Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan's disaster cubed

I've been riveted to my TV & computer since Friday, trying to comprehend the devestation of a 9.0 earthquake (upgraded from 8.9), + an 8m tsunami, + a desperate situation when nuclear cooling systems failed at a power plant in Fukushima. Whenever you see such utter devastation and human tradgedy and suffering on a national scale it is truely heartbreaking. I am so so saddened by the loss..

And reminded how precious and unpredictable living on this always changing planet is.

Watching the developing nuclear meltdown in Japan has certainly been a flashing reminder of the dangers posed by so called "safe" nuclear power...I live in Chicago, literally surrounded by about 11 nuke plants. Even when functioning within design limits nuclear plants create tons of really bad stuff (waste) every year. And clearly a 9.0 earthquake exceeded the design and safety limits at Fukushima. We do not yet know how this "incident" will end, although it seems to go from bad to worse.

I believe it has already gotten bad enough to derail the nuclear renaissance many in that industry hoped for. And any pullback there will be a big blow to efforts to fight climate change, since coal is the obvious baseload alternative. That said, in the mid-to-long term this presents opportunities for "true" renewables like wind, solar, and especially fledgling geothermal and wave power which have the power profiles that can support baseload demand without storage.

But even more important than switching our energy ravenous society onto the next "fuel source", I think we need to take a completely different attitude to reducing our power requirements. We need to embrace RADICAL EFFICIENCY. Creating and designing systems that require 1/3 (or less) as much energy to sustain them. And we can't wait 20, 30 or 40 years to get to a more efficient equilibrium. We need to get there in 10 years. This means we need to be doing the planning today and start implimenting(!) systems 2, 3 or 4 years!


At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is not a comment on your post or your blog. I followed the link to your site from one of your posts on Brave New Climate. I have some posts up there under the name "al-anon".

I have read your posts at Brave New Climate and have noted your incredulousness at the crazy world ("twilight zone") of the pro-nuclear propagandists. You have my symapthy.

I am a pro-nuclear liberal, with decades of experience in the commercial power industry. I know more about the actual workings of nuclear power plants and the industry than anyone I have read on that site (but, then again, I only came across the place a couple of days ago), and I submitted a few posts trying to correct the misconceptions flourishing over there. In response, Barry, has, in effect, banned me from the site--he has deleted at least one of my comments (where I explained the expected biological effects of radiation to someone who had asked) and now sits on whatever I submit for "moderation". He, obviously, considers any sharp criticism--such as the kind I dished out--out of bounds.

I just thought I'd let you know how it works there. But you've probably already realized you're not going to learn much from that crowd--a group which, in no way, is representative of the nuclear industry.

I normally don't pay any attention to the pro-nuke blogs, but I thought I would see what they were saying about the crisis in Japan, and, like you, I was kind of appalled at what I read.

Good luck.

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Thanks for dropping by al-anon. Being a pro-nuke liberal makes you a semi rare breed.

I stopped in there to see if I could learn something from them that would make me wiser--not a very high bar on the subject of nukes--I knew they/we wouldn't agree. But I just wasn't prepared for the --" "-- well, whatever it was I found over there. It is possible there is wisdom on the site, but it is burried too deep for me to find.

I knew the folks over there are sorta crazy, I just didn't know they were delusional too.

At 2:54 AM, Anonymous learn to trade said...

I don't pay any attention to the pro-nuke blogs, I thought I would see what they were saying and like you, I was appalled at what I read.

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