Revisiting Nuclear Power : Part 1 : how it works

It can have escaped few of us that the effects of the war in Ukraine and the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside the ongoing issue of climate change, have led to renewed interest in the possibilities offered by nuclear power and how it can help to solve the problems governments around the world are facing. This is leading to a re-evaluation of the case for nuclear, and, hopefully, objective consideration of its strengths and weaknesses. I believe that it …

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Northern Ireland showing signs of growth, expansion and quietly escaping its historic restrictions

butterflies, flowers, pollinate

An old English friend rang me the other day and asked me about a potential placement his son was considering from a software company in Belfast (neither have any real connection I know of with either part of Ireland). He was puzzled by the fact the opportunity was in Belfast, and wanted to know a bit about life over there and a bit about the context in which a large US software company would be settling in a place like …

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The geothermal energy potential of Northern Ireland…

power plant, geothermal, geothermal energy

On the 3rd February 2020, the Northern Ireland Assembly declared a climate emergency and called for immediate measures to tackle it. One such measure outlined in the New Decade New Approach agreement is the new Energy Strategy for Northern Ireland. This strategy is being led by the Department for the Economy (DfE), with the purpose of achieving net zero carbon and affordable energy for all. This new Energy Strategy signals the beginning of our energy transition, during which we will …

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Climate Action Not Climate Doom

hand, world, bullet

Stevie Maginn is the Green Party NI rep for West Belfast Earlier this month, the 6th assessment report of the UN International Panel on Climate Change was published. This is the 6th report by the IPCC since 1988, reminding us that the alarm bells on climate breakdown have been going for some time, and is more stark reading for people and policymakers. It suggests that under all projection models, the Earth is now likely to reach 1.5C of warming above …

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Flooding is our canary in the coal mine for the impact of climate change, says Sinéad McLaughlin

Belfast, Derry, Strabane and much of Ireland have suffered severe flooding problems in recent days and weeks. We know this will get even worse – with flooding become more intensive and more frequent. A new report says that climate change will be a particular problem for the West of Ireland, with even higher rainfall, leading to even more flooding.  These are not problems we can ignore. I am discussing with the insurance industry how to ensure homeowners, tenants and businesses get the …

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Jeff Bezos flies to the edge of space in giant phallus…

The billionaire space race is equal parts vulgar and hilarious. Last week alleged tax exile Richard Branson put last year’s unfortunate business of asking the government to bail out his companies behind him to blast to the edge of space for a few minutes. He nearly managed to achieve what the Soviets did 60 years ago with less technology than you would find in a modern wristwatch. Not to be outdone Jeff Bezos has gone full Dr Evil and blasted himself …

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The State of Us … Previewing the seventh annual Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics (22-28 March)

A quick rummage through the Imagine! Belfast programme coming up between 22–28 March. Under the strapline of The State of Us, there’ll be exhibitions, workshops, lectures, film, comedy, music, spoken word, lectures, theatre and quizzes. Voices from at home and abroad. The festival isn’t afraid to challenge. It doesn’t expect participants to agree with everything that is said. It’s about making people think. Widening their horizons. Broadening their understanding. Developing their empathy. Helping them figure out why – and if – they truly believe the hunches and biases they may have been living with for a lifetime.

We need to be vigilant against the antivaxers…

Medical scientists are more positive than they have been for months. If the science is right – and we trust it is – twenty-one days after 95% of the most vulnerable have had their first covid-19 vaccine they should have 70% protection against the virus and then there should be a sharp fall in the numbers hospitalized and ending up in ICU. Mission accomplished in protecting the NHS and this should be happening mid-March. The Covid-19 virus will off course …

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NI Department of Health has already vaccinated at least 50% of care home residents…

This is one reason why I’ve never bought into the slightly daft idea that just because we are on the same island that the north and the south should synchronise public health policies… Great news for Northern Ireland: https://t.co/8eZoCKfma4 pic.twitter.com/6ldxrxENMZ — Mick Fealty (@mickfealty) December 28, 2020 On Christmas Eve, Peter put these figures into proper perspective… So far, just over 50% of Northern Ireland care home residents, 75% of care home staff, and 18% of front line medical staff …

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We’ve All Been Infected With a Covid Side-Effect… And There Is No Cure

In The Comey Rule then-FBI Director James Comey, played by Jeff Daniels, remarks that the Bureau losing the trust of its public is nothing less than “a bell that can never be unrung”. Similarly, the information vacuum created by the NI Executive’s confusion, frequent poor leadership at individual level and – in places – crude self-interest during the Covid crisis created a space now occupied permanently by cranks, conspiracy theorists, attention-clamouring ‘influencers’ and small government hyper-fanatics. In particular, and this …

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Do we just need to learn to live with Covid-19 or do we need more lockdowns?

