Tag Archive | "United States"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Will the Paris Climate Meeting Make a Difference?

Posted on 24 November 2015 by Jerry

We know this September was the hottest it has been since the year 1880 and that 2015 promises to be the hottest year on record. We also know that the World Meteorological Organization has said that 2016 will be the first year when the carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere will average over 400ppm (parts per million). We have measured the 2015 ozone hole over Antarctica and know that it is the third largest ever observed. It is only eclipsed by holes in the years 2000 and 2006.

We know that planning for the climate change conference in Paris the nations of the world have committed to an amount of greenhouse gas emissions that go over the two degree Celsius limit. The two degree Celsius limit is believed necessary to keep the world’s average temperature at a safe level. They have committed to 2.7° C. The commitments now in hand converted to Fahrenheit are a 4.9° increase and are insufficient.

As a world, at the end of 2015, we will pass the average of one degree Celsius (or 1.8°F) warmer temperature measured since pre-industrial times. This places us as halfway to the 2°C level so frequently talked about.

Even while missing the two degree Celsius limit, cynics point out a number of reservations about the commitments. They first object that the commitments are not real. They were designed to solve other problems as a matter of expedience. These commitments are being repurposed to be for climate change.

The biggest case in point is the commitment from China. They claim the smog over Peking had become so bad the reduction they are committing to is really to eliminate smog in Peking. They point out that China has not cut back on its plans for additional coal fired power plants. They state that getting electricity for the entire country is their primary objective and they will not let this year’s commitment get in the way.

The cynics point out that commitments that span decades can easily be changed along the way. While optimists believe the freedom to change them means they will increase the commitments and achieve their goals earlier, the naysayers suggest they will only weaken commitments as the years pass. Critics say we cannot wait long enough to see because it will be too late to stop an additional rise in heat.

The final big criticism is that many of the commitments that have been made are conditional upon assistance the developed countries will provide to underdeveloped nations. Fully 25% of the world’s commitments are tied to receiving aide from developed nations. The underdeveloped nations are saying they will reduce their greenhouse pollution to a certain level if they receive a certain amount of help from a fund established by developed countries.

So far the potential donor nations must live up to providing the $100 billion per year by 2020 in climate financing to which they have committed. Unfortunately, in lots of areas nations are behind in living up to their commitments to fund various efforts. For example, the Congress of the U.S. for years was late in funding the United Nations.

A gross example is India that has committed to reduce its carbon intensity per unit of gross domestic product by 33% – 35% by 2030 compared to its levels of intensity shown in 2005. This is tied to its commitment to source 40% of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources consisting largely of renewables and other low-carbon sources by 2030. This commitment will be achieved after it receives $2.5 trillion from the developed countries over the next 15 years. This $2.5 trillion is their estimate of the amount of money they will have to spend to change their energy infrastructure and plans in order to hit their targets.

So the biggest question that remains is “Is there still time?” This is the most difficult question we have. If you look at our average temperature rise we are halfway to our two degree Celsius limit. Should we be looking to the Paris conference to settle all issues or should we be looking at more decades of questioning?

The answer will probably be that there will be more questioning. There are reasons however to be hopeful. We may be seeing tipping points that are good news and should give us optimism that people will do the right thing to save our planet over the long haul ahead.

The Pew Research Center released its November 2015 World Survey of 40 countries (45,435 respondents) that shows a clear majority response to the question ‘Do you support or oppose your country limiting its greenhouse gas emissions as part of an agreement at the 2015 Paris conference?’ All nations of the world (except Pakistan) responded with their majority support for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. The majorities were not small across the countries. Most were greater than 65%. Only Poland, Turkey, Palestinian territory, Indonesia, and South Africa had majorities less that 65%.

In addition, in order to reduce the ozone hole, countries that were parties to the Montreal Protocol of 1987 agreed to take under management the reduction of substitutes for CFCs or hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are ozone friendly replacements that are used as refrigerants. Unfortunately, many of the HFC replacements are also very powerful greenhouse gases.

The use of these powerful greenhouse gases has risen as the world replaces the ozone killing CFCs with HFCs. The agreement of the Montreal Protocol countries to extend their management to include HFCs is a boon to fighting climate change. This is in addition to continuing their efforts to reduce the ozone hole. So far these countries have proven effective and tireless at attempting to shrink the ozone hole.

