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Scientists must tell the truth on our consumerist, ecology-killing Ponzi culture

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead. Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise. 

Worried about Earth’s future? Well, the outlook is worse than even scientists can grasp , The Conversation, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Matthew Flinders Professor of Global Ecology and Models Theme Leader for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Flinders University.  Daniel T. Blumstein, Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, Paul Ehrlich, President, Center for Conservation Biology, Bing Professor of Population Studies, January 13, 2021 

Anyone with even a passing interest in the global environment knows all is not well. But just how bad is the situation? Our new paper shows the outlook for life on Earth is more dire than is generally understood.

The research published today reviews more than 150 studies to produce a stark summary of the state of the natural world. We outline the likely future trends in biodiversity decline, mass extinction, climate disruption and planetary toxification. We clarify the gravity of the human predicament and provide a timely snapshot of the crises that must be addressed now.

The problems, all tied to human consumption and population growth, will almost certainly worsen over coming decades. The damage will be felt for centuries and threatens the survival of all species, including our own………

academics tend to specialise in one discipline, which means they’re in many cases unfamiliar with the complex system in which planetary-scale problems — and their potential solutions — exist.

What’s more, positive change can be impeded by governments rejecting or ignoring scientific advice, and ignorance of human behaviour by both technical experts and policymakers.

More broadly, the human optimism bias – thinking bad things are more likely to befall others than yourself – means many people underestimate the environmental crisis.

Numbers don’t lie

Our research also reviewed the current state of the global environment. While the problems are too numerous to cover in full here, they include:…………

A bad situation only getting worse

The human population has reached 7.8 billion – double what it was in 1970 – and is set to reach about 10 billion by 2050. More people equals more food insecurity, soil degradation, plastic pollution and biodiversity loss.

High population densities make pandemics more likely. They also drive overcrowding, unemployment, housing shortages and deteriorating infrastructure, and can spark conflicts leading to insurrections, terrorism, and war.

Essentially, humans have created an ecological Ponzi scheme. Consumption, as a percentage of Earth’s capacity to regenerate itself, has grown from 73% in 1960 to more than 170% today.

High-consuming countries like Australia, Canada and the US use multiple units of fossil-fuel energy to produce one energy unit of food. Energy consumption will therefore increase in the near future, especially as the global middle class grows.

Then there’s climate change.  Humanity has already exceeded global warming of 1°C this century, and will almost assuredly exceed 1.5 °C between 2030 and 2052. Even if all nations party to the Paris Agreement ratify their commitments, warming would still reach between 2.6°C and 3.1°C by 2100.

The danger of political impotence

Our paper found global policymaking falls far short of addressing these existential threats. Securing Earth’s future requires prudent, long-term decisions. However this is impeded by short-term interests, and an economic system that concentrates wealth among a few individuals.

Right-wing populist leaders with anti-environment agendas are on the rise, and in many countries, environmental protest groups have been labelled “terrorists”. Environmentalism has become weaponised as a political ideology, rather than properly viewed as a universal mode of self-preservation.

Financed disinformation campaigns against climate action and forest protection, for example, protect short-term profits and claim meaningful environmental action is too costly – while ignoring the broader cost of not acting. By and large, it appears unlikely business investments will shift at sufficient scale to avoid environmental catastrophe.

Changing course

Fundamental change is required to avoid this ghastly future. Specifically, we and many others suggest:

  • abolishing the goal of perpetual economic growth………..

Don’t look away………

Scientists must not sugarcoat the overwhelming challenges ahead. Instead, they should tell it like it is. Anything else is at best misleading, and at worst potentially lethal for the human enterprise.   https://theconversation.com/worried-about-earths-future-well-the-outlook-is-worse-than-even-scientists-can-grasp-153091

January 14, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, culture and arts, environment | Leave a comment

USA is not facing up to the climate threats to its nuclear wastes

US is Ill-Prepared to Safely Manage its Nuclear Waste from Climate Threats.   More than 150 sites across the country have to be managed for radioactive waste for centuries or millennia. But there’s no plan in place for how this will be done, says GAO report.  Earth Island Journal , CHARLES PEKOW, December 29, 2020    The Cold War never erupted into the nuclear nightmare that the world feared for decades. But the legacy of the never-used nuclear weapons remains a ticking time bomb that could endanger countless people and lead to environmental catastrophe any time.

