Archive for environment

Roundup In GMO Foods

MARCH 27, 2014

Roundup Contamination of GMO Soybeans

How “Extreme Levels” of Roundup in Food Became the Industry Norm

by THOMAS BOHN and MAREK CUHRA  Thanks to CounterPunch

Food and feed quality are crucial to human and animal health. Quality can be defined as sufficiency of appropriate minerals, vitamins and fats, etc. but it also includes the absence of toxins, whether man-made or from other sources. Surprisingly, almost no data exist in the scientific literature on herbicide residues in herbicide tolerant genetically modified (GM) plants, even after nearly 20 years on the market.

In research recently published by our laboratory (Bøhn et al. 2014) we collected soybean samples grown under three typical agricultural conditions: organic, GM, and conventional (but non-GM). The GM soybeans were resistant to the herbicide Roundup, whose active ingredient is glyphosate.

We tested these samples for nutrients and other compounds as well as relevant pesticides, including glyphosate and its principal breakdown product, Aminomethylphosponic acid (AMPA). All of the individual samples of GM-soy contained residues of both glyphosate and AMPA, on average 9.0 mg/kg. This amount is greater than is typical for many vitamins. In contrast, no sample from the conventional or the organic soybeans showed residues of these chemicals (Fig. 1).

This demonstrates that Roundup Ready GM-soybeans sprayed during the growing season take up and accumulate glyphosate and AMPA. Further, what has been considered a working hypothesis for herbicide tolerant crops, i.e. that, as resistant weeds have spread:

“there is a theoretical possibility that also the level of residues of the herbicide and its metabolites may have increased” (Kleter et al. 2011) is now shown to be actually happening.

Monsanto (manufacturer of glyphosate) has claimed that residues of glyphosate in GM soy are lower than in conventional soybeans, where glyphosate residues have been measured up to 16-17 mg/kg (Monsanto 1999). These residues, found in non-GM plants, likely must have been due to the practice of spraying before harvest (for desiccation). Another claim of Monsanto’s has been that residue levels of up to 5.6 mg/kg in GM-soy represent  “…extreme levels, and far higher than those typically found” (Monsanto 1999).

bohnfig1 FIGURE 1. RESIDUES OF GLYPHOSATE AND AMPA IN INDIVIDUAL SOYBEAN SAMPLES (N=31). FOR ORGANIC AND CONVENTIONAL SOYBEANS, GLYPHOSATE RESIDUES WERE BELOW THE DETECTION LIMIT.

Seven out of the 10 GM-soy samples we tested, however, surpassed this “extreme level” (of glyphosate + AMPA), indicating a trend towards higher residue levels. The increasing use of glyphosate on US Roundup Ready soybeans has been documented (Benbrook 2012). The explanation for this increase is the appearance of glyphosate-tolerant weeds (Shaner et al. 2012) to which farmers are responding with increased doses and more applications.

Maximum residue levels (MRLs) of glyphosate in food and feed

Globally, glyphosate-tolerant GM soy is the number one GM crop plant and glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide, with a global production of 620 000 tons in 2008 (Pollak 2011). The world soybean production in 2011 was 251.5 million metric tons, with the United States (33%), Brazil (29%), Argentina (19%), China (5%) and India (4%) as the main producing countries (American Soybean Association 2013).

In 2011-2012, soybeans were planted on about 30 million hectares in the USA, with Roundup Ready GM soy contributing 93-94 % of the production (USDA 2013). Globally, Roundup Ready GM soybeans contributed to 75 % of the production in 2011 (James 2012).

The legally acceptable level of glyphosate contamination in food and feed, i.e. the maximum residue level (MRL) has been increased by authorities in countries where Roundup-Ready GM crops are produced, or where such commodities are imported. In Brazil, the MRL in soybean was increased from 0.2 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg in 2004: a 50-fold increase, but only for GM-soy. The MRL for glyphosate in soybeans has been increased also in the US and Europe. In Europe, it was raised from 0.1 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg (a 200-fold increase) in 1999, and the same MRL of 20 mg/kg was adopted by the US. In all of these cases, MRL values appear to have been adjusted, not based on new scientific evidence, but pragmatically in response to actual observed increases in the content of residues in glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans.

Has the toxicity of Roundup been greatly underestimated?

When regulatory agencies assess pesticides for safety they invariably test only the claimed active ingredient.

Nevertheless, these do not necessarily represent realistic conditions since in practice it is the full, formulated herbicide (there are many Roundup formulations) that is used in the field. Thus, it is relevant to consider, not only the active ingredient, in this case glyphosate and its breakdown product AMPA, but also the other compounds present in the herbicide formulation since these enhance toxicity. For example, formulations of glyphosate commonly contain adjuvants and surfactants to stabilize and facilitate penetration into the plant tissue. Polyoxyethylene amine (POEA) and polyethoxylated tallowamine (POE-15) are common ingredients in Roundup formulations and have been shown to contribute significantly to toxicity (Moore et al. 2012).

Our own recent study in the model organism Daphnia magnademonstrated that chronic exposure to glyphosate and a commercial formulation of Roundup resulted in negative effects on several life-history traits, in particular reproductive aberrations like reduced fecundity and increased abortion rate, at environmental concentrations of 0.45-1.35 mg/liter (active ingredient), i.e. below accepted environmental tolerance limits set in the US (0.7 mg/liter) (Cuhra et al. 2013). A reduced body size of juveniles was even observed at an exposure to Roundup at 0.05 mg/liter.

This is in sharp contrast to world-wide regulatory assumptions in general, which we have found to be strongly influenced by early industry studies and in the case of aquatic ecotoxicity assessment, to be based on 1978 and 1981 studies presented by Monsanto claiming that glyphosate is virtually non-toxic in D. magna (McAllister & Forbis, 1978; Forbis & Boudreau, 1981).

Thus a worrisome outlook for health and the environment can be found in the combination of i) the vast increase in use of glyphosate-based herbicides, in particular due to glyphosate-tolerant GM plants, and ii) new findings of higher toxicity of both glyphosate as an active ingredient (Cuhra et al., 2013) and increased toxicity due to contributions from chemical adjuvants in commercial formulations (Annett et al. 2014).

A similar situation can be found for other pesticides. Mesnage et al. (2014) found that 8 out of 9 tested pesticides were more toxic than their declared active principles.

This means that the Accepted Daily Intake (ADI) for humans, i.e. what society finds “admissible” regarding pesticide residues may have been set too high, even before potential combinatorial effects of different chemical exposures are taken into account.

For glyphosate formulations (Roundup), realistic exposure scenarios in the aquatic environment may harm non-target biodiversity from microorganisms, invertebrates, amphibians and fish, (reviewed in Annett et al. 2014) indicating that the environmental consequences of these agrochemicals need to be re-assessed.

Other compositional differences between GM, non-GM, and organic

Our research also demonstrated that different agricultural practices lead to markedly different end products. Data on other measured compositional characteristics could be used to discriminate statistically all individual soy samples (without exception) into their respective agricultural practice background (Fig. 2).

 

bohn2

FIGURE 2. DISCRIMINANT ANALYSIS FOR GM, CONVENTIONAL AND ORGANIC SOY SAMPLES BASED ON 35 VARIABLES. DATA WAS STANDARDIZED (MEAN = 0 AND SD = 1).

Organic soybeans showed the healthiest nutritional profile with more glucose, fructose, sucrose and maltose, significantly more total protein, zinc and less fiber, compared with both conventional and GM-soy. Organic soybeans contained less total saturated fat and total omega-6 fatty acids than both conventional and GM-soy.

Conclusion

Roundup Ready GM-soy accumulates residues of glyphosate and AMPA, and also differs markedly in nutritional composition compared to soybeans from other agricultural practices. Organic soybean samples also showed a more healthy nutritional profile (e.g. higher in protein and lower in saturated fatty acids) than both industrial conventional and GM soybeans.

Lack of data on pesticide residues in major crop plants is a serious gap of knowledge with potential consequences for human and animal health. How is the public to trust a risk assessment system that has overlooked the most obvious risk factor for herbicide tolerant GM crops, i.e. high residue levels of herbicides, for nearly 20 years? If it has been due to lack of understanding, it would be bad. If it is, the result of the producer’s power to influence the risk assessment system, it would be worse.

Thomas Bøhn
 is a Professor of Gene Ecology,  at the Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway, 
 Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Marek Cuhra is a Phd student at the Centre for Biosafety, Tromsø, Norway
, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

References


American Soy Association, Soystats.  2013. 16-5-2013.
Annett, R., Habibi, H. R. and Hontela, A. 2014. Impact of glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides on the freshwater environment. – Journal of Applied Toxicology DOI 10.1002/jat.2997.

Aumaitre, L. A. 2002. New feeds from genetically modified plants: substantial equivalence, nutritional equivalence and safety for animals and animal products. – Productions Animales 15: 97-108.

Benbrook, C. M. 2012. Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. – the first sixteen years. – Environmental Science Europe 24:24.

Binimelis, R., Pengue, W. and Monterroso, I. 2009. “Transgenic treadmill”: Responses to the emergence and spread of glyphosate-resistant johnsongrass in Argentina. – Geoforum 40: 623-633.

Bøhn, T., Cuhra, M., Traavik, T., Sanden, M., Fagan, J. and Primicerio, R. 2014. Compositional differences in soybeans on the market: Glyphosate accumulates in Roundup Ready GM soybeans. – Food Chemistry 153: 207-215.

