Looking Beyond Fukushima – Renewables Are Our Only Way Out

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By David Pringle, Campaign Director, NJ Environmental Federation

The tragic events of the devastation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors in Japan have triggered a long-overdue international conversation about moving away from energy policies that are based on 1950s technologies, destroying our environment and strangling our economies.

Having invested heavily in post World War II strategies to rebuild countries and global markets, governments put all their eggs in just a few baskets, namely oil, coal and nuclear while completely ignoring the need to safeguard and develop their own home. Earth. Investing in our renewable resources instead of exploiting them is a path we must follow.


By allowing the economies to be tied to the production of these dirty, dangerous and expensive practices, money-makers were and are still hoping to get every last penny from them before they are dried up. The result of this as we have found, is a planet that has been so compromised, it may never recover.

Renewables are our only way out. But the indoctrination and complacency that has been such a part of our culture is threatening to hasten our end, and be extremely costly in the process.

We have become a nation of “we can’t.” We have let the big business of energy convince us that they know the best way of supplying our ever-increasing need to have the newest and smartest techy toy.

We have bought into the false advertising gimmicks that have sold us that nuclear is carbon free, green and “too cheap to meter” Yet here we are 60 years later, still giving massive subsidies ($36 billion) to the nuclear industry, all the while, we have ignored the dirty, devastating, expensive business of mining the uranium needed for its production. We have allowed these same snake oil salesman folks to convince us that the fall-out from these plants is harmless, while not questioning the lack of scientific studies to confirm these theories.

Twenty-five years after the meltdown of Chernobyl, the first studies on the plant and animal life are beginning to emerge. Included in these studies are documented findings of mutations, eradicated species and other abnormalities (Dr. Timothy Mousseau-University of South Carolina.)

And yet, new discoveries and practices all around the globe are given little or no media attention. Everything from photovoltaic paints that will convert our buildings into their own solar plants, to cities in Europe running off energy supplied by offshore wind need to be touted, funded and endorsed.

We need to be bold. We must insist that all subsidies to oil and nuclear be stopped. Enact a cap to CO? emissions for fossil fuel producers and say yes to industry and technologies that develop transitional demonstration projects such as microalgae CO2 capture and liquid fuel production and new photolytic and electrolytic hydrogen producing energy plants.

We need to invest in the exciting works that scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are doing in harnessing wind, solar, water, and earth (geothermal.) We must also encourage the development of bio-mass and bio-fuels that do not destroy the food chain like ethanol.

Enabling industry by providing tax incentives to produce renewable technologies while at the same time providing training for a new “green” workforce will help stimulate business, protect the environment and local economies, and put folks back to work.

Promoting high energy efficiency technologies for personal and commercial usage is the way forward. From green building design to adoption of energy policies will yield significant CO2 reduction in the near future. A federal policy for energy efficiency, with state programs of education, incentives and yes, even mandates must be put in force for us to change our mindset from “we can’t” to we will and here’s how.

We are at a crossroads to define a new renaissance, and one that can be a Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy. Dr. Arjun Makhijani’s new book, Carbon Free, Nuclear-Free describes this path to achieve significant CO2 reduction at the same time realizing economic savings.Join us in this first step.

Dr. Makhijani PhD., will be the guest speaker along with Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates at the New Jersey Federation Conference on May 14th at the Rutgers Law Center in Newark. Both men are world-renowned experts in nuclear technology and policy. Dr. Makhijani is president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, and Mr. Gundersen has advanced degrees in nuclear engineering as well as being a former senior vice president with 39 years in the nuclear industry. Please visit http://cleanwateraction.org/conf2011 for more details.

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