In the United States, there are more than 150 sites that have to be managed for nuclear waste for centuries or millennia. But, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, the US Department of Energy (DoE) — which is charged with managing dangerous, radioactive waste and contaminated soil and water leftover from weapon construction — appears to lacks the capacity for the task.
DoE’s Office of Legacy Management (LM) manages 100 nuclear waste dumps with 51 or 52 more sites expected to fall under its jurisdiction by 2050 (one site remains in question). The sites range all over the country, from Amchitka in the western Aleutians to El Verde on the east side of Puerto Rico. The Legacy Management office takes over maintenance of dangerous sites after other managers — including DoE’s Office of Environmental Management, US Army Corps of Engineers, and private licensees — have cleaned them up.

The GAO report, “Environmental Liabilities: DoE Needs to Better Plan for Post-Cleanup Challenges Facing Sites” (pdf), issued earlier this year, found, among other things, that the DoE doesn’t have a plan for how to address challenges at some sites that may require new cleanup work that is not in the scope of LM’s expertise.

Nor, says the report, does it have a strategy in place to assess and mitigate the effects of climate change on these sites, that need to be safeguarded against increasingly frequent and severe rainfall, tornadoes, hurricanes and accompanying flooding and forest fires. It foresees that the DoE will need yet-to-be-developed technology and untold billions of dollars to keep the stored nuclear waste from contaminating air, soil and water. 
The report notes that the Office of Legacy Management has not developed agreements or procedures in collaboration with the Office of Environmental Management (EM) or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to figure out how to contain the radioactive waste. The Legacy Management office estimated its liabilities (in the 2019 fiscal year) at 503.3 billion – but that could be a vast underestimate as it doesn’t know what hazards or costs may develop. The cost estimates go only 75 years out and don’t include estimates for the cost of protecting the 50 plus sites it will have to take over in the next few decades. For instance, these estimates don’t account for the Elemental Mercury Storage Facility near Andrews, Texas, which DoE hasn’t inherited yet, but where the department has decided to store up to 6,800 metric tons of elemental mercury — a major environmental pollutant………..

some of these sites have already been creating serious problems.

At Rocky Flats, which has become surrounded by suburban development since its 1992 closure, excessive rain damaged the facility in in 2013. The soil, sediment, groundwater, and surface water of the former nuclear weapons manufacturing site had been contaminated with hazardous chemicals and radioactive constituents as a result of “manufacturing activities, accidental industrial fires and spills, support activities, and waste management practices,” according to EPA.
Even after cleanup, several ponds and landfills remained contaminated. In recent years, excessive rainfall and erosion has damaged the site again in the past few years. The office Legacy Managment considers Rocky Flats as its biggest liability ($452 million). In 2016, the estimated cost of just maintenance and surveillance of the site totaled $269 million………

Among the many other problem sites, the Legacy Management office is struggling to figure out what to do with contaminated groundwater at the Shiprock nuclear waste dump on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in northwest New Mexico. Contaminated water, the legacy of uranium mining for nuclear power plants and weapons, is being pumped to an evaporation pond there.

Compounding the problem, most of these nuclear waste sites were created before key environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, were enacted. So the laws don’t apply…………..
Now climate change is adding a new level of complication to an already complex waste management issue that can have serious environmental and public health impacts……….

nuclear watchdog groups aren’t satisfied with the slow progress on this front. The nation needs “a reverse Manhattan project,” to figure out how to safely diffuse the radioactive waste, says Schaeffer of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.  https://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/us-is-ill-prepared-to-safely-manage-its-nuclear-waste-from-climate-threats

December 31, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Biden flirts with the fantasy of small nuclear reactors as the cure for climate change

if the nuclear revolution doesn’t happen in the next four years, it’s probably not going to happen

The Green Fantasy and Messy Reality of Nuclear Power. TNR, 23 Dec 20, Biden is flirting with the idea of rejuvenating the industry to help decarbonize the economy—and there are skeptics in spades.   Joe Biden will have to do more about climate change than any president before him. He has no choice. Already, close U.S. allies are openly expressing their relief about the end of the ecologically disastrous Trump era while a coalition of left-wing politicians and organizations are demanding sweeping emissions reductions.

