Beyond Nuclear International

Nuclear Power Will Not Save Us From Climate Change

How the IPCC’s solutions for reversing the Earth’s warming encourage business as usual

By M.V. Ramana and Robert Jensen

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report released in October rightfully elicited much public commentary about global warming and its truly frightening impacts. But in those initial reactions, less attention was paid to the unnerving implications of the report’s suggested solutions, which encourage us to roll the dice on unproven technologies and double down on nuclear power.

Underlying the IPCC report’s claims is the belief that technological solutions can fix the climate problem. Yet these fixes don’t address the root cause of climate change.

Let’s start by facing the frightening facts. The report shows that warming must be held to no more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels to avoid truly catastrophic consequences. This requires emissions of CO2 to be limited to an amount that, at the current rate, will be breached in 10 to 15 years.


The frightening facts in the IPCC report show that warming must be held to no more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels to avoid truly catastrophic consequences. (Photo: Liam Moloney for Creative Commons.)

The report outlines four broad pathways to stay within that limit, all of which include large-scale deployment of various technological fixes to climate change. These include not just the sensible pursuit of solar energy and wind power but also of unproven technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, which has not been demonstrated to work at scale.

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Appalling safety culture should eliminate nuclear power from subsidies

Union of Concerned Scientists ignores its earlier report by now endorsing “top ranked” nuclear plants for bailouts

By Paul Gunter, Beyond Nuclear

A controversial new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggests that closing aging US nuclear plants — and not subsidizing the cost of building new ones — will increase carbon emissions. The assumption is that nuclear plants that close will be replaced by coal or natural gas-fired plants.

An increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the US is of course unacceptable given the accelerating climate change crisis we now face. However, the evidence so far, that closed nuclear plants will largely be replaced by natural gas and coal, is not borne out by the actual evidence.

Wind Nebraska

When Nebraska closed its nuclear plant, the state replaced the electricity with new wind power generation. (Photo: Michel Rathwell, Creative Commons/Flickr.)

California, which has only one nuclear power plant still operating at Diablo Canyon, will replace it, and the already shuttered San Onofre reactors, entirely with renewable energy. When Nebraska closed its flooded Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant, it was wind energy, not fossil fuels, that stepped in to fill the new generation void.

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No nuclear bailouts for Pennsylvania and Ohio

Carbon reductions can be met with renewables without propping up old nukes

By Maureen Mulligan

As members of Three Mile Island Alert, a watchdog group, we are resolutely opposed to the present attempts by utilities in Pennsylvania and Ohio to secure huge subsidies to keep their aging and financially failing nuclear power plants operational well beyond their “expiration dates”. Such a decision would have national implications. The diversion of billions of dollars into nuclear subsidies would distort markets and state regulatory decisions and result in lower investment in renewable resources and energy efficiency.  This in turn would prolong the uneconomic existence of a resource that is not clean energy.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, in its new report, argues that the trajectories of existing renewable energy and efficiency standards are insufficient to prevent a dangerous increase in CO2 emissions, and that a price on carbon could serve to better mitigate carbon emissions as long as nuclear reactors remain operational.

This latter requirement is roundly contradicted by reports over the last several years that show that, even in Pennsylvania, a state with one of the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rates, GHG reduction goals can be met under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan targets through planned power plant retirements.

Solar panels with technician

Pennsylvania has plenty of time to develop solar energy under its “Solar Future’s Plan”. (Photo: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection)

Nuclear power is a well-funded, controversial industry that embodies hazards at all points along its fuel cycle. There is no room for both renewable energy development and continued, subsidized operation of nuclear power plants.

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A passion for painting and planet Earth

An artist who once painted idyllic landscapes now worries about uranium power

By Mary Lou Dauray

The journey of an artist’s work involves a variety of pathways. Sometimes these lead to paintings inspired by serious events that involve the entirety of our planet. That was to be my destination as an artist, but my journey began with landscapes, on the top floor of my strict Catholic school, where, on Saturday mornings, we were allowed to paint scenes from photographs.

