Why is the Green Schools Alliance censoring discussion about nuclear energy
I have learned through my grapevine that the leaders of an organization called the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) have decided to reject the suggestions of parents who wanted to include a showing and discussion of Pandora’s Promise in the program of a planned conference on Green Business. According to my sources those leaders told the conference organizers that GSA cannot be affiliated with a film that promotes nuclear energy because it is committed to not taking positions on such controversial subjects.
People who have decided to apply the silent treatment to a technological tool have taken a position to oppose the use of that tool. Without information, no one would be able to make an intelligent decision based on facts and analysis.
Nuclear energy is clean enough to run inside sealed submarines. According to peer-reviewed study by James Hansen and Pushker A. Kharecha published in March 2013 titled Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power:
Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning.
Not only is fission virtually emission-free, but it is also capable enough to allow power plants that can supply electricity to a city of a million people to run for 18 months on about three truckloads of fuel. In a period of about 20 years, France built enough nuclear power plants to almost completely decarbonize its electrical power system. Most of the electrical power needs of its 65 million people are provided by just 58 nuclear reactors.
It seems self-evident that people who are deeply concerned about the environment, climate change, energy sustainability and environmental justice would want to learn more about the impacts of using nuclear technology to serve human needs. It also seems self-evident that people who have dedicated themselves to the task of educating young people would want to make sure that those young people and their teachers have access to as much information as possible about the world that they will inherit.
Even if people determine, after study and discussion, that their concerns about the issues associated with nuclear energy are so overwhelming that they would prefer to avoid its use, it seems almost incomprehensible that educators would decide that the best approach to the topic is to stop talking and to censor information so that students and teachers do not even have the opportunity to learn and decide for themselves.
I grew up with a passion for protecting the environment. Both Mom and Dad grew up on farms during the Depression. Our family vacations were spent camping in National Parks and National Forests where we hiked, fished and swam in lakes and rivers. We recycled before it was fashionable; Mom and Dad even taught us to recycle kitchen scraps into a compost heap. Dad kept rabbits in our suburban backyard as part of his recycling program; he fed the rabbits products of his garden and fruit trees and then used the products from underneath the rabbit cages to fertilize the garden and fruit trees. Those lessons have shaped my behavior ever since.
Even though Dad worked for the power company, he taught us to be conscious of our electricity use and to turn off lights and appliances when they were not in use. He was the guy who first stoked my nuclear energy interest when he told me that the new power plants that his company was building near Homestead, Florida did not even need smokestacks. I was about eight years old at the time, but I still remember that conversation and the many that followed over the years.
Mom was a high school teacher, one of many in my family of school teachers where learning, reading, observing and discussing were highly valued. The idea of educators shying away from any specific topic because it is too controversial simply floors me.
Based on what I have learned on the site of the Green Schools Alliance and in the below video, the organization is doing good, important work. Please join me in an effort to help them understand that they are making a bad decision by choosing to censor information about nuclear energy.
Follow the money. Are they being financed ?
If so by who ?
The Green Schools Alliance site has a list of corporate, government, education and NGO partners.
Corporate partners include Consolidated Edison and Waste Management. NGO partners include 350.org, CELF Environmental Literacy, and NRDC. Government partners include the US EPA, Department of the Interior, and Fish and Wildlife Service.
Peruse the list and make some connections.
NRDC? Love the Bryk !
Waste Management as well:
The environmental component of our Fuel/Environmental Charge is 10% of all invoice charges, …
…The environmental component of the Fuel/Environmental Charge was implemented by the company to cover our costs and expenses to operate our collection, transfer, landfill, recycling, and waste-to-energy operations… ( from their fee explanation ).
Thats a huge feel good chunk of change. This as well:
Waste to Energy ( http://www0.wm.com/wm/services/waste-to-energy.asp ).
It looks like they are well off on the government cheese with all the R&D stuff, not to mention some actual electricity generation that will get preferred status. (at large carbon investment costs no doubt)
Sorry I done messed up on dem It-all-ics a gin.
The moderator has corrected the italics as requested.
thanks Roderick. I will try to me more careful in my posting endeavors.