Biden’s campaign climate promises were extensive. But one of the more interesting promises in the plan—and one of the ones key to determining how he approaches emissions reduction—was his promise to “identify the future of nuclear energy.” That means reopening discussion of a technology many environmentalists once thought would be rotting in the dustbin of history by now.

………… The France-based World Nuclear Industry Status Report for 2020 describes an industry largely in stagnation around the world. In the U.S. in particular, the nuclear picture is “centered around the relentless efforts of the industry and their supporters to gain financial assistance for lifetime extensions of their ageing reactor fleet,” the report says. Nuclear energy companies are “increasingly struggling in a competitive electricity market with low prices, flat consumption (at best) and ferocious rivals in the renewable energy sector.” 

Part of the reason nuclear energy construction remains difficult and expensive in the U.S. is that in polls Americans are split down the middle on their approval of nuclear energy, and opponents make a big stink when construction of a nuclear plant is being discussed. These are rational worries, according to Mark Delucchi, a research scientist affiliated with UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which operates on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition to the risk of meltdowns—which are, admittedly, rare—we have to also consider the disposal of caches of spent nuclear fuel, the risks of which “are potentially much more abroad in time and space,” Delucchi said. “They affect people. They affect other ecosystems. They affect different generations. And they’re unknown.”

It kinda boggles my mind how anyone who has any clue about solving problems related to climate or energy still considers nuclear power,” said Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and a frequent collaborator with Delucchi. As Jacobson pointed out, there’s next to no active construction of nuclear power plants currently going on in the U.S. All of the U.S. nuclear energy construction happening right now consists of two reactors in Georgia that Jacobson says “may never even be finished.” 

 A project in Utah set to break ground soon was set in motion by politicians accused of conflicts of interest, and construction of that plant has faced opposition from activists since its inception. In 2017, two U.S. nuclear reactor projects were canceled after construction had begun, leaving investors on the hook for billions of dollars. “So people are trying to say that we should build lots of these things that you can’t even build one of?” Jacobson said.

Despite the near impossibility of constructing one of these plants, greater federal investment in nuclear energy appears to be on the table. Biden’s transition team includes Rachel Slaybaugh, a Berkeley nuclear engineer. The Senate Committee on Energy and Public Works earlier this month approved a bipartisan bill aimed at protecting existing nuclear infrastructure, developing new nuclear technology, and supporting uranium mining.

America’s pro-nuclear voices tend to hail from the aggressively moderate part of the political spectrum. The centrist think tank Third Way says on its website that “advanced nuclear is shaping up to be a key component in our race to zero emissions.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy conceded in February that climate change is real—a step not all Republicans have taken—but claimed that the Democrats are going about trying to fix it all wrong. We should be, McCarthy wrote on his website, “investing in clean energy technology that will lead to less emissions, lower costs, and produce as much or more power. Chief among them is advanced nuclear technology.”

 

Rather predictably for anyone who follows this issue, McCarthy’s statement about clean energy (which doesn’t mention wind or solar) includes several citations of rockstar nuclear activist Michael Shellenberger, a guy who doesn’t think climate change is that bad and who has given not one, but two blockbuster TED talks attempting to bodyslam wind and solar, one of which is bluntly named “Why renewables can’t save the planet.” Over 2 million people have watched it on YouTube alone.

The notion that nuclear power is necessary and inevitable is far from a fringe viewpoint. Last year, The New York Times ran an op-ed called “Nuclear Power Can Save the World,” written by three Ph.D.-holders, including cognitive neuroscientist and radical optimist Steven Pinker.

According to this brand of eco-contrarianism, nuclear is not just viable, but the only pragmatic plan for decarbonizing the U.S. energy grid. Built into this message is invariably the idea that plans outlined by environmentalists, activists, and alternative energy proponents are actually doing more harm than good. It’s not that these folks want nuclear to have a seat at the table as humanity negotiates its energy future; they want to nuke-pill the whole climate movement.

