Archive for the Nuclear Category

COP 21 – Finally Agreement, But What Now?

Posted in America, Britain, Conservation, Environment, European Union, Health, Modern World, News, Nuclear, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , on 13/12/2015 by floroy1942
COP 21 - Our Last Chance?

COP 21 – Our Last Chance?

It is good to see that almost two hundred countries have finally reached agreement on a programme to limit climate change, but will it be as empty a promise as all the others? I hope not, because the future of mankind on this planet is at stake. For twenty years nations of the world have come together in an effort to agree measures to halt climate change, but sadly all have failed until now.

Although nations agreed to take action in past conferences, none of the resolutions reached have been successfully acted upon. This makes me think that many nations will once again renege on the agreements reached this time. Why, because the necessary changes will be very expensive.

It Doesn't Grow On Trees

It Doesn’t Grow On Trees

Even most rich countries will be hard-pressed to make the necessary changes, but the majority of poorer countries simply cannot. So it remains to be seen if the rich countries can assist these poorer nations in achieving the goals set out by the conference, even though a binding agreement has been reached for them to provide $65B each to assist them. Personally, I doubt it.

Life today is all about money, and most countries will be loath to give away their riches to some poor country that cannot even feed its people, let alone make the huge changes required to stop global warming. Even if the money is given, without proper control there is no guarantee that it will all be spent for the purpose to which it was intended. As usual, the big problem is corruption, and much of it will disappear into the offshore bank accounts of corrupt politicians.

Self Explanatory

Self Explanatory

The human race has, for the greater part, become self-centred and greedy over the past fifty years, and all most people think about today is their own well-being and riches. They don’t give a damn about tomorrow and the kind of existence they are passing on to future generations. So long as they have a comfortable life and ridiculous amounts of money in their bank account that is all that counts. Even if they have a billion dollars they still want more, and to hell with the starving millions and climate change.

To me this shows a complete inadequacy in human intelligence, and unfortunately, unless there are drastic changes in our thinking mankind is doomed on this planet. It is absolutely essential that all countries and all people begin to cooperate and share the cost of changing the way we live to improve the environment.

Pollution Rise

Pollution Rise

Over the last century with the rise in technology and manufacturing, we are steadily destroying our world to the extent where if it continues, all life will end on the planet within a few generations. We are decimating the wildlife, poisoning the ground and seas that give us life, and are rapidly approaching a point in man’s history where it will be too late to go back. This is why the agreements reached at this conference are so vital to the continued existence of mankind on the Earth. Sadly few people can see how desperate the situation is, and are loath to change their comfortable lifestyle.

Main CO2 Sources

Main CO2 Sources

The two biggest polluters are fossil fuel burning power stations and the vehicles on our roads, which now number over a billion world-wide. The conference has agreed that a significant reduction in the use of fossil fuels is desperately required to slow down the contamination of our atmosphere by CO2. To limit the biggest impact will mean reducing the number of fossil fuel burning power stations and a reduction in the number of vehicles on our roads.

Today in China cities are on red alert for atmospheric contamination caused by the many coal-burning factories they have, and to save the situation many have been temporarily shut down.

China - If We Do Not Change This Could Be All Of Us!

China – If We Do Not Change This Could Be All Of Us!

This is a real indication that we need to stop using coal and other fossil fuels as a source of power and find a cleaner alternative. There are many alternatives people will say, like nuclear and wind energy, but to change to these sources will be astronomically expensive for any nation.

Wind power in particular is not as efficient as many think, for the generators are extremely costly and prone to breakdown, also relying on the weather which may or may not be suitable. Light winds are not enough and conversely, strong winds require them to be shut down to avoid major damage.

Alternatives

Alternatives

Nuclear power is the best option, but then you have the problem of disposing of the nuclear waste. Our best hope is that scientists can come up with a completely new method of power generation that is safe. I am not holding my breath on that one!

With the resources we have it is clear that a massive amount of time and money needs to be spent to rid ourselves of the plague that is fossil fuel. It must be done as quickly as possible, for the longer we wait the harder it will be. I just hope that all the rhetoric passed back and forth at the conference will result in us finally saving the future of our planet and species.

Roy.

World-Wide Electricity Crisis

Posted in Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Germany, Nuclear, Security Council, UN, United Nations, USA with tags , , , , on 26/04/2011 by floroy1942

At 01.00hrs this morning the switches were thrown to shut off the electricity generators prior to taking the nuclear reactor offline at Gundesheim power plant in Eastern Germany. Gundesheim was the last operational nuclear power plant in the world.

Nuclear Electricity Generation By Country – 2008

As a result of the Fukushima nuclear emergency following the earthquake and tsunami, public opinion and daily demonstrations across the globe finally forced nations to come together at the UN. This resulted in Resolution 1992 which demanded all nuclear power plants across the world be shut down within six months. The first country to complete the shutdown was France, followed by India, Pakistan, Brazil the United Kingdom and Spain.

The net result has been a massive 25% drop in power generation across the world. Consequently, cities have been forced to reduce underground rail and tram systems that rely on electricity by 40%, and electric powered train services across the world have been cut by 57%.

Abandoned Subway System:

All electronic or electric advertising signs have been switched off, and a limit of 10Kwh per household per month imposed which necessitated the removal of household appliances such as coffee makers, mixers, high wattage vacuüm cleaners and the like. Gone also is sphere lighting in our homes for we are allowed only one low energy lamp per room.

Production Ceases!

Many of the goods that people have come to rely on like cars, computers and other electronic gadgets are no longer being made because of the drain on power reserves during their manufacture.

In cities across the planet with well known features like Times Square in New York, Tokio centre in Japan and Piccadilly Circus in London have become dark and sombre places after all the electronic hoardings and advertisements were switched off and replaced by the occasional dim street lighting.

Los Angeles in California has become a virtual ghost town after all the lights went out and the casino’s were forced to close their doors in order to conserve energy. The world economy has been turned into chaos, and millions world-wide have lost their jobs due to factory closures caused by the number of ‘non-essential’ goods which may no longer be produced to prevent a final meltdown of the power generating system.

All this has been necessary to ensure sufficient power for essential services, but power cuts are still a daily occurrence in most of the developed world as we are starved of energy.

Anti-Nuclear Protesters

When instigating the plan, the United Nations Leader, Ban Ki-Moon, stated the will of the people could no longer be ignored. After the nuclear incidents at Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, the people of the world became so incensed against the use of nuclear power and its dangers that the question could no longer be ignored.

Anti-Nuclear Demonstrations:

Nuclear Electricity Production – 2008

This is of course fiction, but gives a snapshot of life across the world should we give in to the demands of demonstrators currently voicing their grievances. Rallies in Germany and France last week have shown that many people want to see all nuclear electricity generating plants shut down, sooner rather than later! But those who make such demands do not think past their own ideology and imagine what life without nuclear energy would be like. They are lacking the essential foresight to imagine how we would satisfy our ever-increasing demands for power without it. To quote an old saying: ‘They can’t see the woods for the trees’!

