bm278 Radioactive Waste and Germany’s Nuclear Future

Germany plans to phase out nuclear energy by 2021. But there’s some question if the government will really do it. Now the news has gotten out that radioactive waste has been leaking in the storage area that was supposed to be secure for many years to come. Will this speed up the nuclear phase out? What can be done about the dangerous waste and who is to blame?

Michael Scott Moore writes for Der Spiegel and has covered this issue. He also blogs at radiofreemike.com and he is the author of Too Much of Nothing. He joins me to explain what is happening and how the German media are addressing this issue.

Music:

REM – Supernatural Superseriou
Roots – Lost Desire

Nuclear Waste Leaking

Whenever I’m travelling long distance, either by train or occasionally by car, if a nuclear reactor appears on the horizon, I find myself staring at it.? One of the thoughts going through my head, an issue that still has no real long term answer: where do they put the radioactive waste?

Over the years, trains carrying nuclear waste traveling between Germany and France have gained a decent amount of media attention.? These journeys used to attract crowds of protesters pointing out the danger and lack of long term plan that either country had for their waste.

In the case of France, I’ve seen the occasional documentary or news report about their temporary overground storage facilities. Always seemed odd, this was the best plan they had for waste that will be dangerous for the next few thousand years. Beyond that it isn’t easy to get news and information about the process of transporting and storing Europe’s nuclear waste.

Then this week the issue of a place called Asse in Germany has emerged, where a salt mine used for storing waste has apparently been leaking into, among other things, ground water. Thus adding more fuel to the fire of the raging debate in Germany about whether or not to stop using nuclear power and how soon to stop.? An important question and concern not only for Germany, or Europe, but in fact for many of the world’s nations that rely on nuclear energy but have no long-term, viable plan for what to do with the waste.

This will be the topic of a podcast this week with the help of a journalist (or two) in Germany.? Stay tuned for that and feel free to throw in questions or useful facts in the comments.

bmtv82 Stasi Museum with BaghdadBrian

During my recent visit to Berlin, BaghdadBrian and I visited the stasimuseum and recording this videoblog entry. It also features the most excellent tour guide who not only gave tremendous insight into what life was like in the GDR and the activities of the Stasi, but also gave these great personal stories of how she felt and what she remembers. Oh and here’s the museum website.

Corporate Influence in EU Governments

It is that feeling that never really goes away. No matter how often you might look around at how things work in Europe and admire things, there is the ever present feeling that politics, business, and everything in between is heading in the same direction as the United States.

Yet another piece of evidence to that effect appeared in the Financial Times recently, in an article about the intricate role of business executives within the German government.  In a story that sounds identical to what has been going on in the US for decades, one German executive from a hedge fund was said to be working in the ministry of justice in the area of hedge fund policy. Another classic example, reminiscant of the Reagan years, executives from BASF (the chemical company) are working in the ministry of environmental protection, also in the area of policies – of course.

But the infiltration of government by business experts from large corporations goes beyond the national level. As the article points out in its conclusion, within the European Commission there is also a strong presence of corporate experts working in the area of policy and regulation.

Just as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, for all the reasons we might admire Europe, there are plenty of reasons to worry about a continent whose governments are allowed to repeat the kind of dysfunctional corporatist capitulation that we saw in the United States over the last 30 years or more.

HAcker Congress 07 Almost Done

Greetings once again from Berlin, where I am attending the 24C3, the conference hosted by Germany’s Chaos Computer Club one of the finest groups of hackers and humans on the planet. This year the topics revolve around Global Warming and how Nerds will survive the apocalypse. In many ways it is a humorous theme, but in between all the joking around, I do believe we should take it more seriously in terms of solutions to fight global warming and the forces behind it.

Somehow I’ve ended up at the more comedic, the world is over, enjoy yourself and wear good shoes type sessions, that have left me laughing but also longing for some new ideas. Of course, outside of the sessions, in the hallways and various dark corners of the congress, that is where I see the true geniuses creating – as always- something out of nothing. Among the things I’ve seen: the revival of old technology for modern day uses, namely the telex machine. I watched as someone telexed *interesting* images from somewhere else in the conference center to the machine next to me. Of course I’ve also seen the drones, 4 propeller flying machines with some improvements since the camp over the summer. Also this year there are at least 8 to 12 OLPC’s also known as the green machine/100 dollar laptop, being played with. I may do a followup on it, although clearly lots of people are getting their hands on them now (including madame l)

What else? A puppet show about steam power. Rebellious knitting. Infectious diseases in virtual worlds. Yes there are plenty of insanely interesting topics that occasionally have some social relevance as well. No podcasts recorded yet, but once I give my talk on the Arctic Cold War in a few hours… I’ll get on the podcasting.

For a live stream of it, click here (12h45 CET, 6:45am EST)