White daisies stand in crowds along the damp ditch awaiting the dusty wind of your car to make them sway to the radio. by Juan Wilson - Summer Growth 1999 (http://www.islandbreath.org/TheGobbler/Articles%20Published/Seasonal%20SZ/03%20Growth/sz_03growth.html)Familiar but different, a new season turns the corner. Here comes summer. I am away from my home Kauai, Hawaii, and back in the land I came from, Chautauqua, New York. I've lived in other places, however this is the place in western New York is where I learned the feel of the land. To the Iroquois Nation this place was the Western Gate of their civilization. Since then it has had many masters, including Swedish dairymen and then Amish plowmen. Ever since the last Great Depression, regardless of their efforts to tame the forests, there has been a slow return of the wild. When I was a boy here in the 1950's there were a few shade trees around the house but beyond were buzzing fields of alfalfa, chewed pastures and low orchards. From the top of our hill you could see south across five ridges into Pennsylvania. Today you can see across the drive to a wall of woods made up of maple, beach, and thorn apples. The bears, bobcats, turkeys, and wolves are moving south from Canada to reclaim what they can. Those people that have stayed mostly live in what were farmhouses and have to drive far for work, food or fun. That is not to say that Nature is safe in these parts. The greatest threat by human activity in Chautauqua is likely to be a rush for the natural gas and oil that couldn't be reached when oil was first discovered in this "Quaker State" area in the 19th century. The car, the plane and imperial America would not have existed otherwise. Today energy company geologists are eager to tap what's under the old Quaker State oil - the great Marcellus Shale deposit. Deep and hard to get is a huge quantity of natural gas and oil. To get it economically means using the technique of "fracking" to get at it. Fracking means injecting millions of gallons of chemically poison fresh water, under great pressure, deep under the earth. The process breaks up bedrock that is saturated with methane, freeing it. The process also poisons the water table and requires the processing of lakes of contaminated waste water. After going for the natural gas they'll go for the shale oil recovery. So long nature. On Kauai we have the problem of "FERC You!" Here in Chautauqua it's "Frack You!". Fracking in Chautauqua is the step-sister to Appalachian mountaintop removal for coal in Virginia; and the cousin to shale oil removal from the Green River Basin in Wyoming. It's ugly, destructive, and short-sided. Anything for a fix! All is not lost. We have a short reprieve. Just two weeks ago the New York State Assembly passed a one year extension of a moratorium on permits for fracking gas - this in order to have time to resolve how to extract CO2 producing fuels without destroying the drinking water. A year delay may be enough make the issue moot if this summer ends as some are predicting - in doomsday. It could be economic or cosmic depending on who you listen to. Those betting on economic are looking to the Greek sovereign debt crisis getting out of control and infecting the world with another financial crisis to top that of 2008. On the cosmic scale, just a short time after the Autumn Equinox we are scheduled to have a near flyby of the comet Eleinin (named after it's Russian discoverer and scientifically labelled C/2010 X1). The less scientifically oriented have been calling it Planet X, Nibiru and other things. Elenin is the focus of several theories that include everything from a natural cosmic apocalypse to a planned alien invasion. Whether Elenin turns out to be a bang or a bust, it should grab increasing headlines as the summer wears on. Rather than planning on surviving an early entrance of the end of days we should be getting our houses in order. We are going to have to live on this planet without turning her inside out for a case of Mountain Dew. Should be an interesting summer. .
I'm sure your gag reflexes are in full effect right now and they should be. This is a weird one. A Japanese researcher has come up with an artificial meat that's made from human feces. According to Inhabitat, Japanese scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda has come up with a burger made from soya, steak sauce essence, and protein extracted from human feces.
Researcher Ikeda is using sewage mud or human feces as one of the main ingredients in his artificial meat. According to Inhabitat,
"The lipids are then combined with a reaction enhancer, then whipped into 'meat' in an exploder. Ikeda then makes the poop more savory, by adding soya and steak sauce."Video above:Solution to the Global Food Crisis - Let them eat Turd Burgers!? From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1N6QfuIh0g).
SUBHEAD: The central intellectual challenge of our age - We live in complex systems, but we do not understand them.
By Curt Kobb on 19 June 2011 for Resource Insights -
Image above: Detail of poster for movie "Knowing". From (http://sgenergycrisis.com/blog/all/space-scientists-warn-of-possible-disaster-in-three-years-time-2012-solar-storm).
