News today that a quake has caused a fire at a nuke plant in Japan follows revelations of operator error that could have caused an accident at the 1,316 MW Krummel reactor in Germany, owned by Vattenfall Europe. When a fire broke out at that plant in late June, operators panicked and put the reactor on emergency shutdown, against their guidelines, and put the reactor at risk. Then Vattenfall tried to cover up what happened.

I learned of this at SolarFest this weekend in central Vermont, where thousands converged to learn and share ideas toward a safer and more sustainable energy future. Fellow vendors said that it was the best crowd for this perennial event they’d seen — was it merely the "year of the climate" effect? Perhaps, but there was a real sense of determination shared by all the folks I spoke with about my organization’s renewable energy plans. As Bill McKibben said so well from the main stage on Saturday, this event used to be about good things we should do. Now it’s about all the things we must do.

Grist relies on the support of generous readers like you. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations matched!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.