But inevitably, this rhetoric has to address the chief problem of nuclear power, which is that it is extremely time-consuming and expensive to build new reactors. The solution, nuclear supporters argue, is to take a modular approach to our nuclear construction. Modularity means minimal variation at each new site, a streamlined design process, and less of the sort of worksite entropy that slows things down. In other words, cookie-cutter them into the energy landscape as quickly as possible.

There’s reason to be skeptical of this approach. “Claims about the technical and economic attractiveness of modular or small scale nuclear reactors, I think, are potentially especially problematic on the political side of things,” Delucchi said. “A lot of the costs associated with nuclear power are based on technologies that are not commercialized, or even particularly close.”

Plans based on 100 percent renewable energy are routinely criticized for relying on technology not yet available or cost-effective. Clearly, though, that’s also true for nuclear power. Nuclear fans, then, are asking the country to bet on a successful nuclear expansion at a time when we have less than ten years—roughly the time it takes to carry out the relatively smooth construction of a single nuclear power plant—to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 40–50 percent from 2010, or else we’ll blow past the ugly 1.5 degree warming threshold, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and plunge ourselves into climate chaos. That’s quite a bet.

In practical terms, all Biden has promised to do with regard to nuclear energy is form a research agency, dubbed ARPA-C, and churn out some government reports about it and other energy possibilities. And it won’t be at all surprising if, like Trump, Biden also gives a little boost to uranium mining companies that are desperate to expand their operations.

If ARPA-C’s research into modular reactors produces breakthroughs, more uranium gets mined, regulations fall away, public outcry dies down, and nuclear really turns out to be the answer to climate change, that should become clear by the end of Biden’s first term. If the U.S. is going to come anywhere close to meeting the IPCC’s recommendations for avoiding catastrophic warming through nuclear power, modular nuclear plants will be going up all over the place by January of 2025. We should see ribbons being cut, foundations being poured, and uranium ore well on its way to being enriched. “Small-scale modular” will have to become one of those eye-rollingly overused cliches, like “OK Boomer” or “social distancing.”

None of this seems particularly likely. And if the nuclear revolution doesn’t happen in the next four years, it’s probably not going to happen, given the slow pace of nuclear power construction. All those pragmatic arguments for nuclear energy will probably end up looking as fantastical as a three-eyed fish. https://newrepublic.com/article/160712/green-fantasy-messy-reality-nuclear-power

December 24, 2020 Posted by | climate change, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Are forest fires unlocking radiation in Chernobyl?

Are forest fires unlocking radiation in Chernobyl?  https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-55404164
(VIDEO) 23 Dec 20  An exclusion zone has keep the area surrounding the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster hidden from public view for many years. But in 2020 there were a record amount of forest fires in the area.

The firefighters sent in to tackle the blazes in the radioactive forests agreed to speak to BBC anonymously, scared of losing their jobs.

Their accounts expose a month of chaos in which fires almost reached the nuclear reactors.

Journalism: Zhanna Bezpiatchuk and Charlotte Pamment

December 24, 2020 Posted by | climate change, safety, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Greenhouse gas emissions transforming the Arctic into ‘an entirely different climate’


Guardian 8th Dec 2020.
The Arctic’s rapid transformation into a less frozen, hotter and
biologically altered place has been further exacerbated by a year of
wildfires, soaring temperatures and loss of ice, US scientists have
reported. The planet’s northern polar region recorded its second hottest
12-month period to September 2020, with the warmest temperatures since 1900
all now occurring within the past seven years, according to an annual
Arctic report card issued by the National Ocean and Atmospheric
Administration (Noaa). The Arctic is heating up at a rate around double
that of the global average, due to the human-caused climate crisis.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/08/arctic-report-climate-crisis-wildfires-ice-loss

December 10, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

European Commission excludes nuclear power from the EU’s proposed green finance taxonomy,

December 10, 2020 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

Federal funding for new nuclear reactors is a serious mistake that blocks swift ation on climate

December 10, 2020 Posted by | Canada, climate change, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) if they work, will arrive too late to make a difference to global heating

Is nuclear power the answer?, DECEMBER 8, 2020 JOHN QUIGGIN

The last (I hope) extract from the climate change chapter of Economic Consequences of the Pandemic. I’m in two minds about whether this is really needed. The group of pro-nuclear environmentalists seems to be shrinking towards a hard core who can’t be convinced (and some of them, like Shellenberger turn out to have been concern trolls all along). But every now and then I run across people who seem open-minded enough, but haven’t caught up with the bad news on nuclear.

