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Renewables to Rival Coal for Power Generation in 2035

Source: Bloomberg

Renewable energy is set to rival coal as the main generator of the world’s electricity by 2035 as the costs of technology fall and subsidies rise, the International Energy Agency said.

Wind farms, solar parks and hydroelectric dams are forecast to become the second biggest power generator in 2015 and rise to almost a third of all generation in 2035, a level approaching that of coal, the Paris-based agency that advises 28 nations on energy policy said today in its annual outlook.


By 2017, all the allowable emissions will be locked in if no action is taken to slash carbon dioxide, the IEA said. The world could postpone that lock-in by five years to 2022 through the “rapid deployment” of energy-efficient technologies, it said. That would buy time to secure a global agreement to slash greenhouse gases, according to the agency.


Investment of $11.8 trillion in existing energy-efficient technologies could be more than offset by reduced need for spending on fuel, and could help boost cumulative global economic output over that period by $18 trillion, the IEA said.


Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-12/renewables-to-rival-coal-for-power-generation-in-2035.html

Controversial Former Progress Energy CEO Appointed to Head TVA


Controversial Former Progress Energy CEO Appointed to Head TVA

November 5th, 2012 › Clean Energy, Utilities › Dr. Stephen A. Smith ›

Today’s appointment of former Progress Energy CEO William Johnson as the new CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is raising the eyebrows of clean energy advocates across the region, including here at SACE. Though willing to maintain an open mind, I’m surprised that TVA’s Board would hire Mr. Johnson with his controversial past.

Of course, I’m referring to the sudden removal of Johnson by the Duke Energy Board in July just hours after his appointment as CEO of the company following the merger with Progress Energy. This highly unusual series of events sent shockwaves through the utility industry, setting off regulatory hearings and triggering considerable back and forth between the two companies. While we may never know the full story of why Johnson was so abruptly dismissed, there are some known facts which would make one question whether or not he is the best fit to lead TVA.

Under Johnson’s leadership, Progress Energy Florida (PEF) chose to self-manage an upgrade project at its troubled Crystal River 3 (CR3) nuclear reactor located north of Tampa, FL as opposed to bringing in outside experts. Progress chose a “do it yourself” approach to a complex steam generator upgrade that led to major cracks in the containment vessel. Progress Energy’s attempts to repair the cracks have led to further damage to the containment structure. Duke Energy had such a lack of confidence in the numbers that Progress Energy reported, the utility commissioned an independent report itself to evaluate the costs, which was recently released to the Florida Public Service Commission — you can find the full report here.

The reactor has been offline since September 2009 and, if successfully repaired, will cost at least $1.5 billion to repair and won’t be back in service until 2016. Customers are already paying $300 million per year for replacement power. The critically damaged reactor is now commonly referred to as the “Humpty Dumpty” reactor. Johnson oversaw the company’s failed decision to “self-manage” the steam generator upgrade, rather than have experienced vendors execute the upgrade. He has been accused of failing to communicate the seriousness of the reactor’s problems leading up to the Duke-Progress merger, low balling the cost to make needed repairs and doggedly wanting to repair the reactor despite mounting evidence that shutting it down may be the better fiscal decision for ratepayers in Florida.


Documentary brings a dark side of nuclear past to light


Documentary brings a dark side of nuclear past to light

By Adrian Gomez / Asst. Arts Editor, Reel NM on Sun, Nov 11, 2012

Adam Jonas Horowitz began his journey as a filmmaker more than 25 years ago. The Santa Fe resident traveled to the Marshall Islands in 1986 on a whim. What he discovered there was shocking.


Upon arriving 20 years after his first visit, Horowitz says, he thought the film was just going to be an update of his first film. But what he found were stories of human radiation experiments.

“I didn’t believe it and was quite skeptical of the stories I was being told,” he says. “But I started to meet a lot of survivors of the experiments and the story became stronger. I think in northern New Mexico, we get a pretty rose-colored view of the labs. We are taught that the labs created peace and kept the Soviet Union at bay. We’re getting a very sanitized view, and I found the history is so much darker than we were ever taught.”

The documentary has been on the film festival circuit for the past year and has been garnering various accolades. It recently was nominated for best environmental film at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. It picked up the audience award at the Cinema Planeta International Film Festival in Mexico City and won the jury prizes for best documentary at the Chicago Peace on Earth Film Festival and the Festival International du Film d’Environment in Paris.


AQ Khan: Father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb jumps into politics

Source: Christian Science Monitor

AQ Khan, lauded by many Pakistanis for giving the country the bomb, has launched a political movement targeting the youth vote. He has been accused of selling nuclear secrets to North Korea and Iran.

