Germany: Nuclear Switch-Off Spurns Green Explosion

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Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Towers

Nuclear Power Plants: A Dying Breed?

The radiation tormenting Fukushima struck a chord in Germany; amidst widespread protesting the government shut down the seven oldest nuclear reactors in Germany to placate the public.  While the general population was captivated by the celebrations of the protesters, apprehension filled the halls of government, and a window of opportunity was presented to green energy firms.  Nuclear power plants are an essential player in producing German electricity.  Unless the German’s would favor being dependent on Russian oil pipelines the only viable path left to them is a rapid adoption of green energy.

Germany needs a silver-bullet solution to answer the energy vacuum left behind by the absentee nuclear plants and the declarations that the ten remaining nuclear reactors would be shut down ahead of schedule.  It’s solution is as ambitious as it is green. By 2030 Germany plans to take a third of its power from green sources.  By 2050 Germany plans be on eighty percent green power the 205o.  the government will spearhead incentives in every field: biogas, biomass, solar, wind, and hydro.  In addition, the country is abandoning the production of new nuclear plants and is pledging to decommission those that remain in operation ahead of schedule.

This is nothing short of a dangerous gamble.  Germany will become the flagship for alternative energy production of the world, if they succeed.  If they fail, the rest of Europe will  have to sell power to the Germans to keep the country lit up.  The German people are coming to a hard ceiling; either they break through and prosper or they fail tragically and suffer a decline with cumbersome and unreliable energy fees.  When it comes to heating homes and power industry their is only a small margin of error for Germany.

It will be interesting to see what Germany will look like in thirty years: will it be a green paradise or a darkening backwater?

Education and The State: The Many Unique Methods of Breeding Culture and Human Capital

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classroom

Education has taken a new form in every civilization it has blessed.  John Dewey, a famed philosopher of modern teaching, identifies education as a societal schooling of the populace, based on principles, “founded upon the intrinsic activities and needs (including original instincts and acquired habits) of the given individual to be educated.”  Each unique civilization cultivates its personalized education system to protect itself and develop its intentions.  The goal of education is to best prepare a nation’s populace to sustain that nation; each spectrum of education, ranging between the athleticism of ancient Sparta, the liberal intellectualism of America, and the specialization of Germany, synergizes a unique educational system based on the necessities of the environment and ethos of the population to meet this goal.

Spartans’ education emphasizes military supremacy.  Rebellious territories and a weak agricultural sector allows King Lycurgus to create the first recognized educational system in the 9th century BC.  His goal is to create indomitable warriors who would be unsurpassable in physical athleticism, unmatchable in military tenacity, and endlessly loyal to Sparta.  In addition to Lycurgus’s objectives, Sparta place value on its fraternity with absolute obedience, valorous courage, and noble self sacrifice.  This Spartan zeitgeist was immortalized by Tyrtseus’s principled thoughts, “It is a noble thing to be in the front of the battle and die bravely fighting for one’s country.” The diehard camaraderie of the nation is the most central aspect of the civilization and that lesson taught throughout the Spartan’s education.  This nation of soldiers was unified by the threat of obliteration and was forged into an unstoppable regional power through its education.

The methods behind Spartan military supremacy are seen through their aggressive practices.  The trials of war began at birth; prospective baby Spartans were analyzed by councils of soldiers.  Babies with any imperfection were killed off or groomed for slavery, so they would not contaminate the race.  Upon boys reaching the age of seven they were put in public barracks, where they would train continuously with other boys in the methods of war.  This is the Spartan school.  Obedience would be infused into the recruit through whips and beatings.  Spartan fraternity was sculpted from the unified purpose of their shared education.  Self sufficiency was impressed in young Spartans; food was deliberately made scarce so the youth would be encouraged to steal their own sustenance.   As children matured into adults they would organize into military legions and receive education the use of heavy weapons.  When the boys reach age twenty they are declared Irenes. They would be promoted to the status of soldiers and spend their careers training with regular raids on the Helots, enslaved farmers, and wars with conflicting city states.  The children’s education straightforwardly trains them to be warriors.  The indomitable warriors of Spartan education are the end product of Lycurgus’s dream.  Future civilizations would learn from the Spartans original educational model.

