Nuclear Power Timeline: Meltdowns And Build-Ups

‘_ 1955: A U.S. government reactor makes Arco, Idaho, the world’s first town electrified by nuclear power.

_ 1957: The U.S.’ first commercial nuclear power plant becomes operational in Shippingport, Pa. (Nuclear reactors were already in service in the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom). It was retired in 1982.

_ March 29, 1979: Three Mile Island Unit 2 in Middletown, Pa., melts down. No one was killed or seriously injured that day, but the public relations disaster sets back the industry for decades.

_ April 26, 1986: Chernobyl nuclear power plant explodes in Soviet Ukraine, killing thousands. A radioactive cloud floats over much of Europe and large areas of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are contaminated.’


via Nuclear Power Timeline: Meltdowns And Build-Ups.

China launches vast water clean-up – SciDev.Net

‘[BEIJING] A project to improve water quality in China has been launched by the government, which says it is the largest expenditure on environmental protection since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949.

The project, which has an estimated budget of more than 30 billion Chinese yuan (around 4.4 billion US dollars) over 12 years, aims to counter the deteriorating water quality affecting millions of Chinese people and their livelihoods.’

via China launches vast water clean-up – SciDev.Net.

Nations Start to Agree on Paying for Climate Pledges –

‘March 23 (Bloomberg) — Nations are starting to agree on how rich countries could help pay for greenhouse-gas reduction and climate-change adaptation in developing markets, the United Nations said.

A proposed registry would list “nationally appropriate mitigation actions” by developing countries such as China and India and match them with pledges of financial and technological support by developed nations, the UN said in a document on the Web site of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Countries are “converging” on how the registry would work as part of UN climate talks this year, according to the March 17 document. The negotiations will culminate in a December meeting in Copenhagen. Emerging markets want richer countries to cut emissions first, saying the U.S., the European Union and other industrialized nations have contributed most to climate change. Only developed countries have targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which runs through 2012.’

via Nations Start to Agree on Paying for Climate Pledges (Update1) –

U.S., China worlds apart on climate change curbs – World AP –

‘WASHINGTON — China’s top climate negotiator’s visit to Washington Monday sent a fresh signal that the two countries, which account for about half the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, have a long way to go to reach a common agreement on how to cut emissions to prevent serious climate change.

China shouldn’t have to take responsibility for the 15 percent to 25 percent of its emissions that result from making products for the rest of the world, said Li, the director of the Department of Climate Change in China’s National Development and Reform Commission. ‘

via U.S., China worlds apart on climate change curbs – World AP –

Professor Lord Nicolas Stern video excerpt from Copenhagen.

March 12, 2009 Copenhagen, Denmark

Excerpt from Professor Lord Nicolas Stern’s plenary address at the Climate Conference:


“This is about a choice between patterns of development which look extremely different… these are about very different kind of choices so we have to bring the right kind of economics to bear…

The third feature of this story is that it is a flow stock problem, the flows each year build up into stocks, and the stocks of greenhouse gasses trap the heat and cause the problem of climate change. That of course is a very big part of the story, and it comes directly from the simple science of the story.

But it tells us some very powerful lessons for economics as well here, it tells us the costs of delay are very big. This is not a WTO negotiotiation which if it falls apart one year you pick it up again five years later and your more or less in the same position that you were before.

If you delay this one, because its a flow stock process, the stocks build up and you start in a significantly worse position with a five or ten year delay. Now these are all very powerful lessons for economic analysis from the simple structure of the science, and those are what we have to take on board if were translating the economics into policy.”

UC Berkeley Professor Dan Kammen at the Copenhagen Climate Conference

March 12 2009. Professor Dan Kammen (left) speaks about energy efficiency and the ‘green new deal’ to a large audience and to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen (right) during a panel discussion at the closing plenary session of the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

Another excerpt from the dialogue. Here Dan Kammen links insufficient carbon emission reductions to climate injustice with associated negative consequence for the worlds poorest:

6 Key Messages: Conclusions from the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference

Key Messages from the Congress

12 March 2009

Copenhagen, Denmark: Following a successful International Scientific Congress Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions attended by more than 2,500 delegates from nearly 80 countries, preliminary messages from the findings were delivered by the Congress’ Scientific Writing Team. The conclusions will be published into a full synthesis report June 2009. The conclusions were handed over to the Danish Prime Minister Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen today. The Danish Government will host the UN Climate Change Conference in December 2009 and will hand over the conclusions to the decision makers ahead of the Conference.

The six preliminary key messages are:

Key Message 1: Climatic Trends
Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised. For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.
Key Message 2: Social disruption
The research community is providing much more information to support discussions on ‘dangerous climate change’. Recent observations show that societies are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2oC will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with, and will increase the level of climate disruption through the rest of the century.
Key Message 3: Long-Term Strategy
Rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid ‘dangerous climate change’ regardless of how it is defined. Weaker targets for 2020 increase the risk of crossing tipping points and make the task of meeting 2050 targets more difficult. Delay in initiating effective mitigation actions increases significantly the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation.
Key Message 4 – Equity Dimensions
Climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world. An effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and a common but differentiated mitigation strategy is needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable.
Key Message 5: Inaction is Inexcusable
There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches (economic, technological, behavioural, management) to deal effectively with the climate change challenge. But they must be vigorously and widely implemented to achieve the societal transformation required to decarbonise economies. A wide range of benefits will flow from a concerted effort to alter our energy economy now, including sustainable energy job growth, reductions in the health and economic costs of climate change, and the restoration of ecosystems and revitalisation of ecosystem services.
Key Message 6: Meeting the Challenge
To achieve the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge, we must overcome a number of significant constraints and seize critical opportunities. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; removing implicit and explicit subsidies; reducing the influence of vested interests that increase emissions and reduce resilience; enabling the shifts from ineffective governance and weak institutions to innovative leadership in government, the private sector and civil society; and engaging society in the transition to norms and practices that foster sustainability.

Copenhagen Climate Conference. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen's concluding remarks

Copenhagen, Denmark. March 12, 2009

End section of a statement by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the closing of the Copenhagen Climate Convention.

“A global agreement in Copenhegen, is not just about tackling climate change. It will constitute a new era in multilateral relations. It will be a unique occasion to construct a global solution based on mutual responsibility to act and to assist. People demand action.

Goverment must realize that it is in their interest to act. Government will fall if they fail. Politics must not be in the way of necessary solutions. The world needs better goverment.

So in conclusion, let me repeat the key messages:

  • Urgency. We must come to an agreement here in Copenhagen in December.
  • Direction. We must set a long term target.
  • Action. We must commit to short term efforts.
  • Fairness. The rich must assist the poor.
  • Opportunity. Green growth is the future.
  • Governance. If we fail to act, we fall.

Thank you.”


climate change commentaries