“Far from tackling climate change, nuclear power is an expensive distraction whose safety is threatened by wildfires and floods, experts say.” – Climate News Network
100 Seconds to Midnight
The atomic Doomsday Clock (video) was moved to 100 SECONDS to midnight January 23, 2020. This the closest it has ever been before in history. “As the statement issued today by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explains: “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers—nuclear war and climate change—that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond.”
The Nuclear Dilemma
In this video from Just Have a Think, Dave Borlace discusses “Nuclear Energy in the 21st Century” and brings up some of the key issues that will be discussed here. In short, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report elicited a large public response concerning global warming and its truly frightening consequences now upon us. This is becoming increasingly visible, despite the continued denial from governments (video) and world leaders. As we have entered the sixth mass extinction, there are constant reports of record breaking heat waves, fires, droughts, melting glaciers, increasingly powerful storms and hurricanes, wavy jet streams, and sea level rise which could inundate nuclear facilities in just decades.
Most people, who are not blinded by profit margins or industry brainwashing, now recognize that there is a strong need to divest from fossil fuels and decarbonize quickly. Many analysts in the energy sector have pointed to nuclear power as a means to save us from ramping up on the well-documented devastation of rising carbon dioxide (CO2 ) levels. In fact, the last time CO2 emissions were this high, modern humans didn’t even exist.
In order to do decarbonize, nuclear energy is often touted as the most readily available solution we have. The IPCC special report even goes so far as to encourage society to take a risky gamble on unproven technologies and to double down on nuclear power despite the enormous risks to human health, the environment, and all life. The unnerving implications of this are largely ignored. Further, underlying the IPCC report’s claim is the belief that technological solutions can fix the climate problem. Yet these fixes don’t address the root cause of climate change.
Alternatively, renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures are now proving that they can help significantly to cut the energy sector’s emissions, and are safe, cost-effective, and commercially available today. Despite this, nuclear industry apologists and pundits continue to argue that renewables won’t be enough and that limiting the worst effects of climate change may also require other low or no-carbon energy solutions, pointing again to nuclear power. Even extremely reputable researchers such as those at the Union of Concerned Scientists and Dr. James Hansen, PhD have said that we have to consider nuclear power as a potential last ditch solution to climate change
However, this is now becoming an outdated argument as more careful risk analysis shows that nuclear solutions will not be in time or enough to slow emissions. Recent studies have clearly shown that nuclear power does not reduce emissions enough to make them a viable solution to climate change. Still, according to these prominent scientists and researchers, society must explore the advantages of nuclear power. They claim that the generation of electricity through nuclear energy reduces the amount of energy generated from fossil fuels (coal and oil). Less use of fossil fuels means lowering greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 and others). So let’s take a closer look at both sides of the argument here. A potential list the advantages of nuclear power include the following:
- Low Greenhouse Gas emissions
- Low life-cycle carbon emissions
- High power output
- Provides a steady base load output
- Inexpensive electricity
- Nuclear energy doesn’t rely on fossil fuels
- Economic impact (provides jobs, etc)
As a global society it is true that we must weigh both sides of this argument and consider the risks and benefits very carefully before making any conclusions. There is a small group of scientists that have proposed replacing 100% of the world’s fossil fuel power plants with nuclear reactors as a way to solve climate change. One of the most eminent scientists in climate research, James Hansen, is one of them. They propose nuclear grow to satisfy up to 20 percent of all our energy (not just electricity) needs. They advocate that nuclear is a “clean” carbon-free source of power, but they don’t look at the human impacts of these scenarios. Let’s do the math…
“One nuclear power plant takes on average about 14-1/2 years to build, from the planning phase all the way to operation. According to the World Health Organization, about 7.1 million people die from air pollution each year, with more than 90% of these deaths from energy-related combustion. So switching out our energy system to nuclear would result in about 93 million people dying, as we wait for all the new nuclear plants to be built in the all-nuclear scenario.” – Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation
Pro-nuclear entities also argue that the benefits of nuclear power outweigh the risks given our current energy demands and the continued lack of investment in and infrastructure in place for renewables even as this is becoming increasingly less true. In the following ScientistsWarning.TV video, Michael Shellenberger and Dr. James Hansen discuss this matter further:
This video shows that there are, indeed, many sides to this argument. It also shows that those who side with nuclear power tend to downplay its numerous costs and risks. For example, in this video, Michael Shellenberger significantly under-represents the enormous catastrophe and ongoing unfolding environmental tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident site as many nuclear supporters do. Shellenberger also outrageously, claims, openly gaslighting his audience, that according to an apples-to-oranges nuclear industry supplied analysis by Environmental Progress, solar panels create about 300 times more toxic waste per unit of electricity generated than nuclear power plants. This will be debated further below.
Let’s Face it, “Nuclear Safety” is an Oxymoron.
Despite the advantages of nuclear power discussed above, nuclear power is fraught with many significant and notorious disadvantages that it has never and will never likely overcome. This includes:
- Substantial safety and security risks.
- An unsolved waste disposal problem.
- Ongoing containment issues.
- Increased threat of accidents.
- Increased probability of use in terrorism.
- Constant leaks resulting in low level radiation (LLR) in the environment.
- Huge water requirements.
- Medical risks.
- Still contributes to CO2 emissions.
- Land use and habitat destruction.
