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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Human Extinction ahead and the End of the World as we Know it

resourcewars

The eminent Australian scientist Frank Fenner, who passed away in late 2010, made some surprisingly unsurprising predictions right before his death. Writing on the web-based science, research and technology news service Phys.org, Lin Edwards put forward that Professor Fenner “predicts humans will probably be extinct within 100 years, because of overpopulation, environmental destruction and climate change”.[1] As such, this apparently shocking statement should not come as a surprise to anybody . . . given that estimates indicate that the availability of drinking water will become problematic by the year 2040 and that the supply of foodstuffs will arguably falter in about ten years from then, or by 2050 . . . underpinning such dire estimations are the prospects of the sustained growth of the human population in the coming century. The world’s leading resource for events, research, and insight into the global agricultural investment sector Global AgInvesting (or GAI) released a report in 2012 (entitled simply, World Population Growth in the 21st Century) that put the population increase into perspective: “[t]he world’s human population does not grow linearly, but rather geometrically, (i.e., 1, 2, 4, 8, 16…, etc.) which explains the five-fold increase in population from 1.2 billion to 6.1 billion during the 20th Century. Rapid population growth is predicted to continue for the first half of the 21st century, with rates of growth declining during the latter half of the century. World population is projected to stabilize at just over 10.1 billion by 2100”.[2] More than 10 billion people without easy or even direct access to either drinking water or food, to be precise. That is, as things stand today.

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most-populous-countries-2100

Edwards continues her piece by stating that Professor Fenner has “said [that] homo sapiens will not be able to survive the population explosion and ‘unbridled consumption’, and will become extinct, perhaps within a century, along with many other species. United Nations official figures from last year [i.e. 2011] estimate the human population is 6.8 billion, and is predicted to pass seven billion next year. Fenner told The Australian he tries not to express his pessimism because people are trying to do something, but keep putting it off. He said he believes the situation is irreversible, and it is too late because the effects we have had on Earth since industrialization (a period now known to scientists unofficially as the Anthropocene) rivals any effects of ice ages or comet impacts”.[3] The report World Population Growth in the 21st Century puts it like this: The “rapid growth [of the human population] is expected [to occur] in the next 40 years, and will likely place a huge burden on global resources and the agriculture sector in particular”.[4] Professor Fenner himself told the press that “We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island, there will be a lot more wars over food”,[5] aka resource wars-in-the-extreme. Lin Edwards then goes on to explain Fenner’s analogy: the “Easter Island is famous for its massive stone statues. Polynesian people settled there, in what was then a pristine tropical island, around the middle of the first millennium AD. The population grew slowly at first and then exploded. As the population grew the forests were wiped out and all the tree animals became extinct, both with devastating consequences. After about 1600 the civilization began to collapse, and had virtually disappeared by the mid-19th century. Evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond said the parallels between what happened on Easter Island and what is occurring today on the planet as a whole are ‘chillingly obvious'”.[6]

