The Week That Was
March 1, 2003




4. IS THE UN MARCHING TOWARD OBLIVION? Opinions of Henry Lamb, who has participated in the annual UN climate negotiations concerning the Kyoto Protocol


6. AIR TRAVEL TO KNOCK UK's CO2 EMISSIONS OFF TARGET: while Meacher fulminates

7. And to make matters worse: THE CONCRETE JUNGLE OVERHEATS AND EMITS CO2. Wind farms require even more concrete.

8. REVAMPING THE SPACE PROGRAM: We can go to the moons of Mars within the existing NASA budget


2. US moves to help Russia secure its nuclear material

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration will propose a 30 percent increase to $1.3 billion next year for programs aimed at keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists, officials said Wednesday. The proposal, much of it to help Russia secure its nuclear material, represents the second year of increased spending for nuclear nonproliferation after the Bush administration -- before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks -- sought to scale back the programs.

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham broadly outlined the additional spending in a speech Wednesday. It will be part of the proposed budget President Bush will send to Congress next week for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. ``We intend to be aggressive'' on nuclear nonproliferation, Abraham told members of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The proposed budget, he said, will ``contain the largest request for nonproliferation programs in U.S. history.'' The government currently is spending about $1 billion on these programs to help Russia secure its nuclear materials and other nuclear nonproliferation efforts. More than $7 billion has been spent on the effort over the past decade.

Earlier this month, a report developed by 15 international organizations and financed by the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, called nuclear proliferation ``the gravest danger in the world today'' and said efforts to deal with it have fallen short. For example, the report said, less than half of Russia's weapons-usable nuclear material identified by the Energy Department is considered to be in secure locations. And virtually none of its plutonium and only one-seventh of its highly enriched uranium so far has been rendered unusable for weapons use, should terrorists or rogue states obtain it. Robert Einhorn, a former Clinton administration nuclear-arms specialist now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a co-author of the report, said he had not yet analyzed the proposed spending increase to determine its likely impact.

Abraham said the proposal for fiscal 2004 will let the government expand programs to help secure Russia's 600 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear material. ``We expect to complete most of the work (in securing these materials) over the next few years, in many cases ahead of schedule,'' said Abraham. The secretary said the proposal will include $110 million for improving nuclear material detection, including programs to monitor border checkpoints and major shipping ports worldwide, focusing on so-called ``mega ports'' through which 90 percent of container ship traffic flows. Also, said Abraham, ``we must reduce the total amount of excess nuclear material and end its production.'' To do this, he said, additional money will be earmarked to help Russia: --Build plutonium disposition plants. -

**Shut down its plutonium-making reactors. -

**Improve border security to reduce the risk of illicit nuclear trafficking. -

**Help secure 1,200 Russian Navy warheads.

Other funds would help secure some of Russia's numerous non-weapons radiological sources that terrorists could use to make ``dirty bombs.'' The proposed budget ``will allow for the securing of an additional 18 sites in Russia where this material is stored, as well as for locating, consolidating and securing an additional 225 orphan or surplus radioactive sources in the former Soviet Union,'' said Abraham.


3. US rejoins international nuclear fusion project

PRINCETON, N.J. - President Bush has decided that the U.S. will join the negotiations for the construction and operation of a major international magnetic fusion research project, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced today. Known as ITER, the project's mission is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy.

"This international fusion project is a major step towards a fusion demonstration power plant that could usher in commercial fusion energy," Secretary Abraham said. "ITER also provides a cost-effective way to proceed with fusion research worldwide with the collaborating parties sharing in the project's cost of construction and operation." Secretary Abraham made the announcement during remarks to employees of the department's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, following a tour of the laboratory.

The Bush administration believes that fusion is a key element in U.S. long-term energy plans because fusion offers the potential for plentiful, safe and environmentally benign energy. A fusion power plant would produce no greenhouse-gas emissions, use abundant and widely distributed sources of fuel, shut down easily, require no fissionable materials, operate in a continuous mode to meet demand, and produce manageable radioactive waste.

ITER will provide 500 megawatts of fusion power for 500 seconds or longer during each individual fusion experiment. ITER will demonstrate essential fusion energy technologies in a system that integrates physics and technology and will test key elements required to use fusion as a practical energy source. ITER will be the first fusion device to produce a burning plasma and to operate at a high power level for such long duration experiments. The fusion power produced in the ITER plasma will be 10 times greater than the external power added to the plasma.

Canada, the European Union, Japan and the Russian Federation are the current members of the collaboration who have been negotiating ITER construction and operation since last year. China has recently joined the negotiations as well. Candidate sites in Canada, the European Union and Japan have been offered, one of which will be selected during the negotiation and governmental decision-making process.

