March 24th, 2010
11:22 AM ET
March 23rd, 2010
02:23 PM ET
March 16th, 2010
09:15 AM ET

Nuclear plants need real security

Editor's note: Charles S. Faddis is a retired CIA operations officer and the former head of the CIA's unit focused on fighting terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/03/16/nuclear.plant.security.jpg
caption="A Citrus County Sheriff officer stands guard at the entrance to the Florida Power corp. nuclear power plant."]

Charles S. Faddis
Special to CNN

Several weeks ago, President Obama announced that $8 billion in government-loan guarantees would be made available to Southern Co. to begin construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia.

If built, it would be the first nuclear power plant constructed in the United States in almost 30 years. More importantly, this would be the first of what is expected to be many such projects initiated in coming years.

I am a big believer in the necessity for energy independence. I accept that we will all have to make some compromises in achieving that goal. I am willing to consider that nuclear power may have to be one piece of the plan we put together for how to break ourselves free from our dependence on foreign oil.

I would submit, however, that before we start building reactors we need to address another urgent matter. We need to make current reactors secure.

Roughly 18 months ago I started work on a project that ultimately lead to the writing of my recently published book, "Willful Neglect," on homeland security in the United States.

I examined security at a wide range of potential targets inside the United States, including chemical plants, liquefied natural gas facilities, biological research laboratories and nuclear power plants.

This was not a theoretical study. I did my homework up front, but after that, I went out on the street and I did what my 20 years in the CIA had trained me to do. I looked at all these targets in the same way as an adversary would. What I found was deeply disturbing. Eight years after 9/11, we had done little or nothing to enhance security in most areas.

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Filed under: Energy • Opinion • Terrorism
February 23rd, 2010
02:15 PM ET

Nuclear power's time has come

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/money/2009/04/22/technology/nuclear.fortune/nuclear_power_plant2.ce.03.jpg caption="Some environmentalists argue that nuclear power may be used to combat climate change."]


For decades, pioneering environmentalist Stewart Brand, the founder and editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, opposed the use of nuclear power. Now he sees it as vital to efforts to combat climate change.

Earlier this month, Brand made the case for nuclear power in a debate with Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California. (TED is a nonprofit that took its name from the subjects of technology, information and design and is dedicated to "Ideas worth spreading." It publishes talks on all subjects at http://www.ted.com/)

His outspoken support for nuclear power comes as the White House has been pushing for the first new nuclear plants in the United States in three decades. Last week, President Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for adding two nuclear reactors at an existing plant in Burke County, Georgia, near Augusta.

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Filed under: Energy • Environmental issues
February 23rd, 2010
02:07 PM ET

Nuclear power is too risky

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/2010/02/16/news/economy/nuclear/southern_company_vogtle_plant.top.jpg caption="Work is under way to expand Southern Companies' Vogtle plant, the first to recieve new federal funding."]

Mark Z. Jacobson
Special to CNN

If our nation wants to reduce global warming, air pollution and energy instability, we should invest only in the best energy options. Nuclear energy isn't one of them.

Every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on clean renewable energy and one more dollar spent on making the world a comparatively dirtier and a more dangerous place, because nuclear power and nuclear weapons go hand in hand.

In the November issue of Scientific American, my colleague Mark DeLucchi of the University of California-Davis and I laid out a plan to power the world with nothing but wind, water and sun. After considering the best available technologies, we decided that a combination of wind, concentrated solar, geothermal, photovoltaics, tidal, wave and hydroelectric energy could more than meet all the planet's energy needs, particularly if all the world's vehicles could be run on electric batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.

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Filed under: Energy • Environmental issues
February 11th, 2010
08:31 PM ET

After Cap and Trade

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K.B. Keilbach
Author and Environmentalist

It seems like a win-win scenario: the government sets a cap on carbon emissions, based on the latest scientific data and a comprehensive energy policy. Companies then determine how or when they wish to make reductions in their carbon emissions based on their own bottom line. Those who choose to make the capital investments to implement the necessary technologies and reduce their emissions end up with extra allowances that they can, in turn, sell. Those who decide it is more feasible to buy emissions allowances than to implement reduction measures may do so as well.

However, opponents of the current cap and trade proposal say that it is financial disaster. For starters, the technologies to reduce carbon emissions are simply not available, leaving energy producers with two choices—either cut operations or buy allowances. They estimate that cap and trade will reduce the GDP by $161 billion in 2020 and deliver a crippling blow to the American economy…all in the name of climate change, a scientific phenomenon that some are now openly calling into question.