In America, everyone is educated so they may achieve any lifestyle.  Since its foundation America has been greatly concerned with maintaining equal rights for all valued citizens.  As the country has modernized American unyielding desire for uniformly equal rights enabled education for the entire population.  The American educational system builds on this characteristic with core belief that the United States is a  meritocracy.  Americans call this concept, “rugged individualism.” They believe people must succeed or fail based solely on their own merits.  This belief is reflected in the liberal education model in America.  Regardless of personal inclinations or future plans all students are legally required to be schooled equally in a middle-of the-road education that prepares students a wide variety of careers.  Academic valedictorians and would-be dropouts sit side by side in the idealized American school.

The methodologies of America’s liberal education reflect its stone soup approach.  There are several distinct levels of education, each with the objective of enforcing a broad education upon every citizen.  In this manner every child is given equal opportunities.  Children generally go to preprimary schools at age three where they are taught how to be educated.  Subsequent tiers of education, elementary school and high school, build a foundation of skills which are applicable skills across a range of possible jobs.  After high school students are given the option to continue schooling or start a career.  The American ethos allows young adults to pursue whatever tract of life they want regardless of their action’s financial affordability.  Each citizen has equal rights and therefore decides their own education.  The merit of each student determines their success. The American education system is just framework which fosters student’s merit-based growth.  While success or failure is in the hands of American students other modern countries give far fewer options to their residents.

The German educational model establishes a middle ground between the extremes of the Spartan athleticism and American liberalism.  Since the Prussians dominated German culture nationalism has directed the German zeitgeist and it has become an underlying influence to German education.  Learning revolves around the state; by building the best civility the German society is guarantees its own survival.  Compulsory education forces children to become useful, they are not permitted from abstaining from their unwritten cultural duties, Germans feel, “one may choose among schools, but for most it is unthinkable that children do not go to school.” Everyone learns to maximize their utility.  By having the best collective nation the Germans endeavor to have the best collective human capital.

German schools are more strict than their American counterparts, but they are less war oriented than the Spartans.  German education begins at age six when kids are enrolled in Grundschule to learn basic language and math skills.  During this level of their education secondary school options are compiled by overseeing adults and algorithms.  Second tier of German schooling is branched into four separate paths; Hauptschule, Gesamtschule, Realschule, or Gymnasium.  Each type of education unique; schools like the Hauptschule direct students towards manual labor, the Gesamtschule and the Realschule train students for more complex and intellectual jobs, and the Gymnasium educates the innovators, engineers, and scientists of Germany.  In all of these specialized schools there is a strong emphasize on internships and on the job training to teach student life skills while preparing them for their careers.  The end result of the German education system is a diverse work force full of specialized labors who collaborate to do what is best for the country.  This model limits options, but maximizes potential.

The perceived needs and underlying values of these three societies were met by their respective educations.  Sparta thought warriors were needed and prized fraternity, so soldiers were educated.  America values equal rights and rugged individualism and gave its citizens an education that combines meritocracy with rugged individualism.  The Germans wanted the best worker on the assembly line and best experts fostering the next generation; their multi-tier educational system is a manifestation of these ideals.  Each of these systems of education made their countries powerful and respected by creating a more adaptable population.  The immediate importance of an nationwide education is an empowered citizenry; however, the more significant reward comes from spreading that education at every opportunity to better lives of everyone on Earth.  From this altruism comes joy and prosperity.

Portugal in Recession: Case Study of the Failed Economic Policies of Europe and America

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Today, a prime minister resigned.  He was Jose Socrates of Portugal; he had been valiantly fighting for austerity measures that would have saved Portugal from seeking bailout.  He was denied by the Portuguese Parliament, in reaction he promptly resigned.  Now Portugal is in political gridlock as a new government is established.  With the failure of the austerity measures Portugal prepares to take on 140 billion dollars of bailout in the coming months.  The people are outraged and disheartened that their government has given them this economic headache for years to come.  Surprisingly, the fallout of the demise of Portugal had little impact on the European financial systems.  The Euro has continued to maintain a value above $1.40 dollars.  Spanish bonds, of which 100 billion are invested in Portugal, similarly were unaffected.  Europe will soldier on despite another country being gripped by recession.  However, many analysts agree unless policies are revised the European Union will suffer future crippling disaster across multiple nations.