There are currently more than 440 nuclear plants across the world providing in excess of 20% of our energy requirements. It does not seem much when you look at the figures for other sources like coal, but to close down all nuclear plants would be catastrophic for the world economy, business and the people. Some countries are already suffering power shortages as our appetite for energy expands. More and more gadgets in the home, increasing transport requirements and even the introduction of electric cars all take their toll on our energy supplies. We are at the moment locked into a vicious spiral that must burst apart at some time in the future.

The Nuclear Rector – How It Works:

In my opinion, we cannot do without nuclear power, and until some scientific breakthrough is made with something like cold fusion, we are stuck with it. Our efforts would be more usefully channeled into making it safer.

Fukushima – Lessons Learned?

The idea of building a six-reactor plant on the coast in a known earthquake and tsunami area to me was a big mistake, which has been born out by recent events.

Fukshima Accident Explained:

It would have been obvious to me that such things as reactor cooling systems, in their entirety, should have been better protected against the sea. It does not help to protect the reactor core, if the power generators for the cooling pumps are vulnerable. OK! This is all with hindsight, but these are the type of lessons that need to be learned, and measures taken to see it can never happen again. I am sure there are many other safety measures that can be taken to protect a reactor from ‘going critical’ even in an earthquake zone such as Japan.

Typical Nuclear Plant

Perhaps the United Nations should consider gathering the world’s foremost experts in this field and have them inspect every nuclear facility on the planet with a view to increasing safety.

Nuclear power is not a demon, it is a tool in the hands of man that can be controlled and used safely, providing all the necessary safety measures are in place and adhered to. It is only when mistakes are made that things can go wrong, and yes, ‘to err is human’, but with our increasing computer abilities it should not be too difficult to have electronic fool-proof safety measures backing up the operators. We already have plenty I know, but I am sure they could be improved.

2008 Energy Production

There is of course another alternative to placate the demonstrators, and that is a return to coal-fired power stations. But considering we turned to nuclear energy as a relatively clean method of generating power, this seems a retrograde step, and lets not forget the effect it has on our planets atmosphere.

Greenpeace Action Against Coal-Fired Plants:

Nuclear power generation has proven its value when it comes to our atmosphere. It has been calculated that the nuclear energy programme world-wide has prevented 38 billion tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, as opposed to continuing with coal-fired power plants which would have added four times as much. It is also just one-twelfth of the total amount pumped into the air during 160 years of electricity generation using coal, gas and oil.

These people seem to be of the opinion that all our power requirements can be met using wind, solar panels and hydro energy, but the reality is, its impossible!

We Need To Keep The Electrons Flowing

Hydro-energy for example provides us with less than 18% of our needs, while wind energy only contributes approximately 3%. Not all countries have rivers, and how do you provide wind energy across Africa? Are we to cover every free acre of ground on the planet with wind farms? There is little doubt in my mind that we will have to make the best of nuclear power until a scientific breakthrough is made with some other form of energy production.

The Future Of Nuclear Power:

Complaining about it, and demonstrating against it will not solve our energy needs, we just need to use our brains and make it safer for all concerned.

Roy.

Fukushima – A Disaster Waiting In The Wings?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Nuclear, Oceans, Radioactive Waste, Toxic Waste with tags , , , , , , , on 13/04/2011 by floroy1942

Should we be concerned at the latest news of a hike in the severity level at the Fukushima nuclear generating plant to 7, bringing it on a par with Chernobyl?

Chernobyl Reactor Building

We can all remember what happened at the Russian plant, but the experts tell us there is no danger of a repeat. Now that is reassuring news, certainly to the Japanese, and probably for the rest of us too.

The whole episode however leaves me with some questions, most important of which is, why was a nuclear plant built on the coast in an earthquake/tsunami zone? Reactor One was opened in July 1967, and since then another five have been built on the same site.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Noqk78bjE-Q

The Cause Of A Tsunami

It is safe to assume that we did not know as much in 1967 as we do now about earthquakes and the effects, but even so, it seems to me the Japanese were taking a big chance in building such a facility right on the sea shore.

I can well imagine their desire to have a ready supply of water for cooling the reactor, but then surely, better precautions should have been taken to protect the installation against the possibility of a tsunami.

The Tsunami Strikes

History has shown us on many occasions that earthquakes under the sea cause tsunami’s, so it should be obvious, even in 1967, that the site would be prone to just such an event.

I freely admit, I am no nuclear scientist or structural engineer, but it seems to me that building such a plant on the coast at Fukushima, knowing the possibilities, should have received more attention.

The main difference between Chernobyl and Fukushima is that in the former accident the reactor vessel ruptured, releasing large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere, whereas in the latter, this did not happen and the reactor vessel remained intact. Contrary to popular opinion, there is never a chance of a nuclear explosion at a nuclear power plant, even if meltdown does occur.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/Z69rtx3YlE0

Fukushima Reactor

Each reactor at the Fukushima plant has a secondary containment vessel which is designed to prevent the release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere even in the event of a reactor containment vessel breach. This was not the case at Chernobyl and indeed, very few Russian plants had such a safety facility (lessons learned).

Furthermore, The Chernobyl reactor was ‘fired up’ at the time of the accident while experiments were carried out on the power generators for the emergency cooling system. At Fukushima the reactor shut-down automatically when the earthquake was detected.

Typical Reactor Cooling System Generator

It would seem that the problems began at Fukushima when the various backup cooling pumps, that supply the core with water to keep it from overheating, lost power when the tsunami destroyed the generators supplying the pumps. It would appear that perhaps more protection should have been given to these vital components.

Fukushima Damage

The disaster at Fukushima, though of natural causes, does indicate that more attention must be given to the siting of nuclear power plants, especially in earthquake prone countries around the famous ‘Ring of Fire’ bordering the Pacific. It indicates that all nuclear plants should be inspected to see what improvements can be made to the operating systems when a natural disaster strikes, and most specifcally, protection of the cooling apparatus.

Anyone wishing for a simple straight-forward explanation of the events at Fukushima should visit the following site:

http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/13/fukushima-simple-explanation/

Its all well and good for armchair ‘experts’ to give their opinions, and as we all know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I should hope that some valuable lessons have been learned from this disaster and steps are taken to see such an event is never repeated.

Fukushima Heros

In the meantime, we should not forget the brave men and women who have been working tirelessly to prevent a major disaster at Fukushima at the risk of their own well-being. I salute you!

One thing is sure, we are a long way from doing away with our nuclear power plants despite all the hype that has been generated, for until the scientists come up with something better we are stuck with it. At this moment in time we have no other way of keeping up with the ever increasing demands for power.

Roy. 

Nuclear Power Demonstrations After Japan

Posted in Britain, Demonstration, Environment, Europe, Germany, Insanity, Modern World, Nuclear, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 13/03/2011 by floroy1942

I guess it was inevitable that the anti-nuclear lobby would be out demonstrating even before the dust had settled on the Japanese reactor  in Fukushima. Students were out in force in Germany yesterday, just a day after the disaster, demanding the shut down of all nuclear power plants in the country.