Depending on your view of how we should deal with Covid-19 Leo Varadkar is either reckless or a political genius. He was able to get all the kudos for calmly handling the early stage of lockdown; then he was able to offload the leadership mantle to Micheál Martin for him to deal with the sh*tshow stage. Leo has positioned himself as a clear alternative voice to Fianna Fáil dithering. I expect to see Varadkar back in the Taoiseach seat within …

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Just when you think things can’t get any stranger, Robin Swann writes for Rolling Stone…

“You can take all the tea in China Put in a big brown bag for me. Sail round the seven oceans, Drop it smack dab into the deep blue sea.” Van Morrison, Tupelo Honey Splat !!!! Following the announcement on Monday 21 September of new NI wide restrictions on both indoor and outdoor social gatherings, I was talking with a friend. A friend who was somewhere between despondent, cynical & despairing. Superficial positivity, however well-intentioned, really is not my thing. …

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#InConversation Podcast with Professor David Rooney from Queen’s about renewable energy and electric cars…

David Rooney is a Professor in the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast. In this podcast, we chat about improvements in battery technology and how this will affect the growth of electric cars. We also discuss Hydrogen as a fuel source for transport. Already nearly 50% of the electricity generated in Northern Ireland comes from renewable sources and this figure will continue to rise. We discuss new ways of generating electric such as anaerobic digestion and …

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Northern Ireland records its first day with zero new COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the outbreak

The Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard has reported that today, the 20th of June, is the first day since the 10th of March with zero new COVID-19 cases. Over the last 7 days, 25 individuals tested positive out of the 5,964 that were tested, giving a positive test rate of 0.42%. This is low in an international context. For comparison, the chart below shows Northern Ireland’s positive test rate compared with the most recent data available for a range of …

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Mask wearing rates in the UK are among the lowest in the world – it’s time for #MasksForAll

As social distancing measures are relaxed in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, it is vital that everything possible is done to attempt to prevent a secondary wave of Covid-19 infections. Of the actions that citizens and policymakers can take to mitigate against the risk of another wave of the coronavirus, Northern Ireland and Great Britain are amongst the world’s laggards on what has been found to be the most effective intervention against the virus; the universal wearing of masks. The chart …

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With the R number across the UK and Ireland less than one, what lessons can be learned from the United States on re-opening safely?

The Northern Ireland Executive announced that there will be further loosening of lockdown restrictions next week, following the Department of Health announcing that the R number (the average number of people an infected person will pass the virus to) in Northern Ireland is currently between 0.7 and 0.9. It appears that R is holding steady at less than one across the UK and Ireland. The chart above shows estimated values for R across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, …

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The COVID-19 R number in Northern Ireland has drifted back up towards 1 since the partial lifting of the lockdown restrictions

The COVID-19 basic reproduction number, or R, has become the most crucial metric for policymakers as they start to tentatively reopen the economy following the lockdown measures that were implemented in March to halt the spread of the disease. Lockdown measures will only be relaxed when the R value is below one. To attempt to calculate the R value for Northern Ireland, I used Imperial University’s EpiEstim app, which provides estimates for the reproduction number from daily case count data …

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Bowling For Michael Moore – The tricky business of renewable energy…

The Planet of the Humans, produced/tagged by Michael Moore caused a bit of a stir recently with the criticism ranging from “hmmmm, a bit out of date” to “he’s effectively now a white supremacist” Here’s a Guardian critique of Moore if you think the latter summary is a glib throwaway exaggeration: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/07/michael-moore-far-right-climate-crisis-deniers-film-environment-falsehoods My own criticism is reserved not for the clumsiness of the attempt to highlight both corporate involvement and the reality of renewables but for the rash conclusions from …

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Establishment of biosecurity zones could allow different regions of Ireland to safely emerge from lockdown at different speeds

The Northern Ireland Executive announced their roadmap to relaxing coronavirus restrictions today, following similar publications for England and the Republic of Ireland. Unlike the Irish government’s plan, no dates were released with the plan, although there is an aspiration to progress through the plan’s five stages by the end of 2020. Progress on lifting restrictions depends on the all-important R0 figure, the number of people with Covid-19 who subsequently infect others. However, calculating R0 is difficult and necessarily imprecise. An …

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Covid-19 just part of Darwin’s dangerous idea…

Some years back, the vagaries of cheap air travel and the capriciousness of meetings schedules conspired to place me in central London with a few hours to spare.  So I took that rare opportunity to visit the Gothic cathedral that is the Natural History Museum (NHM) to see a Charles Darwin exhibition.   In my youth, pathetic in the eyes of my peers, Darwin was my hero; his simple, powerful idea excited me sufficiently to make studying science a joy rather …

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