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Author Topic: Agricultural Community in the Face of Climate Change: Viable or a Pipe Dream?  (Read 4110 times)

Theta

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I don't know where to post this thread as it has a lot to do with the consequences of Climate Change, it's impact on civilisation resulting in its collapse which I believe will happen in the near-term, but it also covers a personal solution so it could go anywhere, but I'm not sure if it's suited for either the policies area or the walking the walk area.

Recently, after looking at the way the climate is changing and how the economy is close to buckling, I have been feeling the need to prepare in terms of working on growing food. However, another area of preparation that I was hoping to look at was the building up of a community, helping the community within my town, to help weather the collapse of civilisation, the reason being that I believe that it is better to try to fortify a town against Climate Collapse, than try to run out to the wild and hope for the best, but after looking at some stuff on Reddit, I've been wondering if perhaps the idea of helping a community to stand against Climate Change is a stupid pipe dream and perhaps it would be better to just go out with a bunch of people and hope for the best rather than staying in the small town that I live in and try to help the community there, or if that is a viable option for people to do in general.

The town I live in has a population of 13,000 to 20,000 people, has a strong offshore wind-farm and, in general, community ties are strong as people band together to fight common threats, for example, people here protesting against the introduction of the Water Charges. However, I wonder how community ties count when suddenly, Climate disruption or economic (which I believe will collapse civilisation altogether in 2016), the lights go out.

Would trying to help establish an agricultural community, or help a community protect itself against collapse be viable, or is it just as ideal as running for the hills?
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Neven

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Good topic, Theta. I'm moving it to the Walking the Walk category, as this question involves individual action.
Il faut cultiver notre jardin

Milret2

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My own opinion is that small societies/ groups of people might have a better chance of survival simply because of the feeling of being a group, sharing knowledge, and working together because I think that individually few of us have enough of a knowledge base and or survival skills to mange in the desperate situations we are headed for and I think that large groups are likely to not reach consensus in how to move forward. I am, however, an aged pessimist who feels that we have already lost, I have no children to fear for, and my wife is older as well so my most basic feeling is that we are just not going to make it ( my own family or the family of man).

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Theta and Milret2, I hope you both might consider the options of open networks of similar minded foragers as opposed to a closed society based upon defending a fixed location. I posted a framework for communications and shared goals as a basis of a new /different  community that travels and can respond to changes that traditional closed societies will not be able to respond to. On the gardening thread.We will as a species be facing rapid changes in environmental conditions never before delt with. Our choices are adapt or dig in . The communication potential of the Internet or future communications networks are largely unexplored as a means of feeding , clothing or housing groups of humans . How might we leverage those potentials?  We elders do maintain a knowledge base that can be utilized by future roving groups that are both democratic and self reliant .  Small closed societies are likely to be neither.   

Theta

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Theta and Milret2, I hope you both might consider the options of open networks of similar minded foragers as opposed to a closed society based upon defending a fixed location. I posted a framework for communications and shared goals as a basis of a new /different  community that travels and can respond to changes that traditional closed societies will not be able to respond to. On the gardening thread.We will as a species be facing rapid changes in environmental conditions never before delt with. Our choices are adapt or dig in . The communication potential of the Internet or future communications networks are largely unexplored as a means of feeding , clothing or housing groups of humans . How might we leverage those potentials?  We elders do maintain a knowledge base that can be utilized by future roving groups that are both democratic and self reliant .  Small closed societies are likely to be neither.

The way I see it, the internet is not likely to exist in the next year because climate disruption will cause a mass cascading effect throughout global civilisation, in my opinion, however I will agree that a community that remains mobile rather than sticking to a single area could work, and that is how traditional hunter-gatherers worked in the past if I am correct, so if a community is able to remain mobile, it has great potential instead of being closed-in and sustaining a single area.
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TerryM

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If the internet is available, the crash is still to come.


My wife's son took his family to Costa Rica a few years ago, so they could escape Obama's rule???
--I didn't say he inherited her intellect.--
At this time he stays in close touch with 3 or 4 other nuclear families there. They hold prayer meetings blessing any (Republican) successor to Obama & swearing to remain out of country as long as "socialists' remain in power. (Hillary in 2016!!)

The point is that if/when things fall apart, and their American money is just paper, their Costa Rican neighbors will more than likely see them as a foreign element that is part of the problem, rather than as an indigenous neighbor worthy of help.

I moved back to Canada >10 years ago & even though I moved to the same town I grew up in, I'd been gone far too long & all connections had been severed. I've been playing the Wise Old Man on the Hill game, and there are locals that would go, at least a short distance out of their way, to assure my survival. Knowledge is rare, or so I keep telling them.