- Unprofitable plants that are impossible to maintain in changing climate.
Nuclear energy also produces substantial economic challenges, and carries significant risks. It is also a myth that it is low carbon. Also because the industry has failed to find a ‘solution’ to the waste issue society can never truly cost even one unit of nuclear energy. The cost per megawatt hour (Mwh) is actually much, much more considering the waste is around essentially forever.
Additionally accidents, leaks, and the nearly complete inability for humans to contain this power have a long and dark track record that includes the Three Mile Island Accident, Chernobyl, The Dome, Novaya Zemlya, Kosmos 1818, The Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi, and many other large scale disasters that are still playing out.
In fact, some have called the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daichii a potential extinction level event. While other experts, like Andrew Glikson, PhD are discussing the “Plutocene Era.” It is also well-known that according to Dr. Peter Ward, PhD (video) and others we likely have 3-9 feet of sea level rise (SLR) already baked in with climate lag which does not bode well for the some 85% of nuclear facilities now lining our sea coasts. With increasing and intensifying tropical storms this concern is a serious threat. Nuclear facilities located on the coasts (and there are about 150 of them) should be decommissioned as soon as possible given events like what just happened to the Bahamas in Dorian. Yet, nuclear industry supporters argue that it’s completely safe and not to worry. They also claim that decommissioning can wait and/or will be too expensive.
Ultimately, mankind has repeatedly failed to fully control or contain nuclear power as the following video with Dr. Kate Brown from MIT appearing on Democracy Now! discusses.
“Chernobyl is considered the worst nuclear accident in history, but Kate Brown, an MIT professor of science, technology and society, says much of what we understand about the disaster is inaccurate. Her new book, “Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future,” chronicles the devastating and under-reported impact of radiation on tens of thousands in the Soviet Union that went unreported for decades.”
The failure to make nuclear energy safe is an ongoing concern. These and many other caveats also make nuclear power vulnerable to public rejection with good reason as seen in Japan and Germany following the Fukushima disaster of 2011. Eight years later, this disaster is still unfolding.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) many nuclear plants in the US alone are scheduled for much needed maintenance and are falling behind safety schedules. Additionally, these plants are no longer making a profit and many insurers do not want to cover these plants due to the potential for large unmanageable disasters.
According to the UCS, “More than one-third of US nuclear plants are unprofitable or scheduled to close. On average, it would cost $814 million annually to bring unprofitable plants back to a breakeven point. Plants owned by merchant generators that sell power into competitive wholesale markets face a higher risk of closure than regulated utilities that recover their costs from ratepayers.”
UCS also says that nuclear power’s risks can and must be substantially reduced, regardless of whether new nuclear power plants are built.
• Better enforcement of existing regulations
• Expedited transfer of nuclear waste into dry casks
• Strengthened reactor security requirements
• Higher safety standards for new plants.
UCS recommends that all citizens urge Congress to demand the Nuclear Regulatory Commission enforce its safety regulations and establish a clear, realistic timeline for compliance by all nuclear power reactors. In the meantime, nuclear energy is on the decline.
To LNT or Not to LNT: That is The Question?
The trending science and nuclear industry research is pushing for a move away from the long held Linear No-Threshold Theory (LNT) of radiation. LNT says basically the obvious, that there is no safe dose when it comes to industrial level bio-hazard exposures to radiation. What is LNT?
The principal basis for the LNT is theoretical, and straightforward. A single particle of radiation hitting a single DNA molecule in a single cell nucleus of a human body can potentially initiate a cancer down the road. The probability of a cancer initiation is therefore proportional to the number of such hits, which is proportional to the number of particles of radiation, which is proportional to the dose. Thus, the risk is linearly dependent on the dose. At low levels exposure is said to be safe, however there is much debate on the matter.
Essentially those who argue against LNT base their argument on a complete lack of evidence. They conclude that since LLR carcinogenosis is unproven at low levels, there is no proof of it. However, we must all keep in mind that as Carl Sagan once said “absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence.” Granted it’s evidence we are never likely to get, but just because we don’t yet have a way to measure it doesn’t mean the evidence isn’t there. This approach is also completely unscientific.
Still, the importance of this use of the LNT is difficult to exaggerate. It is estimated that in the USA, US $85 billion will be spent in cleaning up the Hanford site to avoid low level radiation (LLR), and comparable sums will be spent on government operating sites at Savannah River, Rocky Flats, Fernald and several others. If the LNT is wrong and low level radiation (LLR) is harmless, all of this money would be wasted. Also, funding for this superfund site clean up might not even happen without this.
Those downplaying the importance of LNT have become even more adamant and vociferous after Fukushima. For example, the Heartland Institute (video), funded by Koch Industries, is a well-known bastion of science denialism and an investor in the nuclear industry. It has proclaimed that LNT is too strict and denied it’s validity altogether. Scott Montgomery, a nuclear industry supporter, makes the case for nuclear power as a solution to climate change in his books and lectures. He argues that low amounts of radiation exposure poses no threat citing nuclear industry funded studies showing no correlation. In fact, it has become common for nuclear energy adherents to routinely claim that due to the “hormesis theory,” radiation exposure is actually good for you. This is a common assertion, just like the infamous tobacco industry claim that smoking is good for you.