The U.S. proposes to provide a number of hardware components for ITER construction, to be involved in the project construction management and to participate in the ITER scientific research and technology development. The nature and details of the U.S. participation and contributions would be determined during the negotiations. DOE's Office of Science, which has extensive experience in large international programs, will lead U.S. negotiations on ITER.

The construction cost for ITER, including buildings, hardware, installation and personnel, is estimated to be about $5 billion in constant 2002 dollars. However, since the cost will be shared among all of the parties, who will provide most of the components "in kind," the actual construction cost will be a combination of different amounts in different currencies. The U.S. share of the construction cost is expected to be about 10 percent of the total. ITER could begin construction in 2006 and be operational in 2014. Fusion research would last for up to 20 years.

The Department of Energy commissioned three reviews of ITER in preparation for a Presidential decision on whether the U.S. should enter into negotiations on participation in the ITER project. A National Research Council report endorsed the ITER effort as an essential next step in the U.S. fusion energy research program.

Fusion is the energy source that powers the sun and stars. In fusion, the nuclei of light elements, such as hydrogen, fuse together to make heavier elements, such as helium, giving off tremendous amounts of energy. ITER will use a "tokamak" concept -- a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) magnetic configuration -- to create and maintain the conditions for controlled fusion reactions on earth. In ITER, superconducting magnet coils around a toroidal vessel will confine and control a mix of charged particles, called plasma, and induce an electrical current through it. Fusion reactions will take place when the plasma is hot enough, dense enough and contained long enough for the atomic nuclei in the plasma to start fusing together. Additional information on ITER, including a brochure U.S. and ITER, is available at:

SEPP comments: We are not sure fusion will work, be economic, or that it is needed. After all, we do have fission energy - good for many millennia. But the cost for ITER is modest and it will make for a good feeling among internationalists and plasma physicists. And it won't be managed by the UN.


4. UN is marching toward oblivion

By Henry Lamb, in the Feb 1 issue of eco-logic on-line, now available at:

The League of Nations withered on the vine when the United States refused to join the world government. It is time for the U.N. to follow its predecessor into oblivion. This will happen when the United States finally recognizes that the U.N. has become the breeding ground of hate for American values, and pulls the financial plug.

The most avid supporters of the U.N. must now take another, realistic, look at this institution. The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has elected Libya as its chair. If that doesn't frost your apples, how about this: Iraq will chair the U.N. Conference on Disarmament. Next, we'll hear that Osama bin Laden has been named to head the U.N.'s anti-terror commission.

The nation that for 12 years, has thumbed its nose at U.N. demands to disarm, will now set the agenda for U.N. disarmament talks. Libya, the nation near the top of every list of human rights violators, will set the agenda for U.N. human rights programs.

The Human Rights Commission was prepared to elect Libya by acclamation, but the U.S. insisted on a vote, to see where the chips fell. Thirty-three nations voted for Libya; Canada and Guatemala joined the U.S.'s "no" vote; and 17 European nations abstained. This vote speaks volumes about the attitude of our so-called allies in Europe.
The European nations that condone this U.N. bureaucratic nonsense are among the same nations that have refused to stand up to Saddam Hussein for the last 12 years. Not only are they unwilling to take a stand now, they badmouth the United States, and its President, for not submitting to the "international will."

The anti-American attitude, so flagrantly displayed by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, and in the U.N. Security Council, permeates the entire United Nations organization. I've seen it at U.N.-climate meetings in Bonn, in Geneva, in Buenos Aires, in Kyoto, and in The Hague. At every U.N. meeting I've ever attended, there is a constant drumbeat of anti-American sentiment.

Despite this anti-American attitude, the U.N. has the audacity to ask the United States for a $1.3 billion interest-free loan to refurbish its New York Headquarters. The only money that goes to the U.N. should be to purchase the property, and send the U.N. packing.

There are two ways the U.S. can change this growing anti-American attitude. The shortest route, would be to acquiesce to global governance, and submit to the international scheme to transform the world into a socialist utopia, administered by the United Nations. The rest of the world would love us - instantly. The U.S. would finally be under the control of the U.N.

The other way is to immediately withdraw from the U.N., lock, stock, and barrel. The howls and screams would dominate the international media - and the liberal U.S. press - for a while. For a short while. individually, outside the U.N. stable, most nations would scramble to establish a relationship with the U.S.

America's strength and prosperity arise from the principles of freedom on which the nation was founded. These same principles offer the same result to all nations that will embrace them. The United States should stop apologizing for its success, and stop compromising the principles of freedom in order to appease the international community. America should assert those principles, in domestic policy, and most definitely, in international policy.