The father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb has launched a political party, which plans to participate in the next presidential election slated for early 2013.

Abdul Qadeer Khan has started a 100-day campaign to tour Pakistan, starting with Kahuta, home to the first nuclear facility in Pakistan, established just outside Islamabad, during the 1970s.

“The current leadership in Pakistan is corrupt and it needs to change. I will go around the country to appeal to students, professionals, and the civil society to vote for the right people, since the upcoming elections are around the corner. They look up to me so they will listen to me,” Dr. AQ Khan said in a telephone interview.

Though Khan's sentiments echo a popular sentiment in Pakistan, observers say that the launch of his party, the Tehreek-e-Tahaffuz Pakistan or Save Pakistan Movement, highlights a desire for change within Pakistan.


Read more: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-South-Central/2012/1111/AQ-Khan-Father-of-Pakistan-s-nuclear-bomb-jumps-into-politics

International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War to visit Iran

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency

A team of European physicians and students of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War are due to visit Iran on November 11-15.

Tehran Peace Museum said that the team composed of physicians from Sweden, Turkey, Norway and Denmark will pay a visit to Tehran at an invitation from Tehran Peace Museum and the Society for Supporters of Chemical Weapons Victims.

The team will meet the war disabled physicians and Foreign Ministry officials.

The team will also meet university scholars on issues such as how to root out weapons of mass destruction and responsibility of the medical communities in this regard.


Read more: http://www.payvand.com/news/12/nov/1087.html

Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist


Distorted Visions of Buddhism: Agnostic and Atheist

By B. Alan Wallace

As Buddhism has encountered modernity, it runs against widespread prejudices, both religious and anti-religious, and it is common for all those with such biases to misrepresent Buddhism, either intentionally or unintentionally. Reputable scholars of Buddhism, both traditional and modern, all agree that the historical Buddha taught a view of karma and rebirth that was quite different from the previous takes on these ideas. Moreover, his teachings on the nature and origins of suffering as well as liberation are couched entirely within the framework of rebirth. Liberation is precisely freedom from the round of birth and death that is samsara. But for many contemporary people drawn to Buddhism, the teachings on karma and rebirth don’t sit well, so they are faced with a dilemma. A legitimate option is simply is adopt those theories and practices from various Buddhist traditions that one finds compelling and beneficial and set the others aside. An illegitimate option is to reinvent the Buddha and his teachings based on one’s own prejudices. This, unfortunately, is the route followed by Stephen Batchelor and other like-minded people who are intent on reshaping the Buddha in their own images.

The back cover of Batchelor’s most recent book, entitled Confession of a Buddhist Atheist, describes his work as “a stunning and groundbreaking recovery of the historical Buddha and his message.” One way for this to be true, would be that his book is based on a recent discovery of ancient Buddhist manuscripts, comparable to the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Nag Hammadi library for Christianity. But it is not. Another way is for his claims to be based on unprecedented historical research by a highly accomplished scholar of ancient Indian languages and history. But no such professional research or scholarship is in evidence in this book. Instead, his claims about the historical Buddha and his teachings are almost entirely speculative, as he takes another stab at recreating Buddhism to conform to his current views.


While there are countless references in the discourses of the Buddha referring to the realization of emptiness, Batchelor claims, “Emptiness…is not something we ‘realize’ in a moment of mystical insight that ‘breaks through’ to a transcendent reality concealed behind yet mysteriously underpinning the empirical world.” He adds, “we can no more step out of language and imagination than we can step out of our bodies.”12 Buddhist contemplatives throughout history have reportedly experienced states of consciousness that transcend language and concepts as a result of their practice of insight meditation. But Batchelor describes such practice as entailing instead a state of perplexity in which one is overcome by “awe, wonder, incomprehension, shock,” during which not “just the mind but the entire organism feels perplexed.”13

Batchelor’s account of meditation describes the experiences of those who have failed to calm the restlessness and lethargy of their own minds through the practice of samadhi, and failed to realize emptiness or transcend language and concepts through the practice of vipashyana. Instead of acknowledging these as failures, he heralds them as triumphs and, without a shred of supportive evidence, attributes them to a Buddhism that exists nowhere but in his imagination.


China proposes space collaboration with India


China proposes space collaboration with India
PTI Nov 2, 2012, 09.22PM IST

BEIJING: China today rolled out a red carpet to "Missile man" and ex-President APJ Abdul Kalam on his first visit to the country, proposing a joint collaboration for a space solar power mission with India and inviting him to teach at the prestigious Peking University here.

