Home > 1Future > Germany & the US A Nuclear Tale of Two Countries, And Our Secret Green History

Germany & the US A Nuclear Tale of Two Countries, And Our Secret Green History

Oil is the worlds lifeblood right now but it is a finite resource that ruining our environment and is running out. The nations of the world are looking to find a replacement and that search has revealed two main replacements.

On the one hand we have nuclear power and it has a lot of things going for it. It is a technology that has been developed and is in wide use. The generation of nuclear power causes no air pollution and has been called a “clean” power by the US government. But of course the construction of the plants is hugely expensive and since no company will insure them governments assume all the risks if something goes wrong.

This is of course because nuclear power is incredibly dangerous, Nagasaki & Hiroshima anyone. The near disasters at 3 Mile Island and just this year at Fukushima should be stark warnings. Furthermore while nuclear plants might not emit pollution they are of course tempting target for terrorists. And then there is that sticky problem of what to do about the waste material which remains a threat for tens of thousands of years if not more.

Then there is the other alternative the broad category called renewables. These all revolve around using the raw materials that are all around us; wind, sun and water. Because big business spent most of the 20th century ignoring these promising alternatives because there was no easy way for them to be controlled they are not as developed as nuclear. So right now they are more expensive.

Today we present three articles the first two look at where nuclear power stands in the US and then a look at how Germany is going to eliminate nuclear plants in the next decade. After that is a look at a new book that looks at the long history of renewable solutions here in America.

First from the Rolling Stone:


America’s Nuclear Nightmare

By Jeff Goodell

April 27, 2011 9:00 AM ET

Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer, says that Jaczko knows full well that what the NRC calls “defense in depth” at U.S. reactors has been seriously compromised over the years. In some places, highly radioactive spent fuel is stockpiled in what amounts to swimming pools located beside reactors. In other places, changes in the cooling systems at reactors have made them more vulnerable to a core meltdown if something goes wrong. A few weeks before Fukushima, Lochbaum authored a widely circulated report that underscored the NRC’s haphazard performance, describing 14 serious “near-miss” events at nuclear plants last year alone. At the Indian Point reactor just north of New York City, federal inspectors discovered a water-containment system that had been leaking for 16 years.

As head of the NRC, Jaczko is the top cop on the nuclear beat, the guy charged with keeping the nation’s fleet of aging nukes running safely. A balding, 40-year-old Democrat with big ears and the air of a brilliant high school physics teacher, Jaczko oversees a 4,000-person agency with a budget of $1 billion. But the NRC has long served as little more than a lap dog to the nuclear industry, unwilling to crack down on unsafe reactors. “The agency is a wholly owned subsidiary of the nuclear power industry,” says Victor Gilinsky, who served on the commission during the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979. Even President Obama denounced the NRC during the 2008 campaign, calling it a “moribund agency that needs to be revamped and has become captive of the industries that it regulates.”

To read the entire post click here.

Can Renewables Fill the Gap When Nukes Go Offline?

Earth Island Journal / By Tina Gerhardt 6/7/11

The answers to many of the questions about how Germany will transition away from nuclear energy can be found in Germany’s “Energy Concept for an Environmentally Sound, Reliable and Affordable Energy Supply,” unveiled last September, in which the government laid out its energy policy for the period up to 2050.

Through this new energy policy, Germany intends to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050, with 1990 being the base year for both measurements.

To achieve these reductions, Germany will ramp up renewable energy sources. Its new energy policy says “renewable sources are to account for the biggest share in this future energy mix.”

Renewable energy will account for 18 percent of Germany’s energy by 2020, 30 percent by 2030, 45 percent by 2040, and 60 percent by 2050.

With regards to electricity, renewable energy sources will generate 35 percent of electricity by 2020; 50 percent by 2030; 65 percent by 2040; and 80 percent by 2050.

To read the entire post click here.

Green Technology Is Not New: Our Forgotten History of Electric Vehicles, Solar and Wind Power

The new book “Powering the Dream” examines why we chose to abandon green technologies in the past, and which ones we are likely to embrace in the future.

May 30, 2011  |

From Alternet / By Tina Gerhardt

Think green technology is new? Think again! In the early 20th century, electric taxi cabs zoomed along Manhattan’s streets, solar heaters warmed water for showers in Southern California, and windmills drew up water in the drought-ridden prairie states of Nebraska and Kansas, helping westward expansion as much as the steam engine, but forgotten in the annals of history.

To read the entire post click here.

 

And as is our habit since we are video broadcasters a video from our archives that is somewhat relative;

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