Copenhagen posturing

Obama-meets-with-UN-SecretaryThe last round of negotiations prior to the Copenhagen Summit in Barcelona fizzled to a message of decreased expectations.  This has set the table for rapid political posturing from the US.  On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal quoted several key Senators, including climate bill sponsor Sen. Kerry, with various statements postponing the possibility of US domestic climate legislation until next year.  Thursday the Washington Post broke a story that the Obama administration is feeling out the possibility for interim agreements in lieu of a formal treaty in December.  This morning the first official news of President’s Asia trip is of an agreement with Japan that both countries will commit to decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 with global reductions of 50% by mid century.  With China and India on schedule for later in the trip it is probable that climate will come up again, although balance of trade and Yuan/$ exchange is likely to dominate the conversation (for more on expected China content check out Robert Borosage on Huff Post).

It seems to this writer that Obama is guarding his international reputation more than setting a clear signal that the US is ready to engage in international climate agreements.  Continue reading

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Mutually Assured Destruction Gives Way To Monetizing Atomic Derelicts

atlas thermonuclear warheadWe were utterly fascinated to read this article in the New York Times revealing that a full 50% of the nuclear fuel used in reactors in the United States comes from recycled nuclear bombs, primarily from Russia. Which pretty much explains why disarmament has been happening! And it has a nice swords-to-plowshares narrative, to boot.

Eventually, however, the available supply of decommissioned nuclear weapons will run out, and nuclear power plants will have to turn to much more expensive unenriched uranium ore from mines around the world. An MIT study estimates that there is enough ore in the ground to “fuel the development of 1000 reactors over the next half century and to maintain this level of development over a 40 year lifetime of this fleet,” although there are dipsutes over how efficiencies in ore extraction and recycling will affect long-term supply.

Does that take care of the problem, then? Continue reading