I'm under no illusion however that the last berry picked will top my plate, or that the last salvaged blanket will cushion my pallet.
These people grew up together and formed bonds that no outsider can break. I wasn't here during the great flood of '78, nor do I recall Harris closing all the one and two room schools. To top it off I've developed an accent.
I'm here, I'm liked, some may even see me as an asset. But I'll always be the stranger. Not near the front of the line when they're divvying up very limited resources, not the first that is worried about when catastrophe strikes.

If you now are a part of a community, no matter how abased you believe that community to be, stick with it. If you must attempt change, do so from within. When catastrophe comes, and I believe that it will come with little warning, the drifter coming down the road will not be treated well, (look at the present situation in Europe).
When the walls of the city are breached each neighborhood becomes suspicious of the next, each household holds their own dear and distrusts the other.  The stranger within is soon the stranger without.

In the depression we had tramps, hobo's, and vagabonds. We burned their camps, siced the dogs and the cops on them, all the while knowing that close relatives were riding the same rails into other communities. This is how humans deal with "others".

I fear that it takes a lifetime to build bonds strong enough to endure what I believe is coming. Those of us that pulled up roots won't find acceptance when our money, property, and  "connections" are valueless.
More successful vagabonds historically relied on skills that were in short supply. Tinkers were despised, but were fed and given a night in the shed for repairing the broken pans. Musicians played and danced for coins, then were out of town before the crowd turned on them. Sign painters swept into town before holidays, then swept back out before the celebrations ended. Crop pickers were welcome as long as fruit was on the tree.

What skills will be of such great value that a stranger possessing them might be accepted?


A person capable of building a 12 volt micro hydro or wind generator from scrap?
Someone able to build and captain a fishing sailboat?
A chemist/pharmacist able to prepare medicines or explosives from scratch?
One knowledgeable of healing or soporific plants & herbs?
A dentist/midwife/surgeon who can make and maintain his/her own tools?
One able to distill a potent,potable drink?
A mechanic capable of repairing what machines or tools as are salvageable?

In time a tinker may settle and be accepted as the community blacksmith.  The itinerant healer stands a good chance of community acceptance & a mechanic that can find enough things to repair will be welcomed.

I've purposely omitted mercenaries, warlords, police, and bandits. My own views may be warped but I see little to separate any of the above. All offer safety, for a price. All create havoc when not "respected", and all exemplify the concept that might makes right.
We still have large communities that rely on volunteer firemen. Why do volunteer police fail so violently?

Terry

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For now , while communication networks on a scale far beyond anything of the past exist , those interested in finding like minded souls might find some utility in inventing ways to use it ( the net ).
Sharing is important in building community and  holdup, dig in and arm yourself seem the nadir of community building. So finding ways to share, that build community, knowledge of the food base available and maybe some ways to turn some profit or at least cut food costs seem a natural motivator. Our world has lost much of the community spirit that Terry is talking about. Anonymity has it's downsides and if things were to break down on some grand scale it is knowledge and instant access to an already formed group that will provide security. It will also help provide some civility at least within the group. I can't imagine how our current perversion with individuality , electronic stimulation, and total dependence on fossil fueled food supplies will turn out well. Maybe that makes me a pessimist but just the number of guns, ammo and nut jobs is going to make short shrift of optimists. Being prepared for the worst isn't bad planning even if it never happens. I would say this is just a talk for us crazy Americans but what is happening with the refuge crisis in Europe makes me think it has a larger audience . O.K. The gun issue isn't European but it is damn sure Syrian.     

ccgwebmaster

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For now , while communication networks on a scale far beyond anything of the past exist , those interested in finding like minded souls might find some utility in inventing ways to use it ( the net ).

While I think successful long terms efforts are going to require cooperation and group work - it's ridiculously hard to find like minded people, even today. The tiny number I note are scattered geographically beyond cohesion and my assumption is there will be no shortage of those wanting to survive once the wheels come off.

I think defending a fix location, in any guise, in the vast majority of locations, is doomed as a long term approach. The worse end of the climate change spectrum potentially renders a lot of the currently inhabited surface unsurvivable for us in generations hence, plus any number of other hazards - sea level rise, shifting weather patterns, nuclear and chemical hazards - it's tough to see that there are many robust locations conveniently to be found locally for a truly long term approach.

Theta

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For now , while communication networks on a scale far beyond anything of the past exist , those interested in finding like minded souls might find some utility in inventing ways to use it ( the net ).