You know the Fuel/Environmental Charge has to be one of the greatest marketing gimmicks of all time. I imagine they even sell the fuel back to communities that pay for the plants and electricity as well. Also you would think, as you are paying for waste removal that waste removal might already be included in the waste removal charges. But they tac on 10 percent and people are basically like “Oh fuel/environmental issue you say?, charge us more!” Not to mention half the country is already sorting it for them.
You might just be joking, but Rod is short for Rodney, not Roderick.
No, and no offense intended, just like longer names I suppose. In undergrad housing in Alaska I found two automotive service center work shirts with “Edgar” embroidered on them. Needless to say I made them part of my wardrobe.
Rodney is a wonderful name. John, not so much.
A long time ago, I shared a story about the event that influenced Mom and Dad to select my name. You might find it interesting.
Both the left and the right demand adherence to dogma, on pain of expulsion and shunning. Anti-nuclearism is part of the left’s dogma.
I guess it is a good thing I don’t worry much about being shunned. I am a left-leaning, nuclear energy advocate. I’m also a believer in free enterprise that prefers humanism (with its focus on humans) to capitalism (with its almost religious worship of money).
Good, the costs of decommissioning old nuclear plants can be sent straight to you.
Decommissioning is paid for by the plant owners. Nuclear energy is the only electricity source that cleans up after itself. Everyone else–coal, methane, solar, wind–gets to walk away from their plants without a care. That has a much bigger societal cost than decommissioning a nuclear power plant. And it’s been done. Successfully. Over and over.
I’d like to send the costs of disposing carcinogenic solar panels and bat- and bird-killing wind turbines straight to you.
“The state and Entergy have reached an agreement that will ensure that decommissioning of the state’s lone nuclear power plant could begin in the next 10 to 15 years.”
[I don’t believe it will ever be decommissioned]
“Vermont Yankee has 3,879 fuel rod assemblies submerged in a spent fuel pool that was originally designed to hold about 350. ”
“The cost to decommission the plant is estimated at $800 million to $1 billion, though Shumlin emphasized that only rough estimates exist. Entergy officials say they have less than $600 million in the decommissioning fund.”
[In other words, the money aint there]
[look at the comment section]
“If Governor Douglas has not vetoed the bill to insure that Entergy fully fund the decommissioning fund this would not have been a problem.
missing link due to spam control
Do not take my word for it read the above link.”
Entergy is going broke. It cannot clean that place up.
Starving lion- do you understand that there have been many decommissioned nuclear plants in the us? Yankee in Rowe, ma and Maine Yankee are just 2 examples located near VY that were returned to green field and unrestricted use.
By law sent edgy has and will continue to set aside money to fund the decommissioning of VY.
Do you mind if I correct the effect of your automated spell correction from “sent edgy” to “Entergy”?
And most of the political right likes nuclear power because the left is opposed to it.
So one side supports nuclear power for the wrong reasons, the other side is dogmatically opposed “just cuz”.
It’s not a nice situation.
People who “like nuclear power because the left is opposed to it” most likely just say they like nuclear power. I have dealt with some of them in the past. For example, please see my discussions with Jerry Taylor of Cato https://atomicinsights.com/?s=jerry+taylor.
What exactly are the “wrong reasons” again?
The wrong reason to claim support of nuclear is simply a rejection of the “other side”‘s opposition. It is an ephemeral reason and often more in words than in deeds. It is ephemeral because a true left leaning person should naturally be a nuclear energy supporter because it ticks a large portion of their checklists of important issues including family wage jobs, support for education programs, high concentration of union work, clean energy, non-fossil energy, and environmental justice.
If the left logically swings to support nuclear, someone on the right who claimed to support nuclear energy simply because the left disliked it will quickly become an opponent.
Rod – Are you still referring to Jerry Taylor? If so, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. He’s not a supporter of nuclear power and probably never has been.
His take is explained by the following quote: “Nuclear energy is to the Right what solar energy is to the Left: Religious devotion in practice, a wonderful technology in theory, but an economic white elephant in fact …” Interestingly, he ends the piece that this quote comes from with the following conclusion: “The Left’s distrust of nuclear power is not a sufficient rationale for the Right’s embrace of the same.” On this point, you and Jerry completely agree.
