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COP24 – Poland – Day 1 – The Long Shadow of History

10 joulukuun, 2018

day2-3My second day here was Sunday, and we hooked up with the Generation Atomic crew for a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Oh man. What a reminder of the utterly horrific capabilities of mankind. When we really put our minds to it, we seem to be extraordinarily capable of hurting and destroying each other in imaginatively horrific ways.






A sign at the museum, detailing some of the atrocities.

It is one thing to look at the numbers in the info-board. It is another thing to look at the endless rows of pictures of people who were tortured and murdered there. I wanted to take some pictures, but I at the same time I could not. I noticed that I can’t take the risk of having a reminder. I noticed thinking that I want to forget those images and pictures and those dates on when they arrived and when they died. A whole hallway full of them, one after the other after the other. Men. Women. Children. The same age as mine. I want to forget those faces I saw, belonging to real people, and at the same time I do not. I should not. We should not.


In the background is Birkenau, an industrial-scale human destruction camp. On the foreground is the fence surrounding it. 

The anti-nuclear people get back to it again

While back at our Airbnb in the evening, I got a hold of a leaflet produced and spread by Climate Action Network, the same group also giving out the “Fossil of the Day” -awards. Given that they apparently do give a fuck about climate, it would have been extremely nice if they had bothered with some fact checking instead of the usual misleading and dishonest anti-nuclear rhetoric and half-truths. This small article, pictured below, is surprisingly full of those.


Picture of the newsletter doing the rounds here.

Let’s get a few of their claims sorted before I go to bed. Usually there are three levels to check in these claims. First, are they factually correct and current as per mainstream understanding of the science. Second, is the argument logically coherent. Third, what happens when you compare the claim with the same standards and level of rigor to other options.

Humanity is extractive

Is nuclear industry “extractive” like they claim? Of course, as are all other industries. The main point to take home here is that it is actually much less material-intensive (read: extractive) than practically any other energy source we use, including wind and solar. So, by saying that nuclear industry is “extractive”, these people are also saying that all the renewables are many times as extractive. The problem is, these comparisons are never done – they seem content in pointing out that nuclear has this or that effect on the environment, but fail to mention that so does everything else, often at much bigger scale. This is not information, it is plain propaganda that is meant to mislead.

Of the uranium supply, around half is today produced by in-situ leeching, which basically requires no mining operations at all. The rest come from more traditional mines, both from dedicated uranium mines and as by-products from other mines. A while ago I wrote a more detailed piece on mining which you can read here.

The Report to end all Reports

Then there is this report that is coming out, supposedly disproving what the “nuclear lobbyists” have claimed as the climate impact of nuclear energy. Well, first of all, I’ve been around a bit, and pretty much the only thing that I have ever seen any nuclear lobbyist claim is the same thing that the science, led by the IPCC, has been saying for years, as resulting from their thorough literature review in their Fifth Assessment Report (2014). It says: nuclear is very low carbon, comparable to wind (without backup).

So supposedly this report that is coming out single-handedly disproves all the previous research done on the subject. That is a tall claim and we shall see what evidence they have to back it up – it is pretty clear that none of the actual physics of the matter have changed, although the energy inputs of uranium enrichment, for example, have fallen since AR5 (as we moved fully to centrifugal enrichment, which is around 50 times more efficient than the previous technology).

Fear, uncertainty, doubt – but no information

What bothers me is that these writings are always full of adjectives, but almost never have any actual substance, numbers or mainstream scientific references (yes, you can always find fringe-studies to prove just about everything if you try hard enough).

They claim that public money is being used to subsidise nuclear energy, which is probably a true statement as such; everything we do gets some kind of support. What they again fail to note is that nuclear receives quite little of this public support per energy produced, compared to pretty much every other energy source. As I said, these never do any comparing, but only point out what nuclear has or does.

They even manage to accuse IAEA of many things, for which they provide no evidence, which is, in my view, both outrageous and extremely arrogant.

Ps. You can read more about energy subsidies from Kitson, L., Wooders, P., Moerenhout, T. (2011) Subsidies and External Costs in Electric Power Generation: A comparative review of estimates. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)/Global Subsidies Initiative. Winnipeg.

2 kommenttia
  1. Supernaut permalink

    Thanks for the update; got to your blog from an email update from Generation Atromic.

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