Archive for May 2011
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 6, 2011 (IPS)
The nuclear energy industry only exists thanks to what insurance experts call the “mother of all subsidies”, and the public is largely unaware that every nuclear power plant in the world has a strict cap on how much the industry might have to pay out in case of an accident.
In Canada, this liability cap is an astonishingly low 75 million dollars. In India, it is 110 million dollars and in Britain 220 million dollars. If there is an accident, governments – i.e. the public – are on the hook for all costs exceeding those caps.
Japan has a higher liability cap of 1.2 billion dollars, but that is not nearly enough for the estimated 25 to 150 billion dollars in decommissioning and liability costs for what is still an ongoing disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Seven weeks after the tsunami caused the disaster, radiation levels continued to spike higher.
No one knows when the reactors will finally be in cold shutdown, or when the costs of theFukushima disaster will stop piling up. One report suggests decommissioning will take 30 years.
Japan’s credit rating was downgraded because of the accident, noted Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based energy and nuclear policy analyst who has worked in Japan. “The Japanese know it’s just a matter of time before another large earthquake occurs,” Schneider told IPS.
“Japan will never build another nuclear plant.“
Read the rest of this entry »
This graphic from GOOD magazine shows who gets the bulk of the enormous US energy subsidies. Many subsidies are hidden and difficult to estimate and this attempt looks to be low according to the experts I’ve interviewed for various articles (cited below). The graphic also doesn’t include subsidies for nuclear which are equally enormous. — Stephen
The enormous fossil fuel subsidies are rarely acknowledged when complaints are raised about costs of renewable energy. This report shown below says subsidies for fossil fuel are 12X that for green energy but this is a gross underestimate based on the experts I’ve interviewed in June for this article Free Ride for Oil and Coal Industry May Be Over.
Subsidies experts in Switzerland told me that “two-billion-dollars-a-day public subsidy for carbon-based fuels is a very conservative estimate..”
In reality big oil and coal get more like 20X the money green energy. So let’s do some real pricing: electricity from coal 5 cents kWh X 20 for subsidies (not to mention free use of the atmosphere /environment for its CO2, mercury etc waste products.) Corporate welfare at its best.
A few of the many articles I’ve written on the subject of energy subsidies:
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Mar 7, 2011 (IPS)
Timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio 2012 Summit hopes to recapture the optimism of that earlier era.
At the June 2012 Rio Summit it is hoped countries will agree on policies to move toward a green economy from the present “brown” economic system driven by fossil fuel energy and the serial depletion and degradation of natural resources and ecosystems. A green economy promises to bring good jobs, clean energy and water while ensuring a more sustainable and fairer use of resources.
“If we continue on our current path, we will bequeath material and environmental poverty, not prosperity, to our children and grandchildren,” said Rio 2012 Secretary-General Sha Zukang.
“Rio 2012 will be one of the most important events in the coming decades,” Zukang said
By Stephen Leahy
KAUAI, Hawaii, U.S., Apr 1, 2011 (IPS)
“Be fantastic, don’t use plastic!” chanted a troop of 10-year- olds from President Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Honolulu at the conclusion of an international conference on the millions of tonnes of trash that enter the oceans every year, with serious consequences for marine life and habitats as well as to human health and the global economy.
Most participants were in a celebratory mood at the Fifth International Marine Debris Conference, which concluded Mar. 25 with the Honolulu Commitment to address the growing problem of marine debris.
But Captain Charles Moore, the man who brought the world’s attention to the scope and scale of the problem, was not celebrating.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years and every year it has only become worse,” Moore told IPS.
Moore is famous for revealing the immense amount of plastic in the north Pacific gyre, formed by ocean currents in a massive slow-moving whirlpool thousands of square kilometres in size.
Moore’s Algalita Marine Research Foundation documented that this vast expanse of oceans has about six kilogrammes of plastic for every kilogramme of plankton. He is careful to point out that there is no plastic island as reported in some media, it’s much more dispersed. Read the rest of this entry »
From the coldest December ever recorded to the warmest, driest April Britain is just one of the countries being whipsawed by extreme weather. Normally wet Scotland is experiencing rare wildfires outbreaks this week. Europe’s wheat crop is at high risk due to very hot and dry temps.
My recent science articles explaining why weather extremes are becoming more common:
The state of Rondônia in western Brazil — once home to 208,000 square kilometers of forest (about 51.4 million acres), an area slightly smaller than the state of Kansas — has become one of the most deforested parts of the Amazon. In the past three decades, clearing and degradation of the state’s forests have been rapid: 4,200 square kilometers cleared by 1978; 30,000 by 1988; and 53,300 by 1998. By 2003, an estimated 67,764 square kilometers of rainforest—an area larger than the state of West Virginia—had been cleared. Source: Amazon Deforestation – NASA
See also: Amazon Drought Accelerating Climate Change The REAL Amazon-gate: On the Brink of Collapse Reveals Million $ Study
I’m an independent journalist who covers international environmental issues in the public interest.
My work has been published in publications around the world including National Geographic, The Guardian (UK), Sunday Times, New Scientist, Al Jazeera, Earth Island Journal, The Toronto Star, AlterNet, Common Dreams, and Straight Goods News.
I’m also the senior science and environment correspondent at IPS, Inter Press Service News Agency the world’s largest not-for-profit news agency.
I am the 2012 co-winner of the Prince Albert/United Nations Global Prize for Climate Change. You can read much of that coverage on this site.
Multiple environmental crisis represent “the greatest challenge in the history of our species”
– Thomas Lovejoy, professor, George Mason University, former chief scientist of the World Bank
Despite the importance of environmental issues, media have slashed their coverage of environmental issues. It is impossible to make a living as a freelance environmental journalist.
Swiss journalist Daniel Wermus in 2010 article: “Stephen Leahy, a Canadian, and one of the world’s best-known investigative reporters on environmental issues, has launched a challenge:
if corporations won’t pay for the news, then it is up to communities and the public to fill the gap.“
Since for-profit corporate media won’t pay for environmental journalism in the public interest then I am hoping people will.
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