In late August 1859 the most severe solar storm ever witnessed began and lasted through the first few days of September. It produced vivid auroras in the night sky as far south as Cuba and was so bright campers in the Rocky Mountains got up in the middle of the night thinking daylight had arrived. During the storm telegraph operators felt as if some alien force had overtaken their equipment. Even disconnecting power to the wires failed to quiet their telegraphs.
In some places the paper strip used to record the dots and dashes of Morse code caught fire because of the electrical surges coursing through the telegraph lines. Today, the world we live in might be thought of as one big telegraph system composed of computer chips, telephone lines, fiber optics, cellphone towers, satellites, undersea cables and an electrical grid that supplies energy to the terrestrial parts of that system.
An event as severe as the 1859 solar storm--called the Carrington Event after the respected British astronomer Richard Carrington who detected it as it developed--could cripple vast areas of the world, shutting down entire national grids not just for days, but possibly for months or years. The simple fact is that most electrical systems and equipment including computers are not shielded to protect against such an event.
One critical link, electrical transformers, would quickly be knocked out and would have to be replaced. Since few spare transformers are available, and it can take 12 months to build one, the world might have to wait years to fully recover--and that's assuming it would still be possible to produce new transformers which, after all, take electricity to manufacture. There is also the problem of what state modern civilization might be in if it faced months or years without electricity.
Critical systems that pump and purify water and treat sewage, for example, would no longer function. A fictional version of what all this might look like in our communities comes to us in a book by William Forstchen entitled One Second After. (For a brief nonfiction version of such an event, see this 2009 piece from New Scientist.)
One Second After is set in the not-so-fictional town of Black Mountain, North Carolina where the author not-so-coincidently lives. It turns out to be a good choice of settings since Forstchen can give us an intimate portrait of a town and region he knows well while treating us to detailed but unobtrusive illustrations coming from his meticulous research into the effects of a total and prolonged blackout.
To be clear, the cause of the blackout in the novel is the explosion of a nuclear weapon high above the Earth's surface over the continental United States, an explosion designed specifically to produce a crippling electromagnetic pulse (EMP). The effects of an EMP are in most ways similar to those that would result from another Carrington Event, and so the novel gives us a portrait of how such a disaster caused by either might unfold. Perhaps the first thing a sensitive urbanite residing in the northern part of the United States will notice about One Second After is the number of guns produced by the novel's characters.
But having lived in both the northern and southern parts of the United States, I can assure you that this would hardly raise an eyebrow south of the Mason-Dixon line where armory and home are very often one and the same. What is clear in the aftermath of the blackout is that order has broken down. Guns offer some protection and ultimately provide the force behind the small group of town leaders trying to guide Black Mountain through the worst disaster it will ever experience. The leaders succeed to a certain extent, but at a terrible cost as they are forced to put the mere survival of the community above all other values.
The story line of One Second After will probably not surprise you. The book is in the tradition of Alas Babylon, and as a reader, you will know right away where things in general are headed. So, the real questions are these: How will the main characters hold up under the strain? Will they retain their humanity? What kind of life will they be able to build for themselves? The surprises in the novel for me were technological.
As I followed the main character, John Matherson, through his traumatized community, I gradually discovered more and more things (beyond the obvious) that had been affected--things that I would never have imagined to be vulnerable or that I would never have even thought about. I will give you one example: commercial airliners. Surely, these would keep on flying since they run on liquid fuels, not electricity. Alas, the complex electronics in modern airliners freeze up after an EMP strike. And, that means that the thousands of them in the sky at the time would plummet to the ground or into the sea. There are no mechanical joysticks in such aircraft; everything is controlled by computers and electronics.
As the story continues, the list of vulnerable gadgets and systems just keeps growing, and it is an awesome and disturbing one. With all that is known about the potential for such a catastrophe, either through attack or through the normal, observable processes of the Sun, you would think that governments everywhere would be feverishly taking steps to harden critical systems. You would be wrong.
Even in America where we have casually spent trillions of dollars on fruitless foreign wars in the last decade, the Congress cannot see its way to have the country embark on a program that might cost a couple hundred billion to guard against the known dangers of the Sun or even the unpredictable action of unfriendly nations (think: North Korea) that might use EMP to maximize the effect of their meager nuclear arsenals. In fact, the writer of the afterword to One Second After tells us:
"A well-designed nuclear weapon detonated at a high altitude over Kansas could have damaging effects over virtually all of the continental United States."My own view is that such an attack is an extremely remote possibility since it must still come from a nation-state and would easily be detected. This would ensure that the perpetrating country would be nothing but a cinder by the next day.
Rather, I think the greater danger is the Sun, a body which is totally indifferent to notions of deterrence, but whose fury could be addressed through the hardening of our many vulnerable systems. I do not think, however, that hardening the world's grid and electronic devices ought to be our top priority. We have the pressing problems of climate change, peak oil, soil depletion, water depletion, deforestation and myriad other critical problems to keep us busy.
But, I find the topic of solar storms and EMP interesting because these phenomena offer a window into the tightly networked complex systems which bind the globe, the failure of which could quickly plunge humanity into another dark age starting with a horrifying dieoff of a large part of the population. Tales of the grid breaking down in such a thoroughgoing way seem to be the one illustration of the vulnerability of our complex global systems that policymakers can at least understand. Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill that would have begun to address the U.S. grid's weaknesses. But, the Senate failed to act. The House was in part reacting to a 2008 National Academy of Sciences report.
The House bill has been reintroduced, but prospects for its passage are uncertain. The entire issue serves to illustrate what I believe to be the central intellectual challenge of our age: We live in complex systems, but we do not understand them. Just admitting this might help us find our way forward on so many problems that now plague us.
Ea O Ka Aina: Solar Calm Approaches? 6/14/11 .
SUBHEAD: KIUC is not an investor-owned utility. As a co-op, we, the rate-paying members, are the owners. Educate yourself and vote responsibly! Deadline July 8th 2011.
By TGI Editor on 18 June 2011 for the Garden Island -
Image above: Re-enactment of "smoke filled room" in Chicago where political fate was determined. From (http://thepublici.blogspot.com/2011/06/smoke-and-mirrors.html).
Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative has misrepresented the facts in its ongoing effort to sway the outcome of a vote on the Board of Directors’ May 9 decision approving a Development Services Agreement and an LLC Assignment Agreement that KIUC staff negotiated with Free Flow Power Corporation.
Despite the onslaught of radio spots, ads and propaganda online, members are not deciding the future of renewable energy for the island.
KIUC’s website incredulously states that a “yes” vote means, in part, “You believe KIUC should continue its careful, inclusive process of exploring new hydropower for Kaua‘i” and “You believe that after 80 years of failed attempts, your utility should not delay further in creating a responsible hydropower legacy for your children and grandchildren.”
In reality, a “yes” vote just means that the board’s action should stand, i.e. KIUC should proceed with Free Flow Power using the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission process. Nothing more, nothing less.
On the flip side, KIUC’s literature states that a “no” vote means, in part, “A likely end to member-owned hydro development on Kaua‘i” and $325,000 in contractual obligations will be due to FFP.
A “no” vote just cancels the arrangement as it exists today with FFP. It does not mean that KIUC can’t restructure its relationship with FFP and approach hydropower under a non-FERC process. A “yes” or “no” vote has no bearing on your belief about hydropower in general, as unfortunately implied by KIUC.
This petition-driven ballot question stems from members’ concerns about the co-op choosing to follow the FERC process in developing hydropower on Kaua‘i with FFP.
We’re still learning what the FERC process would really mean for Kaua‘i, and as such, we reserve making any judgment on it at this point.
But what we are sure about at this moment is KIUC’s poor decision to launch such a one-sided campaign instead of embracing a more democratic approach. We would have preferred, and expected, to see our co-op fairly and accurately present arguments for each side of this vote and let members decide for themselves.
We also would have accepted an honest letter from the CEO or the board, stating its position.
But what’s not OK is the full-court press we’ve seen to compel members to vote a certain way.
An unscientific survey reveals that most Kauaians, irrespective of their stance on FFP/FERC, support a responsible hydropower legacy for their children and grandchildren. They also are inclined to believe in a co-op operating as a democracy and being open and transparent with its owners before legally binding them to hundreds of thousands of dollars in contractual obligations.
KIUC is not an investor-owned utility. As a co-op, we, the rate-paying members, are the owners. As such, the dissenting concerns deserve a voice too, which should have been included in the Voters Guide instead of the obviously bias “con” position penned by KIUC.
Ballots are currently being disseminated to residents; July 8 is the deadline.
