A short list of really interesting energy-related stories today. Beyond the headline, a really great overview of how globalization may well be entirely reshaped by energy constraints, for the betterment of local economies in places where manufacturing has been outsourced for years. Keep reading for more info.
Offshore Wind Farms At Risk From Hurricanes
Now, it isn't a huge risk, but a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that in hurricane-prone regions such as in the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of North America, there's a "high probability that at least one turbine would be destroyed by hurricanes within 20 years, and a smaller chance that half the turbines in a farm would be wiped out." As for more on how that was determined and what can be done about it, read ArsTechnica or the original research.
The Ecologist highlights a new study that "has found a doubling in the incidence of [childhood leukemia] among children under 5 living within [a] 5-kilometer radius of a nuclear plant."
The study, conducted by the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire (INSERM) and reported in the International Journal of Cancer in January 2012, looked at child leukemia cases nationwide diagnosed between 2002 and 2007, with addresses coded around 19 nuclear power plants. It demonstrated a statistically significant doubling of the incidence of leukemia childhood near nuclear power plants.
Energy Constraints May Start Globalization's Decline & Stimulate Local Economies
TreeHugger has covered this topic a number of times, but Solutions—an excellent journal, if you're not already familiar—has a good summary of the potential effects of energy constraints (in terms of price and/or availability, they're linked) on the shape that globalization takes, as well as what that means for stimulating local economies in places where manufacturing has largely been entirely outsourced. A taste:
At first, the increase in freight costs will be bad news for developed and developing nations alike but, as adjustments in the patterns of trade occur, the result is likely to be decreased outsourcing with more manufacturing and food production jobs in North America and the European Union. The pattern of trade will change as increasing transportation costs outweigh traditional sources of comparative advantage, such as lower wages. The new geography of trade will not result from policy or treaties but from the impact of changing environmental conditions due to the growth of the human economy. Global trade can be disrupted by many kinds of natural disaster: the tsunami and nuclear emergency in Japan slowed auto production in the United States, and Australian floods lowered coal exports to China.The supply chains of global production and distribution are more vulnerable than we would like to admit. Up to now, we have adapted to disruptions and global trade has continued to expand. But greater challenges to global trade lie ahead. Continual growth, or even maintenance, of the current physical volume of trade is unsustainable.