Cuhra, M., Traavik, T. and Bøhn, T. 2013. Clone- and age-dependent toxicity of a glyphosate commercial formulation and its active ingredient in Daphnia magna. – Ecotoxicology 22: 251-262 (open access). DOI 10.1007/s10646-012-1021-1.

Duke, S. O., Rimando, A. M., Pace, P. F., Reddy, K. N. and Smeda, R. J. 2003. Isoflavone, glyphosate, and aminomethylphosphonic acid levels in seeds of glyphosate-treated, glyphosate-resistant soybean. – Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 51: 340-344.
EC . Review report for the active substance glyphosate. 6511/VI/99-final, 1-56. 2002.  European Commission. Health and Consumer Protection Directorate-General.

Forbis, A.D., Boudreau, P. 1981. Acute toxicity of MON0139 (Lot LURT 12011)(AB-81-074) To Daphnia magna: Static acute bio- assay report no. 27203. Unpublished study document from US EPA library

Harrigan, G. G., Ridley, G., Riordan, S. G., Nemeth, M. A., Sorbet, R., Trujillo, W. A., Breeze, M. L. and Schneider, R. W. 2007. Chemical composition of glyphosate-tolerant soybean 40–3-2 grown in Europe remains equivalent with that of conventional soybean (Glycine max L.). – Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55: 6160-6168.

James, C.  Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2012. ISAAA Brief No. 44. 2012.  ISAAA: Ithaca, NY.

Kleter, G. A., Unsworth, J. B. and Harris, C. A. 2011. The impact of altered herbicide residues in transgenic herbicide-resistant crops on standard setting for herbicide residues. – Pest Management Science 67: 1193-1210.

McAllister, W., Forbis A. 1978. Acute toxicity of technical glyphosate (AB–78–201) to Daphnia magna. Study reviewed and approved 8–30–85 by EEB/HED

Mesnage, R., Defarge, N., Vendômois, J. S. and Seralini, G. E. 2014. Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles. – BioMed Research Internationalhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/179691.

Monsanto . Residues in Roundup Ready soya lower than conventional soy.http://www.monsanto.co.uk/news/99/june99/220699_residue.html . 1999.

Moore, L. J., Fuentes, L., Rodgers, J. H., Bowerman, W. W., Yarrow, G. K., Chao, W. Y. and Bridges, W. C. 2012. Relative toxicity of the components of the original formulation of Roundup (R) to five North American anurans. – Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 78: 128-133.
Pollak, P. 2011. Fine chemicals: the industry and the business. – Wiley.

Shaner, D. L., Lindenmeyer, R. B. and Ostlie, M. H. 2012. What have the mechanisms of resistance to glyphosate taught us? – Pest Management Science 68: 3-9.
USDA . National Agricultural Statistics Service.  2013. 16-5-2013.

This article was originally published by Independent Science News.

Roundup Worse Than DDT

Glyphosate May Be Worse Than DDT, Which Has Now Been Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, Decades After Exposure

February 13, 2014 | Thanks to Mercola.com

By Dr. Mercola

Alzheimer’s disease, a severe form of dementia, now affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans,1 and is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. According to one shocking projection, Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 25 percent of American adults in the next 20 years, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

Such predictions are particularly distressing in light of the fact that Alzheimer’s is a disease predicated on lifestyle, especially your diet. Hidden factors such as toxic exposures can also play a distinct role.

According to the featured article in the Los Angeles Times,2 researchers have linked DDT exposure to the development of Alzheimer’s disease later on in life.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology,3 found that patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s had dramatically higher levels of the DDT metabolite DDE in their blood—four times higher, in fact—compared to people of similar age who do not have the disease. Lead author Jason Richardson told the LA Times:

“DDE can last in the body for a number of years. When you are looking at DDE levels, it is basically a snapshot of a person’s lifetime exposure to DDT as well as DDE in the environment…

Over 80 percent of us have measurable levels of DDE in our blood; that is a reality. We get it from legacy contamination or food that comes from countries using DDT.”

The Long-Term Ramifications of Agricultural Chemicals on Human Health

The use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) began during the second half of World War II, when it was liberally sprayed to control diseases such as malaria and typhus. Once the war was over, it began being used as an agricultural pesticide. Monsanto was one of more than a dozen companies that manufactured the chemical.

In 1962, American biologist wrote the groundbreaking book Silent Spring, in which she warned of the devastating environmental impacts of DDT, suggesting the chemical may also have harmful effects on human health.

She rightfully questioned the logic and sanity of using such vast amounts of a chemical without knowing much about its ecological and human health impact. The public outcry that resulted from her book eventually led to DDT being banned for agricultural use in the US in 1972.

Fast-forward just over 40 years, and we’re now seeing the effects of that DDT exposure. Interestingly, several studies456789 have linked increased DDT and/or DDE levels to diabetes as well.

The suggestion that DDT exposure may contribute to diabetes and/or such a devastating disease as Alzheimer’s—decades after exposure—should be a worldwide wake-up call for what the ramifications of glyphosate might be.

Glyphosate (Roundup) was approved in 1974 in the US,10 and has been widely and aggressively used since then. (It didn’t gain EU-wide approval until 2002.) As with DDT, we’re now seeing research linking glyphosate exposure to dramatic jumps in disease rates, such as autism for example, as well as food allergies and digestive problems.

The difference is that the effects are showing far sooner, and appear more evidently linked than in the case of DDT. Personally, I believe we’re in for a world of hurt in coming decades, as the full effects of glyphosate toxicity become evident. In my view, there’s simply no time to waste when it comes to ending the reckless use of glyphosate.

Glyphosate—A Thoroughly Underestimated Poison That May Be WORSE Than DDT

According to Dr. Don Huber, an expert in an area of science that relates to the toxicity of genetically engineered (GE) foods, glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—is actually FAR worse than DDT!

It’s worth noting that genetically engineered (GE) crops are far more contaminated with glyphosate than conventional crops, courtesy of the fact that they’re engineered to withstand extremely high levels of Roundup without perishing along with the weed. Glyphosate contamination is a major part of the overall hazards of GE foods, as the chemical cannot be washed off—it is incorporated into every cell of the plant.

Strange as it may sound, when asked which toxin he would prefer to use if he had to make a choice between two evils, Dr. Huber says he’d actually take DDT over glyphosate!

“A lot of these materials can have a very beneficial use. I’m certainly not anti-chemical. But we have to use some common sense. What we have with glyphosate is the most abused chemical we have ever had in the history of man,” he said in a previous interview.

“…When future historians write about our time, they’re not going to write about the tons of chemicals that we did or didn’t apply. When it comes to glyphosate, they’re going to write about our willingness to sacrifice our children and jeopardize our existence, while threatening and jeopardizing the very basis of our existence; the sustainability of our agriculture…

It doesn’t mean that it’s not reversible… But it means that we need to recognize what the concerns are, what’s happening, and then we need to change.”

The Many Health Hazards of Glyphosate

As stated by Dr. Huber, we jumped in without the basic understanding of what products like DDT and glyphosate do—beyond their obvious benefits of killing pests—and this was done to support the bottom line of a few large companies, such as Monsanto.

The public’s appreciation of the toxicity of glyphosate is still rather limited, and the fact that Monsanto marketed Roundup as “environmentally friendly” and “biodegradable” has undoubtedly had quite a bit to do with this general lack of insight. (In 2009, a French court upheld two earlier convictions against Monsanto for false advertising of Roundup.) Glyphosate is actually, in many ways, similar to DDT, which is also known to cause reproductive problems and birth defects11among other things. Like DDT, glyphosate has also been identified as a likely causative factor in fertility problems and birth defects. Furthermore, research shows that glyphosate:

Decimates beneficial microorganisms in the soil essential for proper plant function and high-quality nutrition Causes extreme disruption of your gut microbes’ function and lifecycle;preferentially affecting beneficialbacteria, while promoting the growth of pathogens in your intestines
Chelates critical microminerals, preventing them from being utilized by the plant (leading to nutrient-deficient food) Inhibits enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances, which appears to be an overlooked component of glyphosate’s toxicity to mammals. By limiting the ability of these enzymes to detoxify foreign chemical compounds, glyphosateenhances the damaging effects of those chemicals and environmental toxins you may be exposed to
Promotes the proliferation of disease-causing pathogens in soil Is toxic to water fleas at extraordinarily low levels, well within the levels expected to be found in the environment. These findings throw serious doubt on glyphosate’s safety
Predisposes cattle to lethal botulism Is toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications

The Rise in Autism Perfectly Matches Use of Glyphosate

Former US Navy staff scientist Dr. Nancy Swanson, Ph.D. has meticulously collected statistics on glyphosate usage and various diseases and conditions, including autism, the results of which are shown in the graphic below. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect match-up between the rise in glyphosate usage and incidence of autism.

You can access her published articles and reports on Sustainable Pulse,12 a European website dedicated to exposing the hazards of genetically engineered foods. According to Dr. Swanson:

“Prevalence and incidence data show correlations between diseases of the organs and the increase in Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the food supply, along with the increase in glyphosate-based herbicide applications. More and more studies have revealed carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting effects of Roundup at lower doses than those authorized for residues found in Genetically Modified Organisms.”

“The endocrine disrupting properties of glyphosate can lead to reproductive problems: infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, and sexual development. Fetuses, infants and children are especially susceptible because they are continually experiencing growth and hormonal changes. For optimal growth and development, it is crucial that their hormonal system is functioning properly.

The endocrine disrupting properties also lead to neurological disorders (learning disabilities (LD), attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder). Those most susceptible are children and the elderly.”

