S. President Donald Trump on nuclear weapons and climate change, developments in Russia, North Korea, India and Pakistan. From left to right are theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering and retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral David Titley. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“The US nuclear forces modernization program has been portrayed to the public as an effort to ensure the reliability and safety of warheads in the US nuclear arsenal, rather than to enhance their military capabilities. In reality, however, that program has implemented revolutionary new technologies that will vastly increase the targeting capability of the US ballistic missile arsenal. This increase in capability is astonishing—boosting the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three—and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.

“Because of improvements in the killing power of US submarine-launched ballistic missiles, those submarines now patrol with more than three times the number of warheads needed to destroy the entire fleet of Russian land-based missiles in their silos. US submarine-based missiles can carry multiple warheads, so hundreds of others, now in storage, could be added to the submarine-based missile force, making it all the more lethal.

“The revolutionary increase in the lethality of submarine-borne US nuclear forces comes from a “super-fuze” device that since 2009 has been incorporated into the Navy’s W76-1/Mk4A warhead as part of a decade-long life-extension program. We estimate that all warheads deployed on US ballistic missile submarines now have this fuzing capability. Because the innovations in the super-fuze appear, to the non-technical eye, to be minor, policymakers outside of the US government (and probably inside the government as well) have completely missed its revolutionary impact on military capabilities and its important implications for global security.

“Before the invention of this new fuzing mechanism, even the most accurate ballistic missile warheads might not detonate close enough to targets hardened against nuclear attack to destroy them. But the new super-fuze is designed to destroy fixed targets by detonating above and around a target in a much more effective way. Warheads that would otherwise overfly a target and land too far away will now, because of the new fuzing system, detonate above the target.

FIGURE 1. The deployment of the new MC4700 arming, fuzing, and firing system on the W76-1/Mk4A significantly increases the number of hard target kill-capable warheads on US ballistic missile submarines.

“The result of this fuzing scheme is a significant increase in the probability that a warhead will explode close enough to destroy the target even though the accuracy of the missile-warhead system has itself not improved.

“As a consequence, the US submarine force today is much more capable than it was previously against hardened targets such as Russian ICBM silos. A decade ago, only about 20 percent of US submarine warheads had hard-target kill capability; today they all do. (See Figure 1.)” Hans M. Kristensen, Matthew McKinzie, and Theodore A. Postol (Continue reading:  How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.)

Faster than Expected – Nature Bats Last

GR: Here are the arguments for near-term-extinction of humanity and most complex life on Earth. Personally, I can’t believe that we will all be dead in 10 years. I think it’s a mental block of some kind. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to read the arguments. Things are going to get bad, but I know that without a catastrophic methane release, it may be centuries, before the last shreds of our civilization disappear. It’s probably too late to prevent our extinction, but understanding the arguments lets us see how grave our predicament and it might help us support the right attempts to dampen the rate of climate change.

Almost lifeless Earth.

Almost lifeless Earth.

“As I’ve pointed out previously, I doubt there will be a human on Earth by mid-2026. Indeed, I doubt there will be complex life on this planet by then. It’ll be a small world, as was the case in the wake of each of the five prior Mass Extinction events on Earth. Bacteria, fungi, and microbes will dominate.

“As I’ve pointed out repeatedly, humans will lose habitat on Earth before the last human dies. The final human probably will die after running out of canned food in a bunker. And he or she will not know human extinction has occurred.

“According to the Pentagon’s JASON Group, the situation for life on Earth will be far worse than I have ever described. A well-informed insider there wrote on 19 December 2016: “THE JASON GROUP at the Pentagon is getting new data (upon my constant requests) that the effect of over 450 reactors melting down will most likely destroy the Ozone layers. Rather than going Venus Earth will end up more like Mars. Very dead with almost no chance to regenerate an atmosphere. Report to be published in 2017.”

“The ice-free Arctic predicted by the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 2016, + 3 years, seems likely in 2017. Arctic ice is very fragile. Regardless when it arrives, the near-term ice-free Arctic will be experienced by humans for the first time. Ever. This event might trigger the 50-Gt burst of methane forecast by Shakhova and colleagues at the European Geophysical Union annual meeting in 2008 (“we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time”). I reasonably use the ice-free Arctic as a proxy for this first burst of atmospheric methane. After all, it’s been “highly possible for abrupt release at any time” for nearly a decade. In May 2015, Shakhova lied about the research group’s earlier statement about an abrupt release of methane — when she could have easily retracted the statement — saying, “We never stated that 50 gigatonnes is likely to be released in near or distant future.”