OK! But Give Us An Alternative

As soon as I saw the reports on the news, I remarked to my wife that while these people may demand an end to nuclear power, none have a workable suggestion to replace the electricity generating capacity of the nuclear plants. Passion is one thing, but common sense often dictates the reverse!

 Until man devises a safer way of satisfying the needs of our power-hungry society, we are stuck with what we have. It may not be ideal, and in certain circumstances i.e. when abused like Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl or a natural disaster as in Japan, things can go ‘pear shaped’. These are the risks we have to take.

There are those who say we should concentrate our attention on wind, solar and hydro-electric power or bio-fuels, but all are totally impractical on the scale required to satisfy our energy needs.

The Heart Of Our Power Generation

I have written often enough on the practicality of these alternatives and will therefore not go into detail again here. I just refer to you to a previous post on the subject, but suffice it to say, the alternatives listed are not a workable solution as a replacement for nuclear power:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/germany-the-nuclear-dilemma/

Our biggest problem is the ever increasing demand for more and more electricity, and we have reached the stage where there is little or no spare capacity in many western countries. Our consumption rates are at an all-time high and increasing year on year. There has to come an end to our greed!

London’s Wasted Gigawatts

Take a look at the world’s major cities for example, and see how many office blocks and shop fronts are lit up at night like christmas trees, even though they are empty. Take another look at all the neon signs and advertisements that festoon our cities and ask yourself, can we continue in this way? It may look nice, but in real terms it is sheer unadulterated waste. Should this wastage be outlawed we could probably shut down several nuclear plants based purely on the energy savings. The problem is not nuclear power itself, but the selfish, arrogant use we make of what is generated!

Times Square New York- Watts In An Advert!

Now a new energy ‘gobbler’ is emerging on the market in the form of all-electric cars. For sure, they will help to solve the climate change problems but they are a hidden menace in the form of the demands they will make on our power generating capability. Can you for one second imagine the energy requirements of tens of millions of electric cars plugged into the net every night? On top of our ever-increasing demands for everything else, such an addition would overload our power grids within seconds. I have also covered this topic in a previous posts as follows:

https://floroy1942.wordpress.com/2009/12/19/future-transport-electric-hybrid-hydrogen-or-bio/

We have a saying in England: “You can’t have your cake and eat it!” Not very practical because what is the point of having cake if you can’t eat it, but never-the-less it makes a point. As a species, we cannot continue expanding our power requirements ‘Ad Infinitum’ and not expect a backlash. The fact is, we have to make good with what we have, and at the moment that is nuclear power, and distasteful as that is, we have no alternative! There is no quick fix for our energy needs until scientists unlock new forms of power generation, and that will take years.

Chernobyl- One Disaster Is Enough

Considering the risks attached to nuclear power generation it is perhaps more prudent to improve safety measures at the plants. No-one wants a repeat of Chernobyl, which was caused by human error and not an inerrant fault in the design, but as the Japanese situation has indicated, better safeguards are required to ensure a nuclear reactor can be quickly and safely shut down in the event of a natural disaster before over-heating becomes a factor.

The USA At Night From The ISS Station

The risk of a real atomic explosion is minuscule, but the possibility of the escape of radioactive material still causes concern. This needs to be addressed by the scientific community as an urgent priority. The general public should not be put at risk under any circumstances, for as we see at the moment, any incident involving nuclear power brings out the protesters. It would be nice if they could come up with a really workable alternative, but to date they can’t!

Each and every one of us can do our bit towards reducing the energy drain. Switch off the lights and other electrical appliances like the TV and video recorder when not needed, and use low energy bulbs wherever possible. In every home it may be a small thing, but collectively, it all adds up.

The World Hot Spots

Governments need to introduce laws that prevent entire office blocks and shops from being lit up at night when they are empty, and a curb on all the neon advertising could be introduced. Sounds impractical, and many will say a bit daft, but just for one moment imagine how much power would be saved. It will boggle your mind! If we continue to put so much pressure on our electricity generating companies, we may well be left with no choice but to take such measures.

Roy.

The Mighty Vulcan – Fond Memories

Posted in Britain, England, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, UK, Uncategorized, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 06/03/2011 by floroy1942

I was extremely happy to read that the last surviving Vulcan bomber has once again received its certificate of air worthiness. As the only survivor of the RAF cold war bomber fleet of Vulcan, Victor and Valiant bombers, it is without doubt a truly magnificent sight when seen flying over the green fields of England that it protected so well.

Britain’s Nuclear Deterrent – Victor, Valiant, Vulcan

The fact that it can fly at all is due solely to a group of Vulcan enthusiasts who, with donated money, spent their free time working on the aircraft to get it airworthy. A truely Valiant (excuse the pun) achievement. My compliments Gentlemen!

There follows a video showing the history of the Valiant and Victor Bombers:

There is little doubt that despite the deterrent of the American Strategic Air Command, our V Force was a potent weapon manned by dedicated airmen who gave the Russians pause for thought. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed during this time of  world crisis, and eventually the world was no longer living in fear of the Russian menace.

This was all due to the far-seeing Mikhail Gorbachev who alone could see the perils of continuing the nuclear stand-off. The people of the world owe this man a great debt.

During my time with the Royal Air Force I had the pleasure of working with both Victor and Vulcan bombers, and as an armourer was responsible for loading the nuclear weapons.

Blue Steel Stand-Off Missile

At the time this was the Blue Steel stand-off bomb that would have devastated any city it was dropped on. Loading these weapons was a long and complicated business, as first we had to fuel the missile with its liquid propellant before actually loading it into the bomb bay.

It was dangerous work, but thanks to the professionalism of all involved, no accidents ever happened. When loading the propellant we had to wear what would be described today as chemical suites to ensure we never came in direct contact with the fuel.

On the Victor aircraft, the missile was only half embedded in the bomb bay and half of it hung below, it was that big. Great care had to be taken when loading this aircraft because it was so low to the ground and there was little clearance between the weapon and the fuselage. The Vulcan on the other hand was very high off the ground and caused no problems.

The greatest part about working with these fine aircraft was to watch a squadron scramble. Within a matter of minutes the whole squadron would be airborne and heading for their targets. Considering Britain had but a four-minute warning of approaching Russian missiles this was of the utmost importance, for nobody wanted our number one deterrent to be caught on the ground.

Scramble!

To see these great aircraft thundering down the runway only seconds apart was a sight to captivate any audience. The most spectacular was always the Vulcan due to its ability to enter an almost vertical climb immediately after leaving the ground. This aircraft was overpowered and had limiters on the throttles to prevent over-stressing the airframe, but excess power made it capable of almost impossible maneuvers with such a huge aircraft.

The standard takeoff pattern was for the first aircraft to stay low and straight ahead after leaving the ground while the second and third would peel off left and right. But the fourth was the most spectacular, for it would enter an almost vertical climb once the wheels left the ground. This takeoff pattern was to minimise the effects of air turbulence on following aircraft, while allowing all to get off the ground in the shortest possible time. It’ s an understatement to say it was spectacular!

