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Just Say No To Nuclear Power

12:11 pm in Government, Media by dakine01

Think different

Think different by Jan Michael Ihl, on Flickr

For me, this is pretty much a “no-brainer” type of statement. While there may have been a period of time when I was in Elementary, Junior High, or High School where I reflexively supported the nuclear industry because “We’re America and we can do everything,” once I actually started thinking seriously about the topic of nuclear power, it became glaringly obvious to me that it is unsupportable.

I am not a scientist but as I’ve watched and read as thing have unfolded in Japan, it has been reinforced once again that the scientists are often just as clueless as the rest of us. For every scientist who resigns over design flaws, I would wager there are one hundred who just see it as business as usual (and no, I don’t have anything to back that statement up other than a gut feeling – so we’ll call it a WAG.) Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. Fukushima. These are just the best known few of the nuclear disasters that we are aware of.

Yet here we sit, two weeks after the massive earthquake in Japan that caused the current problems and for every Germany moving away from Nuclear power there’s a China or France still supporting the industry.

Here in the United States, the nuclear industry is protected by the US government which is obligated by law to pay the costs of a disaster. From CNN today (Friday, March 25):

Under current law, the utilities that operate nuclear power plants are responsible for a fund that pays the first $12.6 billion in damages and lawsuits resulting from any incident.

…snip…

A 1982 study from Sandia National Laboratories, commissioned for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the consequences of a nuclear meltdown would be catastrophic. The disaster could cause 50,000 fatalities and $314 billion in property damage.

In today’s money, that’s $720 billion.

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Natural Disasters From Everywhere

9:26 am in Uncategorized by dakine01

Like a whole lot of the world, I woke up this morning to the news of the magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck Japan and the subsequent Pacific wide tsunami.

TOKYO — An 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on Friday, the strongest ever recorded in the country and one of the largest anywhere in the last century. The quake churned up a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland in the northern part of the country and set off warnings as far away as the West Coast of the United States and South America.

Japanese police officials said that more than 200 bodies were found in Sendai, a port city in the northeastern part of the country and the closest major city to the epicenter, and the government put the official death toll at more than 300. But with many people still missing there and elsewhere, the death toll is expected to rise.

The Weather Channel has done a marvelous job of reporting the intricacies of the tsunami as it spread across the ocean and hit Hawai’i and then California. Of course, the folks at Firedoglake had coverage up nearly as soon as it was first reported.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost loved ones in this disaster. But I’d like to point out a few things to some folks who are probably not making connections to how things are inter-related around the world. First off, is this article from the NY Times web site titled:

Japan’s Strict Building Codes Saved Lives

From the article:

From seawalls that line stretches of Japan’s coastline, to skyscrapers that sway to absorb earthquakes, to building codes that are among the world’s most rigorous, no country may be better prepared to withstand earthquakes than Japan.

Had any other populous country suffered the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, tens of thousands of people might already be counted among the dead. So far, Japan’s death toll is in the hundreds, although it is certain to rise somewhat.
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It’s Not Just Jobs that Are Needed

12:56 pm in Economy, Financial Crisis, Jobs, Unemployment by dakine01

While I write mostly about the need for jobs and long term un and underemployment, there are always a number of related issues bubbling just below the surface for me. The past couple of days, I’ve seen a few articles that are seemingly unrelated but are probably more closely related than most folks realize.

The first article was from today’s (Friday 1/28/11) NY Times on Standard & Poors downgrading Japan’s Long Term Sovereign debt.

S.& P. lowered its sovereign credit rating for Japan to AA- from AA. That is three levels below the highest possible rating, and S.& P.’s first downgrade of Japanese government debt since 2002. With the lower grade, Japan’s debt rating is now on par with China’s, which last year overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, after the United States.

S.& P.’s move came just weeks after both it and its rival ratings agency, Moody’s, cautioned that they might take a more negative stance on the United States. It highlighted just how deeply indebted many of the world’s developed economies remain — despite concerted efforts on the parts of governments to improve their balance sheets.

Yesterday was this from Reuters on Moody’s considering downgrading the ratings for states:

(Reuters) – Some U.S. states face so much pressure to fund pensions for public employees that it could hurt their credit ratings, Moody’s Investors Service said on Thursday.

As concerns grow over the financial health of many states after the 2007-2009 recession and how they will cut spending to cope, the ratings agency combined pension and debt data to rank the liabilities of each state.

In the past, Moody’s evaluated credit risks from pensions and debt levels separately. Lower credit ratings could raise the costs to states of borrowing money.

Interesting isn’t it how suddenly Moody’s has to change how they figure things for rating the states and combine debt AND pension liabilities all of a sudden. One might think they have an ulterior motive in doing so.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →