Monday, November 04, 2013

New nuclear needs to go somewhere soon, just not on vulnerable coastlines and in flood plains … sadly the utilities are NOT leading the way … by gimleteye

According to the Herald, weather experts are predicting unusually high tides this fall. Never mind this fall. Anyone who spends time at the shoreline and is observant can see that sea level is here, now. This summer I witnessed it along the New England coast, where fragile marshes are buckling. Last spring in the Caribbean where the iconic wide, white beaches of Barbuda are now just thin ribbons. Just this weekend I witnessed the effects of sea level rise at the mangrove fringe of Matheson Hammock, a place I've returned for many years.

Science fiction movies dealing with sea level rise -- and extreme dystopian views of American cities half under water -- have it right. That is exactly what our coastal landscape, harboring the majority of taxpayers, will look like. When?

In the meantime, Miami Dade County is proceeding as if nothing is going to change on the sea level rise front. While Miami Beach copes with frequent flooding of city streets, the Miami Dade plan for wastewater infrastructure -- the subject of yet another federal lawsuit by environmentalists -- doesn't even incorporate the smallest rise of sea level. They call it: "the zero sea level rise plan". And it still will cost $1.5 billion.

County officials poo-poo the idea they aren't paying attention, even though the facts show the county has violated one federal consent decree after another when it comes to managing taxpayers interests. Blue ribbon panels convene. "There will be time to adjust plans."

But there isn't time. Consider how long it takes to build a nuclear power plant. Decades.

There is a logical argument for a next generation nuclear power -- notwithstanding the terrible problems of Fukushima and security risks of existing nuclear power plants from spent fuel. But even existing plans and technologies face intense timeline hurdles.

FPL is spending hundreds of millions of (our) dollars to obtain permits for two new nuclear reactors to add to the existing (ancient) nuclear reactors at Turkey Point. Although the plans are to elevate the new plants, it doesn't take a nuclear scientist to realize that most everything we take for granted in terms of economic activity -- to fund electrical generation and other infrastructure -- is going to be severely tested by sea level rise.

At the same time, FPL is a leader in industrial wind and solar power. Both technologies are window dressing for the bad facts. A rising chorus of scientists are pointing out that "sustainable technologies" can never rise to more than a fraction of energy supply. The bottom line is that wind power, in particular, is a massive distraction from the real problem of providing on-demand electricity.

New nuclear needs to go somewhere. Somewhere other than vulnerable coastlines. It takes decades to de-commission nuclear power plants: that's what we ought to be planning for Turkey Point. And meanwhile, an intense federal effort needs to launch the next generation of nuclear power: smaller, safer plants that could help solve the waste storage issues that plague the nation.

It is time to get going, but sadly -- notwithstanding all the TV ads -- the utilities are not leading the way.

Experts say nuclear power needed to slow global warming
It isn’t realistic to think that wind and solar can power the world alone, they say.

By Kevin Begos
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH – Some of the world’s top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won’t be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they’re asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.

Four scientists who have played a key role in alerting the public to the dangers of climate change sent letters Sunday to leading environmental groups and politicians around the world. The letter, an advance copy of which was given to The Associated Press, urges a crucial discussion on the role of nuclear power in fighting climate change.

Environmentalists agree that global warming is a threat to ecosystems and humans, but many oppose nuclear power and believe that new forms of renewable energy will be able to power the world within the next few decades.

That isn’t realistic, the letter said.

“Those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough” to deliver the amount of cheap and reliable power the world needs, and “with the planet warming and carbon dioxide emissions rising faster than ever, we cannot afford to turn away from any technology” that has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases.

The letter signers are James Hansen, a former top NASA scientist; Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution; Kerry Emanuel, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Tom Wigley, of the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Hansen began publishing research on the threat of global warming more than 30 years ago, and his testimony before Congress in 1988 helped launch a mainstream discussion. Last February he was arrested in front of the White House at a climate protest that included the head of the Sierra Club and other activists.

Caldeira was a contributor to reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Emanuel is known for his research on possible links between climate change and hurricanes, and Wigley has also been doing climate research for more than 30 years.

Emanuel said the signers aren’t opposed to renewable energy sources but want environmentalists to understand that “realistically, they cannot on their own solve the world’s energy problems.”

The vast majority of climate scientists say they’re now virtually certain that pollution from fossil fuels has increased global temperatures over the last 60 years. They say emissions need to be sharply reduced to prevent more extreme damage in the future.

In 2011 worldwide carbon dioxide emissions jumped 3 percent, because of a large increase by China, the No. 1 carbon polluting country. The U.S. is No. 2 in carbon emissions.

Hansen, who’s now at Columbia University, said it’s not enough for environmentalists to simply oppose fossil fuels and promote renewable energy.

“They’re cheating themselves if they keep believing this fiction that all we need” is renewable energy such as wind and solar, Hansen told the AP.

The joint letter says, “The time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems” as part of efforts to build a new global energy supply.

Stephen Ansolabehere, a Harvard professor who studies energy issues, said nuclear power is “very divisive” within the environmental movement. But he added that the letter could help educate the public about the difficult choices that climate change presents.

One major environmental advocacy organization, the Natural Resources Defense Council, warned that “nuclear power is no panacea for our climate woes.”

Risk of catastrophe is only one drawback of nuclear power, NRDC President Frances Beinecke said in a statement. Waste storage and security of nuclear material are also important issues, she said.

“The better path is to clean up our power plants and invest in efficiency and renewable energy.”

The scientists acknowledge that there are risks to using nuclear power, but say those are far smaller than the risk posed by extreme climate change.

“We understand that today’s nuclear plants are far from perfect.”


Anonymous said...

The next-gen thorium reactors are supposed to be safe and small enough for residential neighborhoods. I can suggest a nice backyard on Menendez Ave in Coral Gables. And the waste storage water, properly applied with a sprayer, makes the trees grow in such interesting new ways! Best check your local zoning rules, though, before putting down a deposit.

C L Lerner said...

Safer nuclear is an oxymoron! Europe has turned away from nuclear and is far advanced in energy efficiency and renewables including other new forms of energy using wind and water. Get with it! Shocked and disappointed in you!

Anonymous said...

OK Mayor Lerner. We'll give that wind power thing a chance. We will start by putting fifty 300ft tall windmills on all that empty land around Dearing Bay, or maybe out in the Everglades. because no one will complain about that. Just ask all those people who are fighting wind-energy in Western Palm Beach County.

As for water energy, maybe we can just dam up a bunch of rivers. No one will care about that. Or have you forgotten all the issues regarding the Rodman resivour and the submerged land/property rights issues it created.

Everyone wants wind and water based energy. Until it effects their views or property rights, or the migration patterns of the split-tailed swallow or the peacock bass.