Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nuclear Power is Not Rational on Any Scale

Below is the abstract from a new study that demonstrates that high national commitments to nuclear are correlated with less reduction in national emissions:
Andrew Lawrence, Benjamin Sovacool, and Andrew Stirling. 2016. Nuclear energy and path dependence in Europe’s ‘Energy union’: coherence or continued divergence? Climate Policy Vol. 16 , Iss. 5, 2016
Since its initial adoption, the EU’s 2020 Strategy – to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, increase the share of renewable energy to at least 20% of consumption, and achieve energy savings of 20% or more by 2020 – has witnessed substantial albeit uneven progress. 

This article addresses the question of what role nuclear power generation has played, and
can or should play in future, towards attaining the EU 2020 Strategy, particularly with reference to decreasing emissions and increasing renewables. 

It also explores the persistent diversity in energy strategies among member states. To do so, it first surveys the current landscape of nuclear energy use and then presents the interrelated concepts of path dependency, momentum, and lock-in. 

The article proceeds to examine five factors that help explain national nuclear divergence: technological capacity and consumption; economic cost; security and materiality; national perceptions; and political, ideological and institutional factors. This divergence reveals a more general weakness in the 2020 Strategy’s underlying assumptions.

Although energy security – defined as energy availability, reliability, affordability, and sustainability – remains a vital concern for all member states, the 2020 Strategy does not explicitly address questions of political participation, control, and power. 

The inverse relationship identified here – between intensity of nuclear commitments, and emissions mitigation and uptake of renewable sources – underscores the importance of increasing citizens’ levels of energy policy awareness and participation in policy design.
I think that the questions of political participation, control, and power in energy policy are the key ones.

Decision making is centralized and revolving door politics typically result in the convergence of industry and government approaches to energy policy.

I have demonstrated through my published research, especially my recent book on crisis communications, that elite decision making regarding nuclear energy is the most centralized and least responsive to public concerns and demands for accountability. 

Lawrence, Sovacool, and Stirling also recognize this point when they write:
"Nuclear commitments can have the effect of reinforcing institutional structures, market practices, and operating procedures that militate against a move to renewable energy technologies of kinds that arguably offer a more effective long-term basis for achieving low-carbon energy futures" (p. 623)
Nuclear policy making across the globe in the wake of the Fukushima crisis demonstrates nuclear insanity in policy making.

For example, today I read articles about China's push into nuclear exports:
AP. 2016. China sets sights on new global export: nuclear energy. August 24, 2016
BEIJING--On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that is the flagship for Beijing's ambition to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.
Doesn't that sound like a good idea? It seems kind of like China's telling the world: We have arrived, as you can see by our capacity to export the phallus!

Today I also read about the push for small scale, modular nuclear reactors despite risks, costs, and the unresolved problem of nuclear waste:
Nuclear developers have big plans for small power plants in U.K. Reuters Aug 25, 2016
You can see the future: waste from decentralized nuclear energy leaking everywhere!

There is simply no effective and cost-efficient way of containing waste!
The US's first Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP, had an explosion and leaked plutonium and americium into the environment in 2014. You can read the "official" account here:

It is anticipated that the WIPP disaster  is going to cost more than $2 billion to clean up: 
Megan Geuss. 2016, August 23. Nuclear waste accident 2 years ago may cost more than $2 billion to clean up [updated]. Los Angeles Times says fixing the dump is a political imperative. 
The problem of nuclear waste management alone precludes nuclear from being a viable, sustainable energy solution.

Yet, despite clear evidence for the irrationality of nuclear, policy makers and industry continue to promote its dangerous energies.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fukushima Daiichi Basement Contains Thousands of Tons of Contaminated Water Measuring in the Millions of Becquerels

TEPCO is reporting approximately 10,000 tons of toxic water in underground Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-4 nuclear plant trenches.

Water in the basement of the reactors measures “around dozens of millions Becquerels” (12,000,000 Becquerels?) while water in other locations, such as trenches, measures in the thousands of Becquerels. Additionally, another 8,0000 tons of radioactive water resides in trenches around units 5 and 6:
10,000 tons of toxic water pools in Fukushima nuclear plant trenches. The Mainichi, August 23, 2016 (Mainichi Japan),

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Around 10,000 tons of contaminated water have pooled in underground trenches around the Nos. 1 to 4 reactor buildings of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Tokyo Electric has no immediate plan to remove the water in the trenches where cables run for the nuclear power complex devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Welcome to the New World

Israel is deploying fully automated patrol and weapons technology:
The future of war: Israel first to deploy fully automated military robots. The Mainichi August 24, 2016,

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) revealed to the Mainichi Shimbun that, beginning in mid-July, it has deployed fully automated self-driving military vehicles to patrol the border with the Palestinian-governed Gaza Strip. Next in the IDF's plans is to equip the vehicles with weapons such as machine guns, and deploy them in stages to Israel's frontiers with Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Efficiency and Market Disciplines Apply Only to Individual Workers, Not to Oligarchic, Bloated, and Risky Corporations

Sometimes the spatial arrangement of news articles in the newspaper reveals "deep politics," as illustrated below from this photo of the front page from the Wall Street Journal Monday August 22, 2016.

The first article addresses corporate welfare by central banks:
Christopher Whittall (8/22/2016). Stimulus Efforts Get Weirder." The Wall Street Journal Monday August 22, 2016. A1.
 The second article explores the ultra-lean workplace where every employee is under duress to demonstrate how they add value:
Lauren Weber (8/22/2016). Nowhere to for 'Dead Wood' Workers. The Wall Street Journal Monday August 22, 2016. A1.


In the case of the first article, "Stimulus Efforts Get Weirder", the European Central Bank is doling out corporate welfare to under-peforming companies in the form of a corporate-bond buying program that is so lucrative for companies that some "are creating new debt especially for the central bank to buy." The process has been expedited so that in some cases the ECB has bought directly from companies (sans auction).

In the second article, "Nowhere to Hide," we see that companies are actively seeking out and eliminating "under-performing" workers, cast as "dead wood." Big data tools are employed to track employee performance.

In the first article, we see government bailing out under-performing companies, in a manner seen as excessive even by the pro-business Wall Street Journal.

In the second article, we see a different standard of treatment for workers, who are increasingly disposable as new technology and automation replace their labor.

Efficiency and market disciplines only seem to apply to individual workers not to large companies.

The merger of the state and corporate sector has a name.