Ukraine is resisting, and Putin, becoming more and more nervous and with pointed eyes, yesterday raised the specter of nuclear war. It does so indirectly. As a cold dictator and former head of the secret services, he said he “was alerted to deterrence,” but everyone got it right, starting with Biden and the European countries under fire – Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Germany.
“Dirty” strategic and tactical nuclear power
There are different levels of nuclear weapons. At the highest level are strategic warheads and thermonuclear bombs with devastating effects, tens of thousands of times more powerful than the fission bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ready to travel in less than half an hour from one continent to another. They can begin to ride missiles from underground silos, from submarines and bombers. With this type of weapon, the first strike strategy is applied. The attack is preemptive and surprisingly, it must eliminate the opposing party’s ability to respond. There should be no room for a second strike, although military scenarios envisage it in the framework of mutual complete destruction. Divergent force tactics, small and light bombs of limited power, are then tested for flexibly use in the field on a regional scale: they are things that can be delivered to the recipient with short-range missiles, drones and aircraft. Finally, there are “dirty” bombs that have conventional explosives but are designed to spread radioactive waste over a fairly large area.
Ukraine knows something about it: the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, at that time in the Soviet Union, near the border with Poland, 120 kilometers north of the capital Kyiv, can be compared with the consequences of a dirty bomb. The Russian attack three days ago that hit waste deposits near the concrete “sarcophagus” trying to contain Chernobyl’s radioactive material with uncertain results, as well as suggesting a dark Soviet past, seemed to many a bleak premonition of the deadly move. It is unfortunate that today the attempt to negotiate between Russia and Ukraine is taking place in Dnipro in this atmosphere.
At first it was ECSC
In the hope that we will never have to deepen the technical-scientific discourse on the atomic conflict, the word “nuclear” today is associated with the energy crisis that we will have to face in the absence of Russian methane. The EU was born in 1951 from a fetus that was called CECA, the European Coal and Steel Community, two raw materials without which there would have been no post-war reconstruction. In 1957 came the European Economic Community, the European Economic Community and Euratom, an organization aimed at promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy to produce electricity. So the problem of energy is the root of the union.
The idea of Altiero Spinelli
I remember a conference held by Aliero Spinelli at the headquarters of the European Federalist Party on Via del Carmen in Turin: Economic cooperation is good – explained the man in Ventotene’s manifesto, who spent ten years in a fascist prison on that island – as long as it is the first step towards political union.
delusion. Sixty years later, the landscape looks bleak. The short-sightedness of the remaining nationalist mentality prevented any coordination of energy policy on the old continent. In the wake of the Gaullist “greatness” that was developing atomic bombs, France made a crucial nuclear choice and today produces 72% of its electrical energy using fission reactors, exporting the surplus when demand falls. Germany managed to produce a third of its energy from nuclear energy and is now shutting down its last reactors. Spain, which has finally arrived (in Juratum’s time the dictator Franco was in power), today derives a fifth of its electricity from nuclear power. Switzerland keeps its reactors but has decided not to replace them at the end of their life. Italy was one of the first countries in the world to operate a reactor, but then vacillated between pharaonic projects and nuclear liquidation. In 1975, after the 1973 oil crisis, with Sundays on foot, 20 power stations were planned; One was built in Caorso while the three in Latina, Garigliano and Trino were eventually due to seniority. After passing two referendums in 1987 (immediately after Chernobyl) and in 2011, nuclear power permanently disappeared from the scene. Meanwhile, methane was replaced by diesel and coal, which in the 1980s was as economical as burning 17th-century furniture in a stove to make roasted chestnuts.
In short, Europe in energy has been moving out of nowhere for half a century, and we are most of all, while it is now estimated that a judiciously coordinated energy policy at the European level would have, and will, allow for prices per kilowatt-hour of 30% more. bass
Green Europe is postponed
Italy depends more than any other country on imported gas (mainly from Russia). Keep in mind that making electricity using methane was, at the time, an environmentally wise choice. For the environment, better than methane, there are only renewable energies: hydroelectricity, solar energy, wind energy, biomass. Indeed, that is the goal the EU set itself after the last elections, commendably but also perhaps unrealistically, understating the times and costs of a green transition in a world that still runs on coal for nearly a third of the total. The energy used contains methane and nuclear as other primary sources. The “green” tipping point, which is already in crisis with the so-called classification (but who invents it?) of energy sources with the status created by Putin, has been postponed to a later date, with many regards to the greenhouse effect.
For Italy, it would have been good to focus on methane-based transformation if our politicians knew how to diversify exporting countries and secure stable contracts (think Libya), but that was not the case. Indeed, extraction from our soil and the Adriatic Sea was reduced to a minimum heat, the search for new fields was prevented and it was almost possible to prevent TAP, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, a gas pipeline that has brought us methane since the end of 2020 from Azerbaijan . Obviously, neither to regasification of natural gas for LNG tankers, nor for storage and even not for high-voltage power lines to import electricity from abroad. Until Putin’s arrival in Ukraine, all the standing parliamentarians applaud Draghi when he talks about re-igniting coal-fired power plants, the same parliamentarians who shut them down by calling them an absolute evil and who hampered wind turbines in every way. And PV fields, charged with disturbing the rural landscape.
This rhetoric must be repeated for energy for greater reasons for defense (entrusted to NATO and dual-spending national governments rather than a European professional army), fiscal policy (which has preserved havens for the use of tax evaders) and for health systems. If Covid and the attack on Ukraine will cure fifty years of economic and political myopia for the central states, all happy with only one bureaucratic machine in Brussels and Strasbourg, they will not be useless misfortunes.
Once again, scientific research demonstrates the intelligence and advantages of cooperation: CERN in Geneva for particle physics, European Space Agency for space activities, EMBO for molecular biological research, and ESO (European Southern Observatory) for astronomy and astrophysics. By the way: ESO is building the world’s largest telescope – 39 meters in diameter – in the Andes in Chile, which will survey the limits of the universe (photo above). A strange contrast to some political leaders who do not see beyond their navel.
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