Friday, January 17, 2020

Climate change could see UK seas filled with hake, anchovies and herring

And the tragedy of the viviparous eelpout.  Warming waters should on the whole be more productive.  The main problem below seems to be quotas.  But it just needs the stroke of a pen to fix them.  The "invasive" species all seem to be good eating fish

Climate change could see UK seas filled with hake, anchovies and herring as classic British species such as cod are wiped out, a new study by Defra has predicted.

Our increasingly warm and acidic oceans are not hospitable for the cold-water fish and shellfish on which our fishing industry relies. By 2050, the scientists said, these changes will cause major changes in commercial species' distributions in the North Sea.

Already, we are seeing fish from warmer climes populate our oceans, the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership found.

Increasing numbers of Atlantic bluefin tuna have been reported in UK waters by commercial and recreational fishers. At present, there is no quota for this species for UK vessels.

Mackerel has become dominant off the west of Scotland over the past three decades, and northern hake, a warm-water species, has recolonised the northern North Sea after being largely been absent for over 50 years.

Scientists also noted the appearance of warm-water species, such as the European anchovy and local declines of some cold-water species, including the viviparous eelpout.

Welsh fisheries will be particularly at risk from climate change, the report predicted, as cockles and whelks do not cope well with ocean acidification, which is caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Cod is at risk; experiments suggest that Atlantic cod larvae may experience higher mortality rates due to ocean acidification compared with European seabass and herring larvae.

Fish are likely to become smaller as they have to travel further for their prey in warming waters, expending more energy, the report predicted. Sandeels, known as the "superfood of the sea", which many species such as cod rely on, are appearing later in the year as warming delays reproductive development.

Warming and associated oxygen solubility, the scientists from the institute said, also appears to be affecting the age at maturation, growth rates, and the maximum size fish can attain.

This all spells trouble for the British fishing industry, which does not have the correct quotas for the newly arriving fish in our waters and will have to cope with catching smaller fish.

The authors of the study said: "Projected declines in shellfish production resulting from  ocean acidification may result in significant economic  losses within UK fisheries."

By 2050, under a high-emissions scenario, the net value of the UK fishing industry is expected to decrease by 10 per cent.

In some cases, whole fisheries may have to cease operation, as populations of incoming warm-water species with limited quota allocation could act to ‘choke’ existing mixed fisheries.

Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, said: "This report underlines the profound and wide-ranging impacts already being caused to our marine environment by climate change. The UK is taking strong steps to safeguard the health of the ocean environment that is so vital for our wellbeing, both around our own shores and further away. More is needed, however, including the vigorous pursuit of the UK’s net zero emissions goal, which hopefully more countries will soon adopt as well.

"In 2020, countries from around the world will come together at global summits where greater collective action to tackle climate change and increase marine protections could be agreed. These historic opportunities must be tightly embraced, including at the climate change conference that will be hosted by the UK in Glasgow in November".

However, the arrival of warm-water species presents an "opportunity" for tourism by anglers, the report said, adding: "warm-water fish have been detected in the Channel  Islands, including species such as the Atlantic bonito, which is popular for sea angling."

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “Tackling climate change and the impact on our environment is both a national and international priority, and the UK is already leading the fight against it by delivering on our world-leading target of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“We will be increasing that momentum at this year’s COP26 talks in Glasgow and we are calling on more countries to join us in pledging to protect at least 30% of the ocean under marine protected areas by 2030.

“We are also investing £2.6 billion over six years to better protect our communities from flooding and erosion.


Three Mile Island and the Exaggerated Risk of Nuclear Power

The Three Mile Island accident caused no physical harm, but the event changed public perception of the risks of nuclear energy.

You’ve likely heard of the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident. It’s often cited as an example of the dangers of nuclear power. It’s usually mentioned in the same breath as Chernobyl and Fukushima.

But what exactly happened there? Was it truly an exemplar of the grave dangers posed by nuclear power?