While I think successful long terms efforts are going to require cooperation and group work - it's ridiculously hard to find like minded people, even today. The tiny number I note are scattered geographically beyond cohesion and my assumption is there will be no shortage of those wanting to survive once the wheels come off.

I think defending a fix location, in any guise, in the vast majority of locations, is doomed as a long term approach. The worse end of the climate change spectrum potentially renders a lot of the currently inhabited surface unsurvivable for us in generations hence, plus any number of other hazards - sea level rise, shifting weather patterns, nuclear and chemical hazards - it's tough to see that there are many robust locations conveniently to be found locally for a truly long term approach.

The thing is, climate change wouldn't even have to become worse to render homesteads worthless. The spent fuel rods that are currently in existence trifle what climate change is capable of, it seems that a single meltdown can render earth lifeless.
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ccgwebmaster

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The spent fuel rods that are currently in existence trifle what climate change is capable of, it seems that a single meltdown can render earth lifeless.

Can you give some scientifically grounded argument to support that assertion? It's a popular notion - the nuclear threat - but I've yet to hear a really convincing argument why it's as serious as people say it is (especially compared to climate change which literally will transform the face of the whole planet)

Our plans are only as good as the information we factor into them.

Theta

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The spent fuel rods that are currently in existence trifle what climate change is capable of, it seems that a single meltdown can render earth lifeless.


Can you give some scientifically grounded argument to support that assertion? It's a popular notion - the nuclear threat - but I've yet to hear a really convincing argument why it's as serious as people say it is (especially compared to climate change which literally will transform the face of the whole planet)

Our plans are only as good as the information we factor into them.


Guy McPherson has talked about the potential for nuclear meltdowns to cause human extinction, but I am not sure if he is a reputable source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/near-term-human-extinction-a-conversation-with-guy-mcpherson/5373909

My understanding of the nuclear situation is that in the face of an economic collapse, none of them are going to be decommissioned which will result in the fuel rods becoming overheated as water will not be pumped without power, and a fire will occur, causing a large amount of ionizing radiation to go up to the atmosphere and then rain down onto the earth, perhaps killing everything in the Northern Hemisphere.
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Theta

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Found a reputable source for a possible nuclear explosion, this one's a doozy also because it is possible for it to cover quite a large region, I don't think it's possible for any community to prepare for this...

A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with 15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel.

To estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of 50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7]

Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl). Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl).

Risk of Spent Fuel Pools at Reprocessing Plants

Another risk is from the spent fuel pools at reprocessing plants.

A reprocessing plant has even greater pool storage capacity than that of a reactor pool. Before reprocessing, the received spent fuels are stored in wet pools at the reprocessing plants.

The buildings that house the pools could be even weaker than those pools at reactor sites. In particular, the roof of the building could be more vulnerable. Most of the sabotage scenarios conceivable for reactor pools could be applied to these pools at reprocessing plants.

Even though this would not ignite a spent fuel fire, a significant fraction of Cs-137 in the rods could be released into the atmosphere. For example, a pool with 2,000 t ten-year-old SNF would hold about 170 MCi Cs-137. If 3% of this Cs-137 inventory were released, [17] about 5 MCi Cs-137 would be released, which is two times more than the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Furthermore, terrorists could pour fuel in the pool and start a fire that would cause ignition of the zircaloy cladding and lead to a greater release of the Cs-137 inventory.

Recent results from France indicate that heating at 1,500 °C of high-burnup spent fuel for one hour caused the release of 26% of the Cs inventory. [18]

Thus it would release about 44 MCi of Cs-137 into the environment, which would be twenty times more than the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

Some experts are already concerned about the possible consequence of a terrorist attack on the La Hague nuclear reprocessing facilities.

As a COGEMA-La Hague spokesman declared after September 11, as far as the design basis is concerned, the facilities are no more protected against an airliner crash than any other nuclear power station. [20]

The World Information Service on Energy, Wise-Paris, estimated the potential impact of a major accident in La Hague’s pools. [21] The calculation was made for the case of an explosion and/or fire in the spent fuel storage pool D (the smallest one), assuming that it is filled up to half of its normal capacity of 3,490 t, supposing a release of up to 100% of Cs-137.

Based solely on the stock of Cs-137 in pool D, it is shown that a major accident in this pool could have an impact up to 67 times that of the Chernobyl accident.

