Global warming and nuclear power

Global warming and nuclear power:
A sober approach is needed to deal with the consequences of a natural phenomenon
JUN 28, 2017

Global warming seems to have become the excuse for everything unusual in the weather. If it rains that is because of global warming. If it does not rain that is because of global warming. And not so long ago global cooling was a major concern.

No one can deny that global warming is occurring now — the retreat of the glaciers is one obvious proof. And that an increase in coal/hydrocarbon emissions is the likely cause. But some of the experts also point to changes in sea currents. One theory even claims the melt water from the Arctic could block the Gulf Stream and send much of northern Europe back to another ice age. Only a change in the El Nino current in the Pacific Ocean can explain the recent torrential downpours in Pacific coast Latin America, though the current change could be due to ocean water heating.

Certainly something unusual must have happened to the ocean currents to create the Little Ice Age of the 17th and 18th century. Something even more unusual must have happened in past ages to allow elephants to roam the jungles of Scotland. Climate changes were occurring long before the steam engine and the automobile.

Then there is the argument put forward by Russian scientist Yuliya Latynina, namely that back in geologic times (the Devonian era especially) the world’s atmosphere carried much higher levels of carbon than now (which is why jungles flourished in Scotland). That carbon was soaked up by the jungles to create the coal and oil deposits which we are slowly burning off now as we return to an older norm.

That does not make life easier for those of us today suffering from excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But it does help make us realize we are looking at a natural phenomenon, and not something devised by the devil.

The pluses of a warmer planet

In any case we need to be more sober about the consequences. Much of the warming debate seems focused on the potential damage from flooding in coastal areas as the sea level rises, in the Pacific islands especially. But there could be warming pluses as well — the potential for enormous agricultural gains to Canada, northern Europe and Russia, and not just the fact they can now grow wine-producing grapes in England.

According to the Financial Times: “Russia is about to become the world’s biggest wheat exporter for the first time. The country is forecast to overtake other contenders with exports of 30 million tons thanks to a bumper harvest. The EU, last year’s leader, has fallen off the perch hit by a sharp decline in French production, while the United States has seen its position eroded over the past few years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.” And: “Russian agriculture sector flourishes amid sanctions.”

Imagine how much of the global food shortage, and the sanctions impost, would be overcome if this enormous area would continue to increase grain and dairy production. That gain exceeds any amount of loss of coconut production in Pacific islands threatened by rising sea levels.

The alarmist global-warming literature used to make much of the claims that the melting of the Siberian permafrost bogs would release great amounts of methane into the atmosphere. That may still be a problem. But is it better for mankind if those bogs remain there forever? Besides, I also find a grudging counterargument in the literature — that the return of these areas to permanent pasture may cut methane emissions.

Other arguments say warming will reduce the life of the ice roads in northern Canada, or that the melting of the permafrost will move foundations, cut pipelines, etc. But that is not the end of the world. The Canadians can build all-weather roads. In Irkutsk they manage to survive in buildings tilting five or more degrees. In Holland they spend much of their lives below sea level.

Rather than the evils of global warming the debate should focus on how to supply the world’s energy needs without polluting the atmosphere. For a long time the emphasis was on nuclear energy, and rightly. It is the ideal nonpolluting energy source. The Chinese and the French seem able to expand their nuclear energy supply without problems — the French to the point where they are important suppliers to nuclear allergic nations, Germany especially. Where there have been accidents, they seem due mainly to gross human error — precisely in the nations prone to such errors, Japan, the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. Surely that is something that can be avoided, in Japan especially.

Nuclear power yes, Japan no

Prior to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I spent several years on Japan’s various nuclear safety commissions and groups. The technical ability of the industry was beyond doubt. What worried me constantly was the inability — cultural it seemed — to engage in contingency planning. As one official close to the industry put it, if you think of hypothetical accidents, you will encourage them to occur. Bad karma.

In the wake of Fukushima we are discovering that there were warnings of a devastating tsunami. The people in charge just ignored them. More bad karma?

But the anti-contingency allergy went beyond tsunami. A still largely ignored Fukushima factor was that the highly predictable earthquake induced the collapse of pylons bringing in emergency electricity from outside. Even the much praised Onagawa plant close to the epicenter only survived because one of its six pylons remained intact.

The other destructive cultural factor I saw close up was the refusal to allow contrary opinions. The anti-nuclear people in Japan include some with expertise. To have allowed them free access to all nuclear plants (as I proposed) would almost certainly have led to warning bells about electricity-supply dangers. But they were seen as the enemy. My ideas about treating them as possible advisers were dismissed out of hand. It was Japanese factionalism at its worst. Ditto for my advice that the industry should encourage whistleblowers.

Nor were they very interested in efforts to tell them that the problem-plagued and highly expensive efforts to reprocess and use spent nuclear fuel (Rokkasho, Monju) were also unnecessary. They just repeated the mantra that the world was about to run out of uranium. Nor were they impressed when I told them how on Canberra’s Cabinet resource committee I had discovered that Australia had so much uranium that it was restricting exploration for fear of flooding world markets and collapsing prices. The bureaucrats were determined to turn Japan into a world nuclear power and that was that.

Later I was to find the same hubris when I was appointed to the commission to have the world locate in Japan its first fusion- power experiment plant, even through France was the obvious choice.

