Energy crisis horror: Unexploded BOMBS in North Sea threaten to derail green plans

The UK has plans to rapidly scale up its offshore wind capacity to help slash its reliance on gas and race to net zero as energy bills soar. But the Conservative Party has been warned of a major obstacle that could throw a spanner in the works as it scrambles to reach its target of generating 50 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030.

Ryan Prophet, SafeLane’s Director of Marine Services warned explained that this could “damage equipment” and “put people’s lives at risk”.

He told Express.co.uk: “You’ve got some serious high-risk areas in the North Sea.

“There are educated guesses that there are more than 100-200,000 tonnes of munitions that were dumped into the North Sea after WWII.

“The main reason for that was because it seemed to be the most efficient and cheapest method to remove the ordinance rather than the expensive cost and disposal fees that would usually need to be paid, without the thought that windfarms would be placed here 80 years later.

“If you have got a high-risk area of UXO, if you go into some form of construction where you are going to be interfering with the seabed, there is a risk of detonation.

“For example, if you are laying a cable in an area with multiple UXO, there is a very high risk that you are going interact with the UXO – that could damage equipment but it could also put people’s lives at risk.

“The worst thing that happens with munitions when they explode underwater is that they create an air bubble and having an air bubble under any sort of vessel is that they can cause huge amounts of damage.”

But there are ways around this that can help energy firms work around this issue, providing a glimmer of hope for the Government’s net zero plans.

“There has been great developments in how we deal with UXO. We do these surveys for say a wind farm provider that isolates an area and wants to put a wind farm in a particular area, they can do a survey and see what is there. If they find an area that they think is covered in munitions, then they will probably rethink using that area. They will probably find another area or relocate.

“We can then go in and investigate UXO, we can remove them and dispose of them. This can all be done safely and as environmentally conscious as possible.”

This is why Mr Prophet explained that the “obstacle” to rolling out these green energy projects are more of a “fault from the financial stage”.

This comes as Rishi Sunak, who is battling with Liz Truss to become the next Prime Minister, signalled his support for offshore wind.

But the former Chancellor was accused of “economic illiteracy” for pledging to make it harder to build onshore windfarms in England.

Mr Sunak said: “Wind energy will be an important part of our strategy, but I want to reassure communities that as Prime Minister I would scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore wind in England, instead focusing on building more turbines offshore.”

Ed Miliband, the shadow climate change secretary, lashed out at Mr Sunak for this plan.

He said: “As Britain boils in an unprecedented heatwave, it is economic illiteracy and unilateral economic disarmament in the fight against the climate crisis that Rishi Sunak wants to keep the ban on onshore wind.”

Mr Sunak also U-turned on his original position after falling behind Ms Truss in the polls when he announced he would scrap the green VAT levy on energy bills to save consumers £160.

But this levy is used to fund projects like offshore wind and other renewable initiatives, and with UXO proving to be another obstacle, the cost of net zero could increase further.

While it is largely agreed among climate scientists that it is crucial the UK presses ahead with its legally binding net zero target to avert climate catastrophe, critics say the Government should “pause for breath before running further and faster to a net zero electoral disaster based upon uncosted fairytales”. This comment came from Craig Mackinlay, who chairs the Net Zero Scrutiny Group.

He told The Times back in August 2021: “I am not a climate-change denier. I’m concerned that our electors of the future will be huddling round their heat-pump radiators and paying off the debt on an electric vehicle they never wanted either as they look wistfully at China, Indonesia and other nations still enjoying cheap energy from some of the dirtiest fossil fuels.”

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  • 17 минут назад 18.08.2022Science
    Xi snubbed as UK blocks China’s takeover of tech firm over ‘national security’ panic

    Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng raised the alarm over China’s acquisition of Pulsic by Super Orange HK and blocked the move over the national security threat. While Pulsic’s software is usually used to build electrical circuits, the Government warned it “could be used to build defence or technological capabilities”. Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy added that the firm’s products could “facilitate the building of cutting-edge integrated circuits” used in a “civilian or military supply chain”.

    For these reasons, Mr Kwarteng saw it fit to block the acquisition as a “necessary and proportionate” measure to “mitigate the risk to national security”.

    But this is not the first time Mr Kwarteng has raised the alarm over China tech deal in Britain.

    Back in July, the Business Secretary pulled the plug on a deal between the University of Manchester and Beijing Infinite Vision Technology.

    It would have seen the university to license its SCAMP-5 and SCAMP-7 vision sensors to the Chinese semiconductor company.

