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Sanders’ Plan to Fight Global Climate Disaster Too Ambitious, Says NYT

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/21/sanders-plan-fight-global-climate-disaster-too-ambitious-says-nyt

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Though Sanders may not be an expert in the solutions needed to slow the climate emergency, he would nevertheless hire climate experts, rather than climate deniers, as our current POTUS does.

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Good to know the NYT’s doesn’t think our kids or grandkids deserve a future.

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“Worse, the bulk of the “experts” quoted by Friedman have unacknowledged conflicts of interest. … Hawken, who complained Sanders was too anti-nuclear, leads the Highwater Investment Group, whose top holdings have included Ford Motors and EnerNOC, now part of the energy conglomerate Enel, which produces nuclear power.”

For an organization all about fairness, that wasn’t even a little bit fair. Where is the conflict of interest because they held stock in Ford Motor Co.? As for EnerNOC, saying they “have held” EnerNOC stock suggests they held stock in EnerNOC before it became Enel X. (I don’t find Enel X listed among the top holdings of any of the Highwater investment companies that I can find.) Enel X offers energy solutions ranging from demand response to battery storage to electric vehicle chargers–nothing to do with nuclear power. And the part of the Enel conglomerate that bought EnerNOC was Enel Green Power North America (which has no nuclear holdings) which is a division of Enel Green Power (which has no nuclear holdings) which holds the consolidated renewable-energy portfolio of Enel S.p.A.–an international energy company based in non-nuclear Italy. Since the 70’s, Enel has tried to reduce their hydrocarbon holdings, and some of that included investment in companies operating nuclear plants (none of which are in North America) but they have been reducing their nuclear holdings for decades. So even if Enel S.p.A. still has a small fraction of nuclear in its large diverse portfolio, the proceeds from that represent negligible benefit to Enel Green Power (and any benefit it did derive would go into renewables), and even if Enel X benefits from being owned by Enel Green Power North America, such benefit will go into exactly the sorts of technologies that would be advanced by Bernie’s plan, and there is nothing to indicate nuclear power in the United States would ever benefit Enel S.p.A., or Enel Green Power, or Enel X, even if some Highwater company does still have holdings that I didn’t find in Enel X. So to call this an “unacknowledged conflict of interest” just looks preposterous. If everyone commenting on any issue had to declare every chain of connection to that issue as tenuous as this, the declarations would run to longer than the articles themselves. And I’m betting “FAIR” does not hold a standard this rigorous for everyone–just for people saying things they want to discredit. (Even if those things happen to be mainstream views espoused by people like James Hansen and the IPCC.)

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Clearly, the NYT does not want to address the climate disaster. It’s not denial, but it’s pretty close and maybe more damning.

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NYT sucks. Don’t read it, you’ll know more than if you did. A damning indictment of a publication professing to be a newspaper.

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It’s good to see FAIR still doing battle here. But the NYT is really no longer a major or respectable or representative source for news, though the inertia of the older population and particularly of academic standards brings them so much attention.

It would be good for FAIR to also confront and perhaps legitimize more viable sources.

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I’m inconsistently impressed or angered by the NYT. Don’t get me started on their coverage of Venezuela!!! So much the lapdogs (or stenographers) of the Administration’s effort to destroy that country with the harsh sanctions. My life has been changed in 2017 by climate change, as I had to leave town when smoke engulfed Portland, OR. That same year my sister living outside Napa was ordered to evacuate twice from her home because of encroaching fires. We can’t do too little too late, and we can’t be overly convinced by centrist-leaning opinion that thinks we can wait.
I’m disgusted that the article cites nuclear power as the answer. Germany is shutting down this power source. Hanford, the Washington state nuclear site, continues to leach radioactive material into the ground near to the Columbia River. I guess 3-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima never happened. Diablo Canyon is still operating in an earthquake zone. Geologists tell us that (a) new fault lines are being discovered in the U.S. frequently and (b) that fracking creates micro-fractures as well. Hey, does Mr. Hawken know how much new nuclear power costs in real dollars (with the cost of accidents and waste storage forever figured in)? Overall, while the article cites some supporting Sanders’ efforts in this regard, the overall impact is to question the Green New Deal. And, yes, this feels like corporate America telling us that we can somehow wait for the perfect leader (or Messiah?) to come forward with the perfect plan before we address climate change. And it somehow has to be cheaper to do so! (Oh, wait, we could attack that bloated military budget…) Go, Bernie. Live long and prosper. Nancy in Oregon