“The first 50-gigatonne burst of methane described by Shakhova et al. translates to a global temperature rise of 1.3 C, which causes civilization to collapse because grains cannot be grown at scale. Industrial civilization, as with its predecessors, requires grain production and storage. This abrupt rise in temperature would be felt within a few weeks in the Northern Hemisphere — where nearly all civilization-supporting grains are grown — and within a year throughout the world. It would take Earth’s global-average temperature well beyond the point that has supported humans in the past. Ever.Lack of global dimming adds another ~3 C. Earth is then ~6 C above the 1750 baseline by the following spring (2018?). About 2/3 of the temperature rise comes within a few months. I doubt there’s habitat for humans or many other animals at that point. After all, the slow rise in global-average temperature documented so far outstrips the ability of vertebrates to adapt by more than 10,000 times.” –Guy McPherson (More:  Faster than Expected – Nature Bats Last).

It is now two and a half minutes to midnight | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists


Nagasaki nuclear explosion photo by Charles Levy from one of the B29 Superfortresses

GR:  A group of concerned scientists created the Doomsday Clock at the end of World War II. The goal was to use best estimates of global conditions to create a visual display of the nuclear danger. Now, however scientists consider climate change as well as nuclear war as the most pressing threats to our survival. In 2010, after the hopeful conclusion to the Copenhagen Climate-Change Conference, the Clock was at six minutes to midnight. However, nuclear developments in North Korea and continuing tension in southern Asia moved the Clock to five minutes until midnight in 2012. The nuclear situation has not improved and the climate situation is worse. Today the Clock is at two and one-half minutes until midnight.


Climate Change Catastrophe Image by Geralt

I included a link to an informative slide show at the end of this post. The Clock has  moved closer to doomsday because of Donald Trump’s statements. Will Trump be pleased with his great accomplishment? I recommend this short press conference on the new clock setting:


“Words Matter”: The Board Marks 70th Anniversary of Iconic Clock By Expressing Concern About “Unsettling” and “Ill-Considered” Statements of President Trump on Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change; Developments in North Korea, Russia, India and Pakistan Also Highlighted.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 26, 2017 – “It is now two and a half minutes to midnight. For the first time in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has moved the hands of the iconic clock 30 seconds closer to midnight. In another first, the Board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States.

“The decision to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock is made by the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in consultation with the Bulletin’s Board of Sponsors, which includes 15 Nobel Laureates. The Science and Security Board’s full statement about the Clock is available online.

“In January 2016, the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand did not change, remaining at three minutes before midnight. The Clock was changed in 2015 from five to three minutes to midnight, the closest it had been since the arms race of the 1980s.

“In the statement about the Doomsday Clock, the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board notes: “Over the course of 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change … This already-threatening world situation was the backdrop for a rise in strident nationalism worldwide in 2016, including in a US presidential campaign during which the eventual victor, Donald Trump, made disturbing comments about the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons and expressed disbelief in the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change …The board’s decision to move the clock less than a full minute — something it has never before done — reflects a simple reality: As this statement is issued, Donald Trump has been the US president only a matter of days …”

“The statement continues: “Just the same, words matter, and President Trump has had plenty to say over the last year. Both his statements and his actions as President-elect have broken with historical precedent in unsettling ways. He has made ill-considered comments about expanding the US nuclear arsenal. He has shown a troubling propensity to discount or outright reject expert advice related to international security, including the conclusions of intelligence experts. And his nominees to head the Energy Department, and the Environmental Protection Agency dispute the basics of climate science. In short, even though he has just now taken office, the president’s intemperate statements, lack of openness to expert advice, and questionable cabinet nominations have already made a bad international security situation worse.”

“In addition to addressing the statements made by President Trump, the Board also expressed concern about the greater global context of nuclear and climate issues:” –Janice Sinclaire (Continue reading:  It is now two and a half minutes to midnight | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).


2017 in climate and nuclear news

It remains important to keep our eyes on the ball. Long ago, we were sold on centralized power and the economies of scale. Corporate ownership weakened the benefits. We still have a chance to develope individual, distributed geothermal, wind, and solar systems. Let’s do everything we can to win this time.



Here are my predictions for 2017 . They are not all that cheerful. But I am comforted by that fact that I usually predict most unreliably. I pronounced that Hillary Clinton would win the US presidency by a landslide.