There are only a handful of widely accepted studies even available about radiation rate increases post-Fukushima. The ones that are considered valid by mainstream science and media typically come from the Woods Hole Institute (WHOI). WHOI presents most of the data and findings on this topic to date. Suspiciously, this institute is also at least partially funded by grants received from the nuclear industry via the Department of Defense.
The WHOI repeatedly reports that the radiation from Fukushima arriving constantly on the West Coast of the USA now is at “low doses” that are what the agency calls safe. In fact, most research and data in this area is coming from the nuclear industry itself or funded by its interests. Of course, they report that all radiation from Fukushima and elsewhere is at safe levels in their ocean radiation reports as well. But what are they calling safe?
“The recent findings as you might expect are being played down and the usual sound-bites are telling us “it’s nothing to worry about,” something the powers that be have been saying for 8 years now.” – The Big Wobble
In short, it boils down to whether you follow LNT or not. Many physicians think there are “safe” doses and are even talking about radiogenerative hormesis as ever (i.e. saying it’s even good for you at low doses just like the tobacco industry once did about smoking), while others still clearly assert that there are no safe doses, like Dr. Arjun Makhijani. The debate rages on.
Part of the problem is there are no studies yet correlating damages at really low levels because it is too low to in fact measure. However, we do know that it bio-accumulates (video) in living tissues and is passed from one organism to another thereby concentrating in the food chain (plants and animals). This means dose increases exponentially over time with repeated exposure given a radio-toxic environment like the world in which we live today.
According to Resilience.org, “this brings up the Precautionary Principle. It says that if there is doubt about the safety of a substance, the burden of proof that it is safe lies with those who advocate it, rather than burdening those who question it with the responsibility to prove its harm.” In other words, “Better safe than sorry.” The phrase “Precautionary Principle” is not even included in the index of Energy, much less discussed. [The current nuclear industry] approach suggests a “Throw-caution-to-the-wind Principle.”
What’s More Bananas Than The Nuclear Industry?
The comparison between bananas and nuclear power plants has become common and accepted; yet it completely ignores the spike in emissions and radiation doses following catastrophic accidents.
So, what is the banana equivalent dose (yes, that’s a thing) of the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters?
This answer, 6.48 trillion bananas, is well more than a person would eat in a lifetime. In the UK, the average person eats about 10kg of banana, per year. That’s equivalent to approximately 100 bananas (banalink.org). 100 bananas. If an average consumer is expected to live 75 years then they will eat approximately 7,500 bananas in a lifetime.
Also, don’t let these jargon science manufacturers of consent tell you that getting some sun on you is equivalent to getting some nuclear fallout on you from a nuclear disaster or dirty bomb. Nuclear industry supporters like to make this apples-to-oranges comparison. But all radioactive isotopes are not equal, and you simply don’t get Cesium 137 or Plutonium 239 from sun bathing. Or we would have evacuated Vail, Colorado (a high elevation city) long ago.
Michael Shellenberger, as mentioned above, is a nuclear industry funded pundit who has repeatedly refuted and devalued the work of doctors such as Helen Caldicott, and has written a Forbes article titled “It Sounds Crazy, But Fukushima, Chernobyl, And Three Mile Island Show Why Nuclear Is Inherently Safe.” It sounds crazy, because it is crazy. Except in a nation run by gaslighting, i.e. upending objective reality to support an ideation and delusional rationalization of what they call safety for investors, insurers and industrialists and those who seek to profit from this disaster. Therefore, trust but verify, as the Russian proverb goes: доверяй, но проверяй.
Externalities Mean No One’s Taking Responsibility
How could Fukushima be built on an earthquake prone zone many ask (and note that Fukushima is just one example, as many such facilities are built on coastlines now subject to sea level rise (SLR) of at least 3 feet according to climate scientists like Peter Ward, author of Flooded Earth (video), which conversely will also impact fault lines)? The answer is simple. for most nuclear energy corporations (like every other company) melt-downs and natural disasters, even triple melt-downs, are considered externalities which they will never pay for.
They are basically taking huge gamble with your money as the taxpayer or working citizen of your nation, but you never did the risk assessment. And then you are left with the bill, oh and in the case of nuclear melt-downs like Fukushima the radiation exposures, destruction of the natural environment, and possibly the entire Pacific Ocean and the Northern Hemisphere.
“Tokyo Electric built its reactors as it did because it would not pay the full cost of a melt-down anyway. Given the limited liability at the heart of corporate law, it could externalize the cost of running reactors. In most industries, firms rarely risk tort damages so enormous they cannot pay them. In nuclear power, “unpayable” potential liability is routine. Privately owned companies bear the costs of an accident only up to the fire-sale value of their net assets. Beyond that point, they pay nothing — and the damages from a nuclear disaster easily soar past that point.”
“The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control and not the other way around.” – Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, Godzilla Film 2014
What About Safer Alternatives? Thorium Reactors? Fusion? God Parity?
It may be possible to support continued research and development of nuclear power technologies that are safer, more secure, and lower cost. With the need for cleaner energy higher than ever before, could liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) be the solution? Molten Salt Thorium Reactors (MSRs) are being touted as a safer alternative. There are many newer types of reactors. Still these are long shots, and not likely to be the on time to solve the challenges of a climate already getting beyond human control especially considering climate lag. In the following video, Dave Borlace of Just Have A Think discusses this further. After examining both sides, it is clear that LFTR and MSRs are far from commercial reality, far from low carbon and cannot compete with the new low costs of renewables.