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Re-read the article and this time, if you are having trouble understanding the words, slow down and employ a dictionary and the latest IPCC report as assisting references. As for climate experts he already has many working with his campaign and he encapsulates their advice and information into his understandings and policy plans, however, to those who are in denial, no amount of facts are sufficient to alter their beliefs.

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People investing in transportation, energy production/distribution companies or any firm affiliated with fossil fuel recovery, refinement, distribution, or sales have conflicts of interest when it comes to issues of combating climate change and addressing the necessary adaptations needed to survive the damages which we can not avoid due to the emissions of the last 200+ years. You are part of the problem, not any part of the solution.

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While I am not totally opposed to nuclear power, I understand and concur that commercial nuclear power as it currently exists is completely unacceptable, especially as a private, commercial/profit-driven, industry.

I think the most apt response to that is the one you recently gave; “Re-read the article and this time, if you are having trouble understanding the words, slow down and employ a dictionary and the latest IPCC report as assisting references.”

Had you read the article and comprehended it, you might have noticed that Hawken said of Bernie’s plan: “the “sense of urgency in here is correct,” but it could be “more effective”—specifically, by embracing nuclear power.” (That is actually too generous. Bernie’s plan doesn’t merely fail to embrace nuclear power, it seeks to eradicate it in all its present and future forms.) So the only identified departure Hawken had from Bernie was on the subject of nuclear. And that was the only issue that “FAIR” linked to Hawken in their claim of undisclosed conflict of interest, referring to him as “Hawken, who complained Sanders was too anti-nuclear”. So how does holding stock in Ford Motor Company create a conflict of interest when it come to thinking nuclear power could help?

“You are part of the problem”

I had a similar thought about you. At least one of us is incorrect. How do you know it isn’t you? My view accords with the recommendations of James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley, and the IPCC. Do you see them as part of the problem too?

This is why I no longer watch cable news or rely on a single newspaper. When that 500-page report on climate change by the world’s scientists was leaked to the NYT, cable news just went on and on about the leak but didn’t talk about what was in the damn report. You could, however go to the NYT web page and find a link to the actual report, so the NYT was good for something. I got about 35 pages in and was horrified, since it was all about what global warming had already done to the planet, and if I kept on reading I’d want to slash my wrists. To be honest, I think we’re doomed no matter what, because (1) the corporations won’t stop and (2) most Americans are too ignorant to grasp what’s happening and why.

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Citations?, which confirm your assertions that Senator Sanders is opposed to any form of nuclear power, as opposed to the corrupt for profit privately controlled systems we have seen throughout the last half of the 20th century and the first couple of decades of the 21rst century.
Likewise, please cite and reference exactly what James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley, and the IPCC, have said that you support and agree with. I haven’t seen anything you’ve posted which would concur with the latest findings and understandings of any of these individuals

It seems that you are a nuclear power advocate, as am I. My problem isn’t with the technology, it is with the cost/corner-cutting profit-first focus of private corporations and contractors building and running nuclear power generation systems with the primary goal of maximizing profits.

Is your interest in producing safe, clean, inexpensive nuclear power, or are you merely promoting the same problematic profit-first privately owned nuclear power industry we have seen since '57?

Bulletpoint: “Ban Nuclear Energy: We must stop building new nuclear power plants”
from feelthebern (dot) org/bernie-sanders-on-energy-policy/

Bulletpoint: “Transform our energy system to 100 percent renewable energy”
berniesanders (dot) com/en/issues/green-new-deal/
(The word “renewable” is a marketing terms specifically designed to exclude any form of human-controlled nuclear power)

Bulletpoint: “Phase out the use of non-sustainable sources. This plan will stop the building of new nuclear power plants …
To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators.”
(ibid)
(Note that this also excludes contribution from non-emitting Allam-cycle combustion plants.)