easter_island_oped

At the end of 2010, I wrote a piece appropriately headlined “Easter Island as a metaphor” and in it I tried to come to terms with what had happened to the island and how these events appear to predict the fate of the planet as a whole: “[w]hen Europeans arrived on the island it was utterly treeless. Pollen analysis has revealed however that the island was ‘almost totally’ forested until about the year 1200. But now the island is barren. A volcanic crater on the island’s eastern plain, Rano Raraku, provided the source of the sideromelane (basaltic) tuff from which 95% of the statues were carved. Some 250 mo‘ai [or Easter Island statues] are found in an almost unbroken line around the perimeter of the island, while 600 others in various stages of completion are scattered around the island. It is hard to imagine that this now barren island was once covered with trees and forests, but as wood and other tree materials were needed to transport the mo‘ai, trees had to be cut down and forests subsequently disappeared. In view of this rapacious resource depletion executed in the space of two and a half centuries, the locals devised narratives that managed to minimize the role of humans destroying the island’s abundant forests. The environmentally concerned physicist Adam Frank, on the other hand, relates in a matter-of-fact voice that the ‘need for trees, rope, and food to maintain a population of laborers eventually led to the destruction of the very forests the islanders depended on. After the forests were gone erosion took the soil too. What followed was Easter Island collapsing into starvation, warfare and cannibalism. The chance of escape disappeared too as seafaring canoes require large trees for their hulls'”.[7] Edwards, for her part, adds that “many scientists are also pessimistic, [but] others are more optimistic”.[8] She cites Professor Stephen Boyden as an example of the latter and predictably, he has come out to state that “[w]hile there’s a glimmer of hope, it’s worth working to solve the problem. We have the scientific knowledge to do it but we don’t have the political will”.[9] The other side of the coin is represented by somebody like the English writer and erstwhile green activist Paul Kingsnorth, who spent about two decades striving to save the planet as an activist in the environmental movement. But once he turned 40, he had an epiphany of sorts and threw out the baby with the bathwater, some would argue . . . he wrote an essay that ended with the following words: “It’s all fine. I withdraw, you see. I withdraw from the campaigning and the marching . . . I am leaving. I am going to go out walking”.[10] Together with Dougald Hine, he penned UNCIVILISATION: The Dark Mountain Manifesto,[11]

Uncivilisation

“These are precarious and unprecedented times . . . Little that we have taken for granted is likely to come through this century intact.

We don’t believe that anyone — not politicians, not economists, not environmentalists, not writers — is really facing up to the scale of this … Somehow, technology or political agreements or ethical shopping or mass protest are meant to save our civilization from self-destruction.

Well, we don’t buy it. This project starts with our sense that civilization as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world. But it is driven by our belief that this age of collapse — which is already beginning — could also offer a new start, if we are careful in our choices.

The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop”.[12]

end-of-the-world

 

 

[1] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist” Phys.org (23 July 2010). http://phys.org/news/2010-06-humans-extinct-years-eminent-scientist.html#jCp.

[2] World Population Growth in the 21st Century (23 March 2012), p. 3. http://www.globalaginvesting.com/downloads/files/World-Population-Growth-in-the-21st-Century-277F.pdf.

[3] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[4] World Population Growth in the 21st Century, p. 3.

[5] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[6] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[7] C. Erimtan, “Easter Island as a metaphor: resource depletion, climate change and the word of God” Today’s Zaman (21 December 2010). http://www.todayszaman.com/op-ed_easter-island-as-a-metaphor-resource-depletion-climate-change-and-the-word-of-god-by-can-eri-mtan-_229397.html.

[8] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[9] Lin Edwards, “Humans will be extinct in 100 years says eminent scientist”.

[10] Wen Stephenson ,”‘I withdraw’: A talk with climate defeatist Paul Kingsnorth” Grist 50 (11 Apr 2012). http://grist.org/climate-energy/i-withdraw-a-talk-with-climate-defeatist-paul-kingsnorth/.

[11] The Dark Mountain Project. http://dark-mountain.net/about/manifesto/.

[12] Wen Stephenson ,”‘I withdraw’: A talk with climate defeatist Paul Kingsnorth”.

A Renewable Future for the United States: Stanford Study

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On 24 February 2014, Stanford’s Mark Shwartz writes that “Mark Jacobson and his colleagues have created a 50-state roadmap for replacing coal, oil and natural gas with wind, water and solar energy”.[1] As Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Jacobson seems well-placed to head such an ambitious undertaking, and he himself had this to say: “Drastic problems require drastic and immediate solutions. Our new roadmap is designed to provide each state a first step toward a renewable future”.[2] And the Jacobson plan was first unveiled at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago . . . and as it turns out, the ‘2014 Annual Meeting theme—Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation—focused on finding sustainable solutions through inclusive, international, and interdisciplinary efforts that are most useful to society and enhance economic growth’.[3]

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Here is Professor Jacobson at the NASA Ames Research Center Director’s Colloquium on July 8, 2014 (in Moffett Field, California). Global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today. The Jacobson talk discusses the development of technical and economic plans to convert the energy infrastructure of each of the 50 United States to those powered by 100% wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) for all purposes, namely electricity, transportation, industry, and heating/cooling, after energy efficiency measures have been accounted for.

