This transition is well underway. Renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper. It is now the time to consider whether perhaps renewable energy should not be so cheap. This is the age-old debate between quantity and quality. Should the world have so much more renewable energy, or so much better renewable energy? But then perhaps it can have both.
The whole point of renewable energy is that it is clean. And, for sure, the major fuels – sun and wind – are undoubtedly clean. However, renewable energy does require some components – rare earths – that certainly have a dirty radioactive history, and may still have a dirty radioactive present.
3 main approaches are being taken to this problem:
Design for recycling. This is particularly appropriate for wind turbines.
Reduction in consumption of rare earths . This is not applicable to renewable energy, but rather to the rampant and wasteful consumption of modern electronic gadgets – often unnecessary, all too often a part of our throwaway culture. http://chinawaterrisk.org/resources/analysis-reviews/can-we-build-a-clean-smart-future-on-toxic-rare-earths/
Design for green technologies that don’t require rare earths
Of course, like all modern industrial technologies, mining and manufacture and transport of renewables do mean environmental disturbance. But this is a balancing act, considering the environmental benefits of renewable energy.
The nuclear lobby pretends that renewable energy is environmentally dirty. In the 21st Century, it is vital that we acknowledge environmental problems, including that fact of radioactive waste from rare earths, and make sure that the production processes are clean, even if this adds to their cost.
It seems impossible for petrol heads coal and gas heads, and especially nuke-heads to get their heads around this – BUT – renewable energy and energy efficency ARE HAPPENING – world -wide, in both big ways, and small ways.
It must be tough, when you’re addicted to such a complex , complicated, and expensive technology as nuclear power – as well as addicted to the money you get from being involved in this business – it must be tough to consider the reality that the fuels for solar and wind energy are FREE, and so is the energy conservation from good design in energy efficiency.
As Dr Helen Caldicott pointed out, long ago, if they could put a blanket around the sun and sell holes, they would.
The out-dated energy systems of the past – nuclear,coal, gas, are looking more
and more like unwieldy and costly dinosaurs, as the world wakes up to the diversity and flexibility of 21st Century clean energy systems.
The nuclear lobby now tries its last ditch promotional pipe-dream – Small Nuclear Reactors – that in fact would rely on the continuation of the old big ones.
Solar panels bring cheap energy to India
No wonder that the nuclear lobby is in a panic to spread its spin all over the world. Their lies, about curing climate change with Small Nuclear and Big Nuclear, remain lies, no matter how fervently the nuclear industry and its media acolytes repeat them.
The nuclear panic is on, because genuinely clean energy, (and energy conservation), are developing so fast, ever cheaper and more efficient, that it’s becoming evident that New Nuclear doesn’t stand a chance.
Renewable energy is inexorably becoming cheaper, even without subsidies. Wind energy is the cheapest form of new electricity generation available today. Solar power is on the way to beating even wind. Compared to nuclear, both forms are fast to set up, and provide many more and cleaner, jobs.
The media usually ignore decentralised renewable energy. Yet small solar and wind systems are already becoming the dominant form of new energy production. (It’s quite laughable to see the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) lobby pushing their propaganda all over, while literally millions of solar rooftop panels go up every day. )
This month, this website will bring a focus onto the fast-growing renewable energy movement.
In 2017 the nuclear lobby lies should not prevail.
In a world where a jury acquitted O J Simpson of a double murder, and a nation elected Donald Trump for President, it is more important than ever, for lies and dishonest spin top be exposed.
The start was America’s Manhattan project – developing the atomic bomb. Then came the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then came – the shock and guilt, and the attempt to turn the nuclear project into something good – “atoms for peace’ “electricity too cheap to meter”.
Of course the costing for “cheap” nuclear energy did not include the health and environmental toll of uranium mining, which, as always, was to be paid by indigenous people. Costing also did not include the virtually eternal toll of the cleaup of radioactive trash. And of course, there would be no accidents, (no Chalk River, Rocky Flats, Windscale, Mayak, Lenin icebreaker, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Tomsk, Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi)
Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex continued its production of nuclear weapons. Other countries adopted the “peaceful nuke”, so that they could develop nuclear weapons. The nuclear arms race was underway.
FROM THE ARCHIVES For this month, each week we’ll be posting an item from the past. Lest we forget.
The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which troops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public
Top secret document reveals British troops were knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests – mirror.co.uk, by Susie Boniface, 2 Jan 2011, British troops WERE knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests, a top-secret document has finally proved. Continue reading
Today, journalism is in a sorry mess. Yet still, there are courageous examples of investigative journalism – such as the McClatchy report on nuclear workers’ health. All too often, revealing and informative reports on nuclear matters are forgotten, as celebrity sex scandals and sport dominate the mass media.
This month we will remember and refresh stories from our archives. It’s important that, while we look at current events, these events are illuminated by knowledge of their history. Especially today, as the nuclear industry struggles desperately to survive – and to portray itself as “clean, green and of course, peaceful”, the truth of its dirty history must be remembered.
There’s an uncanny echo of the 1930s in the rise of extreme right wing politics in the Western world today. The dissastisfaction of the “working class” in their stagnant wages and disappearing jobs, and of the vanishing middle class – all tends to make a simplistic populist cry very attractive.
“I will make America great again” – says Donald Trump. And how many other strident voices are gathering mass support with a similar message in other countries?
If you think that this is unrelated to the nuclear industry, think again. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons, with all the necessary secrecy surrounding them , are the perfect technologies for keeping the public in fear, and under control – the fascist system.
The world is still reeling from the news that Americans have elected the narcissistic and unpredictable Donald Trump. The man has spent two years blustering his way into this role. He has made unnervingly ignorant pronouncements, which he will probably not be able to carry out.
