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The L.A. Times (and Daily Beast) reported today that the Japanese government announced "a dramatic turn in its energy policy Friday," vowing to free Japan from all  nuclear-power reliance by the 2030s.  The energy plan the government set forward phases out nuclear power plants and calls for investing close to $500 billion over the next twenty years to expand renewable sources like wind and solar power. This could be a real tipping point for the wide development of solar and wind power, when a major industrial nations finds it to be feasible to change to near-complete reliance on renewables!

Two caveats to note:  Organizations like Greenpeace Japan are still concerned, despite the overwhelming public support in Japan for the change to reliance on renewables, that the government will give mere "lip service" to the plan now, to appease the public ahead of elections expected later this year.  Also, in the shorter term, Japan will increase its reliance on fossil fuels, until enough wind and solar plants are built to meet power demands.  Japan is currently the world's largest importer of liquefied natural gas, and it will increase its reliance on natural gas as it phases out nuclear energy.

But if the Japanese populace continue their pressure for this change, the government WILL spend that $500 billion.  Once spent, then the renewables industry becomes the biggest special interest around, and will act to continue and expand its footprint.  A benign circle effect.  All that money being spend on renewables will also lead to major improvements in the technologies, another aspect of the benign circle.

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Comment Preferences

  •  So a couple of things: (6+ / 0-)
    However, if, as many expect, Noda's party is replaced by a more conservative administration after the next election, there is no guarantee that the no-nuclear policy will survive.
    Troubling, but not as troubling as:
    In the short-term, however, the shift will force Japan to increase its already heavy dependence on oil and natural gas, calling into question its ability to reach internationally agreed CO2 emissions targets.
    Seems bad no matter how you cut it.

    Lo que separa la civilizacion de la anarquia son solo siete comidas.

    by psilocynic on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:41:53 PM PDT

    •  Important Points but watch the Big Picture (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      phonegery, mookins

      Yes, the first issue is a danger, and the second issue is a problem, but it seems an unavoidable one in the short term.  I'm not so much focused on the ending of the reliance on nuclear power as on the commitment to switching to renewables.  Once investment in renewables builds up, the commitment to relying on renewables is irreversible.  That's the big story here.  Regarding the government backsliding, I think Fukushima made such an indelible impression on the Japanese population that even a more conservative government would have great difficulty in canceling the plans to switch to renewables.

    •  Same thing I was thinking. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psilocynic
      liquefied natural gas - what a horror!
      I Love Kossacks. I learn so much from all of you! Rec'd, Tipped, Liked, This Diary.

      Talking about natural gas? I wonder if it's liquified natural gas that spectra plans to run through their proposed pipeline (link) [Updated Again] Stop Spectra's (Long-Haul Transportation), Gas Pipeline In NJ & NY!

      And here's how they plan to get all the gas!

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 07:35:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent (6+ / 0-)

    With Japan leading the way nuclear will no longer have their spokes country.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 05:47:12 PM PDT

  •  Oh Goodie. That should raise the death toll... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alain2112, gzodik, George Hier

    ...significantly.

    Right now the death toll - a large share of which derives from anti-nuke fear, ignorance and superstition - is reported to kill 3.3 million people per year, half of whom are under the age of five.

    I assure you that no one will give a rat's ass about any of these dead, but they will still work themselves into a tizzy of fear, ignorance and superstition while they run off on their paranoid freak out about the radioactive tuna fish.

    This spring, when Japan shut its reactors for its idiotic "nuclear stress test" people not only died from the normal operations of the fossil fuel plants that replaced them, but we saw the second largest year to year increase in dangerous fossil fuel waste concentrations ever recorded from April to April.

    I love it when our dumb anti-nukes cheer for coal, oil and gas while repeating the now fifty year old expensive and failed "renewable energy" chants, especially when they're coupled with glib and absurd soothsaying.

    In the last ten years, there have been major food crop failures on every major continent, which anyone with half a brain - and this obviously excludes the entire membership of Greenpeace - recognizes as the signature of rapid climate change.

    Still we have noodnicks, not one of whom shows any evidence of ever having opened a science book, railing insipidly against the world's largest, by far, source of climate change gas free energy because they pray and hope that eventually someone, anyone, will die from Fukushima so as to justify there five decades of inane and insane hysteria, fear and ignorance.

    By 2030?   Really?

    Maybe there won't be a 2030 in Japan, or for that matter anywhere else.

    Maybe there isn't going to be any fucking food for future generations.    Does that ever enter into the mind of our anti-nuke set?   Probably not.   Just as they don't give a rat's ass about the 3.3 million aforementioned dead, they don't, from the bizarre purview of their bourgeois disconnected navel gazing reality about who might starve in the near future.    After all the dead will mostly be poor people.

    Congratulations anti-nukes.   Heckuva job.  You must be very proud.

    •  Stop it, NNadir. (7+ / 0-)

      You're enlisting precisely zero new recruits.

      •  You, um, and your pals think I'm looking for... (0+ / 0-)

        ...recruits?

        Really?

        Hardly.

