Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Five Charts That Show We Are on the Brink of an Unthinkable Financial Crisis- John_Mauldin
2.Bitcoin Parabolic Mania - Zeal_LLC
3.Bitcoin Doesn’t Exist – 2 - Raul_I_Meijer
4.Best Time / Month of Year to BUY a USED Car is DECEMBER, UK Analysis - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Labour Sheffield City Council Election Panic Could Prompt Suspension of Tree Felling's Private Security - N_Walayat
6.War on Gold Intensifies: It Betrays the Elitists’ Panic and Augurs Their Coming Defeat Part2 - Stewart_Dougherty
7.How High Will Gold Go? - Harry_Dent
8.Bitcoin Doesn’t Exist – Forks and Mad Max - Raul_I_Meijer
9.UK Stagflation Risk As Inflation Hits 3.1% and House Prices Fall - GoldCore
10.New EU Rules For Cross-Border Cash, Gold Bullion Movements - GoldCore
Last 7 days
Pension Crisis And Deficit of £2.6 Billion At Carillion To Impact UK - 22nd Jan 18
Two Factors for Gold That You Don’t Want to Miss - 22nd Jan 18
Why You Must Own Silver in 2018 - 22nd Jan 18
This Could Be The Hottest Mining Stock Of 2018 - 22nd Jan 18
Stock Index Trend Trade Setups for the SP500 & NASDAQ - 22nd Jan 18
Stock Market Deceleration / Distribution - 22nd Jan 18
US Markets vs Govt Shutdown: Stock Markets at all time highs - 22nd Jan 18
Land Rover Discovery Sport - 1 Month Driving Test Review - 22nd Jan 18
Why should you use high-quality YouTube to mp3 converter? - 22nd Jan 18
Silver As Strategic Metal: Why Its Price Will Soar - 21st Jan 18
Stocks, Gold and Interest Rates Three Amigos Ride On - 21st Jan 18
Why Sometimes, "Beating the S&P 500" Isn't Good Enough - 21st Jan 18
Bunnies and Geckos of Sheffield Street Tree Fellings Protests Explained - 21st Jan 18
Jim Rickards: Next Financial Panic Will Be the Biggest of All, with Only One Place to Turn… - 20th Jan 18
Macro Trend Changes for Gold in 2018 and Beyond - Empire Club of Canada - 20th Jan 18
Top 5 Trader Information Sources for Timely, Successful Investing - 20th Jan 18
Bond Market Bear Creating Gold Bull Market - 19th Jan 18
Gold Stocks GDX $25 Breakout on Earnings - 19th Jan 18
SPX is Higher But No Breakout - 19th Jan 18
Game Changer for Bitcoin - 19th Jan 18
Upside Risk for Gold in 2018 - 19th Jan 18
Money Minute - A 60-second snapshot of the UK Economy - 19th Jan 18
Discovery Sport Real MPG Fuel Economy Vs Land Rover 53.3 MPG Sales Pitch - 19th Jan 18
For Americans Buying Gold and Silver: Still a Big U.S. Pricing Advantage - 19th Jan 18
5 Maps And Charts That Predict Geopolitical Trends In 2018 - 19th Jan 18
North Korean Quagmire: Part 2. Bombing, Nuclear Threats, and Resolution - 19th Jan 18
Complete Guide On Forex Trading Market - 19th Jan 18
Bitcoin Crash Sees Flight To Physical Gold Coins and Bars - 18th Jan 18
The Interest Rates Are What Matter In This Market - 18th Jan 18
Crude Oil Sweat, Blood and Tears - 18th Jan 18
Land Rover Discovery Sport - Week 3 HSE Black Test Review - 18th Jan 18
The North Korea Quagmire: Part 1, A Contest of Colonialism and Communism - 18th Jan 18
Understand Currency Trade and Make Plenty of Money - 18th Jan 18
Bitcoin Price Crash Below $10,000. What's Next? We have answers… - 18th Jan 18
How to Trade Gold During Second Half of January, Daily Cycle Prediction - 18th Jan 18
More U.S. States Are Knocking Down Gold & Silver Barriers - 18th Jan 18
5 Economic Predictions for 2018 - 18th Jan 18
Land Rover Discovery Sport - What You Need to Know Before Buying - Owning Week 2 - 17th Jan 18
Bitcoin and Stock Prices, Both Symptoms of Speculative Extremes! - 17th Jan 18
So That’s What Stock Market Volatility Looks Like - 17th Jan 18
Tips On Choosing the Right Forex Dealer - 17th Jan 18
Crude Oil is Starting 2018 Strong but there's Undeniable Risk to the Downside - 16th Jan 18
SPX, NDX, INDU and RUT Stock Indices all at Resistance Levels - 16th Jan 18
Silver Prices To Surge – JP Morgan Has Acquired A “Massive Quantity of Physical Silver” - 16th Jan 18
Carillion Bankruptcy and the PFI Sector Spiraling Costs Crisis, Amey, G4S, Balfour Beatty, Serco.... - 16th Jan 18
Artificial Intelligence - Extermination of Humanity - 16th Jan 18
Carillion Goes Bust, as Government Refuses to Bailout PFI Contractors Debt and Pensions Liabilities - 15th Jan 18
What Really Happens in Iran?  - 15th Jan 18
Stock Market Near an Intermediate Top? - 15th Jan 18
The Key Economic Indicator You Should Watch in 2018 - 15th Jan 18
London Property Market Crash Looms As Prices Drop To 2 1/2 Year Low - 15th Jan 18
Some Fascinating Stock Market Fibonacci Relationships... - 15th Jan 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