In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it has adopted new rules for the use and management of HFCs. The Department of Defense also has announced plans to use alternate chemicals at some facilities and on its ships. Both of these efforts will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

There is also a report that President Obama has 81 U.S. large companies that have signed a pledge committing at least $180 billion to fight climate change. These companies include Intel, Johnson and Johnson, The Hershey Company, Levi Strauss, Nike, and Siemens.

These are all encouraging events that we hope are positive tipping points that indicate more progress in the future. Where human beings are involved, there will always be a good chance that we will do what is right. No matter what happens at the 2015 Paris Climate conference there are hopeful developments that indicate trends that should increase our optimism. We must continue our pressure to make progress on climate change. We cannot afford to give ground and must succeed if we want planet Earth to be a livable habitat.

Use the following links to obtain more information or see the original source documents used to prepare this article.

http://www.nature.com/news/the-week-in-science-30-october-5-november-2015-1.18711 (scroll to second item)

https://www.wmo.int/media/content/large-antarctic-ozone-hole-observed

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/us/climate-change-us-obama/index.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/14/un-climate-change-summit-paris-planet-future-balance-science

http://www.livescience.com/10325-living-warmer-2-degrees-change-earth.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/141001-two-degrees-global-warming-climate-science/

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-negative-carbon-dioxide-atmosphere.html

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/09/worlds-climate-about-to-enter-uncharted-territory-as-it-passes-1c-of-warming

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34763036

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/global-warming-passes-1-degree-mark-as-el-nino-builds-20151109-gkutqc

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=86869

http://www.nature.com/news/combined-climate-pledges-of-146-nations-fall-short-of-2-c-target-1.18693

http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/11/05/global-concern-about-climate-change-broad-support-for-limiting-emissions/ (access pdf of entire report)

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/03/indias-climate-pledge-critically-important-says-un-climate-chief

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/02/india-pledges-40-percent-electricity-renewables-2030

http://www.bna.com/indias-global-climate-n57982059082/

http://www.nature.com/news/india-unveils-climate-change-pledge-ahead-of-global-talks-1.18489

http://www.indiagazette.com/index.php/sid/237774359

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

We Must Practice Real Relief for Refugees

Posted on 29 August 2015 by Jerry

We can use 2015 as a test of the world’s ability and willingness to help millions of refugees as we practice our preparation for displacement due to global warming. So far the world has failed to satisfactorily resettle and accept the displaced millions from the wars in Syria, Afghanistan and numerous other abandoned homelands.

United Nation’s statistics from the end of 2014 pegged the level of the world’s refugees at 59.5 million people. Of these 19.5 million were refugees that have actually left their home countries, 38.2 million who have been displaced from their homes and 1.8 million that have formally applied for asylum in another country.

The displaced Syrian citizens represent some 7.6 million people. This total is how many people and families have lost their homes.   At least 4.3 million of the 7.6 million were forced to leave the country as refugees.

A July 2015 article in the Guardian identifies “Turkey is now the largest refugee-hosting country in the world, sheltering 1,805,255 Syrians. Lebanon has taken in 1,172,735 Syrian refugees, Jordan 629,128, Iraq 249,726 and Egypt 132,375. About 24,055 Syrians are refugees elsewhere in North Africa. The latest UN figures do not include the more than 270,000 Syrians applying for asylum in Europe.”

We have forced the neighboring countries to keep their borders open.   They provide temporary shelter and sustenance for these refugees.  This allows everyone to avoid opening their doors and actually helping these people resettle in other countries. Various articles have identified limitations placed on refugees who are largely being held in refugee camps set up in the various counties.

For example, because Turkey offers sanctuary but no permanent residency all refugees cannot work legally in Turkey. In the EU there is a “Dublin” agreement that all asylum seekers must remain in their country of entry into the E.U.  This causes Italy, Greece and Bulgaria to complain about their status as the countries of entry and has caused much criticism of their treatment of asylum seekers.

Many who cross lightly protected or patrolled country borders to go onward to more prosperous European Union countries complain of repeatedly being “pushed back” into Turkey. These refugees have been caught by police and have been returned to Turkey. This has most often happened at the hands of Bulgarian border guards.

This issue is fluid and very topical at this moment because of the flood of refugees coming out of Syria and looking for access and safe passage to various countries in the E.U. Violence has erupted in Germany because the country expects to accept and resettle some 800,000 refugees this year.   This has proven to be very controversial amongst Germany’s citizens.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was heckled in the town of Heidenau, Germany.  She said that xenophobia would not be tolerated.  Merkel was quoted as saying in a speech to the crowd, “There is no tolerance for those who are not willing to help where legal and human help is required.  The more people who make that clear…the stronger we will be.”

Her speech did not silence the Prime Minister of Serbia who has said he will not close the borders of his country to refugees.  Many are crossing through Serbia to Hungary where they can enter the EU if they get past the fence that Hungary is building along its border.  Prime Minister Alexander Vucic of Serbia stated, “What we want to hear tomorrow from Chancellor Merkel…from Frederica Mogherini…is what is the plan?”  Merkel and Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, are meeting soon in Vienna at a conference of Balkan leaders.

Some countries point to the money they have sent to help the refugee camps being set up by the neighbors of Syria. This is most common in countries that refuse to take the actual refugees as new citizens.

The most representative examples of this are the United Kingdom and the United States. The United Kingdom has maintained a policy of keeping its borders closed to refugees seeking asylum. It keeps pointing to the over £500 million pounds it has sent to the region.

The U.S. has just announced, as reported by the National Public Radio, that it will allow 5,000 to 8,000 Syrian refugees to resettle in the U.S. in 2016. It has repeatedly mentioned the over $4 billion in humanitarian aid it has sent to aid refugee resettlement. These pronouncements are meant to shift the focus away from the less than 1,000 Syrians it has accepted this year. The U.N. has identified the resettlement of refugees in the U.S. in 2014 as 73,000 people. Most of these refugees did not come from Syria but were rather from Afghanistan.

All nations of the world should be using this exodus to test the resettlement procedures they plan to use when global warming results in the displacement of many more citizens. We should be putting expectations on countries that will need additional citizens to cope with favorable weather conditions that will cause their countries to prosper.

Many of these countries are not under any pressure to accept today’s refugees and they should be. Where are Canada and the Soviet Union? How may refugees have been resettled in their territories? The money presently being spent by the U.S., U.K., and others to give temporary shelter and sustenance to refugees in camps is being wasted when it could be spent to offer refugees what they are seeking.

Resettlement could be offered to those who agree to work on public projects to build new infrastructure in their adopted countries. Countries of the world should cooperate to rebuild, or in some cases build for the first time, infrastructure for their citizens. This infrastructure could help them cope with the negative results of global warming. Countries that do not want to accept immigrants should pay others for resettlement.

At the same time these people should be trained to assume a productive job when their work on public works projects is completed. These people want a new place to settle that offers them meaningful employment and the training necessary to support their new future in their adopted countries. This is what we should be spending our dollars on rather than temporary shelter that has to be paid for year in and year out.

Frankly, no country should want to keep refugees out of their sight. This only enables them to ignore the problem. Refugees cannot be ignored when hundred of millions, yes I said hundreds of millions, migrate to areas of the world to escape climate change and just to stay alive. There will not be enough money in the world to keep the problem contained.

Present estimates of country commitments to contain climate change still allow the world’s temperature to climb between three and four degrees. This will force hundreds of millions to flee the large desert areas that will be created in southern Europe.

I cannot imagine a world in which citizens will find acceptable the total numbers of deaths from starvation just beyond their closed borders. I am hoping that today’s handling of their devastation is not indicative of the help the world will offer. I expect countries will change leadership until they have leaders who are willing to play a larger role on the world stage. In short, I am an optimist who believes we will not let our fellow man down in their hour of greatest need.

If we continue to refuse to control climate change, we must prepare to accept millions of fleeing human beings. They will be the refugees of tomorrow testing the methods, practices and statements of intent we implement and give evidence of today.