Filed under: Energy • Global 360° • Opinion
January 26th, 2010
12:14 PM ET

Jobs and population: Too many people for the planet

Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's upcoming book, How To Save Jobs, which will be available this month. Over the next few months, we'll be excerpting the first section of the book, which answers the question, "How did we get here?". Last time, we looked at offshoring as a national security risk? This time, we begin our look at jobs and population. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.

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David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

As more and more workers in countries like China and India aggressively enter what we’d consider the middle class, availability of scarce resources like energy and even food may become a problem for all of us.

People in China and India are doing everything they can to move their populations into the middle class, so their populations reflect more of the relative economic strength evident in America and Europe. In exploring the relationship between jobs, “middle-classing” of developing nations, and population, I was curious what the world would look like if a newly “middle-classed” China and India consumed resources like America and Europe do.

Energy consumption

I decided to take my computer science degree out for a spin and build an economic model. I based the first phase of the model on energy consumption, because energy is a finite resource. Courtesy of the International Energy Agency, I learned that about 13 billion tons of oil equivalent (oil and other resources that make energy) is consumed worldwide.

Today, the United States consumes about 2.3 billion tons of that, or about 18.3 percent of the world’s total supply.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/12/18/exxon.mobile.fined/art.baytown.refinery.gi.jpg]

China consumes slightly more than we do, at about 2.6 billion tons of go-juice. What makes China particularly interesting is that it's consuming more and more each year. While our demand increases only 0.34 percent annually, China’s demand is increasing at 8.68 percent. Even the rate of increase is increasing. Back in 2000, China’s demand only increased by 2.46 percent.


Filed under: David Gewirtz • Economy • Energy • Environmental issues • Oil • Technology
October 28th, 2009
11:20 AM ET

Eating animals is making us sick

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Jonathan Safran Foer
Special to CNN

Like most people, I'd given some thought to what meat actually is, but until I became a father and faced the prospect of having to make food choices on someone else's behalf, there was no urgency to get to the bottom of things.

I'm a novelist and never had it in mind to write nonfiction. Frankly, I doubt I'll ever do it again. But the subject of animal agriculture, at this moment, is something no one should ignore. As a writer, putting words on the page is how I pay attention.

If the way we raise animals for food isn't the most important problem in the world right now, it's arguably the No. 1 cause of global warming: The United Nations reports the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

It's the No. 1 cause of animal suffering, a decisive factor in the creation of zoonotic diseases like bird and swine flu, and the list goes on. It is the problem with the most deafening silence surrounding it.

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Filed under: Energy • Environmental issues • Ethics • H1N1
August 13th, 2009
01:28 PM ET

Make every job a green job

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/TECH/science/08/08/green.investing/art.solar.afp.jpg]

Andrew L. Shapiro
Special to CNN

In a recent CNN commentary entitled "Green jobs: hope or hype?" Samuel Sherraden argues that green job creation will be insufficient to bring America out of recession. But Sherraden narrowly defines green as a "sector," and fails to see its potential as a strategy for the revitalization of the entire economy.

When the public debate is focused around the precise number of green jobs created in, say, a solar panel factory, we miss the opportunity as a country to think more broadly about greening the economy - and building a foundation for real growth and competitiveness.

The aspiration to create "green jobs" should really be seen as shorthand for two public priorities - immediate job creation and long-term transformation of the economy for sustainability and prosperity - and both goals can be addressed simultaneously. However, in judging our progress, a simple tally of jobs in "green sectors" is only a partial indicator of the impact and thus can be misleading.

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Filed under: Energy • Environmental issues • Job Market
July 14th, 2009
09:30 AM ET

The rise of the eco-building?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/13/art.empirestatebuilding.jpg caption="The Empire State Building is set to reduce its energy output by 38 percent." width=292 height=320]

Asia Lindsay
AC360º Intern

Having just arrived in New York City, fresh from Manchester, England, and being the kind of person who carpools elevators, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of environmental consciousness in The Big Apple.

Take the Empire State Building, for instance. It is one of my (and America’s) favorite buildings, is famous for its romantic depiction in countless films, and it can now add tackling climate change to its impressive resume.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Bill Clinton’s Climate Initiative (CCI) and, of course, the Empire State Building Company have joined forces for the $500 million renovation to make the iconic building more eco-friendly. The project will also aim to boost the building’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status to Gold – the highest rating in the green building industry. FULL POST

Filed under: 360° Radar • Bill Clinton • Energy • Environmental issues • Russia
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