Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nuclear Power is Not Rational on Any Scale

Below is the abstract from a new study that demonstrates that high national commitments to nuclear are correlated with less reduction in national emissions:
Andrew Lawrence, Benjamin Sovacool, and Andrew Stirling. 2016. Nuclear energy and path dependence in Europe’s ‘Energy union’: coherence or continued divergence? Climate Policy Vol. 16 , Iss. 5, 2016
Since its initial adoption, the EU’s 2020 Strategy – to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, increase the share of renewable energy to at least 20% of consumption, and achieve energy savings of 20% or more by 2020 – has witnessed substantial albeit uneven progress. 

This article addresses the question of what role nuclear power generation has played, and
can or should play in future, towards attaining the EU 2020 Strategy, particularly with reference to decreasing emissions and increasing renewables. 

It also explores the persistent diversity in energy strategies among member states. To do so, it first surveys the current landscape of nuclear energy use and then presents the interrelated concepts of path dependency, momentum, and lock-in. 

The article proceeds to examine five factors that help explain national nuclear divergence: technological capacity and consumption; economic cost; security and materiality; national perceptions; and political, ideological and institutional factors. This divergence reveals a more general weakness in the 2020 Strategy’s underlying assumptions.

Although energy security – defined as energy availability, reliability, affordability, and sustainability – remains a vital concern for all member states, the 2020 Strategy does not explicitly address questions of political participation, control, and power. 

The inverse relationship identified here – between intensity of nuclear commitments, and emissions mitigation and uptake of renewable sources – underscores the importance of increasing citizens’ levels of energy policy awareness and participation in policy design.
I think that the questions of political participation, control, and power in energy policy are the key ones.

Decision making is centralized and revolving door politics typically result in the convergence of industry and government approaches to energy policy.

I have demonstrated through my published research, especially my recent book on crisis communications, that elite decision making regarding nuclear energy is the most centralized and least responsive to public concerns and demands for accountability. 

Lawrence, Sovacool, and Stirling also recognize this point when they write:
"Nuclear commitments can have the effect of reinforcing institutional structures, market practices, and operating procedures that militate against a move to renewable energy technologies of kinds that arguably offer a more effective long-term basis for achieving low-carbon energy futures" (p. 623)
Nuclear policy making across the globe in the wake of the Fukushima crisis demonstrates nuclear insanity in policy making.

For example, today I read articles about China's push into nuclear exports:
AP. 2016. China sets sights on new global export: nuclear energy. August 24, 2016
BEIJING--On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that is the flagship for Beijing's ambition to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.
Doesn't that sound like a good idea? It seems kind of like China's telling the world: We have arrived, as you can see by our capacity to export the phallus!

Today I also read about the push for small scale, modular nuclear reactors despite risks, costs, and the unresolved problem of nuclear waste:
Nuclear developers have big plans for small power plants in U.K. Reuters Aug 25, 2016
You can see the future: waste from decentralized nuclear energy leaking everywhere!

There is simply no effective and cost-efficient way of containing waste!
The US's first Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP, had an explosion and leaked plutonium and americium into the environment in 2014. You can read the "official" account here:

It is anticipated that the WIPP disaster  is going to cost more than $2 billion to clean up: 
Megan Geuss. 2016, August 23. Nuclear waste accident 2 years ago may cost more than $2 billion to clean up [updated]. Los Angeles Times says fixing the dump is a political imperative. 
The problem of nuclear waste management alone precludes nuclear from being a viable, sustainable energy solution.

Yet, despite clear evidence for the irrationality of nuclear, policy makers and industry continue to promote its dangerous energies.



  1. I wish $2billion would clean it up. But unfortunately, no amount of money can make nuclear waste go away. All money does it move it around a bit. There is not one good reason to have nuclear anything for any reason.

  2. You are right weez

  3. Was man made climate change invented in order to promote alternative energy sources, but especially nuclear? This seems to be a policy of out of the frying pan and into the fire. We can survive climate change and have for many millennia, but we will not survive nuclear power, bombs and waste. Man made climate change is a scientific hypothesis and not a fact. If as a number of scientists now believe we are headed for a fairly lengthy cooler period like the Maunder Minimum then we had better keep our overcoats!

  4. Sounds like muller

  5. Chernobyl in the 1980's must have dealt something of a blow to the future of nuclear power, but fortuitously along came global warming and CO2 alarums! Interesting how it seems to parallel another area of business, the psychiatrists, who were doing poorly until they began colluding with the pharmaceuticals. I can not help but wonder if the nuclear people huddled with the climatologists and government officials as a new terror was being rolled out. It generally seems almost impossible to get gov and business engaged on real dangers like pesticides and GMO's, so when gov and business go all out about a "danger" it certainly a special occasion, and one is justified in being skeptical. It took thirty years after it was known how dangerous DDT was before it was banned by Congress. Congress acted ten years or so after the publication of Silent Spring.

  6. What a strange person. Rivers of water from the sky and the polar ice caps melting. Highest temperatures on earth ever. Stange little conspiracy cult republican. Everything has to fit perfectly in its strange little bag of its world ideations a and delusions. Like a cuilt spoon fed order of ideologies and supreme truths.

  7. S cult man. 1. There's no climate change. 2. Fukushima and nuclear meltdowns have to be started by acts of human nuclear sabotage. 3. You have to vote for Trump or you aren't worth a darn. 4. All modern medicine is a hoax despite the vaccinations and antibiotics that preserve scult mans life. 5. There is an unlimited free energy source( which there is in solar but this is not what they are talking about). 6. Nuclear was inevitable.
    The S-cult has a set of core doctrines like any cult. It is almost pseudoreligious.

    There have been antinuclear folks like Helen caldicott, Kevin Kamps, Carl Grossman, busby, fairewinds, Mimi German, Harvey Wasserman that fought against nuclear energy and weapons. They have worked diligently and scientifically to disseminate information about the evils and stupidity of nuclear reactors and weapons.

    S cultists will hear nothing but their own cult interpretations. Each time there is a nuclear accident they play the Jew sabotage card, as if nuclear reactors cannot fail because they are inherently unsafe.
    Another outstanding aspect of the Scultists is the singling out and hatred of Jewish people.

    Many s-cultists were rabidly anti sanders this year. Sanders was the only antinuclear candidate besides Jill stein. He is not liked by the s-cult simply because he is Jewish.

    If one challenges the obvious stereotypes bigotry and little universe of the s-cult and it adherents one is called a troll. Sad really

  8. Good article summation on why nuclear power is irrational.

  9. The wipp accident happened from the decay heat of the radionucleides interacting with the kitty litter. There is no known safe way to store nuclear waste. Decay heat occurs with glass encased nuke waste and waste that is put in casks. The casks generate gasses from decay heat that can cause them to explode. Too many lies for too long.