But – here goes, anyway :

CLIMATE news. The anthropocene is here with a vengeance, and will be evidenced by continued weather extremes – droughts in Africa, India and other places, floods elsewhere, the continued creeping sea level rise, affecting island nations, and low-lying ones, like Bangladesh.  Most worrying of all, the continuance of extraordinary changes in temperature in the Arctic, with effects on ocean currents.

With climate-denying politicians in power, at the national level, action on climate change will be stalled, to some degree. However, at the level of states, local councils, and cities, increased adoption of renewable energy will mean that meaningful climate action goes on with renewed vigour…

View original post 541 more words

US follows Hong-Kong and Taiwan to restrict food imports from Japan over radionuclide contamination concern

GR:  Be sure to read the comments that follow the article.  There are suggestions that the U. S. and E. U. are not really being careful about contaminated food imports.

Fukushima contaminated food (

Photo by: Read the story for a list of questionable Japanese foods.

“The United States has recently tightened restriction of food import from Japan. According to Import Alert 99-33 issued by US FDA, a list of Japanese food will be banned unless they pass physical examination, which includes milk, butter, milk-based infant formula, and other milk products; vegetables and vegetable products; rice and whole grain; fish; meat and poultry; venus clam; sea urchin; yuzu fruit; Kiwi fruit. FAD indicates that revision to this import alert is due to radionuclide contamination.FDA says it will continue consultation with Japanese government to ensure products from the affected prefectures do not pose a health risk to US consumers. FDA will continue monitoring the public health risks due to radionuclide contamination, and when appropriate will remove the Import Alert and resume routine coverage of entries.” (Source:

Comments by Christina MacPherson:  What is interesting, and what should be also interesting to the American people is that it is China which publishes this article about the US import Alert 99-33 issued by US FDA last April 2015 whereas up to now I have not seen it published/posted by any US media nor website.

“What is also interesting, is it took the Japanese contaminated food repeatedly found in Taiwan and Hong-Kong in last March and April , and well published in the chinese media and websites, for finally the US FDA to wake up after 4 years of lethargy to take some action.

“If things are getting too hot with exports from Tohoku and Kanto contaminated regions to the US, Japan will change the origin address of their products as being from Kansai, Chubu, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu regions…With adequate paperwork, good credible certificates of origin, it will not pass under contamination control, and business will continue as usual.

“Or they will mix a highly contaminated product from one area with a lesser contaminated product from another area, so as to lower the contamination level to become acceptable to the level of acceptable threshold of the US, as they are already doing inside Japan with rice.

“Regarding imports the US FDA mostly relies on the certificates of origin, not questioning the veracity of the data provided on those certificates, and very seldom monitor the contamination level of all incoming food stocks, only once in a blue moon at random.” –Christina MacPherson (continue reading:  US follows Hong-Kong and Taiwan to restrict food imports from Japan over radionuclide contamination concern « nuclear-news).

South Australia’s nuclear dump plan – fool’s gold? – senior Liberal MP « Antinuclear

GR:  There are so many problems with nuclear power.  Efforts should be directed toward nonpolluting renewable energy sources.

“SA nuclear dump dreams just fool’s gold: senior Lib, The Australian, Sept. 29, 2016, by Michael Owen senior Liberal has broken ranks in what had been a bipart­isan approach to inquire into the potential for South Australia to host a repository for the world’s high-level nuclear waste, warning that taxpayers risked wasting money “on fool’s gold”.”

“Rob Lucas, a former state treasurer and the opposition’s Treasury spokesman, told ­parliament that intense political pressures would make it near ­impossible for there to be the ­required bipartisan support at both federal and state level for the necessary legislative changes to allow such a facility.”  Read the article at:  South Australia’s nuclear dump plan – fool’s gold? – senior Liberal MP « Antinuclear

Nuclear Citizens Jury South Australia Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26

The first Jury of 50 South Australians has now been randomly selected with representatives from far and wide across the state ranging in age from 18 to over 65. The jurors will meet for the first time in Adelaide next Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26 for a weekend of deliberations.

South Australians will have the chance to sit in and watch first-hand the deliberations and workings of a Citizens’ Jury. Ten randomly selected people will be able to attend selected sessions of over both upcoming Jury weekends.  Continue reading:  Nuclear Citizens Jury South Australia Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26 « Antinuclear