15-Minute At-Home Alzheimer’s Test Goes Viral

There’s no doubt that Alzheimer’s disease is fast becoming a concern on many people’s minds. A 15-minute at-home test to assess your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences,13immediately went viral on the web. As reported by Forbes:14

“Titled the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination test, or SAGE, and developed by Douglas Scharre, M.D., of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, it’s a surprisingly simple 12-question pen-and-paper questionnaire. While participants in the study took a supervised test, it can be taken at home.

Scharre and colleagues validated the test by giving it to 1,047 people over 50 in community settings. Results showed 28 percent had signs of cognitive decline they were unaware of… The test can be used both as a routine screening tool and by those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline to monitor their condition.”

If you want to try it out for yourself, you can download the SAGE test from the Ohio State University’s website.15 Test questions include:

  • Naming certain items shown in picture form
  • Explaining how two items are alike
  • Simple financial or math questions
  • Memorization assignments
  • Copying simple geometric drawings
  • Matching numbers to letters

According to Dr. Scharre, this simple test correlates very well to more comprehensive cognitive tests, and is an excellent way to get an early assessment of your cognitive function. If taken at intervals over time, it can also serve as an early warning, if your scores begin to decline.

Prevention Is FAR Easier and More Effective Than Treatment After Onset

It’s important to realize that Alzheimer’s is a disease driven by poor lifestyle choices and the toxic buildup that so often go along with such choices. I firmly believe that your diet is the most important factor of all. Not only from a nutritional standpoint, but also from the standpoint of chemical exposure. This warning applies not just for the prevention of Alzheimer’s—I believe we are headed toward a widespread health calamity of absolutely enormous proportions, courtesy of the overuse of glyphosate, which researchers now believe may be a primary driver of virtually all chronic disease!

In terms of recommended dietary changes, avoiding processed foods is a foundational underpinning of good health, made even more important now that most processed foods contain genetically engineered ingredients (primarily corn, soy, sugar beet, and all the derivatives thereof). Replacing non-vegetable carbohydrates with higher amounts of healthful fats and moderate amounts of high-quality protein is also at the very top of my list for chronic disease prevention.

I recently discussed a wide array of prevention strategies for Alzheimer’s in my article “Vitamin E May Offer Benefits for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease,” so for more details about how you can protect yourself against this deadly disease, please refer to that article.

It’s really astounding to consider the health tragedies we may be facing in the coming decades, all in the name of efficiency and scientific progress. My strong recommendation is to do everything in your power to avoid such a fate, and to protect your children from it to the best of your ability. While difficult, it’s not impossible. But you do need to make food a priority in your life, and take proactive measures to promote the growing of organic foods. Besides buying organic, you can also go a step further and grow your own food. I also encourage you to take a firm stance for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, which tend to carry the highest health risks, whether known or presently unknown.

Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day

Remember, the food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State—to prevent you from knowing what’s in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.

I-522 poster
As always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you’ve learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beet, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.

If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.

For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:

For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the chemical technology industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.

Planetary Emergency

The Coming ‘Instant Planetary Emergency’

How will climate change affect the future of the planet? Scientists predict it will be nothing short of a nightmare.

December 17, 2013

Waves wash over a roller coaster from a Seaside Heights, New Jersey, amusement park that fell in the Atlantic Ocean during Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo)

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com.

I haven’t returned to Mount Rainier to see just how much further that glacier has receded in the last few years, but recently I went on a search to find out just how bad it might turn out to be. I discovered a set of perfectly serious scientists—not the majority of all climate scientists by any means, but thoughtful outliers—who suggest that it isn’t just really, really bad; it’s catastrophic. Some of them even think that, if the record ongoing releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, are aided and abetted by massive releases of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, life as we humans have known it might be at an end on this planet. They fear that we may be at—and over—a climate change precipice hair-raisingly quickly.

Mind you, the more conservative climate science types, represented by the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), paint scenarios that are only modestly less hair-raising, but let’s spend a little time, as I’ve done, with what might be called scientists at the edge and hear just what they have to say.

“We’ve Never Been Here as a Species”

“We as a species have never experienced 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of evolutionary biology, natural resources, and ecology at the University of Arizona and a climate change expert of twenty-five years, told me. “We’ve never been on a planet with no Arctic ice, and we will hit the average of 400 ppm…within the next couple of years. At that time, we’ll also see the loss of Arctic ice in the summers.… This planet has not experienced an ice-free Arctic for at least the last three million years.”

For the uninitiated, in the simplest terms, here’s what an ice-free Arctic would mean when it comes to heating the planet: minus the reflective ice cover on Arctic waters, solar radiation would be absorbed, not reflected, by the Arctic Ocean. That would heat those waters, and hence the planet, further. This effect has the potential to change global weather patterns, vary the flow of winds, and even someday possibly alter the position of the jet stream. Polar jet streams are fast flowing rivers of wind positioned high in the earth’s atmosphere that push cold and warm air masses around, playing a critical role in determining the weather of our planet.

McPherson, who maintains the blog Nature Bats Last, added, “We’ve never been here as a species and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.”

While his perspective is more extreme than that of the mainstream scientific community, which sees true disaster many decades into our future, he’s far from the only scientist expressing such concerns. Professor Peter Wadhams, a leading Arctic expert at Cambridge University, has been measuring Arctic ice for forty years, and his findings underscore McPherson’s fears. “The fall-off in ice volume is so fast it is going to bring us to zero very quickly,” Wadhams told a reporter. According to current data, he estimates “with 95% confidence” that the Arctic will have completely ice-free summers by 2018. (US Navy researchers have predicted an ice-free Arctic even earlier—by 2016.)

British scientist John Nissen, chairman of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (of which Wadhams is a member), suggests that if the summer sea ice loss passes “the point of no return,” and “catastrophic Arctic methane feedbacks” kick in, we’ll be in an “instant planetary emergency.”

McPherson, Wadham and Nissen represent just the tip of a melting iceberg of scientists who are now warning us about looming disaster, especially involving Arctic methane releases. In the atmosphere, methane is a greenhouse gas that, on a relatively short-term time scale, is far more destructive than carbon dioxide (CO2). It is twenty-three times as powerful as CO2 per molecule on a 100-year timescale, 105 times more potent when it comes to heating the planet on a twenty-year timescale—and the Arctic permafrost, onshore and off, is packed with the stuff. “The seabed,” says Wadham, “is offshore permafrost, but is now warming and melting. We are now seeing great plumes of methane bubbling up in the Siberian Sea…millions of square miles where methane cover is being released.”

According to a study just published in Nature Geoscience, twice as much methane as previously thought is being released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a two million square kilometer area off the coast of Northern Siberia. Its researchers found that at least 17 teragrams (one million tons) of methane are being released into the atmosphere each year, whereas a 2010 study had found only seven teragrams heading into the atmosphere.

The day after Nature Geoscience released its study, a group of scientists from Harvard and other leading academic institutions published a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing that the amount of methane being emitted in the United States both from oil and agricultural operations could be 50 percent greater than previous estimates and 1.5 times higher than estimates of the Environmental Protection Agency.

How serious is the potential global methane build-up? Not all scientists think it’s an immediate threat or even the major threat we face, but Ira Leifer, an atmospheric and marine scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the authors of the recent Arctic Methane study, pointed out to me that “the Permian mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago is related to methane and thought to be the key to what caused the extinction of most species on the planet.” In that extinction episode, it is estimated that 95 percent of all species were wiped out.

Also known as “the Great Dying,” it was triggered by a massive lava flow in an area of Siberia that led to an increase in global temperatures of six degrees Celsius. That, in turn, caused the melting of frozen methane deposits under the seas. Released into the atmosphere, it caused temperatures to skyrocket further. All of this occurred over a period of approximately 80,000 years.

We are currently in the midst of what scientists consider the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, with between 150 and 200 species going extinct daily, a pace 1,000 times greater than the “natural” or “background” extinction rate. This event may already be comparable to, or even exceed, both the speed and intensity of the Permian mass extinction. The difference being that ours is human-caused, isn’t going to take 80,000 years, has so far lasted just a few centuries and is now gaining speed in a non-linear fashion.

It is possible that, on top of the vast quantities of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels that continue to enter the atmosphere in record amounts yearly, an increased release of methane could signal the beginning of the sort of process that led to the Great Dying. Some scientists fear that the situation is already so serious and so many self-reinforcing feedback loops are already in play that we are in the process of causing our own extinction. Worse yet, some are convinced that it could happen far more quickly than generally believed possible—even in the course of just the next few decades.

The Sleeping Giant Stirs

According to a NASA research report, “Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?”: “Over hundreds of millennia, Arctic permafrost soils have accumulated vast stores of organic carbon—an estimated 1,400 to 1,850 petagrams of it (a petagram is 2.2 trillion pounds, or 1 billion metric tons). That’s about half of all the estimated organic carbon stored in Earth’s soils. In comparison, about 350 petagrams of carbon have been emitted from all fossil-fuel combustion and human activities since 1850. Most of this carbon is located in thaw-vulnerable top soils within 10 feet (3 meters) of the surface.”

NASA scientists, along with others, are learning that the Arctic permafrost—and its stored carbon—may not be as permanently frosted as its name implies. Research scientist Charles Miller of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the principal investigator of the Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment (CARVE), a five-year NASA-led field campaign to study how climate change is affecting the Arctic’s carbon cycle. He told NASA, “Permafrost soils are warming even faster than Arctic air temperatures—as much as 2.7 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) in just the past 30 years. As heat from Earth’s surface penetrates into permafrost, it threatens to mobilize these organic carbon reservoirs and release them into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, upsetting the Arctic’s carbon balance and greatly exacerbating global warming.”