        You fucking won.   Congratulations.   This year, while you and the rest of the ignorance squad spend the whole year hoping that someone, anyone, will finally die from your paranoid Fukushima radiation fetish - and if you can't find one you'll make some up - 3.5 million human beings will die from air pollution..   Half of them will be under five.

        This is certainly just one of the Pyrrhic victories of the anti-nuke ignorance squad.

        Another is the collapse of grain crops all around the world - most recently in the United States - because of excessive heat.

        They failed in Europe in 2003 and 2012, in Argentina (2008), Australia (2003-2006), Russia (2010).

        That's not going to stop anti-nuke, and certainly I place moral responsibility for that travesty of those who have hated - out of ignorance, fear, and superstition - the world's largest, by far, source of climate change and the science behind it, the science of Glenn Seaborg, who oversaw the building of this country's nuclear infrastructure, building on the work of Eugene Wigner, Enrico Fermi and their peers.

        What we have learned as this precious planet dies that no amount of scientific integrity and depth can stand up to the power of fear, ignorance and superstition.   I have seen it with my own eyes, in a party that claims to have respect for science we have the sort of people who can produce a list of scores of radionuclides without getting the half life (or importance) of one, not even one right:

        Ant-nuke illiteracy writ large.

        By what right do you - the sort of person who has nothing, nothing at all to say about the aforementioned dead, the 3.3 million, half children under five - believe I would take your advice?

        Only in the mindless science hatred squad that comprises the membership of "nuclear free DKos" and other morally and intellectually hollow freak shows of the same ilk could my comment be interpreted as "seeking recruits."

        Nothing could be further than the truth.    I don't want recruits, least of all from a set of murderers who have worked their whole stupid lives to destroy the world's largest, by far, source of air pollution (including climate change gas pollution) source of primary energy in the world.

        You want me to stop saying that 3.3 million people will die this year from air pollution?   Forget it.   I'm not about to become a liar for the likes of an anti-nuke.   I despise anti-nukes, their ignorance, their fear, their superstition.   As far as I'm concerned, they are nothing more than serial killers, and as the World Health Organization link above show, serial killers of small children, on the order of 1.6 million per year.

        And make no mistake.  It's more than children.   It's more than people   Any careful reading of the scientific literature - not that you or any other anti-nuke is either interested in reading it or competent to do so - gives strong indications that this planet, where life has thrived for billions of years, is seriously threatened.

        You certainly don't need anything from me.   Fear, and ignorance and superstition are powerful things, more powerful than all the knowledge of the 3 Nobel Laureates I listed above.    Fear, ignorance and superstition won.

        Congratulations anti-nuke.   Heckuva job.  You must be very, very, very, very, very, very proud.

    •  Long Term Gain Is the Story Here (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, FG, Calamity Jean

      Well, that's quite a screed.  Nuclear energy definitely has the upside of not contributing as heavily to climate change as other fuels (but it does contribute - and I'll leave alone here the issue of dealing with nuclear wastes, as well as the potential for more Fukushima type meltdowns).  My main point here is that whatever type of power plant is being replaced, if the government is committing to building wind and solar power facilities, this is an unequivocal GOOD THING, from the time the new renewable facilities are built until they are decommissioned (which probably won't be for 100 years or more after being built).  

    •  Well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nirbama

      I wouldn't go quite that far, and I think you're selecting statistics on the remote end on one side and not the other, I tend to agree. If all of the power they were getting from nukes can be replaced with renewable, no-CO2-emitting sources, then great.

      In most places, we won't be able to do that entirely and we are getting very close to "triage" mode on climate change. It's terrible that that puts us in the place of putting us in triage mode in some places with nuclear waste, but when it comes to the whole planet, the choice is clear.

      The priority should be renewable sources, of course.

      I live about 5 miles as the crow flies from a nuclear plant and greatly prefer that to a coal plant.

      GOP: The Party of Acid rain, Abortion of the American Dream, and Amnesty for Wall Street.

      by Attorney at Arms on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 07:09:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, until the LDP wins the next election (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, journeyman

    I'll believe it when I see it

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:00:17 PM PDT

    •  The Japanese Government can't even get its (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slothlax, Keith Pickering, FG

      act together to outlaw the possession of kiddie-porn.  It can't overcome domestic opposition (mostly women who have absconded with their children in violation of custody agreements abroad) to sign the Hague convention on child abduction.  It would be really nice if they did this, but its mostly election-year pandering.  Japan only approved the pill after Viagra was introduced, because the old limp-dicked bureaucrats at the Health and Welfare Ministry wanted it so bad that they didn't insist on rigorous domestic testing, the last excuse they had for preventing the pill from being distributed.

      I really wish that they would do this.  I really wish that they would adopt alternative energy as a goal of their industrial policy so that they could once again become leaders in a cutting-edge field, but I've been burned by hope too many times.  Most likely the LDP will regain power and they'll build some more bridges to nowhere.

      Ceterum censeo Factionem Republicanam esse delendam.

      by journeyman on Sat Sep 15, 2012 at 06:38:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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