MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
Yesterday, during the after show we call “On Beyond Zero,” Wes had piped up about a silly euphemism I would use in order to be goofy. He said he looked everywhere to see if I was mimicking a comedian and I told him no — it was just something silly that I made up, as occasionally I play with words and phrases. It annoys some people and others find it funny or catchy.
It is just the marketing side of me as when I was first starting out in radio I had write catch phrases for commercials. I also had t write morning shows, and comedic bits and so it just comes natural to me to play with pounds and other catchy sayings in order to either get a laugh or sometimes I do it for the show every once in a while.
The latest phrase I am using is “The Summer of Transition.”
Granted, it is not a funny phrase but a very serious one as we make the transition from a COVID-19 normal — to the another normal where we have the climate emergency where we will be encouraged to fear a virtual climate Armageddon which will give world leaders the opportunity to sell you on cleaner fuel alternatives to lower greenhouse gasses.
The term Net Zero has also proliferated in the media, as well as in political, corporate and academic discussions.
One of the reasons for the popularity of Net Zero targets is that the term itself is a strong message of strong action, openly embracing the need to halt global emissions, and is seen by many as the hallmark of climate leadership.
But it an empty an ill-defined term – that sounds as if we are all supposed to somehow shut down the industrial age and take away life-saving materials and not use transportation and other resources that have improved our lives over time.
To me, Real Zero sounds like extinction.
There’s no shortage of companies publishing Net Zero targets but, as yet, there’s no commonly agreed definition of Net Zero.
Unlike other terms, such as carbon neutrality, there is no commonly agreed definition of what constitutes net zero emissions.
If you think that I play with words and catch phrases — I can tell you that It is hard to keep up with all of the branding problems that climate activists are dealing with.
Since the G7 Summit, I have been very aware of the agenda to push cleaner energy and the eventual banning of vehicles that use fossil fuels and how countries are making goals to do away with oil and coal consumption.
The transition will include the use of Nuclear energy for sustainable development.
It appears that nuclear energy is the future despite its horrible past.
Nuclear power is not a climate solution. It may produce lower-carbon energy, but this energy comes with a great deal of risk.
Currently, there are 444 nuclear power plants in 30 countries worldwide, with another 63 plants potentially under construction.
India is building 7; Russia, 6; and the United Arab Emirates, 4, with a sprinkling of other new plants coming throughout the rest of the world. All will be state owned.
However, many of the already constructed reactors are old. In the US, the European Union, and Russia, plants average 35 years or more in age, nearing their designed lifetimes of 40 years. Building new nuclear power plants based on traditional designs will be nearly impossible in developed economies,
The challenges include high costs and long construction times, as well as time needed to recoup costs once plants start running, plus ongoing issues with radioactive waste disposal. In addition, the competitive electricity marketplace in the US makes it hard to sell nuclear energy against that generated more cheaply through natural gas, wind, or solar.
China is the world’s third-largest nuclear generator, with 45 reactors capable of producing 46 GW of electricity. China also has the biggest plans for new power plants, with 11 at various stages of construction.
Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, located in southern Guangdong province, is thought to have been leaking for at least two weeks after a French firm that co-owns the facility flagged the issue to Washington.
The Chinese nuclear power station is leaking radioactive gas and could become a major disaster, according to secret US intelligence reports.
American agents have spent the last week monitoring the situation but the Chinese say that the facility is not currently at ‘crisis level’.
Problems at the power plant first came to light in late May when French firm, Framatome reached out to US intelligence agencies to alert them of it, according to documents sent to the Department of Energy and seen by CNN.
A follow-up memo sent on June 3 identified the issue as a ‘fission gas leak’ and asked for the DOE to share intelligence that might help solve the issue.
Fission gas is a radioactive biproduct of nuclear fission, where heavy atoms are split into lighter ones – a process which releases energy but also creates the waste gas.
Framatome apparently got no response and so sent another memo on June 8 asking for their message to be urgently reviewed. In that note, they described the problem as ‘an imminent radiological threat to the site’ and warned that Chinese regulators had increased the ‘safe’ levels of radioactivity allowed around the plant.
Increasing the ‘safe’ limit means China has been able to keep the plant running instead of shutting it down to resolve the issue.
Framatome claimed China more-than doubled the limit, and that the new limit exceeds the current safety standards in France.