That sojourn in the tranquility and beauty of nature was abruptly turned upside down after the 2000 election of George W. Bush.

The election night itself, with its bizarre turn of events, set me painting furiously, an anger that exploded into a flame-filled oil painting in response to the 9/11 attacks almost a year later. Then came the war in Iraq and I found myself creating a series of watercolors of soldiers, bombings, the women of Iraq and of death. After all, the Iraq war was about oil. It had become increasingly obvious to me how burning oil and coal, non-renewable resources, contribute to greenhouse gases and the warming of our planet.

Leaping Flame-Acrylic on Gessoed Paper 51h x 39w 2014

Leaping Flame. I use the circle to represent the beginning and the ending. Coal has been formed from vegetation that has been consolidated between other rock strata and changed by the huge amount of pressure and heat for millions of years. (Acrylic on gessoed paper). 2014

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The real cost of uranium mining

The case of Tummalapalle

By Krishna Shree and Rajesh Serupally, First Post

Gangotri was 10 when the first boil appeared on her leg — an itchy pustule that soon led to others. Two years later today, both her legs are covered in scabby blisters that continue to spread. Doctors haven’t been able to diagnose her condition or cure it.

Gangotri is a chirpy, carefree child — she unselfconsciously showed us the skin disease (pictured above the headline) that has so changed her life. However, the mood in her village — Kottala in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh — is one of anger. Gangotri isn’t the only one to suffer from the mysterious ailment, other cases abound, as do other conditions: unheard-of diseases, death of livestock, loss of crops. Bad news is in plenty, and residents point to one culprit: the neighbouring Tummalapalle uranium mine.


Gangotri was 10 when the first boil appeared on her leg. Two years later today, both her legs are covered in scabby blisters that continue to spread.

The mine started its operation in 2012 after getting the requisite environmental clearance in 2006; the uranium ore in the Kadapa Basin is the largest reserve in the country. The neighbouring villages of Tummalapalle, Mabbuchintalapalle, Bumayigaripalle and Rachakuntapalle of Velpula and Medipentla Mandals and 60 hectares in Kottala village of Vemula Mandal were acquired by Uranium Corporation of India Limited (a government enterprise) for ‘tailing disposal’ — these are the areas where waterborne refuse material is pumped into a body known as a tailing pond. This is where the radioactive mining waste has been dumped for the past six years.

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“The Last Victim”

Karipbek Kuyukov of Kazakhstan dedicates his life to ensuring that no one will ever again be afflicted by atomic bomb tests

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Karipbek Kuyukov, who will receive the 2018 Nuclear-Free Future Award for Education in October, likes to say: “I have no arms, but I join you in waving goodbye to nuclear weapons.”

Kuyukov was born in the small Kazakhstan village of Yegyndybulak, without arms, a result of his parents’ exposure to the Soviet atomic bomb tests. There were 456 of these in all, conducted between August 1949 and November 1989 at the Semipalatinsk test site — also known as The Polygon — just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Kuyukov’s family home. 

Today, Kuyukov is his country’s foremost campaigner against any resumption of nuclear testing and also for justice for those afflicted by atomic tests, not only in Kazakhstan, but around the world. And he is also one of his country’s most well known contemporary artists.

karipbek-portfolio-page_Mother's Mission

A painting by Kuyukov entitled, “Mother’s Mission.”

“I think my mission on earth is to fight to become one of the last victims in the history of nuclear testing,” Kuyukov says in Andre Singer’s compelling film — Where the Wind Blew — about the tests in Kazakhstan and also in Nevada in the US. (The film is due to be available in the US via iTunes in the fall. You can view the trailer below.) 

Karipbek, now 50, wants “to ensure that this nuclear madness never happens again. So we can look with pride in the eyes of a new generation, the children who will live after us.” And he communicates that message through his painting.

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