Use the following links to obtain more information on this topic or access the source documents used to write this article.

http://news.yahoo.com/migrants-head-north-hungary-decries-humiliating-eu-policy-112329065.html

http://news.yahoo.com/hungarian-government-discussed-using-army-help-handle-migrants-071801926.html

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jul/09/syria-refugees-4-million-people-flee-crisis-deepens

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/13/syrian-refugee-catastrophe-european-union-united-nations

http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

http://syrianrefugees.eu/

http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/lebanon/syria-refugee-in-lebanon-sets-herself-on-fire-at-un-centre-witnesses-1.1308797

http://borgenproject.org/worlds-top-5-largest-refugee-populations/

 

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Politics & Pope Speak to Failure of Climate Efforts

Posted on 28 June 2015 by Jerry

The fact that greater promises came from the G7 countries (without specifics) and pointed religious pleas from the Pope are at the forefront of our news show we are running out of time.  These pronouncements indicate the growing fear of the world’s leaders that not enough is being done to respond to climate change.  It marks an effort by those concerned about the rising temperatures of the world to drown out the climate deniers who have so far successfully blocked meaningful progress to limit the use of fossil fuels.

In rapid-fire succession on June 8, 2015 the G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States) agreed and announced a target of reducing greenhouse emissions to 70% of 2010 levels by 2050 to help the world achieve its climate goals.  In a very short number of days, on June 18, 2015, the Pope released his climate change “Encyclical”, a wide-ranging document that called for immediate progress on Climate Change.

It is easy to be critical of both efforts, those of the G7 and the Pope.  The G7 objective can be criticized as not as ambitious as it sounds.  Both the United States and the United Kingdom have already announced cuts that would be bigger.  The United States committed to an 83% cut of greenhouse gas emissions based on 2005 levels by 2050 and the U.K. has said it will reduce emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by mid century.

This criticism ignores that the G7 objective commits Japan and Canada to major cuts.  Both countries have been identified as laggards and have here-to-fore not lined up to fight climate change.  This agreement at least gets both countries committed to progress in controlling global warming.

Detractors further cited the International Energy Agency (IEA) that recently stated the present agreement only provides the planet another 8 months of runway compared to projected increases in the absence of these reductions.  The IEA observed that the present commitments will only keep the world’s temperature under the 2° C objective until approximately 2040 when it will continue rising.  Unless further progress is made, the world’s temperature is estimated to rise to a minimum of 2.6° C.

The Pope’s climate change Encyclical can be criticized by detractors as taking the Catholic Church into an issue that is primarily political and not religious.   It can also be said to be an opportunistic move to attack capitalism’s profit motive, a rich country refusal to help the world’s poor and various plans for cap and trade systems.

These criticisms aside, the Pope’s Encyclical does reiterate the scientific conclusions that the temperatures of the world are rising, climate change is the cause and mankind’s commitment to burning fossil fuels is the major contributing cause of climate change.  It is useful to remember that the Pope’s college training is in chemistry.  The hope is that the Pope’s position, if not silencing the opposition, will cause the deniers to keep their doubts to themselves.  The hope is that it will move deniers out of the way of meaningful progress to slow climate change.

A recent article appearing in the Guardian on June 18, 2015 states, “Even among Catholics in the US, views on global warming are sharply divided along political lines.  A recent survey by Pew Research showed that Catholic Republicans view the nearly universally accepted scientific facts with deep skepticism.”

The article continued, “Overall, the survey found that 71% of US Catholics believe the earth is warming, and about half (47%) believe humans are the cause and it is a serious problem.  But while eight in 10 Catholic Democrats say that there is solid evidence that global warming is real, only about half of Catholic Republicans agree.  Far fewer – just a quarter of Catholic Republicans – believe that global warming is caused by humans.”

It is hoped the Pope’s Encyclical will help convince the bulk of the world’s Catholics to support the steps necessary to make progress on climate change.  There is common belief the Pope’s pronouncements will constructively lead to what needs to be done.

This does not obscure that the world is not making enough meaningful change to keep us at or under the scientific goal of keeping our average world temperature rise to less than 2° Celsius.  Many scientists believe that if nothing changes we are on a course to go up to or over 4° Celsius by the end of the century.  When speaking about the G7 goals Jennifer Morgan, director of the global climate programme of the World Resources Institute said that hitting the 2° Celsius target would depend on how quickly reductions could be implemented.