Whether nuclear fission or fusion power, both should be no-nos in a nation like Japan where it is so easy for bureaucratic sludge rather than technical expertise to rise to the top in any organization under state control. I have seen the same during my long years in Japan’s education industry.

Fortunately, for Japan at least, pure economics are now moving the sustainable energy debate away from nuclear to solar, geothermal and even wind-based sources. Solar has the added advantage of providing a use for Japan’s abandoned farm land. Or so you would think. But sure enough the farm bureaucrats are in there still telling us they have to maintain the land use restrictions imposed back in the days when Japan was supposed to be running out of farmland. It never ends.

False claims and false flag stories
Western governments and media are free to say whatever they like, no matter how phoney
JUL 9, 2017

I was brought up in a world where the “other side” — the Soviet Union mainly — lied through its teeth. When it said “liberation” it meant “oppression.” That its national newspaper was called Pravda (Truth) was seen as a sick joke.

But now it seems all this has been turned into reverse. Over Syria, Russia, the Balkans or any other global hot spot, Western governments and mainstream media seem free to say whatever they like, no matter how phony or false. Increasingly we are having to rely on the “other side” to tell us the truth.

It is claimed, for example, that on April 4 the Syrian government made a sarin gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. This alleged atrocity was then used to justify the April 6 U.S. cruise missile strike on the al-Shayat air base in western Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump gained a big bump in his ratings as a result. Well-known commentator Fareed Zakaria, speaking on CNN, praised the bombing and said he could now see Trump as the president of the United States.

Seymour Hersh’s Syria scoop

But on June 25 the German daily Die Welt published an article by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh which claimed there was no deliberate Syrian gas attack on civilians and that this was known to U.S. military and intelligence organs before the missile strike was ordered.

Hersh adds: “The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives”

He continues: “Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian air force operations in the region.”

Again relying on U.S. intelligence sources, he says that the target of the 500-pound (227 kg) bomb attack was a command and control center for jihadis who used its basement to store rockets, weapons and ammunition together with chlorine, fertilizers and insecticides. This triggered explosions that caused a huge toxic cloud to spread over the town.

Hersh has a reputation for thorough and accurate expose research — the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, the Abu Ghraib prison atrocities in Iraq and other inconvenient details of U.S. military involvements. Yet the U.S. and British media refused any mention of his latest report, forcing him to rely on a German newspaper to get his story out.

Common sense says the likelihood that Damascus would invite a vicious U.S. “red line” attack by deliberately gassing civilians in hostile territory is so remote as to be close to ludicrous. Any attack would have had to be a false flag operation by rebels hoping to push the blame onto Damascus. The same was probably true for the claimed 2013 sarin gas attack on rebel areas in Syria over which U.S. President Barack Obama had declared a red line that would lead to U.S. retaliation. (In the end he did not retaliate but demanded Damascus give up all its chemical weapons, which it seems to have done).

Adding yet another insult to our intelligence the U.S. then claimed it had “identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children.” If Syrian President Bashar Assad “conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons,” the U.S. statement continued, “he and his military will pay a heavy price.” This was followed by an even more ominous threat from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who added: “The goal is at this point not just to send Assad a message, but to send Russia and Iran a message. … That if this happens again, we are putting you on notice.”

No hint was provided as the basis for these most unlikely Syrian “potential preparations” that ultimately could justify an attack on Russia. But once again the U.S. media served it up as if it was real.

The Hersh article did at least get to see the light of day, unlike the investigation report by Scot Ritter, the weapons inspector in Iraq who blew the whistle on the phony weapons of mass destruction (WND) claims and is now the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW. After seeing the evidence produced to back up claims of the April 4 Syrian sarin gas attack, he concluded that in “the desire for regime change in Damascus” the claims were faked “to serve the narrow-minded self interests of a few governments” (the U.S., United Kingdom, France and Turkey). His take on the situation can be found here.

Long history of false flag ops

The April 4 incident is just the last in a long list of false flag or false claim incidents used to justify the aggressive use of U.S. power. They began back in 1960 with Operation Mongoose in Cuba, the faked 1964 Tonkin Gulf incident of the coast of Vietnam, claimed WMD in Iraq and now what we see in Syria. We also see the easily refutable campaigns to demonize alleged enemies, Russia especially. For example, over alleged Russian aggression in the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine we need only read the text of the 2015 Minsk Agreement seeking to end the dispute to see that continued hostilities are entirely the responsibility of a Ukraine that still refuses the constitutional amendments to give the area promised autonomy. But you will not see anything about this in the biased U.S. media, which loses no opportunity to carry on about “Russian aggression.”

Equally alarming is the way the biased U.S. media now accuse the foreign media seeking to correct these falsehoods as biased and deserving of suppression, the RT (Russia Today) channel especially. I am asked sometimes to appear on RT news programs. I find its staff well-prepared and objective. Its commentaries are very fair, if only for the reason that many of them are made by former U.S. intelligence operatives. Yet it is now being demonized by the very U.S. media that on the basis of little concrete evidence now go overboard to accuse Moscow of rigging U.S. elections when if there is any rigging it is the manipulation of electorate boundaries by state, mainly Republican, governments. The efforts to demonize an intelligent, slightly immature, Western-oriented, highly religious Russian leader called Vladimir Putin are childish. It won’t be long before our anti-Moscow critics see something sinister in the fact the Russians communicate with each other in Russian and use a mysterious Cyrillic script.