    Visions sensors can be used in products ranging from autonomous robots to drone and military missiles.

    Under the National Security and Investment Act, Mr Kwarteng issued a notice of final order against the deal, warning there was “potential that the technology could be used to build defence or technological capabilities which may present national security risk to the United Kingdom”.

    This also comes after security chiefs from the US and the UK called for more vigilance against the threat of Chinese infiltration into Western tech companies in a joint address.

    MI5 director general Ken McCallum FBI director Chris Wray both warned of the Chinese Communist Party’s “strategic plans” to overtake the West could be a risk to UK businesses and research.

    Mr McCallum said: “If you are involved in cutting-edge tech [such as] AI, advanced research or product development, the chances are your know-how is of material interest to the CCP.

    “And if you have, or are trying for or [have] a presence in the Chinese market, you’ll be subject to more attention than you might think. It’s been described as ‘the biggest wealth transfer in human history.’ MI5 teams see the CCP working to extract UK advantage in multiple ways.”

    The China threat has also featured in the leadership debates as Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak battle it out to become the next prime minister.

    The former Chancellor has accused Ms Truss of “talking about having a golden era of relationships with China”.

    He said: “There was a time when Liz was talking about having a golden era of relationships with China and the mission there was talking about having deeper collaboration with things like food security and technology.

    “But what we do need to do is acknowledge that China is a threat to our national security, it’s a threat to our economic security.”

    Mr Sunak also mentioned that the National Security Investment Bill was tabled while he was Chancellor to “protect ourselves against countries like China who are trying to infiltrate our companies and steal our technology”.

    Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former leader of the Conservative Party, has warned that China is pouring investment into UK universities to “steal their technology” and “subvert them”.

    He told Express.co.uk: “We should stop the way they are pouring money into UK universities and their view of that is to get technology from these universities.

    “And also knowing that many of the future establishments will be drawn from these institutions, they are trying to subvert them. This is all part of the game and everything they do revolves around that.”

  • 17 минут назад 18.08.2022Science
    See EU later! US hands UK huge £480m contract tor state-of-the-art Galileo alternative

    UK satellite company Inmarsat said it secured the the10-year contract to deliver communications technology for the US Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC). The US Navy division provides transportation, logistics and cargo capacity to the armed forces. Under the contract, Inmarsat will maintain satellite and ground communications technology for the division, which operates tankers that refuel larger vessels.

    It also runs ammunition ships, cargo carriers and crews the US Navy’s Mercy ships.

    MSC will also upgrade its communications technology to Inmarsat’s more advanced “Xpress” network and L-band spectrum under the contract.

    Susan Miller, the CEO and President of Inmarsat Government, said: “Inmarsat Government is very proud to have delivered robust, highly available, global satellite communications solutions to MSC over the last decade.

    “We look forward to providing that same excellent service and a seamless transition as we deliver highly reliable commercial satellite communications solutions worldwide.

    “Our team is committed to providing MSC with significant enhancements in SATCOM managed services including the coverage, reliability, resiliency and throughput, all managed end-to-end.”

    Inmarsat is considered a leader in global, mobile satellite communications and owns a large portfolio of mobile telecommunications satellite networks

    This includes its UK “space-based augmentation system”, known as UKSBAS.

    This system will be able to pinpoint locations for aircraft, ships, as well as driverless cars more, providing more accurate positioning data than public GPS services such as those used by smartphones.

    It works by adding an additional signal to GPS, a US government-run service which is similar to the EU’s Galileo.

    The UKSBAS’ signal is set to be monitored before getting tested on planes before further uses of the technology come into effect in 2024.

    Todd McDonell, who runs Inmarsat’s Government business outside the US, said: “The drive for this is going to increase as the world becomes more awakened to the benefits of national accuracy and reliability.

    “As we move to more autonomous aircraft, ships, land vehicles and so on, the reliability and positional accuracy of navigation systems will go up substantially.”

    While not carrying out the exact same functions as the EU’s Galileo, which the UK left after Brexit, the system has been tipped to pave the way for a full-blown alternative.

    The company said it has “begun broadcasting a satellite navigation signal as part of a programme to explore the creation of a sovereign national capacity in resilient positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) for the aviation maritime sectors”.

    Galileo also provides PNT services, and the UK has been scrambling to find a replacement ever since it left the bloc.

    In a bid to find an alternative, the UK did buy a stake in OneWeb in July 2020, investing £364million ($500million) to acquire the company from bankruptcy.

