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Nuclear Waste, KFC, and Girl Scout Cookies

first_imgDear EarthTalk: Why don’t we reprocess and re-use our nuclear waste like France does? Would it be possible for us to start doing so?                                                            — Albert Jukowsky, Silver Spring, MDReprocessing nuclear waste to extract more energy from it, while expensive and controversial, is indeed to this day still practiced in France, the UK, Russia, India and Japan—but not in the United States, where it was invented. The process involves breaking down spent nuclear fuel chemically and recovering fissionable material for use in new fuels. Proponents tout the benefit of reducing the amount of nuclear waste, resulting in less highly radioactive material that needs to be stored safely.Nuclear reprocessing was first developed in the U.S. as part of the World War II-era Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb. After the war, the embryonic nuclear power industry began work to reprocess its waste on a large scale to extend the useful life of uranium, a scarce resource at the time. But commercial reprocessing attempts faltered due to technical, economic and regulatory problems. Anti-nuclear sentiment and the fear of nuclear proliferation in the 1970s led President Jimmy Carter to terminate federal support for further development of commercial reprocessing. The military did continue to reprocess nuclear waste for defense purposes, though, until the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War made continuous ramping up of our nuclear arsenal unnecessary.More recently, George W. Bush pushed a plan, the Global Nuclear Energy Project (GNEP), to promote the use of nuclear power and subsidize the development of a new generation of “proliferation-resistant” nuclear reprocessing technologies that could be rolled out to the commercial nuclear energy sector. Federal scientists came up with promising spins on reprocessing nuclear fuel while minimizing the resulting waste. But in June of 2009 the Obama administration cancelled GNEP, citing cost concerns.Proponents of nuclear power—and of reprocessing in particular—were far from pleased with GNEP’s axing, especially in light of Obama’s earlier decision to close Yucca Mountain as the U.S.’s future nuclear waste repository. “GNEP may have gone away, but the need to recycle spent fuel in this country is more important than ever because of the government’s stupid decision to close Yucca Mountain,” said Danny Black of the Southern Carolina Alliance, a regional economic development group, on the Ecopolitology blog. “Without Yucca Mountain, the pressure is on the industry to do more with recycling.”But a 2007 report by the nonprofit Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) would seem to justify Obama’s decision. IEER found that nuclear reprocessing would actually increase our volume of nuclear waste six fold. IEER also reported that France, which runs the world’s most efficient reprocessing operation, spends about two cents per kilowatt hour more for electricity generated from reprocessed nuclear fuel compared to that generated from fresh fuel. IEEE further reports that the costs to build the breeder plants needed to convert spent nukes into usable fuel would “create intolerable costs and risks.”For now, U.S. nuclear plants will continue to store waste on site, with spent rods cooled in pools of water for upwards of a year and then moved into thick steel and concrete caskets. While proliferation and terrorism have long been risks associated with hosting nuclear plants on American soil, recent events in Japan underscores that even Mother Nature poses a threat. As such, advocates of reprocessing probably stand little chance of reviving plans in a political climate now so hostile to nuclear development.CONTACTS: Ecopolitology, www.ecopolitology.org; IEER, www.ieer.org. Dear EarthTalk: I understand that fast-food giant YUM! Brands, owner of KFC, is under fire by Greenpeace and others for rainforest destruction. What’s the story?  — Betsy Barnard, Wellesley, MAYUM! Brands, which operates 38,000 fast food restaurants in 110 countries (including not only KFC but also Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, WingStreet, A&W and Long John Silver’s), has come under fire of late from Greenpeace and other rainforest advocacy groups for sourcing palm oil, paper and other goods from suppliers notorious for destroying tropical rainforests in Indonesia and elsewhere. While McDonald’s and Burger King have worked in recent years to cut their ties with palm oil and logging companies linked to rainforest destruction, YUM! continues to ignore calls to source their resources more responsibly.Indonesia’s tropical rainforests are home to orangutans, tigers, elephants, clouded leopards and dozens of other endangered plants and animals. Environmentalists report that 40 percent of Indonesia’s rainforests have been logged over in the last half-century, mostly to clear the way for palm oil plantations. The cleared timber is sold at huge profits for paper and pulp, while the palm oil brings in continuous revenue for multinational corporations despite denuding lands once rich in biodiversity.Tropical rainforests also sequester significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) in their growing woody biomass; chopping them down only accelerates the rate of global warming by allowing more CO2 to escape into the atmosphere where it contributes to the greenhouse effect. Despite a partial moratorium on rainforest destruction announced by the Indonesian government in May 2011, analysts believe that nearly half of the country’s remaining tropical rainforests will be cleared within two decades.Over-exploitation of natural resources—and deforestation in particular—is a huge obstacle to Indonesia’s growth. According to the Rajawali Institute for Asia at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, by eliminating its natural capital for negligible gains, Indonesia lost $150 billion in future revenues between 1990 and 2007, wiping out one-third of the country’s national savings in the process.There are “major economic risks for Southeast Asia’s agriculture and timber sectors if they don’t take prompt action to conserve their forests,” reports Glenn Hurowitz, senior fellow at the Center for International Policy. “Global consumers are increasingly demanding deforestation-free products,” he says, adding that Nestle, McDonald’s, Unilever and others have pledged to obtain their palm oil from sources certified “sustainable” by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.YUM! Brands is not the only offender. Greenpeace has also targeted Mattel toys for supporting suppliers that contribute to Indonesian deforestation. And two Michigan girl scouts were shocked to find out the cookies they were selling contained palm oil obtained from deforested land in Indonesia. They spread the word to fellow girl scouts across the country, thousands of whom have stopped selling cookies as a result.Concerned consumers should write the company a letter asking them to stop using products derived from deforested rainforest lands. Greenpeace makes it easy by hosting an online form letter that sympathizers can sign onto and the group will take care of delivering your message directly to YUM! executives.CONTACTS: YUM! Brands, www.yum.com; Center for International Policy, www.ciponline.org; Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, www.rspo.org; Greenpeace Form Letter to YUM!, https://secure3.convio.net/gpeace/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=689.last_img read more

