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Green Time TV, June 2016: Tough Environmental Decisions

on Wed, 05/25/2016 - 6:26pm

by Don Fitz

The survival of humans requires confronting very difficult environmental dilemmas. We have the ability to change the flow of rivers, but is it a wise thing to do? How can we retrofit buildings so they use much less energy? Do we really want or even need nuclear power? How can we store solar and wind energy so it becomes more of what we depend on? June Green Time episodes look at serious choices.

The St. Louis area was hit with record-setting floods on the Mississippi and Meramec Rivers during the end of 2015 through the beginning of 2016. Were the high waters caused more by rains or levees built up and down the rivers? In the first June Green Time, host Don Fitz and Bob Criss, of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, discuss what levees are and how long they have been constructed. They look at how they help, how they fail, and what happens when they fail, including the severe economic and environmental consequences of river mismanagement. Recommendations to strongly restrict the construction of levees have been made for well over a century, yet are still ignored. What are better ways to manage rivers and flood risk?

How will Set the PACE St. Louis save money with the energy efficient retrofit project at the Missouri Athletic Club (MAC)? During the second June Green Time, host John Hickey discusses the MAC project and union involvement with Byron DeLear, CEO & Chairman of Energy Equity Funding LLC and Tim Murray of IBEW Local 1. In particular, how can old buildings like MAC be upgraded in a cost effective way? What training do union workers receive and why are they more effective? What types of other businesses could benefit from savings on utility bills?

Fission reactors produce very expensive energy, require a huge amount of water, and have risks that are seriously understated. In the third June Green Time, host Don Fitz and Bob Criss, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University discuss uranium mining and other problems associated with nuclear power, including mine tailings, radioactive waste from processing and fabricating fuel and disposal of used fuel rods. There are also issues with nuclear proliferation and black market sales of nuclear material. They explore the “peaceful atom” as a cover for nuclear weapons, what thorium reactors would be like, and the elusive potential of fusion power.

Why might we be skeptical of claims that there is enough fossil fuel to last for centuries? During the final June Green Time host Don Fitz and William Pickard, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at Washington University, look at why wind and solar power would have great difficulty providing sufficient global 

energy, especially due to the “intermittency” challenge. If we need to store energy, why not just put it in batteries? They explore the concept of pumped storage plants and why the government is not being massively proactive in meeting the challenge.

June shows include the movies Video Air Ops Len Small LeveeMiller City Levee BreakDrive Green for LifeNational Drive Electric Week and The Atom Comes to Town.

Green Time appears at noon on Saturdays in St. Louis on Channel 24-1 and at 8 pm on Mondays in St. Louis on Channel 24-2, Springfield on Channel 39, Joplin on Channel 36 and Marshfield on Channel 17. Green Time programs air on these dates:

  • June 4 & 6: “Did Levees Cause the Flood of 2015-16?,”

  • June 11 & 13: “Clean Energy: Business & Labor,”

  • June 18 & 20: “Can Nukes Be Safe?,”

  • June 25 & 27: “Energy Storage.”

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