He fears the potential results should a full-scale permafrost melt take place. As he points out, “Changes in climate may trigger transformations that are simply not reversible within our lifetimes, potentially causing rapid changes in the Earth system that will require adaptations by people and ecosystems.”

The recent NASA study highlights the discovery of active and growing methane vents up to 150 kilometers across. A scientist on a research ship in the area described this as a bubbling as far as the eye can see in which the seawater looks like a vast pool of seltzer. Between the summers of 2010 and 2011, in fact, scientists found that in the course of a year methane vents only thirty centimeters across had grown a kilometer wide, a 3,333 percent increase and an example of the non-linear rapidity with which parts of the planet are responding to climate disruption.

Miller revealed another alarming finding: “Some of the methane and carbon dioxide concentrations we’ve measured have been large, and we’re seeing very different patterns from what models suggest,” he said of some of CARVE’s earlier findings. “We saw large, regional-scale episodic bursts of higher than normal carbon dioxide and methane in interior Alaska and across the North Slope during the spring thaw, and they lasted until after the fall refreeze. To cite another example, in July 2012 we saw methane levels over swamps in the Innoko Wilderness that were 650 parts per billion higher than normal background levels. That’s similar to what you might find in a large city.”

Moving beneath the Arctic Ocean where methane hydrates—often described as methane gas surrounded by ice—exist, a March 2010 report in Science indicated that these cumulatively contain the equivalent of 1,000–10,000 gigatons of carbon. Compare this total to the 240 gigatons of carbon humanity has emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution began.

A study published in the prestigious journal Nature this July suggested that a fifty-gigaton “burp” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea is “highly possible at anytime.” That would be the equivalent of at least 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

Even the relatively staid IPCC has warned of such a scenario: “The possibility of abrupt climate change and/or abrupt changes in the earth system triggered by climate change, with potentially catastrophic consequences, cannot be ruled out. Positive feedback from warming may cause the release of carbon or methane from the terrestrial biosphere and oceans.”

In the last two centuries, the amount of methane in the atmosphere has increased from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7 parts per million. The introduction of methane in such quantities into the atmosphere may, some climate scientists fear, make increases in the global temperature of four to six degrees Celsius inevitable.

The ability of the human psyche to take in and grasp such information is being tested. And while that is happening, yet more data continues to pour in—and the news is not good.

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

Consider this timeline:

* Late 2007: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)announces that the planet will see a one degree Celsius temperature increase due to climate change by 2100.

* Late 2008: The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research predicts a 2C increase by 2100.

* Mid-2009: The UN Environment Programme predicts a 3.5C increase by 2100. Such an increase would remove habitat for human beings on this planet, as nearly all the plankton in the oceans would be destroyed, and associated temperature swings would kill off many land plants. Humans have never lived on a planet at 3.5C above baseline.

* October 2009: The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research releases an updated prediction, suggesting a 4C temperature increase by 2060.

* November 2009: The Global Carbon Project, which monitors the global carbon cycle, and theCopenhagen Diagnosis, a climate science report, predict 6C and 7C temperature increases, respectively, by 2100.

* December 2010: The UN Environment Programme predicts up to a 5C increase by 2050.

* 2012: The conservative International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook report for that year states that we are on track to reach a 2C increase by 2017.

* November 2013: The International Energy Agency predicts a 3.5C increase by 2035.

A briefing provided to the failed UN Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in 2009 provided this summary: “The long-term sea level that corresponds to current CO2 concentration is about 23 meters above today’s levels, and the temperatures will be 6 degrees C or more higher. These estimates are based on real long-term climate records, not on models.”

On December 3, a study by eighteen eminent scientists, including the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, showed that the long-held, internationally agreed-upon target to limit rises in global average temperatures to two degrees Celsius was in error and far above the 1C threshold that would need to be maintained in order to avoid the effects of catastrophic climate change.

And keep in mind that the various major assessments of future global temperatures seldom assume the worst about possible self-reinforcing climate feedback loops like the methane one.

“Things Are Looking Really Dire”

Climate-change-related deaths are already estimated at 5 million annually, and the process seems to be accelerating more rapidly than most climate models have suggested. Even without taking into account the release of frozen methane in the Arctic, some scientists are already painting a truly bleak picture of the human future. Take Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Neil Dawe, who in August told a reporter that he wouldn’t be surprised if the generation after him witnessed the extinction of humanity. All around the estuary near his office on Vancouver Island, he has been witnessing the unraveling of “the web of life,” and “it’s happening very quickly.”

“Economic growth is the biggest destroyer of the ecology,” Dawe says. “Those people who think you can have a growing economy and a healthy environment are wrong. If we don’t reduce our numbers, nature will do it for us.” And he isn’t hopeful humans will be able to save themselves. “Everything is worse and we’re still doing the same things. Because ecosystems are so resilient, they don’t exact immediate punishment on the stupid.”

The University of Arizona’s Guy McPherson has similar fears. “We will have very few humans on the planet because of lack of habitat,” he says. Of recent studies showing the toll temperature increases will take on that habitat, he adds, “They are only looking at CO2 in the atmosphere.”

Here’s the question: Could some version of extinction or near-extinction overcome humanity, thanks to climate change—and possibly incredibly fast? Similar things have happened in the past. Fifty-five million years ago, a five-degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures seems to have occurred in just thirteen years, according to a study published in the October 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A report in the August 2013 issue of Science revealed that in the near-term Earth’s climate will change ten times faster than at any other moment in the last 65 million years.

“The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on the planet,” climate scientist James Hansen has said. “There are potential irreversible effects of melting the Arctic sea ice. If it begins to allow the Arctic Ocean to warm up, and warm the ocean floor, then we’ll begin to release methane hydrates. And if we let that happen, that is a potential tipping point that we don’t want to happen. If we burn all the fossil fuels then we certainly will cause the methane hydrates, eventually, to come out and cause several degrees more warming, and it’s not clear that civilization could survive that extreme climate change.”

Yet, long before humanity has burned all fossil fuel reserves on the planet, massive amounts of methane will be released. While the human body is potentially capable of handling a six-to-nine-degree Celsius rise in the planetary temperature, the crops and habitat we use for food production are not. As McPherson put it, “If we see a 3.5 to 4C baseline increase, I see no way to have habitat. We are at .85C above baseline and we’ve already triggered all these self-reinforcing feedback loops.”

He adds: “All the evidence points to a locked-in 3.5 to 5 degree C global temperature rise above the 1850 ‘norm’ by mid-century, possibly much sooner. This guarantees a positive feedback, already underway, leading to 4.5 to 6 or more degrees above ‘norm’ and that is a level lethal to life. This is partly due to the fact that humans have to eat and plants can’t adapt fast enough to make that possible for the 7-to-9 billion of us—so we’ll die.”

If you think McPherson’s comment about lack of adaptability goes over the edge, consider that the rate of evolution trails the rate of climate change by a factor of 10,000, according to a paper in the August 2013 issue of Ecology Letters. Furthermore, David Wasdel, director of the Apollo-Gaia Project and an expert on multiple feedback dynamics, says, “We are experiencing change 200 to 300 times faster than any of the previous major extinction events.”

Wasdel cites with particular alarm scientific reports showing that the oceans have already lost 40 percent of their phytoplankton, the base of the global oceanic food chain, because of climate-change-induced acidification and atmospheric temperature variations. (According to the Center for Ocean Solutions: “The oceans have absorbed almost one-half of human-released CO2emissions since the Industrial Revolution. Although this has moderated the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, it is chemically altering marine ecosystems 100 times more rapidly than it has changed in at least the last 650,000 years.”)

“This is already a mass extinction event,” Wasdel adds. “The question is, how far is it going to go? How serious does it become? If we are not able to stop the rate of increase of temperature itself, and get that back under control, then a high temperature event, perhaps another five to six degrees [C], would obliterate at least 60 percent to 80 percent of the populations and species of life on Earth.”

What Comes Next?

In November 2012, even Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group (an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries), warned that “a 4C warmer world can, and must be, avoided. Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today.”

A World Bank–commissioned report warned that we are indeed on track to a “4C world” marked by extreme heat waves and life-threatening sea-level rise.

The three living diplomats who have led UN climate change talks claim there is little chance the next climate treaty, if it is ever approved, will prevent the world from overheating. “There is nothing that can be agreed in 2015 that would be consistent with the two degrees,” says Yvo de Boer, who was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2009, when attempts to reach a deal at a summit in Copenhagen crumbled. “The only way that a 2015 agreement can achieve a two-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy.”

Atmospheric and marine scientist Ira Leifer is particularly concerned about the changing rainfall patterns a recently leaked IPCC draft report suggested for our future: “When I look at what the models predicted for a 4C world, I see very little rain over vast swaths of populations. If Spain becomes like Algeria, where do all the Spaniards get the water to survive? We have parts of the world which have high populations which have high rainfall and crops that exist there, and when that rainfall and those crops go away and the country starts looking more like some of North Africa, what keeps the people alive?”

The IPCC report suggests that we can expect a generalized shifting of global rain patterns further north, robbing areas that now get plentiful rain of future water supplies. History shows us that when food supplies collapse, wars begin, while famine and disease spread. All of these things, scientists now fear, could happen on an unprecedented scale, especially given the interconnected nature of the global economy.

“Some scientists are indicating we should make plans to adapt to a 4C world,” Leifer comments. “While prudent, one wonders what portion of the living population now could adapt to such a world, and my view is that it’s just a few thousand people [seeking refuge] in the Arctic or Antarctica.”

