Nuclear War! (or Debate, if you prefer)

An interesting debate about whether we need nuclear power or not. Brand presents some very interesting information, and Jacobson makes some silly points, but I remain convinced that nuclear is the wrong way to go. (Note that this was filmed before the Fukushima meltdowns.)

It’s nice to see an intellectual exchange based in ideas and facts, not hyperbole and vitriol. The world needs more of this sort of thing.

It’s Pronounced “Nucular”

Many thanks to DemocracyNow! for bringing on Ralph Nader to explain — loudly but succinctly — why nuclear power is so dumb.

Why are we playing Russian roulette with the American people for nuclear plants whose principal objective is simply to boil water and produce steam? This is technological insanity. It presents national security problems, for every nuclear plant is a prime target. It affects our civil liberties. It endangers our workers. It is an industry that cannot be financed by Wall Street because it’s too risky. Wall Street demands 100 percent taxpayer guarantees for any nuclear plant.

Business > Labor (Contributions)

Yesterday the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released a report which shows that in the most recent election cycle, big business spent $12 for every $1 spent by unions.

So much for the ability of labor to buy elected officials who will do their bidding!

Here They Come

Also: Did you hear about the new Red Dawn remake? They filmed it with Chinese invaders, but now they’re digitally changing the flags and insignias to be North Korean. (I guess the actors will all be the same, since of course Chinese people look identical to North Korean people.)

And why? Because this way the movie will do better in China.

Our anti-communist fears are being moderated in anti-communist propaganda so as to sell better in communist markets. I’m not insane!

TimeWaster™

Mario, as first-person shooter. Freddie Wong is a freaking genius.

Today I’m listening to: Dead Prez! (Apparently their new album is donate-ware.)

Not Excellent

This is one of the many, many reasons why nuclear power is a bad idea.

An 8.9-magnitude earthquake led to cooling problems at one nuclear power plant and a fire at another, both of which were close to the quake’s epicenter, government officials said. [...]

Edano said the Fukushima Daiichi reactor “remains at a high temperature” because it “cannot cool down.” Kyodo reported Friday that the radiation level was rising in a turbine building at the plant.That plant and three others were shut down following the quake, after Japan declared a state of atomic power emergency.

That doesn’t sound like a fun “our ice cream freezer is broken” emergency. More like a China Syndrome Wilford Brimley-gets-shot kind of emergency.

UPDATE: Now it’s a “small” leak of radioactive material. The statement from the Japanese government official sounds like a haiku: “the amount is expected to be small and the wind blowing towards the sea will be considered”. Also: We shall hear the sound of a frog jumping into the pond.

UPDATE #2: I hope the expert is wrong, but this could be bad.

UPDATE #3: The uncertainty doesn’t comfort me when this word appears: “officials say they are trying to determine if a meltdown has occurred”. The BBC is using it, too.

UPDATE #4: Financial Times: “Japanese nuclear experts are working to contain a partial meltdown at an earthquake-stricken nuclear power plant north of Tokyo, as fears grow that the death toll from Friday’s massive quake and tsunami could reach the tens of thousands.”

UPDATE #5: Some important history of nuclear power in Japan, also from FT:

In 2007, the world’s largest nuclear power plant, at Kashiwazaki Kariwa, was shut after a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit the region and radioactive material was released – the first time that had happened as a result of an earthquake.

After the main earthquake, about 400 drums containing low-level nuclear material were knocked over by aftershocks, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere.

Although the government said the leakage was not enough to cause health concerns, Tepco – which also operated that plant – was forced to admit the facility was not designed to withstand earthquakes of the magnitude that hit the region at the time and to close the plant for the following 21 months.

UPDATE #6: A leader of the Greens in France today made a key point about what we should all learn from this catastrophe:

“It’s clear that when there’s a significant natural disaster, all the so-called safety measures fail in a country with the highest level of technical know-how,” Cecile Duflot, head of the green Europe Ecologie-Les Verts party, told Reuters.

“Nuclear risk is not a risk that can really be controlled.”

UPDATE #7: Here we go! The Wall Street Journal is now complaining about “an overreaction about the risks of modern life and technology”. We all knew it was coming. It’s not that bad, you lunatic tree-huggers!