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.


9 Responses to “Fires, Floods, and Our New Gelatinous Overlords. Knock on Effects of Climate Change Ramp up.”

  1. Climate Says:

    Whammy Whammy Whammy, remember this is just the beginning of real climate weirding.

  2. Climate Says:

    Russia’s Wildfire Damage is Triple Last Year’s, Ministry Says

  3. pmagn Says:

    My pet freak out is will we have the capacity to decommission nuke plants on the coast/sea level as SLR begins to accelerate?

    Were planning to build more in these places even now (how dumb is that) when in fact in the near future we will have to move material away from the rising waters and storm surges.

    Will riots and civil society under stress from food shortages and cost of oil, will we have the expertise, organisation, money and time to address this.

    The future looks like its going to be a mess and much of it will be mired in nuclear contamination.

    Sad world.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      people working on nuclear plants right now will be feeling rather sheepish as the fukushima affair drags on.
      we will still be reading about and dealing with that contamination decades from now, and it may yet be that the accident is the tough jolt to the immune system that will help us reject this path in the future.

    • Eclipse Now Says:

      @ Pmagn,
      I’ve seen stand-alone farmhouses with more flood protection than these nukes! Seriously, going on and on about these nukes being built in flood-prone areas is as bad as anti-wind folk going on and on about a very specific wind farm that killed too many eagles.

      What’s to learn here? Siting is important? Seriously? That’s news?

      As I keep sharing here, I confess to once being anti-nuclear power out of sheer dumb ignorance. I just did not know what I now know to be true — that banning nuclear power because of Fukishima is like banning aviation because of the Hindenberg! Fukishima’s nukes were 40-year-old Gen2 reactors. We are now up to Gen3.5 and will soon have Gen4 reactors.

      These are the real game changers!

      1. They are safe! Their reactor cores are self-cooling. If Homer Simpson falls asleep and doesn’t see a Tsunami approaching to wipe out the exterior backup cooling systems, don’t panic! If Gen4 reactor cores start to overheat something new starts to happen. The fuel rods themselves start to expand outwards (rather than melt down). As they open up they start to leak neutrons. This “Neutron Leak” shuts down the nuclear reaction! We’ve had this technology since 1986, so the real scandal is that Japan’s nukes were not retrofitted with this or other passive safety features.

      2. New nukes EAT NUCLEAR WASTE! That is, nuclear waste is no longer a problem but the SOLUTION to climate change and peak oil! We could run the world for 500 years on the nuclear waste we have today!! (After 500 years if we don’t have fusion then we can just continue to use GenIV nuclear fission till the sun expands and wipes out the earth — there is that much uranium and thorium on earth!)

      3. We simply cannot *economically* afford unreliable renewable energy like wind and solar. There are just too many costs:-
      * wind and solar are not really abundant where most of our consumers are. They require huge super-grids to move the power to the markets
      * They are NOT baseload, but require expensive storage systems like pumped hydro-power dams
      * Why bankrupt our economies gambling on making intermittent power baseload when Denmark certainly hasn’t proved wind power? After decades of building wind power they only get 20% of their energy from wind, but STILL mainly rely on coal. They emit 650g of Co2 per kWh. Their wind power also relies on other countries having stable baseload coal and nuclear power as they buy in extra electricity when their wind dies off.

      In comparison, France went down the nuclear pathway. After 22 years of building nukes, France is down to 90g Co2 per kWh! They have a reliable electricity supply that they sell to other wind-dependent countries when their wind stops.

      See also:

      or Google:
      “Brave New Climate + Q&A integral fast reactors”

  4. pmagn Says:

    Fukushima children test positive for internal radiation exposure

  5. otter17 Says:

    Wow, I never thought about climate change’s effects on the operation of nuke plants. Interesting and thought provoking.

  6. mrsircharles Says:

    “Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we cannot eat money.”

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