Not surprisingly, scientists with such views are often not the most popular guys in the global room. McPherson, for instance, has often been labeled “Guy McStinction”—to which he responds, “I’m just reporting the results from other scientists. Nearly all of these results are published in established, esteemed literature. I don’t think anybody is taking issue with NASA, orNature, or Science, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Those] and the others I report are reasonably well known and come from legitimate sources, like NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], for example. I’m not making this information up, I’m just connecting a couple of dots, and it’s something many people have difficulty with.”

McPherson does not hold out much hope for the future, nor for a governmental willingness to make anything close to the radical changes that would be necessary to quickly ease the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; nor does he expect the mainstream media to put much effort into reporting on all of this because, as he says, “There’s not much money in the end of civilization, and even less to be made in human extinction.” The destruction of the planet, on the other hand, is a good bet, he believes, “because there is money in this, and as long as that’s the case, it is going to continue.”

Leifer, however, is convinced that there is a moral obligation never to give up and that the path to global destruction could be altered. “In the short term, if you can make it in the economic interests of people to do the right thing, it’ll happen very fast.” He offers an analogy when it comes to whether humanity will be willing to act to mitigate the effects of climate change: “People do all sorts of things to lower their risk of cancer, not because you are guaranteed not to get it, but because you do what you can and take out the health protections and insurance you need in order to try to lower your risk of getting it.”

The signs of a worsening climate crisis are all around us, whether we allow ourselves to see them or not. Certainly, the scientific community gets it. As do countless communities across the globe where the effects of climate change are already being experienced in striking ways and local preparations for climatic disasters, including increasingly powerful floods, droughts, wildfires, heat waves and storms are underway. Evacuations from low-lying South Pacific islands have already begun. People in such areas, out of necessity, are starting to try to teach their children how to adapt to, and live in, what we are causing our world to become.

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My niece and nephews are doing something similar. They are growing vegetables in a backyard garden and their eight chickens provide more than enough eggs for the family. Their parents are intent on teaching them how to be ever more self-sustaining. But none of these heartfelt actions can mitigate what is already underway when it comes to the global climate.

I am 45 years old, and I often wonder how my generation will survive the impending climate crisis. What will happen to our world if the summer Arctic waters are indeed ice-free only a few years from now? What will my life look like if I live to experience a 3.5 Celsius global temperature increase?

Above all, I wonder how coming generations will survive.

Dahr Jamail has written extensively about climate change as well as the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism and the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. He is the author of two books: Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraqand The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently works for al-Jazeera English in Doha, Qatar.

Read next: Typhoon Haiyan’s message to the world.

Insurance Industry Opposes Right Wing Ideologies

Conservative Ideology No Longer Privately InsuredGuns_1000

Two insurance industry reports expose the right’s broken logic on gun control and environmentalism

Thanks to Salon.com.

By David Sirota

Creators Syndicate, 8/9/13

 

Stripped down to its fundamentals, the insurance business is the business of assessing risk. Regardless of what is being insured, a successful insurer is one that analyzes the risk of having to pay out benefits, and then adjusts coverage rates to make sure more money is coming in than is going out. The more accurate the assessment of risk, the more financially successful an insurance company tends to be.

 

Because of this model, private insurance is the conservative ideologue’s favored method of assessing danger and managing risk, for it is a purely free-market instrument. Indeed, as a right-wing activist would readily admit, private insurance focuses exclusively on the dollars and cents of actuarial analyses, and it bases prices on data and empiricism, not on fact-free political ideology and poll-tested platitudes.

 

So, then, what happens when the insurance industry so touted by the conservative movement starts saying things that wholly contradict that movement’s talking points?

 

This is the unanswered question posed by two new insurance-related reports that expose the bankruptcy of the right’s environmental extremism and its opposition to gun control.

 

The first comes from the insurance industry’s official think tank, the Geneva Association. Rejecting conservatives’ opposition to the fight against climate change, the organization issued a study documenting “a significant upward trend in the insured losses caused by extreme weather events.” It concluded that the insurance industry should fight back against the conservative movement’s attempts to downplay climate change fears and “play an active role in raising awareness of risk and climate change.” It also called for a “transition to a low-carbon economy” and “the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” because that “will ultimately create a more resilient society.”

 

Then came a dispatch from the Des Moines Register, which reported that the company insuring most Kansas schools “has refused to renew coverage for schools that permit teachers and custodians to carry concealed firearms on their campuses.” The announcement was a rebuke to a new Kansas law that responded to the Newtown, Conn. school massacre by permitting gun owners to carry firearms in schools.

 

In both cases, the insurance industry’s free-market analysis of risk – not a fact-free declaration of political ideology – ended up rebuking the conservative talking points of the day. In the climate-change case, for instance, an organization comprised of buttoned-down insurance CEOs rejected the right’s campaign of do-nothingism and denialism. Likewise, in the gun case, insurance actuaries’ evaluation of risk ended up discrediting the arms-race ideology of the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, who infamously called for more guns in schools on the assumption that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

 

The conservative response to this kind of news is usually a temper tantrum. You know how it goes – Stephen Colbert-like declarations that “reality has a well-known liberal bias” and then claims that it is all a left-wing conspiracy (no doubt, some will cite the insurance industry’s reports as proof that the insurance companies are in on the conspiracy!).

 

But maybe that’s not how it will all play out this time around. With the broadsides against the conservative movement now coming from the very private insurance industry that the movement so adores, maybe this can be a moment of change on the right. Maybe, just maybe conservatives can see that what’s really at work here is their own sacred free-market principle of “creative destruction” – only this time around, it is the right’s misguided ideology that is being destroyed.

 

David Sirota is the best-selling author of the books “Hostile Takeover,” “The Uprising” and “Back to Our Future.” E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com

Roundup is Toxic

Roundup and Glyphosate Toxicity Have Been Grossly Underestimated

July 30, 2013 | Thanks to Mercola.com.
By Dr. Mercola

The true toxicity of glyphosate—the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup—is becoming increasingly clear as study after study is published demonstrating its devastating effects. In June, groundbreaking research was published detailing a newfound mechanism of harm for Roundup.

This was immediately followed by tests showing that people in 18 countries across Europe have glyphosate in their bodies,1 while yet another study revealed that the chemical has estrogenic properties and drives breast cancer proliferation in the parts-per-trillion range.2

This finding might help explain why rats fed Monsanto’s maize developed massive breast tumors in the first-ever lifetime feeding study published last year. Other recently published studies demonstrate glyphosate’s toxicity to cell lines, aquatic life, food animals, and humans.

Glyphosate Toxicity Underestimated, Study Concludes

One such study, published in the journal Ecotoxicology,3 found that glyphosate is toxic to water fleas (Daphnia magna) at minuscule levels that are well within the levels expected to be found in the environment.

According to regulators, glyphosate is thought to be practically nontoxic to aquatic invertebrates. The water flea is a widely accepted model for environmental toxicity, so this study throws serious doubt on glyphosate’s classification as environmentally safe. According to the study:

“To test the acute effects of both glyphosate and a commercial formulation of Roundup (hereafter Roundup), we conducted a series of exposure experiments with different clones and age-classes of D. magna…. Roundup showed slightly lower acute toxicity than glyphosate IPA alone… However, in chronic toxicity tests spanning the whole life-cycle, Roundup was more toxic.

…Significant reduction of juvenile size was observed even in the lowest test concentrations of 0.05 mg a.i./l, for both glyphosate and Roundup. At 0.45 mg a.i./l, growth, fecundity and abortion rate was affected, but only in animals exposed to Roundup.

At 1.35 and 4.05 mg a.i./l of both glyphosate and Roundup, significant negative effects were seen on most tested parameters, including mortality. D. magna was adversely affected by a near 100% abortion rate of eggs and embryonic stages at 1.35 mg a.i./l of Roundup.

The results indicate that aquatic invertebrate ecology can be adversely affected by relevant ambient concentrations of this major herbicide. We conclude that glyphosate and Roundup toxicity to aquatic invertebrates have been underestimated and that current European Commission and US EPA toxicity classification of these chemicals need to be revised.”

Herbicide Formulations Far More Toxic Than Glyphosate Alone

An article published on Greenmedinfo.com4 last year reviewed several interesting studies relating to the profound toxicity of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup:

“Back in Feb. of 2012, the journal Archives of Toxicology5 published a shocking study showing that Roundup is toxic to human DNA even when diluted to concentrations 450-fold lower than used in agricultural applications.

This effect could not have been anticipated from the known toxicological effects of glyphosate alone. The likely explanation is that the surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine within Roundup dramatically enhances the absorption of glyphosate into exposed human cells and tissue,” Sayer Ji writes.

“If this is true, it speaks to a fundamental problem associated with toxicological risk assessments of agrichemicals (and novel manmade chemicals in general), namely, these assessments do not take into account the reality of synergistic toxicologies, i.e. the amplification of harm associated with multiple chemical exposures occurring simultaneously.”

‘Inert’ Ingredients Does NOT Mean They Are Inactive…

Similarly, another study published that year in the journal Toxicology67 revealed that inert ingredients such as solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other added substances are anything but “inactive.” They in fact contribute to toxicity in a synergistic manner, and ethoxylated adjuvants in glyphosate-based herbicides were found to be “active principles of human cell toxicity.”