Europe is an interdependent set of countries, when one is harmed they are negatively effected.  The damage from Portugal was minimal, however if larger countries fail the effects could be catastrophic.  Despite the many statistics that have determined that lower the taxes in times of recession actually hurts the economy, the industrial powerhouse Germany continues to push for sweeping, aggressive tax cuts which they call their “competiveness pact”.  These were the same tax cuts that played crucial roles in the painful recessions in Greece, Belgium, Italy, and Ireland.  This directly relates to macroeconomics; over the next several months we will see several more minor countries, possibly such as Estonia or Latvia, declare a desperate need for bailout as well.  Additional millions will become unemployed, some counties like Spain already have one out of every five workers being unemployed.  Europe will continue to be economic fertile as long as one of the major nations, France, Germany, or Britain, do not collapse.  There is no reason to believe any will at this current date.  There is a rocky road for Europe to climb, but they will pull through.

This financial conundrum that has enveloped Portugal is exasperating.  They are one of the euro-zone’s poorest countries, however at the same time they have no large unnecessary expenses.  They are comparable to America, who is one of the world’s largest countries economically but runs at a ten percent financial deficit.  In both cases harsh actions need to be taken to counteract the gathering storm of debt.  In Portugal they must take this dose of bailout and them strive to run a debt free government.  America, with nearing 15 trillion dollars in debt, has the same issue on a much larger scale.  A healthy government should only have debt if there is a direct threat to the continued survival of the nation, such as a painful recession or war. Portugal and America do not have healthy economies so they are both destined for an economic collapse.  The only hope is that policy makers take action against the tsunami of debt before it annihilates their countries.

(Irrationally) Protesting Nuclear Power: 100,000 Demonstrators Against Nuclear Reactors in Germany

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The international consequences of the Nuclear Powder Keg that threatens Japan have spanned the globe, protests have cropped up around the world as all governments scrutinize their own nuclear reactors.  Many of these demonstrations numbered in the tens of thousands as petulant environmentalists and myopic citizens called for a swift end to the nuclear power, ignoring that without nuclear power the world would grow dark.

Where are the Protests?

Berlin, Germany and Stuttgart, Germany have the largest demonstrations with 100,000 protesters.

Germany has the second largest concentrations of nuclear power plants in Europe with 17 aging reactors.  Today, protesters at Stuttgart formed a 45 kilometer chain to call attention to failings at Germany’s oldest reactors. Craving to demonstrators demands demands the German government has ordered the nuclear power company Merkel to shut down 7 of the oldest reactors for the next three months.  Many celebrate this landmark decision, however skeptics are wondering where supplement power will come from.  By closing those seven plants over three percent of German power will need to be bought from surrounding countries or made in wasteful auxiliary generators.

Meanwhile major protests rocked France, a country that runs on over 80% nuclear power.  French officials remain unrelenting defenders of French nuclear power, with an impeccable record of  having no major or minor meltdowns.  In addition they are joining all European Union nations is stress testing their nuclear reactors.

American anti-nuclear protests were centered in California, where protesters fear radiation from Japan infecting American shores and the potential of meltdowns at California’s two aging reactors.  Activists call for a swift and immediate closer of the power plants, favoring environmentally friendly wind and solar power sources.  Obama has announced his protection of nuclear power in the United States, stating that America’s reactors are safe from all common natural disasters.  Demonstrators ignored his statements and continue to protest in California and in every major city in the United States.

What will This Mean For Nuclear Power?

The nuclear industry has not been negatively impacted by the Japanese disaster.

Construction of new nuclear reactors has continued despite the wave of protesters calling for reevaluation of power options.  Canada has decided to continue with a nuclear reactor in Vancouver.  Russia and Belarus have just announced signing a nine billion dollar deal that will lead to construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus, adding their first nuclear reactor to supplement traditional sources.  It is collectively agreed that the Japanese Nuclear Powder Keg is a perfect example the danger of nuclear powers; in addition many claim that since there has not been a full meltdown that humanity is successfully defeated the worst nature can dish out.

Besides, the tsunamis of this magnitude occurs only once every thousand years.

Is Nuclear Power Good or Bad (or Necessary)?

Fossil fuels are running dry while wind, solar, and hydrogen cannot support the demand; Nuclear power is necessary for the modern world. 14% of all power produced in the world is produced by nuclear reactors.  In addition, the most dangerous sources of power continue to be coal and oil; hundreds of workers die each year in explosions and collapses.  There has only been one major nuclear disaster in history, Chernobyl, a disaster that could have been easily prevented or mitigated.  The only problem in this tragic disaster was human failings.

In order to progress into the future humanity will need nuclear power, there are no reliable, efficient, or healthy alternatives.  The nuclear Renaissance will soldier on throughout the world, simply because there is no other choice.  This means the nuclear industry will continue to flourish, leading to a more prosperous international economy with reduced energy dependence.

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