The flight characteristics of the Avro Vulcan were akin to those of a fighter as can be amply seen in the following video where the test pilot, Roly Folk rolls the aircraft immediately after takeoff at the Farnborough Air Show in 1955:

During my two years with the Victors we had at one time been operating from a dispersal base that also had Vulcan’s, and one would assume some of the Victor crews had decided to emulate the takeoffs of their Vulcan brethren. The Victor of course did not have the sheer raw power of the Vulcan and this became obvious as the ground crew watched the takeoffs.

Victor Conventional Bomb Load

The first two got off OK but the third pilot had been a little too ambitious, for as he pulled back on the stick and dropped his right wing for the sharp turn to starboard, the wingtip touched the ground, and as we found later, left a scour mark in the grass alongside the runway running for several metres. Thankfully he managed to correct it and got away safely.

After the exercise sortie, the aircraft came back to the base and the airfield became a scene of frantic activity as the ground crew got the aircraft ready for their next flight. Due to the constant tension between east and west all aircraft had to be ready for an immediate scramble should ‘the balloon go up’.

A rather amusing set of incidents occurred during ‘Exercise Skyshield’ in the 60’s which was to test the North American radar defences (NORAD).  Two flights were made by RAF Vulcans and American B52’s against the supposed impregnable radar shield and the result was all B52’s were intercepted while only one Vulcan was detected and intercepted by an F111. This was no doubt due to the sophisticated electronics counter measures (ECM) developed by British scientists and fitted to the Vulcan.

The New Threat

In their role as strategic bomber the V Force excelled, but unfortunately with the advances in anti-aircraft missiles, and their new ability to reach high flying aircraft, a different approach was necessary. For this reason, the V Force became the new generation of ultra low-level bombers. The white skin paint disappeared to be replaced with camouflage paint on the top surfaces.

It was of course necessary for the crews to practice their new low-level role, and this was done amid the peaks and valleys of Scotland. What a magnificent sight it must have been to see a Victor or Vulcan skimming through the valleys at 100 ft!

I remember when one of our Victors took a couple of reporters up to witness their death-defying skills during a low-level flight. When the aircraft returned they were as white as sheets and had just about filled their sick bags. One was heard to mutter “These men are stark raving lunatics” as he stumbled off in search of a stiff drink.

The Victor – Now Just A Tanker

I have many fond memories of my time with Britain’s V Force and was extremely sad when I heard they were to be scrapped. The Victor lingered on as a tanker aircraft and did valuable work , and of course the one surviving Vulcan was among those that dropped bombs on Stanley airfield during the Falklands conflict.

I guess we all have our time, and that of the V bombers is past and condemned to history, but as with the Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster of WW2, it’s fitting that at least one of the old war horses survives.

Roy.

Electric Cars a Viable Alternative?

Posted in Britain, England, Environment, Europe, Insanity, Modern World, Nuclear, Radioactive Waste, Toxic Waste, Traffic, Travel, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , , on 15/01/2011 by floroy1942

Are electric cars a real alternative to the internal combustion engine? The short answer is no! The truth is, we are still a long way from replacing ‘old faithful’.

A Renault Concept Car: Z17

Various car makers have started (or will soon) introducing new models onto the market, among them Renault amid a lot of hype about industrial espionage. What a free promotion gift that was!

In general, they fall into three basic categories based on range. The ‘city’ car has a range of up to 100 miles, the ‘intermediaries’ with 100 to 200 miles, and the ‘top’ class which can supposedly reach 350 miles like the ZAP-X. The one thing that stands out is the price. You pay through the nose for extra mileage! The estimated cost of a ZAP is $60,000.

Range is the driving factor for any electric vehicle i.e.: How far can I drive before recharging, and how long does it take to recharge?

The BBC’s Brian Milligan and Mini

I read with some interest an article by a BBC reporter, Brian Milligan, who made a journey from London to Edinburgh in Scotland, a distance of 484 miles, in an all-electric Mini. It took him four days! “Well”, the pundits might say; “at least he made it”. It’s interesting to note that he did return to London by train, and the car was returned on a trailer.

While his vehicle was not perhaps the optimum for such a long drive it does highlight many of the problems associated with electric cars.

The Mini is advertised with a range of “155 miles under ideal driving conditions** (104 miles estimated under normal driving conditions)” with a charging time of “Approximately 4.5 hrs (240 volt, 32 amps outlet)”. In reality, the intrepid reporter was faced with a somewhat different scenario.

First and foremost, the trial took place in winter, which automatically reduced battery power by up to 25%, giving only 70 to 80 miles per charge. Secondly, charging times were between 6 and 8 hours and not the 4.5 as advertised.

Also, you will not find anything in electric car brochures telling you that running the heater or radio will significantly reduce battery life. Driving at night, when you need headlights, drains the battery even quicker. During his journey North, Brian Milligan spent many cold periods in the car because he was forced to sacrifice warmth for range.

Route Details

Upon completion of the journey, taking into account charging times, his estimated speed over the 484 miles was just 6 m.p.h. Not exactly mind-boggling! He was however sensible, for he made sure he had plenty of reading material with him in the form of thick books with which to while away the endless hours of recharging the batteries every 70 to 80 miles.

You can read first-hand an account of the journey on the BBC website under:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12138420

Zapa – 350 Miles?

Not what I would call an inspiring advertisement for the use of electric cars. There are of course other alternatives on the market that may fair better than the Mini, but I wouldn’t bet on much of an improvement.

If you need a car just to get around town then it is feasible to invest in electric, for short journeys are within the capabilities of an electric vehicle, but that means you would also need a ‘normal’ car for longer journeys, which makes it an expensive business. Oh! And don’t think about taking much luggage with you when you go to visit mother-in law, for just about every nook and cranny in the car is reserved for storing the batteries!

Apart from the obvious frustration of not knowing if you will reach your destination on an ‘electric’ journey and maybe freezing in the process, there is also another serious problem if we all ‘Go Electric’.

Millions of Vehicles?

No-one seems to have thought about how our power sources are going to survive thousands, maybe millions of cars being plugged in to feed their power hungry batteries!

It seems to me we are slowly staggering from one major problem to an even greater catastrophe!

There can be little doubt in anyone’s mind, that the current power output in all countries could not possibly handle the huge demand for electricity when everyone drives battery powered cars. It’s a logistical impossibility!

It would mean a huge increase in the number of power generating stations, which would either accelerate the use of the world’s valuable resources, or require a massive expansion in the number of nuclear generators. This is turn would increase the nuclear waste.

It is certain that ‘Road-Side Assistance’ companies would see a large increase in workload rescuing drivers with dead batteries. If you are thinking of starting a business that would be the way to go!

Other alternatives like bio-fuels and hydrogen are not worth thinking of, for they too have serious drawbacks. To run bio-fuels we need land to grow the crops from which it is made, and experience has already shown that we cannot, for we need the land to grow food.