Published on 27 Aug 2014

The 132-page report is freely available on the internet and presents the Jacobson plan in great detail, stressing that “[c]onversion to a 100% WWS [or wind, water and sunlight] energy infrastructure in the U.S. will eliminate energy-related air pollution mortality and morbidity and the associated health costs, and it will eliminate energy-related climate change costs to the world while causing variable climate impacts on individual states”.[4]

b488e_dystopia

[1] Mark Shwartz, “Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy” Stanford News (26 Feb 2014). http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/february/fifty-states-renewables-022414.html.

[2] Mark Shwartz, “Stanford scientist unveils 50-state plan to transform U.S. to renewable energy”.

[3] “Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation (2014 Highlights)” AAAS. http://www.aaas.org/AM2014.

[4] Mark Z. Jacobson, Mark A. Delucchi, Guillaume Bazouin, Zack A. F. Bauer, Christa C. Heavey, Emma Fisher, Sean B. Morris, Diniana J. Y. Piekutowski, Taylor A. Vencilla and Tim W. Yeskooa, ” 100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States” Energy & Environental Science (2015), 8, pp. 2093–2117.

Inside Story: A new member of the human family?

‘Scientists say they have uncovered the remains of a new human-like species in South African cave. Patrick Randolph-Quinney, Ashley Kruger and Briana Pobiner talk about the newly discovered Homo naledi. Published on Sep 11, 2015′.

Electrosmog: How WiFi & other EMFs Cause Biological Harm

At the moment, Prof. Emeritus Martin L. Pall is a lone voice in the vast global desert of wireless connectivity . . . ‘Pall’s extensive research over recent decades (some of his peer-reviewed studies on this subject are listed in the final two minutes of this presentation) shows that: 1) Microwaves damage humans at levels far below present radiation limits, through mechanisms at the cellular level. 2) These biological mechanisms can – completely or partially – be behind growing “unexplained illnesses” like sudden cardiac death, ME, weakened immune system, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress, and increased DNA breakage, etc. 3) The effects can in principle affect all multicellular animals, and is proven, for example, in mussels. 4) You need neither New Age, tendentious science or conspiracy theories to justify this. The video is footage from Arne Naess seminar 18th October 2014 Oslo’.  

‘The conclusion to be drawn from Pall’s findings is that we face a new and increasingly present environmental pollutant. Some have called it the “21st century environmental bomb”, with implications for the environment, human health, construction of mobile towers, computers in schools, and handling of individuals presenting with symptoms of EHS. Martin Pall, Prof. Em. at Washington State University, has an impressive body of work. His first article on EMFs and their role in VGCC activation earned a place in the “Global Medical Discovery” list of the most important articles in medicine in 2013’.  

Climate Change is a Hoax: Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms

Some time ago a research article entitled “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms” was published; its authors include such crazy climate luminaries like James Hansen and Eric Rignot: “Abstract. There is evidence of ice melt, sea level rise to +5–9 m, and extreme storms in the prior interglacial period that was less than 1 °C warmer than today. Human-made climate forcing is stronger and more rapid than paleo forcings, but much can be learned by combining insights from paleoclimate, climate modeling, and on-going observations. We argue that ice sheets in contact with the ocean are vulnerable to non-linear disintegration in response to ocean warming, and we posit that ice sheet mass loss can be approximated by a doubling time up to sea level rise of at least several meters. Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield sea level rise of several meters in 50, 100 or 200 years. Paleoclimate data reveal that subsurface ocean warming causes ice shelf melt and ice sheet discharge. Our climate model exposes amplifying feedbacks in the Southern Ocean that slow Antarctic bottom water formation and increase ocean temperature near ice shelf grounding lines, while cooling the surface ocean and increasing sea ice cover and water column stability. Ocean surface cooling, in the North Atlantic as well as the Southern Ocean, increases tropospheric horizontal temperature gradients, eddy kinetic energy and baroclinicity, which drive more powerful storms. We focus attention on the Southern Ocean’s role in affecting atmospheric CO2 amount, which in turn is a tight control knob on global climate. The millennial (500–2000 year) time scale of deep ocean ventilation affects the time scale for natural CO2 change, thus the time scale for paleo global climate, ice sheet and sea level changes. This millennial carbon cycle time scale should not be misinterpreted as the ice sheet time scale for response to a rapid human-made climate forcing. Recent ice sheet melt rates have a doubling time near the lower end of the 10–40 year range. We conclude that 2 °C global warming above the preindustrial level, which would spur more ice shelf melt, is highly dangerous. Earth’s energy imbalance, which must be eliminated to stabilize climate, provides a crucial metric”.[1]