It is also known that few large corporations will spend the money to update their plants to these types of reactors. In this video episode of Answers with Joe this option is discussed further. Joe Scott also discusses other experimental technologies like, traveling wave reactors (video), TWR technology, molten salt reactors, and fusion (video). Recently a fusion breakthrough has made the news. Just Have a Think discusses this in the following video.
Some people are still hoping for a “star in a jar” solution (video), but fusion is perpetually acknowledged to be a long way off. Promising but fleeting fusion reactions have been achieved in several experiments. China’s Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) known as an artificial sun made an important advance by achieving a stable 101.2-second steady-state high confinement plasma, setting a world record. Fusion needs more experimentation and funding to unlock its promise. However, some are still asking who killed fusion? If you can’t get fusion, the next best thing might be the god parity.
It is certain, energy sector analysts such as Tony Seba (video) expect the next decades to see major disruptions in the energy sector that could change the horrific reality we now face in dirty energy and dirty money. This is true forward thinking. And it’s not just for futuristic visionaries such as Jacque Fresco (so far ahead of his time that he was often ridiculed for his vision of a demonetized and energy unslaved society) anymore. “Los Angeles Power and Water officials have struck a deal on the largest and cheapest solar + battery-storage project in the world, at prices that leave fossil fuels in the dust and may relegate nuclear power to the dustbin,” – according to Forbes contributor Jeff McMahon.
According to analyst Dave Froman, “this disruption is based in AI and computational power. It will require an open source project (and the 2 world leaders in this technology already on this are open source) that the world and the scientific community are focused on in a collective effort. This will exponentially increase the development of these emerging energy solutions. We would probably be there in less than 5 years. However, unfortunately we cannot create that environment today within our current system. Still, the next 20 years are going to rewrite the entire human narrative. And people have no idea it’s coming.”
Nuclear Power: A False Solution to Climate Change
According to this article, no matter how you look at it, nuclear power is a false solution to climate change. Deploying a dangerous solution to mitigate dangerous climate change seems like doubling down on a bad idea. Ironically, from uranium mines to nuclear waste, including radioactive and chemical pollution from nuclear reactors, every phase of the nuclear cycle brings about more industrial pollution. Further in this video Dr. Kate Brown of MIT, explains why nuclear power won’t stop or curtail climbing global emissions rates or mitigate climate change:
The following long list of disadvantages is enough to make anyone reconsider any commitment to nuclear power besides decommissioning and start thinking about renewables.
• At best, nuclear power’s contribution would be minor.
• Nuclear power is too late.
• Nuclear power is marginal form of energy in decline.
• Nuclear energy also produces greenhouse gases.
• Nuclear energy is too expensive.
• Nuclear energy is not adapted to a deteriorating climate.
• Radioactivity and nuclear waste: more and more pollution.
• Major accidents: a disaster is always possible.
• Proliferation: radiological terrorism, nuclear war.
• And then, there’s the nuclear waste storage problem…
In summary, this article finds that “the typical nuclear power plant has 8.6 cents of damages attached to every kilowatt-hour of electricity it produces, and the industry as a whole has $223.7 billion worth of net damages every year. These costs are so large (and unavoidable) that in most countries investments in nuclear power do not occur, and they raise doubts as to whether a nuclear renaissance will produce net benefits to society.”
Waste Not Want Not
There are many serious, unresolved problems associated with nuclear power that have existed since its introduction. The most significant challenge that nuclear power presents is the high level waste (HLW) storage problem.
HLW is liquid waste taken from spent fuel pools. High-level radioactive wastes are the highly radioactive materials produced as a byproduct of the reactions that occur inside nuclear reactors. High-level wastes take one of two forms: Spent (used) reactor fuel when it is accepted for disposal. Waste materials remaining after spent fuel is reprocessed.
Nuclear fuel remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years after it is no longer useful in a commercial reactor. The resulting waste disposal problem has become a major challenge for policymakers and the environment. According to a NIRS/WISE report:
“In the last few decades researchers have been working on the technology to reduce radioactivity and the decay time of nuclear waste, the so-called transmutation process. There is no guarantee that this expensive research will be successful, and these techniques can only be applied for future spent fuel and not for the present amount of nuclear waste 300,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel have already been accumulated worldwide.”
In the following video a report on this problem the waste storage issues at just one facility are discussed:
Nuclear countries plan on burying the waste, but the only existing burial sites (Asse in Germany and WIPP in the United States) have turned into incredible fiascos that already contaminate the environment, although they store less radioactive wastes.
For the storage of radioactive nuclear waste there are still no solutions. What’s worse is HLW storage requires nuclear waste dumps for eternity (video) as highly radioactive nuclear wastes will remain deadly for over hundreds of thousands of years. SpaceX is experimenting with the notion of whether or not we can send nuclear waste to the sun (video)? The problem of nuclear waste disposal is now largely recognized as unsolvable (video).
What’s Worse Nuclear v. Solar Waste
Does solar power generate more waste than nuclear power as claimed by Michael Shellenberger in the video above? Shellenberger also makes points about eROI (pronounced Ee-roy). According to Forbes, “also referred to as Energy Returned on Energy Invested (EROEI), eROI is the ratio of energy returned to energy invested in that energy source, along its entire life-cycle.” The energy return on investment (EROI) is a key determinant of the price of energy. Many nuclear industry supporters claim that the return on investment for nuclear power over solar is much more and with less risk.
