The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on July 31, 1988 · 82
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 82

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 31, 1988
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OP Coo Angeles (Times Editorials AnalysisComment Sunday. July 31. 1988 Part V By Donella H. Meadows PLA1NFIELD. N.H. To the proponents of nuclear power, this year's drought is one of the best things that could have happened. Their logic goes like this. The drought is widely perceived to be a first sign of the greenhouse effectthe global warming caused by a buildup of atmospheric pollutants. Primary among those pollutants is carbon dioxide, produced by the burning of coal, oil and gas. Nuclear power produces no carbon dioxide. Therefore, to prevent more and worse droughts, sea-level rises, floods and other climatic horrors, we should nuclear-ize in a big way. The media have been captivated by this reasoning; recent newsmagazine pieces on the greenhouse effect cited nuclear power as the only major energy source that might replace fossil-fuel plants. The problem with this apparently obvious conclusion is that, like many apparently obvious conclusions, it doesn't hold up when you run out the numbers. What does add up, rather than fission, is efficiency of design a solution that is at once cheaper and more all-inclusive than nuclear energy. Bill Keepin and Gregory Kats, energy analysts at Rocky Mountain Institute in Old Snowmass, Colo., have figured out exactly what it would take for nuclear power to "fill the breach." They start by supposing that the world's nations corae to an unprecedented agreement to replace all current and future uses for coal with nuclear power, and to accomplish that within 40 years. (They choose coal, rather than oil and gas, because coal is the greatest car bon-emitter of all the fossil fuels, and because nuclear can substitute directly for coal's major use, which is making electricity.) The two analysts also make the deliberately optimistic assumption that it will take only six years to build each nuclear plant and that the cost will be $1,000 per installed kilowatt capacity (which is the reported current cost in France; in the United States the cost is three times higher). If the world's energy demand grows at the top of the range of present forecasts, it will increase 3.5 times between now and 2025. Under that scenario Keepin and Kats calculate that a substitution of nuclear for coal would require bringing on nuclear power approximately equal to all the world's current energy production. By 2025 the world would need 8,000 large nuclear plants, as opposed to the 350 operating today. New plants would have to come on line at an average rate of one every 1.6 days, at an average cost of $787 billion per year, for 38 years. Even with this enormous increase in ' Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental and policy studies at Dartmouth College. A Loner and the Legislature: California Becomes the Loser By Sherry Bebitch Jeffe SACRAMENTO When Gov. George Deukmejian signed the state's new $44-bil-lion budget on July 8, he praised California's lawmakers. "I would like to commend the Legislature," he said, "for making a serious effort to send me a balanced budget with a prudent reserve." It was a rare, conciliatory sop from a frequently contentious chief executive. Politically the ride has been a little bumpy for Deukmejian lately. The so-called "Iron Duke" has sustained large chinks in his armor. What has happened to Deukmejian over the past year highlights a pattern of behavior fraught with political risks: playing "the loner" in public office. In politics, as Sam Rayburn said, "to get along, go along." It is a lesson that Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, the Democratic presidential nominee, seems to have learned. He lost the governorship in 1978, knocked out by a headstrong, uncompromising approach to government. Reelected in 1982, Dukakis made peace with the Legislature and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe directs the Study of State Legislative Leadership at USCs Institute of Politics and Government. DOWN TO EARTH nuclear power, carbon dioxide emissions would grow to be 65 higher than they are now. Greenhouse warming would be rampant, and the drought of '88 would probably look like a cool spell. If energy demand goes up at a slower rate doubling by 2025 and again nuclear energy was systematically substituted for coal, one new nuclear plant would be required every 2.4 days, at a cost of $525 billion annually. To pay for their share of this buildup, Third World nations would have to double their current levels of debt traditional Democratic constituencies while broadening his appeal to business interests and fiscal conservatives. Dukakis' first term failures taught him, according to a former adviser, "that the coalition-building aspects of government are as important as the issues for which he's fighting." That is a lesson Deukmejian seems unwilling to contemplate. It doesn't have to be politically hurtful to be a loner in California. Governing in isolation is affordable when things are going well. Elected in a era of economic prosperity and protected by a Democratic Legislature, Edmund G. Brown Jr. proved that until the Medfly, the Rose Bird court and the fallout of Proposition 13 began to interfere. And Deukmejian had far less trouble in his first term when the Gann limits had not yet hamstrung government spending and the rancor in Sacramento hadn't reached fever pitch. But as the political and fiscal environment eroded, so have Deukmejian's political fortunes. In the June elections, a major transportation bond issue, strongly backed by the governor, went down to narrow defeat. For Deukmejian, the loss underscored the pitfalls of going it alone. He never enlisted broad-based support from a major constituency, the business community. Deukmejian wanted his program on his own (never mind the problem that no one would lend them that much). There would be 18 times as many nuclear plants as there are today. Carbon dioxide emissions would grow until the turn of the century and then slowly fall, but at all times they would be higher than they are now. The greenhouse effect would go on getting worse. Why is nuclear power so ineffective in combating greenhouse warming in these calculations? Because it only provides electricity, which accounts for only one- terms. He lost. Then he was handed another setback by a state Supreme Court that was supposed to be his with five of seven justices appointed by Deukmejian. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that the nomination of Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Long Beach), to replace the late Jesse Unruh as state treasurer, did not meet the constitutional test for legislative confirmation; the state Senate rejected the nomination. The treasurer's post continues to remain vacant as it has for almost a year of crucial debate over California's fiscal priorities and direction. And it again pinpointed the governor's stubborn approach to getting what he wants. First of all, Deukmejian bypassed Sacramento to choose an obscure Long Beach congressman, who could do little to lobby his own appointment through the unfamiliar legislative maze. And Lungren didn't have much help from the man who nominated him. A two-vote switch in the Senate would have filled the treasurer's post months ago and there were Democrats just waiting to be asked. But Deukmejian did little except point out that anyone who wanted to talk to him knew where the telephone was. That is not the way to ask political favors. Once again, he lost. Please see LONER, Page 6 ROXANA VILLA i Times third of fossil -fuel use. Because fossil fuel use accounts for only about half of the greenhouse problem the rest comes from deforestation and from gases other than carbon dioxide. And because even with generous assumptions about construction times and cost, nuclear generation starts from too low a base and takes too much time and money to take over a major part of world energy production. The massive buildups of nuclear power assumed in the Keepin and Kats calculations could never really happen. Con Iran's Failure Discredits the Ayatollah's Theocracy By G.H. Jansen NICOSIA, CYPRUS Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's unconditional acceptance of U.N. Resolution 598, which amounts to unconditional surrender, calls into question the basic concept of the Islamic state. Iran's humiliating failure has discredited Khomeini's velayat-e-faqih, the rule of the theologians. Thus the Sunni Muslim abhorrence of any priestly caste, of ayatol-lahs and hojatoleslams, has been both justified and strengthened. It is the religious aspect of the Islamic state that contributed very largely to its defeat. It was Khomeini who dragged God into the war as his, and Iran's, battlefield ally. That was all very well when the battles were victories; but when the battles were defeats, the only explanation was that the God of Battles had changed his mind, had changed sides and had withdrawn what the Chinese called "the Mandate of Heaven." That divine desertion was apparent to even the most devout member of the Basij, the volunteer army, or the Pasdar-an, the Revolutionary Guard. Their morale, based on faith and martyrdom, was G.H. Jansen, the author of "Militant Islam," has covered the Middle East for many years. struction times of U.S. plants are more like 12 years than six. Costs around the world are typically two, three, even five times higher than Keepin and Kats assumed tLven if the managerial capacity were available to construct so many plants so fast, the drain of that much capital into nuclear construction would slow or stop the very economic growth that is assumed to require so much power in the first place. And of course the problems of nuclear power high cost, intractable and dangerous wastes, evacuation planning, threats to public health, decommissioning, diversion of materials into bombs, vulnerability to terrorism and political unpopularityall those problems would escalate. Now for the good news. There are energy scenarios much easier and cheaper than the high-nuclear ones that can greatly ameliorate greenhouse warming. They all involve state-of-the-art design to meet energy needs in the most efficient way possible. That doesn't mean what most people think of as conservation cold rooms, warm beer and general deprivation. It means efficiency being smart about warming the rooms and cooling the beer, using the least possible amount of energy for the purpose. Most efficiency improvements are fast and cheap compared with nuclear power, and unlike nuclear, they apply to every kind of energy use, including transportation. For example, just changing all the light bulbs in America to the most efficient ones now available could shut down at least 40 large coal-fired power plants and save the nation $10 billion a year, an Electric Power Research Institute study concluded. New office buildings could be constructed in the most energy -efficient way at no increased cost, and over 50 years they would save the equivalent of 85 power plants and two Alaska oil pipelines, Keepin and Kats showed. If the average fleet efficiency of U.S. cars doubled from the present 18 miles per gallon to 36, automobile carbon emission could be cut in half (and another half if the fleet reached the 78 m.p.g. of some current five -passenger, full-size test vehicles.) That could be accomplished within one or two turnover times of the fleet 12 to 24 years at no cost, and there would also be large reductions in urban air pollution and acid rain. A number of studies have worked out the possible results of a major global commitment to energy efficiency. According to one, the industrialized nations could maintain annual gross-national-product growth rates of l-2 per year and still cut per capita energy use in half. The developing countries could sustain substantial rates of economic growth while holding per capita energy demand at nearly today's rates. The result would be a slight decline in carbon emissions from today's levels. Add a shift to solar energy, stop deforestation, Please see GREENHOUSE, Page 6 shattered, which is why for 18 months they have either refused to volunteer or have been drifting away into desertion by the tens of thousands. With a population five times that of Iraq, it is sheer lack of manpower that has brought Iran to its current military situation where the Iraqis can march in and out of Iran, scooping up booty and prisoners. This convincing failure of the Islamic state in theory and practice should give pause to the Islamizing ambitions of the rulers of Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Sudan. For the Afro-Asian countries in which there is a continuous tussle between pluralistic secularism and various forms of religious fundamentalism from Indonesia and Malaysia to Sri Lanka and Turkey it is of the utmost importance that Iraq's secular nationalism has prevailed. And Iraq's Arab nationalism prevailed over Shia particularism the subversive calls by Shia Iran to Iraq's Arab Shia majority to rise against its Sunni Muslim rulers. This means that the Islamic revolution has failed to export itself even to a neighboring Shia country a crippling disillusionment for Shia groupings in other Muslim nations. Thus the Shia community in Pakistan which, stirred up by Khomeini's missionaries, had become Please see THEOCRACY, Page 2

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