Calling all leaders, young and old

first_img 27SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr “A title doesn’t make you a leader any more than a bedazzled jumpsuit makes you Elvis.”You know how some people talk about going to a mall or airport to “people watch” or whatever they call it? Know my favorite place to do that? You guessed it. Workplaces. There are so many interesting dynamics at play.One of them is the infusion of young talent into the workforce that’s already entrenched within any given organization. This isn’t uncommon, of course, and it’s a necessary and healthy part of organizational life.But we’d be naive if we didn’t also acknowledge that it can — and often does — cause tension, and even friction, even though it really doesn’t need to. One situation within which this seems to occur is when younger folks are slotted into any sort of leadership role, be it a formal or informal one.A quick word here on how I’m using these words. When I say “younger,” don’t get too hung up on trying to nail down an exact age range. I’m not necessarily trying to do that, and I’m also not big on all the slicing and dicing of people into neat little categories anyway. I’m using “younger” simply to differentiate a group of folks who are younger and less experienced relative to others who…well…are older and have more tenure at an organization. So it’s very general, and that’s on purpose for the intent of this discussion. continue reading »last_img read more

Akusho Sets New Record as Plateau Athletes Dominate Lagos Women Run

first_img“Immediately, I registered for the Lagos Run, which was my first time, my coach in Plateau State drew up a training programme for me which I followed strictly ahead of the race. I arrived in Lagos one week to the race to get used to the weather in Lagos and the route. The result is my victory. I am very happy for winning this 10kilomentres race in just my first time of participation,” Akusho told reporters at the finish line.Hudung Gyang also from Plateau State finish second in 35 minutes 41: 22 to take home the runners-up prize of N300,000. The third place also went to another Plateau State runner, Monica Ezekiel, who finished in time of 36 minutes 03:27seconds to take home N200,000, as the trio completed the Plateau State dominance of the Lagos Women Run 2018 as they won the top three positions.In the Veteran category for runners aged 45 and 70 years, veteran marathoner, Genevive Njoku won the first position to grab the champions prize money of N200,000. South Africa’s Barene Vankorichbesa finished in second place to take home to take home N150,000 and Karim Bolanle finished in third place. She got N100,000 for her efforts. All the top 10 winners in the Open and Veteran categories were awarded cash prizes, while all the runners got certificates of participation and a commemorative medal each. The medals will be given out to the runners today at the Secretariat of the Lagos Women Run inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.The Coordinator of the Lagos Women Run, Tayo Popoola, expressed her delight on the success of the 2018 edition of the Run, especially as it was competed for over a new route which gave the runners the opportunity to see some of the rich cultural and historical perspectives of Lagos state at that axis of the state.”Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Rose Akusho from Plateau State at the weekend set a new race record in the 2018 edition of the Lagos Women Run when she clocked 34minutes 35.07 seconds to erase Fadekemi Olude’s 40 minutes 30: 24 seconds of 2016.In weekend’s 10km race, Akusho, gave other runners 10 metres lead to hit the finish line and smile away with the N500,000 star prize at stake.Akusho said after the race that her performance was due to long-term training ahead of the 2018 Lagos Women Run.last_img read more