Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for April 1st, 2011

Welcome to the end of the world

Posted by Charles II on April 1, 2011

From a report by Gary Clark of RGE Monitor (subscription required), some statistics that I find troubling. Of the nuclear reactors planned, proposed, or under construction:

187 in China
63 in India
54 in Russia
22 in Ukraine
14 in Vietnam

Lesser numbers in such regulatory strongholds as Belarus, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Iran, Mexico, and North Korea. And China is exporting its designs to such stable countries as Pakistan.

The US should, of course, close its obsolete plants, many of which are already leaking radiation. To do so would create the demand for the equivalent of 190 million metric tons of oil. Close behind the US are Russia, France, Ukraine, and Japan, where closure would raise the demand by almost 400 million metric tons. So, the combined loss from closure would be equivalent to nearly 3 billion barrels. That’s equivalent to about 10% of the world’s oil consumption. While the loss of this generation power would probably not be replaced with oil, in the short term, it would be replaced with another hydrocarbon, probably coal and gas.

Yes, a lot more could be done with solar and wind, but those work better in some places than in others and there are some bottlenecks in production, so the quick fix is hydrocarbons. This has led George Monbiot to–in my opinion mistakenly–make the case for nuclear power. Thanks to a suspect UN report, Monbiot believes that only a few people died from Chernobyl. He believes that the the reason there were even that many is that the authorities failed to take basic precautions such as distributing potassium iodide.

I would put my faith in Annal #1181 published by the New York Academy of Sciences (it does not represent an official viewpoint of the Society), in which Nesterenko et al make the case that a quarter of a million (!) people will die by 2056 from Chernobyl, and that the health of millions of people has been degraded, such that of children in the region (Belarus, Ukraine, and European Russia), only 20% are healthy, compared to 80% before the meltdown. And these effects are well known! We saw these effects after the atomic bombings of 1945, in which about as many people died from the effects of radiation as from the effects of blasts and injury.

Some nations, like Lithuania, Slovakia, Belgium, Ukraine, Hungary, and Switzerland are heavily (40-75%) dependent on nuclear power for electricity. China and India clearly want to make themselves dependent on nuclear. These dependencies will make it difficult to change course.

The Fukushima disaster should make it clear that nuclear accidents do not just kill people. They render people ill, they remove arable land from production, and they make marine life inedible (although fish are apparently remarkably resistant to radiation). The health effects do not just come from the short-lived isotopes like radioactive iodine (which can be countered by taking potassium iodide), but from the slow decay of plutonium, cesium, and strontium, which collect in the internal organs and bones to provide extremely intense exposure unshielded by even the skin.

Nuclear power is a disaster. We should change course. At the moment, it looks as if we likely will not do as we should.

There are millions of people who fear Armageddon in the form of the United Nations, antichrists, people with foreign accents, meteors, beasts from the sea, and so on. But as I wrote so very long ago, Armageddon is always with us. We choose the day that the world ends by our actions.

Posted in getting a clue, nukes | 7 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on April 1, 2011

Posted in Alexander the Great, Friday Cat Blogging | 1 Comment »

The Grownup-Toddler Divide: R.T. Rybak v. Steve Drazkowski

Posted by Phoenix Woman on April 1, 2011

A few days ago, I was listening to a Minnesota Public Radio story on what here in Minnesota is known as “Local Government Aid”: Aid money that the state has for years given out to various towns and cities across the state. But with the new Republican legislature doing slash-and-burn, divide-and-conquer politics, the first thing to go was the LGA for the state’s biggest cities: Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Duluth. (Interestingly, Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, was spared — and Rochester just happens to be a Republican stronghold. Hmmmmm.)

The story started out by playing some comments made on the floor of the Minnesota House by a local rep named Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, in which Drazkowski was apparently declaring war on the color green, rather like a toddler declaring war on creamed spinach hot dish: Green this, green that, green green green all bad yucky! How dare Minneapolis spend its money on things like green jobs and green roofs for downtown buildings like the Target Center! Hmph! They deserve to have their LGA taken away!

Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak responded by giving Drazkowski a little education in green roofs, flood control and fiscal matters:

“Let’s look at those green roofs,” Rybak said. “We’re in a period of flooding in this state. One million gallons of water is captured on that green roof at Target Center that’s not going to create flooding in this state.”

Rybak said most of the city’s spending goes toward public safety, not on the programs mentioned by Drazkowski.

“If you really went line by line through what the representative was saying, the entire amount that we spent on our art project is less than the decorative letters in front of the revenue department that the state does,” he said. “Let’s get honest with ourselves.”

As Sally Jo Sorensen points out at Bluestem Prairie, Draz should care more about such things, being that his district’s downstream from Minneapolis on the Mississippi River.

Speaking of Local Government Aid and Mayor Rybak, Spotty of The Cucking Stool’s done an interview with Rybak that covers LGA. The first part is up right now. Check it out.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on The Grownup-Toddler Divide: R.T. Rybak v. Steve Drazkowski

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