The answer is no. No one died. No one was injured. The other reactor on the site was still in operation until September 20 (yes, September 20 of last year). The Three Mile Island incident is an example of both the recallability trap and the sometimes negative results of being too yielding to the demands of the precautionary principle.

The Psychological Impacts

The main impact of the Three Mile Island accident has been psychological rather than physical. Big events like this one shape public attitudes for decades. People don’t remember the real impact of the event; they remember the feelings of uncertainty and fear that came with it. Those feelings now taint the public image of nuclear power in the United States.

The accident at Three Mile Island Unit 2 occurred at 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979. There was a malfunction in the reactor’s secondary cooling circuit, and the temperature of the reactor’s primary coolant rose, causing an automatic shutdown of the reactor. Control room instruments didn’t alert operators that a relief valve failed to close. Because of this, the reactor did not cool as it should have, and the core was damaged. Later that day, a small amount of gas was released accidentally, but the released gas traveled through air filters, which removed all of the radionuclides save the relatively harmless and short half-lived noble gases.

The event caused no physical harm, but the public perception of the risks of nuclear energy was heightened dramatically.

The accident created public fear but posed no real threat to the public. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the two million people in the area around TMI-2 at the time of the accident received an estimated dose of only 1 millirem above the usual background dose of radiation, less exposure than they would receive from a chest x-ray and a tiny fraction of the 100-125 millirem normal yearly background dose in the area. This is a minuscule amount of radiation compared to what all of us encounter in the normal course of everyday life.

Because of cancer concerns following the accident, the Pennsylvania Department of Health maintained a registry of people living within five miles of Three Mile Island when the accident occurred. The 30,000 person list was kept up until mid-1997 when it was determined that there had been no unusual health trends or increased cancer cases in the area immediately surrounding the accident.

People were frightened by the event, but there was no physical harm. Only the public perception of the risks of nuclear energy was heightened dramatically. The greatest effects were on the future permitting and construction of reactors and on NRC rules and procedures.

Changes in Nuclear Regulation and Construction

Following this accident, it became far more difficult to construct a reactor in the United States, in part because the politics and economics both shifted. Heightened fear makes approval more difficult and causes people to be less supportive of new construction, and changes on the regulatory side of things increase costs, shifting the economics of bringing new plants online. A 1984 New York Times article on the abandonment of construction of the Marble Hill plant in Indiana cites more than 100 plant cancellations following the Three Mile Island Accident.

Significant changes came to the NRC following Three Mile Island. It expanded its resident inspector program in which two NRC inspectors live near each of the plants and provide oversight of adherence to the agencies’ regulations.Safety became a more essential element of the system, but regulatory costs also rose.

 It also expanded both safety and performance-oriented inspections and established an operations center staffed 24 hours a day to provide assistance in plant emergencies. The Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, which is now the Nuclear Energy Institute, was also established to be an internal policing mechanism for the industry, providing a single point of interaction with NRC and other agencies on many issues and allowing them to share a framework for approaching generic issues they all experience.

Plants were also required to install additional equipment to monitor certain conditions in order to mitigate future accidents. These and other changes created a far more safety-oriented regulatory environment than previously existed. Safety became a more essential element of the system, but regulatory costs also rose.

The Role of Precautionary Thinking and the Recallability Trap

This is certainly a case where the downside of the precautionary principle has negative effects. Decisions that account more for the damage caused by rare accidents than by the constant benefits produced operate under an inaccurate cost-benefit analysis. This is even more true in this case, where there was widespread fear but no real off-site damage.

The Mercatus Center’s Adam Thierer made a similar point about the aftermath of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in an October 31 piece titled “How Many Lives are Lost Due to the Precautionary Principle?” wherein he pointed out the hidden costs of overly precautionary thinking. Following Fukushima, Japan stopped using nuclear power, which had previously been 30 percent of its energy. Energy prices rose, and in the subsequent four years, there were 1,280 cold-related deaths. Precautionary thinking can lead to costly unforeseen outcomes.

Reliable and affordable energy is essential—a fact no more apparent than when it becomes less affordable and less reliable. Although the Three Mile Island aftermath isn’t quite so dramatic, it’s a similar concept. Fears of worst-case scenarios prevent the development of important resources.

Overprecaution fueled by outlier events means that less nuclear power is constructed, plants are shut down before they need to be, and the public is misinformed about the safety of this technology.

The public is strongly influenced by accidents in this space, and public perception is quickly changed when they occur.

When major events occur, we often fall into the recallability trap, wherein more dramatic events are remembered more sharply and seen as more likely to occur than less dramatic ones. We might be more afraid of a nuclear disaster or a lightning strike than we are of a car crash or heart attack even though we’re far more likely to be done in by the latter than the former.

Rare but dramatic events tend to feel far more likely than statistics indicate. We misestimate the chances of these things happening. The recallability trap is especially relevant to nuclear power. Although there have only been three major commercial nuclear accidents—Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima—and only one of those was in the United States, the general public views these events as far more likely.

According to a CBS News survey, in 1977, 69 percent of Americans favored building new nuclear power plants, but by 1979, after Three Mile Island, support fell to 46 percent. Following Chernobyl in 1986, support had fallen to just 34 percent. By 2008, it had risen to 57 percent, but in 2011, after Fukushima, it fell back down to 43 percent. The public is strongly influenced by accidents in this space, and public perception is quickly changed when they occur.

Shifting Public Support

Following the Three Mile Island incident, attitudes toward nuclear power in the United States shifted.

The impetus to license new plants was all but gone. Public fear was overwhelming enough to discourage new development. From 1978 to 2012, the NRC didn’t approve the construction of any new commercial reactors. As the chart below shows, new reactors were still constructed following the incident, but new permitting did not occur, although various projects were attempted throughout the period. Much of this gap can be attributed to the Three Mile Island accident. Indeed, in 2019, Exelon, the owner of the Three Mile Island plant, announced it would be closing down its final remaining reactor after years of losing money. Following an incident like this one, people become overcautious.

Nonetheless, in the early 2000s, this finally started to change as the “nuclear renaissance” began. Following a few decades of no development, nuclear power was planning a big comeback. But because of a combination of the fears created by Fukushima and economic realities at home thanks to the financial crisis, the renaissance never materialized.

So, even though no one died or was even harmed in the Three Mile Accident, its impact is still clearly seen today. The accident seemed major and ominous, and because it was seen that way, public pressure made new construction far more difficult than it otherwise would have been.


Climate risks put at top of Davos agenda... as the global elite fly in on their private jets!

The World Economic Forum has urged business leaders to step into the void left by governments in tackling climate change.

For the first time, the world’s business elite has placed issues related to the environment in all top five spots on its list of concerns about the next decade, according to WEF’s annual Global Risks Report.

However, WEF risked accusations of hypocrisy ahead of its annual meeting in Davos next week, where some of the rich and famous will arrive at the Swiss ski resort by private jet.

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner at Friends Of The Earth, urged delegates to avoid private jets. ‘As the leaders of the world’s most polluting countries and companies they should look at cutting those emissions as a priority,’ she said.

As bushfires rage in Australia, and California repairs damage caused by wildfires, the WEF is now encouraging company bosses to come together in creating measures to minimise further damage to the environment.

If leaders wait until geopolitical turbulence has calmed, the report added, ‘time will run out to address some of the most pressing economic environmental and technological challenges’.

WEF president Borge Brende said: ‘The political landscape is polarised, sea levels are rising and climate fires are burning.

‘This is when world leaders must work with all sectors of society to repair and reinvigorate our systems of co-operation, not just for short-term benefit but for tackling our deep-rooted risks.’

The top five concerns on business leaders’ agenda are:

Extreme weather events with major damage to property and loss of lives;

Failure by businesses and governments to mitigate or adapt to climate change;

Human-made environmental damage, such as oil spills and radioactive contamination;

Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse;

Major natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

The WEF’s annual meeting will host some of the world’s most powerful figures, from Donald Trump and Prince Charles to climate campaigner Greta Thunberg, central bankers and bosses of businesses such as Unilever and BP.

Though many will fly in by private jet, the WEF claims the event will be carbon neutral due to a range of carbon-offsetting measures it has taken.

The focus on climate risks comes after Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, announced measures this week to encourage investors to plough more of their money into environmentally friendly companies.

Paul Morozzo, climate finance campaigner at Greenpeace, said last night: ‘It’s not enough to identify how grave the climate emergency is.

‘The banks and financial institutions jetting into Davos next week have made trillions pumping money into climate-crashing fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

‘It’s time to stop funding the crisis and start backing the solutions. That means immediately ending support for fossil fuels we cannot afford to burn.’

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has also been pushing for governments, investors, lenders and businesses to pay attention to the financial impact which climate change might have.



Australia: Qld. Conservative parties back grazing to reduce fire risk

MORE national parks would be opened up to cattle under the LNP's newly unveiled bushfire management plan to help reduce the fuel load across the state.

The party has announced a 10-point plan that would make it easier for landholders to burn on their land to manage fuel loads and set KPIs for fire-fighters to do 98 per cent of all planned hazard reduction reduction burns.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said "one of the main reasons" for such catastrophic bushfires here and in southern states was because state-owned land hadn't been managed properly.  "There are many old-timers, there are many people, including our indigenous elders, who are saying that they have evidence that grazing in national parks, if managed properly, is a very good way of controlling the amount of hazard," she said.

Opposition Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Lachlan Miller said the move would reduce fuel loads and benefit local economies.

We're not looking at opening it up to every national park across Queensland, what we're looking to do is looking at state forest areas and certain national parks that used to have grazing", he said.

The plan would also allow landholders and councils to burn on their land 15 business days after an application was made to stop bureaucratic hold-ups under a "right to burn" model.

Environment Minister and Acting Fire and Emergency a Services Minister Leeanne Enoch said 10-point plans were for pamphlets. "We're well past the time when politics are welcome in the discussion about bushfires," she said.

Ms Enoch said that many of the policies, such as grazing to  reduce fuel loads and using indigenous methods, were already  done.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of 14 Jan., 2020

Australia: Greenie versus Greenie

MOUNTAIN bike riders and environmentalists are at loggerheads over potential trails through protected bushland on Brisbane's southside.

But both parties will have to wait up to five more months to see what Brisbane City Council's citywide off-road cycling plan looks like. Council says the plan will create more to see and do in a "clean and green Brisbane", and aims to provide safe and sustainable recreation opportunities that offer better protection for natural areas.

Between March and May last year, council engaged with key stakeholder groups and the broader community about their ideas for future off-road cycling opportunit-ies across the city. Now the council is in the process of analysing the "significant amount of community feedback" and developing the draft concept plans.

Author and off-road cycling enthusiast Gillian Duncan has been fighting for the rights of mountain bike riders and has been campaigning for the past 15 years for legal trails in south-east Queensland. She wants riders to have access to fire trails, and hopes the council will go one step further and open up a "satisfying trail experience" through Karawatha Forest.

But bushcare groups are "strongly opposed" to these ideas and do not want bikes destroying the habitats of native wildlife.

Currently, Mt Coot-tha is the only designated location for off-road mountain bike riding, and those tracks and trails are used more than 700,000 times each year. Karawatha Forest Protection Society treasurer Cornelis Van Eldik said mountain bikes in the reserve would cause havoc with the flora and fauna.

"Council should not allow this to happen," he said. "They (riders) won't be content just staying to the fire trails — they will want the extra thrill of a scrub dashing, which is what our major concern is."

Ms Duncan insisted a mountain bike-riding management plan would curb that sort of behaviour.

From the Brisbane "Courier Mail" of January 11, 2020


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1 comment:

Malcontent said...

All fcasts are purely speculative
Just opinion with no Basis in science