Gordon Edwards states: Radioactive materials continue to emit atomic radiation at a rate which cannot be influenced by any of the usual factors: heat, pressure, chemical reactions, absorption, dilution, compaction — NOTHING can be used to speed, up, slow down, or stop the process of radioactive disintegration from occurring.
This central fact means that “radioactive cleanup” is a very misleading phrase. It suggests to ordinary folks that we can somehow “get rid” of radioactive contamination — but we cannot do so, at least not in any absolute sense.
All we can do is move the contamination from one place to another. If you “decontaminate” one site, you must be contaminating another site. The contamination may be repackaged, or consolidated, or managed, or made less available to the environment of living things, but it cannot be eliminated.
Governments and their electorates have been misled by the nuclear industry into believing false notions about nuclear waste.
Laws have been passed, billions of dollars spent, nuclear expansion plans approved, based on the erroneous impression that nuclear scientists know how to “clean up” and “dispose” of nuclear waste. They do not know how to do so, except in a temporary and superficial manner.
Published in Halifax Chronicle Herald (Aug. 7, 2013) – These days, there is no shortage of discussion about energy in Canada, but the conversations and headlines typically focus on controversial projects like pipelines and fracking. Rarely do we talk about success stories that are good for the environment, the economy and energy customers.
Amid debates on energy development, Nova Scotia has quietly emerged as a Canadian leader when it comes to reducing energy waste. As discussions about a national energy strategy continue across Canada, more eyes will turn to Nova Scotia for ways to reduce pollution, cut energy costs and drive economic development.
Nova Scotia climbed to the top quickly as a result of a number of best practices in energy efficiency. Though public consultations and engagement, the province has developed a unique energy efficiency program that works, and works well.
Efficiency Nova Scotia is Canada’s only regulated, non-profit energy efficiency utility that is independent from both government and the power generation utility. That means Efficiency Nova Scotia is entirely dedicated to saving energy, and it has a series of accountability measures to monitor its effectiveness.
Equally important is how Nova Scotia funds energy efficiency programs. It costs money to find and stop wasted energy, but if you didn’t save that energy, you would have to pay Nova Scotia Power to generate it. So it makes sense that ratepayers buying electricity also pay to find the savings. That’s why you see it on your electricity bill in the same way you pay for power from coal, natural gas and other resources. The good news is that on average, energy efficiency costs only three cents per kilowatt hour saved, whereas generating coal or natural gas-fired electricity can cost anywhere from six to 15 cents per kilowatt hour.
Not only is energy efficiency a bargain up front, but it also has long-term and large-scale benefits. In fact, Nova Scotia ratepayers are getting a great return on their investments. In 2012, Efficiency Nova Scotia’s programs reduced electricity consumption by enough to power 16,000 homes annually, saving over $150 million in future electricity costs.
This level of savings is equal to a 1.5 per cent reduction in annual electricity demand, which makes the province the current national leader in energy savings. By comparison, electric energy efficiency programs in B.C. saved approximately 0.8 per cent in 2012, while Ontario and Manitoba both reduced demand by 0.6 per cent.
While Nova Scotia leads the way in Canada, it still has room to improve. Massachusetts — considered the leading jurisdiction in North America — recently adopted a three-year plan that requires electric utilities to reduce demand by 2.5 per cent this year, and increasing to 2.6 per cent in 2015. Rhode Island and Vermont have similar targets. In these states, there is broad support from Republicans and Democrats alike for investing in energy efficiency, because it saves ratepayers money while creating jobs and reducing pollution.
Nova Scotia has developed an innovative and successful model — nowhere else in Canada will you find an independent energy efficiency utility that is accountable directly to ratepayers. Efficiency Nova Scotia ensures that you do not have to spend any more than necessary on expensive electricity generation.
Going forward, organizations and governments across the country will keep looking to Nova Scotia for its expertise and leadership in this area. Nova Scotia should celebrate this success, and also take advantage of opportunities to build on it by investing more in efficiency.