If you think Sanders has left the door open for any kind of nuclear power in the future under his plan, do feel free to give a citation for where you got that idea. I would love to hear about it. I’ve written the Sanders campaign to urge just that, and all I got back is a terse note that Sanders longstanding opposition to nuclear power has been vigorous and consistent and Sanders supporters can count on him to keep to those values and continue the fight until all nuclear power has been eliminated.

“Likewise, please cite and reference exactly what James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley, and the IPCC, have said that you support and agree with.”

James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley:


Specific passages:
“Nuclear power, particularly next-generation nuclear power with a closed fuel cycle (where spent fuel is reprocessed), is uniquely scalable, and environmentally advantageous.”
“The climate issue is too important for us to delude ourselves with wishful thinking. Throwing tools such as nuclear out of the box constrains humanity’s options and makes climate mitigation more likely to fail. We urge an all-of-the-above approach that includes increased investment in renewables combined with an accelerated deployment of new nuclear reactors.”

“IPCC confirms need for low-carbon nuclear to tackle climate change”

“According to a United Nations report released on 8 October, a sharp increase in nuclear energy production is needed to keeping global warming below 1.5°C.”
http://www.sfen.org/nuclear4climate/ipcc-report-more-nuclear-power-is-needed-to-meet-the-paris-agreement

“I haven’t seen anything you’ve posted which would concur with the latest findings and understandings of any of these individuals”

Anyone familiar with my often-reiterated position knows that I fully agree with the above-stated positions.

“It seems that you are a nuclear power advocate, as am I.”

Which means that so far as Bernie is concerned, you are part of the opposition.

“My problem isn’t with the technology, it is with the cost/corner-cutting profit-first focus of private corporations and contractors building and running nuclear power generation systems with the primary goal of maximizing profits.”

One does not have to be in favor of every possible form of nuclear power in order to be pro-nuclear. All it takes is advocating for even one kind. As it is with using fire and electricity, one can be in favor of a few reasonable, safe, and productive uses, despite there being a zillion possibe ways to do any of those badly.

“Is your interest in producing safe, clean, inexpensive nuclear power,”

My interest is in opposing obstacles to the development of safe, clean, inexpensive nuclear power. I will not be producing any myself.

“or are you merely promoting the same problematic profit-first privately owned nuclear power industry we have seen since '57?”

Clearly you are unfamiliar with my posting history. One of the potential benefits of next-gen nuclear I often highlight is that it could help to displace and retire old-tech nuclear sooner–as well as reduce long-term risk by cleaning up the legacy accumulation of spent fuel (as well as depleted uranium, surplus bomb fuel, and some of the by-products from bomb-fuel production).

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A piece of the answer. We need all our best tools to displace fossil carbon, and we need to develop better tools.

“Germany is shutting down this power source.”

For no good reason. And as a result, it has made very modest headway on reducing carbon emissions despite a very large investment in wind and solar.

“Hanford, the Washington state nuclear site, continues to leach radioactive material into the ground near to the Columbia River.”

Not from the Columbia Generating Station. The leakage is from the poorly-contained waste from weapons production.

“I guess 3-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima never happened.”

I guess you think technology cannot advance.

“Diablo Canyon is still operating in an earthquake zone.”

We can build reactors that are designed to operate on pitching seas, and smashing through ice. Diablo Canyon is rated for the most likely quake magnitudes, and melt-down-proof reactors in development should be able to operate even in severe earthquake zones.

“Hey, does Mr. Hawken know how much new nuclear power costs in real dollars”

You mean new builds of old-tech nuclear. We are unlikely to see much more of that, except in smaller form factors (such as Nuscale). But new kinds of nuclear look like they have very good potential to knock the price down into the competitive range.

“Overall, while the article cites some supporting Sanders’ efforts in this regard, the overall impact is to question the Green New Deal.”

