Monday, May 30, 2011

Germany to Shut Down Nukes Permanently

An enlightened Germany has decided to cut itself off at the knees--it has determined that the wealth, and the modern conveniences it produces, are not worth the risk of a tsunami creating a nuclear accident on its soil. Or something.

Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022.

The decision makes Germany the biggest industrial power to announce plans to give up nuclear energy.
One has to wonder how the German populace will feel about such a decision in the next decade or so as substantially less efficient energy sources become exponentially more expensive and herald in the economic stagnation, poorer living conditions, and poverty that such a change in policy will surely cause.

This is not to say that nuclear energy is cheap energy. It is more expensive than is energy driven by fossil fuels, but it is substantially less expensive than the "green technologies" that are being praised as the answer to the world's growing energy crisis. Which all seems to fit the German psyche just fine as German environmentalists and bureaucrats also seek a world where the use of coal and oil are largely discontinued.

At this point in our history, we simply possess neither the technologies nor the wealth necessary to adequately replace fossil fuels and nuclear energy as drivers to our modern economies. We are slowly creeping toward these goals, but we are far from finding the solutions.

There are only two possible short term answers then, despite any shallow protestations to the contrary. One is to merely accept lower living standards on a par with those portions of the world that today riot over the suffering created by their poor current living standards. A second is to merely, and intentionally, motivate a vast reduction of human life on planet Earth.

Many environmentalists and bureaucrats believe that they can simply leverage great advancements in our energy future by shoving absconded (or borrowed) money at solutions they perceive might work.

Corn ethanol is just such a disaster--where bureaucrats decided outside the free market that burning a renewable fuel would be a great solution to an energy shortage. Now that corn and other agricultural products' prices have risen dramatically, after millions of people around the world have starved, after Iowa has turned itself into a net importer of corn rather than an exporter, and after numerous ethanol producers are operating via government subsidy and under the protection of bankruptcy, we are discovering that the production of corn ethanol for energy is a net energy loser.

Studies have shown that more energy is used in the planting, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, and transporting of corn and ethanol than energy it can produce. (Not to mention that it takes 1,700 gallons of water to produce one gallon of ethanol.) Oh, and if that doesn't rot your socks off, ethanol is significantly less efficient per gallon than is gasoline.

Similar discoveries are being made in the wind and solar realms--though I suppose we can be thankful that tens of thousands aren't starving over the installation of massive and hideous bird-killing whirligigs that many refuse to even have built in their own neighborhoods.

These emerging and government driven technologies produce energy that is vastly more expensive to produce, vastly less efficient, and vastly less reliable than is either fossil or nuclear energy.

Manufacturing costs are huge, and transporting the energy from areas that are sufficiently sunny or windy enough to provide ample production make the expense of the energy ridiculously high--all this for a product that is likely not to work when the need is greatest.

Which will leave Germany exactly where?

Tomorrow's ultimate energy solutions will only come to fruition with the investment of wealth that today's inexpensive energy helps to create. Germany feels it can get there, instead, by destroying its country's short term wealth, and then by forcing contrived and undiscovered government solutions onto a gullible and helpless public.

The US, while not quite so addled, has within its borders a substantial number of politicians willing to ransom the livelihoods of their subjects to do the exact same thing.

The human experience on Earth, that is, up until the wealth generated by the industrial revolution and a previously untried economic experiment called "capitalism," was misery. It was disease, blight, starvation, endless labor, and poverty. It is still the way that many people on this Earth live.

If German leaders have their way, it is the way that future generations of Germans will be living too.

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