Talking about this new research article in Rolling Stone, Eric Holthaus declares that “[h]istorians may look to 2015 as the year when shit really started hitting the fan. Some snapshots: In just the past few months, record-setting heat waves in Pakistan and India each killed more than 1,000 people. In Washington state’s Olympic National Park, the rainforest caught fire for the first time in living memory. London reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit during the hottest July day ever recorded in the U.K.; The Guardian briefly had to pause its live blog of the heat wave because its computer servers overheated. In California, suffering from its worst drought in a millennium, a 50-acre brush fire swelled seventyfold in a matter of hours, jumping across the I-15 freeway during rush-hour traffic. Then, a few days later, the region was pounded by intense, virtually unheard-of summer rains. Puerto Rico is under its strictest water rationing in history as a monster El Niño forms in the tropical Pacific Ocean, shifting weather patterns worldwide”.[2]  Holthaus then explains that “Hansen’s new study also shows how complicated and unpredictable climate change can be. Even as global ocean temperatures rise to their highest levels in recorded history, some parts of the ocean, near where ice is melting exceptionally fast, are actually cooling, slowing ocean circulation currents and sending weather patterns into a frenzy. Sure enough, a persistently cold patch of ocean is starting to show up just south of Greenland, exactly where previous experimental predictions of a sudden surge of freshwater from melting ice expected it to be. Michael Mann, another prominent climate scientist, recently said of the unexpectedly sudden Atlantic slowdown, ‘This is yet another example of where observations suggest that climate model predictions may be too conservative when it comes to the pace at which certain aspects of climate change are proceeding’. Since storm systems and jet streams in the United States and Europe partially draw their energy from the difference in ocean temperatures, the implication of one patch of ocean cooling while the rest of the ocean warms is profound. Storms will get stronger, and sea-level rise will accelerate. Scientists like Hansen only expect extreme weather to get worse in the years to come, though Mann said it was still ‘unclear’ whether recent severe winters on the East Coast are connected to the phenomenon”.[3]

Michael Mann is the climate scientist behind the famous hockey stick analogy: “The hockey stick is a famous historical temperature plot that shows for the past 2,000 years global temperatures moved up and down very slightly (hockey shaft) but in the past several decades the temperature has rapidly risen (hockey blade)”, as expressed by the meteorologist Scott Mandia.[4]  In response to Hansen et al.’s new research paper, Professor Mann e-mailed this missive to the Washington Post: the authors’ “case is most compelling when it comes to the matter of West Antarctic ice sheet collapse and the substantial sea level rise that would result, potentially on a timescale as short as a century or two”, adding however that “[t]heir climate model scenario wherein Greenland and Antarctic meltwater caused by warming poles, leads to a near total shutdown of ocean heat transport to higher latitudes, cooling most of the globe (particularly the extratropics), seems rather far-fetched to me”, nevertheless conceding that “[w]hether or not all of the specifics of the study prove to be correct, the authors have initiated an absolutely critical discussion”.[5]  Hansen himself then merely stated that “[y]ou can see a lot of different points in this paper, and it’s going to take a while for the community to sort them out, but actually, the story is clear”, namely that sea level rise is “the big impact of human made climate change”.[6]  And, taking into consideration that about 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water, and that the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all the earth’s water, Professor Hansen’s words may seem a bit trite but also alarmingly ominous.