Moreover, the total Cs-137 inventory in the pools of La Hague reprocessing facilities is about 7,500 kg, 280 times as much as the Cs-137 amount released from the 1986 Chernobyl accident.


http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/364/radiological_terrorism.html

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ccgwebmaster

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Found a reputable source for a possible nuclear explosion, this one's a doozy also because it is possible for it to cover quite a large region, I don't think it's possible for any community to prepare for this...


Well, as per the text quoted - it certainly seems reasonable to conclude nuclear materials lying around are a serious local threat (where local is on a scale of nation states).

However, in my view, to demonstrate assured extinction as a consequence of the failure of nuclear storage facilities, one needs to be able to demonstrate that the whole habitable surface to the planet (taking into account shifts in this due to climate change) will be simultaneously unavailable to humanity on the global scale. Given that many radioactive isotopes of concern have fairly modest half lives, and that some parts of the planet are a rather long way away from potential sources of contamination, I'm not convinced that's really possible to demonstrate.

If one looks at cities where nuclear weapons have been used (granted small ones) and Cherynobyl, radiation isn't looking too serious as a long term threat (notwithstanding the very serious initial problems). Compared to climate change which is going to matter on a scale of tens of thousands to millions of years - I don't understand the fixation on nuclear extinction that people have.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/grrlscientist/2015/oct/05/what-happened-to-wildlife-when-chernobyl-drove-humans-out-it-thrived

Chernobly was a pretty bad case, yet above, it seems a nuclear disaster is less harmful to wildlife than the continued mere existence of humans. Contemplate that, if you will, and consider we are also "wildlife", animals too. Would we have all died even in the exclusion zone, or simply had to accept a higher rate of mutation and cancer?

Notwithstanding all the jumping up and down over Fukushima - how many actual proven deaths can you show have happened as a result? Unless I'm missing something, Japan is still there and while people have left some evacuated areas - I'm willing to bet plenty of things are still living there, pretty much the same as they always were, just as with Chernobyl.

If one uniformly and very specifically distributed the entire stock of world nuclear material over the whole habitable planetary surface spontaneously somehow (obviously rather unlikely), would even that reach levels of radioactivity that would assure all people would die? Or might we merely expect an increase in mutation and cancer?

Hopefully you can see why I think it is overrated as an existential long term threat and believe the fixation many have on assured extinction from nuclear catastrophic is perhaps misguided? One wouldn't want to live in those conditions, but I don't want to live on a planet with a rapidly shifting climate either - and that is something that cannot be escaped and will affect the whole planetary surface simultaneously and essentially permanently.

I think we are too guilty of taking the short view on such matters. As got us into this colossal mess in the first place. A couple hundred years from now the human habitable range will be severely restricted due to climate change, and nuclear contamination likely won't even exist in our language any more.

ccgwebmaster

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The spent fuel rods that are currently in existence trifle what climate change is capable of, it seems that a single meltdown can render earth lifeless.


Can you give some scientifically grounded argument to support that assertion? It's a popular notion - the nuclear threat - but I've yet to hear a really convincing argument why it's as serious as people say it is (especially compared to climate change which literally will transform the face of the whole planet)

Our plans are only as good as the information we factor into them.


Guy McPherson has talked about the potential for nuclear meltdowns to cause human extinction, but I am not sure if he is a reputable source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/near-term-human-extinction-a-conversation-with-guy-mcpherson/5373909

My understanding of the nuclear situation is that in the face of an economic collapse, none of them are going to be decommissioned which will result in the fuel rods becoming overheated as water will not be pumped without power, and a fire will occur, causing a large amount of ionizing radiation to go up to the atmosphere and then rain down onto the earth, perhaps killing everything in the Northern Hemisphere.


Most nuclear power plant designs do not require active pumping of coolant if they can achieve cold shutdown.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shutdown_%28nuclear_reactor%29

My understanding is that the power output from the plant (which by implication continues to expend nuclear fuel) is of the order of 1-2% and active cooling is not typically required. The problem at Fukushima was the catastrophic failure of all the cooling systems before cold shutdown could be achieved, due to the extremely rapid onset of the circumstances. In most cases, I think circumstances would be more gradual than a tsunami...

If the reactor is properly shutdown, one imagines that eventually the reactor vesel would open to the outside world, but they're built rather heavy and not only would it take a long time, but the residual decay of the fuel should have effectively consumed a lot of itself.