Volatile and Dangerous

Hydrogen is considered by some to provide an alternative, but by its very unstable and volatile nature, we cannot use it unless some means of safely storing and transporting the gas is found.

So far as I can see, the only viable alternative to our current crisis is the Hybrid.

Hybrid – The Only Viable Alternative (for the moment)

It is true we will not be ridding our planet of its most contaminating influence, but going hybrid will give us a breathing space in which we can hopefully find a more satisfactory solution. Hybrid cars do not need to feed off our power grids but charge themselves when running ‘old reliable’, and judicious use of the system will reduce the output of dangerous gases considerably.

The evidence is here that it’s quicker by train.

May your batteries never run flat!

Roy.



Germany – The Nuclear Dilemma

Posted in Britain, Demonstration, England, Environment, Europe, Germany, Government, Modern World, Nuclear, Radioactive Waste, UK, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 09/11/2010 by floroy1942

Germany hit the news this past week due to the demonstrations against nuclear power in the country, but what of the core question: Can we do without nuclear power?

The Gorlagen Express

It all centred around a train-load of nuclear waste being transported to the storage depot at Gorleben after treatment in France. Gorleben is the site of old salt mines that have been used for radioactive waste storage for the last three decades.

Throughout these thirty years, each successive train-load has met with demonstrations by anti-nuclear activists, but this year the demonstrations had a higher significance. The increased anger felt by the protesters was centred on the German governments recent decision to extend the life of the countries 17 nuclear power stations by a further 12 years to 2032, a reversal of a year 2000 decision to phase out all nuclear facilities.

Chernobyl - Nightmare Scenario

The German people have always been against nuclear power since the first experimental atomic power station was opened in Kahl-am-Main in 1960. Already nervous at the idea, this fear was heightened by the Three-Mile Island (Pennsylvania) incident in 1970, and more significantly, the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 which covered Germany in radioactive dust and required a massive clean-up operation.

Since the introduction of nuclear power to the world there have been accidents in many countries in which small amounts of radioactivity have escaped, all were due to human error and no-one in their right minds will ever be convinced that it is a 100% safe method of generating electricity. But there again, what is 100%  safe these days? I’ll tell you – Nothing!

The problem lies in the fact that we have become ‘power’ hungry, and since we entered the digital age the electricity requirements have jumped ten-fold in the industrialised nations. Coupled with this is the lack of a viable alternate method of supplying our energy needs. Our hunger for more power has become so great that to satisfy it with wind, sun, biofuels or hydro-electric power is utterly impossible, despite what their supporters say.

Another sticking point is the ever-increasing demands from developing counties such as India, China and the like as they take their first steps to becoming great industrialised nations.

It would appear that at present, no-one has a foolproof second option. If demonstrators were asked for an alternative, most would probably reply “wind”. There are already wind turbine ‘farms’ dotting the landscape in Europe and other countries, but the technology is afflicted by many problems.

Turbine Blade Convoy in UK

First and foremost is their size, which makes them expensive to produce and maintain, and they require specialists with special equipment to erect. They also have to be erected far away from cities and towns, therefore the construction of power lines to get the output where it is needed is costly.

Turbines have a limited life and need constant maintenance because they suffer from cyclic stresses, due to their sheer size and differing wind forces that fatigue the blades and bearings at a high rate.

Typical Wind Generator Construction

The most significant problem is blade stress, because as a blade reaches the top of its arc it is subject to more wind pressure than at the lowest point of its arc. The huge column on which the whole thing is mounted interrupts the wind flow and as the blade passes, it is subject to ‘negative’ stress (or momentary wind load relief). these two factors combined exert great strain on the blade, its mounting, and the bearings. This problem alone caused many of the earlier models to fail quickly.

Just as important is the fact they are unsightly, and do we really want to cover every high point on the planet with wind turbines?

The Enercon E-126

The highest output from a wind turbine (the Enercon E-126) is a mere 7.58Mw, and that’s on a good day, for as we all know, the wind is a fickle thing. Germany’s nuclear power stations generate 20,490Mw of power per year, that’s 26.1% of total energy needs compared with 6.5% fulfilled by wind power from its in excess of 21,163 wind turbines. No! I am afraid wind is not the answer, no matter what the pundits say.

Energy From the Sun?

The sun is a constant source of energy, at least during daylight, but to generate our needs from solar panels would require covering half the country, and then you wouldn’t be able to use the lights after sundown. No! I don’t think that is practical either.

There are those who say we should burn bio-fuels or resort to hydro-electric power sources but the fact is, bio-fuels have ready proven to be a dead duck because the ground required to grow them is also needed to grow food. The problem with hydro-electric  is, not all countries have rivers or coastline.

The Only Other Viable Alternative?

So the bottom line is, we continue to use fossil fuels that are slowly destroying our planet, or we go with the nuclear option, at least for the foreseeable future. Your choice!

Ahmadinajad – The Devil’s Disciple?

Posted in Ahmadinajad, Arab, Christianity, Insanity, Insurgents, Iran, Islamic Revolution, Israel, Modern World, Muslim, Nuclear, Nuclear Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Religion, Six Day War, Terrorism, Terrorists, USA with tags , , , , , , on 17/10/2010 by floroy1942

Ahmadinajad - The Voice of Iran

The much publicised visit by the Iranian Leader Ahmadinajad to Lebanon recently caused a furore in the world press, with Israel calling the visit an outright provocation while most other countries voiced their concerns in a more muted fashion.

Whatever the world thinks, it was clear he achieved his aim, that of bolstering the Iranian position with the Hezbollah group in Southern Lebanon.

Many Lebanese, in particular the Sunnis and Christians, have voiced their disquiet at the visit which was pointedly aimed at Hezbollah despite the Iranian leaders denials, saying he is trying to drag Lebanon into a war with its neighbour Israel once again.

Ahmadinajad made it clear to anyone with ears that Iran backed Hezbollah to the hilt in its contest with Israel, having provided the group with money, weapons and missiles for decades.

2006 - The Aftermath

There are many indications that Hezbollah’s war with its southern neighbour in 2006 was carried out with the collusion of not only Syria, but also in a lessor role by Iran, which has stated publicly on more than one occasion that Israel should be ‘wiped off the map’.

Hezbollah

The Shiite Hezbollah Militia, now an extremely influential group in Lebanon, has seen its power increase significantly in recent years, even so far as to become part of the western orientated government. This rise in popularity came about through the efforts of Hezbollah in rebuilding the towns and villages torn apart in Southern Lebanon during the 2006 war.

A laudable feat one may imagine, but it is now emerging the finance for all this reconstruction came from Iran with the intention of bolstering Hezbollah into its current position of power.

In the MInd of Ahmadinajad?

To observers, it should be clear that the visit of Ahmadinajad is designed to consolidate and extend the influence of this militant group within Lebanon. With Hezbollah in complete control of the country Iran would I am sure, not hesitate to have them start another war with Israel, one in which they would feel obliged to assist, thereby bringing chaos to the entire Middle East.

Iran With Nuclear Capability?

