Open Letter to Jim Kim, President of The World Bank
- Jul 7, 2018 10:31 pm GMT
Leadership entails risk; you boldly moved drugs from US medical research labs to Haiti and Peru to treat HIV-infected populations. Do you now dare to reverse World Bank policy that denies financing for fission power plants to end energy poverty and check climate change?
Receding goals. The World Bank Energy Progress Report 2018 confesses that progress on “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” falls short. The International Energy Agency reported world CO2 emissions rose in 2017.
To help mitigate climate change you are ending financing of new coal-fired power plants. This is morally conflicting because such ample, reliable electricity is essential to prosperity in developing nations. As a half-measure the World Bank continues to finance natural gas power plants, because their CO2 emissions are only half as bad.
Electricity access for the billion people without power is a noble goal, as visioned in your 2018 report photos of parents watching television and a grandmother with a smart phone by a solar panel. It’s not enough. Solar panels don’t provide the ample electricity for cooking that could reduce the 4 million annual deaths from indoor air pollution of burning wood and dung fuel.
Electrifying prosperity. Impoverished people can’t afford labor-saving electric luxuries such as washing machines without better jobs. A prosperous economy requires ample, full-time power to support industry and commerce. North America full-time average power use is 1500 watts per person; European Union: 700 watts; China: 400 watts; India, SE Asia, Africa: under 100 watts.
For developing nations, 100 watts of full-time average electricity use correlates with $3500 of GDP. A gigawatt fission power plant can support $32 billion of GDP growth.
Subsidies. Intermittent solar and wind power can’t drive commerce and industry. Your report claims “solar PV now cheaper than nuclear in developed economies” but admits “growth in 2015 was due to the existence of alternative financial incentives including tax credits and feed-in tariffs.” PV solar only seems cheap in nations with obscure, complex tax and subsidy systems.
Rich nations do what they want. Poor nations do what they must. Today they choose coal-fired power plants for the most economic benefit for the least cost. You can change their choice.
New fission power plants can help solve both energy poverty and global warming. Nuclear power plants have the best safety record of power generation technologies. New fission power plants are safer and cheaper. At least two developers claim ample, full-time energy cheaper than coal. This will provide developing nations a less expensive alternative to building more power plants that emit CO2.
New fission power plants are smaller, requiring less capital at risk. They cost less because they can be built in factories and shipyards, then set up on site in two years. Technologies such as low pressure liquid fuel simplify design and enhance safety.
Blacklisting. The World Bank and other development banks refuse financing for fission power plants. Why? Political conformity rather than global leadership? Many misinformed people are fearful of nuclear power, urging politicians to increase burdening over-regulation and costs. But it’s safe. No one was hurt by radiation from the Fukushima catastrophe. No one has been harmed by nuclear power in three decades.
Fear. Will the World Bank remain a political instrument of flawed “common knowledge” that low levels of radiation cause cancer? Science shows why moderate radiation is not harmful. You have the medical background to see through the flawed epidemiology of biased scientists and NGOs financed by continuing public fear of all radiation. They ignore biology, cellular repair, and immune response. Will you be the leader who accepts the scientific facts about health effects of radiation, then educates colleagues, clients, and nations?
Will the World Bank support fission power to help conquer poverty and check global warming?
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