Entries in Report (3)


Climate Change Report: Weather Extremes Increasing

Comstock/Thinkstock(GENEVA) -- A new report on the effects of a warming climate on the world’s weather by the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that much of the world is already seeing more weather “extremes” -- stronger hurricanes and more intense heat waves -- at least partly because of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

A draft summary of the report, called “Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation,” or “SREX” for short, was obtained by ABC News.

Here is a sampling of some of its findings:

On temperatures: “It is very likely that there has been an overall decrease in the number of cold days and nights, and an overall increase in the number of warm days and nights, on the global scale, i.e., for most land areas with sufficient data.”

On whether human beings are contributing to the change: “It is likely that anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures on the global scale.  There is medium confidence that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation on the global scale.  It is likely that there has been an anthropogenic influence on increasing extreme sea levels via mean sea level contributions.”

On hurricanes and tropical storms: “Mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase, although increases may not occur in all ocean basins.  It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged.”

A summary of the report is now up on the IPCC's website [click here to read it].  The full report will be available in February 2012, according to the site.

The report is dense, and addresses a subject that provokes strong and opposing opinions.  In part because of this, definitions of basic terms have been negotiated.  For instance, “likely” means at least a 66 percent probability that a conclusion is true, and “very likely” means at least a 90 percent probability.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan Progress Report Optimistic, But Expect Higher Violence

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon’s latest semi-annual assessment of security progress is the most optimistic yet, citing a halt to the Taliban’s momentum and “tangible progress.”  Yet, the successes are being deemed “fragile and reversible” partly due to increasing violence levels this year that are expected to go higher as the Taliban wages a tough fight to counter NATO’s territorial and security gains in southern Afghanistan.

The congressionally mandated “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan” is available on the Defense Department’s website.

“Since the last report...ISAF and its Afghan partners have made tangible progress, arresting the insurgents’ momentum in much of the country and reversing it in a number of important areas. The coalition’s efforts have wrested major safe havens from the insurgents’ control, disrupted their leadership networks, and removed many of the weapons caches and tactical supplies they left behind at the end of the previous fighting season.”

A senior Defense official who briefed reporters on the report said the Taliban had suffered a “strategic setback” in the south and southwestern parts of the country and that violence levels will continue to rise as they try to retake these areas. He noted that the violence has also increased because of the additional NATO and Afghan troops fighting the Taliban and that much of the violence is taking place outside of key population areas which are seeing better security.

The biggest long-term challenges that remain are the ongoing lack of specialized trainers, as well political and governance development continuing to lag behind the security progress.  The official says building Afghan Security Forces into a light infantry is fairly easy compared with trying to train the local forces that must maintain them. 

It wasn’t just the U.S. surge of 30,000 extra troops that has helped stop the Taliban momentum, but the surge of additional NATO troops, civilians and the significant growth in numbers and quality of the Afghan security forces.

The official said the goal in Afghanistan is to build up the Afghan security force’s capabilities so they can maintain the fight against the Taliban on their own.  He called it the most important thing in the report “the growing capacity of the Afghan security forces.”  To that end, 95 percent of all Afghan army units and 89 percent of Afghan police units are partnered with ISAF troops, and 95 percent of al ISAF operations are partnered with the Afghans.  The official recalled that a year ago reporters were asking where the Afghan troops in Kandahar and Marjah were, he said their numbers have increased as seen in Kandahar where they make up 60 percent of all forces.

The attrition of Afghan forces remains a major problem, but a major incentive in retention has been the training command’s major push for literacy with the Afghan Army, more than 63,000 have undergone literacy training the majority having received first grade equivalency.

The report says the insurgents' momentum has arrested the Taliban momentum in Afghanistan and removed safe havens in the south and southwest.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


US Report: Japan's Nuclear Plant Is Far From Stable

ABC News(TOKYO) -- After workers successfully plugged the highly radioactive leak seeping into the Pacific Ocean, a new confidential assessment by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission obtained by The New York Times suggests that the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant is far from stable.

Fragments of incredibly dangerous nuclear fuel were blown out of the reactors "up to one mile from the units," and then simply bulldozed over to protect workers on site, according to the NRC report.

Until now, flooding the damaged reactors with water has been considered the most efficient cooling method but the latest assessment raises concerns that the water may have introduced a new set of dangerous complications.  U.S. engineers now worry that the enormous amount of water is actually weakening the containment vessels, making them more vulnerable to possible ruptures.

In an effort to avoid the continued spread of radiation and worse, a hydrogen explosion due to the hydrogen and oxygen present in seawater, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company announced that it will begin injecting nitrogen into reactor one and likely reactors two and three.  Nitrogen is normally present inside the containment that surrounds the reactor core and can prevent highly combustible hydrogen from exploding as it did three times in the early days after the March 11 disaster.

ABC News contributor and president of Ploughshares Fund, Joe Circinione told ABC News that a hydrogen explosion, while not expected, is not totally out of the question.

"A new hydrogen explosion could happen, there could be a failure of one of the fuel rods, the fuel ponds that could cause a fire and if so, it could be a major release of radiation," said Circinione.

While the newest threat is concentrated on land, nearly 11,500 tons of radioactive sea water is slowly diluting in the Pacific Ocean.  Many worry that migrating fish such as albacore tuna might be contaminated as they make their way from Japan to the Pacific Northwest.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio