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Hydrangea

On Saturday I reported on Japan's 'Hydrangea Revolution'. The massive demonstrations have been ongoing for the past few weeks and are scheduled to keep right on going until the government backs down and stops the restart of the Ohi nuclear facility, where one unit was started over the weekend and two others are in preparation for restart.

The people want Ohi to shut down and stay shut down, along with the rest of Japan's nuclear energy reactors. The've had quite enough of fear, confusion and great loss. Not to mention baldfaced lies, corporate-governmental collusion, inadequate evacuations, sloppy to nonexistent decontamination, radiation in the air, water and food supply, corporate evasion of compensation, etc., etc., etc. All of this following the multiple-meltdown nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi beginning 16 months ago and continuing right up to this very moment. Optimistic projections by self-serving nuclear promoters claim that the mess should be cleaned up and secured in just 30 years or so. More realistic projections are ten times longer than that.

This past weekend the tens of thousands of Japanese citizens protesting on the streets or in subway tunnels while blocked by police got some help from a few tens of thousands of activist jellyfish who blocked the seawater intake for the restarted reactor 3 at Ohi. The senior vice minister of safety for the restart reports that the jellyfish were successfully "repelled" from their front line positions and as of today, July 9, the plant is now at full power. Ohi also had some issues over the weekend with lightning setting off radiation alarms outside units 1 and 2.

One might begin to suspect that Mother Nature doesn't approve any more than the citizens of Japan approve of this blind push to save the Japanese nuclear industry from its more than well-deserved demise. In which case it wouldn't hurt to remember that it was Mother Nature that took 'em down at Fukushima in the first place (aided and abetted by gross incompetence and criminal complicity among responsible humans).

Also, the internet-savvy hacker/leakers at Anonymous held their demonstrations in Shibuya and Tokyo on Saturday (July 7), and released on the same day 40 gigabytes of inside [nuclear] information to public outlets for dissemination. That release includes a private letter circulated by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, an industry group, which basically admits that there's no shortage of power in Japan without nukes, and that threats of brownouts are just for the purpose of pressuring for permission to restart as many reactors as haven't already been destroyed. Regardless of questions about safety or overwhelming public opinion against restarting any of them… ever.

Despite increasing police crack-downs, the demonstrations have been growing every week. On Friday nights the people gather outside the Prime Minister's office and residence in Tokyo, or are content to make their stand and demands wherever the police have them corralled. The demonstrations continue during the day on Saturdays in Tokyo and other cities throughout Japan, and outside of Ohi there is no let-up. It is clear that the Japanese no longer want nuclear electricity, and no longer trust either the industry or their government to provide power to their society. While many old coal/diesel plants were brought back on line to make up nuclear shortfalls, new natural gas plants have been built and brought on line to help, and expansion of solar installations with a new feed in tariff is beginning to rival Germany in only one year's time.

The fossil plants will be taken back out of service as renewables are brought on line, including offshore wind expansions. There is already no need for any of the nuclear plants, and the Japanese people know it because they're living it every day. I think it's time for government lapdogs to pay attention to the people, and for the industry to swallow their reality pills and clean up their mess.

Japan will survive without nuclear power, and be better for it. And if they can do it, so could we. The choices are open to us too, we just need to make them. And tell our government the same thing Japan is telling theirs... No Nukes.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Photos of the Japanese anti nuke Carp at (8+ / 0-)

    The Labor Notes Conference at the beginning of May this year. here is a sample:

    chicago_0505_0177.jpg

    the rest can be found here:

    http://www.flickr.com/...

    Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

    by Mentatmark on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 07:06:29 PM PDT

  •  Do you think many people are connecting the dots? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, Jim P, oortdust, John Crapper

    I'm very happy that so many people are coming to realize how dangerous fission power is, but burning hydrocarbons for energy is almost equally dangerous. (In terms of net effect, maybe even more dangerous.)

    Can you tell whether people in Japan are making the connection between the need to change the way energy is produced and the need to change the way they live with respect to resource conservation? Besides running lights and air conditioners, a great deal of energy goes into manufacturing products and packaging. Setting up recycling systems and designing products for reuse are excellent ways of cutting energy use. But my impression is that Japan isn't big on recycling, and maybe it isn't big on energy conservation in general.

    Am I wrong in this? What's the view like from where you are?