Nevertheless, this spurious red herring introduced by Cyril and elaborated on by you just deflects from the very real possibility that many people on the Right tend to support nuclear power for reasons like good jobs, rigorous education programs in the hard sciences, and the potential for clean, abundant energy. These are many of the same important issues that you think that people on the Left should be concerned about, but the thing that I think bugs folks like you and Cyril is that people on the Right tend to figure out this “logic” more often than people on the Left, which is why numerous polls that show that support for nuclear is much stronger in the demographics that are typically classified as Right-leaning.
In fact, it’s far more likely that much of the reason why many on the Left fail to recognize the benefits of nuclear power is that the technology has been associated in their minds so long with the military, large corporations, soulless technocrats, and other manifestations of “The Man,” which is invariably an epithet for the Right. In other words, much of the political Left opposes nuclear power because the Right generally supports it.
I have a proposition for you. I’d like to publish a series of posts with a title similar to the following – I’m a liberal; I favor nuclear energy. Would you like to author “I’m a conservative; I favor nuclear energy?
There may be others like “I’m a Libertarian; I favor nuclear energy”, “I’m a Republican; I favor nuclear energy” or even the shocking “I’m a liberal Democrat; I favor nuclear energy.” (I’ll suspect that Andrea Jennetta from Fuel Cycle Week will jump at the chance to write that one.)
Republican party is getting old and male. This appears to be a demographic issue as much as it is political one.
“Men favor nuclear power as a source of electricity by a 72% to 27% margin. But 51% of women oppose it, with 42% in favor” (here).
Perhaps party affiliation has very little to do with it … and electorate is stratified on other bases besides energy preferences. The real problem is with youth and women (not liberals and conservatives). Republicans, as I see it, aren’t doing nuclear any favors in these areas. These rich (and white) CEOs are really bad messengers when it comes to reaching out and building trust with younger, working class, female, and minority voters. With Svinicki and MacFarlane in more prominent roles, and women getting better jobs in science and engineering (no thanks to likes of Lawrence Summers), perhaps some of these numbers will start to shift soon. Union reps also have a role to play in leadership, relationship building, and changing public attitudes. For Republicans, I would hazards to guess numbers are going to stay flat (in so far as party remains old and predominantly male). There’s just no growth potential there. Wanna boost prospects for new constituencies and nuclear in Republican Party: pass immigration reform, raise minimum wage, create a market for carbon, stop restricting voting access, and talk a heck of a lot less about Planned Parenthood. Or just vote democratic (and try and appeal to those voters there).
Rod – I’ll agree to write whatever you want, but I don’t consider myself to be conservative. I’m only “conservative” in certain company. 😉 Normally, I think of myself as a moderate. I admit that I have a few Libertarian sympathies, but I don’t consider myself a Libertarian either.
For example, Virginia has two Senators, both Democrats. I voted for one and against the other. My decisions were not based on party affiliation, but rather on my opinion of their performance as Governor of the state. (Aside: For those who don’t know, Virginia has a one-term limit for election to the office of Governor. As a result, former Governors often move on to become US Senators or chairs of the National Committees of one of the two parties — the RNC or DNC.)
The mainstream of the two parties would consider me to be either a conservative (“blue-dog”) Democrat or a liberal Republican (or “RINO” to some), depending on the party. I have never registered as either a Republican or Democrat; although I have participated in primaries for both parties (never both in the same election cycle, of course, which is not allowed), thanks to the liberal (in the classical sense) rules for primaries in my state, which encourage participation in the political process without locking someone into a political machine.
So if some commentary from that perspective can be useful, then I’m happy to contribute. Sadly, however, politicians who represent my views on policy are an endangered species these days, and I blame the extremes on both the Right and the Left for this, which is probably why I am so critical of the current administration. I am no fan of the Tea Party, but I do recognize that, in times like these, they are a somewhat necessary evil in the political tug-of-war that is going on, so I support them only in the narrow sense that they vigorously oppose policies that I don’t like (their genesis was entirely reactionary, after all, as their name suggests). Otherwise, they have done more harm than good. For example, the Tea Party is the reason why we still have Harry Reid running the Senate and keeping Yucca Mountain (illegally) shut down.