    But OneWeb’s satellite constellation was designed first-and-foremost as a broadband constellation, providing rural 4G, and one day 5G internet signals across the nation.

    However, experts have tipped that the system could be adapted further down the line to also carry out these PNT services.

    Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has also recognised this, saying: “In terms of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), which Galileo is all about, that is something that we could do ourselves.

    “Some people say ‘we can’t do this, there is no way there we could do PNT outside Galileo’. I don’t happen to agree with this. I think through our strategic acquisition of our stake in OneWeb, that does give us a possibility for future capability in PNT.”

  • 27 минут назад 18.08.2022Science
    One-in-six chance of a massive world-altering volcanic eruption this century, scientists warn

    Scientists believe there is a one in six chance of a major volcanic eruption this century which could dramatically change the world’s climate and put millions of lives in danger.

    When the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted off the shore of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean in January, the blast was so huge that tsunamis hit the shores of Japan, North America and South America and Tonga itself suffered damage equating to almost a fifth of its entire GDP.

    But an analysis of ice cores in Greenland and Antarctica by a team at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen found that a magnitude 7 volcanic eruption – which could be 10 to 100 times bigger than the one recorded in January – is a distinct possibility for this century.

    Eruptions of this size in the past have caused abrupt climate change and the collapse of civilisations.

    Yet one of the UK’s leading volcanologists today warned that the world is ‘woefully’ unprepared for such an event.

    Michael Cassidy, associate professor of volcanology at the University of Birmingham, told Nature: ‘There is no coordinated action, nor large-scale investment, to mitigate the global effects of large-magnitude eruptions.

    ‘This needs to change.’

    Cassidy reasoned that NASA and other agencies receive hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for ‘planetary defence’ planning, in other words, to prevent an asteroid or other cosmic projectile from slamming into the earth.

    But there is no global programme dedicated to protecting against the devastation that could occur following a large-scale volcanic eruption – something which is hundreds of times more likely to occur than are asteroid and comet impacts put together.

    The last magnitude 7 eruption took place in 1815 in Tambora, Indonesia, killing more than 100,000 people in a matter of days, but the effects were felt around the globe by millions.

    The volcano ejected such huge quantities of ash into the air that 1815 became known as the ‘year without a summer’, because the earth’s average temperature dropped by a degree.

    This adverse effect on global climates caused widespread crop failures in China, Europe and North America, while torrential rains and floods caused cholera to spread throughout India, Russia and many other Asian nations.

    Cassidy said that in today’s far more heavily populated and interconnected world, a similar eruption could now kill untold numbers of people and bring global trade routes to a standstill, causing wild price spikes and shortages on the other side of the world.

    The professor implored world governments to increase funding for disaster planning and monitoring of potential eruption threats, particularly as the likelihood of large-scale eruptions increases amid rising sea levels and the melting of the ice caps.

    Only 27 per cent of volcanic eruptions since 1950 have been measured by seismometers according to Cassidy, who also said there may be hundreds or thousands of dormant volcanoes whose locations we do not yet know.

    ‘In our view, the lack of investment, planning and resources to respond to big eruptions is reckless,’ Cassidy wrote.

    ‘Discussions must start now.’

  • 27 минут назад 18.08.2022Science
    Our taste for ‘weird and wonderful’ foods including chilli is in our GENES, study reveals

    Whether it’s a chicken vindaloo or a jalapeno-laden taco, many people struggle when it comes to spicy foods.

    Now, a study has revealed that our love for certain foods including chillies has to do with more than just culture, or even taste buds.

    Researchers from the University of Edinburgh say that our genes play a significant role too.

    In the study, the team identified hundreds of genetic variants linked with a liking for specific foods, including aniseed, avocados, chillies, steak and oily fish.

    ‘Although taste receptors and thus taste is important in determining which foods you like, it is in fact what happens in your brain which is driving what we observe,’ said Dr Nicola Pirastu from Human Technopole, Milan, an author of the study.

    In the study, the researchers used questionnaires and genetic analysis to assess 161,625 participants’ fondness for 137 popular foods and drinks, including beef, beer, bread, chicken, red wine, chilli and tea.

    Their analysis revealed 401 genetic variants that influenced which foods the participants liked.

    Many of the variants affected more than one food preference. For example, some genetic variants were linked with an enjoyment for only salmon, while others increased a liking for fish in general.

    Based on the results, the researchers created a food map, showing how participants’ fondness for certain groups of foods and specific flavours were influenced by genetic variants.

    The map revealed three main clusters of foods that share a similar genetic component.

