LA Times Gets It Very Wrong On Germany’s Energy Revolution

Pro-nuclear lobby misinformation is rampant. You can find it in the most trustworthy of news sources. For example, in today’s Los Angeles Times there is a blatantly false article that drove me to create this blog!

Here’s the article:

Germany’s nuclear power phaseout turns off environmentalists

Just in case the article gets pulled down, here is how it appeared as I write.

Thankfully, another Tokyo resident who happens to be from Germany, Prof. Karl-Friedrich Lenz, picked up on the misinformation and wrote about it in his blog.

It’s written by a seemingly innocent looking enough fellow who is a ‘special correspondent’ for the LAT named Aaron Wiener, apparently based in Germany. According to his twitter profile, he’s a genuine Fulbright Scholar! Must be very trustworthy!

Apparently, even Fulbright Scholars have trouble digging up real facts. Mr. Wiener’s are very incorrect – and appear to be manufactured to fit his world view.

For example, Mr. Wiener writes

Last year’s shuttering of eight of the country’s 17 reactors has led to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions of 25 million tons annually in Europe, said Laszlo Varro of the International Energy Agency, a European intergovernmental organization.

Actually, the opposite is true. In 2011, Germany and Europe’s green house gas emissions are actually significantly lower than 2010. In fact, all of Europe’s emissions were lower in 2011 than a year before as Prof. Lenz kindly points out in his superb post.

Further, I looked up some of the terms that Mr. Wiener wrote in his article. Not surprisingly, it appears he merely cut and pasted pieces of articles from a year ago!

One example from the article, the story of the mayor Stadland, Boris Schierhold, who is portrayed as so ‘frustrated’ with the ‘political decision-making.’ I found that Spiegel had an almost identical article in June, 2011 with the same types of comments. This was nearly a year ago, and hardly representative of today’s situation.

Another example, the massive ’25 million tons’ of additional CO2 which supposedly got spewed into the atmosphere are apparently lifted from a Wall Street Journal article from May 2011! The first few lines of the article state:

Germany’s moratorium on nuclear-power generation will add around 25 million metric tons a year to the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions, which will have to be offset elsewhere by replacing coal-fired power with cleaner gas-burning plants, the International Energy Agency said…

Here is the WSJ article as it appears today as a PDF, just in case!

A year ago the IEA predicted this massive increase, as did many analysts. However, Germany has been able to lower its emissions by aggressively building renewable energy infrastructure and pushing for ever higher energy efficiency. The actual declines were between 2% and 6% for the German electricity generation market! And to top it off, Germany has remarkably accomplished these feats while phasing out nuclear power.

Certainly, it is one thing to get ones facts wrong and make corrections. However, in this case Mr. Wiener was obviously aware of what he was doing. A search on google for ‘Aaron Wiener’ and ‘nuclear’ finds numerous pro-nuclear slanted articles written by this supposedly bright and honest Fulbright Scholar. Apparently this Fulbright has an agenda to propagandize for the nuclear power industry!

Journalists and newspaper editors have a responsibility to bring us the truth as best they can. Challenges of the internet and the relative decline of print media and its revenue sources must make it difficult to properly staff modern news paper organizations. This however does not excuse a respectable news organization like the Los Angeles Times from doing a proper job in vetting its journalists and fact checking obviously incorrect articles on such important topics as energy.

I hope that the LAT will correct this article and make sure that Mr. Wiener is not allowed to mislead so many readers again. The ethical responsibility is large and I hope that LAT will live up to its responsibility.

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5 thoughts on “LA Times Gets It Very Wrong On Germany’s Energy Revolution

  1. (The commenter apparently has a type of disorder/handicap which causes her (or him) to insert expletives every few words. Or she/he may have been drunk? Regardless, the vulgarities were edited. -kevin)

    What’s wrong with nuclear power that forces people to protest and whine all day long? Why are the majority of people so f*****g stupid? And lastly why is everyone so paranoid and insecure about their g*d d**n lives?

    If you want to f**k everyone in whole f*****g country, get rid of nuclear power and arrests the scientists and engineers who design it because obviously they are f*****g terrorists who created these monstrosities in order destroy the an country with meltdowns and s**t. Federal regulation and inspections from the IAEA don’t mean s**t because these f******g plants are going to blow up any second and the radioactive waste they produce (even though it’s buried under f*****g bedrock) is killing millions of people every day. Solution? Restart those mother f*****g coal factories b*****s because now we have no f*****g energy and more national debt from increased energy imports because we are so f*****g stupid and love to shoot ourselves in the foot with a half-*ss reasoning. And don’t even get me started on Japan, which expects that it will cut energy to industries during peak hours because it can’t f*****g keep up with the demand (I wonder how many people will die from heat strokes because they have no power to their homes?)