My main hope for the future is for politics to become less polarized, so that real governance, under the system established by the Constitution, can replace the political games, the perpetual media circus, and the rule by Imperial Edict that has developed as a result of true statesmen being replaced by politicians, populists, and unprepared “community organizers.”
EL – I was talking correlation, not causation. Please try not to confuse the two.
If you’re looking for someone to write the “I’m a Conservative” or “I’m a Libertarian” piece I’d be happy to take it on. Broadly I affiliate right-libertarian but I’m an issue-by-issue person when it comes down to it. I rarely comment on atomic insights but I’m more often found on twitter @cthorm (I follow you already) or the energy from thorium forums (cthorm).
I’d structure it something like this. Energy is a fundamental determinant of living standards, but there are trade offs with each energy-producing technology. On net all interests are best served when the most productive and cost-effective technology is used to produce a good or service. At the reaction level, fission is many orders of magnitude more efficient than fossil fuel combustion (c^2 versus v). Just as a modern gas plant is more efficient and cleaner than indoor stoves fueled by dung, the technology and design of a nuclear reactor determines its end-state efficiency. Even with a reactor fleet designed at the earliest stages of the technology, today’s nuclear reactors produce cheap, consistent electricity with less negative impact on people or the environment than any other power source. There is still enormous room for improvement: the reason more advanced designs haven’t been brought to market has more to do with politics than economics or engineering. Our economy is much weaker as a consequence: higher costs for electricity, fuel, transportation, pollution, and land effect every aspect of our lives. etc etc
And the nuclear intellectuals are so brilliant because…?
a. we intend to abandon all the old nuclear plants FOREVER???
b. the conceptual designs to replace the no-growth LWR’s are in a magicians hat???
c. you know that ICE under your trucks hood? just pretend its not there???
You guys don’t have any solution. Even the rest of your buddy intellectuals (doctors, lawyers, mbas) are sharpening their knives to cut you loose.
A. Old nuclear plant sites are returned to greenfield and released for unrestricted use.
B. I think new LWRs (ap1000, esbwr) and reprocessing are a pretty straight forward plan
Anti-nuclearism is prevalent and accepted on the left, but its fervency likely varies considerably between leftists in different countries or regions. So it isn’t dogma. For the Greens it is largely dogma. And this often puts pressure on leftist political parties. For example, in Finland, Sweden, Ontario and France you’ll not find the left dogmatically anti-nuclear.
” Anti-nuclearism is part of the left’s dogma.”
IMO, not the Left, the environmental movement.
Within the Left, the enviros could be said (in my opinion) to play the role that religious movements play in the Right, such as Focus on the Family or the FamiIly Research Council, even if enviros are religious about other things than Yahweh.
“Both the left and the right demand adherence to dogma, on pain of expulsion and shunning. Anti-nuclearism is part of the left’s dogma.”
I think Engineer-Poet is right. Until quite recently, anyone trying to peddle nukes as part of the environmental movement would have been laughed at. Ideas take time to change. They still re-run the 1950s movies with the giant ants caused by nuclear work. It’s hard to sell nuclear to teachers and other people when they’ve been brought up with this backdrop of misinformation about nukes.
It may be a little harder to teach nuclear as a “green” technology. The science can be both a bit confusing and even dull to many people. The politics are very muddy. Changing lightbulbs and recycling materials seems a lot simpler. Anyone can understand and teach windmills or solar energy. I’ll bet there are a lot of teaching aids presented by the many environmental groups to help teachers do their jobs. There may not be such information provided by nuclear groups. I guess that’s where your posts do well.
I had a conversation about teaching energy in the schools. I was talking with a group that is partially funded by the Efficiency Vermont (government program) in Vermont.
They said they taught about solar and wind turbines. I asked if they taught anything about heat engines, since most power and all transportation depends on heat engines. They said heat engines were too hard for students to learn about.
I asked why understanding quantum jumps of an electron in a semiconductor (PV solar) was easy, but the efficiency equation for a heat engine (the simplistic T2 minus T1 over T2) was so hard?