    My name isn't Joe. I just like coffee.

    by CupaJoe on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:21:12 PM PDT

    •  The Japanese now know (11+ / 0-)

      in no uncertain terms that nuclear power is too dangerous to tolerate. They've lost valuable territory that will remain dangerously contaminated for hundreds to thousands of years, complicated by the single worst ocean pollution disaster in the history of humanity - still ongoing 24-7-365. They know what they're doing, now at long last.

      They're filling in the shortfall - which is nowhere near the 30% their nuclear industry claims - with some old coal/diesel. Which gets shut down as alternatives come on line; natural gas, solar, geothermal and wind. Fossil is not a long-term strategy, it's a stopgap. I predict in 3-4 years' time fossil plants (apart from new gas plants) will all be shut down, without a single operating nuke. They'll be fine.

      I believe this will be inspiring to watch. The people are done with nuclear  power. That means the consent of the governed is withdrawn, and the Japanese take that rather more seriously than our country does. I doubt the nuclear industry is willing to risk going all Assad on the population in order to save the already-dead junior godling they got as a 'gift' from the folks who bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with this unholy technology in August of 1945. They will bury it.

      It's all over but the flopping and twitching.

      •  Joieau, you were sorely MISSED! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau

        Your writing on all things nuclear was what kept me coming, daily, to DK. It is heartening to have you back in the saddle again.

        Regarding the current state of Japan's energy supply and demand, doesn't it stand to reason that energy demand must have decreased? Offhand, I'm thinking the answer is yes: due to the enormous loss of human life, the wiping out of entire cities and villages, the destruction of numerous office complexes and factories in the business/industrial sector, along with significantly reduced production in the agricultural sector.

        Have you seen any reporting on this subject? A demonstrable reduction in Japan's energy demands would undercut arguments that the nukes need to be restarted ASAP. Given that prospect, this looks like the kind of info the nuclear industry might want to suppress. Thoughts?

        •  Aw, thanks PL. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PreciousLittle, jeanette0605

          gmoke just below says a 10% reduction in demand due to purposeful conservation, and that sounds about right. Turning off office lights at night, turning the thermostat up/down accordingly, changing out bulbs, etc. Plus the quick solar response to Fukushima, which had a great many households installing now instead of later, even before the new feed-in.

          But the loss of population, industry and territory no doubt affected demand as well. The lights are out in the exclusion zone, outside the plant. And will (or by rights should) stay out until long after everyone alive today is dead. Unfortunately, the Japanese government has shown no reluctance to sacrifice citizens for their friends in the nuclear industry. Thyroid issues - notably, lumps - have been documented in 30-40% of children in Fukushima and surrounding provinces in the plume paths. Their own government raised the 'allowable' dose for infants and children to 100 mSv after the accident. That is obscene and will turn out very badly.

          What they don't usually tell people about their ever so impressive Mw ratings on these beasts is that about half of what they generate and feed to the grid is used by the next nuke down the line to keep its systems going. And visa versa. Once the nukes are cut out of the consumption loop, people tend to discover they didn't need all that juice in the first place. The Japanese are now aware of this. As is the industry, as noted in that group letter cited in the diary per attempting to convince people otherwise by threatening (entirely unnecessary) brownouts.

          You can't put much of anything past nukes as to how far they'll go to protect their junior godling from ugly truths, though I am pleased that so far police crackdowns on Japanese protesters has been nowhere as nasty as American police crackdowns on OWS demonstrators. They probably would order violent head-cracking if they thought they could get away with it, but this time I think they know they won't. They've lost somewhere between 15 and 28 reactors to Mother Nature's little tantrum last year - none will ever run again, nor will they ever be replaced. That's up to HALF their entire fleet. Japan has proven to be the single most stupid place to site nukes that these sub-geniuses ever came up with, and now everybody knows it.

          So it's over.

    •  Energy Conservation (12+ / 0-)

      Last year, Japan used 10% less electricity than it used before Fukushima through stringent conservation.  Japan also has one of the most efficient grids with some of the lowest transmission losses in the world.

      There is a cultural prejudice on reusing some things which may make some aspects of recycling difficult.

      The Japanese have been installing solar energy at a great rate over the last year and have just voted in an incentive plan to increase the speed of renewable adoption.

      I suspect that the Japanese nuclear industry and the government recognized that if Japan could survive another summer, the time of their peak demand for electricity, without nuclear power, they would never be able to make the argument that nuclear power is necessary in Japan.