[1] J. Hansen, M. Sato, P. Heart2, R. Ruedy, M. Kelley, V. Masson-Delmotte, G. Russell, G. Tselioudis, J. Cao, E. Rignot, I. Velicogna, E. Kandiano, K. von Schuckmann, P. Kharecha1, A. N. Legrande, M. Bauer, and K.-W. Lo, “Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2 °C global warming is highly dangerous” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (23 July 2015). http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/15/20059/2015/acpd-15-20059-2015.html.

[2] Eric Holthaus, “The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here”Rolling Stone (05 August 2015). http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-point-of-no-return-climate-change-nightmares-are-already-here-20150805.

[3] Eric Holthaus, “The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here”.

[4] Scott Mandia, “BOOK REVIEW: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” Planet3.0 Beyond Sustainability (10 February 2012). http://planet3.org/2012/02/10/book-review-the-hockey-stick-and-the-climate-wars/.

[5] Chris Mooney, “The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future “The Washington Post (20 July 2015). http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/07/20/the-worlds-most-famous-climate-scientist-just-outlined-an-alarming-scenario-for-our-planets-future/.

[6] Chris Mooney, “The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future “.

Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution — Past and Future

‘CARTA – Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny: This symposium presents varied perspectives from earth scientists, ecologists, and paleoanthropologists on how climate may have shaped human evolution, as well as the prospects for the future of world climate, ecosystems, and our species. Elizabeth Hadly begins with a discussion about A Tipping Point: Using the Past to Forecast Our Future, followed by Naomi Oreskes on Human Impacts: Will We Survive the Future?, and Veerabhadran Ramanathan on Climate Change Mitigation: In Pursuit of the Common Good. Recorded on 05/15/2015′.

Fukushima 2015 or a Ticking Timebomb

Recently a post originally submitted by “Tyler Durden on 08/05/2013 10:44 -0400” is doing the rounds on another website, and that just goes to show that the public-at-large just has no idea about what is happening in Japan . . . Anyways, here is “Tyler Durden” and what he had to say two years ago under the headline ‘Japan Finally Admits The Truth: ‘Right Now, We Have An Emergency At Fukushima”: “Tepco is struggling to contain the highly radioactive water that is seeping into the ocean near Fukushima. The head of Japan’s NRA, Shinji Kinjo exclaimed, ‘right now, we have an emergency’, as he noted the contaminated groundwater has breached an underground barrier and is rising toward the surface – exceeding the limits of radioactive discharge. In a rather outspoken comment for the typically stoic Japanese, Kinjo said Tepco’s ‘sense of crisis was weak’, adding that ‘this is why you can’t just leave it up to Tepco alone’ to grapple with the ongoing disaster. As Reuters notes, Tepco has been accused of covering up shortcomings and has been lambasted for its ineptness in the response and while the company says it is taking actions to contain the leaks, Kinjo fears if the water reaches the surface ‘it would flow extremely fast’, with some suggesting as little as three weeks until this critical point”.[1]

On the other hand, last Wednesday, Danielle Demetriou reported from Tokyo that “[m]ore than 7,000 residents from a Fukushima town completely evacuated following the 2011 nuclear crisis will be able to return home permanently from September [2015], the Japanese government has announced. The 7,401 residents of Naraha will become the first evacuees able to return home permanently among the seven Fukushima municipalities whose entire populations were ordered to leave following the crisis. The lifting of the first evacuation order will take place more than four years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant. However, it was not immediately clear how many residents from Naraha, which is around two miles from the plant, will want to return to their hometown from September 5, due to lingering radiation concerns and lack of infrastructure”.[2]

Demetriou explains that “Naraha’s rehabilitation as a livable town began in March [2015] when the government announced that its decontamination was completed, with radiation contamination down 60 per cent from 2011 levels to 0.3 microsievert per hour. The following month, residents were allowed to return home for three-month stays in preparation for a permanent return when the evacuation order was lifted, with 688 people from 326 households taking part in the initiative. This week, the government confirmed the September 5 return date for all Naraha residents to return permanently, after assessing with local authorities the airborne radiation levels and monitoring how infrastructure was being improved as well as consulting with residents. The new evacuation order will permit the biggest homecoming of Fukushima evacuees since the 2011 disaster, with a total of 7,401 residents from 2,704 households allowed to live at home once again”.[3]

