Little flying bears

Gašper Blažič

By: Gašper Blažič

Do you still remember them? It is a co-production animated series from 1990, created jointly by Croats and Canadians, and it also aired on Slovenian national television at the time for cartoons (around 7 pm). Since the heroes of this series called themselves “guardians of the environment”, it was clear that it was a cartoon with a completely ecological message.

Regardless of the fact that the brats of that time also thought a lot about bigger projects for a cleaner environment (from sewage treatment plants onwards…), we somehow knew that we had to start on our own first. At least the elementary school I attended organised a day of “socially useful work” twice a year (as it was called in the Kardelj dictionary), which meant arranging the school district, cleaning the whole place, and also collecting old paper in a big container, which was brought in front of the school building for two days. This was, of course, only part of a broader upbringing that started with the basics – juice packaging (yes, remember the legendary carton boxes, into which we had to poke the straw well to make a hole, then inflate the empty ones, lay them on the floor and stump them that they exploded nicely) should not be thrown anywhere but in the trash. However, if the bin is not nearby, take the waste with you and dispose of it at the nearest suitable waste collection point. I do not know how much this upbringing for a clean environment took hold, because about ten years ago, when I was driving from Kranj to Trboje in the evening, I “received” a whole collection of waste from McDonalds into the windshield. The package flew in from the car that was driving in front of me, apparently it was driven by some kids who had dinner, and the problem with packaging waste was solved in the simplest way: they opened the window and threw them out. I admit, their “gift package” really scared me.

Obviously, folklore or the “culture of dumping” has pretty much disintegrated. Given how popular Greta Thumberg has been lately with her anti-climate activism, I wonder how many of these outlaws are those who otherwise adore eco-socialist activism. I also wonder about this because many “environmentalists” raised their heads at all sorts of little things, and only rarely when it came to really environmentally problematic projects – from the Magna paint shop (which could be placed in an abandoned industrial zone), the fire in Kemis all the way to Janković’s sewer. Recently, for example, modern “little flying bears” have been ringing the bell over the government’s water law and launched a campaign that led to a plebiscite rejection of the law without the majority even knowing what they were doing with their decision – this has otherwise been shown on the very evening of the referendum in Ljubljana, and many people will have severe headaches due to the fact that they have been fooled by the activists. Because it was realistically mainly about the motivation of anti-government activism, which is now growing into the “Knin” phase.

But now comes the fight for a new energy project – it is the second block of the Krško nuclear power plant, which has so far withstood the onslaught of both Chernobyl and Fukushima. Thirty years ago, the Austrians put a lot of pressure to close this large energy facility, as did the Greens of Slovenia, who had their president, Dušan Plut, in the then state presidency, while the Minister of the Environment, Miha Jazbinšek, made his way directly from Jesenice to the celebration of the declaration of independence, where they had to solve the fate of nuclear waste, which should be destined for Bosnia. Meanwhile, the nuclear power plant, which was preventively stopped during the war for Slovenia, was already guarded by secret specialists from abroad, because rumours were spreading about the so-called kamikazes (suicide bombers) who could collide with a military plane at the Krško NPP and trigger a catastrophe. However, nothing happened, the power plant was also not closed later, it was stopped several times, either due to earthquakes or repairs (they also had to replace the evaporators that had to be brought there from the port of Koper, which was a megalomaniacal project), there were some problems in the negotiations with Croatia, which is a co-owner of the power plant, but the latter persisted. And it will probably continue, as it is more environmentally friendly than e.g. TEŠ 6. Of course, it is legitimate to offer it green energy sources as an alternative. However, a problem arises: none of these sources (including hydropower plants) is so powerful that it could cover a potential energy outage, which today is increasingly difficult to replace by importing electricity from elsewhere. Those who are well acquainted with energy know that only nuclear and thermal power plants (both considered so-called “base load” power plants) can maintain the frequency for system stability. If there is a power outage, wind and solar power plants will not help, not even imports, because more and more countries are closing down thermal power plants for ecological reasons, and there has been a big campaign against nuclear power plants after the Fukushima event. There are no suitable alternatives yet, and the capacities of power lines do not allow much room for manoeuvre.

Let me say that I am a completely ordinary layman when it comes to energy. I can only rely on the opinion of people who are familiar with energy systems and are not bound by the prejudices of influential lobbies. Because if, due to their opposition, the JEK 2 project may fall and we one day remain in the dark due to a system error, it will be too late to send bills for economic damage to the opponents of this project. The only question is what is the lesser evil in this story. For example, Poland is building two new nuclear power plants because on May 17th and 18th, it was already on the verge of the collapse of the energy system. And those familiar with the systems are well aware that there could be serious consequences and that the risk of similar fluctuations in the network could increase. This may be just a starting point, whether we will once again step into the trenches and believe the imaginary “flying bears”, who are anything but real guardians of the environment.

After all, even medical devices that keep many patients alive are powered by electricity…

Gašper Blažič is a journalist for Demokracija, a daily editor on the website and acting editor of the web portal