    The first group is made up of delicious, high-calorie foods including meats, dairy, and desserts.

    The second group consists of strong-tasting ‘acquired’ foods, including alcohol and pungent vegetables like chillis.

    And the third group contains low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables.

    These three food groups also share genes known to be associated with distinct health traits, according to the researchers.

    The high-calorie foods are influenced by the same genetic variants also linked with obesity and lower levels of physical activity, while a higher liking of fruits and vegetables is influenced by the same variants that are related to higher levels of physical activity.

    Meanwhile, a higher likening for ‘acquired’ tastes is linked with a healthier cholesterol profile, higher physical activity, and higher likelihood of smoking and drinking.

    However, the researchers were surprised to find genetic differences between liking subsets of foods within the same category.

    For example, they found a weak relationship between the genes associated with cooked and salad vegetables, and the genes linked with stronger tasting vegetables such as spinach and asparagus.

    ‘The main division of preferences is not between savoury and sweet foods, as might have been expected, but between highly pleasurable and high calorie foods and those for which taste needs to be learned,’ said Dr Pirastu.

    ‘This difference is reflected in the regions of the brain involved in their liking and it strongly points to an underlying biological mechanism.’

    The team hopes the findings could be used to help develop healthier food produce, improve dietary interventions and potentially even lead to medications to help people lose weight.

    Professor Jim Wilson, Personal Chair of Human Genetics at University of Edinburgh, said: ‘This is a great example of applying complex statistical methods to large genetic datasets in order to reveal new biology, in this case the underlying basis of what we like to eat and how that is structured hierarchically, from individual items up to large groups of foodstuffs.’

  • 4 часа, 29 минут назад 18.08.2022Science
    Climate change has been harming bees for almost a CENTURY, study shows

    They’re one of the most vital pollinators on the planet, but new research shows that bees have been increasingly stressed by changes in climate for almost a century.

    The discovery is based on an analysis of bumblebee specimens housed in museums across the UK.

    Researchers from Imperial College London investigated asymmetry in the bumblebees’ wings, as an indicator of stress.

    High asymmetry (very differently shaped right and left wings) indicates the bees experienced stress during development.

    This stress will have been caused by an external factor that affected their normal growth – namely the weather.

    A study of four separate bumblebee species showed that each displayed more stress as the century progressed, from its lowest point around 1925.

    The team compared annual average temperature and rainfall during the year of collection. In hotter and wetter years the pollinators displayed greater lopsidedness.

    ‘With hotter and wetter conditions predicted to place bumblebees under higher stress, the fact these conditions will become more frequent under climate change means bumblebees may be in for a rough time over the 21st century,’ said senior author Dr Richard Gill, of Imperial College London.

    In Britain, a third of wild bees and are in decline. If current trends continue, certain species will be lost altogether. They pollinate flowering crops, such as oil seed rape.

    Lead author Aoife Cantwell-Jones, also from Imperial, said: ‘By using a proxy of stress visible on the bee’s external anatomy and caused by stress during development just days or weeks before, we can look to more accurately track factors placing populations under pressure through historic space and time.’

    As well as revealing past stress in bees, the study can help predict when and where their survival will be threatened most in the future.

    The researchers also used ancient DNA techniques to map a century of bumblebee genomes.

    In a pioneering breakthrough, methods typically employed for woolly mammoths and early humans were introduced for the first time used in insects.

    By taking just a single leg from each of the bees, they revealed the reported stress may lead to genetic diversity loss.

    The data reveals how bee DNA has altered, shedding light on how whole populations have either adapted to fresh environments – or been wiped out.

    Curators from the Natural History Museum London, National Museums Scotland, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, World Museum Liverpool and Tullie House Museum Carlisle were involved in the ambitious project.

    Co author Dr Victoria Mullin, from the Natural History Museum, said: ‘Museum insect collections offer an unparalleled opportunity to directly study how the genomes of populations and species have been affected by environmental changes through time.

    ‘However, they are a finite resource and understanding how best to utilise them for genetic studies is important.’

    Previous research has found every square kilometre in the UK has lost an average of 11 species of bee between 1980 and 2013.

    It has far-reaching consequences. Insects provide a food source for many birds, amphibians, bats and reptiles.

    Senior author Professor Ian Barnes, also from the Natural History Museum, said: ‘One of the main problems with museum collections is the quality of DNA can be very variable, making it difficult to predict which type of analyses we should do.

    ‘We now have a much better idea about DNA preservation in insect collections, which is a massive boost to our ongoing work to understand the history and future of insect populations.’