Nuclear industry supporters like to claim that recycling a solar panel is bad, but recycling a nuclear reactor is good! It is also trendy to claim that the resulting nuclear industry waste products are somehow far less than solar industry waste products. It’s also a somewhat ironic concern from proponents of nuclear power, which has a rather bigger toxic waste problem. Also, if you look at the overall numbers, this isn’t exactly so:
Also, if you look at the overall numbers, this isn’t exactly so:
• Nuclear Waste Totals: 115,000,000 cubic meters of waste, most of it radioactive, deadly, and unmanageable.
• Solar Waste Totals: 19,500,000 cubic meters of waste, all of it safe and most of it recyclable. Further, according to a spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association argues that the study cited by Shellenberger is incorrect, and that in fact solar panels are “mainly made up of easy-to-recycle materials that can be successfully recovered and reused at the end of their useful life.”
And then there are the reactors themselves. The problem here is that you can only recycle concrete a bit, currently about 28%. Crushing it costs energy. Some concrete is used as aggregate for road construction and similar tasks, but that’s about it. In any event, you can’t turn old nuclear reactors into new ones.
But don’t look at the argument, look at the facts. People are recycling solar panels right now, today. The numbers don’t lie. Meanwhile, the cost of decommissioning nuclear plants is spiraling out of control, and we still have no idea what to do with the nuclear waste as discussed above. In fact, radioactive HLW storage is one of the most significant problems plaguing modern man. All of these factors are just more reasons to look toward real world renewables like hydroelectric dams.
According to Clean Technica, “some critics and skeptics incorrectly say too much energy is consumed in the production of solar panels and that the panels don’t generate enough electricity during their lifetimes to make up for it. This criticism has been proven to be false, and may be nothing more than a deliberate form of misinformation intended to persuade people who are interested in solar power to lose that interest. Too often, the critics turn out to be people who are directly or indirectly connected to fossil fuel industries like oil and gas, nuclear, or coal.”
From analyst Dave Froman, as to this argument of recycling solar panels: “There is no such thing as waste when you have the ability to manipulate matter at the atomic scale. If you can manufacture at the atomic scale? You can recycle those atoms as well. I know of 6 different research groups now working on the creation of Nano-replication. We already possess all of the material sciences now, as well as the ancillary technologies necessary for its creation. It is no longer a matter of if, only when.”
The Never-ending Threat of Nuclear Winter
What’s worse than the Anthropocene you might ask? The answer is the Plutocene. We cannot forget the intimate connection between nuclear power and nuclear war. Plutocene is a term coined by author Andrew Glikson to describe the future world we are on course to inhabit, now that it has become clear that we are still busy building nuclear weapons rather than working together to defend our planet. The doomsday clock is already set at two minutes to midnight, the closest it’s ever been in world history. Russia is said to have built a new 100-megaton underwater nuclear doomsday device, and it has threatened the US with it.
“An organism at war with itself is doomed.” – Carl Sagan
According to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, “nuclear weapons and nuclear power share several common features. The long list of links includes their histories, similar technologies, skills, health and safety aspects, regulatory issues and radiological research and development. For example, the process of enriching uranium to make it into fuel for nuclear power stations is also used to make nuclear weapons. Plutonium is a by-product of the nuclear fuel cycle and is still used by some countries to make nuclear weapons.”
Governments Unprepared to Manage Nuclear Power and Sea Level Rise
The most conservative scientific estimates from NOAA and others are mathematically predicting a 2 foot sea level rise due to our perturbation of the environment even if we stop burning fossil fuels today due to climate lag. Dr. Peter Ward says 3-9 Feet by mid-century to 2100 in his book on GHG Extinctions “Under A Green Sky”. Some, like Dr. Harold Wanless, sea level rise expert, say as much as 120 feet of sea level rise is coming in the next couple centuries.
However, even the conservative 2 foot rise predicted by NOAA will displace coastal cities around the globe, where many nuclear reactors are situated. In the following video Arnie Gundersen, nuclear expert and Director of Fairewinds Energy Education, explains that we have to expect more nuclear disasters like Fukushima and the resulting risks of Fukushima fascism that the world is now taking on because governments and corporations are unprepared and incapable of managing nuclear power in the long run:
“The safest nuclear power or energy policy is to realize zero nuclear power.” – Naoto Kan, Former Japanese Prime Minister
The True Solution to Climate Change
Those who are serious about climate and social justice argue that nuclear power is a false solution to climate change and are working toward a 100% renewable energy future.
“Every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on clean renewable energy and one more dollar spent on making the world a comparatively dirtier and a more dangerous place, because nuclear power and nuclear weapons go hand in hand.” – Mark Z. Jacobson
Nuclear is NOT part of the answer! Ask those who are down wind of The Hanford, where part of the soil is so radioactive that a person exposed to it would be dead in a few minutes. Arnie, a nuclear engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education says pushing nuclear power as a solution to climate change is a dangerous smokescreen.
- The 7 Reasons Why Nuclear Energy is Not The Answer to Solve Climate Change
- Court Rules Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Preventable
- Does Nuclear Power Slow Or Speed Climate Change?