The United Nations has but one overarching goal: to become the center of global governance through which its socialist philosophy will impose "sustainable development" - the equitable distribution of the earth's resources. What the world needs is not sustainable development, but sustainable freedom. U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. would be a major step in the right direction.

Capitalism cannot survive in a "sustainable" world, nor can individual freedom. Capitalism is the source of evil, according to many U.N. supporters. Individual freedom is characterized as a license to pollute, according to many U.N. supporters. National sovereignty is an obsolete idea held only by xenophobes - according to many U.N. supporters.

Individual freedom, free markets, and national sovereignty are the bricks and mortar of the greatest nation the world has ever known. The United Nations is working to replace these values with government control of the economy, and the environment, by controlling every facet of human behavior.

Every dime we give to the U.N. advances the cause of global governance. When we withdraw our support, and stop paying their bills, the U.N. will fade into oblivion, just like the League of Nations.


5. Wild forecasts by Michael Meacher, including the end of humanity (while the climate is barely warming -- if at all)

From The Guardian, 14 February 2003,3604,895217,00.html

There is a lot wrong with our world. But it is not as bad as many people think. It is worse. Global warming is slowly but relentlessly changing the face of the planet.

We are only in the early stages of this process, but already carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 375 parts per million, the highest level for at least half a million years. Temperatures are projected to rise by up to 5.8 C this century, 10 times the increase of 0.6 C in the last century, and by 40% more than this in some northern land surface areas. This means temperatures could rise by up to 8.1 C in some parts of the world.

Does this matter? The evidence suggests that it does. In China severe floods used to occur once every 20 years; now they occur in nine out of every 10. The number of people affected by floods globally has risen from 7 million in the 1960s to 150 million now. In 1998 two-thirds of Bangladesh was under water for months, affecting 30 million people. In the UK, 5 million people and 185,000 businesses are at risk.

Flooding is only the beginning. The number of people worldwide devastated by hurricanes or cyclones has increased eightfold to 25 million a year over the past 30 years. The oceans are steadily warming, and since they currently absorb 50 times more CO2 than is contained in the atmosphere, even a tiny reduction in CO2 absorption by the sea could cause global temperatures to rise significantly.

Even more seriously, 10,000 billion tonnes of methane (a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than CO2) are stored, according to the US Geological Survey, on the shallow floor of the Arctic, in sediments below the seabed. If the temperature surrounding the methane warms, it becomes unstable and methane gas is released, causing temperatures to increase further. Warming oceans also cause the waters to expand and the sea level to rise. Sea level is predicted to rise by 3ft over the next century, leading to huge areas of Bangladesh, Egypt and China being inundated.

We don't know the limits of nature - how much rain could fall for how long a period, how much more powerful and frequent hurricanes could become, for how long droughts could endure. The ultimate concern is that if runaway global warming occurred, temperatures could spiral out of control and make our planet uninhabitable.

Five times in the past 540 million years there have been mass extinctions, in one case involving the destruction of 96% of species then living. But while these were the result of asteroid strikes or intense glaciation, this is the first time that a species has been at risk of generating its own demise.

James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis conceives of the planet as an active control system. It posits the existence of feedbacks at the global level which, so far, have served to keep the earth's surface habitable within a tolerable range, despite significant external changes, including changes in the radiation from the sun. However, with severe human-induced activity, that is now beginning to change.

We have almost become our own geophysical cycle. There are many examples of this trend. On a global scale our biological carbon productivity is now only outpaced by the krill in the oceans. Our civil engineering works shift more soil than all the world's rivers bring to the seas. Our industrial emissions eclipse the total emissions from all the world's volcanoes. We are bringing about species loss on the scale of some of the natural extinctions of palaeohistory.

We face a transformation of our world and its ecosystems at an exponential rate, and unprecedentedly brought about, not by natural forces, but by the activities of the dominant species. Climate change is only the most dramatic example. At a time when scientists say the world should be reducing its CO2 emissions by 60% to stabilize and then reverse global warming, they are projected to increase by around 75% on 1990 levels by 2020.

The dinosaurs dominated the earth for 160 million years. We are in danger of putting our future at risk after a mere quarter of a million years. The force of the Gaia thesis has never been more apparent. When an alien infection invades the body, the body develops a fever in order to concentrate all its energies to eliminate the alien organism. In most cases it succeeds, and the body recovers. But where it does not, the body dies.

The lesson is that if we continue with activities which destroy our environment and undermine the conditions for our own survival, we are the virus. Making the change needed to avoid that fate is perhaps the greatest challenge we have ever faced.

