Fukushima: Scientists detect Fukushima radiation on North American shores”

ENENews

Journal, Apr 6, 2015: BREAKING NEWS Scientists detect Fukushima radiation on North American shores — Seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has reached North America… cesium-134 and cesium-137 in a sample of seawater taken in February from a dock on Vancouver Island… It’s the first time radioactivity from the March 2011 triple meltdown has been identified on West Coast shores [see: April 2011 — California seawater squeezed from kelp sample had 400,000 Bq/m3 of Iodine-131]… sample was taken Feb. 19… It contained 1.5 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3) of cesium-134, the Fukushima fingerprint, and 5 Bq/m3 of cesium-137 [actually 1.4 and 5.8, respectively]… Fukushima radiation concernscoastal communities… models have predicted that in general, the plume would hit the shore in the north first, then head south toward California… currents can be unpredictable… Woods Hole has received support from the National Science Foundation to analyze about 250 seawater samples that will be collected next month…

CTVNews, Apr 6, 2015: First low-level trace of Fukushima radioactivity detected off B.C. — But the levels are so low they are likely of little concern… Still, researchers say this is the first detectable of radioactivity from Fukushima found in a water sample taken from the U.S. and Canadian West Coast… Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at WHOI who has been measuring radioactivity in Pacific seawater since 2011, says it’s been important to carefully monitor the oceans, given that the Fukushima disaster saw the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history.

Buesseler’s statement: “Even if the levels were twice as high, you could still swim in the ocean for six hours every day for a year and receive a dose more than a thousand times less than a single dental X-ray. While that’s not zero, that’s a very low risk.. We expect more of the sites will show detectable levels… Predicting the spread of radiation becomes more complex the closer it gets.”

CBC Radio, March 2015: Four years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, scientists like UVic’s Jay Cullen are still monitoring the Pacific waters near us for radiation. Listen to what he’s found and what he hasn’tCullen: “If we see cesium-134 in a water sample or a fish for example we know that that’s been affected by the Fukushima disaster… Not only is cesium a marker for other isotopes that were released… it also represents a potential radiological health risk because if its internalized… it can damage our cells and cause illness. So the risk of illness appearing in individuals relates to the activity, how much of that isotope ends up in their body. Given the nature of this disaster, with most of the isotopes going into the North Pacific Ocean, the most likely way that a human being would be exposed to this radioactivity at this point would be through the consumption of seafood.” >> Full interview here

Watch Woods Hole’s latest projection of Fukushima Cs-137 levels through 2021 here

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‘People vs. Shell’: High Seas Protest as Greenpeace Boards Arctic-Bound Ship

U.S. Department of Interior has approved Shell’s drilling lease for the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic, but the international green group has vowed to escalate its opposition

Six Greenpeace climbers have intercepted an Arctic-bound Shell oil rig in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 750 miles north-west of Hawaii and have scaled the enormous ship. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo/Greenpeace)

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a team of Greenpeace activists has boarded an Arctic-bound drilling vessel owned by the Shell oil company.

“I’m just one voice out here, but I know I’m not alone, and millions if not billions of voices demanding the right to safe and healthy lives will have a huge chance of changing things.” —Johno SmithApproximately 750 miles north-west of Hawaii, the team of six campaigners intercepted the ship—which they’ve been tracking across the Pacific since last month—and scaled the 38,000 ton drilling platform which is being hauled by a larger transportation vessel. According to Greenpeace, its campaigners will set up camp on the underside of the rig’s main deck and are equipped with supplies to last for several days and technology which will allow them to communicate with supporters around the world in real-time, despite being hundreds of miles from land.

The group is using the hastag #TheCrossing to post photos and live updates from the rig:

Named the Polar Pioneer, the Shell drilling rig is destined for the Chukchi Sea, off the coast of Alaska, where the company—despite the enormous risks posed to the fragile region and the global outcry calling for a ban on Arctic drilling—intends to begin exploratory drilling later this year. According to Greenpeace, its international team of activists—including campaigners from the USA, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and Austria—landed on the larger ship transporting the Polar Pioneer, the 700-foot long heavy-lift vessel called the Blue Marlin, using inflatable boats launched from the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, which has been following the 400 foot vessel for weeks.

Aliyah Field, one of the six, tweeted from the Polar Pioneer: “We made it! We’re on Shell’s platform. And we’re not alone. Everyone can help turn this into a platform for people power! #TheCrossing.”

Johno Smith from New Zealand, another one of the six, said: “We’re here to highlight that in less than 100 days Shell is going to the Arctic to drill for oil. This pristine environment needs protecting for future generations and all life that will call it home. But instead Shell’s actions are exploiting the melting ice to increase a man-made disaster. Climate change is real and already inflicting pain and suffering on my brothers and sisters in the Pacific.”