Debates about decarbonizing electricity generation inevitably raise the issue of nuclear power. Since nuclear power generates no carbon dioxide emissions (except in the construction phase) it is a potential solution to climate change, with a strong body of advocates.

Some of this advocacy may be dismissed as point-scoring. Rightwing pundits who oppose any action on climate change simultaneously promote nuclear power as carbon free, with the aim of embarrassing environmentalist. There is, however, a small but vocal group of nuclear power advocates who are convinced that a massive expansion of nuclear power is the only way to replace coal-fired power………

Today the choice is not between new nuclear and new or existing coal. It is whether to allocate investment to building nuclear plants or to accelerating the shift to solar and wind energy.

The key problem is not safety but economics. New plants are safer and more sophisticated than those that failed in the past, but they are also massively more expensive to build, and quite costly to operate. The capital costs of recent projects in the US, France and Finland (none yet complete) have been around $10/kw, compared to $1/kw or less for solar. And, whereas solar PV is essentially costless to operate, the operating costs of nuclear power plants are around 2c/kwH. Even when solar PV is backed up with battery storage, it is cheaper to build and to operate, than new nuclear.

The facts speak for themselves. Over the last decade, only two or three reactors have commenced construction each year, not even enough to replace plants being retired. This isn’t the result of pressure from environmentalists or alarm about the safety of nuclear plants. The slowdown is evident in countries like China, where public opinion has little influence on policy decisions, and in countries where public opinion is generally favorable to new nuclear power. China failed to reach its 2020 target of 58 GW of installed power, and currently has only about 15 GW of nuclear power under construction. That compares to 55 GW of new solar and wind capacity installed in 2019 alone.

It is clear by now that large-scale nuclear reactors have no future. The last hope for nuclear power rests on Small Modular Reactors. The idea is that, rather than building a single large reactor, typically with a capacity of 1 GW, smaller reactors will be produced in factories, then shipped to the site in the required number. The leading proponent of this idea is Nuscale Power, which currently has a contract with UAMPS to supply a pilot plant with a dozen 60MW modules.

It remains to be seen whether SMR’s will work at all. Even if they do, it is not clear that the reduced costs associated with off-site manufacturing will offset the loss of the scale economies associated with a large boiler, let alone yield power at a cost competitive with that of solar PV.

In any case, the issue is largely irrelevant as far as the climate emergency is concerned. NuScale’s pilot plant, with a total capacity of 720 MW, is currently scheduled to start operation in 2029. Large-scale deployment will take at least a decade more .

If we are to have any chance of stabilising the climate, coal-fired power must be eliminated by 2030, and electricity generation must be decarbonized more or less completely by 2035. SMRs, if they work, will arrive too late to make a difference. ….https://johnquiggin.com/2020/12/08/is-nuclear-power-the-answer/#more-17451

December 8, 2020 Posted by | climate change, Women | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear industry is greatly threatened by climate change

The next ‘Great Tide’, Exposed to rising tides and storm surges, Britain’s nuclear plants stand in harm’s way, Beyond Nuclear International, By Andrew Blowers, 4 Dec 20,

“……………….Apart from Hinkley Point C, which will probably struggle on through a combination of political inertia and a nuclear ideology increasingly remote from economic reality, there remain two projects – Sizewell C and Bradwell B – still in the frame, although precariously so. For both sites, climate change may prove the showstopper. These coastal, low-lying sites are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, flooding, storm surges, and coastal processes.

This was recognised as an issue in the rather equivocal statement that accompanied designation of the sites in 2011. Referring to Bradwell (similarly to Sizewell), it was considered ‘reasonable to conclude that any likely power station development within the site could potentially be protected against flood risk throughout its lifetime, including the potential effects of climate change, storm surge and tsunami, taking into account possible countermeasures’. …..