The June 8 memo was picked up by the US State Department, setting off a flurry of activity over the last week that included meetings of senior figures on the National Security Council to assess the threat.
They concluded that while the plant could turn into a major disaster, they believe it is not in immediate danger of becoming one and it is more likely the issue will be resolved without seriously endangering the public.
Meanwhile, French energy giant, EDF also put out a statement on Monday, saying there has been an increase in noble gases detected in the plant’s cooling system.
Noble gases are one of the biproducts of nuclear fission, and their presence in the cooling system may indicate a leak in the reactor.
The operator of the power station, state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, said in a statement on Sunday evening that ‘the environmental indicators of Taishan Nuclear Power Plant and its surroundings are normal’.
Powered up in 2018, the Taishan plant was the first worldwide to operate a next-generation EPR nuclear reactor, a pressurized water design that has been subject to years of delays in similar European projects in Britain, France and Finland.
EPR reactors have been touted as promising advances in safety and efficiency over conventional reactors while producing less waste.
The plant’s state owners said one of the two reactors on site then completed an ‘overhaul’ and ‘successfully connected to the grid on June 10, 2021.’
Why was the reactor overhauled? And what exactly had been done to it? This remains a mystery–and again gives us pause as to wonder if there were some problems before and the Chinese just neglected to tell anyone.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping hailed close ties between their countries as they launched work on Russian-built nuclear power plants in China.
China for some reason has been praised for their hard work in becoming a carbon neutral nation — but at what cost are we going to see this happen?
Globally, nuclear power is on the skids. Its contribution to electricity generation is in a free fall, dropping from a mid-1990s peak of about 18% of worldwide electricity capacity to 10% today, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The agency expects the downward spiral to continue, hitting 5% by 2040 unless governments around the world intervene.
The driver for that intervention would be nuclear reactors’ ability to generate energy with low greenhouse gas emission. To meet the world’s energy needs and avoid the worst effects of climate change, low-carbon electricity generation must increase from providing 36% of the world’s energy today to 85% by 2040, the IEA says.
The push is on and the agenda is quite clear the future is going to be nuclear come hell or high radiation — and again we see how the new green deal is just another death sentence for the peasants who consume power on a daily basis and the machines that will run these plants — with what will be called efficiency.
In the US, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already renewed and extended the operating licenses from 40 to 60 years for 90 of the 98 operating reactors. The industry is now focusing on renewals to operate for up to 80 years. Similarly, other countries are considering extending existing reactor operations but for shorter periods, the IEA reports.
These extensions present what the Union of Concerned Scientists terms a “nuclear power dilemma.” The nonprofit organization, which advocates scientific solutions to global problems, has been a frequent nuclear industry critic.
Many nuclear power plants in the US, the European Union, and Russia are reaching the end of their design lifetime, while those elsewhere in Asia are much younger.
Underlying the debates about power plant costs and operating lifetimes are questions of safety and risks—real and perceived—of nuclear reactors and radioactivity. These concerns have made nuclear power unpopular in the US, Germany, Japan, and elsewhere.
I say who can blame them a recent story out of the Ukraine sounds like a nightmare taken from a science fiction movie.
Thirty-five years after the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded in the world’s worst nuclear accident, fission reactions are smoldering again in uranium fuel masses buried deep inside a mangled reactor hall.
It has been compared to embers that still burn in a barbeque pit.
Now, Ukrainian scientists are scrambling to determine whether the reactions will wink out on their own—or require extraordinary interventions to avert another accident.
Sensors are tracking a rising number of neutrons, a signal of fission, streaming from one inaccessible room.
Anatolii Doroshenko of the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power in Kyiv, Ukraine, reported last week during discussions about dismantling the reactor.
Scientists are saying that they can’t rule out the possibility of an accident.” The neutron counts are rising slowly, suggesting managers still have a few years to figure out how to stifle the threat. Any remedy that these scientists come up with will be of keen interest to Japan, which is coping with the aftermath of its own nuclear disaster at Fukushima, which is a similar magnitude of hazard.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is using the Olympics Games as a way to show that Japan had overcome the disaster and to promote reconstruction efforts in the region. Ten years on, questions over radiation in the area, its prospects for recovery, and the decommissioning of the reactor, as well as Japan’s overall energy policy, remain.