The storage of spent fuel in ponds that require ongoing cooling seems to be of generally greater concern, as there is no reactor vessel containing them.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spent_fuel_pool

While over a period of years the spent fuel will decay to a level where it probably doesn't need the water cooling it any more - there is still one imagines a theoretical period of vulnerability.  imagine your options if you were in the vicinity of one of these would be limited to:
  • relocate a thousand miles upwind
  • keep the water filled up
  • fill it in with some other material eg earth to minimise dispersion

If you wanted to plan around the local nuclear threat, I would point to the large expanses of planet on this map that are nowhere near a nuclear reactor (where one presumes most of the fuel ponds also are):

http://na.unep.net/geas/newsletter/images/Aug_11/Nuclear%20Power%20Plants%20distribution%20as%20of%20July%202011.jpg

Most of the areas that are heavily nuclear facility equipped are currently nice habitable areas, but that may well cease to be true in the long run under climate change scenarios. You might not want to try living there anyway.

wili

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ccg wrote: "it seems a nuclear disaster is less harmful to wildlife"

There are actually many observations of increases in birth defects in animals around Chernobyl. These would be a big deal in human populations, but wildlife deformities don't make headlines and they tend to die quickly.

Another development not much publicized is the loss of some species of fungi in the area which had crucial functions in breaking down dead trees etc, so that they could become soil that is reusable by other plants etc. If that crucial cycle has really been broken, the long term prospects for life in the region do not look good.

(I agree, though, that even total meltdowns of all nuclear reactors would not necessarily by itself wipe out all life on the planet. But it would be one more set of sturdy radioactive nails in the coffin!)
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Theta

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ccg wrote: "it seems a nuclear disaster is less harmful to wildlife"

There are actually many observations of increases in birth defects in animals around Chernobyl. These would be a big deal in human populations, but wildlife deformities don't make headlines and they tend to die quickly.

Another development not much publicized is the loss of some species of fungi in the area which had crucial functions in breaking down dead trees etc, so that they could become soil that is reusable by other plants etc. If that crucial cycle has really been broken, the long term prospects for life in the region do not look good.

(I agree, though, that even total meltdowns of all nuclear reactors would not necessarily by itself wipe out all life on the planet. But it would be one more set of sturdy radioactive nails in the coffin!)

Guy McPherson talked about the extinction of animals around Chernobyl, stating that they were experiencing their own extinction which is why I was worried about nuclear meltdowns being a part of McPherson's predictions on total human extinction by 2030.

This would be a huge challenge anyway for communities hoping to set up and it amplifies Terry and CCG's point that communities need to be mobile to survive, especially if they live near areas close to nuclear power plants.

On that last note though, perhaps nuclear meltdowns could extinguish human life since complex life above cockroaches would certainly not be able to deal with the radiation.
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lisa

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Re: Agricultural Community in the Face of Climate Change: Viable or a Pipe Dream?
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2016, 11:16:22 PM »
Theta wrote:
 
My understanding of the nuclear situation is that in the face of an economic collapse, none of them are going to be decommissioned which will result in the fuel rods becoming overheated as water will not be pumped without power, and a fire will occur, causing a large amount of ionizing radiation to go up to the atmosphere and then rain down onto the earth, perhaps killing everything in the Northern Hemisphere.

I don't think that the scientists, managers, and techs of a nuclear power plant would just go home in the face of an economic collapse.  Unless, perhaps it was to kill their families and commit suicide.  I think that, like the Fukushima Heroes, they would do what they could to stabilize the plant.  This is their community; their kids and partners, brothers and sister and parents live here.

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Re: Agricultural Community in the Face of Climate Change: Viable or a Pipe Dream?
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2016, 12:12:58 AM »
The "Fukushima Heroes, as well as those who lost their lives by staying at the controls while Chernobyl was going boom. were either on shift, or had a means of filling their cars up to drive to the site.
No electricity, no gas stations, no diesel for generators, no controlled shutdown.


Terry

lisa

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Re: Agricultural Community in the Face of Climate Change: Viable or a Pipe Dream?
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2016, 06:20:01 PM »
This assumes economic collapse just suddenly happening one day.  Like, on Monday everyone went to work and on Tuesday, *boom*, economic collapse and there's no way to get to the plant.  I just don't see it happening that way.


lisa

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Re: Agricultural Community in the Face of Climate Change: Viable or a Pipe Dream?
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2016, 06:57:07 PM »
But now that I look at it, perhaps we're talking about two different things.  What I was talking about was a controlled shutdown, which isn't decommissioning.  According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there's Immediate Dismantling (depending on the facility, it could take five years or more), Safe Enclosure (usually on the order of 40 to 60 years), and Entombment (months?).

I'm not sure what Guy McPherson is envisioning, but I can see a pre' damn good chance of at least an entombment happening, and maybe even Immediate Dismantling. 

But then, what do I know? I'm certainly not an expert at this.