Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
But! What will we do without the energy? And where will the energy to shut them down come from?

Well, it is like this: We will never have more energy than we have right now. If we fail to shut these plants, the most habitable regions of North America, Europe, and Asia will become--this century--nuclear exclusion zones.

That's the real risk I see. Not that we'll have heavy quakes and tsunamis in Europe but the long-term risk of societies having to handle very complex technologies for a very long time.

Barring natural catastrophes or intentional aviation accidents (the Terror-Terror scenario) nukes seem manageable on these shores from an operational safety perspective (Japan faces a starker dilemma). Because of the very probable energy descent scenario I'm of two minds about nuclear. On the one hand we'll probably need everything we can get to have a tolerable energy decline and transition. But on the other hand that decline gives me pause about how for instance the nuclear fuel cycle will be managed under possibly very unstable circumstances. Spent fuel needs decades to cool off before it can be buried (where?). The house still needs to be standing to make the complex technologies work. Who is to say that by the end of the century we will have the technical, economic or political capacity to deal with nuclear? And this will play itself out over the course of at least a century.

Since this is going to be a long-term affair one can speculate about the right cutoff point for a phaseout. Is the German way of skipping nuke town within ten years realistic - regarding either security/safety or energy access? When will there be a place for final storage? How much do the years gained by shutting down now make a difference? What happens when the assumptions about fossil fuels filling the temporary gap have the rug pulled out from under them by sudden FF depletion starting with oil.

I think that Merkel's double-180 turn is stupid insofar that she again (after pushing a nuclear extension) failed to achieve a consensus or at least a discussion about the tough questions. Instead, she outsourced that discussion in her usual teflon manner ("I'm not involved in politics!") to some 'ethics committee'. Which is why the fight is not over: on the one side there is talk of blackouts, price spikes, etc. and on the other side the anti-nuke movement is suspicious of another 180.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat Jun 11th, 2011 at 11:31:26 AM EST
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