About a quarter of the world’s nuclear power stations are on coasts or estuaries. The sites on the east coast and Severn Estuary are especially vulnerable to flooding, tidal surges, and storms. Potential impacts include loss of cooling and problems of access and emergency response in the event of a major incident and inundation of the plant, including spent fuel storage facilities.

In areas like the east coast of England, natural protection from saltmarshes, mudflats, shingle beaches, sand dunes and sea cliffs has been rapidly declining. Recent projections indicate substantial parts of the coast below annual flood level in 2100 and a loss of between a quarter and a half of the UK’s sandy beaches, leading to extensive inland flooding. The problems of managing such coasts through adaptive measures such as managed realignment and hard defenses may be insuperable in the uncertain circumstances of climate change over the next century. It seems imprudent and irresponsible to contemplate development of new nuclear power stations in conditions which may become intolerable.

Climate predictions have focused especially on the period up to the end of the century, by which time planned new nuclear power stations starting up in the 2030s will only just have ceased operating. At the turn of the next century the legacy of today’s new build will become the decommissioning wastes of tomorrow, adding to that already piled up in coastal locations. ……

Beyond 2100 sea levels continue rising and the radioactive legacy of new nuclear power stations will remain at the sites, in reactor cores and in spent fuel and waste stores exposed to the destructive processes of climate change. It is predicted that decommissioning and clean-up of new build sites will last for most of the next century.

The logistics, let alone the cost of transplanting, decommissioning and decontaminating the redundant plant and wastes to an inland site, if one could be found, would be well beyond the range of managed adaptation. The government’s claim that it ‘is satisfied that effective arrangements will exist to manage and dispose of the wastes that will be produced from new nuclear power stations’ is an aspiration, and by no means a certainty……..https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3061243158

December 7, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

The next ”Great Tide” will devastate nuclear reactors and their radioactive wasies on the Suffolk and Essex coasts

The next ‘Great Tide’, Exposed to rising tides and storm surges, Britain’s nuclear plants stand in harm’s way, Beyond Nuclear International, By Andrew Blowers, 4 Dec 20,

It was now that wind and sea in concert leaped forward to their triumph.’
Hilda Grieve: The Great Tide: The Story of the 1953 Flood Disaster in Essex. County Council of Essex, 1959 

The Great Tide of 31 January/1 February 1953 swept down the east coast of England, carrying death and destruction in its wake. Communities were unaware and unprepared as disaster struck in the middle of the night, drowning over 300 in England, in poor and vulnerable communities such as Jaywick and Canvey Island on the exposed and low-lying Essex Coast.

Although nothing quite so devastating has occurred in the 67 years since, the 1953 floods remain a portent of what the effects of climate change may bring in the years to come.

Since that largely unremembered disaster, flood defences, communications and emergency response systems have been put in place all along the east coast of England, although it will only be a matter of time before the sea reclaims some low-lying areas.

Among the most prominent infrastructure on the East Anglian coast are the nuclear power stations at Sizewell in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex, constructed and operated in the decades following the Great Tide.

Sizewell A (capacity 0.25 gigawatts), one of the early Magnox stations, operated for over 40 years, from 1966 to 2006. Sizewell B (capacity 1.25 gigawatts), the only operating pressurised water reactor in the UK, was commissioned in 1995 and is currently expected to continue operating until 2055.

Further down the coast, Bradwell (0.25 gigawatts) was one of the first (Magnox) nuclear stations in the UK and operated for 40 years from 1962 to 2002, becoming, in 2018, the first to be decommissioned and enter into ‘care and maintenance’.

These and other nuclear stations around our coast were conceived and constructed long before climate change became a political issue. And yet the Magnox stations with their radioactive graphite cores and intermediate-level waste stores will remain on site until at least the end of the century.

Meanwhile, Sizewell B, with its highly radioactive spent fuel store, will extend well into the next. Inevitably, then, the legacy of nuclear power will be exposed on coasts highly vulnerable to the increasing sea levels and the storm surges, coastal erosion and flooding that accelerating global warming portends.

