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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

SYRIA, FUKUSHIMA AND HAWAII: The Cost and Reality

You wouldn't think there could possibly be a link among the three issues of Syria, Fukushima and air-conditioning of public schools in Hawaii.  Well, the prime headline article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today had to do with the latter.  I'll return to this matter later.

The U.S. Congress should approve President Barack Obama's request to strike Syria's chemical weapons system, perhaps as early as next week.  Facing the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel indicated that the cost of this attack on Syria would cost tens of millions of dollars.

The latest news from Fukushima is:


What they propose to do will be to freeze--yes, freeze--the ground around the crippled nuclear facility.  Can you imagine what just the electricity cost will be, as this condition will need to be maintained for decades.  The problem is that an additional 400 tons of radioactive water need to be stored each day.  They are already up to around a 1000 hastily built storage tanks, only one of which is currently leaking, yet.  If this is the result of the best Japanese minds, the country is in real trouble.  So we are talking here, hundreds of millions of dollars.

Here is the shocker.  Most of Hawaii's public schools are too hot.  (No, the surprise to come is the relative cost compared to the Syria action and Fukushima clean up.)  Only 12 of 255 campuses have air-conditioning.  Many other states, of course, are faced with this issue.  That photo to the left was actually taken more than five years ago, and the latest evidence shows that the temperature did recently get up to 95 F in a classroom, so maybe they have a point.  A big push is being mounted to air-condition all of them.  Cost?  One billion dollars.  So while the nation of the USA will spend tens of millions to mount an air offensive against Syria, and the nation of Japan has committed hundreds of millions just to freeze Fukushima, this tiny State of Hawaii is being asked to find a thousand million dollars, or one billion, to keep our students comfortably cool.

To the right is a possible future map of the Middle East. (Click to see the details.)  More than two years ago, the Huffington Post reported that the 


This sum is equivalent to $3,700 billion, or $3,700,000 million. Thus, let's say our military spends $37 million on Syria, that is one millionth the current cost of our Middle East War.  While a mere pittance, want to bet the Syrian War will be a whole lot more expensive?  But, for "humanitarian" and "political" reasons, this attack will happen.  That is the reality.

Just the economic loss to Japan for Fukushima could be up to $500 billion.  One high estimate has the clean up cost at $250 billion over the next decade.  Are they kidding?  At least one other report has clean up costs at $10 trillion.  A still unofficial French government study has a worst-case scenario of a nuclear disaster in France at $7.5 trillion, so chances are Japan is deluding itself with less than a trillion dollar cost of the Fukushima cataclysm.  There is little reality to economics versus Fukushima in Japan today.  Further, most of the nuclear reactors in Japan are at the coastline, and 30 months after that fatal earthquake, only two of 50 functional facilities are now operational.  But several more are on the verge of being powered up.

Undoubtedly, the highest state of dream is Hawaii spending a billion dollars to air-condition all our public schools.  Fans (ventilation and large room varieties) will for sure be installed.  Classes might need to, every so often, be moved outdoors under some shade.  But we won't be able to afford a billion dollars to keep our schoolchildren comfortable.  There are just too many higher order priorities.  

I'm maybe a poor example, but I haven't turned on my three air conditioners for a whole year now. Remember, electricity costs 35 cents/kWh where I live. Cross ventilation is not good and my bedroom gets up to 96 F in the afternoon.  Granted, I don't need to use this room then, for I take a nap in another room where the temperature is a bit lower.  I have personal fans at the four sites I sit and sleep.  They work just fine.  And I live on the top floor with all glass walls where the sun beats down on and shines into my apartment. 

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