- Nuclear Power: A False Solution to Climate Change
- Nuclear Power Cannot Rival Renewable Energy
- New Nukes Make Global Warming Worse | Fairewinds
- Radiation is Good For You and the Hormesis Argument
- Chernobyl: Understanding Consequences of Playing With The Poison Fire
- Chernobyl Impacts on UK
- Chernobyl Briefing EP
- Chernobyl Impacts on Scandinavian Farmers
- Exposing the Misinformation of Michael Shellenberger and ‘Environmental Progress’
- Global Warming and Energy Facts | UCS
- How Nuclear Apologists Mislead the World Over Radiation
- Is Nuclear Power Globally Scalable | IEEE
- Fukushima: Increase in Throat Cancer in the US
- Fukushima: A Nuclear Story (Video), Willem Defoe Narrates
- Fukushima Update 2019 | Thom Hartmann and Kevin Kamps
- Ghost Train Full of Radioactive Meat
- Japan’s Fukushima Fascism | EcoWatch
- Japan Must Be Prudent in Fukushima Waste Water Dumping Issue
- Map Sea Level Rise by 2030 on Coastal CIties Where Most Nuclear Plants Are
- Nuclear Power and Climate Change: Rising Seas
- Nuclear Power Overview | UCS
- Nuclear Power Cost
- Nuclear Power Safety Recommendations
- Nuclear Power in a Warming World
- Nuclear Power Primer | Ralph Nader Radio Show
- Plutonium Free Future
- Radiation Leaking from Tsar Bomba As Arctic Melts
- Sleepwalking to Armageddon
- The Nuclear Power Dilemma
- The Nuclear Option | PBS Nova (Video)
- Why Nuclear Power Will Never Supply The World’s Energy…
It is clear that the risks often outweigh the benefits of nuclear power, almost on the waste storage issue alone. Additionally, due to the corruption of our government regulatory bodies by profit and power motivated bad actors, warring entities, and radiological terrorists we, as a society have proven time and again that we are just not equipped to play with the proverbial fire that nuclear power represents. Especially as we move into a warmer world with several feet of sea level rise on the way and more than half of these problematic and already leaking reactor sites located on sea coasts, Rupert Read calls nuclear power a profoundly irresponsible solution (video) for our energy future.
“To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators.”
– Bernie Sanders Seeks Nuclear Moratorium, Desmog
Despite our best intentions, our governing systems all too often allow profit to trump safety forcing us to conclude that we can’t continue considering these technologies without a fundamental ecological shift in these dynamics.
With the daunting cons to nuclear energy there are many factors that will need to change significantly in order to make this type of energy a reasonable option for further consideration. Many upgrades in this technology have been promised, but not yet delivered. Simply put, this debate is ongoing and there are no definitive answers, just a cautionary tale.
When the full cost of the Nuclear Options are factored in, which need to include the full life cycle cost of:
• Mining and processing the fuels.
• Storing the spent fuel.
• Building and decommissioning power plants which often run over budget.
• The cost of all the research invested.
• The environmental and social cost of disasters.
These questions need to be thoroughly addressed before even considering the nuclear option. Again the Doomsday Clock (video) was moved to 100 SECONDS to midnight January 23, 2020. This the closest it has ever been before in history. We simply cannot get any closer to midnight.
• Cain, Fraser (2017). Can we send nuclear waste to the sun [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aovpjmaBdw
• Caldicott, Helen (2017). Sleepwalking to armageddon [Book]. New York, NY: New Press.
• Clean Technica (2018). Solar ERoEI is actually really, really good. Retrieved from https://cleantechnica.com/2018/02/03/solar-power-can-pay-easily/
• Cohen, B L. (1998). Perspectives on the high level waste disposal problem. Interdiscipl Sci Rev, 23: 193–203.
• Freeman, Marsha (2010). Who killed fusion. Retrieved from https://fusion4freedom.com/who-killed-fusion/
• Gundersen, Arnie (2018). Fairewinds presents sobering facts about Fukushima [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1EurSNdy8c
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“Without ecology there can be no economy and no society. ”
– World Economic Forum
Business As Ecology
Ecological, regenerative, well-being and sharing economy (video) concepts are now emerging in public discourse. In this video with Andrew Yang, the well-being economy is explained along with the notion of gross domestic well-being.
The concept of ecological economics (video) is not new, but it is revolutionary. It arose in many ways as a response to the harmful aspects of neoclassical economics based on an empty world model that has resulted in the many well-known biosphere stressors listed in Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. Recently, limitless growth economics has also been recognized and categorized as a stressor in and of itself.
According to Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene and scientific consensus, continuing with business as usual is not an option if we want to turn back from the sixth mass extinction now underway. Implementing an ecological economic model, adopting sustainability practices and rewilding the world will be crucial if we are to avert the increasing climate and biosphere disasters we are already seeing the signs of.
As a global species we are facing an Arctic BOE, extreme weather, increased greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, ocean acidification, warming oceans, biodiversity loss. habitat loss, wildfires, overpopulation, drought, desertification, famine, climate refugees, nuclear waste issues, disease and much more. It’s simple — we must stop burning the planet for profit.
Ecological economics could get us where we need to be. It is certain that we need an ecological civilization before it’s too late. As the eminent journalist Michael C. Rupert once said regarding the coming collapse of this civilization “unless you change how money works, you change nothing.” This is the first step in resolving this crisis.