On the other side of the coin, are Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran has always been a militant nation, backing and/or training insurgents and terrorist organizations going as far back as Arafat and the PLO, and it is for this reason that no-one believes Iran when they say they want nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

Should the leaders of this belligerent country ever achieve nuclear weapons, no-one in their right minds is going to think for a minute that they will maintain the peace with Israel, or keep the weapons to themselves.

If Iran manages to achieve its aim, I can see them exporting the technology, or the weapons, to other Middle East countries and any other nation, or perhaps terror group, that does not like Israel, the West or America. As a result, the world could become a very dangerous place.

To me there is little doubt that Iran, given the opportunity, would love to bomb Israel out of existence, and even the fear of retaliation from Israel may not be sufficient to stop the fanatics that rule in Tehran.

Noisy Neighbours!

This Lebanon visit by Ahmadinajad has all the appearance of a blossoming power struggle for control of the entire Middle East, and the outcome could see Iran in control if it achieves nuclear capability. Should this happen, it does not take a great mind to realise that the very existence of Israel will be in jeopardy.

Projecting this scenario into the future, one possible outcome could be we end up with a mini-Cold War front in the Middle East with Israel and Iran having nuclear weapons pointed at each other, each with a nervous finger on the trigger.

Israeli Military Power

The three saving factors for Israel are without doubt the steadfast backing of the United States, its own superb intelligence network and an efficient armed forces. I am sure the Israeli’s are keeping a very close eye on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, for they above all others realise what it could mean. Should they ever discover that Iran is close to making a nuclear weapon, action will be taken to ensure it is never finished.

Naturally, Iran will see this as an act of war and quite probably retaliate, proclaiming their innocence to the world at this ‘unprovoked’ attack, but they will not be able to stand up to Israel alone, and would therefore need to convince the rest of the Arab world to fight. This is by no means a forgone conclusion. An attack through Lebanon by Hezbollah would make a fine distraction for the Israeli’s right on their border.

Throughout all the years of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict most Arab countries have stood on the sidelines and done nothing. Ever since Israel crushed Egypt, Syria and Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War they have all chosen to sit on the sidelines and leave the rhetoric and hate speeches to Iranian leaders like Ahmadinajad.

The Assassination of Rafic Harriri.

Syria had given tacit backing to Hezbollah for many years before the Iranians stepped into the void left when Syria withdrew after the assassination of the previous Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Harriri.

For some time the finger of suspicion was pointed at Syria for this act, but it would seem from recent reports that Hezbollah are now the number one suspect for that deed, and it would indeed fit nicely in the frame if that is the case.

There is little doubt Hezbollah wishes to be in total control of Lebanon, and with the help of Ahmadinajad and his cronies they may well do so. Should this eventually be achieved, it would be fair to say the warning bells will ring in the halls of the Israeli military and government.

It is significant indeed for the Israeli’s that they do not have a common border with Iran, for had that been the case, world history could well have been significantly different regarding the Middle East.

Out of Reach?

Geographically speaking, it is fortunate for the whole area that the two main protagonists in the Middle East are unable to get at each others throats directly. Iran must therefore enrol Iraq and Syria into any conflict to get at Israel directly, or create a base from which to strike within Lebanon, run by their lapdogs the Hezbollah.

What this means in effect, is that Iran, should it wish to strike at its arch-enemy, will need to use a different approach which it appears to be striving hard to achieve; i.e., the nuclear option.

Suitcase Nuclear Weapon

Without doubt, many pundits will scoff at the idea of Iran launching such weapons against Israel thereby causing widespread radioactive contamination over the Middle East, But if you think about it, nuclear weapons come in all sizes, even as small as a suitcase. Such a weapon with a small yield and an easterly wind would be sufficient to wipe out Tel Aviv for example with little or no widespread contamination.

But, I hear you cry, no-one would be stupid enough to start a nuclear confrontation in today’s world, not even Iran, but if you think that you do not know the psyche of fanaticism. The greatest joy for followers of the Qu’ran is to die for their religion and Allah and earn their place in Paradise.

Have you ever heard of a christian or buddhist strapping on a bomb and blowing themselves up? No, and you never will for we do not have the same level of indoctrination associated with our religious beliefs. Any soldier will tell you the worst enemy to fight is one that is praying for death!

So, the final question remains; How will all this end?

Israeli Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities?

To be honest, I would not like to make a prediction, but certain things are clear. First and foremost, whether Ahmadinajad and his ilk like it or not the USA is still top of the heap and will clearly not desert the Israeli’s on this issue. Secondly, Israel itself is not asleep, and well capable of defending itself against Iran should the need arise. Thirdly, the reluctance of other Arab nations to become involved with this issue may well put an unwelcome brake on the aspirations of Ahmadinajad and his cronies.

One of the crucial aspects of the whole contentious issue is whether or not the USA, and indeed the rest of the world, will be able to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with Iran at its head.

For some time now the Iranians have prevaricated on the issue, gaining precious time to further their research while the rest of the world tries to get them to the negotiating table.

Personally, I see one of two things happening; they will either achieve their aim secretly, or they will eventually be forced to abandon their nuclear programme and submit to international inspection of all their facilities.

Ahmadinajad Inspects a Nuclear Facility in Iran

Whatever happens on the nuclear issue, Iranian control of the Lebanon if achieved, will continue to be a thorn in the flesh of Israel. Having their number one enemy on the doorstep will do nothing to further the peace process in the Middle East if Hezbollah are used as a tool by the ambitious Iranian government to strike at its hated adversary.

It is a shame that the word ‘Peace’ is such an empty word today!

Roy.


The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Lust for Power

Posted in Ahmadinajad, Arab, Insanity, Iran, Islamic Revolution, Israel, Modern World, North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, UN, United Nations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/06/2010 by floroy1942

Our Nuclear World

In 1970 The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) came into force signed by the then three nuclear powers, and ratified by 40 other nations. Since that date many other states have accepted the treaty by accession, and now a total of 189 countries have agreed to abide by its rules.

India and Pakistan

Only three nations, India, Pakistan and Israel refused to be a part of the treaty agreements. India began testing nuclear weapons in 1974 which forced Pakistan to go down the same road. Now both nations have a considerable number of nuclear weapons designed principally to keep the other at bay in their age-old conflict.

Under Scrutiny

Israel is another non-signatory that has developed a sophisticated nuclear arsenal, which is believed to include submarine launched nuclear tipped cruise missiles. In the case of Israel however, surrounded as she is by ‘unfriendly’ nations, one can perhaps understand the country’s predicament.

North Korea, while originally accepting the treaty, withdrew in January 2003, the reason for which quickly became obvious. Iran ratified the treaty on the 5th of March 1970 and although it has not withdrawn, is suspected of developing nuclear weapons.

Now a new player is on the block!

News came in this week that Burma is the latest country with nuclear ambitions despite acceding to the treaty in December 1992, and you know what they say; ‘There is no smoke without fire’. Based on information from a former Burmese Army Major, Sei Theen Win, the accusation has not been corroborated but shall we say, suspicions run deep.

One Way To Make Money!

