06 September, 2006

quotes 'n news - Hibakusha & yedoma

"To burn the house down with the money in it, to revel in the power of refusing to loot, to strip the soldier of his clothes, put his weapons on the pyre and let him go free, ashamed of his nakedness." --Ammiel Alcalay, from The Cairo Notebooks, (1993)

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more proliferation:

Los Alamos Environmental Impact by Willem Malten

When over 80% of the American public has expressed a desire for mutual nuclear disarmament and still the US nuclear labs (Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore in California) keep pursuing nuclear weapons upgrades - and now a new plutonium warhead core ("pit") factory - there is something seriously wrong. The sheer magnitude of nuclear weapons and everything that comes with them - the research and testing, the production, the contamination, the ever-increasing security - is simply incompatible with a functioning democracy. Now that democracy may have to be rebuilt from the bottom up.

The latest nuclear insult to democracy, common sense and morality is described in a document called the "Draft Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement," or SWEIS for short, for the operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory. In it, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an autonomous fiefdom within the Department of Energy (DOE), describes the first 5 years of its plan to turn Los Alamos into a nuclear bomb factory.

. . .the SWEIS says Los Alamos will be making 80 new plutonium pits per year by 2012. Allowing for defective pits and pits needed for testing, NNSA expects to be building 50 brand-new nuclear weapons per year by that date, pits being the limiting factor in the whole nuclear bomb-making business. After 2012, production is expected to ramp up to 200 pits per year or even more. Billions of dollars in new construction funds are planned.

Pits are hollow shells of fissile material, usually plutonium, and other metals. When surrounded by high explosives, they make an atomic bomb. In a thermonuclear weapon, this first (or "primary") fission stage ignites a second stage (the "secondary"). [snip]

How are we going to control a privatized corporate nuclear-weapon industry, especially now that the contract for Los Alamos' Weapons of Mass Destruction Factory has gone to Bechtel and its cronies. Corporations work to maximize profits for their shareholders, in this case fomenting global conflict to support a lively market for their "product." We need more Congressional and regulatory oversight, not less. Concern about rogue contractors is not farfetched: remember, the FBI had to raid Rocky Flats Plant to shut it down. [snip]

Originally, the term Hibakusha referred to the survivors of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Most of the Hibakusha, even those who at some point were able to function again in some semblance of normalcy, are marked by scars that will never heal from the torture that was perpetrated on them in one single flash of human madness.

The Hibakusha phenomenon has been spreading over the whole world since 1945. Now we have Hibakusha in the Bikini Atoll, in Australia, in Kosovo, Afghanistan and in Iraq. We have Hibakusha in the Ukraine, and Belarus. We have Hibakusha here in America itself like the Shoshone Nation (the most bombed nation on earth) in Nevada, or here in our backyard, New Mexico, we have Hibakusha in Laguna, Acoma, in Grants, in Navajo, and in Espanola. If it were up to corporations like Bechtel, BWTX, Lockheed Martin, the Washington Group, plus the University of California, we soon would all be Hibakusha.

more info: Los Alamos Study Group


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climate change:

Methane trapped in a special type of permafrost is bubbling up at a rate five times faster than originally measured . . .

Warming already under way thaws permafrost, soil that had been continuously frozen for thousands of years.

Thawed permafrost releases methane and carbon dioxide. Those gases reach the atmosphere and help trap heat on Earth in the greenhouse effect. The trapped heat thaws more permafrost, and so on.

"The higher the temperature gets, the more permafrost we melt, the more tendency it is to become a more vicious cycle," said Chris Field, director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "That's the thing that is scary about this whole thing. There are lots of mechanisms that tend to be self-perpetuating and relatively few that tends to shut it off."

The effect reported in Nature is seen mostly in Siberia, but also elsewhere, in a type of carbon-rich permafrost, flash frozen about 40,000 years ago. A new more accurate measuring technique was used on the bubbling methane, which is 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than the more prevalent carbon dioxide. [snip]

Another study earlier this summer in the journal Science found that the amount of carbon trapped in this type of permafrost - called yedoma - is much more prevalent than originally thought and may be 100 times the amount of carbon released into the air each year by the burning of fossil fuels. [snip]

Most of this yedoma is in north and eastern Siberia, areas that until recently had not been studied at length by scientists.

What makes this permafrost special is that during a rapid onset ice age, carbon-rich plants were trapped in the permafrost. As the permafrost thaws, the carbon is released as methane if it's underwater in lakes, like much of the parts of Siberia that Walter studied. If it's dry, it's released into the air as carbon dioxide.

Scientists aren't quite sure which is worse. Methane is far more powerful in trapping heat, but only lasts about a decade before it dissipates into carbon dioxide and other chemicals. Carbon dioxide traps heat for about a century. link

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