Leslie Malone is the Canada program director at ENE, a non-profit organization that researches and advocates innovative policies that tackle our environmental challenges while promoting sustainable economies. Tim Weis is the director of renewable energy and efficiency policy at the Pembina Institute, a national clean energy think tank.
From the Pandora’s Promise web site: “Impact Partners and CNN Films present PANDORA’S PROMISE, the groundbreaking new film by Academy-Award®-nominated director Robert Stone. The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if we’ve got nuclear power wrong? An audience favorite at the Sundance Film Festival, PANDORA’S PROMISE asks whether the one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world out of poverty. In his controversial new film, Stone tells the intensely personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have undergone a radical conversion from being fiercely anti to strongly pro-nuclear energy, risking their careers and reputations in the process. Stone exposes this controversy within the environmental movement head-on with stories of defection by heavy weights including Stewart Brand, Richard Rhodes, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas and Michael Shellenberger. Undaunted and fearlessly independent, PANDORA’S PROMISE is a landmark work that is forever changing the conversation about the myths and science behind this deeply emotional and polarizing issue.”
“Could going green really be the same as going nuclear? That’s the argument presented in this nuclear energy advocacy documentary from Robert Stone (Earth Days), which suggests the public’s knee-jerk fear of nuclear energy is naive and risks derailing our best hope for preventing an environmental catastrophe.
While the idea is provocative, especially in the aftermath of Japan’s post-tsunami Fukushima disaster in 2011, the movie’s focus is narrow. The five nuclear converts surveyed are journalist-authors who all seem to have reached identical conclusions: There’s Richard Rhodes (“To be anti-nuclear is basically to be in favour of burning fossil fuels”), Gwyneth Cravens, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Mark Lynas (author Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet) and Michael Shellenberger, of the pro-nuclear environmental group Breakthrough Institute. Also interviewed is scientist Dr. Charles Till, co-developer of the Integral Fast Reactor, which purports to be both accident-free and capable of recycling waste material.
The film’s tone is boosterish, and the cursory treatment of the cost of a nuclear-based energy overhaul, or the viability of renewable energy, tends to arouse skepticism rather than allay it. Opposing voices are limited to vintage clips of anti-nuclear protesters and one gotcha confrontation with septuagenarian anti-nuclear crusader Dr. Helen Caldicott, and that supports the impression that Pandora’s Promise is less an exploration of the subject than a well-constructed sales pitch.”
From Beyond Nuclear: “The impetus for this two-page summary document and the full report referenced above, was the release in July 2013 of the pro-nuclear propaganda ﬁlm, Pandora’s Promise. The ﬁlm, like the nuclear industry propaganda in circulation generally, both omits and misrepresents key facts in order to cover up the very real dangers and detriments of nuclear energy. These documents serve to rebut the misleading messaging about dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power.”
The solar industry is growing drastically every year, while fossil fuels continue to be phased out. This is why it’s frustrating to hear people say that renewable energy is not ready to compete with fossil fuels as a means to power our country. Here are five reasons why solar is already winning.
There are more people in the U.S. employed in the solar energy marketplace than mining coal. The banal argument that transitioning to a clean energy economy will cost us jobs is simply false. Solar is growing more than 10 times faster than the American economy.
Solar already employs more than coal, and that gap is widening. In 2012, solar added 14,000 new jobs, up 36 percent from 2010 and the industry will add another 20,000 jobs this year. The fossil fuels industry cut 4,000 jobs last year. So when it comes to employing Americans, solar is winning.
Solar panels have a seen a consistent drop in prices over the last three decades, and in the last few years that drop has been meteoric. In the last 35 years prices have gone from $75/watt to around $.75/watt. Since 2008, the cost of coal has risen 13 percent. In some parts of the market, solar has already reached parity with coal.