We also need to be very clear that the trending concept of sustainable growth (video) is an oxymoron who’s time has come. Implementing ecological economic models does not mean promoting sustainable growth or even degrowth. The degrowth movement is very interesting and does begin to discuss ways to mitigate disastrous climate change, but it is still not as far reaching and impactful as a truly ecological economy.
What is Ecological or Eco-Economics?
“Ecological economics is an interdisciplinary field of economic research and practice that aims to address the interdependence of human economics and natural ecosystems over time and space.”
It is also sometimes called green economics. It is distinguished from the field of environmental economics by its treatment of the economy as a subsystem of the ecosystem (a microcosm within a microcosm intricately interconnected with every other) and it’s emphasis is on preserving natural capital rooted in a full world mindset, or a holistic approach.
In ecological economics there is a focus on sustainability (video), nature, justice, energy accounting and balance along with an adherence to the Gaia principle or other similar ethics that put nature first. The basic definition of economics as the allocation of scarce resources is also used in ecological economics.
Herman E. Daly is often credited with being a primary contributor to this paradigm. He is an ecological economist and Emeritus Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Public Policy. Herman Daly is now leader of the Great Transition Initiative (GTI). There are many discussion and open lectures available with Herman Daly on YouTube (video). GTI focuses on implementing ecological economic models and sustainable practices in business and governance.
Transitioning to a flourishing (video) biosphere and economy is possible with ecological economics according to one of it’s other founders, Dr. Robert Costanza at Yale University. In the following video, Dr. Robert Costanza discusses Ecological Economics. In this lecture, Dr. Robert Costanza introduces this report to the UN, which details the current state of ecological economics modeling and conceptualization for countries, companies, and citizens. He discusses a plan to implement this as a primary economy in every country in the world.
The Gaia Atlas of Ecological Economics is a highly recommended resource for learning more about this topic. Additionally, here is a growing list of several projects that are incorporating, defining and implementing similar or congruent aspects of ecological economics:
Appropedia, aka the sustainable wiki is for collaborative solutions in sustainability, appropriate technology, poverty reduction, and permaculture.
- Blue Economy
According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” … For others, it simply refers to any economic activity in the maritime sector, whether sustainable or not.”
- Center for Humans and Nature
The Center’s mission is to explore ecological economics and promote human responsibilities in relation to nature — the whole community of life. Our dominant contemporary culture rests upon several tragically flawed premises: that humans are separate from nature, that nature is merely raw material for human use, and that it is acceptable and “natural” for humans to exert unlimited control over nature.
- Circular Economy
A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
- Club of Rome & Sustainability
he first report of the Club of Rome was the famous The limits to growth, brought out in 1972 by an MIT research team coordinated by Dennis and Donella Meadows. It caused a great sensation because of its clear message. Recently the Club of Rome has released it’s Climate Emergency Plan.
- Doughnut/Donut Economics
Donut economics is an economic theory developed by Kate Raworth which places humanity’s 21st century challenge as ensuring that every person has the resources they need to meet their human rights, while collectively we focus on sustainability and live within the ecological means of this one planet.
- Ecology of Commerce
The world has changed in the seventeen years since the controversial initial publication of Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce, a stirring treatise about the perceived antagonism between ecology and business yet Hawken’s seminal work continues to advise us today. This work is continued in Drawdown and Pachamama which provide steps and solutions for reversing global warming.
- The Economics of Enough (video)
The world’s leading economies are facing not just one but many crises. The financial meltdown may not be over, climate change threatens major global disruption, economic inequality has reached extremes not seen for a century, and government and business are widely distrusted. At the same time, many people regret the consumerism and social corrosion of modern life. What these crises have in common, Diane Coyle argues, is a reckless disregard for the future–especially in the way the economy is run. How can we achieve the financial growth we need today without sacrificing a decent future for our children, our societies, and our planet? How can we realize what Coyle calls “the Economics of Enough”?
- Natural Capitalism
Most businesses still operate according to a world view that hasn’t changed since the start of the Industrial Revolution at a time when natural resources seemed limitless. “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution” is a 1999 book co-authored by Paul Hawken and Hunter Lovins. It has been translated into a dozen languages and was the subject of a Harvard Business Review summary. More recently, Our Finer Future was released and many sustainable business programs have begun nationally due to this work.__________________________________________
- Silver Gun Hypothesis | Stanford
The Silver Gun Hypothesis is a claim that a global carbon reward can improve social cooperation, incentivize mitigation actions, and limit the risk of dangerous-to-catastrophic climate change.
- Resource Based Economy (RBE)
The term and meaning of a Resource-Based Economy (Tedx lecture with Sue Everett video) was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holistic social and economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resources; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counterproductive to our survival.
- Rewilding Earth
Rewilding focuses on the need for large carnivores and protected wildways. A scientifically credible vision for the future of wild Nature and humans.
Ultimately We Need More Than A GND, We Need A True RBE
We cannot, as Greta Thunberg has said, make deals with physics. The Green New Deal (GND) has fallen under heavy criticism now and not just from the far right (who has purely business as usual reasons for their arguments) but also from the left and progressives. Why is this? Because we are learning that we need to go much farther than greenwashing and other forms of “sustainable” capitalism to do what is right for all life in the biosphere. In short, we need a resource based economy (RBE).