Location of Naraha in Fukushima Prefecture

In the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown the people inhabiting a 20 kilometer exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant were evacuated for safety reasons . . . as reported by the Washington Post Staff Writers Chico Harlan and Steven Mufson in 2011, “[s]ome 170,000 people have been evacuated around a 12-mile radius of the plant. They join more than 450,000 other evacuees from other quake- and tsunami-affected regions”.[4]  And now, after more than 4 years of 7,401 residents are allowed to return home . . . last March The Japan Times reported that “[a]round 120,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture remain evacuees due to lingering fears of radiation exposure four years after the start of the nuclear crisis. Although the central government lifted evacuation orders on some areas last year, evacuees have been slow to move back and an increasing number are choosing to rebuild their lives in new places without returning to their old homes. Of the 120,000 nuclear evacuees, 79,000 are from areas adjacent to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant who were ordered to evacuate because of high radiation levels, according to the Cabinet Office . . . The number of evacuees currently residing outside Fukushima Prefecture total about 47,000. At least a few are in every other prefecture. A growing number of the people from areas where residents were ordered to leave are using compensation to find permanent homes in the areas where they now live. Those still under evacuation orders are entitled to a real estate tax break adopted by the central government to help them buy property. The number of land purchases using the tax break was only 35 in fiscal 2011 but rose to 356 in fiscal 2012 and 804 in fiscal 2013. In the first half of fiscal 2014, the number of purchases was 593. As of the end of last September, 1,451 of the deals were for plots in Fukushima Prefecture. The rest were in 29 other prefectures, including 88 in Ibaraki, 69 in Tochigi, 36 in Miyagi and 33 in Saitama. The number of purchases for other forms of housing under the tax break stood at 28 in fiscal 2011, 323 in fiscal 2012 and 598 in fiscal 2013”.[5] Deutsche Gründlichket à la Japonaise . . .

On the other hand, Reuters reported some months ago that “radiation from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has for the first time been detected along a North American shoreline, though at levels too low to pose a significant threat to human or marine life, scientists said on Monday [, 6 April 2015]. Trace amounts of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 were detected in samples collected on Feb. 19 off the coast of Ucluelet, a small town on Vancouver Island in Canada’s British Columbia, said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist Ken Buesseler. “Radioactivity can be dangerous, and we should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is certainly the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history,” Buesseler said in a statement”.[6]  Dr Ken Buesseler went on like this: “[r]adioactivity can be dangerous, and we should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is certainly the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history”.[7]

About a month prior to the Reuters’ reports, Dr Buesseler gave a lecture on this very topic: “The triple disaster of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent radiation releases at Fukushima Dai-ichi were unprecedented events for the ocean and society. This presentation will provide an overview of studies of Fukushima radionuclides in the ocean. The radioactive releases from Fukushima will be compared to natural and prior human sources. The fate and transport of cesium and its uptake by fish and impacts on Japanese fisheries will be discussed. Although levels of cesium in the ocean and being released from Fukushima nuclear power plants four years later are a thousand times lower than in 2011, other isotopes such as strontium-90 are becoming of greater concern as they are elevated relative to cesium in the groundwater and storage tanks at the reactor site. Across the Pacific, ocean currents carrying Fukushima cesium are predicted to be detectable along the west coast of North America by 2015, and though models suggest at levels below those considered of human health concern, measurements are needed. A report will be given on Our Radioactive Ocean,[8] a citizen scientist launched to monitor the arrival of Fukushima cesium along the west coast over the coming 2-3 years”.[9]