I question why Sanders is determined to shut down all new nuclear development and why he excludes carbon capture. Those exclusions were unnecessary, and they make his plan harder, slower, and more expensive to pursue.

None of your citations support the qualifications I listed.
Sander’s has committed to following the lead of the experts, so long as they are not looking at repeating old mistakes. He is not objectionable to new technologies, he is contemptuous of any economic system which attempts to make the production of clean, safe, inexpensive nuclear energy a secondary consideration to quarterly profit returns. I too oppose commercial Gen1-3 nuclear power systems as well as most proposed next-gen and gen-x systems as they don’t eliminate the most dangerous aspect of nuclear power generation, capitalism. We can’t save the world by destroying it.

I have not seen any indication anywhere that Sanders qualifies his opposition to nuclear power in the way you describe. Everything points to his position as being to shut down the reactors we have as soon as possible and to issue a blanket, comprehensive ban on building any new reactors, and he has repeatedly specified that his goal is to get 100% of electricity from renewable energy sources, which leaves roughly 0% room for nuclear.

“Sander’s has committed to following the lead of the experts,”

When it comes to nuclear power and carbon capture, he is already not doing that. And I know some experts have tried to change his mind about this, to no avail.

“so long as they are not looking at repeating old mistakes.”

He appears to be bent on making new mistakes.

“He is not objectionable to new technologies,”

Not objectionable to new renewable energy, and storage, and efficiency technologies. If you think he’s leaving the door open for new nuclear technologies, I think you are dreaming. If he gets his way, he will issue the blanket ban, he will stonewall or fight to unwind the nuclear innovation acts Congress passed last year, he will do likewise to the regulatory reform acts, he will make regulations much tighter and more punitive, and all the next-gen nuclear projects currently under way will dissolve when he has obliterated all pathways to deployment and commercialization. And instead of the innovative, high-quality reactors we could develop, the world will wind up buying inferior nuclear from Russia, India, and mostly China, and the cost to the global decarbonization effort could wind up being greater than whatever good he is able to accomplish in the U.S. after limiting his options to only using renewable energy–a tragic instance of good intentions going horribly wrong because he let ideology overrule reason and science.

“he is contemptuous of any economic system which attempts to make the production of clean, safe, inexpensive nuclear energy a secondary consideration to quarterly profit returns.”

Next-gen developers in the U.S. (and Canada) are attempting something new. They are overwhelmingly private teams trying to develop reactors which are actually optimized for civilian commercial use. Old-tech nuclear was developed in government labs for military purposes, and then military and political leaders chose and shoehorned one of the military designs into its civilian role, even if it was a horrible mismatch for that role. And top priority for the next-gen teams is to make these reactors safe, because they see that as the first requirement to having reactors which can compete in commercial markets. The earliest of these reactors will also have a waste profile much smaller than old-tech reactors, but for the sake of speed, they will not fully close the fuel cycle. That will come later, with molten salt fast reactors, but that short delay doesn’t matter. Once we have them, they will be able to consume all the different kinds of legacy spent fuel and fuel waste.

“I too oppose commercial Gen1-3 nuclear power systems as well as most proposed next-gen and gen-x systems as they don’t eliminate the most dangerous aspect of nuclear power generation, capitalism.”

The same is true of every other kind of energy system. None of them will eliminate capitalism. So you oppose all of them?

“We can’t save the world by destroying it.”

If next-gen developers succeed in making nuclear energy cost-competitive, ordinary market forces will drive rapid deployment. Technology and energy revolutions and transitions are commonplace–once a new technology reaches the point of being able to outcompete older technologies. Social, cultural, and economic revolutions, on the other hand, are relatively rare, usually messy, usually confined to a country or region, and are prone to being derailed into directions the revolutionaries did not intend. Safe, commercial nuclear power, deploying and operating within the system we have now, is not going to destroy the world. It may be one of our best chances to save it.

Dear NYT- You will soon understand Jack London’s theory " Tooth and Fang ".

well, of course

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-new-york-times-wont-stop-pushing-democrats-right/
The New York Times Won’t Stop Pushing Democrats Right