Friday, May 19, 2006


It's looking pretty definite now

Britain is to build the first new generation of nuclear power stations for 20 years to avoid becoming dependent on foreign gas imports. Tony Blair yesterday pre-empted his Government's energy review to say that the replacement of existing nuclear stations was back on the agenda "with a vengeance", provoking a row with environmentalists. Construction of the first new atomic plants could start within ten years under fast-track planning permission. Britain's twelve nuclear power stations currently provide 22 per cent of the country's electricity, but all but three will close by 2020. Objections to the cost and environmental record of nuclear power have ensured that no new plants have been ordered since work started on Sizewell B in 1988. However, early findings from the Government's review of the country's future energy needs show the importance of the nuclear option, the Prime Minister said last night.

Britain will be importing 90 per cent of its natural gas by 2025, leaving electricity generation reliant on potentially unstable countries in the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union, he said. Mr Blair told the Confederation of British Industry last night: "These facts put the replacement of nuclear power stations, a big push on renewables and a step change on energy efficiency, engaging both business and consumers, back on the agenda with a vengeance."

Ofgem, the energy regulator, yesterday added to the sense of urgency surrounding Britain's power future by saying that the country faced shortages in gas supplies next winter if there are delays in key projects to import more gas. Nuclear energy can help to reduce the reliance on energy imports and reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming. "If we do not take these long-term decisions now we will be committing a serious dereliction of our duty to the future of this country," Mr Blair said.

It is the clearest public signal that he has made up his mind to commission new nuclear stations since The Times reported last November that Mr Blair had become convinced that new plants would be needed. The new plants will almost certainly be built on existing sites to lessen planning objections and public opposition. The Prime Minister is unlikely to encounter much Cabinet opposition, although some Labour MPs remain strongly opposed to nuclear power. Gordon Brown is believed to be in favour of the principle of building more stations, although he has insisted that the decision should be supported by a cost-benefits analysis.

Stephen Tindale, the director of Greenpeace, said: "The Prime Minister obviously made up his mind about nuclear power some time ago, and certainly well before the Government launched its energy review. "This is the latest act in a long-running farce that is the energy review. The review is a smokescreen for a decision that has already been taken." Kate Hudson, the chair- woman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said that pressing ahead with building new nuclear power stations would be "incomprehensible". Given the 15 years it would take a nuclear power station to come on stream, the cost of dealing with radioactive waste and the threat of terrorist attacks, it would be "irresponsible" to replace existing stations, she said. Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth, said: "The UK could be leading the world in the development of a low- carbon, nuclear-free economy. He seems intent on trying to waste yet more taxpayers' money on a discredited and dangerous nuclear dinosaur."

Alan Duncan, the Shadow Trade Secretary, said: "What on earth is the point of an energy review, when all he ever wanted to do was to say that you will be having nuclear power whether you like it or not?"

Sir Digby Jones, the CBI Director-General, said that Mr Blair was right to put nuclear power firmly on the agenda for the future. "With an everincreasing reliance on imported gas, and the pressing need to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear power may well form part of the solution."



The shoreline to the northeast of London has dispelled some of the concern caused by research that predicts that sea levels have risen and will continue to rise to a degree that will threaten human and wildlife communities. Evidence from a new study indicates that relatively little change in shoreline position has occurred since World War II. The study is published in the latest issue of Journal of Coastal Research.

The Dunwich-Sizewell coast is arguably one of the most scenically attractive and least spoiled in England. Reviewing its past and present coastal changes will serve to inform future management options if flood defenses and coast protection prove unsustainable.

In the past 2,000 years, the study area has experienced major changes with significant loss of land caused by marine erosion. The study, however, reports a decline in the rates of cliff erosion in certain parts. In the geologically recent past, the onshore area of eastern East Anglia has seen periods of relative uplift, probably because of block tilting and crust deformation caused by loading in the southern North Sea Basin.

At present, little scientific evidence supports a case for large-scale realignment of the defenses along this coast. Area-specific cases such as at the beach and frontal dunes of the northern end of the Minsmere Reserve Frontage are aligned too far seaward with respect to the rest of the shoreline and are eroding with the risk of wave overtopping.

If sea levels rise and increased storminess occurs as a result of global warming, these effects might not be significant for at least 30 to 50 years, the study's researchers said. But in the future, realignment might be needed in local cases to achieve equilibrium even under present climatic and sea level conditions.

To read the entire study, click here. The Journal of Coastal Research is the bi-monthly journal of The Coastal Education and Research Foundation (CERF). To read more about the society, visit here.

