Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Eating Peppo

lesvertsWe’ve written a bit about the upcoming French election and the fact that one of the candidates, Francois Hollande, is less nuclear friendly than incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy.

Hollande has said he would like to knock nuclear energy down from 80 percent to 50 percent of electricity generation, though I ‘m not sure why. One could guess a desire for energy diversity, which would be defensible, but it could be a knee-jerk reaction to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, not so defensible.

Electricite de France SA, at the center of a debate over the future of nuclear power in France, may not fare as badly as feared if presidential hopeful Francois Hollande is elected because the Socialist candidate will discard promises to scale back atomic energy, HSBC Holdings Plc said.

“We expect backtracking,” HSBC analysts wrote today in a report. Hollande’s pledge to lower France’s dependence on nuclear power is “unworkable” and lacks union as well as public support, they said.

Note, EDF isn’t saying this. HSBC’s analysts, however, are so sure, they have raised their recommendation on EDF stock. HBSC admits that nuclear energy would likely have a rougher time of it with any socialist president (such as Hollande), but nothing as dire as multiple plant closings.

In the meantime, Hollande has been a little skittish (according to HSBC) around the Greens (Les Verts? Les Branches? – it used to be the first – it’s now Europe Écologie–Les Verts – see picture).

Hollande wouldn’t push ahead with closing nuclear reactors, HSBC said. He has already watered down an earlier commitment reached last year with the Greens to shut 24 reactors by 2025, declining to specify which plants and how many would be closed, other than the Fessenheim reactor, EDF’s oldest. He has pledged to close that plant within five years if he’s elected.

I suspect this issue just isn’t a big winner and becoming less of one as time passes. We can’t really know what will happen until after Hollande wins the election – he’s ahead, but Sarkozy is a strong competitor with a bully pulpit – still, it’s striking that such strong doubts have percolated to the surface so close to the election.

Voting will be in two rounds. The third party candidates will be cleared away after the April 29 first round and then it’s Hollande versus Sarkozy (probably – never bet against an upset) in the big bout on May 5.

I have no preference – French elections are for French voters, and I wager few of them will be single issue nuclear energy voters. But we can watch with keen interest, oui?

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If you’ve read comic books for any length of time, you know that radiation has taken a outsized role in creating superheroes, from the Hulk (gamma rays), the Fantastic Four (cosmic rays) and Spider-Man (radioactive spider bit him). But that’s not all (click for larger)?

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This is from an early issue of Strange Tales (about 1964) featuring Ant-Man. The artist is Don Heck. I suspect Jason will use his power to persuade bank tellers to give him lots of money, thus bringing Ant Man onto the scene. But I prefer to believe he started a new culinary fashion for dog food and leave it at that. Thinking big in comics invariably meets with sorrow.

Radiation – it’s all around you all the time. Why, you might be able to convince people to eat Peppo.

What can I say? If you’re going to call yourself Les Verts, your logo had better be heavy with vert. Mission accomplished.

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