I’m sure you’ve heard the argument that solar is economically effective only by relying on government subsidies. Currently this may be true, but if solar prices reach Citigroup’s prediction of $.25/watt by 2020, subsidies may not be needed. And then there’s the glaring fact that oil, gas and coal receive subsidies that dwarf those of renewables ($409 billion vs. $60 billion globally).
And that’s ignoring the extra costs that burning fossil fuels impose on the rest of society, that aren’t paid by fossil fuel companies (called externalities by economists). The Harvard Medical School estimates that burning coal in the U.S. costs $500 billion in environmental and health damage (and then there’s, you know, the whole climate change thing). If those costs were taxed onto coal plants, the price of coal would more than double.
With the cost of solar dropping rapidly, installations are escalating at an exciting rate.
Earlier this year, the U.S. became the fourth country to have 10 gigawatts of solar energy capacity, with installations increasing at a rate of 50 percent annually for the last five years, that rate is expected to increase to 80 percent this year.
Two-thirds of global solar capacity has been installed over the last two years. In contrast, 175 coal fired power plants in the U.S. are expected to be shut down over the next five years (more than 10 percent of total capacity). This reflects the rising costs of coal and the implementation of stricter environmental regulations.
While fossil fuels have been an omnipresent part of investment portfolios for decades, their reign may be coming to an end.
Recently a number of reports have shed light on an impending carbon bubble. Fossil fuel companies are valued in the market based on their reserves of unburned fuel still in the ground. If international regulations are put in place to prevent atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from rising above 450 ppm (the estimated cap to avoid irreversible climate change), much of the listed reserves couldn’t be used.
This means that many fossil fuel companies are overvalued as they potentially have huge unburnable reserves of fuel. British bank HSBC estimates that once stricter climate regulations are put in place, the value of fossil fuel companies may fall drastically. Already, coal companies have dropped in value 75 percent over the last five years.
Firms like Mercer and WHEB are advising investors to move their investments out of coal and oil and into renewables. Major investors are already making this move. Warren Buffett has invested in one of the largest solar farms in the world and has predicted the end of coal as an American power source.
Environmental impact should be pretty clear, but here are some interesting impacts of coal extraction and burning that you may not be aware of: acid mine drainage and coal sludge pollutes rivers and streams
air pollution causes acid rain, smog, respiratory illnesses, cancers and toxins in the environment
coal dust from mining causes respiratory illness
coal fires in abandoned mines put tons of mercury into the atmosphere every year and account for three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions
coal combustion waste is the second largest contributor to landfills after solid waste
mountaintop removal coal mining causes flooding, destruction of entire ecosystems and communities, and the release of greenhouse gases
emissions of 381,740,601 lbs of toxic carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur dioxide, mercury, radioactive materials and particulate matter annually
enormous contributor to global climate change
Jacob Sandry is a fellow at Mosaic, a company connecting investors to high quality solar project.
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
“We’re not here to say that Premier Brad Wall is a bad person,” Idle No More co-founder Sylvia McAdam said at a press conference in the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library.
“We’re here to tell him that the tar sands are not working. They’re hurting people. The water is being devastated. We’re here to tell our leaderships, all leadership, to start looking towards the energy that is clean, that doesn’t harm humanity or the earth.”
Speaking on behalf of the same groups that recently called for Wall’s resignation, Fish Lake Métis Local 108 president Bryan Lee read out a list of 10 questions addressed to the premier.
“As a result of Premier Brad Wall’s comments in a letter to the editor of the P.A. Herald, it is clear that he has no intention of resigning, nor of retracting his earlier public comment, ‘Do you know what the best program for First Nations and Métis people in Saskatchewan is? No program at all, it’s Cameco,’” Lee read.
“We grassroots First Nations and Métis now bring forward several questions for you, Premier Wall.”
The first question asked Wall to cease what native activists consider his “campaign of targeting our people as to what you determine is best for us.”
The second and third, respectively, asked the premier to “stop humanizing Cameco” as a citizen and to instead humanize water, given its necessity for life.
Pointing to moratoriums on uranium production in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Quebec, the statement called on Wall to bring forward a similar policy.