We urge members to wade through the propaganda, do their homework and cast a vote as an informed community member.
Ea O Ka Aina: Say No! to KIUC/FFP Deal 6/13/11
Events — and the large numbers of plants — expose the industry to the law of averages. Despite the so-called ‘safety culture’ spin that has been promulgated in the United States and the West, nuclear plants appear to be no safer over the long term than other kinds of similarly scaled industrial ventures such as air travel or ocean liner cruising. The difference is the level of ‘process cost’ the nuke industry accepts to avoid the ‘nuisance deaths’ that accompany the better- rationalized coal electric generation- and auto industries.
A reactor will have more control rods — or redundant cooling pumps or a greater amount of concrete in the building or more pages/procedures in its operating manual — than a conventional thermal plant has equivalent safety or pollution control features. Both kinds of plants perform the same operation(s) more- or less the same way: the coal plant owns the adjacent fly- ash dump which is a leaky plastic lined pit.
The nuke is next door to its spent fuel dump – a leaky, water filled pit lined with concrete. The coal plant continuously vents its waste onto its neighbors by way of a smoke stack. The nuke saves is wastes and vomits them onto its neighbors intermittently. Very similar (highly toxic) wastes mean quite similar outcomes. The difference is the nuke industry successfully pushes its nuisance deaths into the future, the large numbers of (older, badly sited) plants means the future is now!
The Fukushima Daiichi debacle is nowhere near the happy conclusion that TEPCO endlessly promotes. It is likely to become much worse. TEPCO’s Fabulous Filtering System intended to pull radioactive particles out of the water collecting under the facility works too well, leaving the system buzzing with dangerously radioactive sludge. TEPCO is surprised: this is the same water radioactive enough to burn workers feet. It flows over and around ruined reactor cores, carrying whatever radioactive particles (waste) the cores emit. What is TEPCO (not) thinking?
Every day means more water pumped into reactors, more water carrying more radioactive materials outside the reactor containments with more isotopes accumulating in basements, ditches and in the aquifer under the plant. Soon enough, intensely radioactive water will overflow the basements into the ocean.
Several reactors in the US are threatened by flood waters resulting from abnormal snow pack in the Rocky Mountains along with heavy rains in the Upper Midwest. The Ft. Calhoun reactor in Nebraska is an island: it was shutdown before the flood and its core(s) are in spent fuel storage. Cooper Station is a GE boiling water reactor identical to those under siege @ Fukushima. It is also threatened by flooding, which effected the plant in 1993. There are spent fuel lagoons at ground level at the sites which are not mentioned in media reports. There are more reactors in Louisiana and Mississippi whose operators are carefully watching the water.
Flooding here, drought there: operators of France’s 44 river- side reactors are vulnerable to decreased flows due to a severe drought that has a grip on the entire north of Europe. Low water in French rivers has in the past led to shutdowns. If flows decrease sufficiently France will have real problems. Reactors need water even when shut down.
Meanwhile, here is the (stupid) drama taking place right now at the benighted Monju Fast Breeder Reactor:
Japan Strains to Fix a Reactor Damaged Before Quake
HIROKO TABUCHI (New York Times)
TSURUGA, Japan — Three hundred miles southwest of Fukushima, at a nuclear reactor perched on the slopes of this rustic peninsula, engineers are engaged in another precarious struggle.
Monju is 60 miles from Kyoto, a city of 1.5 million people.
The Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor — a long-troubled national project — has been in a precarious state of shutdown since a 3.3-ton device crashed into the reactor’s inner vessel, cutting off access to the plutonium and uranium fuel rods at its core.
Engineers have tried repeatedly since the accident last August to recover the device, which appears to have gotten stuck. They will make another attempt as early as next week.
But critics warn that the recovery process is fraught with dangers because the plant uses large quantities of liquid sodium, a highly flammable substance, to cool the nuclear fuel.
The Monju reactor, which forms the cornerstone of a national project by resource-poor Japan to reuse and eventually produce nuclear fuel, shows the tensions between the scale of Japan’s nuclear ambitions and the risks.
The plant, a $12 billion project, has a history of safety lapses. It was shuttered for 14 years after a devastating fire in 1995, one of Japan’s most serious nuclear accidents before this year’s crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Prefecture and city officials found that the operator had tampered with video images of the fire to hide the scale of the disaster. A top manager at the plant recently committed suicide, on the day that Japan’s atomic energy agency announced that efforts to recover the device would cost almost $21.9 million. And, like several other reactors, Monju lies on an active fault.
