Thursday, September 27, 2007

Forget About Greenhouse Gases Part 2.

The nuclear energy industry will kill us all.

NRG Report:

"I’m excited to see an investor-owned company submit the first combined operating license application in nearly 30 years, and I hope it is the first of many to come,” said United States Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), who serves as ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee."

The trouble with nuclear power is not that the plants are going to blow up and coat us with radioactive dust as it circles the globe for two and a half years as the dust from Krakatoa did, or that the plants will inevitably melt down like the one in the movie, The China Syndrome, or like Chernobyl, no, we have learned things from those events and from 3-Mile Island, about how to engineer multiple fail-safes.

Rather the threat comes from three prongs of the devil's trident:
one, the used fuel rods must be disposed of. They are typically encased in concrete and "stored" (dumped) in a facility in Nevada, or formerly dumped into a deep hole in the ocean, where inevitably they corrode and the radioactive waste leaks into the environment.

two, the mining and processing of the raw uranium, pollutes the mine environment hugely. The tailings are piled in huge mountains of waste material which leeches into the groundwater by rain which necessarily falls on the mounds of tailings. Mineworkers in northern Canada have higher rates of cancer than other citizens and die younger, typically, of cancers.

three - One 2700 megawatt plant in Texas - thousands of miles from the nearest source of Uranium - won't threaten the world's safety, but the report linked above speaks of an endless chain of nuclear power plants to replace America's dependence on oil - which will result in trucks and trainloads of nuclear material - used fuel rods and new fuel rods - criss-crossing the country on their way to and from power plants from coast to coast. If you have seen a semi-trailer of hazardous material spill on a highway, say, caustic soda, or diesel fuel, you know what a mess it causes, but in a day or two at the most it is cleaned up and traffic resumes like it never happened. The threat is short-lived. However, nuclear fuel rods have a half-life* of 25,000 years. This may necessitate the digging up of entire roadways for hundreds of metres around a spill to remove the radioactivity - which creates a bigger waste problem as this material - contaminated asphalt - must be safely disposed of.

*Half-Life - radioactive material dissipates half its mass in a period of time known as a "half-life." In the case of Uranium 238 isotope used in fuel rods the half life is 10,000 years. One ton of fuel rods will dissipate naturally to a half ton of mass in 10,000 years, to a quarter ton in another 10,000 years and so on.

"A large nuclear reactor produces 3 cubic metres (25-30 tonnes) of spent fuel each year."

The US Energy Authority say the waste material site in Nevada is secure. This authority is less than fifty years old. The whole country is only 231 years old. How can they claim it will be secure for 100 centuries ???

"As of 2003, the United States had accumulated about 49,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from nuclear reactors."

The country-side surrounding Chernobyl is deadly to all life for thousands of square kilometres. That's one.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Forget about greenhouse gases..

if you don’t stop having babies, NOW!

I’ve shown that if ALL 33Million Canadians IMMEDIATELY cut their greenhouse gas output by 50% - the equivalent of killing off 16.5Million and letting the rest continue polluting as they have been. It wouldn’t matter a damn, because at a growth rate of only 1% China produces 14 million new people per year!

“The current annual population increase of about 80 million will remain constant until 2015.” - Source: "World Population Assessment and Projection, 1996.” the United Nations Population Division.

“Between now and 2050 world population growth will be generated exclusively in developing Countries.” - ibid.

“While such a steep decline, in fact, already happened in many European countries, it is rather unlikely that populous developing nations such as Pakistan, India, Indonesia or Nigeria - which greatly determine world population growth - would quickly follow this trend.” ibid.

Developing countries do not have the kind of regulatory agencies that the developed West - the G7 countries in particular, have. Their industries are notoriously dirty. Air pollution in Beijing has already made headlines - just because western athletes might be at a disadvantage there because they aren't used to breathing crap the way the Chinese athletes are. The facts are much, much worse.
China is planning hundreds of coal-burning power stations in order to compete in the marketplace, and to provide electricity for their increased urban populations as rural residents re-locate to the cities. China has over 200 cities with populations over 1 million people.

Published: Thursday, August 2, 2007 | 2:07 PM ET
Canadian Press
LITTLE ROCK (AP) - An Arkansas couple had a baby daughter today - their 17th child and seventh girl.

And the pair say they're still not ready to give it a rest.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