One of the disturbing factors here appears to be the high level of co-operation between North Korea and the Burmese Military Junta, which is not surprising. North Korea is a desperately poor country, and one of the sure-fire ways of making money and friends is to export its limited nuclear technology to those countries and governments that aspire to being nuclear states. North Korea is known to have collaborated with Iran on its nuclear ambitions.

Nations like North Korea and Iran think they can ‘Stand Tall’ among the international community, and in particular their neighbouring states, by possessing ‘The Bomb’, although many will say for these two nations it is more about military superiority in their sphere of influence. Whichever way you look at it, its all about power!

Burma has been under military rule since the ‘coup d’etat’ by General Ne Win in 1962 which effectively ended democracy in the country. Pursuing a policy of isolationism, the military rulers of Burma managed to keep a lid on things until May 2008, when Cyclone Nargis destroyed large areas of the Irriwaddy Delta which supplied most of the nations rice. The initial refusal of the military junta to allow United Nations assistance to enter the country with much needed supplies caused a backlash for the junta that is still felt today.

After the devastation, civil unrest grew to huge proportions with mass protests in the streets of all the major cities, and the power of the junta was threatened. Opposition to military rule began to ferment, and in order to silence opposition the junta promised to hold elections, but their main protagonist Suu Kyi, leader of the anti-government movement was arrested and sentenced to house arrest by the junta.

This Way Kim! This Way!

Having successfully dealt the opposition a fatal blow they are now, it would seem, turning to the nuclear option. Which ever way you look at it, and whatever spin you put on it, Burma has no logical reason for wanting nuclear weapons unless it is a means for the military junta to retain power. Burma has not been threatened by any nation since WW2, so why would they want such weapons? You are left with the inevitable; Power!

Pull The Other Leg Ahmed!

Iran wants to be ‘Top Dog’ in the Middle East, apart that is from blowing Israel off the map. Fanatics like Ahmadinejad seem the think that with nuclear weapons, Iran will be able to throw its weight around and no-one will dare say anything against them. Because the middle east is the world’s most important supplier of oil, this could have serious ramifications. Again its all about ‘Power!’

Kim Jong-il's View of the World

So far as North Korea is concerned, the regime of Kim Jong-il has felt threatened from outside its borders ever since the end of the Korean war, principally by South Korea  and the USA, and therefore has taken steps to ensure the ‘wolves’ remain at bay. With the regimes finger on the trigger it is for sure that no-one will start a war with the North. By the acquisition of nuclear weapons, Kim Jong-il and his cohorts have successfully stalemated the Far East and ensured their continued survival.

For many governments, regimes and even individuals, power is a drug far more intoxicating than cocaine and must be retained at any cost. Such is our modern way of life.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” words first uttered in 1887 by  Sir John Dalberg-Acton (1834-1902) an English historian.

Roy.

Future Transport: Electric, Hybrid, Hydrogen or Bio?

Posted in Environment, Modern World, Nuclear, Radioactive Waste, Traffic, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 19/12/2009 by floroy1942

In 2020 the number of cars in the world is expected to reach 1.1 billion, based on the current annual increase. For years the buzz has been about what will replace the petrol/diesel engine in the future. What will finally condemn them to history in this increasingly environmentally conscious world?

For many our current vehicles will be replaced with electric cars, and there are already some models on the market. Some experts believe the future lies in hydrogen-powered cars, which are infinitely cleaner. There are people who swear by bio-fuels and the hybrid, but what is the most realistic alternative?

In my opinion, electric cars are a non-starter for several reasons. Firstly, they do not have the range and sustainable speed of the current power plants, and the battery banks are large, heavy, expensive to manufacture and dispose of. World-wide, the national power grids could not hope to handle the huge demands made upon them by a billion cars that require regular battery charges. Imagine any country, where millions of electric cars would be plugged into the mains supply every night to charge the batteries for the following day. There isn’t a national system in the world that could cope with such a demand. It would require massive investment in new power stations all over the world, which in turn would cause more pollution. It is fairly certain that to minimise any environmental impact they would all need to be nuclear, which then provides a massive headache and poses the problem of what to do with huge amounts of spent nuclear fuel rods. No, I think our attention should not be distracted to this non-starter.

Many believe in hybrid cars where the vehicle has both petrol and electric power and doesn’t need an external electrical supply. This would go a long way to reducing the environmental emissions for a while, but it would not get rid of them. There are claims by the manufacturers that a 40/60% saving on petrol consumption is possible. These vehicles are still dogged by the battery manufacture and disposal problems mentioned earlier. They are not the answer, but could be a stop-gap until a real alternative comes along.

Another major commodity in the equation is hydrogen power, but this too has its drawbacks. It is clean, easy to produce and its only emission is water, but, it is highly explosive. When mixed with air, the result is a highly inflammable gas and when heated, say in an accident where the vehicle catches fire, the result is a major explosion. These traits do not really make it a safe candidate to replace the petrol/diesel engine either.

Bio-fuels have oft been quoted as an alternative, but they too are not practical. There are already areas of the world where a shortage of many crops exists because farmers have turned over their land to growing the plants required for bio-fuels. No, bio-fuels as a replacement would mean many having to choose between keeping the car on the road or eating.

There is however one alternative that is cheap to run, has no effect on the environment, and any and all waste is extremely good for the roses. The horse!

Whichever way it goes, not much will happen for a long time to come because most of the patents for alternative power sources seem to be owned by the petrol companies, and they are not likely to want to see advancement in this field until the oil runs out.

May your journeys be short, and safe!

Roy.

North Korea – An Analysis

Posted in North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Security Council with tags , , , , , , on 29/05/2009 by floroy1942

For many months the North Korean leadership have been playing a game of brinkmanship with the international community and the UN. Why, what is their goal?

Using their emerging nuclear capability as a tool of intimidation, they have taken on the world with threats of expanding their weapons capability and test firing missiles. Naturally, there is a certain nervousness among the surrounding countries, South Korea, Japan and China, at the prospect of North Korea achieving a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it. The United States feels especially uncomfortable with the prospect of a nuclear armed North Korea, considering its many interests in the Far East.

This scenario may be some way off, but the ‘writing is on the wall’. In particular the firing of a long-range missile last month, thinly disguised as ‘a satellite launch into space’, caused much controversy and initiated an emergency meeting of the Security Council at the UN. After North Korea’s weapons test last Monday a further meeting was called.

It must be said that the UN, for all its supposed power is, and always has been, impotent in this and most other crisis’s the world over. It has never been possible for all nations, and in particular the permanent members of the Security Council, to agree on anything. So far, North Korea has received little more than punitive sanctions, for this read – a ‘slap on the wrist’, from the Security Council for its provocative actions.

In the past, it was always China and Russia who were hesitant to take any positive and meaningful action against the North Koreans for fear, they say, of making the situation worse. I believe events have proven them wrong. It would seem by its actions of late, North Korea had every intention of following this path regardless of any pressure brought to bear by the UN Security Council, or anyone else for that matter.

Traditionally, America has been the most hawkish when dealing with North Korea, as it sees a threat to its Far Eastern bases should they ever get a viable nuclear capability. But despite acting in its own interests, I believe it is also acting in the interests of the whole world, because no-one wants Kim Jong-il and his cronies to attain the status of a nuclear power.

Speculation is rife about the possibilities of nuclear weapon technology in the hands of such a dictatorial and oppressive regime as that in Pyongyang. It is not surprising they wish to hold on to the absolute power they have, and anyone, or anything that can upset that balance could become a target.

Should they see, for example the USA or Europe as a serious threat to their power base, they have the means to strike without direct involvement. One quick phone call to Bin Laden with the offer of a nuclear weapon and bingo, bye bye New York, London, Berlin or where-ever. I am sure Bin Laden and his pals would love to get hold of just such a device and use it against ‘the infidels’. Hopefully this is not likely to happen, but however far-fetched it may seem, it remains a nightmare that will not go away. It does make it abundantly clear that North Korea must be stopped before such a scenario becomes a possibility.

Yet another cause for concern is Pyongyang selling their nuclear technology to other countries in an effort to acquire much needed funds. It is well documented that they have sold missile technology to Syria, Egypt and other middle-eastern countries for this purpose. Should they begin selling nuclear weapons technology to these countries the whole balance of power in the Middle East will change forever, and not for the better. The world does not need a new arms race.

Experts have speculated that the main reason North Korea is following this antagonistic path, is to secure the succession for Kim Jung-il’s chosen son Kim Jong-un, his youngest. He is 25 years old, likes to drink and party as his father did, and has been groomed to succeed him. But outside of that little is known about him. Many experts believe he would become nothing more than a figurehead, and the power would remain in the hands of older, more experienced leaders.

Other experts are of the opinion, that this whole charade is nothing more than political blackmail, intended to get big rewards from the international community for ceasing their activities. To me that however does not hold water, because Pyongyang cannot expect to gain any more than it would have received under the six-nation talks that stalled some months ago.

Whichever way it goes, many Far Eastern countries are starting to get nervous, South Korea and Japan in particular. From reports it would seem even the Chinese are starting to lose patience with their neighbour. This could at last lead to a real consensus of opinion on action by the UN Security Council. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, the world waits with bated breath to find out what other surprises North Korea has in store.

Much has been said about South Korea becoming a full member of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) teams operating around Korea, a decision that prompted their northern neighbour to suspend the armistice that has been in place since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The teams initial purpose, was to intercept and inspect shipping suspected of carrying nuclear material or technology, to help prevent their spread to other nations. The various naval ships making up the force have to date however confined themselves to exercises alone.

The North Korean Government released a statement this week, saying that if any of their ships were stopped they would consider it an act of war. Tough words, and you can be sure it would be South Korea that felt any repercussions, although it is extremely doubtful that Kim Jung-il would be rash enough to risk a full scale war with the South, and America. North Korea starting a second war would bring the UN countries together to provide men and materials for the conflict just as they did in 1950. There is no hope for them with that course of action. The statement has however been sufficient for most Chinese fishermen to vacate the waters around North Korea, a measure that could be spontaneous, or at the behest of the Chinese government.

It may be just the usual political posturing that is always present with the Pyongyang gang, hopefully they do not have a more sinister purpose.

Whichever way you look at it, the situation is extremely complicated, and no-one has any real clue what is behind all this brinkmanship by the ‘Dear Leader’ and his cronies. The one thing we can be sure of, there is nothing innocent about it.

It is time for the UN to really show its muscle with sanctions that will bite hard at the Government and leaders of North Korea, and put them on notice the world does not want another nuclear capable nation, especially them.

The freezing of bank accounts, belonging to companies known to be providing the north’s regime with weaponry, are among plans mentioned in the press as measures that may be employed against the Pyongyang hierarchy, but we shall see what the Security Council comes up with. Hopefully the measures will be harsh enough to make Kim Jung-il back off.


As Bob Dylan once sang: “The times they are a-changin'” – Hopefully, not for the worse.


Roy.

United Nations – The Paper Tiger

Posted in Britain, Iran, North Korea, North Korea Labour Camps, Nuclear, Nuclear Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Security Council, UK, UN, United Nations, USA with tags , , , on 12/04/2009 by floroy1942

For a whole week, the United Nations Security Council has been debating what to do about North Korea’s latest missile test, carried out under the guise of a ‘satellite’ launch. The end result is that North Korea will be ‘chastised’ for ‘breaking the rules’.

The five permanent members, plus Japan, have haggled for an entire week just to produce a memorandum that will be laughed at by North Korea. What do we pay these people for? It’s too ridiculous for words!(“Hold out your hand Kim Jung Il. I am going to rap you on the knuckles with this piece of paper. But don’t worry, I’ll do it softly so you won’t feel a thing!”.)

I have always maintained the U.N. is nothing more than a ‘Paper Tiger’ with no real power over the nations of the world, and once again I feel vindicated.

Can anyone give me an example of even one single conflict that the U.N. has successfully managed to end, permanently?

Once again, Russia and China spoiled efforts to get a meaningful response to the missile launch to the extent that the word ‘Missile’ doesn’t even appear in the document.

According to Susan E. Rice, the American Ambassador to the U.N. “The Council wishes to send a clear message to the North Koreans”, but from what I can see, the only message they sent is ‘We, the United Nations are a joke!’

It is bad enough that North Korea, Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons, and we all know that Iran is busy developing one under the guise of generating electricity.

Who will be next, Osama Bin Laden? Oops! Silly me! He doesn’t need to produce his own, Iran will give him as many as he needs!

You can just imagine the conversation; “Good morning Osama. Peace be upon you Brother. How many do you need today?” Osama replies, “let me see, one for New York, one for Washington, one for Los Angeles, one for London and one for Berlin. That should do it for today, so total five please”

The world is indeed becoming a dangerous place to live, and when ‘Rogue States’ like North Korea and Iran start to develop nuclear weapons we are all in grave danger.

The sad thing is, the U.N. does have the power to stop these things happening, if only all the world’s nations could agree. Unfortunately, they’re all human, and the council is made up of politicians. Each country has it’s own agenda, so the chances of them ever agreeing totally on anything is zero.

I think it was Isaac Assimov the science-fiction writer, who once said; “The only thing that will ever unite mankind is an invasion from outer space”. Now that is a statement I fully agree with!

May Heaven help us all! In my view, all nations should agree to totally isolate any country that does not operate under the rules of proper human behavior.

If every nation agreed that such a country be cut off from the rest of the world, even by its neighbours, things would change rapidly. Sounds tough, but as an example, you can’t fight a war without a steady supply of guns and ammo!

So where does today’s decision leave us? Personally, I would say; “Up the creek without a paddle” because the current U.N. action is not going to impress Pyong Yang sufficiently to ensure a change in policy, and there is still the Iran question.

The United Nations seems just as powerless to change Iran’s ambitions as it does North Korea’s. Once these two countries get away with it who will be next?

May your radiation levels always be within limits.

Roy.

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