The Corpus Callosum

A little less than one year ago, the major environmental news pertained
to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  From Wikipedia:

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP
oil spill, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the BP oil disaster or the
Macondo blowout)[4][5][6] is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which
flowed for three months in 2010. The impact of the spill continues even
after the well has been capped. It is the largest accidental marine oil
spill in the history of the petroleum industry.[7][8][9] The spill
stemmed from a sea-floor oil gusher that resulted from the April 20,
2010 explosion of Deepwater Horizon, which drilled on the BP-operated
Macondo Prospect.

Of course, the huge environmental news today is the nuclear crisis in
Japan, stemming from damage to the href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_Nuclear_Power_Plant">Fukushima
Dai-Ichi power plants. 

It occurs to me that both of these disasters have a common cause: they
were caused by desperate efforts to wring cheap energy from
nature.  The Macondo well was drilled in very deep water. 
This is difficult and hazardous.  We would not do it if we were
not desperate. 

The Fukushima Dai-ichi power units were built in the late 1960s to late
70s.  One could argue that the continued operation of the units
reflected a desperate need for more cheap energy.  The units were
old; their designs, obsolete . 

Both href="http://www.propublica.org/article/bp-had-other-problems-in-years-leading-to-gulf-spill">BP
and href="http://my.firedoglake.com/jimwhite/2011/03/14/tepco-has-scandal-plagued-past/">TEPCO
have histories of malfeasance and cover-ups. 

Debt-based economies require a positive growth rate in order to keep
functioning.  That is, if the economy does not grow enough for all
the accululate interest-on-debt to be paid, defaults inevitably
occur.  But economic growth requires either even-increasing energy
expenditures, or ever-increasing improvements in efficiency. 
Therefore, there is a great need to constantly increase energy supply,
given the political impracticality of getting people to become more
efficient.  We are trying to increase supply, despite a stread
decline in energy return per unit of energy invested ( href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EROEI">EROEI). 
Hence, the desperation, hence the disasters.  We have had two
major disasters now in less than a year.  This is not a good sign.

Comments

  1. #1 Alpha Meme
    March 20, 2011

    “This history is important, because it clearly shows that the nuclear science is not the problem. One cannot honestly discuss the so called irrational panic of the public without discussing the fact that safety records have been falsified and problems downplayed routinely. The public’s distrust and fears are mostly rational and justified. … is inherently unsafe and too complicated to be safely handled by humans under the pressures of human society, which includes economical and political pressures.”
    From:
    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/fukushima_nuclear_reactor_truth_locally_chernobyl-77331

  2. #2 Complex 41
    April 22, 2011

    The public’s distrust and fears are mostly rational and justified. … is inherently unsafe and too complicated to be safely handled by humans under the pressures of human society, which includes economical and political pressures.”

  3. #3 supratall
    May 1, 2011

    The public’s distrust and fears are mostly rational and justified.

  4. #4 Dr Douglas Kennedy
    May 27, 2011

    I agree that the ever-growing economy is an old model of how to live on planet Earth…it worked for a while, but now we can see the End Game and it is obvious that we all need to learn to be happy with less STUFF and get back to a sustainable economic culture. Everything in my world comes from an oil source: mostly in the form of plastic or wood held together with glues (from oil)…so it is a stretch for my to imagine a time when that is no longer “the norm.” But I yearn for that time…because I know it is the only way to back off on pushing the fragile Earth Ecosystem to its breaking point.

  5. #5 complex 41
    August 21, 2011

    The public’s distrust and fears are mostly rational and justified.

  6. #6 complex 41
    October 18, 2011

    The public’s distrust and fears are mostly rational and justified.

  7. #7 Balderesi
    December 6, 2011

    distrust and fears are mostly rational and justified. … is inherently unsafe and too complicated to be safely handled by humans under the pressures of human society, which includes economical and political pressures.”