Now they are doing “hope studies” and conducting surveys to “measure hope”
Some exponents were on the CBC radio this morning telling us that “hope is correlated with almost every positive human experience.” Wizards, I tell you, absolute wizards. Probably earned several social work degrees, maybe even a Psych degree thrown in, to learn that one!
Of course hope is associated with positive experiences, get to first base and you suddenly hope you can get to second. Have a good appetizer and you hope dinner will be good too. Have one good relationship and you hope all relationships will be good. Now there’s where hope triumphs over experience!
Human behaviour follows patterns. You don’t have to be a genius to extrapolate that one positive experience might suggest a second one. Logically after any identifiable experience, say, a first day at a new school, job, etc. things can get either better or worse. We hope for the best, because healthy people seek good outcomes, that’s why. Those who always seek worse outcomes are defined as pathological – when they go beyond being merely a “gloomy Gus” – and we institutionalize the worst cases. The rest get referred for analysis and therapy.
As I wrote in an earlier blog, you get to choose your attitude. Since people respond more receptively to positive people, it makes sense from a survival perspective to be hopeful, act hopeful. Plus it tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you have a hopeful attitude good things tend to happen more often. Make it a habit and you probably even turn bad things into a perception of good. When Fate gives you lemons, make lemonade.
I think these “Hope Merchants” are nothing more than the natural extension of the Oughties (’06, ’07, etc.) manifestation of self-help from the Eighties, the Personal Development of the 90s. Now we have Hope Studies. Self-help re-packaged. Nothing more than W. Clement Stone “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude.” The British often said, Keep a stiff upper lip!” By which they meant, no crying!
PMA - It works but it doesn’t need re-packaging. The expectation is that if you don’t give it a facelift now and again people will disregard it as being “old stuff” that can’t possibly apply to today’s generation. Always they want something “New and Improved.”
The fact is, there is nothing new in it at all. Plato, and the other Greek scholars, wrote all this stuff down more than two and a half millennia ago. Marcus Aurelius re-wrote it 500 years later and it was praised then.
What we need is not a copywriter’s update of the truths of our earlier scholars, just a better classical education in the first place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

09/11 - BC has a new Lt.-Governor

For my non-Canadian friends, a Lt-Gov. is the representative of the Queen and among other things is a guardian of the constitution. After that it gets complicated but the L-G has no vote in parliament and is mostly ceremonial, but we do love our ceremonies!

This new L-G is, for the first time, a native aboriginal Canadian, Stephen Pointe, is a former Provincial court judge. This a.m. he was interviewed on CBC radio and among other things said, plagiarizing Norman Vincent Peale, "There is power in positive thinking."

Perhaps this epithet is now so apocryphal that NVP no longer deserves credit for the phrase, "The Power of Positive Thinking" which was the title of his 1952 book.


Also this morning CBC radio finally interviewed a lighting manager from the City of Calgary, Barry Poone, about their revolutionary street lighting which I wrote about (see my June 28th blog) several months ago! Alas, nobody listens to a lone voice in the wilderness. Now they all think they are the discoverer of this obvious improvement. I have been ranting about it for years. He spoke of the waste light refracted into space as seen in a satellite photo.

Fears of increased crime, devolution to previous eras in history such as a darkened wartime when blackouts prevailed. They studied crime rates in UK and Oz and concluded that lighting has no impact on crime but perception was changed. They felt afraid, but the people will get over it. I always maintained that what we were doing is lighting the streets at night just for the criminals! They are the only ones out there at 3am right? All good citizens should be at home in bed.

Invasive light coming in your windows and keeping you awake is also reduced.

Ah, but the savings! GIS studies revealed that 37,000 of 55,000 bulbs at half wattage saved $2 million per year! CO2 emissions are down hugely too, because Alberta produces 90% of its electricity by burning coal.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

100 acres of prime food-growing farmland gone!

A sports complex has been proposed for Vernon - Coldstream area, which will require excluding 100 acres of farmland in the Coldstream valley from the Agricultural Land Reserve, which is exactly what it sounds like. I have written the following letters to the Editor of the Morning Star newspaper here.

Dear Editor,

“Another 100 acres of prime food-growing farmland gone!” is what your headline should read.

A glance at the proposal for a sports complex on Hwy 6 clearly indicates that this project is designed to accommodate gas-guzzling vehicles, not hungry people. It is located on a main highway. It has huge parking areas – which should be growing locally consumable crops rather than being paved over to park pickup trucks. Talk about short-sightedness! Talk about terrible prioritizing!

Nearly every morsel of food eaten in Greater Vernon is trucked in from elsewhere, sometimes thousands of kilometres from where it is grown. It is counter-intuitive, read “stupid”, to pave over prime farmland in your backyard, and then to pay high costs to truck in the food you eat from California.

There are two world famous valleys in Canada – the Annapolis in Nova Scotia, the Okanagan in BC, and what they are known for is their fruit, their vines, their agriculture. It has been so since my great grandfather Victor Willett came here in the 1920s and grew an orchard on the west side and became the first postmaster at Ewans Landing. Pave over the farmland on Hwy 6 and soon enough there will be only one valley like it in Canada, and that will be the legacy of the Councillors who voted to approve it.

Hwy 6 project: “Field of Nightmares”

In my nightmares I see them coming, headlights along Hwy 6 gleaming through clouds of carbon monoxide, streaming towards the floodlit fields on the corner of Aberdeen Road that used to grow corn.

In Kevin Costner’s 1989 film, Field of Dreams, the premise was, “if you build it they will come.” That seems to be the dream of developers proposing the destruction of 100 acres of corn on Aberdeen Road to build softball diamonds. The nightmare is that they WILL come – hundreds of gas-guzzling, greenhouse gas-producing cars and trucks roaring in on oversized tires to leave oil and rubber residue on prime Coldstream farmland, farmland that could grow food to feed the people of Vernon.

Instead that food will have to be trucked in from hundreds, even thousands of kilometres away, at greater cost than if grown locally, covered in preservatives to keep it edible until it can get here. You KNOW this to be true. Consider this vision before you vote to approve plowing under, and paving over, some of the best remaining farmland in BC.