Publications

“Chernobyl” Faithfully Recreates the World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster

Some of us were adults in 1986, some of us were children or teenagers, and some of us didn’t yet exist. Because of that, we all have different memories of Chernobyl – the world’s deadliest nuclear disaster.

That didn’t stop the screenwriter Craig Mazin, or the director John Renck, from creating the five-part mini-series Chernobyl, and it didn’t stop American network HBO, and the British network Sky, from producing the series.

Chernobyl is certainly a change of pace for both Renck and Mazin. Renck had directed episodes of the TV series Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Mazin had written the Hangover and Scary Movie movie franchises.

[…]

For those who don’t know much about the disaster, the series is an eye-opener. For those who do know what happened, the series is a near-perfect recreation of the events that took place in Soviet Ukraine on the morning of April 27, 1986.

 

Mazin said that Chernobyl arose out of his interest in writing something that addressed the fact that, “We are struggling with the global war on the truth.” For each episode, Mazin has created a podcast that can be found on Youtube.

Researching for the truth

To create the series, Mazin consulted many different kinds of sources, “from government reports to first person accounts to scientific journals to historical works, photo essays.” And, he worked hard to avoid putting false drama into his scripts because as he said, “So much of what happens in the show is just shocking. It’s shocking to believe that that’s what happened.

Well, our feeling was if we started pushing the envelope on those things then we would diminish the impact of all the things that we were accurate about, so we stayed as accurate as we could.”

— full story at interestingengineering.com

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UK unveils 2050 net zero carbon target

The UK is to enshrine a 2050 net zero emissions target in law, with an amendment to the Climate Change Act introduced on Wednesday.
It will make Britain the first major economy to legislate an end date for its contribution to global warming, following advice from the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

In one of her last acts as prime minister, Theresa May is to launch a youth steering group on the issue, meeting science and engineering students.

“Now is the time to go further and faster to safeguard the environment for our children. This country led the world in innovation during the industrial revolution, and now we must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth,” she said in an advance statement.

“Standing by is not an option. Reaching net zero by 2050 is an ambitious target, but it is crucial that we achieve it to ensure we protect our planet for future generations.”

The move has cross-party support and is expected to win parliamentary approval. It follows a declaration of “climate emergency” in May and bills from Labour and Conservative backbenchers urging the government to put the target into action.
— full story in RenewEconomy “UK unveils 2050 net zero carbon target, in a first for a major economy”

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Nuclear power exits Australia’s energy debate, enters culture wars

An update by Jim Green, June 13th

What do these politicians and ex-politicians have in common: Clive PalmerTony AbbottCory BernardiBarnaby JoyceMark LathamJim MolanCraig KellyEric Abetz, and David Leyonhjelm?

Yes, they’re all men, and all so far to the right of the political spectrum that right-wing ideologues think they are right-wing ideologues.

And they all support nuclear power. To the far-right, pro-nuclear luminaries listed above we could add the right-wing of the right-wing National Party (pretty much all of them), the Minerals Council of Australia (who lobby furiously for clean nuclear and clean coal), the Business Council of Australia, media shock-jocks Alan Jones and Peta Credlin (and others), the Murdoch media (especially The Australian newspaper), the Citizens Electoral Council, and the Institute of Public Affairs and its front group the Australian Environment Foundation.

It’s no surprise that the far-right supports nuclear power (if only because the ‘green left’ opposes it). But in Australia, support for nuclear power is increasingly marginalised to the far-right. Indeed support for nuclear power has become a sign of tribal loyalty: you support nuclear power (and coal) or you’re a cultural Marxist, and you oppose renewables and climate change action or you’re a cultural Marxist.

Support for nuclear power in Australia has ebbed in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, catastrophic costs overruns on reactor projects, and the falling costs of renewables. Dr Ziggy Switkowski used to be nuclear power’s head cheerleader in Australia and he led the Howard government’s review of nuclear power in 2006. But he said last year that “the window for gigawatt-scale nuclear has closed” and that nuclear power is no longer cheaper than renewables with costs rapidly shifting in favour of renewables.

Peter Farley, a fellow of the Australian Institution of Engineers, wrote in RenewEconomy earlier this year: “As for nuclear the 2,200 MW Plant Vogtle [in the US] is costing US$25 billion plus financing costs, insurance and long term waste storage.Read more >>

Government announces deregulation of risky new GM techniques

Government announces deregulation of risky new GM techniques the day before the election is called
Apr 18, 2019

On the day before the Federal election was called, the Government quietly announced changes to Australia’s Gene Technology Regulations that will allow a raft of new genetically modified (GM) animals, plants and microbes to enter our environment and food chain with no safety assessment and potentially no labelling.

These include super-muscly pigs, non-browning mushrooms, and wheat with powdery mildew-resistance.

The deregulation comes as a new study adds to the growing body of evidence that new GM techniques such as CRISPR are not as safe as claimed.

The study found that in 50 per cent of the cells looked at, the use of CRISPR resulted in unexpected effects, including the production of new proteins.

There is a risk that these proteins could be novel toxins or allergens. It is vital that GM animals, plants and microbes produced in this way are assessed for safety before being released into our environment and our food supply.

Commenting on the new study, London-based molecular geneticist Dr Michael Antoniou said, “The discoveries described in this study add to the increasing number of ways in which gene editing can go wrong. Regulators need to fully take on board these and other findings of off- and on-target unexpected outcomes from gene editing and subject all products produced with these methods to a comprehensive health risk assessment before considering market approval.”Read more >>