Newswise, 16 May 2006


Citing research suggesting that some invisibly small engineered nanoparticles might pose health risks, a coalition of consumer and environmental groups petitioned the Food and Drug Administration yesterday to beef up its regulation of nanoparticle-containing sunscreens and cosmetics and recall some products.

The legal filing was synchronized with the release of a report by the environmental group Friends of the Earth that highlighted the growing number of personal care products with nanoingredients, defined as smaller than 100-millionths of a millimeter. At least 116 such products are on the market, the report found. "Scientific bodies are beginning to develop an understanding of the serious risks that may be associated with nanomaterials," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Washington-based International Center for Technology Assessment, which spearheaded the FDA filing. "Every day, consumers are being asked to be a test market for some of those risks."

Nanotechnology encompasses a wide range of materials that, because of their small size, exhibit novel chemical or biological properties. Among the FDA-regulated products being sold are sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide nanoparticles (which offer strong ultraviolet protection while remaining colorless) and cosmetics with nanoscale liposomes -- tiny chemical bubbles that deliver moisteners and other ingredients to the skin.

A number of animal studies have shown that at least some nanoparticles can penetrate cells and tissues, migrate through the body and brain and cause biochemical damage. But whether nano-spiked cosmetics and sunscreens pose health risks remains largely unknown, pending completion of long-range studies recently begun by the FDA and other agencies.

An Australian government medical committee concluded this year that metal oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens mostly remain on the outer layer of skin, where DNA damage is not a big concern.

The FDA regulates sunscreens as nonprescription drugs and does not require extra safety tests specific for nanoparticles. The agency has little authority over cosmetics. But John Bailey, a vice president at the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, a trade group, said his level of confidence in the safety of those products is "very high." "I think these are safe and very beneficial products," said Bailey, who oversaw the FDA's cosmetics program for a decade.

Asked why companies rarely release the results of their safety studies, Bailey said the information was generally proprietary -- as are the ingredients. "We really don't know much about what they're putting in, or the levels," he said. But companies have lots of incentive to make their products safe, he added.

Two years ago, Britain's Royal Society recommended that nanoproducts not be sold until they have undergone independent safety assessments and the results are made public. It also said that products containing engineered nanoparticles should be labeled as such, a move the industry has opposed. The FDA does not comment on legal challenges and has six months to respond to yesterday's petition



Polar bears are becoming the poster-species for "doomsday prophets" of climate change, even though groups pushing for higher protection for the animals don't have the evidence to prove their case, Nunavut's manager of wildlife says. "It makes a great story because it is simple and intuitive," Dr. Mitch Taylor wrote in a 12-page document for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's review of the animal's status. "However, the reality is much more complex."

The USFWS review follows a petition from the Centre for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and other groups, who want polar bears upgraded to "threatened" on the U.S. Endangered Species list. The groups say the animals' population is suffering because of climate change, development and contaminants.

While Taylor said it's expected that climate change will affect all species worldwide, that shouldn't mean governments should rush to list every one as "threatened". Delving into the patterns of polar bear eating habits, ice floe loss, population densities and other issues, Taylor downplays the overall impact of climate change. "No evidence was presented by the proponents and no evidence exists that suggests that both bears and the conservation systems that regulate them will not adapt and respond to the new conditions," he said. "Polar bears have persisted through many similar climate cycles."

He said no one is suggesting that climate change isn't affecting some polar bear populations, but noted there are 20 polar bear populations in the world and each one should be considered independently. "The references listed [in his document] suggest that each polar bear population is unique with respect to seasonal cycles, sea ice conditions, prey base, summer-retreat areas, and fidelity," he wrote. "The 20 existing populations of polar bears are not all identical to the two populations that constitute the majority of the examples in the petition.

Taylor says many of the groups filing the petition have a long history of opposing hunting. He said Canada has one of the best management systems for polar bears in the world, allowing Inuit to hunt in a sustainable manner and generating $3.5 million in Canada through sport hunts and the sale of hides. "At present, the polar bear is one of the best-managed of the large Arctic mammals," Taylor said. "If all the Arctic nations continue to abide by the terms and intent of the Polar Bear Agreement, the future of polar bears is secure."

Taylor noted the estimated number of bears on the Boothia Peninsula, 1,300 kilometres west of Iqaluit, has actually increased to 1,500 animals from 900. He said environmental groups don't seem to want to take information like that into consideration when pressing their case. "Life may be good, but good news about polar bear populations does not seem to be welcomed by the Centre for Biological Diversity," he said.

CBC News, 15 May 2006


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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