The Great Debate UK

Tide turns against nuclear energy



By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.

As the nuclear threat in Japan steps up a gear, global politicians have pre-empted a wave of anti-atomic feeling from their public and spoken out against nuclear reactors, which threatens its future as a viable alternative to oil.

As Japan has found out with devastating consequences when things go wrong with atomic energy the effect is both devastating and immediate. Unlike carbon fuels, which have a lagged detrimental effect on the atmosphere, a nuclear accident doesn’t get worse in increments – once radioactive material is released into the atmosphere the damage to the surrounding areas is done.

In contrast carbon-based fuels are more of an incipient threat. Increased rates of asthma, holes in the ozone layer and deterioration in air quality take many years take of oil-burning to come about, which makes it hard to pinpoint who the real culprit actually is. But if a radioactive cloud suddenly appears you know exactly where it has come from.

The outlook for nuclear energy is not good at this juncture. The relative infrequency with which nuclear disasters happen (there have only been three notable accidents in the past decade including the events in Northern Japan) seems to only increase their negative impact on public opinion. In contrast, individual oil companies can have multiple spillages over the same time frame and demand for crude will continue to rise.

from Environment Forum:

Is China getting serious about tracking emissions?

beijingAt a major global climate summit in Copenhagen this week, China slammed rich nations for having weak and unambitious goals to cut carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, back at home, China's main government group charged with monitoring greenhouse gases struck a new contract with Picarro, a California-based company that makes gas analyzers. The deal will double the number of Picarro analyzers that the Chinese Meteorological Administration uses.

After 25 years impact of Bhopal leak lingers


Controversy still surrounds one of the world’s worst industrial accidents 25 years after an estimated 8,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of a toxic gas leak in Bhopal, India.

At around midnight on December 3, 1984, a leak at a Union Carbide plant of methyl isocyanate gas — a chemical compound used to make a pesticide marketed as Sevin – led to about 50,000 people being treated for severe injuries to their eyes, lungs, and kidneys.

from The Great Debate:

Ukraine gas crisis spurs EU energy policy

Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

The gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine that has left hundreds of thousands of Europeans shivering in the winter cold is bound to accelerate plodding European Union efforts to build a common energy policy.

The cut-off of Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine highlighted how little progress the 27-nation EU has made in connecting national energy networks and diversifying supplies since the first such crisis three years ago.

from Ask...:

How will the record OPEC supply cut affect consumers?

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on Wednesday to make its deepest output cut ever to counter slumping demand and falling oil prices.  The output cut has been received with cautious optimism by analysts.

Some say that the price of oil will fall further, while others say $40 a barrel was the lowest it will go. "If you look at the market, prices are going up immediately," said Frank Schallenberger, head of commodity research at Landesbank. "I really think this is the end of a bear market. $40 was the bottom."