Ecological Economics’ Contribution to the Green New Deal (GND)
The Green New Deal (GND) must recognize and resolve the tension between economic stability and serious climate action. I believe the following changes to economic and social institutions, constitutive of a SSE, are essential to incorporate into activists’ plan to address the climate crisis.” – Resilience.org
The issue with most of these other models is they still rely on a monetary system, which is systemically flawed and cannot solve the issue of sustainability for the same reasons our current system will not. Further, none of them have taken human psychology into account. Ultimately, as Jacque Fresco argued, a demonetized civilization is the only intelligent means by which to deal with the dark side of human behavior as it relates to greed perpetuated by a predatory monetary framework and at the same time keep our habitat and our humanity in tact.
There are hundreds more projects in so-called “sustainability” worldwide discussing the adoption of ecological economic models and resource based economies. We need to ensure that whichever paradigm we choose, it will do the real job which physics now demands from us in terms of the Limits to Growth and true conservation.
There are now many emerging smart city projects as well. The Venus Project or TVP, introduced here by Answers With Joe (video), is worth noting because it is an inspiring project that is often considered so futuristic and utopian that it is out of this world, however we do need utopia for realists and there are ways to make this pragmatic, usable and approachable in city and policy planning.
TVP provides many examples to learn from and discusses how a society would work without currency – yes, that’s right, without money (video). Additionally, the Free University of Berlin lists many more ecological, resource-based and sustainable projects.
A Sustainable Future
At the heart of ecological economics is the sustainability model. The good news is it is becoming a buzzword as individuals and business increasingly begin asking themselves how they can do better. Dr. Philip Lawn, from the International Society for Ecological Economics, introduces this concept and discusses the root cause of climate change, and so many other ills of society and the ecosphere, related to our global addiction to economic growth in this discussion of resilience questions.
The bad news is that there are also a lot of greenwashing campaigns and entities that are tacking this term onto projects that are not at all sustainable and are actually only interested in purely predatory capitalism, i.e. making a buck. When discussing ‘sustainability’ we need to be constantly making this distinction. We need to avoid promoting sustainable growth (video).
What is Real Sustainable Development?
According to Wikipedia, “sustainability is the process of maintaining change in a balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.”
Sustainable practices can make any individual, business, city, or country highly proficient in methods that are highly sought after, especially in a modern world seeking to enhance energy inefficiency and reduce carbon emissions, waste, and the toxic load on ecosystems we rely on for life in the biosphere.
Another goal of sustainability is to discover and develop the technologies of the future. Groups such as Permies and Retrosuburbia are examples of communities that embrace these practices and are already putting these principles to work.
Sustainability intersects with politics, economics, and philosophy as well as the social and physical sciences. Sustainability work and workers are needed in civic planning, environmental consultancy (built and natural environment), agriculture, not for profit, corporate strategies, health assessment and planning, law and decision/policy making and beyond. Some examples of sustainable solutions and communities in action are provided in the following discussion.
Bhutan & Gross National Happiness (GNH)
Deep in the Himalayas, on the border between China and India, lies the Kingdom of Bhutan, which has pledged to remain carbon neutral for all time. In this illuminating talk Bhutan Carbon Negative Model (video), Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay shares his country’s mission to put happiness before economic growth and set a world standard for environmental preservation.
Bhutan is already doing what the rest of the world needs to do and no one even asked them to do it. Doing the right thing should be simple and straightforward, otherwise there’s likely something wrong with your operating system.
The Stockholm Resilience Center & Club of Rome
Johan Rockström (Stockholm Resilience Center), talks about planetary boundaries and tipping points in this sustainability planning video, “Living in the Anthropocene” at the Club of Rome 50th Anniversary Meeting in October 2018. Johan Rockström outlines the report, “Transformation is feasible – How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within Planetary Boundaries.”
Find more projects from around the world that are inspiring sustainable interventions and unique solutions for make a better, cleaner safer world on the SW Notable Projects Wiki >>.
- The Case for Sustainable Education | Business Green
- Robert Costanza Center for Humans & Nature
- Sustainable Work | Jane Goodall Institute
- Sustainability | edX
<p><button></button><button>References <b></b></button></p> ﹀ <p> </p><table width=”525″ cellspacing=”5″ cellpadding=”5″ border=”0″ bgcolor=”#E8E8E8″> <tbody> <tr> <td> <ul> <li>Costanza, Robert (2017). <em>Ecological economics with Robert Costanza [Video].</em> Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lBCBxeCJJU” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer external” data-wpel-link=”external”>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lBCBxeCJJU</a></li> <li>Daly, Herman (2018). <em>Great transition initiative.</em> Retrieved from <a href=”https://www.greattransition.org/contributor/herman-daly” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer external” data-wpel-link=”external”>https://www.greattransition.org/contributor/herman-daly</a></li> <li>Ekins, Paul (1992). Gaia atlas of green economics [Book]. New York, NY: Anchor Books.</li> <li>Hawken, Paul (2010). Ecology of commerce [Book]. HarperBusiness.</li> <li>Lawn, Philip (2016). <em>Resolving the climate change crisis: The ecological economics of climate change [Book].</em> Netherlands: Springer.</li> <li>Lovins, Hunter (2018). <em>A Finer Future [Book]</em>. New Society Publishers.</li> </ul> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p> </p> <p> </p><p><br><br><br> .</p>
Last Updated: 10/09/2020