Fires, Floods, and Our New Gelatinous Overlords. Knock on Effects of Climate Change Ramp up.
June 30, 2011
The Nuclear plants threatened by midwest flooding, exactly the kind of flooding scientists have warned that rapid climate change would bring, are safe for now, we are told. But the threat will last for months, as huge volumes of water from heavy rains and winter snows make their way down the Missouri river.
Flooding is just one of the rapidly fulminating series of climate change knock-on effects, that will be steadily ratcheting up the pressure on governments, economies, and those populations most vulnerable, the poor, especially in the third world.
While unlimited resources, and the highest of high tech remedies can be brought to bear in Los Alamos to protect sensitive stockpiles of radioactive materials from raging wildfires (another climate pumped wild card) – policy makers need to imagine the effects of proliferating nuclear materials, and the effects of future events on nuclear facilities in places like Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, or any of the other underdeveloped areas where the industry is ramping up to supply power facilities.
In climate change, nature holds the cards. And this summer’s events point to a deck stacked with unexpected jokers.
As extreme weather conditions increase, the stability of a power supply based on highly centralized and intricate systems like large nuclear plants becomes more problematic, pesky earthquakes and tidal waves notwithstanding.
The current floods in Nebraska are one example of climate related extremes knocking power offline, but nukes have also had to be closed due to extreme drought conditions, when cooling water becomes unavailable.
Meanwhile, throughout recent disasters, renewable energy keeps perking.
Let me make it clear that I, for one, welcome our new gelatinous Overlords. But as warming oceans become less hospitable to the marine life that civilization has developed around, and organisms adapted to the new lower oxygen conditions move in, blooms of jellyfish are not only fouling beaches, they are massing in numbers sufficient to clog the intake valves and shut down Nuclear power plants.
An invasion of jellyfish into a cooling water pool at a Scottish nuclear power plant kept its nuclear reactors offline on Wednesday, a phenomenon which may grow more common in future, scientists said.
Two reactors at EDF Energy’s Torness nuclear power plant on the Scottish east coast remained shut a day after they were manually stopped due to masses of jellyfish obstructing cooling water filters.
Nuclear power plants draw water from nearby seas or rivers to cool down their reactors, but if the filters which keep out marine animals and seaweed are clogged, the station shuts down to maintain temperature and safety standards.