SEPP comments: This article is based on a lecture delivered at Newcastle University and is pure bunk. Not even the IPCC subscribes to his nonsense. Please consult TWTW of Feb 22, 2003 and our Senate testimony on
You can write Michael Meacher at <environment.minister@>


6. Britain won't meet Kyoto targets, Commission says

LONDON February 14, 2003 - Britain is unlikely to deliver on its pledges to curb emissions of carbon dioxide, with pollution from air travel threatening to undo progress by industry and other sectors, said a team of government advisors this week.

The independent Sustainable Development Commission said existing measures to cut emissions of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) were unlikely to achieve even two thirds of the government's targets, and maybe less than half. The government's goal is to cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2010. "Our analysis shows that the UK will fall well short of the government's goal for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, unless further measures are taken," said commission chairman Jonathon Porritt. Particularly worrying were emissions from air travel, which had been excluded from government calculations and were putting at risk targets set out in the government's 10-year transport plan, said the commission.

Porritt urged ministers to use a white paper on future energy policy, due shortly, to put in place extra measures. The government is banking on renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, as well as increased energy efficiency, to bring big reductions in emissions. Britain was on track to meet targets on total greenhouse gas emissions set out in the Kyoto Protocol, the commission said. Under Kyoto, the UK is committed to cutting total greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 percent from 1990 levels over the period 2008-2012.


7. The concrete jungle overheats: Estimates of carbon dioxide emissions from one of the world¹s growth industries have been grossly underestimated

Cement kilns contribute more to the world¹s output of carbon dioxide than aircraft and could soon be responsible for 10 per cent of the greenhouse gas. New calculations by an industry scientist reveal that cement manufacturers already produce 7 per cent of global CO2 emissions - almost three times previously published estimates - and that CO2 output is increasing faster from cement works than from any other industrial source.

The silence on cement manufacture as a cause of global warming contrasts with the growing concern over aircraft emissions, which are estimated to contribute a maximum of 5 percent. Last month at the Earth Summit in New York, the European Union called for a global tax on aircraft fuel. But proposals for an internal EU tax on energy, aimed at reducing CO2 emissions, specifically excluded the cement industry because its energy use is so high that it was thought a tax would damage it. (Fred Pearce, New Scientist, 19th July 1997)

Commercial wind farms are NOT SUSTAINABLE. Their infrastructure requires the use of concrete, steel, aluminum, etc,. which require large amounts of energy. The foundation for each turbine contains enough concrete to fill a municipal swimming pool. They industrialize vast areas of valuable, hitherto unindustrialized, unspoilt landscapes - a finite resource.

Wind farms produce their CO2 emissions before they start to generate their relatively tiny supply of electricity! The manufacture, shipment, installation and subsequent dismantling of these gigantic units create pollution.

Commercial wind farms use huge amounts of concrete for service roads. The material required for the service roads and foundations leaves a very big hole in the ground somewhere else - a quarry. The service roads and foundations will remain if/when the turbines are dismantled. The ecological damage is irreversible

How can the developers possibly claim that wind farms are clean and green and free?



In the wake of the Columbia space shuttle disaster, there are calls for rethinking the mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). To get the agency on the right track and restore confidence in America's space program, observers say NASA should do the following: (1) Retire the shuttle and rethink the space station; (2) go to Mars, Saturn and the moons of Jupiter -- and do it now; (3) improve spacecraft to send humans deeper into space; and (4) tap the ingenuity of U.S. companies.

There's not much reason to keep the space station in orbit, except as a destination for the shuttle, and the shuttle has little utility except to ferry astronauts to the station.

o If NASA stopped pouring more than $7 billion per year into the shuttle and space station, we could fund development of spacecraft with small nuclear reactors or fund trips to Mars and other planets.

o Although the technology and the dollars aren't there yet to send astronauts, robots are willing and able to go to Mars, Saturn and the moons of Jupiter.

o But we still need better, safer, cheaper ways to ferry people into orbit such as a mini-space plane that would piggyback on a rocket and glide home -- and for deep-space voyages, we need new propulsion systems.

o Companies are doing everything from building cutting-edge space probes to experimenting with rocket designs -- it's essential to inject these ideas more quickly into government programs.

The Columbia tragedy could be a brave beginning, in which NASA's existing budget is consecrated to visionary ideas. According to one observer, "We're on the verge of a second Space Age."
Source: John Carey, "How to Make the Space Program Soar Again,"
BusinessWeek, February 17, 2003.

SEPP comment: We can send astronauts to the moons of Mars for less than $30 billion within 15 years - within the present NASA budget and




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