East Asia Science & Security Network Report, Feb. 28, 2007
1. Clean Coal Technology
Writing in the Boston Review, David G. Victor and Danny Cullenwald (“Can We Stop Global Warming?,” January/February 2007) argue that given the widespread use of coal in energy generation, the only practical approach to combat global warming is to pursue technologies that burn coal more cleanly.
The New York Times (Matthew Wald, “Cleaner Coal Is Attracting Some Doubts,” 2/21/07) reports that environmentalists have been putting their faith in gasification of coal as the first step to carbon capture, while industry experts have put their faith in pulverization, which they say is cheaper and more reliable. But a new study by MIT researchers concludes that no determination can be made on either method because too much engineering remains to be done.
2. Polar Ice Cap Melting
The Guardian (David Adam, “Climate change: scientists warn it may be too late to save the ice caps,” 2/19/07) reported that new studies of Greenland and Antarctica have forced a UN expert panel to conclude there is a 50% chance that widespread ice sheet loss “may no longer be avoided” because of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Such melting would raise sea levels by four to six meters.
3. Nuclear Power Development
Der Spiegel (Rüdiger Falksohn, “New Reactors Across the Globe,” 1/16/07) reported that worldwide at present, 29 nuclear power plants are under construction and there are concrete plans to build another 64. Another 158 are under consideration. Only six are slowly being shut down in preparation for decommissioning. In response to the growing demand, the price for uranium has increased seven-fold since 2002 and now sells for $72 per pound.
4. Chinese Security
The Winter 2007 issue of China Security includes articles on China’s space ambitions by Bao Shixiu, Theresa Hitchens, and Eric Hagt; on nuclear challenges by Wang Zhongchun and Keir Lieber & Daryl Press; on crisis management by Zhong Kaibin; and a situation report on coalbed methane.
5. Japanese Spy Satellite
OhmyNews International (Hisane Misaki, “Japan Launches New Spy Satellite,” 2/24/07) reported that Japan launched its fourth spy satellite on Saturday, Feb. 24. The new satellite will provide Japan with an all-weather capability to survey virtually any point in the world at least once every day, instead of once every two days at present, and keep watch on North Korea’s military movements.
6. Climate Change and Disease Vectors
The Los Angeles Times (Jia-Rui Chong, “Global warming: enough to make you sick,” 2/25/07) reported that global warming is leading to new disease vectors. Incremental temperature changes have begun to redraw the distribution of bacteria, insects and plants, exposing new populations to diseases that they have never seen before.
7. Climate Change and Agriculture
The Toronto Globe and Mail (Martin Mittelstaedt, “How global warming goes against the grain,” 2/23/07) reported that a small but influential group of agricultural experts are increasingly worried that global warming will trigger food shortages long before it causes better known but more distant threats, such as rising sea levels that flood coastal cities. The experts warn that the food shortages will disproportionately effect developing countries.
8. Chinese Eco-City
USA Today (Calum McLeod, “China envisions environmentally friendly ‘eco-city’,” 2/15/07) reported that Chinese developers are planning an eco-city three modern villages on Chongming Island, which is about three-quarters the size of Manhattan. The communities will be powered by energy captured from sun, wind, biofuels and recycled organic material, while a quarter of the island will be untouched ecological buffer.
9. High-Tech Business Energy Efficiency
A new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories details the important gains for increasing energy efficiency in high tech industries. The study points out that very little attention has been given to energy efficiency in high performance buildings such as laboratories and clean rooms.
10. Chemical Transport Security
The San Francisco Chronicle (“Baghdad attacks spark local fear,” 2/25/07) reported that since January, insurgents in Iraq have been targetting mobile tanks of chlorine with deadly results. These examples of how shipments of widely used chemicals can easily be turned into weapons have helped to bolster advocates’ efforts to tighten security on hazardous shipments.
The East Asia Science and Security Network (EASSNet) delivers timely news and innovative research across a range of issues relating to science and security, including energy security, bio-security, nano-technology, nuclear fuel cycle, missile technology, and information technology, especially within the East Asia region. The network draws on research from Nautilus Institute and its partners in China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Australia, and North Korea, as well as grantees of the MacArthur Foundation, of MacArthur Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, New Land Foundation, Korea Foundation, Ford Foundation, and US Department of Energy. The service provides researchers, journalists, and policymakers access to and understanding of developments beyond their own disciplinary, academic, or industrial communities.
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