[Marxism] Obama's Science Advisor: Ecology and Nuclear Power

Sukla Sen suklasenp at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Dec 21 00:38:00 MST 2008


Quote
The selection of John Holdren as chief science advisor
to the President provides one more reason for
believing that the second Atomic Age is gaining
momentum and will soon be a self-evident reality.
Unquote
 
This claim sits rather uncomfortably with what comes
from the horse's mouth:
Quote

    5. My written statement explains why the role of
nuclear energy in reducing U.S. oil-import dependence
in the short to medium term will be modest; discusses
the possibilities for a larger role for nuclear energy
in reducing climate-change risks over the longer term;
and summarizes the recommendations of the 1997 and
1999 PCAST energy studies for increased Federal R&D --
and increased international cooperation -- to improve
nuclear fission and develop nuclear fusion.
    6. A key point is that the chances of getting an
expanded contribution from nuclear fission will be
enhanced by making fission energy systems as simple,
cheap, safe, proliferation resistant, and
noncontroversial as possible. Reprocessing spent fuel
for recycle of its plutonium -- and breeder reactors
that depend on this -- go in the wrong direction in
all of these respects: they make fission energy more
complex, costlier, riskier, more proliferation-prone,
and, correspondingly, more controversial. And there
will be no sound economic or resource-availability
justification for reprocessing or breeding for the
next few decades, at least. Accordingly, the United
States should continue to defer reprocessing and
commercialization of breeder reactors, and should
increase its efforts to persuade other countries to
defer these steps also. The time gained by
postponement can be used to strengthen the
institutions of nonproliferation and to try to develop
technologies that can make reprocessing and recycle
less expensive, more proliferation resistant, and less
emisions- and waste-intensive.
Unquote
 
I/II.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/21/obama-climate-change-john-holdren
 
Obama's revolution on climate change
• Leading green scientist joins team
• Appointment signals new US policy

Barack Obama ushered in a revolution in America's
response to global warming yesterday when he appointed
one of the world's leading climate change experts as
his administration's chief scientist.

The president-elect's decision to make Harvard
physicist John Holdren director of the White House
Office of Science and Technology Policy reveals a new
determination to draw a line under eight years of US
policy that have seen George Bush steadfastly reject
overwhelming evidence of climate change.

.....

"Today, more than ever before, science holds the key
to our survival as a planet and our security and
prosperity as a nation," Obama announced. "It's time
we once again put science at the top of our agenda and
... worked to restore America's place as the world
leader in science and technology."

In one telling remark, he added that respect for the
scientific process was not "just about providing
investment and resources. It's about ensuring that
facts and evidence are never twisted nor obscured by
politics nor ideology."

Obama's appointments are outspoken proponents of the
need for urgent action over climate change, and they
come after eight years of inaction, during which the
Bush administration resisted international
emission-reduction accords and the introduction of US
laws to protect threatened species.

Holdren, whose expertise runs from nuclear-weapons
proliferation to global warming, recently warned in a
speech at Harvard that he considered "global warming"
to be a misnomer. "It implies something gradual,
something uniform, something quite possibly benign,
and what we're experiencing is none of those. There is
already widespread harm ... occurring from climate
change. This is not just a problem for our children
and our grandchildren."

As he pointed out, new figures point to a rapid
acceleration in the loss of Arctic sea ice, as well as
dramatic acidification of the ocean.

With the international community looking to America
for leadership, Obama has made it clear that, despite
the global economic crisis, the success of his
presidency will hinge on a revolution in America's use
and production of carbon-based energy. The selection
of marine expert Lubchenco underscores that. She has
warned that even if the world abruptly shifts away
from fossil fuels, the oceans will continue to soak up
carbon dioxide and become more acidic. She recommends
protecting marine life by reducing overfishing,
cutting back on nutrient run-off and creating marine
reserves to protect marine eco-systems.

"The Bush administration has not been respectful of
the science," she said earlier this year. "I am very
much looking forward to a new administration that does
respect scientific information and considers it very
seriously in making environmental policies."

In another signal of his determination to move on the
environment, Obama appointed Carol M Browner as his
climate tsar last week. She was quoted as saying:
"Time and time again, when the nation has set a new
environmental standard, the naysayers have warned it
will cost too much. But, once we have set those
standards, American ingenuity and innovation have
found a solution at a far lower cost than predicted."

For Obama, the creation of this green team is part of
a broader push toward economic and environmental
self-enlightenment. He has expressed hope that
engaging technology with environmental and energy
policy will lead to significant job creation.

II.
http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2008/12/john-holdren-new-science-advisor-on.html

Saturday, December 20, 2008

John Holdren, New Science Advisor, on Nuclear Energy
President-elect Obama is expected to name John Holdren
as assistant to the president for science and
technology during his next weekly radio address.
Professor Holdren teaches environmental policy at
Harvard University. His selction adds to a slate of
policy influencers that advocate increased actions to
combat the effects of CO2 and other pollutants
produced as a direct result of burning fossil fuels.

Dr. Holdren has a strong academic record and has
participated in a number of studies on the importance
of nuclear power, including the influential 2003 MIT
study titled The Future of Nuclear Power. He has also
testified on the topic in front of Congress. In July
2000 Dr. Holdren appeared in front of SUBCOMMITTEE ON
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE and talked
about improving energy security and reducing
greenhouse gases. Here is a sample quote from that
testimony:

    5. My written statement explains why the role of
nuclear energy in reducing U.S. oil-import dependence
in the short to medium term will be modest; discusses
the possibilities for a larger role for nuclear energy
in reducing climate-change risks over the longer term;
and summarizes the recommendations of the 1997 and
1999 PCAST energy studies for increased Federal R&D --
and increased international cooperation -- to improve
nuclear fission and develop nuclear fusion.
    6. A key point is that the chances of getting an
expanded contribution from nuclear fission will be
enhanced by making fission energy systems as simple,
cheap, safe, proliferation resistant, and
noncontroversial as possible. Reprocessing spent fuel
for recycle of its plutonium -- and breeder reactors
that depend on this -- go in the wrong direction in
all of these respects: they make fission energy more
complex, costlier, riskier, more proliferation-prone,
and, correspondingly, more controversial. And there
will be no sound economic or resource-availability
justification for reprocessing or breeding for the
next few decades, at least. Accordingly, the United
States should continue to defer reprocessing and
commercialization of breeder reactors, and should
increase its efforts to persuade other countries to
defer these steps also. The time gained by
postponement can be used to strengthen the
institutions of nonproliferation and to try to develop
technologies that can make reprocessing and recycle
less expensive, more proliferation resistant, and less
emisions- and waste-intensive.

Dr. Holdren and Dr. Steven Chu, the nominee for
Secretary of Energy, have expressed opposing views
about the importance and efficacy of recycling used
nuclear fuel, but they both hold strong positions that
nuclear fission has demonstrated that it is worth
pursuing and improving. Based on Dr. Holdren's stated
design goals, I think he might encourage the
development and commercialization of reactors like the
70 MW (thermal) Hyperion Power Module, NuScale's 45
MWe natural circulation light water reactor, the
LiftrTM, and the Adams EngineTM, as well as the third
generation light water reactors that have improved
passive safety, fewer components, and more robust
containment structures.

The selection of John Holdren as chief science advisor
to the President provides one more reason for
believing that the second Atomic Age is gaining
momentum and will soon be a self-evident reality.



      




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