    You want to know who is setting the f*****g example in the world? South Korea, China, India, and the USA. I am no fan of these countries but when the s**t hit the fan on 3/11, they didn’t start panicking and destroying an entire branch of power just because some f*****g tsunami hit the coast of Japan. It looks like the flames died down and now nuclear opposition doesn’t appear that much of a media sensation as it did a f*****g year ago (adding to the argument that the media manipulates the most stupidest of minds to argue and b***h about every little thing. Today it is nuclear power, next month it is gun regulation, next month it is political scandals.)

    Environmentalists have their heads so far up their *ss*s because they didn’t think of any long term solution to phasing out nuclear power. It was just a fabricated idea on-the-spot and they probably expected that wind farms, hydroelectric dams, and solar farms will start popping up and s**t once nuclear power is gone since that’s the only alternative. YES renewable energy is an alternative, but basic f*****g economics show that the best solution to any problem is the cheapest solution, in this case burning as much shit as possible to barely meet the energy demanded by the industry. It’s easier to protest phasing out nuclear power because of the nuclear crisis, but is it as easy to protest for cleaner energy? Isn’t that the whole f*****g point?

    It’s a shame Europe couldn’t keep its s**t together. I was planning on taking German at my university but it appears that the country’s politics is such a b***f**k of stupidity in the past year that I switched to Korean at the last minute because they know what the f**k they’re doing and I proved right when I learned that they are building ADDITIONAL nuclear plants over the next decade. Good s**t, I hope to see more success come from them over the next couple of years.

  2. Pingback: Next false and misleading article about Germany: Aaron Wiener | Lenz Blog

  3. Both you and the times article have reached incorrect conclusions regarding what effect closing nuclear plants has had on German CO2 emissions. The salient point is not that emissions decreased slightly in spite of plant closures, but rather how emissions compare to where they would be if the closures had not happened. Nuclear power dropped by 33.9% in 2011 while power from fossil fuel plants declined by 2.8%. The total power generated decreased by 5.1% so, relative to total power production the share from combustible sources increased.

    If you look at the actual production numbers for January, 2012 at http://www.iea.org/stats/surveys/mes.pdf you can find the mix of sources, and this link, http://www.pc.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/109923/15-carbon-prices-appendixf.pdf, allows you to calculate the approximate CO2 intensity of German fossil sources, which works out to approximately 0.87 Tons/CO2 per Megawatt/hour.

    Now, if the 33.9% of nuclear were restored and used to reduce fossil generation by the same amount, and those reductions occurred in proportion to the coal, lignite and gas generation reported, this would equal a reduction of a further 13.78% of fossil fuel use, or 3,892,000 tons of CO2. Annualized, this come to 46.7 million tons, not 25 tons. Talking about actual small emissions reductions which did not even reach the reduction in power production obfuscates the point that nuclear power reduces CO2 and not using nuclear, as the Germans have opted to proceed, increases emissions relative to using the nuclear.

    Whether this is a reasonable policy depends on whether the statistically small risks of continuing to use nuclear power outweigh the future risks of climate change. Personally, I’d rather live next to a nuclear plant then a coal plant any day, and that is the real choice until some far future date when technological improvements and efficiency gains make affordable renewables a reality.

    • Thanks for your comment.

      The real question, IMHO, is whether or not Germany can manage to continue to reduce emissions while phasing out nuclear. They are successfully doing this.

      Also, it is important to note that Germany is reducing its emissions faster than the already aggressive targets they set for themselves.

      Certainly, if nuclear were really safe, your point would be quite valid, IMO. Unfortunately, the historical statistics show that about 2% of all commercially built reactors have had meltdowns. Many, many more have had radiation leaks, and various other significant problems. Nuclear is statistically dangerous.

      Personally I do not want to live near a nuclear plant. I also do not want to live near a coal plant. I like the fact that Germany is phasing out both and replacing them with renewable energy.

  4. “Fukushima’s most important lesson is this: Probability theory (that disaster is unlikely) failed us. If you have made assumptions, you are not prepared. Nuclear power plants should have multiple, reliable ways to cool reactors. Any nuclear plant that doesn’t heed this lesson is inviting disaster.”

    By Kenichi Ohmae / April 5, 2012

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Global-Viewpoint/2012/0405/World-is-ignoring-most-important-lesson-from-Fukushima-nuclear-disaster

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