6 Critical Money Making Rules

Big Oil Versus The Dangers of Nuclear Power

Politics / Crude Oil Mar 24, 2011 - 08:45 PM GMT

By: Eric_Walberg

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleAs oil prices soar and countries think twice about expanding nuclear power, we should be careful about where to point the finger, says Japan’s trauma following the partial meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima has once again brought to the world’s attention the dangers of nuclear power. From the start, it was clear that a broad advocacy of nuclear energy is bad ecology. Splitting the atom (or worse, fusing atoms) unleashes intense heat and radiation and produces poisonous waste that lasts for up to 10,000 years or more


But none of the estimated 18,000 deaths following Japan’s earthquake and tsunami were due to nuclear radiation, though long term exposure to the higher levels of radiation in the region will slightly increase cancer rates.

Nuclear power has a strong ecological argument in its favour as compared to the use of hydrocarbons. But using such lethal technology to make a light bulb glow, heat a house or charge a battery is like using a hammer to kill a fly. Appropriate technology in each case would suggest solar, thermal or wind power, tapping the mild warmth of the sun or earth or the movement of air, which produces far fewer side effects.

The advocacy of nuclear power was never about providing safe, clean energy. It was about justifying the technology itself, which was developed in WWII to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Making pacts with the devil is bad politics. Early advocates of nuclear technology, led by Albert Einstein, were appalled when the US dropped bombs on Japanese civilians in 1945, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people. He later rued the splitting of the atom, but it was too late. A handful of leaders in a nuclear elite club (Iran need not apply) can now destroy the entire planet hundreds of times over if the spirit moves them.

From the start, it was clear that the civilian use of nuclear technology was also lethal, the major problem being what to do with the toxic waste. Japan’s present crisis is not just the reactor meltdowns, but more about what’s happening to the tons of spent fuel rods, which ironically are not only poisonous, but continue to emit heat which evaporates the special cooling waters faster than they can be produced.

These dangers were known from the start and gave rise in the 1960s to a movement to end the use of nuclear energy for both peaceful and military purposes.

Nuclear power’s main energy competitor is of course Big Oil, which had no problem with nuclear weapons, but was not happy to lose its grip on the world’s major source of energy. Nuclear energy was not under their control, requiring by definition major government involvement and regulation of the industry. Its widespread use would leave Big Oil with falling profits, and would mean the end of Big Oil’s economic hegemony.

This led to a bizarre situation where oil companies both founded and funded ecology-related organisations, including the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, Nature Conservancy, Greenpeace, Sierra Club and others to protest the peaceful use of nuclear power. These groups have all received backing from the oil industry, notably Atlantic Richfield Oil and BP (formerly the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now employing greenwash by marketing itself as “Beyond Petroleum”). Recall that BP is responsible for the world’s worst environmental disaster in recent times, last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Big Oil’s logic has been to rein in the movement for the arguably cleaner nuclear energy and keep the very dirty oil flowing.