Still, the world is left with an America ruled by a pro nuclear, climate change denying Republican government, and the likelihood of other national governments following America in that direction.
At least, the Trump election is galvanising opposition in USA. And, very diplomatically spoken leaders such as Angela Merkel, are indicating that they will not be swayed by the climate denialist forces.
As long as our politicians dance to the tune of their donors, the threat of nuclear disaster will never be far off – Amy Goodman – Big Nuclear’s cosy relationship with the Obama administration.
It’s awfully hard to find out how much nuclear companies and utilities have contributed to election campaigns. OpenSecrets.org gives some information on how much the Nuclear Energy Institute has donated to the American political parties, each year, but not beyond 2014.
Barack Obama in his political campaigns clearly became dependent on support from nuclear industries, notably from Exelon. Exelon and other companies used their access to the White House to successfully lobby for weakening some safety regulations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and water safety provisions of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The mind boggles at the sort of influence and control that the weapons industry and the Pentagon have over American nuclear and military policy.
In a sense, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the Democratic or Republican Party in charge of the American government. They’re both beholden to big corporations and the commercial and military nuclear lobbies.
The only complicating factor would be the unpredictability of Donald Trump. in the unlikely event that he were to be elected as President.
Stranded nuclear wastes. At the beginning of the nuclear industry’s career, it seems that they never thought about this. For decades the nuclear industry, governments, media were apparently oblivious of the the fact that these wonderful new “peaceful” nuclear reactors excreted toxic and very long lasting droppings.
Now, especially in America, the truth is becoming apparent. In Russia, the government owned industry claims that it has the problem solved, and touts its nuclear technology for sale, with a promise to “look after” the droppings. In China, with its appalling reputation for mismanagement of industrial excreta, the problem is barely, or never mentioned. Japan is in turmoil about it. They’re busy getting ready for the “clean” 2020 Olympic Games, and busy pretending that Fukushima is fine.
How can the Americans compete in marketing nukes to the “developing world” – Asia, Africa and the Middle East?
Well, there’s the distraction of the new young geewhiz guys and gals promoting the as yet non existent LEGO toy nukes, with the deception that these will the wastes problem.
But, the well subsidised and well connected American nuclear lobby has come up with a new idea – send the toxic poo to Australia. It was always a colony anyway. Now Australia can become a Nuclear Colony – radioactive trash toilet to the world. This is being kept pretty much a secret from the Australians – comfortable in their laid-back, beer swilling, footy loving culture. Except in one economically disadvantaged State – South Australia. Here, they are being promised a bonanza, streets paved with gold. (Except of course, for the indigenous people, on whose land the poo will surely be dumped)
You’ve heard of “stranded assets”, for example – things like coal mines that are no longer economic, and the owners can’t sell them.
That’s bad enough. But what about STRANDED WASTES? This is the horrible reality already going on in America – the land that pioneered the (?) great nuclear power industry. They are already stuck with radioactive trash in its various forms – liquid and solid.
They’ve even got legislation to try to unravel who’s responsible for the toxic trash – H.R.5632 – Stranded Nuclear Waste Accountability Act of 2016
The nuclear lobby bravely puts up its latest gimmicky ideas for nuclear reactors that should “eat the wastes” . But even those reactors would still leave highly toxic radioactive trash, and the experiments in nuclear reprocessing are turning out to be super expensive duds, such as Japan’s Monju project.
Why on earth would we keep on making radioactive trash, in view of this pressing problem?
Let’s pretend that nuclear power is really “zero carbon” (which it isn’t)
Let’s pretend that thousands of “conventional” nuclear reactors, or millions of little geewhiz new Small Modular Nuclear Reactors could be set up within just a few years, in time to be effective against climate change ( we know they would take from about 70 years at the earliest)
Do we need a dirty, dangerous, unsafe, land and water polluting industry as an environmental cure?
(Especially when clean renewable energy and energy efficiency can be set up quickly)
The global nuclear lobby’s current favourite lie is the one about climate change. (they rotate their lies – the next big push will probably be about how “low dose ionising radiation is good for you”
The last thing that we need is to direct money and energy to the nuclear industry, and away from renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Dr Goebbels would be delighted with the nuclear lobby’s lie that nuclear power is zero carbon and will fix climate change. He would be even more delighted with the current success of this lie.
“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”
The failing nuclear industry is fighting for its life. It now pitches its salvation on its claim to halt climate change. Even if
that were true (which it isn’t) the world would have to construct several thousand ‘conventional’ reactors, or several millions of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) very quickly, within a decade or two.
How is it that politicians , media, academics have swallowed this lie?
“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” – J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientist and “father of the bomb”
On the morning of 6 August 1945, the first atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy” was dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Three days later the United States dropped a plutonium bomb code-named “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. 140,000 people (almost all civilians) died in Hiroshima either immediately or within a few days. Deaths in Nagasaki were about 74,000. The survivors lived on, some with horrifying burns scars, some to die of radiation-induced illnesses
Following the war, many scientists involved in the atomic bomb project, turned to the “atoms for peace” program – nuclear power. They did this partly out of guilt, partly to continue to be employed. (Where would a nuclear physicist get a job, otherwise? Well, some were happy to continue with nuclear weapons development)
Nuclear weapons are an inevitable by-product of the nuclear power industry.
Like climate change, nuclear weapons development is now at the point of a global emergency.
Time to close down the whole insane nuclear industry charade, before it kills us all.
In 1996 the International Court of Justice issued its landmark advisory opinion on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. The court unanimously held that nations have a legal obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control…..
The continuing radiation crisis in Fukushima has alerted governments and public across the world to the inherent dangers of nuclear technology for electricity production. ICAN points out that the starting material is the same and the effects of radiation are completely indiscriminate and identical whether it is radiation from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb. …
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