In a surprise move, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the official body operating host of China's space missions as well as satellite launches, invited Kalam to its headquarters where he was given a "great reception" by the Chinese scientists.

Besides briefing the 82-year-old Kalam about its recent mission to send three astronauts, including China's first woman to space, CAST officials have shown "great interest" in partnering the mission with international collaboration for Space based Solar Power initiative, said V Ponraj, a scientist who is part of Kalam's delegation.


"Kalam assured, certainly he will take up this interest to the Government of India and ISRO, so that a hard cooperation and collaboration between ISRO, DRDO and CAST is realised on one of the great mission, may be Space-based Solar Power initiative so that both India and China can work for long term association with proper funding along with other willing space faring nations to bring space solar power to earth," the statement said.


Kalam is an aerospace engineer and was president of India from 2002 to 2007.

Via http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/#articles

Rokkasho and a hard place: The government’s fudge on its nuclear future remains unconvincing


Japan’s nuclear future
Rokkasho and a hard place
The government’s fudge on its nuclear future remains unconvincing

Nov 10th 2012 | ROKKASHO | from the print edition

THIS remote north-eastern coastal village in Aomori prefecture would delight a North Korean or Iranian spy. Not because of the rolling countryside, but the uranium-enrichment facility, the plant undergoing testing to make nuclear fuel by reprocessing spent uranium and plutonium, and the stash of a good part of Japan’s stockpiles of more than nine tonnes of separated plutonium—enough, experts say, to make more than 1,000 nuclear warheads.


The plant plays a strong hand, though its completion is 15 years behind schedule and it has been a financial black hole.


Government officials say that without Rokkasho, Japan might swiftly have to abandon nuclear power for good. The plant is supposed to process the spent fuel that is backed up in temporary storage tanks at nuclear-power plants. If that waste is not processed, and no agreement is reached on where to store it more permanently, safety concerns would only grow. “Without Rokkasho, we would not get approval to restart the other reactors—not ever,” says a member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Since the country’s reactors were shut down, the political establishment has quietly hoped that a looming electricity shortage will turn voters back on to nuclear power.

Then comes the international dimension. Officials say that when the DPJ made its commitment to phase out nuclear power, the United States, as well as Britain and France, expressed serious concern. Partly, they raised proliferation fears, one official says. If Japan, with the largest separated plutonium stockpile of any official non-nuclear-weapons state, carried on reprocessing spent fuel while phasing out the plants, then it would send the wrong message to potential nuclear rogue states, the Americans argued. To overcome that worry, the government quickly reassured Japan’s friends that the 2030s date was more of an objective than a commitment.


In 1st foreign policy move since Obama’s re-election, administration sets new Iran sanctions

Source: Associated Press

The Obama administration has imposed financial sanctions against officials and government bodies in Iran that the U.S. blames for jamming satellite broadcasts and blocking Internet access for ordinary Iranians.

Thursday’s action is the first foreign policy announcement since President Barack Obama won re-election.


Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-1st-foreign-policy-move-since-obamas-re-election-administration-sets-new-iran-sanctions/2012/11/08/84c7cefa-29d7-11e2-aaa5-ac786110c486_story.html

Good - shows that Obama is firm in his commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Perhaps Iran would do a complete turn-around if its leaders read the current issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists;


... a special issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, "The German Nuclear Exit," shows that the nuclear shutdown and an accompanying move toward renewable energy are already yielding measurable economic and environmental benefits, with one top expert calling the German phase-out a probable game-changer for the nuclear industry worldwide.


Obama to continue efforts to curb greenhouse gases, push energy efficiency


Obama to continue efforts to curb greenhouse gases, push energy efficiency

By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson, Published: November 7

President Obama’s reelection, along with key wins by Senate Democrats, ensures that the federal government will press ahead with efforts to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency and to curb greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.

But the scope of these policies could be constrained by congressional opposition and by concern over their economic impact, making it likely that a second Obama term will deliver some, but not all, of environmentalists’ top priorities.

Investors were quaking already, pummeling shares of coal-mining companies that waged a vigorous advertising battle against Obama’s reelection and which are potential casualties of any curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Shares of Peabody Energy fell 9.6 percent Wednesday, Arch Coal plunged 12.5 percent, Consol Energy dropped 6.1 percent, and Alpha Natural Resources sank 12.2 percent.


“What we expect is the president to deliver on climate, roll up his sleeves and build on the modest success of what he’s done so far,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, adding, “There’s a great overlap between what we want and what we think we will get” in a second term.


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