And just the other day, Daily Buzz‘ Lisa Reddy posted that “[p]hotos of flowers on Twitter and Instagram may be as commonplace as sunsets and selfies, but one Japanese amateur photographer has captured something a bit more unique than a beautiful bloom. Twitter user @san_kaido posted a photo of mutated yellow daisies last month, found in Nasushiobara City, around 70 miles from Fukushima, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster. The photos show daisies with fused yellow centres and with the petals growing out the side of the flower. The daisies are not the first deformed plants found after the disaster. In 2013, the Daily Mail posted photos of mutated vegetables and fruit, attributing the apparent abnormalities to high levels of radiation found in the groundwater. The daisy photos come four years after the Fukushima Daichii Nuclear Power Plant meltdown which was caused after a devastating earthquake and tsunami knocked out three of the plant’s nuclear reactors. Earlier this month, The Telegraph reported that on Sept. 5, residents of Naraha, close to Fukushima, will finally be allowed to return home”.[10]

In a more alarmist voice, Robert Hunziker remarked last month that “Fukushima’s still radiating, self-perpetuating, immeasurable, and limitless, like a horrible incorrigible Doctor Who monster encounter in deep space. Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century. Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail. Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe. Part of this reluctance has to do with radiation’s symptoms. It is insidious because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically equipped to feel its power, or see, or hear, touch or smell it (Caldicott). Not only that, it slowly accumulates over time in a dastardly fashion that serves to hide its effects until it is too late”.[11]  In the next instance, Hunziker takes a few steps back and relates “some Chernobyl facts that have not received enough widespread news coverage: Over one million (1,000,000) people have already died from Chernobyl’s fallout. Additionally, the Rechitsa Orphanage in Belarus has been caring for a very large population of deathly sick and deformed children. Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to radiation than adults. Zhuravichi Children’s Home is another institution, among many, for the Chernobyl-stricken: ‘he home is hidden deep in the countryside and, even today, the majority of people in Belarus are not aware of the existence of such institutions’ (Source: Chernobyl Children’s Project-UK)”. Quite rightly Robert Hunziker next asserts that “[o]ne million (1,000,000) is a lot of dead people. But, how many more will die? Approximately seven million (7,000,000) people in the Chernobyl vicinity were hit with one of the most potent exposures to radiation in the history of the Atomic Age. The exclusion zone around Chernobyl is known as ‘Death Valley’. It has been increased from 30 to 70 square kilometres. No humans will ever be able to live in the zone again. It is a permanent ‘dead zone’. Additionally, over 25,000 died and 70,000 disabled because of exposure to extremely dangerous levels of radiation in order to help contain Chernobyl. Twenty percent of those deaths were suicides, as the slow agonizing ‘death march of radiation exposure’ was too much to endure”. Turning next to Fukushima, Hunziker states that “[i]n late 2014, Helen Caldicott, M.D. gave a speech about Fukushima at Seattle Town Hall (9/28/14) . . . Dr. Helen Caldicott is co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and she is author/editor of Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastroph . . . For over four decades Dr. Caldicott has been the embodiment of the anti-nuclear banner, and as such, many people around the world classify her as a ‘national treasure’ [for Australia, arguably]. She’s truthful and honest and knowledgeable. Fukushima is literally a time bomb in quiescence. Another powerful quake and all hell could break loose. Also, it is not even close to being under control. Rather, it is totally out of control. According to Dr. Caldicott, ‘It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go’. Imagine that! According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: ‘There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems’. Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: ‘The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores . . . We have groundwater contamination . . . The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution’ . . . At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth”.[12]