Managing this legacy will be difficult enough. Yet it is proposed to compound the problem by building two gargantuan new power stations on these sites, Sizewell C (capacity 3.3 gigawatts) and Bradwell B (2.3 gigawatts) to provide the low-carbon, ‘firm’ (i.e. consistent-supply) component of the energy mix seen as necessary to ‘keep the lights on’ and help save the planet from global warming.

But these stations will be operating until late in the century, and their wastes, including spent fuel, will have to be managed on site for decades after shutdown. It is impossible to foresee how any form of managed adaptation can be credibly sustained during the next century when conditions at these sites are unknowable.

New nuclear power is presented as an integral part of the solution to climate change. But the ‘nuclear renaissance’ is faltering on several fronts. It is unable to secure the investment, unable to achieve timely deployment, unable to compete with much cheaper renewables, and unable to allay concerns about security risks, accidents, health impacts, environmental damage, and the long-term management of its dangerous wastes. 

It is these issues that will be played out in the real-world context of climate change. There is an exquisite paradox here. While nuclear power is hubristically presented as the ‘solution’ to climate change, the changing climate becomes its nemesis on the low-lying shores of eastern England. ………. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/3061243158

December 7, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

UK doesn’t have policies in place ready for COP26 Paris climate summit

iNews 6th Dec 2020, Caroline Lucas: The clock is ticking down to COP26, the most important UN
climate summit since Paris in 2015, and quite possibly one of the most
important international gatherings in history. It’s the moment when
countries need to make good on the commitment they signed up to in Paris to
limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and agree
to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions at the scale and speed that’s
required. On Friday we learned what the UK is proposing – cutting carbon
emissions by 68 per cent by 2030 – but, at present, we do not have the
policies in place to achieve it.

https://inews.co.uk/opinion/climate-change-targets-welcome-policies-radical-enough-meet-them-782737

December 7, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

UK’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Department rejects the claim that nuclear power is ”zero carbon”

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Department accept that nuclear is not a ‘zero carbon’ source of electricity– implications for EdF’s advertisement claims. TASC 30th November 2020

On the 15th October, Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) wrote to BEIS pointing out that the nuclear power developer behind Hinkley Point C and the notional Sizewell C plants was justifying its TV ad claim that it is the ‘biggest producer of carbon free electricity’ by referencing a BEIS website in which the claim of ’zero carbon’ was made for renewables and nuclear.

In a response to TASC received on the 25th November, Director of Nuclear at BEIS, Stephen Speed who also co-chairs the BEIS/NGO nuclear forum acknowledged the error, stated, ‘….we agree with your argument that the environmental impact table of the Fuel Mix Disclosure report could cause confusion. I have asked for the report to be amended with a line that explains that the table relates only to generator emissions in the operational phase and does not include emissions related to the fuel supply chain or maintenance
activities.’

Despite the fact that TASC would still contest the assumption that even generator carbon emissions are zero, the concession
from BEIS is a good interim result. Commenting on the agreement to alter the information on the website, Pete Wilkinson, Chairman of TASC, said today, ‘This acknowledgement from BEIS is welcome and important. At a time when the future of nuclear power in the UK is in the balance, removing official support for the zero carbon claim changes the game, and  fundamentally exposes nuclear power’s climate change credentials as insignificant.

The word ‘zero’ can no longer be used when referencing nuclear power and carbon. ‘Moreover, it forces EdF to desist in making
the assertion which they had hitherto justified by pointing to a BEIS website which upheld their misplaced claim. ‘It may also, finally, force our local MP, Dr Therese Coffey, to drop the phrase as well. Incredibly for a Secretary of State, she has used the zero carbon claim in her response to the EdF planning application which the inspectorate will be examining next year and has refused to meet members of TASC on the grounds that our anti-nuclear views are ‘well known’. Such an attitude is rude, facile and possibly in breach of the Parliamentary Code.’

https://tasizewellc.org.uk/tasc-news/

December 3, 2020 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Danger to San Onofre nuclear waste, from ocean’s king tides

November 26, 2020 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power hinders fight against climate change

Nuclear Power Hinders Fight Against Climate Change  https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/nuclear-power-hinders-fight-against-climate-change/  Countries investing in renewables are achieving carbon reductions far faster than those which opt to back nuclear power.  November 21, 2020 by Climate News Network By Paul Brown

Countries wishing to reduce carbon emissions should invest in renewables, abandoning any plans for nuclear power stations because they can no longer be considered a low-carbon option.