(On a side note, an “ethoxylated” compound is a chemical that has been produced using the carcinogen ethylene oxide.8 The ethoxylation process also produces the carcinogenic byproduct 1,4-dioxane. It’s also worth noting here that the term “inert ingredient” does NOT actually mean that it is biologically or toxicologically harmless! When you see “inert” or “inactive ingredients” listed on the label of a pesticide or herbicide, it only means that those ingredients will not harm pests or weeds. This is how federal law classifies “inert” pesticide ingredients.)9

The study found that liver, embryonic and placental cell lines exposed to various herbicide formulations for 24 hours at doses as low as 1 part per million (ppm), had adverse effects.10 According to the authors:11

“Here we demonstrate that all formulations are more toxic than glyphosate, and we separated experimentally three groups of formulations differentially toxic according to their concentrations in ethoxylated adjuvants. Among them, POE-15 clearly appears to be the most toxic principle against human cells, even if others are not excluded. It begins to be active with negative dose-dependent effects on cellular respiration and membrane integrity between 1 and 3ppm, at environmental/occupational doses. We demonstrate in addition that POE-15 induces necrosis when its first micellization process occurs, by contrast to glyphosate which is known to promote endocrine disrupting effects after entering cells.

Altogether, these results challenge the establishment of guidance values such as the acceptable daily intake of glyphosate, when these are mostly based on a long term in vivo test of glyphosate alone. Since pesticides are always used with adjuvants that could change their toxicity, the necessity to assess their whole formulations as mixtures becomes obvious. This challenges the concept of active principle of pesticides for non-target species.” [Emphasis mine]

Perhaps most disturbing of all, the researchers claim that cell damage and even cell death can occur at the residual levels found on Roundup-treated crops, as well as lawns and gardens where Roundup is applied for weed control. They also suspect that:12

“Roundup might cause pregnancy problems by interfering with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal fetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages.”

Birth Malformation Skyrocketing in Agricultural Centers of Argentina

Indeed, miscarriages, fertility problems and abnormal fetal development are all problems that are skyrocketing in Argentina, where many are exposed to massive spraying of herbicides. More than 18 million hectares in Argentina are covered by genetically engineered soy, on which more than 300 million liters of pesticides are sprayed. In the village of Malvinas Argentinas, which is surrounded by soy plantations, the rate of miscarriage is 100 times the national average, courtesy of glyphosate.

According to Dr. Medardo Vasquez, a neonatal specialist at the Children’s Hospital in Cordoba, featured in the documentary filmPeople and Power — Argentina: The Bad Seeds:

“I see new-born infants, many of whom are malformed. I have to tell parents that their children are dying because of these agricultural methods. In some areas in Argentina the primary cause of death for children less than one year old is malformations.”

But even if you don’t live in an agricultural area where you might be exposed to Roundup directly, you’re still getting it through your diet if you’re eating non-organic foods. A report given to MomsAcrossAmerica13 by an employee of De Dell Seed Company (Canada’s only non-GM corn seed company) shows that GM corn contains as much as 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to zero in non-GM corn.

The EPA standard for glyphosate in American water supplies is 0.7 ppm. In Europe, the maximum allowable level in water is 0.2 ppm. Organ damage in animals has occurred at levels as low as 0.1 ppm, and in the study on cell lines discussed above, liver, embryonic and placental cell lines were adversely affected at doses as low as 1 ppm. The fact that genetically modified corn can contain as much as 13 ppm of glyphosate has staggering implications for Americans who eat an average of 193 pounds of genetically engineered foods each year!14

Glyphosate Predisposes Cattle to Botulism

A German study15 published earlier this year looked at glyphosate’s role in the rise of toxic botulism in cattle. This used to be extremely rare, but the incidence has become increasingly common over the past 10-15 years. Normal intestinal microflora is essential for keeping Clostridium botulinum and other pathogens in check, and researchers are now finding that the beneficial gut bacteria in both animals and humans is very sensitive to residual glyphosate levels. This has been discussed previously by bothDr. Don Huber and Dr. Stephanie Seneff.

In this study, the researchers explain that certain intestinal bacteria produce bacteriocines that are specifically directed against C. botulinum, as well as other dangerous pathogens. According to the authors, lactic acid producing bacteria that help defend against Clostridium pathogens are destroyed by glyphosate, suggesting that the rise in C. botulinum associated diseases may be due to glyphosate-tainted animal feed.

The Overlooked Component of Toxicity in Humans

As for its effects on humans, the Samsel – Seneff study published in June suggests that glyphosate may actually be the most important factor in the development of a wide variety of chronic diseases, specifically because your gut bacteria are a key component of glyphosate’s mechanism of harm. Monsanto has steadfastly claimed that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because the mechanism of action it uses (which allows it to kill weeds), called the shikimate pathway, is absent in all animals. However, the shikimate pathway IS present in bacteria, and that’s the key to understanding how it causes such widespread systemic harm in both humans and animals.

The bacteria in your body outnumber your cells by 10 to 1. For every cell in your body, you have 10 microbes of various kinds, and all of them have the shikimate pathway, so they will all respond to the presence of glyphosate!

Glyphosate causes extreme disruption of the microbe’s function and lifecycle. What’s worse, glyphosate preferentially affectsbeneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow and take over. At that point, your body also has to contend with the toxins produced by the pathogens. Once the chronic inflammation sets in, you’re well on your way toward chronic and potentially debilitating disease…

The answer, of course, is to avoid processed foods of all kinds, as they’re virtually guaranteed to contain genetically engineered ingredients, and center your diet around whole, organic foods as toxic pesticides are not permitted in organic farming. Supporting GMO labeling is also important if you value your health, and that of your family and friends, in order to be able to make informed shopping decisions.

Join Us in Your Right to Know by Getting GMOs Labeled!

 

While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. In the past few weeks, Connecticut and Maine have passed GMO-labeling bills, and 20 other states have pending legislation to label genetically engineered foods. So, now is the time to put the pedal to the metal and get labeling across the country—something 64 other countries already have.

I hope you will join us in this effort.

The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people’s initiative 522, “The People’s Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act,” will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. Please help us win this key GMO labeling battle and continue to build momentum for GMO labeling in other states by making a donation to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

Donate Today!

Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn’t have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let’s not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can.

  • No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
  • Sign up to learn more about how you can get involved by visiting Yeson522.com!
  • For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
  • Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.

Power The World With Renewables – Scientific American

Scientific American

Cover Image: November 2009 Scientific American MagazineSee Inside

A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables

Click here to read the full article at Scientific American

Wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels. Here’s how

By Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi  | Monday, October 26, 2009 | 180

Image: John Lee Aurora Photos

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In December leaders from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to agree on cutting back greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. The most effective step to implement that goal would be a massive shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. If leaders can have confidence that such a transformation is possible, they might commit to an historic agreement. We think they can.
A year ago former vice president Al Gore threw down a gauntlet: to repower America with 100 percent carbon-free electricity within 10 years. As the two of us started to evaluate the feasibility of such a change, we took on an even larger challenge: to determine how 100 percent of the world’s energy, for all purposes, could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources, by as early as 2030. Our plan is presented here.

Scientists have been building to this moment for at least a decade, analyzing various pieces of the challenge. Most recently, a 2009 Stanford University study ranked energy systems according to their impacts on global warming, pollution, water supply, land use, wildlife and other concerns. The very best options were wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and hydroelectric power—all of which are driven by wind, water or sunlight (referred to as WWS). Nuclear power, coal with carbon capture, and ethanol were all poorer options, as were oil and natural gas. The study also found that battery-electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles recharged by WWS options would largely eliminate pollution from the transportation sector.

Our plan calls for millions of wind turbines, water machines and solar installations. The numbers are large, but the scale is not an insurmountable hurdle; society has achieved massive transformations before. During World War II, the U.S. retooled automobile factories to produce 300,000 aircraft, and other countries produced 486,000 more. In 1956 the U.S. began building the Interstate Highway System, which after 35 years extended for 47,000 miles, changing commerce and society.

Is it feasible to transform the world’s energy systems? Could it be accomplished in two decades? The answers depend on the technologies chosen, the availability of critical materials, and economic and political factors.

Clean Technologies Only
Renewable energy comes from enticing sources: wind, which also produces waves; water, which includes hydroelectric, tidal and geothermal energy (water heated by hot underground rock); and sun, which includes photovoltaics and solar power plants that focus sunlight to heat a fluid that drives a turbine to generate electricity. Our plan includes only technologies that work or are close to working today on a large scale, rather than those that may exist 20 or 30 years from now.

To ensure that our system remains clean, we consider only technologies that have near-zero emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants over their entire life cycle, including construction, operation and decommissioning. For example, when burned in vehicles, even the most ecologically acceptable sources of ethanol create air pollution that will cause the same mortality level as when gasoline is burned. Nuclear power results in up to 25 times more carbon emissions than wind energy, when reactor construction and uranium refining and transport are considered. Carbon capture and sequestration technology can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants but will increase air pollutants and will extend all the other deleterious effects of coal mining, transport and processing, because more coal must be burned to power the capture and storage steps. Similarly, we consider only technologies that do not present significant waste disposal or terrorism risks.

In our plan, WWS will supply electric power for heating and transportation—industries that will have to revamp if the world has any hope of slowing climate change. We have assumed that most fossil-fuel heating (as well as ovens and stoves) can be replaced by electric systems and that most fossil-fuel transportation can be replaced by battery and fuel-cell vehicles. Hydrogen, produced by using WWS electricity to split water (electrolysis), would power fuel cells and be burned in airplanes and by industry.