The Monju plant is designed to ‘breed’ plutonium- reactor fuel by bombarding ordinary uranium 238 (depleted uranium) with fast neutrons from a core of medium- enriched uranium- 235 or plutonium. The heavy uranium absorbes a neutron or two and becomes plutonium- 239 or 240. This bombarded uranium can be sent to a facility where plutonium is separated and processed into MOX fuel. So far, breeder reactors have been used to create plutonium fuel for nuclear weapons: commercial use has been problematic. Handling the plutonium in the liquid sodium- cooled/moderated breeder reactor is difficult requiring complex automated machinery.
1. Report submitted by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency
On August 26, 2010, the in-vessel transfer machine (*) fell in the reactor vessel at the prototype fast breeder reactor Monju. On November 9, 2010, as a result of the remote visual inspection of the inside of the in-vessel transfer machine, it was found that the gap at the top of the inner guide tube, which is normally 5-7mm in size, was actually 14.5mm.
It was therefore concluded that the in-vessel transfer machine was deformed, was no longer able to handle nuclear fuel, and could not be removed from the reactor vessel using conventional methods.
(*) In-vessel transfer machine One of components that comprise the refueling machine to transfer the reactor core elements between the reactor core and the fuel handling system during a refueling operation.
2. Effects of this event on plant safety It was confirmed that this event did not affect plant safety when the in-vessel transfer machine fell on August 26, 2010 and the current status remains unchanged.
3. Actions of NISA
The report was received by NISA in accordance with article 43-14 of “the rule for the installation, operation, etc. of nuclear power reactors in the research and development stage.”
Because this event occurred on August 26, 2010, NISA instructed JAEA to report the causes of this event and countermeasures against possible recurrences on August 27, 2010.
In addition, local nuclear safety inspectors observed the visual inspection which was carried out on November 9, 2010 and confirmed the current status of the facilities.
In future, NISA will continue to rigorously check the investigation into the cause of and corresponding countermeasures against possible recurrence of the event, as carried out by JAEA.
(Reference) Chronology of the Event Date Event
- August 26, 2010 During the removal operation of the in-vessel transfer machine from the reactor vessel, in the machine fell inside of the reactor vessel.
- August 27, 2010 NISA instructed JAEA to report the details of the delayed report, causes of this event and countermeasures against possible recurrence.
- October 1, 2010 JAEA submitted the interim report to NISA.
- October 13, 2010 During the removal operation of the in-vessel transfer machine from the reactor vessel, when the load was lifted to approximately 2 meters, an overload was detected, and the removal operation was stopped.
It is possible the in- vessel transport was damaged before it was loaded into the reactor last summer, but the damage was not noticed.
Outside of the usual proliferation/plutonium/spent fuel/radiation issues the great problem with breeders is the coolant. Because it is opaque sodium, the in- vessel refueling machine cannot be seen, only ‘implied’. The liquid metal is an unforgiving material to work with. It is highly reactive, instantly forming oxides, burning in the presence of air, exploding when it comes into contact with water. Sodium melts @ 97.8 degrees Celsius. It must be isolated at all times within corrosion- resistant vessels or under an inert- gas atmosphere. The equipment used to service the Monju is remote- controlled within a pressurized argon environment. This makes maintenance difficult.
Sodium or some other combination of metals with a low melting point is used as a moderator in breeders because it is more ‘transparent’ to neutrons. That is, it does not slow the neutrons emitted from the U- 235 or plutonium fuel. A dense flux of high- energy ‘fast’ neutrons is necessary to efficiently convert U- 238 to plutonium. Both the fuel and the ‘target’ or blanket assemblies must also be placed physically close together, this requires greater heat- transfer capacity than what ordinary water provides.
The cause of the 1995 fire was the sodium- flow induced fatigue failure of a $50 part, a thermo-well sensor housing installed in a sodium cooling line.
Three tons of liquid sodium sprayed for over an hour through a hole the size of a dime and accumulated within a room next to the reactor core. Heat from the reaction and fire melted steel. Nobody bothered to shut off the air conditioning in the space which fed oxygen into the fire. The leak was in the secondary liquid sodium circuit so no radioactive materials entered the environment but the vulnerabilities of this plant — conceived as an ‘nth- generation’ breeder plant were exposed.