The AP’s Tokyo-based reported Mari Yamaguchi also wrote last June that “[f]our years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns. The government approved a revised 30-to-40-year roadmap Friday [, 12 June 2015] that delays by three years the start of a key initial step — the removal of still-radioactive fuel rods in the three reactors that had meltdowns following the March 2011 disaster in northeast Japan. Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste”. Yamaguchi then goes on to list “[s]ome of the uncertainties and questions”: “THE FUEL RODS: Kept cool in storage pools on the top floor of each of the three reactors, they need to be removed to free up space for robots and other equipment to go down to the containment chambers. The 1,573 bundles of fuel rods — mostly used but some new — are considered among the highest risks at the plant, because they are uncovered within the reactor building. To remove them, the building roofs must be taken off and replaced with a cover that prevents radioactive dust from flying out. Each building is damaged differently and requires its own cover design and equipment. The government and plant operator TEPCO hope to start the process in 2018, three years later than planned. THE MELTED FUEL: Once the spent fuel rods are out of the way, workers can turn their attention to what is expected to be the hardest part of the decommissioning: Removing the melted fuel from the three wrecked reactors. The biggest questions are where the melted fuel is and in what condition. Radiation levels are too high for humans to approach. Based on computer simulations and a few remote-controlled probes, experts believe the melted fuel has breached the cores and fallen to the bottom of the containment chambers, some possibly seeping into the concrete foundation. A plan to repair the containment chambers and fill them with water so that the melted fuel can be handled while being kept cool may be unworkable, and experts are studying alternatives. How to reach the debris — from the top or from the side — is another question. A vertical approach would require robots and equipment that can dangle as low as 30 meters (90 feet) to reach the bottom. Experts are also trying to figure out how to obtain debris samples to help develop radiation-resistant robots and other equipment that can handle the molten fuel. CONTAMINATED WATER: The plant is still plagued with massive amounts of contaminated water — cooling water that must be added regularly, and subsequently leaks out of the reactors and mixes with groundwater that seeps into the reactor basements. The volume of water grows by 300 tons daily. TEPCO runs it through treatment machines to remove most radioactive elements, and then stores it in thousands of tanks on the compound. Water leaks pose environmental concerns and health risks to workers. Nuclear experts say controlled release of the treated water into the ocean would be the ultimate solution. RADIOACTIVE WASTE: Japan currently has no plan for the waste that comes out of the plant. Under the roadmap, the government and TEPCO are supposed to compile a basic plan by March 2018. Waste management is an extremely difficult task that requires developing technology to compact and reduce the toxicity of the waste, while finding a waste storage site is practically impossible considering public sentiment. This raises serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years”.[13]

[1] Tyler Durden, “‘Japan Finally Admits The Truth: “Right Now, We Have An Emergency At Fukushima”‘” Zero Hedge (05 August 2013). http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-08-05/japan-finally-admits-truth-right-now-we-have-emergency-fukushima.

[2] Danielle Demetriou, “Thousands of residents to return home following Fukushima nuclear disaster” The Telegraph (08 July 2015). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/11725300/Thousands-of-residents-to-return-home-following-Fukushima-nuclear-disaster.html.

[3] Danielle Demetriou, “Thousands of residents to return home following Fukushima nuclear disaster”.

[4] Chico Harlan and Steven Mufson, “Japanese nuclear plants’ operator scrambles to avert meltdowns” Washington Post (13 March 2011). http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/12/AR2011031205493.html.

[5] “More Fukushima evacuees are deciding to stay away for good” The Japan Times (04 March 2015). http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/04/national/more-fukushima-evacuees-are-deciding-to-stay-away-for-good/#.VaTYMu9rPpB.

[6] “Radiation From Japan’s Fukushima Detected Off Canada” Reuters (06 April 2015). http://www.newsweek.com/radiation-japans-fukushima-detected-canada-320009.

[7] “Radiation From Japan’s Fukushima Detected Off Canada”.

[8] http://ourradioactiveocean.org.

[9] Ken Buesseler,” Fukushima–A View from the Ocean” USC Dornsife (12 March 2015). http://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/218/docs/events/2015-03-12_Buesseler.pdf.

[10] Lisa Reddy, “Deformed daisies from Fukushima disaster site gain Internet fame” Daily Buzz (14 July 2015). https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/author/lisa-reddy/.

[11] Robert Hunziker, “What’s Really Going on at Fukushima?” CounterPunch (17 June 2015). http://www.globalresearch.ca/whats-really-going-on-at-fukushima/5456277.

[12] Robert Hunziker, “What’s Really Going on at Fukushima?”.

[13] Mari Yamaguchi,” What’s ahead for Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant: Latest roadmap riddled with uncertainties” AP (12 June 2015). http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/06/12/whats-ahead-for-japans-fukushima-nuclear-plant.