The 1960s anti-nuke movement effectively made a devil’s pact with Big Oil (much like the altruistic scientists in the 1930s did with the Pentagon) inadvertently helping the oil devil. Their “logic” presumably was: the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.

Though the US government officially promoted nuclear energy, from the start the US goal was to keep monopoly control of the technology (the Baruch Plan, 1946) through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA, 1957), a neocolonial-type institution which the US dominates.

But for Big Oil, rather than to prevent countries from building bombs – the intent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT, 1970), the goal has been to limit the use of civilian nuclear power. Given the budding anti-nuke movement and the fact that Big Oil has a firm stranglehold on US government, it has been able to discourage the US nuclear industry from expanding sales both domestically and around the world.

The period following the oil embargo by OPEC in 1973, when the Arab world tried to use its oil wealth to force Israel to finally make peace, was especially dicey, as many countries decided to opt for nuclear energy given the high cost of oil. Big Oil and the anti-nuke movement were successful in stalling this development (the peace movement, alas, was not successful in eliminating nuclear WMDs).

In the US no new nuclear reactors were ordered and scores of half-built or planned nuclear projects were cancelled after 1979. Plans by oil-poor Brazil and Germany to undertake nuclear programmes in the 1970s were cancelled. Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was planning a major nuclear power programme but was overthrown in a US-approved coup in 1977 as too close to the Soviet Union, and his successor General Zia cancelled Bhutto’s plans.

Iran started a nuclear power programme in the mid-1970s in conjunction with France and Germany; however, the Shah was already becoming too independent, using petrodollars for local development rather than to finance the US trade deficit. Khomeini was flown back to Iran as the Shah wrote in exile, “The Americans wanted me out,” and the nuclear energy programme was shelved.

As for the growing chorus for renewable energy technologies, which do not have the long term storage dangers of nuclear power, oil companies (especially BP and Shell) depict themselves as being on the forefront of research and buy up patents as they are developed, which will allow a controlled transition to non-oil energy — if necessary — but still in their hands.

So Big Oil deserves a backhanded tribute, our faint praise, for discouraging the proliferation of peaceful nuclear energy, though its motives were far from pure. Only Japan and France, both starved of hydrocarbon energy, produce the majority of their electricity via nuclear power. France has the cleanest air in Europe, the cheapest electricity, and, not having any faultlines, no record of nuclear disasters.

True, the legacy of nuclear technology is still on the whole negative. It culminated in a “Faustian bargain”, writes Richard Falk, “sold to the non-nuclear world: give up a nuclear weapons option and in exchange get an unlimited ‘pass’ to the ‘benefits’ of nuclear energy.” The NPT even promised complete disarmament by all existing nuclear powers, but this was the devil’s promise.

The IAEA and NPT were used to bully nations into complying with a stingy, invasive Western agenda, and there has been no disarmament for the big guys. Instead, the US and Russia agreed to START “arms control”, which amounts to them agreeing on how best to improve their nuclear WMDs. Even this figleaf was possible only after United States President Barack Obama bribed the senate by adding $80 billion to the Pentagon’s nuclear budget.

There is still an argument for nuclear energy. When you need a hammer, a hammer is the appropriate technology. For a spacecraft or submarine, the risks involved perhaps can justify its use. But unbridled use of nuclear energy merely to promote economic growth is not justified. And building nuclear plants on faultlines is the height of folly. Furthermore, it is the height of hypocrisy for the US to control the use of nuclear technology while maintaining its own massive arsenal of nuclear WMDs.

While we can thank Big Oil and its unwitting US governmental accomplices for slowing down the rush to nuclear energy, Big Oil is far more of a killer than is the nuclear power industry, both directly due to massive pollution and oil wars, and as a result of oil-fuelled global warming. Nature’s revenge for Big Oil’s activities will be far more lethal than for our use of peaceful nuclear energy.

The lesson from Japan’s earthquake is that there is no magic energy bullet. Giant wind turbines and ambitious solar farms create their own environmental and political problems. As oil prices sore and Big Oil gloats following Japan’s tragedy, we are reminded that we must reduce all our violations of nature to a minimum. That is the only truly safe sustainable development strategy. The devil you know and the ones you don’t know are still devils.

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/

© Copyright Eric Walberg, Global Research, 2011

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.


© 2005-2018 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules