ROCKVILLE, Maryland (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Thursday approved plans to build the first new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years, despite objections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, despite objections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman, who cited safety concerns stemming from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster.
The NRC voted 4-1 to allow Atlanta-based Southern Co to build and operate two new nuclear power reactors at its existing Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. The units will cost Southern and partners about $14 billion and enter service as soon as 2016 and 2017.
No nuclear power plants have been licensed in the United States since the partial meltdown of the reactor core of the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania in 1979. After the accident, the NRC adopted more stringent safety standards, which caused construction costs for nuclear plants to skyrocket and stopped dozens of planned plants in their tracks.
A zoom in of Marcos Island, Florida, an upscale community on the Gulf Coast side of the state. The city is was built on marshy barrier islands and is susceptible to beach erosion and sea level rise. It’s surrounded by protected conservation land, marine protected coast land, and was, until today, restricted from rapid development and expansion. The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, is set to reverse the trend by signing a slate of bills that would allow aggressive development in this and other protected areas around the Everglades. Over 20 environmental regulations and decades of environmental and land conservation battles are about to be destroyed at the stroke of a pen. But, if you’re a real estate developer, it sure is a pretty place to bulldoze…
Insurance industry is leaving home and business owners (and cities) in the dust by pulling out of high-storm areas.
A new report by nonprofit environmental coalition Ceres says the insurance industry is shunning Florida markets because of increased storm activity, while insurers have done little to prepare for climate change.
The Ceres report is littered with references to insurers applying special conditions to Florida. Excerpts from the report:
• Several insurers describe screening out securities or real assets from coastal regions (particularly Florida) and arid regions with perceived water scarcity such as the Southwest. Particularly following the spate of destructive storm and drought activity in 2012, these investment screening practices should be noted by real asset owners and bond issuers.
• Already, divestiture from coastal counties and municipalities is a reality. This ranges from simple embargos like that adopted by Hudson Insurance Company (“We have determined not to buy State of Florida bonds,”) to more general policies.
• Torchmark Group said in its survey response, “In response to the potential for major catastrophe losses, the companies have not purchased investments such as Florida Windstorm bonds, Oil Casualty bonds, etc. We continuously monitor conditions in all sectors that are, or could be, affected by future climate developments.”
The scale of coral reef destruction in south Florida is enormous. Nearly 50% of the coral reefs have died in the past two decades. And the problem is getting worse.
But why does this matter? The Key’s reefs are among the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and less coral has a cascading affect up the food chain. This affects the fishing and tourism industries, which (like it or not) makes Florida such a big draw. Coral reefs buffer coastal cities against storm surge, protecting countless real estate and businesses worth tens of billions. And in Florida Keys alone, there are over 33,000 jobs that depend on the reefs.
Check out PBS.org/climate-change. “The world’s ocean are absorbing carbon dioxide at an unprecedented rate and the resulting acidification is transforming marine ecosystems. We look at how ocean acidification is already affecting coral reefs in the Florida Keys.”
Vicious, invasive gallinipper mosquitoes are coming to eat you. They were brought to America by tropical storms, which deposited eggs in Florida. (Can’t wait for the headlines out of Florida this summer.)
Super-sized mosquitoes as big as quarters which can bite through clothing are headed to Florida ‘in large numbers’ this summer
Mega-mosquitoes which are the size of quarters are expected to take over areas of Florida ‘in large numbers’ this summer, scientists have warned. The hurricanes of last year brought large numbers of the insects to the Central and South Florida area which laid dormant eggs in the soil near ponds and streams. Now scientists are predicting heavy rainfall will come again and cause the eggs to hatch, releasing the super-sized bugs in large numbers.
The special breed of the nuisance bug, which can be 20 times bigger than common menacing Asian tiger mosquitoes, are described as ‘notoriously aggressive’. They were handed the perfect breeding ground by last year’s tropical storms, according to scientists at the University of Florida, so are coming to a town near you.
Psorophora ciliata, or Gallinipper mosquitoes as they are commonly known, have half inch long bodies and the same black-white color pattern of the more common Asian Tiger Mosquito with a wingspan of 6-7 millimeters.
They have a ‘Persistent biting behavior’ and their bite is much more painful. ‘The bite really hurts, I can attest to that,’ said Kaufman. They can also bite through light material, and like other mosquitoes only the females bite, the males Gallinippers feed on flower nectar. They also feed on other mosquito larvae and even tadpoles and are most active at dusk and dawn.
USA Today has reported that LeBron James rides his bicycle to and from his basketball games. This article made the headlines on the USA Today website because of how abnormal it is in America for a rich and famous basketball star to use a bicycle for transportation.
Instead of explaining the real reasons LeBron rides his bicycle to games, the article highlights how unusual LeBron is. It sounds patronizing and almost seems to be mocking James:
LeBron James, environment MVP.
The Miami Heat star reduces his carbon footprint the same way a 12-year-old might, by riding his bicycle to basketball games. The 6-9, 250-pound three-time NBA MVP has been doing this for a while now, taking advantage of South Florida’s warm climes (sic). But that still doesn’t make it any less unusual.
“He’s a different animal,” teammate Dwyane Wade told Fox Sports’ Chris Tomasson on Tuesday. “He’s a different beast. What can you say?”
LeBron probably rides his bicycle to games because he likely gets there faster than he would if he were stuck in traffic. It’s probably more therapeutic for him than being stressed out behind the wheel, and it probably clears his mind and relaxes him before and after his basketball games.
But the USA Today article didn’t acknowledge these benefits. Instead, James is an outcast. He’s doing something that only a 12-year-old would do.
I don’t fault the USA Today reporter for his portrayal of James. He was probably trying to be playful rather than patronizing. But the portrayal of James as an outcast only further reinforces the belief that bicycles aren’t truly a viable mode of transportation. This perception is systemic in our society because we have become so dependent on motor vehicles.
Perhaps 20 years from now an article entitled “NBA Player Drives Car To Games” will make headlines because it will be so abnormal and old-fashioned to drive an automobile to the game.
Warning! Severe Tornado Outbreak Expected Christmas Day, Night, and Wednesday in the south
Christmas 2012 will not only feature heavy snow from Winter Storm Euclid. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes will target parts of the South Christmas Day into Wednesday!
Here is the general forecast timing of this event:
Tuesday: Severe weather outbreak may begin before sunrise Christmas morning in east and southeast Texas into Louisiana. The severe storm threat spreads east, taking in the lower Mississippi Valley eastward into Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle by afternoon. Tornadoes, damaging winds of 60 to 80 mph, and large hail are all threats in these areas! Some tornadoes may be strong, long-track tornadoes, as well!
Full story, with tons of maps and surprising history of many Xmas tornadoes at Weather
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change.
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