The group, according to a statement, has plans to hang a banner from the ship that includes millions of names from people around the world who have signed onto petitions objecting to oil or gas drilling in the Arctic.

As Smith continued, “I believe that shining a light on what Shell is doing will encourage more people to take a strong stand against them and other companies who are seeking to destroy this planet for profit. I’m just one voice out here, but I know I’m not alone, and millions if not billions of voices demanding the right to safe and healthy lives will have a huge chance of changing things.”

Shell spokesperson Kelly op de Weegh, in a statement, called the boarding of its ship by Greenpeace “illegal” and said that “these stunts” would not “distract from preparations underway” to begin its  drilling operations in the Arctic, which she described as a “safe and responsible exploration program.”

In recent weeks, a decision by the Obama administration to give final approval for Shell to resume its drilling operations in the waters off the Alaskan coast was met by a chorus of outrage and criticism by Greenpeace and other experts who say there is no such thing as safely drilling in the Arctic.

“It is unconscionable that the federal government is willing to risk the health and safety of the people and wildlife that live near and within the Chukchi Sea for Shell’s reckless pursuit of oil,” said Marissa Knodel, a climate campaigner with Friends of the Earth, at the time. “Shell’s dismal record of safety violations and accidents, coupled with the inability to clean up or contain an oil spill in the remote, dangerous Arctic waters, equals a disaster waiting to happen.”

Netanyahu Slips, Reveals Reason for Opposition to Iran Deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appearing on CNN on April 5, 2015. (Image: CNN)

US television news isn’t very good and it has clearly gotten worse over the past 20 years. In the aftermath of the Kerry-Zarif initial framework deal on nuclear energy in Iran, it seems obvious that an interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would be newsworthy. But to my knowledge none of the networks or major cable news shows had him on.

Or you could have talked to the British, French, German, Russian or Chinese foreign ministers, all of whom were principals and all of whom would have had interesting insights.

Instead, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was given repeated access to millions of Americans to talk trash about the deal over the weekend and to make mostly false allegations about its contours. Israel is a small country of 8 million with a gross domestic product in the range of Portugal. Netanyahu isn’t a party to the deal. He doesn’t have more riding on it than Britain or France. Israel isn’t even threatened by Iran, since Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons and submarines to deliver them. Iran has only old, conventional weapons. Even if it someday had a nuclear weapon, which its leaders say would be un-Islamic and that they don’t want it, Israel has a powerful deterrent.

So what is really going on? Netanyahu let it slip in an interview on CNN’s State of the Unionon Sunday:

“Secondly, Iran is going to have sanctions lifted, including crippling sanctions, pretty much up front. And that’s going to have billions and billions of dollars flow into the Iranian coffers, not for schools or hospitals or roads, but to pump up Iran’s terror machine throughout the world.

And it’s a military machine that’s now engaged in conquest throughout the world in Iraq and Syria and Yemen, around the borders of Israel elsewhere.”

Watch:

In other words, Netanyahu wants to keep Iran poor and undeveloped. He wants to make sure that “crippling” sanctions aren’t lifted. He wants to keep Iranians in grinding poverty.

Is it true that the Iranian state would not spend the money that it garnered through a lifting of sanctions on schools or hospitals?

Look, I am no fan of the Islamic Republic or its system of government or its censorship and authoritarianism. But let us say that Netanyahu, in standing for permanent military rule over 4 million stateless Palestinians, and in launching disproportionate military campaigns with disregard for non-combatant life, is not obviously superior.

And, as far as social spending goes, Iran is in principal as progressive as Israel, though not as rich per capita. The Iranian state has built enormous numbers of schools since 1979, especially in rural areas, and [pdf] has brought literacy among the over-15 populationfrom 65% in 1990 to 90% today. In the 15-25 age group, literacy is fully 98% and there are nearly 4 million university students. Iran has done better in educating its women than most other Middle Eastern countries, and a majority of Iranian college students is women.

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Literacy rates were low in the 1970s and relatively few Iranians went to university then. You can’t produce an impressive change in literacy that way without investing substantially in schools.

The crippling sanctions on Iran that make Netanyahu’s mouth water so much have badly hurt the 60,000 Iranian students studying abroad, making it difficult for them to transfer money and causing the value of the riyal to plummet. Those students are not politicians and ought not to have their futures held hostage to geopolitics.

As for health care, Iran has universal health care, unlike the USA, and it is mandated in the Iranian constitution. The Islamic Republic has spent substantial sums making it more available to the population, including in previously neglected rural areas. Crippling sanctions over the long term would certainly pose severe health risks to ordinary Iranians.

So it simply is not true that the Iranian state does not spend on schools and hospitals, as Netanyahu alleged. His purpose in making this false claim is to deflect an obvious critique of “crippling” sanctions, which is that they harm ordinary people, not just the state.

His allegation that an Iranian commander pledged to destroy Israel is unlikely to be true. The Iranian leadership doesn’t like Israel, but they have a no first strike policy and don’t have the slightest intention of attacking anyone with conventional military forces. Iran is too far away to attack Israel and it would be madness to strike at a nuclear power. Typically Iranians say things like “the Occupation regime must end,” and people like Netanyahu interpret that to be a threat to roll tanks (Iran has actually made no such threats, whatever you have been told).

As for his charge that Iran is using its oil money to spread terrorism or conquer the Middle East, this claim is mostly also for the most part not true. Netanyahu counts a national liberation organization that fought Israeli occupation such as Lebanon’s Hizbullah as a “terrorist organization.” What he really means is that it interfered with Israel annexing 10% of its neighbor Lebanon’s territory (which it held 1982-2000). He counts Iran’s help to Iraq in fighting Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) as a “conquest” of Iraq! in all this verbiage, the major legitimate knock against Iran with regard to its foreign activities is that Iran has helped the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to survive, something it has done through odious practices such as barrel-bombing its own population. But Netanyahu doesn’t even say anything about that except to complain that Iran is active near Israeli borders with Syria.

“Crippling” sanctions haven’t in any case stopped Iran from arming Hizbullah and there is no reason to think they ever will. Moreover, given the weakness of the Lebanese military, someone needs to keep the Israelis from trying to annex Lebanese territory again.

Netanyahu has showed his hand. He wants to use the USA and the Treasury Department to sanction Iran into penury, to keep its middle classes small and shrinking and to cut people’s income, education and health care. He wants a total war on Iran, including on Iranian women, children and non-combatants. It isn’t a plausible aspiration, and it isn’t a worthy one.

Canada Faces 70 Percent Glacier Loss by 2100

New report finds glacier loss could have profound impact on natural ecosystems and access to drinking water

The Athabasca Glacier in Alberta is one of 17,000 glaciers which face a loss of 70 percent by 2100, according to a new report. (Photo:Steve Dunleavy/flickr/cc)

Canadian glaciers may shrink by 70 percent by the end of the century, a development which could have devastating environmental effects, according to a new report published Monday in Nature Geoscience.

The report, titled Projected Deglaciation of Western Canada in the Twenty-First Century, used digital models of current glaciers and the physics of ice flow, measured against predictions of long-term global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to predict how rising greenhouse gases will affect glaciers in that region.

As the New York Times explains, “glaciers in Western Canada will shrink to less than 10 percent of the area they covered in 2005, and glaciers in the coastal regions will be reduced to about 30 percent of their 2005 size.”

In the drier interior of the Rocky Mountains, up to 90 percent of the glaciers could be lost. Western Canada is home to more than 17,000 glaciers.

“Few glaciers will remain in the Interior and Rockies regions, but maritime glaciers, in particular those in northwestern British Columbia, will survive in a diminished state,” the report states. “Our projected changes of ice cover in western Canada have broader ramifications for aquatic ecosystems, agriculture, forestry, alpine tourism, water quality and resource development.”

The loss of glaciers is a major contributing factor to rising sea levels and could also have a profound effect on the survival rates of aquatic animals and the quality and supply of potable water, the researchers state.

“These glaciers act as a thermostat for freshwater ecosystems,” lead author and University of British Columbia professor emeritus Garry Clarke said in a press release Monday. “Once the glaciers are gone, the streams will be a lot warmer and this will hugely change fresh water habitat. We could see some unpleasant surprises in terms of salmon productivity.”

Clarke told the Times, “The glaciers don’t respond to weather; they respond to climate. Last year’s bad winter is not going to save the glaciers. On average, climate is changing, and it’s not changing in ways that are good for glacier survival. And it’s not good for a lot of other things, including California water.”

What’s more, the report’s findings are “a conservative scenario,” Clarke told theWashington Post on Tuesday. “All the others [models] lead to total loss of ice in the mountains there.”

Andreas Vieli, corresponding author and a professor of geography at the University of Zurich, said the report’s analysis could “potentially be applied to a wide range of glacierized regions” around the world.

Clarke highlighted the importance of reducing humanity’s carbon footprint to battle the lasting effects of climate change, on the glaciers and elsewhere.

“We have to have a peak occur in the mid-2040s so carbon dioxide is on downward path hereafter,” Clarke told the Post. “We don’t have a lot of time to get there.”