The official reaction to the leak and fire was identical to the response to the ongoing calamity at Fukushima. The operator delayed releasing information about the extent of the leak and the resulting damage, instructing employees of the plant to lie to investigators.
Sodium leaks have plagued the ex-Soviet Beyolarsk fast breeder reactor. Sodium leaks and fires have been a feature of fast reactors worldwide. The combination of sodium reactivity and the stress of neutron bombardment is ‘a bridge too far’ for reactor hardware, high- strength alloys, gasket material and lubricants.
After six month’s exposure to fast neutron flux the various reactor transport machines are engaged to swap the U- 238 blanket assembles and fuel cores for ‘fresh’ replacements. The assemblies — containing 5% plutonium — are ready to be shipped to a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility so as to be refined and milled into new MOX fuel. The Monju reactor is designed to produce 17kg of plutonium every six months. Because the plutonium can be refined to any level of enrichment, the entire process is designed to be audited/monitored by international observers including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The necessary fuel processing to chemically separate the plutonium from the uranium would be done at the Rokkasho Reprocessing facility. This plant is non- functional despite the staggering multi-year, multi- billion dollar investment on the part of its operator, Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited. Because of MOX/plutonium fuel hazards, completion of this plant wobbles between unlikely and uncertain. Without processing capability, the Monju plant and its output of plutonium/MOX fuel is superfluous.
Meanwhile, there are currently approximately 3,000 tons of spent fuel stored at Rokkasho. The left hand does not know or care what the right hand is doing.
Should a a fantasy world materialize out of the ruins of Fukushima where both plants are operational, large quantities of toxic plutonium fuel would be transported by sea or overland between distant parts of Japan. It’s a strange culture where putatively inexpensive baseload electricity is of greater value to ‘consumers’ than peace of mind and good health......The Three Stooges run a reactor: you cannot make this stuff up!...
...The breeding process is energy intensive: waste heat is directed by way of heat exchangers and a turbine set to a condenser. There are two sodium loops in series and a steam- generator where hot sodium boils water for the turbine. The electrical output is approximately 280 mw. The thermal output of the reactor is 840 mw.
A fundamental problem with this and other breeders is that the core is too small relative to its high thermal power output and neutron flux. To remove the excess heat, fast neutron reactors depend on complex and fragile heat exchangers that are vulnerable to corrosion, flow- induced fatigue and embrittlement. The secondary heat exchanger or evaporator brings sodium and water together so as to generate steam for the turbine. The reactor is designed to operate under high water pressure. The high sodium primary temperatures thermally stress reactor components which requires elaborate engineering.
Meanwhile, the reactors under certain conditions can ‘run away’ or become ‘prompt critical’. There is little integral safety margin with this reactor such as a negative void coefficient or thermal negative feedback loops. Reactivity depends almost entirely on control rod insertion. Operators have not said — and may not know — whether control rods have been effected by the fuel transfer machine ‘problem’...
...Removing the coolant to have at the transfer machine is impossible with fuel in the reactor core. The reactor cannot be shut down because of decay heat. The fuel cannot be removed and put into fuel storage with the transfer machine in the way. This is all of a piece with the ‘You can’t get there from here’ Fukushima Follies where nothing can be done because nothing can be done.
The Monju plan is to partially dismantle the reactor lid on the ‘hot’ reactor so that the fallen machine has a larger opening through which it can be retracted. Consequently, Monju will not have an effective containment.
“The device will definitely come out this time,” said Toshikazu Takeda, director at the University of Fukui Research Institute of Nuclear Engineering, and head of a government panel that approved the latest repair plans. He said that engineers had recreated removal procedures at a lab and perfected their handling of the crane that will lift the device from the reactor vessel.
Right … ! Either that, or the reactor will blow up and contaminate 100,000 people with plutonium. Worst- case scenario is an ‘accident’ requiring the abandonment of Kyoto along with a large part of south western Japan.
The reactor business has a long way to go before it catches up with the auto industry death machine but seems intent on doing so.
A reasonable plan is to accept the failure of throwing of good money after bad. It is time to abandon the ‘digging out of a hole’ strategy. $35 trillion wasted and fifteen years of failure is a reason to discontinue breeder reactor/fuel reprocessing activity in Japan and elsewhere! It’s time for the establishment to start cutting losses while it possesses the wherewithal to do so.