The issue of nuclear waste storage in northern Saskatchewan was another hot-button issue. The fifth question asked the government to stop supporting the mandate of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization to locate a waste repository within the province, and to implement legislation similar to Manitoba’s that would ban nuclear waste storage.
The sixth question noted that medical isotopes can be produced using a cyclotron and asked Wall to end a campaign to develop small nuclear reactors.
The seventh question brought up the government’s duty to consult with indigenous peoples and accused the premier of “interference in fundamental justice” by failing to consult before securing an agreement with Cameco and Areva to expand uranium mining in the province.
“Your public support of Cameco, and the relationship you have publicly declared should happen between Cameco and Saskatchewan First Nations and Métis people, is a clear gross interference with the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on duty to consult and accommodate,” Lee charged.
The last three questions asked Wall to remove all water allocation intended for the recovery of oil and gas, to support compensation for those adversely affected by radioactive contamination, and to promote the development of renewable energy by SaskPower through tax incentives and subsidies to private renewable energy companies in partnership with the province’s indigenous peoples.
While that list of questions was the main focus of Friday’s press conference, speakers also went into detail about why dependence on Cameco, in the words of Saskatoon renewable energy consultant Mark Bigland-Pritchard, would be “bad health policy, bad social policy, bad economic policy, bad foreign policy, bad environmental policy, bad energy policy and is unconstitutional.”
In response to government claims that development by Cameco would create jobs, English River First Nation resident Candyce Paul — one of the founding members of the Committee for Future Generations — offered a long list of social ills affecting communities living near mining operations.
“For the most part, northerners live in substandard housing,” Paul said. “The money that is being made by employees in Cameco is not being used to improve their home situations, their houses and upgrade their homes.
“Aboriginal workers note they don’t receive proper training, even in the apprenticeship programs, and they come into the employment at entry level and low-paying jobs.
Paul pointed to the problem of underfunded schools and the paucity of adult education programs.
She also criticized the influence of Cameco in changing school curriculums to gear students towards employment in the mining industry.
One example was the appointment of Cameco vice-president for corporate social responsibility Gary Merasty as head of a task force on improving First Nations and Métis education.
Mining developments, Paul argued, had caused or exacerbated a variety of other social problems.
“Alcohol and drug addiction problems are on the increase,” she said. “Prior to the mines opening, there was no such thing as drugs in our communities. It wasn’t there until the mining culture introduced it.
“There’s a lack of self and community development program for First Nations and Métis. We suffer a lot of family dysfunctions, which take parents away from their children for weeks at a time, and when they come home it’s party time …
“Because we’re starting on our second generation of workers in the mines … (children) are starting to see their grandparents dying of cancers, and they’re begging their parents not to go work in the mines.”
Another point touched on during the press conference was the shipping of uranium to other countries for the development of nuclear warheads.
Following this lengthy criticism of government policies, Bigland-Pritchard — current director of Low Energy Design Ltd. and a former Green Party of Saskatchewan candidate — tackled the issue of how the province might transition to more sustainable forms of energy.
Describing four sources for clean energy — the sun, wind, plant material and water — Bigland-Pritchard argued that Saskatchewan was particularly well-suited to the latter two.
The abundance of trees in the province, he suggested, could be harvested sustainably under local ownership to generate energy.
Hydroelectric power was the other option, though here Bigland-Pritchard again emphasized smaller-scale operations that would not affect the local environment and could be controlled locally.
“Those are the two options for the north,” he said. “Those would supplement wind power, for which there is some potential in the north, and solar power, for which there is growing potential throughout the province.
“The price is already coming down. They’re not down quite low enough yet, but they will be very soon.”
Bigland-Pritchard cited other countries and regions that have been pushing hard for increased use of wind power, including numerous parts of the United States.
Germany, he noted, has a land area half the size of Saskatchewan and 80 times the population, yet has set itself the goal of 80 per cent renewable energy dependence by 2050.
