ROCKVILLE, Maryland (Reuters) - U.S. regulators on Thursday approved plans to build the first new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years, despite objections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, despite objections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman, who cited safety concerns stemming from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster.The NRC voted 4-1 to allow Atlanta-based Southern Co to build and operate two new nuclear power reactors at its existing Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. The units will cost Southern and partners about $14 billion and enter service as soon as 2016 and 2017.No nuclear power plants have been licensed in the United States since the partial meltdown of the reactor core of the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania in 1979. After the accident, the NRC adopted more stringent safety standards, which caused construction costs for nuclear plants to skyrocket and stopped dozens of planned plants in their tracks.
*This post is for anon, who earlier this evening asked me to update a previous post on new plants in the US. No update is needed. There have been no new nuclear power plants allowed to be built in the US since 1978. Anon may have been referring to applications for new plants or perhaps rehabs of old power plants.
For the first time in human history, carbon dioxide levels reached an average daily level of 400 parts per million, as reported this week. The last time the atmosphere contained this much carbon dioxide was 3 million years ago.
This new data comes from the Mauna Loa observatory and a set of data continuously collected since 1958: The Keeling curve. This represents almost a 50% increase since the beginning of the industrial age. Although there is some seasonal variability (that little jagged edge) due to seasonal vegetation sucking up a bit of the CO2 every year, the trend is clear … and it’s not good.
So what does that mean? The effects are not something to look forward to. The last time the CO2 level was this high, way back when, here’s what the world was like:
Back then, it was a different world. Global average temperatures during the period were between 5.4 and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 4 degrees Celsius) higher than today, and sea level was as much as 131 feet (40 meters) higher in some places.
While the average (which is calculated from levels over the past several days) has since dropped back to 399 (as of today), the saddest part is that both of those numbers are unacceptable. 400 is just a little more catchy. With 401 and beyond right around the corner, what now? We must cut emissions as fast as humanly possible.
Because we are mighty humans, and it is possible.
We need to take care, because we all share this air. Read about the science of our CO2 contribution here. Watch this episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart to gain some hope maybe.
What do you think is the #1 thing we can do to change? What are YOU willing to do?
This milestone got some buzz this week. These articles don’t show the harsh reality that billions of people are going to buy cars, laptops, cell phones, homes with lightswitches, heat, and A/C, and all the luxury goods we westerners enjoy.
Countless tens of millions of miles of roads, power lines, fiber optic cable, drinking water and sewer pipes, gas pipelines, and other infrastructure are slated to be built for decades on end.
There is no way emissions will stop growing. Every projection shows this (see the preeminent IEA’s ‘Fact Sheets’ for some sobering stats).
The question is not, What are you willing to do? No, it’s Who is going to deny billions and billions of people in China, south Asia, Africa, India, South America, and eastern Europeans from accessing these goods and services in the coming years? Who’s going to stop growth?
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