Actually, it isn’t hard. It would be easy to teach either type of electricity production (PV or heat engines) is a simplistic way. But it ain’t happening. So students get the impression that most of the world’s energy comes from PV and wind turbines and so forth.
I seriously doubt they’re teaching PV in any way other than “just hook it up and point it at the Sun.” I’d bet they don’t bother to explain how to suppress all the harmonics that chopper inverters put into the RF spectrum either.
Actually the teachers are going to disappear altogether. Brian Mays wonderful useless invention called the internet is going to bury them. Guess what? All the retail stores and their staff are going to disappear too.
Energy problem solved. Fire everybody due to “innovation”. Thanks Brian!!!
Seems the weekend already started at the lions den.
Give them credit: They understand transitivity. Don’t injure the hand that feeds the hand that feeds the hand that feeds you.
The Right has religious cults. The Left has modern environmentalism.
A key strategy for any cult, if it wants to survive, is to get them while their young. Thanks, Rod, for providing a splendid example of what I mean.
What is it with all these groups scaring kids? When my parents were children, they were scared by the Civil defense/duck and cover drills. I had Sting singing songs about Russians and preachers comparing Revelation to nuclear wars, if peak oil didn’t get us first. Now kids get global warming and terrorism.
Why can’t people let children be children and save the bad news for when they can drink?
Eric – Agreed. Personally, I think it’s a form of child abuse.
Groups like this is a good part of the reason why education in the US is in such a sad state these days. Why aren’t these kids learning some real science (and perhaps some math to go along with it) instead of being indoctrinated into a cult that believes that giving up plastic bags is somehow going to save the world?!
I will add, however, that, when it comes to child abuse, at least these groups are no longer blowing up children. Although, on second thought, we didn’t see in the video on the GSA website any of the children who would not voluntarily participate in the Green School Alliance, did we? 😉
Perhaps the GSA can include nuclear energy discussions in their conference without taking a position on it. They should be able to talk about all energy forms without making explicit endorsements.
I wonder if they teach anything about fossil fuels. Because it seems to me that’s controversial.
I wonder if they teach anything about gay marriage. Because it seems to me that’s controversial.
I wonder if they teach anything about climate sensitivity. Because it seems to me that’s controversial.
I wonder if they teach anything about Christopher Columbus. Because it seems to me that’s controversial.
I wonder if they teach anything about politics. Because it seems to me that’s controversial.
Considering that the NRC estimates decommissioning costs in the $300-400 million range, it’s hard for me to accept Shumlin’s estimate of 2.5 times that.
There was an article in Forbes recently about the shuttering of San Onofre and the hesitancy to develop more nuclear power in the US. The writer made an excellent point along that lines that rich countries (US, Germany) become infected with a complex that causes them to make stupid decisions (e.g. huge renewable mandates) because they have the luxury of time, money, and pre-existing infrastructure which lets them play around with pipe dreams that have little or no chance of real success.
Unfortunately, the image of a pristinely white wind turbine against an azure sky has become the symbol of our so-called energy future. Maybe the nuclear industry needs to come up with an equally powerful simple image that captures the benefits of our technology.
“Unfortunately, the image of a pristinely white wind turbine against an azure sky has become the symbol of our so-called energy future. ”
Those images are always shown either without sound, or with only music or voice and no sound from the actual unit. Start showing the wind turbines with the irritating, low frequency rumble and swoosh in the sound track, and it won’t seem so pristine and tranquil.
Add in before and after shots of pristine mountain ridges, followed by ridges infested with wind towers and service roads…
January 4, 2014 at 8:26 AM Unfortunately, the image of a pristinely white wind turbine against an azure sky has become the symbol of our so-called energy future. Maybe the nuclear industry needs to come up with an equally powerful simple image that captures the benefits of our technology.
You’re 100% right. The main big problem is who in nuclear industry is stepping up to the plate to do it?
Off topic: “Green Schools Alliance”? Who picked that name? The acronym GSA is already very common in the education world: Gay-Straight Alliance, which is an organization that fosters student-run clubs to promote understanding and tolerance for LGBT kids. My high school had a GSA club and it’s quite common elsewhere. I imagine the Green Schools Alliance is going to have a hard time branding themselves as “The other GSA, not the gay GSA.” Awkward.
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