    A recent scientific review of insect numbers around the world suggested that 40% of species were undergoing ‘dramatic rates of decline’.

    Bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles.

    Dr Gill added: ‘These studies showcase the value of leveraging museums specimens to go back in time and unlock the past’s secrets.

    ‘But what we have done is just the beginning, and by continuing our work with these vital public collections and collaborating with curators we can only discover more.

    ‘This work was part of a Natural Environment Research Council-funded project and could not have been achieved without the commitment, hard work, and diligence of the museum curators, and our other collaborators.

    ‘We are also grateful to BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) funds in supporting the generation of the bumblebee reference genome.’

    The study is in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

  • 10 часов, 17 минут назад 18.08.2022Science
    Food of the future: Climate change could bring unexpected new staple to your dinner table

    Paper author and climate scientist Professor Daniel Horton of Illinois’ Northwestern University said: “Breadfruit is a neglected and underutilised species that happens to be relatively resilient in our climate change projections.

    “This is good news because several other staples that we rely on are not so resilient.

    “In really hot conditions, some of those staple crops struggle and yields decrease.

    “As we implement strategies to adapt to climate change, breadfruit should be considered in food security adaptation strategies.”

    Belying the latter part of its name, breadfruit is actually starchy and seedless — and fills a culinary role akin to the potato.

    The fruit is nutrient-rich — high in fibre, minerals and vitamins — and, when cooked, takes on a texture that resembles freshly baked bread.

    The plant is thought to have originated in New Guinea, the Maluku Islands and the Philippines as a domesticated version of the breadnut tree.

    Having been spread as a result of both Autronesian and Colonial expansion, breadfruit now grows in some 90 countries across South and Southeast Asia, Central America, Africa, the Caribbean and around the Pacific Ocean.

    Breadfruit has been eaten by humanity for thousands of years — and can be steamed, roasted, fried, fermented and even turned into flour.

    Paper author, plant biologist and breadfruit expert Dr Nyree Zerega, also of Northwestern, said: “Breadfruit trees can live for decades and provide a large amount of fruits each year.

    “In some cultures, there is a tradition to plant a breadfruit tree when a child is born to ensure the child will have food for the rest of their life.”

    In their study, Prof. Horton, Dr Zerega and their colleagues set out to determine if climate change — which is making tropical regions warmer and wetter — would impact breadfruit’s ability to grow.

    To do this, the team modelled how the climate conditions needed to cultivate breadfruit today are likely to change come the 2060–2080s.

    They considered two future climate scenarios — one with high greenhouse gas emissions and one in which emissions stabilise.

    The researchers found, however, that the areas suitable for cultivating breadfruit remained largely unaffected by either future climate scenario.

    In fact, in the tropics and the subtropics, their analysis found that the area suitable for growing breadfruit decreased from 4.4 percent of land to just 4.5 percent.

    Moreover, the team even found territories where the available area for breadfruit production could actually increase — particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the crop is not traditionally grown, but has the potential to become an important and stable source of food.

    Paper author and environmental scientist Lucy Yang, also of Northwestern, said: “Despite the fact that climate will drastically change in the tropics, climate is not projected to move outside the window where breadfruit is comfortable.

    “From a climate perspective, we can already grow breadfruit in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a huge swath of Africa, where breadfruit can grow to various degrees.

    “It just has not been broadly introduced there yet. And, luckily enough, most varieties of breadfruit are seedless and have little-to-no likelihood of becoming invasive.”

    According to Dr Zerega, the strengths of the breadfruit come from how it can better withstand heat and drought than other crops — alongside how, being perennial, it doesn’t need to be replanted each year and thus requires less energy, water and fertiliser.

    Furthermore, being a tree, it also works to sequester carbon dioxide across all of its lifetime

    Ms Yang added: “A lot of places where breadfruit can grow have high levels of food insecurity.

    “Oftentimes, they combat food insecurity by importing staple crops like wheat or rice, and that comes with a high environmental cost and carbon footprint.

    “With breadfruit, however, these communities can produce food more locally.”

    Scaling up the production of breadfruit — and other neglected and underutilised foods has the potential to build up more resilience in the global food system, the team said.

    Dr Zerega concluded: “Climate change further emphasises the need to diversify agriculture, so the world doesn’t rely on a small number of crop species to feed a large number of people.

    “Humans rely heavily on a handful of crops to provide most of our food, but there are thousands of potential food crops among the approximately 400,000 described plant species. This points to the need to diversify agriculture and crops globally.”

    The full findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS Climate.

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