Composted reads for the 3rd week of May 2022

Story of the week

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Poisoned legacy: why the future of power can’t be nuclear

Mounting tensions with Russia, a global pandemic and a reckless scramble for nuclear energy: the echoes of 1957 are alarming – we would do well to heed them

On the surface, the switch to nuclear makes sense. It would not only enable European countries to meet their ambitious net zero targets, since it produces no CO2. It would also make them less vulnerable to Russian threats, and allow them to stop financing the Russian war machine.

Technological developments, growing international cooperation and rising safety standards did indeed do a great deal to ensure that no major nuclear accident occurred for 25 years after Chernobyl. But the Fukushima explosions demonstrated that such improvements have not eradicated the dangers surrounding nuclear power plants.

We must not abandon the industry to its current state of economic hardship, as that would only mean inviting the next accident sooner rather than later. We should improve the safety of existing nuclear reactors by creating new standards to protect them not only from the natural disasters but also from man-made ones such as war.

The good news

Joy for environmentalists as California blocks bid for $1.4bn desalination plant

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Bursting into flower: the growth of sustainable blooms

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The bad news

Pollution responsible for one in six deaths across planet, scientists warn

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‘It’s a bribe’: the coastal areas that could become the UK’s nuclear dump

A skull glowers down from the sand dunes on to Mablethorpe Beach, a portent of death and destruction, and a throwback to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament protests of the 1980s.

It is here, in a 24-hectare (60-acre) disused gas terminal bordering the beach, that Boris Johnson’s big bet on nuclear energy is being tested. Experts on nuclear waste have said that until the UK builds a large underground nuclear waste dump or geological deposit facility (GDF) to safely store the 700,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste from the country’s 20th-century nuclear programme, no new nuclear plants should be created.

the waste from the past 50 years of nuclear programmes, most of which is temporarily stored at Sellafield in Cumbria, would be deposited and sealed off for ever. The dump would also have room for another 73,000 cubic metres of waste from a new nuclear programme of up to 16GW.

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Essential reads

The banks collapsed in 2008 – and our food system is about to do the same
George Monbiot

While financial collapse would have been devastating to human welfare, food system collapse doesn’t bear thinking about. Yet the evidence that something is going badly wrong has been escalating rapidly. The current surge in food prices looks like the latest sign of systemic instability.

So here’s what sends cold fear through those who study the global food system. In recent years, just as in finance during the 2000s, key nodes in the food system have swollen, their links have become stronger, business strategies have converged and synchronised, and the features that might impede systemic collapse (“redundancy”, “modularity”, “circuit breakers” and “backup systems”) have been stripped away, exposing the system to “globally contagious” shocks.

While our food has become locally more diverse, globally it has become less diverse. Just four crops – wheat, rice, maize and soy – account for almost 60% of the calories grown by farmers. Their production is now highly concentrated in a handful of nations, including Russia and Ukraine. The Global Standard Diet is grown by the Global Standard Farm, supplied by the same corporations with the same packages of seed, chemicals and machinery, and vulnerable to the same environmental shocks.

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Caesar’s favourite herb was the Viagra of ancient Rome. Until climate change killed it off

Of all the mysteries of ancient Rome, silphium is among the most intriguing. Romans loved the herb as much as we love chocolate. They used silphium as perfume, as medicine, as an aphrodisiac and turned it into a condiment, called laser, that they poured on to almost every dish. It was so valuable that Julius Caesar stashed more than half a tonne in his treasury.

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Additional reading

  1. Melting icebergs sign for the world
  2. Fast-rising energy prices attract China to capitalise on them
  3. Japan’s nuclear disaster reason to think twice

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Related

  1. The Name That Shall Not Be Spoken
  2. The Current Energy Situation in the World
  3. The History Of Energy TransitionsThe nuclear power sector has the slowest growth rate amongst fuels despite ambitious targets, strong protection, and generous budgetary allocations due to the risks associated with it. Examine.
  4. Slowly but Surely – Changing Our Energy Mix
  5. Is Nuclear Power the Answer?
  6. Some in Europe Are Reconsidering Nuclear Power Due to Ukraine And Climate Goals
  7. Nuclear Energy Leads to Black Swans
  8. Nuclear energy advocate says wind and solar power are “workerless” unreliable energy sources
  9. Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida says nuclear power should be reconsidered as energy costs soar
  10. Boris Johnson vows to slash energy bills by building nuclear reactor every year
  11. Nuclear power needed if Ireland is to reach zero carbon emissions ‘without destroying economy’, academic warns
  12. TC Energy interested in helping bring nuclear power to oilsands
  13. We need to get serious about the renewable energy revolution—by including nuclear power
  14. The Radical Left’s Anti-Nuclear Agenda Is Still Foolish
  15. The Insanity of Expanding Nuclear Energy
  16. Environmentalists Oppose More Life for California Nuke Plant
  17. Hard Times Will Force Europe to Change Its Direction on Energy
  18. Radioactive water will be dumped into the ocean after Japan approves Fukushima nuclear waste plan
  19. Turkish nuclear plant threatened by Russian sanctions
  20. What We’re Reading: Exploiting Tragedy, Constitution Under Siege, ‘Spygate’ Trial Starts . . . And More
  21. Big Oil

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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