To assure members of the International Olympic Committee that the event in Tokyo would be safe, then-Prime Minister Abe promised in his 2013 pitch to host the 2020 Games that the situation at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant was “under control”.
Three years later, Junichiro Koizumi, a former prime minister and fellow member of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, called this promise a lie.
A year ago, when international visitors to the Games were still considered a possibility, some questioned whether it was safe for athletes and spectators to visit sporting venues in Fukushima or even Japan in general. South Korea reportedly considered providing its own food for athletes out of radiation concerns, although the move was seen as political by some.
Levels of radiation in Japan have decreased thanks in part to a massive program by the government to remove the top layer of soil in affected areas. The contaminated soil is stored in millions of black one-cubic-meter bags that are piled up on temporary open-air areas scattered across the prefecture before being transported to interim storage sites. As of April 2020, about 6.7 million of the black bags were still stored in Fukushima, according to the Ministry of Environment.
While the plant’s operator managed to stabilize the damaged reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, melted nuclear fuel buried deep into the ground below the plant is still to be located and removed – an endeavor that is projected to take at least forty years.
Meanwhile, in April, the government approved plans to gradually release more than one million tons of contaminated water into the sea.
A 2013 health risk assessment by the World Health Organization concluded that the lifetime risk for some cancers may be “somewhat elevated” for some groups in the most affected areas, but that there was no discernible risk increase outside those regions or abroad.
The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) echoed these findings in a report published in March 2021. “Since the UNSCEAR 2013 Report, no adverse health effects among Fukushima residents have been documented that could be directly attributed to radiation exposure from the accident
At the end of 2019, Greenpeace conducted radiation measurements around J-Village, where the Olympic torch relay would later kick off, and found several hotspots. The radiation levels were as high as 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level, 1,775 times higher than measurements before the Fukushima disaster, the environmental group said.
The Japanese Ministry of Environment confirmed the existence of hotspots in its own separate measurements after Greenpeace released its report, but said measures were taken to reduce radiation in the affected areas and that levels were now lower.
Greenpeace said, however, that later readings showed that radiation remained high even after Tokyo Electric Power Company, the company that had operated the Fukushima Daiichi plant, decontaminated the areas in question.
For the people living in the areas of Fukushima impacted by the nuclear disaster, the catastrophic event is still a daily presence in their lives.
And yet, the Olympics are being used as a marketing scam and the Japanese are using it for a fake a narrative of recovery when most of the Japanese citizens in the region have not recovered.
This is your green future — this is the future where bottomless pockets are putting forward trillions of dollars to secure a bold and healthy future where the goal is safe low carbon emitting renewable energy by 2030.
How can you call it low carbon if greenhouse gas emissions are considered for the full energy cycle, including plant construction, uranium mining and enrichment, fuel processing, plant decommissioning, and radioactive waste deposition.
Isolating nuclear waste from people and the environment requires significant energy and resources.
The mining, milling and enrichment of uranium into nuclear fuel are extremely energy-intensive and result in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.
A typical reactor will generate 20 to 30 tons of high-level nuclear waste annually. There is no known way to safely dispose of this waste, which remains dangerously radioactive for a quarter of a million years.
The nuclear power industry has amassed hundreds of thousands of tons of “low-level” radioactive waste (or, in industry and regulatory parlance, “slightly radioactive solid materials”), which has created an enormous disposition problem. The industry hopes to absolve itself from liability for this waste through the insane practice of “releasing” it from regulatory control, whereupon it could be sent to recycling facilities and ultimately end up in common consumer products!
In a speech in Wilmington, DE, President Biden built on his plans, released last week, for reviving the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with a new focus on enhancing the nation’s infrastructure and emphasizing the importance of significantly cutting fossil fuel emissions. As he denounced President Trump’s stewardship of the virus and climate change, he drew criticism from Republicans — but he also faced a key test from progressives who have long been skeptical of the scope of his climate ambitions.
“These are the most critical investments we can make for the long-term health and vitality of both the American economy and the physical health and safety of the American people,” he said. “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax.’ When I think about climate change, the word I think of is ‘jobs.’”
When I think of Climate Change, net zero emissions and nuclear power, the world I think of is extinction -where we all become radiated angels in some sick and twisted atomic rapture.