She said, “It totally depends on the pace of decarburization.   You either need to be there by 2050 for CO2 and a bit later for all greenhouse gases if you want a high chance of staying below the 2C.  If you’re up for a 66% chance then you go longer out into the century.”

We are still waiting for actual action to show a worldwide, united approach to climate change.  After all it has been 18 years since the last formal world “agreement” to limit climate change.  Some progress has been made as a result of Obama’s actions but much more needs to be done by the politicians who claim they are running things.  So far, in my mind the European Union has been the clear leader in making progress to limit climate change.  However, everyone needs to do more.

Use the following links to gain further information of the Pope’s Encyclical or the G7 commitments or see the source documents used to prepare this article.

http://www.nature.com/news/tough-targets-1.17717

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-deal-likely-paris-2015-conference-after-g7-decarbonization-pledge-says-sir-david-king-1505488

https://uk.news.yahoo.com/g7-leaders-pledge-action-climate-change-142246221.html#pdxyT3A

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-27/germany-seeks-g7-climate-financing-pledge-to-aid-poorest-nations

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/15/pope-francis-encyclical-leaked_n_7587392.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/18/popes-climate-change-encyclical-calls-on-rich-nations-to-pay-social-debt

http://www.nature.com/news/why-the-pope-s-letter-on-climate-change-matters-1.17800#/fossilfuels

http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2015/06/climate-report-introduces-sobriety-paris-talks

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Stable Temperature Stokes Climate Controversy

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

Since the start of the new century there has been no change in the world’s annual-mean temperature. Climate change deniers have seized upon this fact and our continuing addition of COto the atmosphere with no effect, to support their view that human beings are not causing climate change and a temperature rise.

A new study entitled “Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling” published in the September 19, 2013 issue of Nature magazine, attributes the pause in the climate change temperature increase to natural causes.  The research report prepared by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego states, “Our results show that the current hiatus is part of natural climate variability, tied specifically to a La-Niña-like decadal cooling.”

The researchers successfully recreated our last decade of experience by altering climate models to reflect increased greenhouse gas concentrations, aerosol concentration and solar cycle changes.  When they added the known rise in sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, their model predicted as a normal climate variation what we are experiencing with a correlation coefficient of r=0.97 for the period of 1970 to 2012.

Contributing to the confusion about the stability of the world annual-mean temperature is the record heat waves in Russia in 2010, the U.S. in 2012 and Arctic sea ice reaching record lows in 2007 and 2012.  In addition we have seen record rains in Australia.  So much water has been deposited on Australia and absorbed into the soil that the overall mean global sea level has fallen by 7 mm.   When measuring the Earth’s gravity field around Australia there was a parallel increase in the mass of water retained on land.

In the meantime, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its most recent assessment.   Their report raises the level of confidence of a human caused climate change to 95% probability (up from 90%) and changes descriptors of the new likelihood to “extremely likely” (from “very likely”).  The report continues, “There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level, and changed some climate extremes.”

Early circulation of drafts of this report have in part set the stage for new G20 agreements to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).  On June 8, 2013 the U.S. and China agreed to the progressive elimination of HFCs.

Readers will recall an earlier post on January 4, 2013 on this site entitled “Are We Trading Greenhouse Gas for Ozone?” in which we identified that HFCs were protective of ozone but very powerful greenhouse cases that contributed to climate change.  HFCs are many more times more damaging than carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.  In addition the article cited the significant increased production and sale of air conditioners in China and India that use the HFCs as their coolant.  For a reprise of that article see http://www.iamaguardian.com/category/protect/ozone-depletion .

In January 1, 1989 the Montreal Protocol went into effect.  This was an international agreement to ban substances that destroy the ozone layer of the planet.  The central purpose of the agreement was to progressively eliminate chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) that are very damaging to our ozone layer.  The assumption was that hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) could be substituted for example in air conditioning and refrigeration and would not damage the ozone.  At the time there was no climate change or concerns about greenhouse gases.  The recent agreement corrects that oversight.