See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Time for a Cold Shutdown 6/17/11
But a young sun-like star seems to have been spotted 750 light-years from Earth doing just that, as researchers have apparently discovered, according to PopSci. Their findings indicate that the proto-star is shooting water from its poles at about 124,000 miles per hour.
Essentially, it's creating water bullets that it shoots deep into interstellar space, according to National Geographic. This star is no more than 100,000 years old, and is located in the northern constellation Perseus.
The star was found by ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, which was able to see through a dense layer of gas that surrounded it. According to PopSci, the telescope picked up the light signature of both hydrogen and oxygen which are coming together as liquid water before vaporizing near the massive jets of gas that spew from the the star's poles.
It's not until the water vapor is far from the star that it returns to a liquid state. At that point the water is moving at about 124,000 miles per hour, writes National Geographic. As Lars Kristensen, lead author of the study -- which has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics -- points out, that's "about 80 times faster than bullets flying out of a machine gun."
The really interesting part of this discovery however, is just how far the water is propelled and the possibility that this stage may be a part of the life of many more protostars. If this is the case, the prospect of stars like these distributing water throughout the universe is incredible, considering the implications for life that water brings..
By Guy McPherson on 17 June 2011 for Nature Bats Last -
Image above: From (http://www.pitchengine.com/budweiser/budweiser-is-proud-to-serve-those-who-serve-with-special-armed-forces-paint-scheme/57916/).
Only willfully ignorant individuals are failing to perceive the ongoing systemic collapse of western civilization. Economic recession? Check, since 2000. Economic depression? Check, since 2008. Rampant “natural” disasters? Check, with increasing frequency. Climate chaos? Indeed, only a politician could miss it.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is what systemic collapse looks like. We’re awash in tell-tale interactions between climate change, “natural” disasters, and the industrial economy. Fire and flood are both on the rise. We used to be able to exert a modicum of control over both phenomena, back when climate chaos wasn’t exploding and the industrial economy wasn’t imploding.
On the other hand, we used to contain nuclear power within nuclear power plants, too. Well, except the occasional Hiroshima and Chernobyl.
And we used to busy ourselves with the quaint concept of one war at a time. Now we’re committed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration of the industrial age. Tack on a few more oil-rich, Muslim countries — say, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen — and a reasonably intelligent person might conclude an increasingly desperate United States is beginning to lose its global hegemonic grip.
Phenomena that formerly captured our attention every few decades now appear weekly. The new normal is a mad scramble to steer clear of nature’s wrath while ratcheting up resource wars to stay one step ahead of complete socioeconomic collapse. Amidst the chaos, long-time political insiders warn of civil unrest.
Meanwhile, 300 million self-absorbed Americans watch the feel-good “news” to see which models of beer and automobile are being pimped by which of their favorite celebrities. It seems the personal game of “who’s screwing whom” is more important to the typical television-addicted American than the international, imperial game of “who’s screwing whom.” Oblivious to the carnage of industry and the lunacy of our lives, we keep praying the stock markets go up while bickering about who’s to blame for our economic misfortune.
There is another, better way to live. But we can’t be bothered. Please pass the guacamole, and don’t tell me how it got here. After all, extinction is for lesser species
Until it’s not.
A model for a better way of living is demonstrated by a pair of former teachers: Mike Sliwa and Karen Sliwa, who wrote an essay in this space late last year, have boldly walked away from empire. They’ve joined us for a few months at the mud hut, where they are learning new skills.
Among other things, in the first two weeks they’ve extended the water-delivery system (hence, learned some plumbing), added to the drip-irrigation system, expanded the orchard, done some carpentry and generally fix-er-up tasks, milked and walked the goats, and spent many an hour in the garden.
I encourage you to visit their blog as they pursue World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
The Sliwas abandoned city life on moral grounds. Others will take a pragmatic approach to transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward climate chaos. In either case, my latest essay at Transition Voice provides a summary and charts a course. It’s been picked up and re-posted several other places. Perhaps it’s worth a look and a comment, on the original site or this one.
- Connection to a 24/7/365 robust energy grid.
- Copious amounts of cooling water and ways to process it.
- On demand delivery from a heavy duty transportation system.
- An industrial base capable of replacing all crucial nuclear hardware.
- All planned new nuclear reactors should be abandoned.
- A reduction of 62,862 megawatts of energy consumption should be phased in.