Bigland-Pritchard argued that the transition to greener forms of energy would create plenty of jobs for northern communities.
“The mining industry provides relatively few jobs,” he said. “They can be quite well-paid, but it’s relatively few jobs. There’s no way that the mining industry is going to be able to provide jobs for the whole of northern Saskatchewan.”
“Now, it may be that nobody’s going to make enormous piles of money,” he added. “But there will be enough for everyone, and … the point of economic development is that there should be enough for everyone, not that a few people get rich and everybody else starves.”
Finally, Bigland-Pritchard noted that any economic benefits the mines might provide to local communities would be relatively short-term.
“The mines will run out of ore within 30 or 40 years, and then what do you do?” he asked.
“There’ll be some jobs in cleanup, and some of those will be dirty jobs and some of those will be highly technical jobs. But is that the way that you want to create economic development — cleaning up radioactive mess?
“So let’s go the clean way. Let’s actually respect the world that we live in. Let’s respect each other, and let’s respect our future generations.”
Link to original article: http://www.paherald.sk.ca/News/2013-04-12/article-3219443/Activists-challenge-Brad-Wall-on-energy%2C-environment/1
New North – Saskatchewan Association of Northern Communities said in its newsletter this week that northerners should question Wall’s comments and whether the provincial government is really working to build on economic opportunities other than mining. While Cameco does bring thousands of jobs to the north, the company can only do so much.
“Governments are asked to provide the backbone for healthier and safer communities,” the organization said in its newsletter.
“Mr. Wall would probably argue that revenue from Cameco ensures that governments have the capacity to do all those things (but) northern residents are entitled to the same quality of life and the same level of respect as people in the rest of the province.”
The piece was written in response to Premier Brad Wall’s remarks at an event in Prince Albert last month that Cameco is one of the best programs for First Nations and Metis people in the north.
“It’s a job in the north. It’s a chance to engage in the prosperity that we see in Saskatchewan. We will say ‘yes’ to that opportunity,” Wall was quoted as saying at the dinner event.
New North CEO Al Loke said Thursday that Cameco has contributed much to the northern economy, including job training and education. But he said government has to be involved to have a successful northern economy, including more roads and infrastructure.
“Up here, we’re still 10 years behind some places in the south,” Loke said.
“We want them (provincial government) to recognize that the north is still part of the province … you can’t expect a private company to look after the north.”
In a letter written last week, Wall said he was surprised by the controversy but that he stands by his comments. Given that First Nations and Metis people make up more than 40 per cent of its workforce, Wall said Cameco has been better than government programs at providing training and helping to reduce the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal employment.
The provincial government is moving away from paying for government programs with few tangible results, Wall wrote.
“If those who are misinterpreting my remarks as anything but a results-based comparison between government programs and real private sector jobs want us to return to the failed practices of the past, then they will not like the approach of our government,” Wall said.
“Our government believes that a strong economy and good-paying employment opportunities are the most desirable outcomes for everyone in Saskatchewan, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal … we are going to continue with our growth plan whose aim it is to replace government programs with high quality jobs every chance we get.”
Nevertheless, Wall’s comments angered many, prompting calls for his resignation. A loosely-organized group led by spokesman Bryan Lee, who is president of the Fish Lake Metis Nation Local 108, hosted a second press conference Friday in Prince Albert to voice their concerns.
In an interview, Lee said Wall should not be commenting on the needs of First Nations and Metis people in Saskatchewan’s north.
“It’s just a preposterous statement and it’s offensive,” Lee said.
“I don’t think it’s the responsibility at all of government to provide some sort of answer … The First Nations and Metis are very capable of handling their own affairs.”
The group planned to present a list of questions for the premier on Friday, focusing on Wall’s comment regarding Cameco and the provincial government’s use of natural resources, as well as the use of renewable energy.
Lee said it’s unlikely Wall will resign over the controversy, but said the group is hoping for some response to the questions.
“It more or less did get his attention and that was our objective,” Lee said.