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G8 – Electricity production, the times they are a changin’

Perhaps it’s just human nature to be more reactionary than proactive. Maybe we’ve grown complacent.  Perhaps the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Japan has been a real wake up call.  Whatever the reason, countries all over the world are finally rethinking  electricity production and making a move from non renewable to renewable.

This has to make us wonder how far do we have to go?

Here’s information about how the G8 countries produce electricity. (these are in no particular order)

United States

Nuclear -20% Coal -45%, Natural gas -23%- Hydroelectric and other renewables make up the rest.


Nuclear – 75% (world-nuclear.org), Coal, Hydropower, and Natural gas make up the vast majority of the rest.


Lignite (a soft brown coal like substance) – 23.5%, Natural gas – 23%, and Coal -20%  are the big three- wind brings in  a not too shabby 6.5%  and others making up the rest (www.europeannuclear.org)


Nuclear – 18%,  Natural gas -38.5%, Coal -34%, Oil, wind, hydro and biofuels make up the rest. (www.guardian.co.uk)


Natural gas (imported)- 50-60%, Coal – 15% Renewables -15-25%


Hydropower – 58%, Coal – 16%, Nuclear- 15%, Natural Gas -6%, Other – 5%


Natural Gas – 48%, Hydropower -18%, Coal – 17%, Nuclear – 15% (www.world-nuclear.org)


Nuclear-40%, Natural Gas -25%, Coal -20%, Hydropower- 8%, Other – 2%

While nuclear and fossil fuels still dominate, some countries are making headway in renewable energy production like Canada and Russia’s hydropower  along with Germany and Italy’s push for wind.   In the UK however, they have decided to go ahead with even more nuclear productionIt will require a major financial commitment and infrastructure overhaul for any one of these countries to become truly sustainable. Population and resources will be tested. Only time will tell if we are merely reacting to the nuclear disaster in Japan or if we are  interested in real change for the future.


Japan’s Greensburg Opportunity

In May 2007, the town of Greensburg, Kansas was devastated by a massive tornado. More than ten residents were killed and 95% of the town was left flat.  After recovering from the destruction the town did something smart- they took their time,  did the research and came to the conclusion that they were going to rebuild green.

Greensburg, Kansas after a 1.7 mile wide F5 Tornado roared through the town.

The town has been rebuilt with many green homes and businesses, it is powered by solar, wind and geothermal, and most importantly it will be able to withstand another F5 tornado should it happen. 

In an interview with CNN , Daniel Wallach, one of the  men behind the movement said, “This town is definitely an example for the rest of the world. We have people from around the world coming out of their way to come to Greensburg.  So it’s a great place for people to come and have an emerging experience with what a town of the future looks like and feels like.”  The experience has been so powerful that the town even changed to motto on their website (http://greensburgks.org) to “Greensburg: Stronger, Better, Greener”

Japan’s Greensburg opportunity.

On March 11 and 12, 2011 Japan was devastated by an earthquake and a tsunami and are still facing a mounting toll of death and destruction from nuclear reactor leaks. 

Japan’s prime minster has pledged that they will rebuild.  The mountainous tasks of clean-up, body removal, and infrastructure repair in order to meet the needs of the survivors will undoubtedly take a long time- but with the help of the world Japan has the opportunity to rebuild green.  There is the opportunity to rethink nuclear, which in the wake of this tragedy many other nations are doing.  There is the opportunity to rethink infrastructure and architecture (watching video in the days after the earthquake of buildings in Tokyo swaying but not falling was very impressive) to make it better for the survivors of this tragedy and future generations.

I only hope that the world will help Japan rebuild to become “Stronger, Better, Greener” just like Greensburg.



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