- The cold shutdown of all nuclear power plants should follow that phasing.
- All the while we should be substituting alternative energy as fast as resources allow.
It's about damn time, don't you think?
Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced Wednesday that they have been able to confirm a new high-efficiency solar cell design that utilizes nearly the entire solar spectrum.
Translation: They figured out a way to make solar panels generate electricity in the dark.
In earlier trials, the researchers used different alloys that achieved full spectrum responses but involved very high production costs. The advantage of gallium arsenide nitride is that it is very similar to a conventional semiconductor, gallium arsenide, and it can be produced with a commonly used fabrication method involving chemical vapor deposition. The Lawrence Berkeley breakthrough represents just one path to increasing the efficiency and lowering the cost of solar cells. Over at Ohio State University, a full spectrum solar cell is also under development, and Stanford is pursuing a new technology that cuts around the problem of solar cell efficiency loss due to high temperature
In the meantime, you could just turn any metal surface into solar panels with photovoltaic spray paint..
SUBHEAD: Let’s see if our current leadership actually abandons all hydroelectric projects as Mr. Proudfoot warned.
By Vince Cosner on 16 June 2011 in The Garden Island -
Image above: Everard Proudfoot, a grumpy hobbit of the shire. From (http://www.theargonath.cc/characters/proudfoot/proudfoot.html).
The sleeping giant isn’t fully awake yet, but he’s starting to stir all right. Members from all over our island are voicing their concerns about the upcoming KIUC vote on hydroelectric power. If you feel your options were honestly and fairly presented beforehand, all you’ve got to do is vote your conscience.
But if you weren’t satisfied with how they conducted themselves recently or simply disagree with the direction they’re taking, please vote “No” upon receiving your ballot. If the “No’s” ultimately prevail, then let’s see if our current leadership actually abandons all hydroelectric projects in the future as Mr. Proudfoot, KIUC’s attorney, warned.
Actually, I’d be more worried if Mr. Proudfoot was in charge of KIUC, but he’s not. He was just honing his “bullish” style of character, but trust me; he’s just full of himself and trying his best to scare us into voting “Yes.” In reality, he’s a little short on substance but tall on yarn. Should hydro project abandonment actually occur, we could always put people on the Board that are more inclined to move it forward. Problem solved. We might want a new attorney while we’re at it.
Right now, I’m more concerned about how KIUC is going to count the blank or undecided ballots. I hope they count them as “No’s” as in other elections. I truly wish we could all step back, take a moment to actually discuss our game plan with more clarity and proceed to get hydroelectric power on this water rich island in the best way possible. If using the FERC is that “best way possible,” then KIUC should have considered pono methods of expressing themselves versus the methods they chose. But it’s too late now.
The ballots are on their way, and we have to remember some cold hard facts right now. The job of the KIUC Board of Directors is to chart the course of the company, then get out of the way. The CEO takes over and decides how to get there. So who’s really responsible for getting us in this predicament? It can’t be Mr. Asquith. He just wanted to discuss the game plan for making hydroelectricity on our grid a reality and you just can’t do that with only three minutes.
Anyone involved in a high school debate competition knows that. It can’t be their attorney, Mr. Proudfoot. He was just there to support their CEO and Board Of Directors because that’s what he does. So that leaves their CEO, Mr. Bissell, the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Tacbian, the directors themselves or all of the above. But aren’t they just doing their jobs? I think their first mistake was trying to emulate the Kaua‘i County Council style of taking testimony from its community members.
But there’s no back and forth permitted or even encouraged in that style of meeting. If and when an exchange does occur, the questions flow from someone on the committee to the one testifying, not the other way around. Is that what you expected at your KIUC membership meeting? It would have been more productive had a professional facilitator been used to organize and prioritize member concerns. To expect an outcome other than what we got that night would have been kidding ourselves.
I used to provide facilitator services for Kauai Electric while still employed there back in the 90s, but I don’t know what happened to that practice since it changed to KIUC years later. And why can’t one member surrender his/her time to another? What’s the big deal? What if you asked a question knowing the answer you received was flat out incorrect and you had the data to prove it. Could you get it done in your remaining 1.25 minutes? I doubt it.
We’ll have to organize a tag team style of questioning if they do it this way again. I think we were either intentionally set up to fail or the leadership talent over there is seriously questionable. I miss Randy Hee.