That is the conclusion of a study by the University of Sussex Business School, published in the journal Nature Energy, which analysed World Bank and International Energy Agency data from 125 countries over a 25-year period.

The study provides evidence that it is difficult to integrate renewables and nuclear together in a low-carbon strategy, because they require two different types of grid. Because of this, the authors say, it is better to avoid building nuclear power stations altogether.

A country which favours large-scale nuclear stations inevitably freezes out the most effective carbon-reducing technologies − small-scale renewables such as solar, wind and hydro power, they conclude.

Perhaps their most surprising finding is that countries around the world with large-scale nuclear programmes do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions over time. In poorer countries nuclear investment is associated with relatively higher emissions.

“This raises serious doubts about the wisdom of prioritising investment in nuclear over renewable energy”

The study found that in some large countries, going renewable was up to seven times more effective in lowering carbon emissions than nuclear.

The findings are a severe blow to the nuclear industry, which has been touting itself as the answer to climate change and calling itself a low-carbon energy. The scientists conclude that if countries want to lower emissions substantially, rapidly and as cost-effectively as possible, they should invest in solar and wind power and avoid nuclear.

Benjamin Sovacool, professor of energy policy at the University of Sussex and the study’s lead author, said: “The evidence clearly points to nuclear being the least effective of the two broad carbon emissions abatement strategies, and coupled with its tendency not to co-exist well with its renewable alternative, this raises serious doubts about the wisdom of prioritising investment in nuclear over renewable energy.

“Countries planning large-scale investments in new nuclear power are risking suppression of greater climate benefits from alternative renewable energy investments.”

The report says that as well as long lead times for nuclear, the necessity for the technology to have elaborate oversight of potentially catastrophic safety risks, security against attack, and long-term waste management strategies tends to take up resources and divert attention away from other simpler and much quicker options like renewables.

Consistent results

The nuclear industry has always claimed that countries need both nuclear and renewables in order to provide reliable power for a grid that does not have input from coal- or gas-fuelled power stations.

This study highlights several other papers which show that a reliable electricity supply is possible with 100% renewables, and that keeping nuclear in the mix hinders the development of renewable.

Patrick Schmidt, a co-author from the International School of Management in Munich,  said: “It is astonishing how clear and consistent the results are across different time frames and country sets. In certain large country samples the relationship between renewable electricity and CO2 emissions is up to seven times stronger than the corresponding relationship for nuclear.”

As well as being a blow to the nuclear industry, the paper’s publication comes at a critical time for governments still intending to invest in nuclear power.

For a long time it has been clear that most advanced democratic countries which are not nuclear weapons states and have no wish to be have been investing in renewables and abandoning nuclear power, because it is too expensive and unpopular with the public. In Europe they include Germany, Italy and Spain, with South Korea in the Far East.

Nuclear weapons needs

Nuclear weapons states like the UK and the US, which have both admitted the link between their military and civilian nuclear industries, continue to encourage the private sector to build nuclear stations and are prepared to provide public subsidy or guaranteed prices to induce them to do so.

With the evidence presented by this paper it will not be possible for these governments to claim that building new nuclear power stations is the right policy to halt climate change.

Both Russia and China continue to be enthusiastic about nuclear power, the cost being less important than the influence gained by exporting the technology to developing countries. Providing cheap loans and nuclear power stations gives their governments a long-term foothold in these countries, and involves controlling the supply of nuclear fuel in order to keep the lights on.

Andy Stirling, professor of science and technology policy at Sussex and also a co-author, said: “This paper exposes the irrationality of arguing for nuclear investment based on a ‘do everything’ argument.

Our findings show not only that nuclear investments around the world tend on balance to be less effective than renewable investments at carbon emissions mitigation, but that tensions between these two strategies can further erode the effectiveness of averting climate disruption.” − Climate News Network

November 23, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The creeping carbon costs of digital communication

November 21, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment