[Marxism] Indo-US Nuclear Deal: EPW Editorial

dave.walters at comcast.net dave.walters at comcast.net
Fri Aug 17 11:09:30 MDT 2007


The "EPW Editorial" post by Sukla is a good one. Not that I agree with it, but it's
 the most concise, and honest look at the issues involved from the anti-nuclear power 
side of this debate. While there is the stringer issue of nuclear weapons, what is being debated (some) 
in India is indicative of the debates in many developing countries that 
are looking toward nuclear energy.    
 
The editorial states clearly:     
   "Yet, an enthusiasm for nuclear power and the need at all costs to build a 
Nuclear arsenal have both informed the domestic debate in the country. The 
left is right in arguing that the deal is part of a larger web of relationships 
"military, economic and political" which the US is drawing India into
 and that it should therefore be rejected for the dependency this engagement with 
the imperial power will create."
 
  This sums up, in fact, what is the main issue, or should be, for pro-people forces 
in India, or anywhere for that matter. Any group that does not start from this issue 
is going to be lost in a tangle of imperialist power politics, which needs to be avoided.  
 
The authors of his editorial then state: "Nuclear power is simply too risky and 
dangerous for India to see it as a major source of energy, and the expectations 
whether in terms of its contribution to electricity generation or to reducing 
greenhouse gas emissions are extremely unrealistic."
 
This is not only inaccurate but it is flip to make this false assumption without at 
least trying to back it up with some data or a proof, but we don't. We do get this:
 
"But the Indo-US deal will not make much of a difference for, even if the 
ambitious target for 2020 is achieved, nuclear will still account for no more 
than 8 to 10 per cent of the capacity India hopes to have on the target date. 
Second, all independent estimates point out that nuclear power is more expensive
 than other sources of energy ? thermal, hydro and renewable. Third, the new 
argument that nuclear will help combat global warming is illusory, for it has 
been shown that for that to happen a new nuclear plant has to come up every week!"
 
This is as interesting as it is uninformed. They argue that going from the current 3% 
of India's energy generation to 10% (it would be about 12% actually) "would make
 no difference". How's that? Adding 20,000 megawatts of non-Carbon emitting 
energy would not make a difference? Does 100 million tons of CO2 mitigated 
by not building coal plants mean anything?  That coal is killing people now 
seems to have completely been taken out of the picture. 
 
The second argument that "all independent estimates" make nuclear power to be 
more expensive is an outright display of ignorance. MOST independent sources 
make nuclear power one of the cheapest to run and cheaper than oil, gas or coal 
over the lifetime of the plant (which is longest in nuclear in any event). The 
"expensive" argument is more the stuff of anti-nuclear urban legend than any 
serious studies of either current plant production or future ones.
 
Lastly, the editorial writer admits that nuclear power mitigates global warming
 in the self-contradictory statement that nuclear power would if they could only
 build one every week! So it's no "illusionary" when in fact what we have to do 
is build more of them! I couldn't agree more.
 
If I were to criticize India's planners, I would say the 20,000 megawatts of new
 nuclear energy (20 nuclear power plants) over the next 15 years or so is not 
enough. They should be investing in 3 times or more of that number so as to 
phase out coal plants [which are killing people now, causing asthma now, which 
has no waste regulations now, which produced in India about 140 million tons 
of ash now, which dumps hundreds of millions of tons of carbon into the 
atmosphere now].
 
They need to continue and expand their research into thorium which eventually 
will be India's only energy savoir from the point of view of real energy
 independence. They could do this by scaling back the nuclear weapons 
production. 
 
The editorial writers instead propose "renewables". With no plan, no explanation, 
no budget suggestions. Nada. Zip. At best, this part of the editorial is nothing 
but liberal wishful thinking.
 
David


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