As you read this, a terror attack has put atomic reactors in Ukraine at the brink of another Chernobyl-scale apocalypse.
Transmission lines have been blown up. Power to at least two major nuclear power stations has been “dangerously” cut. Without emergency backup, those nukes could lose coolant to their radioactive cores and spent fuel pools. They could then melt or explode, as at Fukushima.
Yet amidst endless "all-fear-all-the-time" reporting on ISIS, the corporate media has remained shockingly silent on this potential catastrophe.
Nor has it faced the most critical step needed to protect our planet in a time of terror: shutting all atomic reactors.
The world’s 430-plus licensed commercial nuclear plants give terrorists like ISIS the power at any time to inflict a radioactive Apocalypse that could kill millions, destroy huge parts of the Earth and devastate the global economy.
Fallout from Chernobyl’s 1986 disaster has killed more than a million people.
Cancer rates among children and others near Fukushima are soaring.
Americans downwind from Three Mile Island died in droves.
Major scientific studies in Germany and elsewhere link soaring cancer and other human death rates to nearby reactor emissions even without an accident.
The 1966 melt-down at Fermi I, near Detroit, cost at least $100 million. Three Mile Island’s 1979 melt-down converted a $900 million asset into a $2 billion liability. Chernobyl has cost Ukraine, Belarus and the former Soviet Union at least $500 billion. Fukushima wiped out a $60 billion asset and may cost Japan trillions, permanently crippling its economy.
All imposing inestimable damage to the global ecology. The radioactive carbon and raw heat reactors emit unbalance our weather, irradiate the oceans, create waste that cannot be managed.
The ability of ISIS and other terrorists to cause more such catastrophes is unquestioned and escalating.
Despite ISIS's bloody warning in Paris, all commercial reactors are still at risk.
They are crumbling on their own. The shield building at Ohio’s Davis-Besse is literally disintegrating.
Diablo Canyon is surrounded by a dozen California fault lines.
Fort Calhoun in Nebraska has been flooded.
Earthquakes have damaged Ohio’s Perry and North Anna, in Virginia.
And official reports on the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center confirm that Al Quaeda also considered targeting atomic reactors.
Had they hit Indian Point, 45 miles north of the twin towers, millions of Americans would now be dead. Trillions in property damage would have decimated the nation’s economy. Billions of acres would be contaminated, along with countless lakes, rivers and much of the Atlantic Ocean.
The screaming heads at CNN, Fox et. al. say this kind of Apocalyptic event is exactly what ISIS seeks. But they avoid the obvious connection to the world’s increasingly fragile reactors.
In Ukraine, Deputy Director Yuri Katchich of the Ukrenergo power company said the “emergency unloading” at the South Ukrainian and Zaporozhskaya nuclear sites forced by terror attacks on far-away power lines is “very dangerous.” We can only imagine the damage direct attacks on the reactors themselves might have done.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami took out back-up generators at Fukushima, followed by three melt-downs and four explosions.
Tsunami-like flooding caused by busted dams upriver from at least three dozen U.S. reactors could replicate much of what happened at Fukushima.
There are 58 reactors in France, 99 in the U.S. If ISIS is as reckless and relentless as it seems, the safety of none of them can be guaranteed.
So as our governments, politicians and media scream for security, we must free ourselves from the nuclear curse.
We must also remember that ISIS grew out of an U.S. invasion of Iraq based largely on our corporate addiction to fossil fuels.
The obvious answer to this global nightmare is to speed the transition to a renewable energy world.
No terror group can ever cause an apocalypse by blowing up a solar panel.
Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. His AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF U.S. HISTORY will be published next year.
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By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
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