Plenty of Supply 
Today the maximum power consumed worldwide at any given moment is about 12.5 trillion watts (terawatts, or TW), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency projects that in 2030 the world will require 16.9 TW of power as global population and living standards rise, with about 2.8 TW in the U.S. The mix of sources is similar to today’s, heavily dependent on fossil fuels. If, however, the planet were powered entirely by WWS, with no fossil-fuel or biomass combustion, an intriguing savings would occur. Global power demand would be only 11.5 TW, and U.S. demand would be 1.8 TW. That decline occurs because, in most cases, electrification is a more efficient way to use energy. For example, only 17 to 20 percent of the energy in gasoline is used to move a vehicle (the rest is wasted as heat), whereas 75 to 86 percent of the electricity delivered to an electric vehicle goes into motion.

Even if demand did rise to 16.9 TW, WWS sources could provide far more power. Detailed studies by us and others indicate that energy from the wind, worldwide, is about 1,700 TW. Solar, alone, offers 6,500 TW. Of course, wind and sun out in the open seas, over high mountains and across protected regions would not be available. If we subtract these and low-wind areas not likely to be developed, we are still left with 40 to 85 TW for wind and 580 TW for solar, each far beyond future human demand. Yet currently we generate only 0.02 TW of wind power and 0.008 TW of solar. These sources hold an incredible amount of untapped potential.

The other WWS technologies will help create a flexible range of options. Although all the sources can expand greatly, for practical reasons, wave power can be extracted only near coastal areas. Many geothermal sources are too deep to be tapped economically. And even though hydroelectric power now exceeds all other WWS sources, most of the suitable large reservoirs are already in use.

The Plan: Power Plants Required 
Clearly, enough renewable energy exists. How, then, would we transition to a new infrastructure to provide the world with 11.5 TW? We have chosen a mix of technologies emphasizing wind and solar, with about 9 percent of demand met by mature water-related methods. (Other combinations of wind and solar could be as successful.)

Wind supplies 51 percent of the demand, provided by 3.8 million large wind turbines (each rated at five megawatts) worldwide. Although that quantity may sound enormous, it is interesting to note that the world manufactures 73 million cars and light trucks every year. Another 40 percent of the power comes from photovoltaics and concentrated solar plants, with about 30 percent of the photovoltaic output from rooftop panels on homes and commercial buildings. About 89,000 photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants, averaging 300 megawatts apiece, would be needed. Our mix also includes 900 hydroelectric stations worldwide, 70 percent of which are already in place.

Only about 0.8 percent of the wind base is installed today. The worldwide footprint of the 3.8 million turbines would be less than 50 square kilometers (smaller than Manhattan). When the needed spacing between them is figured, they would occupy about 1 percent of the earth’s land, but the empty space among turbines could be used for agriculture or ranching or as open land or ocean. The nonrooftop photovoltaics and concentrated solar plants would occupy about 0.33 percent of the planet’s land. Building such an extensive infrastructure will take time. But so did the current power plant network. And remember that if we stick with fossil fuels, demand by 2030 will rise to 16.9 TW, requiring about 13,000 large new coal plants, which themselves would occupy a lot more land, as would the mining to supply them.

The Materials Hurdle
The scale of the WWS infrastructure is not a barrier. But a few materials needed to build it could be scarce or subject to price manipulation.

Enough concrete and steel exist for the millions of wind turbines, and both those commodities are fully recyclable. The most problematic materials may be rare-earth metals such as neodymium used in turbine gearboxes. Although the metals are not in short supply, the low-cost sources are concentrated in China, so countries such as the U.S. could be trading dependence on Middle Eastern oil for dependence on Far Eastern metals. Manufacturers are moving toward gearless turbines, however, so that limitation may become moot.

Photovoltaic cells rely on amorphous or crystalline silicon, cadmium telluride, or copper indium selenide and sulfide. Limited supplies of tellurium and indium could reduce the prospects for some types of thin-film solar cells, though not for all; the other types might be able to take up the slack. Large-scale production could be restricted by the silver that cells require, but finding ways to reduce the silver content could tackle that hurdle. Recycling parts from old cells could ameliorate material difficulties as well.

Three components could pose challenges for building millions of electric vehicles: rare-earth metals for electric motors, lithium for lithium-ion batteries and platinum for fuel cells. More than half the world’s lithium reserves lie in Bolivia and Chile. That concentration, combined with rapidly growing demand, could raise prices significantly. More problematic is the claim by Meridian International Research that not enough economically recoverable lithium exists to build anywhere near the number of batteries needed in a global electric-vehicle economy. Recycling could change the equation, but the economics of recycling depend in part on whether batteries are made with easy recyclability in mind, an issue the industry is aware of. The long-term use of platinum also depends on recycling; current available reserves would sustain annual production of 20 million fuel-cell vehicles, along with existing industrial uses, for fewer than 100 years.

Smart Mix for Reliability
A new infrastructure must provide energy on demand at least as reliably as the existing infrastructure. WWS technologies generally suffer less downtime than traditional sources. The average U.S. coal plant is offline 12.5 percent of the year for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Modern wind turbines have a down time of less than 2 percent on land and less than 5 percent at sea. Photovoltaic systems are also at less than 2 percent. Moreover, when an individual wind, solar or wave device is down, only a small fraction of production is affected; when a coal, nuclear or natural gas plant goes offline, a large chunk of generation is lost.

The main WWS challenge is that the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine in a given location. Intermittency problems can be mitigated by a smart balance of sources, such as generating a base supply from steady geothermal or tidal power, relying on wind at night when it is often plentiful, using solar by day and turning to a reliable source such as hydroelectric that can be turned on and off quickly to smooth out supply or meet peak demand. For example, interconnecting wind farms that are only 100 to 200 miles apart can compensate for hours of zero power at any one farm should the wind not be blowing there. Also helpful is interconnecting geographically dispersed sources so they can back up one another, installing smart electric meters in homes that automatically recharge electric vehicles when demand is low and building facilities that store power for later use.

Because the wind often blows during stormy conditions when the sun does not shine and the sun often shines on calm days with little wind, combining wind and solar can go a long way toward meeting demand, especially when geothermal provides a steady base and hydroelectric can be called on to fill in the gaps.

As Cheap as Coal
The mix of WWS sources in our plan can reliably supply the residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors. The logical next question is whether the power would be affordable. For each technology, we calculated how much it would cost a producer to generate power and transmit it across the grid. We included the annualized cost of capital, land, operations, maintenance, energy storage to help offset intermittent supply, and transmission. Today the cost of wind, geothermal and hydroelectric are all less than seven cents a kilowatt-hour (¢/kWh); wave and solar are higher. But by 2020 and beyond wind, wave and hydro are expected to be 4¢/kWh or less.

For comparison, the average cost in the U.S. in 2007 of conventional power generation and transmission was about 7¢/kWh, and it is projected to be 8¢/kWh in 2020. Power from wind turbines, for example, already costs about the same or less than it does from a new coal or natural gas plant, and in the future wind power is expected to be the least costly of all options. The competitive cost of wind has made it the second-largest source of new electric power generation in the U.S. for the past three years, behind natural gas and ahead of coal.

Solar power is relatively expensive now but should be competitive as early as 2020. A careful analysis by Vasilis Fthenakis of Brookhaven National Laboratory indicates that within 10 years, photovoltaic system costs could drop to about 10¢/kWh, including long-distance transmission and the cost of compressed-air storage of power for use at night. The same analysis estimates that concentrated solar power systems with enough thermal storage to generate electricity 24 hours a day in spring, summer and fall could deliver electricity at 10¢/kWh or less.

Transportation in a WWS world will be driven by batteries or fuel cells, so we should compare the economics of these electric vehicles with that of internal-combustion-engine vehicles. Detailed analyses by one of us (Delucchi) and Tim Lipman of the University of California, Berkeley, have indicated that mass-produced electric vehicles with advanced lithium-ion or nickel metal-hydride batteries could have a full lifetime cost per mile (including battery replacements) that is comparable with that of a gasoline vehicle, when gasoline sells for more than $2 a gallon.

When the so-called externality costs (the monetary value of damages to human health, the environment and climate) of fossil-fuel generation are taken into account, WWS technologies become even more cost-competitive.

Overall construction cost for a WWS system might be on the order of $100 trillion worldwide, over 20 years, not including transmission. But this is not money handed out by governments or consumers. It is investment that is paid back through the sale of electricity and energy. And again, relying on traditional sources would raise output from 12.5 to 16.9 TW, requiring thousands more of those plants, costing roughly $10 trillion, not to mention tens of trillions of dollars more in health, environmental and security costs. The WWS plan gives the world a new, clean, efficient energy system rather than an old, dirty, inefficient one.

Political Will
Our analyses strongly suggest that the costs of WWS will become competitive with traditional sources. In the interim, however, certain forms of WWS power will be significantly more costly than fossil power. Some combination of WWS subsidies and carbon taxes would thus be needed for a time. A feed-in tariff (FIT) program to cover the difference between generation cost and wholesale electricity prices is especially effective at scaling-up new technologies. Combining FITs with a so-called declining clock auction, in which the right to sell power to the grid goes to the lowest bidders, provides continuing incentive for WWS developers to lower costs. As that happens, FITs can be phased out. FITs have been implemented in a number of European countries and a few U.S. states and have been quite successful in stimulating solar power in Germany.

Taxing fossil fuels or their use to reflect their environmental damages also makes sense. But at a minimum, existing subsidies for fossil energy, such as tax benefits for exploration and extraction, should be eliminated to level the playing field. Misguided promotion of alternatives that are less desirable than WWS power, such as farm and production subsidies for biofuels, should also be ended, because it delays deployment of cleaner systems. For their part, legislators crafting policy must find ways to resist lobbying by the entrenched energy industries.