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

      by gmoke on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:38:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you asked the author, but here's my 2 cents. (9+ / 0-)

      It isn't like nuclear stands alone, and you bring out the related topic: if consumerism and Profit-is-godism don't die...well, if the nukes don't get us, the climate will, and if the climate doesn't, the multi-leveled pollution of the natural world and the drugs added to the mix will. And if none of those, the Banker/Politicians/Energy Producers/War God will.

      It seems to me of a piece, or perhaps like a hydra. In that context, stopping nukes is like a traffic accident where first you want to keep the cars from exploding, so as to have time to deal with the extraction and treatment of the injured.

      Since, even at this moment, nobody can honestly say it's impossible the accident/malfeasance at Fukushima won't force Tokyo, or larger areas of Japan, to be evacuated x-time from today... well, that'll sure go a ways toward fixing the consumer/production issues in Japan. Officialdom will likely count the costs of health-deterioration as part of the GDP if experience is a guide.

      To my mind, nukes and their failures are the dramatic manifestation of a deep corruption in all the world's ruling classes.

      As to carbon emissions: I read recently (sorry, too lazy to find link now) that 30% -- 30%! -- come from the practice of farmers burning the fields after harvest. And there are good traditional reasons to do this. Even when a lad on the farm, my father did that. But that, experience seems to show, is not necessarily the best thing to do for the land and future crop strength, that that practice could be replaced, and fairly easily with education and some clever management.

      There's something carbon-concerned pro-nukers seldom bring up. Again, as far as the carbon released from consumerism... maybe the ongoing economic collapse/revelations of Banker criminality will be playing a positive role in the long run. Should there be a long run.


      The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

      by Jim P on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:43:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, Jim. (4+ / 0-)

        I think you've described the depth of this corruption - for which nukes are primarily a facilitator and excuse, the most visible accoutrement of power on all those other levels per implicit threat to the rest of the world - darned well.

      •  quibbling, maybe (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        scarvegas, Joieau, Jim P, John Crapper

        I think we share the same goals in getting people to live more sustainably, and probably the same concerns about all the connections between resource use, industrialization, a consumer culture, etc...

        I don't know if 30% of the CO2 in a given year comes from burning crops, although that number seems like it might be too high. However, any carbon that comes from burning plants is carbon that was recently in the atmosphere anyway. Therefore, it's following a cycle and not increasing.

        It's the extra carbon that comes out of the ground in the forms of oil, coal, & gas that's the problem. The melting/gassification of frozen methane that lies beneath arctic waters is also a huge problem; maybe the last straw.

        My name isn't Joe. I just like coffee.

        by CupaJoe on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:08:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  just clarifying (7+ / 0-)

    The Anonymous Shibuya protest wasn't a nuclear thing, it was about the crazier Japanese version of SOPA and the government's plans to start NSA-style monitoring/archiving of everybody's internet traffic to enforce it.

    •  ...and the Anonymous (5+ / 0-)

      event in Tokyo was primarily a clean-up of the city around the area of the PM's residence and side streets where police had halted demonstrators. The demonstrators who got stopped before getting there, including the thousands stuck in subway stations, demonstrated anyway. And it was reported, so good for them!

      It should be considered and noted that authoritarian, police state like mass surveillance due to grossly overhyped paranoia comes fully attached to nuclear technology - that is and always has been part of its "charm" to the richest, most wannabe authoritarian nations on the planet. Recall that from the very moment the Wall Came Down (Cold War petered out, apparently surprising the heck out of authoritarians still using it to justify their black budgets and spy-vs-spy shit) we've been constantly regaled with imaginative tales of cave dwellers in Afghanistan, starving despots in Asia, petty tyrants in Iraq (and now Iran) who exist solely to nuke America, because they "hate us for our freedom." Only we don't have much of that anymore, and it's been in very short supply all my life - I'm not sure it ever really existed in the first place for anyone but the oligarchy.

      Hardly anybody notices that the ordered super-protections around nuclear plants in the wake of 9-11 were never actually done. Because the nukes know better and didn't bother to waste money on that crap. Accidents and disasters at nukes happen because of entirely predictable natural events made infinitely worse by human error/stupidity on all levels.

      So don't look for any ordered super-protections in the wake of Fukushima to actually get done either. Won't happen, nukes won't spend the money and the gub'ment won't force them. They can only raise utility rates so high before people give up and go elsewhere or install solar. Even this most deadly technology ever conceived in the evil hearts of men has its limits. And it has already reached them.

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