Finally, a new study reported in the August 2013 issue of Science magazine and other articles describe the process that is accelerating the movement of ice sheets and glaciers.  Scientists report that hotter temperatures are melting the surface snow and ice with the water draining down to the bedrock below.  This new layer of water between the soil and the ice sheets and glaciers acts as a lubricant that increases the speed of movement of the ice.  The faster the movement, the sooner they calve and/or break apart.  All of which shortens the lifetime of large bodies of ice that have been in place for centuries.

Use the following links to obtain additional information or access source documents:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

http://scripps.ucsd.edu/biblio/recent-global-warming-hiatus-tied-equatorial-pacific-surface-cooling

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21574461-climate-may-be-heating-up-less-response-greenhouse-gas-emissions

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24080-how-an-ocean-went-into-hiding-in-australia.html#.UkHxR_GmQli

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/08/united-states-and-china-agree-work-together-phase-down-hfcs

http://www.iamaguardian.com/category/protect/ozone-depletion/

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-09-06/politics/41829108_1_carbon-dioxide-montreal-protocol-durwood-zaelke

Comments (0)

Bright Idea

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Siegfried Hecker Acts on Semipalatinsk-21

Posted on 19 August 2013 by Jerry

Without major headlines, a few significant scientists of three nations lobbied their governments and secured permission to spend seventeen years closing and cleaning up one of the world’s major nuclear weapons test sites.  They ended up removing enough highly radioactive plutonium that if extracted by terrorists, could have allowed the construction of dozens of nuclear weapons.

Bypassing long drawn out formal negotiations between the countries, scientists worked from the bottom up lobbying largely mid level officials in the United States, Russia and Kazakhstan.  They wanted the three nations to allow the trading and yet retention of national secrets so all three countries could understand the magnitude of the work that was required.  In an effort to protect national secrets the project was never reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency.  Although independent of the United Nations, the IAEA reports to the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council.

A report prepared by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, identified Siegfried S. Hecker, a retired director of Los Alamos, as the instigator and leader of the effort.  In 1995 after the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Hecker and a small group from Los Alamos were told during a visit to Kazakhstan that there were probably significant deposits of plutonium buried at the unguarded site of over 456 Soviet nuclear explosive tests.  They were also told of numerous tunnels containing nuclear materials dug into Degelen Mountain at the Semipalatinsk-21 test site that covers an area nearly the size of Belgium.

The report entitled “Plutonium Mountain – Inside the 17 year mission to secure a dangerous legacy of Soviet nuclear testing” makes for good reading (see link below). Amongst other things, it follows the actions of Kairat Kadyrzhanov, a metallurgist who once worked at the site who warned scavengers about the nuclear material and radioactivity.  Undeterred the scavengers grew their operations to include heavy mining equipment and placed armed guards around their scavenging areas to protect their sites.  Later when analyzing these efforts scientists discovered the scavengers had come within yards of deposits of fissile materials.

Over the 17 years from 1996 to 2012, over $150 million was spent to retrieve material and fill tunnels and bore holes with a special concrete that reduced the security threat posed by the facility.  American aerial drones provided surveillance of the site for much of that period.   In October 2012 a group of scientists and engineers from the U.S., Russia and Kazakhstan unveiled a simple monument whose inscription in three languages read “1996-2012. The world has become safer”.

This story reinforces the conclusion that determined individuals can accomplish major objectives if they set their minds to it.  This cooperative effort illustrates that government officials at any level can decide to make a difference by championing worthy efforts.  The field does not matter.  Whether it is a ban on genetically modified foods, an end to the use of primates for drug research or the end of a planned new pipeline to deliver more polluting oil to the market and environment, individual actions can make a difference.  We just have to decide.

For a high level description of past efforts to safeguard nuclear weapons see this blog’s March 30, 2012 posting of  “U.S. Secures, Reduces and Manages World Nuclear Materials”. Use the following links to obtain more information or see source documents for this article:

http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/23327/plutonium_mountain.html (Scroll down to the bottom of the page and select “A PDF of the full report is available here.  Click the report title to obtain the PDF)

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/world/asia/a-secret-race-for-abandoned-nuclear-material.html

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here
April 2017
S M T W T F S
« Feb    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30