Finally, each nation needs to be willing to invest in a robust, long-distance transmission system that can carry large quantities of WWS power from remote regions where it is often greatest—such as the Great Plains for wind and the desert Southwest for solar in the U.S.—to centers of consumption, typically cities. Reducing consumer demand during peak usage periods also requires a smart grid that gives generators and consumers much more control over electricity usage hour by hour.

A large-scale wind, water and solar energy system can reliably supply the world’s needs, significantly benefiting climate, air quality, water quality, ecology and energy security. As we have shown, the obstacles are primarily political, not technical. A combination of feed-in tariffs plus incentives for providers to reduce costs, elimination of fossil subsidies and an intelligently expanded grid could be enough to ensure rapid deployment. Of course, changes in the real-world power and transportation industries will have to overcome sunk investments in existing infrastructure. But with sensible policies, nations could set a goal of generating 25 percent of their new energy supply with WWS sources in 10 to 15 years and almost 100 percent of new supply in 20 to 30 years. With extremely aggressive policies, all existing fossil-fuel capacity could theoretically be retired and replaced in the same period, but with more modest and likely policies full replacement may take 40 to 50 years. Either way, clear leadership is needed, or else nations will keep trying technologies promoted by industries rather than vetted by scientists.

A decade ago it was not clear that a global WWS system would be technically or economically feasible. Having shown that it is, we hope global leaders can figure out how to make WWS power politically feasible as well. They can start by committing to meaningful climate and renewable energy goals now.

Note: This article was originally printed with the title, “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030.”

Coronal Mass Ejection – Nuclear Plants

November 20, 2011

SOLAR MEGASTORMS can GENERATE a GLOBAL NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE

By Mark Goldes

MILLIONS of LIVES may DEPEND on WISE, RAPID, EFFECTIVE, ACTION! Giant Sunspot Now Aimed Directly at Earth. The largest active region seen on the sun since 2005 has rotated to the center of the sun’s face, as seen from Earth–which means any eruptions it produces will be aimed right at us. National Geographic News

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Sunspot 1339 is a complex region and earlier ejected an X1.9 flare.   X-class flares can cause major problems.   An X-class coronal mass ejection heading for Earth could have devastating effects. NASA warns they can cause power outages lasting for years. Little recognized and unpublicized, a solar megastorm could cause a mortal threat – meltdowns at nuclear power plants across the planet.

We are unprepared and are playing Russian roulette with the sun.   The NOAA sees the peak peril during the next 2 to 5 years.   They state the maximum threat may occur in 2013.

3 million people lost power in the recent snowstorm. 130 million could suffer long-term, life-threatening, blackouts in the USA — and China, India, Japan, most of Europe and much of the remainder of the planet.

N.Y., Washington, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, and many other heavily populated communities could be in great peril. A similar threat to major cities and large populations exists worldwide.

To prevent the worst requires a massive 24/7 effort – similar to the optimum response to a major military attack on the entire earth.

The big problem is solar induced destruction of huge electrical transformers that take years to replace. The loss of those transformers and the long time required to restore them could black out large areas of the planet for several years.

Preventing this nightmare is urgent.

In the USA there are 5,500 of these transformers. 350 are critical.   Over 20,000 such transformers may exist worldwide.   New technology might protect them all.

Survival of millions, and numerous nations, possibly including our own, may depend on safeguarding critical grids, providing sufficient standby power to nuclear plants, and rapidly decentralizing energy!

This almost unimaginable tragedy might be prevented if we quickly install newly developed technology to protect the grid and safeguard nuclear facilities. It would also be wise to decentralize electric power generation as fast as is humanly possible.

A map of the USA on the Aesop Institute website reflects a NASA study based on the 1921 solar storm.  There are two huge areas that NASA warns can experience a total loss of the electrical grid for years. After one month without grid power nuclear plants and many other nuclear installations are in danger of life-threatening meltdowns.

The NASA map shows the possible effect, if one of the powerful solar emissions that may strike in this decade, smashes into our geomagnetic field. Far worse than any terror attack, the entire world is totally unprepared for such an event. Based on this NASA map 71 nuclear plants in the USA are at direct risk from a solar megastorm. These nuclear plants could be without grid electricity necessary for cooling their fuel pools. Imagine 71 Fukushima meltdowns in this country. More than 400 facilities are at risk worldwide.

Without including probable nuclear plant meltdowns, NASA estimated the price tag in the USA could reach $2 Trillion the first year, with 4 to 10 years required for full recovery.

NOAA Assistant Secretary Kathryn Sullivan says countries should prepare for “potentially devastating effects.” Sullivan, a former NASA astronaut who in 1984 became the first woman to walk in space, said in Geneva that “it is not a question of if, but really a matter of when a major solar event could hit our planet.”  

 

“Widespread disruption of electric service can quickly … endanger millions.” Joseph McClelland Director, Reliability, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

This is a little publicized multi-trillion dollar, planet wide nightmare!   Preventative steps could minimize the damage.

Radiation experts recently estimated that more than 1 million people will die from Fukushima radiation. According to Dr. Tatsuhiko Kodama, the director of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo, the amount of radiation released thus far is equivalent to more than 29 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. “While the remaining radiation from atomic bombs decreases to one-thousandth of the original level after a year, radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant only decrease to one-tenth the original level.”

The massive program needed would directly and indirectly provide millions of jobs and boost the staggering global economy far beyond current expectations.

PREVENTING THE WORST MAY MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE!

Cheap green electricity to supersede fossil fuels is in the birth canal – development and production might be sharply accelerated. $50 per barrel diesel from sunlight, water, CO2 and bacteria, is in pilot plant production today!   Heat and eventually electricity might begin to be fueled by miniscule amounts of Nickel powder and Hydrogen from water.

These and other surprising positive Black Swans — highly improbable energy innovations with huge potential implications – are being born. See MOVING BEYOND OIL and CHEAP GREEN on this website to learn more.

After one month without grid power, a nuclear plant poses a grave problem. Once the water has evaporated in the stored fuel ponds, meltdowns become likely, spewing deadly radiation. Unless quickly prevented by sensible action, a solar megastorm can cause this nightmare to occur at a very large number of nuclear plants and other nuclear facilities .

There were huge solar flares in each of the last five months. A strong geomagnetic storm and a severe solar flare were experienced in September. The June flare covered half of the sun. An X Class flare occurred this month. Mobilizing to minimize the damage can stimulate broad support for decentralized energy production and emerging cheap green electricity.

An advisor to the Japanese government reported that as a result of the Fukushima catastrophe, millions of people will have to be monitored indefinitely for radiation sickness.

Will a Solar Megastorm create 71 U.S. Fukushimas?

We face a severe potential emergency. External threats serve to unite. The world faces an unrecognized nuclear peril! Uniting to confront it can generate the missing popular and government support to generate millions of jobs and revitalize the global economy.

A THREAT GREATER THAN ANY TERROR ATTACK!

A NASA funded study by the National Academy of Sciences was titled Severe Space Weather Events–Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts. The resulting Report detailed what might happen in the event of a solar megastorm launching a powerful Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that strikes our geomagnetic field. The study predicts blackouts that may last for years. As the map above indicates, highly vulnerable areas include most of the Eastern and Northwestern parts of the nation.

The NOAA estimates each 11 year sunspot cycle is capable of launching 4 “extreme” (X class) CMEs and 100 “severe” CMEs at the earth. More X class events than were anticipated have occurred in the current cycle. The most dangerous period is the next 5 years. The peak peril is predicted by some to occur in May, 2013.

So far, neither NASA nor NOAA have publicly acknowledged the mortal threat these events may cause as the result of multiple meltdowns of nuclear plants worldwide. To date, there is no indication that the White House, Congress, Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and/or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have adequately prepared to prevent the horrendous effects of such a solar megastorm.

The recent statement by a NASA scientist that human life would not end as the result of the direct effects of a solar storm during 2012 is misleading. A solar megastorm that causes widespread meltdowns of numerous nuclear power plants can seriously end millions, if not hundreds of millions, or even billions, of lives from radioactivity. This event could very well parallel the aftermath of a nuclear weapons exchange had there been war between the USA and the USSR — massive amounts of radioactivity carried on prevailing winds all over the planet. The issue is not the specific year. This entire 11 year sunspot cycle should be of concern.

Aesop Institute is a non-profit California corporation. S ubstantial private funding is expected in January for a documentary film as part of The Brooklyn Project described on the www.aesopinstitute.org   website. A five year grant has also been approved for a Power Grid Protection Project.

Preventing this nightmare urgently needs Congress to reintroduce the GRID RELIABILITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEFENSE ACT , HR 5026, as unanimously passed by the House, and pass the SHIELD Act, HR 668!

Submitters Bio:

Mark Goldes is Co-founder of Chava Energy and Chairman of Magnetic Power Inc. (MPI) in Sebastopol, California. Chava is acquiring assets of MPI. Earlier, he founded SunWind Ltd. and began the non-profit Aesop Institute. He previously was CEO of a financial and economic consulting firm. Once a student of Electrical Engineering, he earned BA and MA degrees at San Francisco State University, and later served two years on active duty with the USAF, culminating as a Senior Director of the Berlin Corridor control radar in Germany. Afterwards, from 1956 thru 1958, he earned a second Master’s degree and was a Fellow in the Graduate Program in the History of Ideas, at Brandeis University. In 1960, he founded Emerson College of the Monterey Peninsula, and later initiated the free university movement, which spread to at least 600 locations worldwide.

http://www.opednews.com/articles/2/SOLAR-MEGASTORMS-can-GENER-by-Mark-Goldes-111119-448.html