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The Deadliest Energy Addiction

2 Apr

Shit Out, Shit OutAnd, nuclear energy is more dangerous than oil?

Bill McKibben [co-founder and director of, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet]: The trouble with this stuff that’s spilling out of the—I mean, it would be bad enough to have a regular oil spill, right? We remember the Exxon Valdez, on and on and on. This stuff’s a whole degree of nastiness worse. It’s this—it’s called “dilbit,” diluted bitumen. It’s the tar sands. You have to heat it up, and then you have to add chemicals to even get it to flow. When it comes out of the pipe, it’s incredibly hard to clean up. You know, couple that and the fact that burning this stuff, as Jim Hansen at NASA put it, on top of everything else we burn, means “game over for the climate,” and you see that we’re kind of messing with the environment on so many fronts that it’s—I mean, it’s as if you had set out to figure out what was the worst environmental thing you could do.

Thomas Homer-Dixon adds another raft of good reasons to keep “dilbit” in the ground.

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The Shale Gas Shake

28 Mar

Oklahoma TemblorSo, you need another reason to oppose fracking (via The Oil Drum)?

The earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma, on Nov. 6, 2011, was the state’s biggest and may be the largest linked to the injection of water from drilling process, the researchers reported. The state’s geological office disagreed, and said it was likely “the result of natural causes.” The temblor destroyed 14 homes, damaged other buildings, injured two people and buckled pavement, according to the report.

Left hand: cheaper gas for my guzzler (and more fun driving down roads); right hand: temblors?

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Kate Brown Gets Up Close And Personal

19 Mar

Chelybinsk MeetingInitially excited about reading this plug for Kate Brown’s new book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters, I’m increasingly skeptical.

Brown’s willingness to chop firewood or risk harassment to get closer to the history she writes is nothing new. In the late 1980s and early 1990s she traveled throughout the collapsing Soviet empire as she helped lead a glasnost-era student-exchange program. Today, at the age of 47, she commutes to UMBC by riding a bicycle across more than three miles of Washington traffic before getting on a train.

But colleagues and students observe that Brown’s physical intrepidness is matched (and even surpassed) by her willingness to take intellectual risks. For instance, her forthcoming book, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press) is a tale of two cities: Ozersk and Richland, a city in Washington state that abuts the first major U.S. plutonium facility at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

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