Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nuclear Energy revisited...

James Lovelock by Eamonn McCabe

"Lovelock believes global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics. Britain is going to become a lifeboat for refugees from mainland Europe, so instead of wasting our time on wind turbines we need to start planning how to survive. To Lovelock, the logic is clear. The sustainability brigade are insane to think we can save ourselves by going back to nature; our only chance of survival will come not from less technology, but more.
Nuclear power, he argues, can solve our energy problem - the bigger challenge will be food."

I have severely neglected my austin permie blog and one of my explorations I had wanted to continue was the issue of nuclear energy. After a few posts, I had a few commenters who either from experience or who had no preconceived notions re. nuclear energy found that, it wasn't the 'evil' energy solution it had been touted to be. I am taking the liberty to post some of these comments with the link to two of my posts on the subject. As someone who is truly interested in finding solutions, I cannot but keep an open mind.. considering that James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia theory, has endorsed nuclear energy, it counts for something. Also, there are different manners of nuclear waste solutions practiced like in Canada (if memory serves me correctly).. are the comments with highlights from yours truly. Read, think, digest and read some more.. to challenge people to keep an open mind is not just something for 'conservatives' or Republicans.. there are many preconceptions out there that on its face will face dismissal, nuclear energy being one of them.

The Revenge of Gaia- James Lovelock

From Rod Adams;

"As a former US nuclear submarine engineer officer, I made up my own mind a long time ago. My experience sealed up underwater for months at a time leads me to want to shout from the mountaintops. Anyone who is truly concerned about the environment should be at least willing to learn a little more about a power source that works in a closed environment.

Since I have a hard time finding a good mountaintop where there is a ready audience, I have been sharing my thoughts and knowledge on the Internet for more than a decade at Atomic Insights. More recently I have added a blog and a podcast to try to share even more widely and open up avenues for discussion.

Some people try to shut down the argument by pulling out what they believe is rhetorical trump card "what do you do with the waste"? There are many good answers to that question - the simplest form of the answers is "we can recycle it." About 95% of what is currently considered to be waste is still fuel material, and the rest is rare elements with unique physical properties that have potentially valuable uses.

Politically speaking, one should look around and see just how many people in the conventional fuel industry would loose a fair portion of their wealth and power if nuclear fission is allowed to play on an even moderately level playing field.

Here are some stark facts - the average operating cost of nuclear plants in the US is 1.7 cents per kilowatt hour. That compares to 2.2 cents for coal, 7.5 cents for gas and 8 cents for oil (2006 figures). Because of those low operating costs, our 104 nuclear plants operate flat out, with capacity factors over the past 4 years averaging about 90%. For every additional 1000 MWe nuclear plant, there would be a reduction in demand for coal of about 4 million tons per year.

In the past dozen or so years, I have been searching for the source of funding for nuclear opposition groups and have found a lot of sooty, but smudged fingerprints traceable to the fossil fuel industry."

From Karen Street:

"In Berkeley, where I live, denizens of Lawrence Berkeley Labs are wandering down the hill to downtown to lecture on energy and climate change. Their main focus for the spring lectures is cellulosic biofuels. Steve Chu, director of LBL spoke last Monday and addressed one of the points in the first comment: what about nuclear waste? Coal power emits just while the plant is operating 4 x as much radioactivity as nuclear power will over its complete lifecycle, from mining the uranium until the waste has decayed.
OK, so if you're worried about nuclear waste, you'll fight coal first! (No one mentions the radioactivity in coal waste because it's so far down the list of coal's sins.)

Chernobyl taught the Soviets to make no more commercial reactors without containment for the core; the rest of the world already knew that lesson. Chernobyl has already killed 50 - 60 people, and perhaps as many as 4,000 more will die over the next 7 decades. It was horrible.

You have a picture of Palo Verde in the part 2 post. If coal power plants had been built instead, then 400 members of the public would die every year (coal kills about 30,000 Americans annually with its particulates, and another 1,000 with ozone). A few coal miners would die each year, mostly from black lung disease. Over the 60 years service expected from Palo Verde, 6 times as many people would die from Palo Verde coal substitute as are expected to die from Chernobyl.
Good luck with your explorations -- this is a path I began wandering down a decade ago, without strong preconceptions. I was surprised at what I learned."

From Randall Leavitt:
"About fours years ago I decided to do exactly what you are doing now - try to get to the bottom of the nuclear energy issue. I was shocked to find out how clean, safe, reliable, inexpensive, and sustainable nuclear power is. Based on the data that I dug up for myself I had to really change a lot of my deeply held beliefs. It was quite a revelation.

So be prepared to discover that nuclear power is much better than you imagine at the moment.

You can review some of the thinking that got me to this point at my blog site:

Positive Energy "

The Nuclear Energy Debate Part 1
The Nuclear Energy Debate Part 2

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Blogger D.K. Raed said...

It's always good to investigate. It's good to question conventional thinking. In the debates, Obama mentioned clean nuclear & clean coal as alternatives. Now I am open to "clean", but not sure what that means in either nuke's or coal's case.

I do know nuke waste is a huge concern. If it wasn't, why did nuclearized France, who once offered to process all of europe's nuclear waste, shut down that offer after only a few yrs?

I blogged on this some time ago myself, but from the perspective of one who lives in what was considered a low priority population, known as the "downwinders".

Because I can't link in comments, here is the http of a little article on France's nuke reprossessing problems:

I had other concerns, too. There are in my blog archives: 11/16/07 post about Yucca Mtn.

Who knows, maybe someday my house may be powered by its own little nuclear device, but I will probably have been dead long before that from the radioactive soil here in SW UT.

11:59 AM  
Blogger susan said...

I agree it's good to keep an open mind because we certainly are going to see massive changes in the not too distant future. We're seeing them now, in fact, and I agree with Lovelock the situation is already too far advanced to turn around.. even if we had a clue about how to do so.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

DK..when I have a free moment I'll be sure to check out your link reference and post.. my two kids are home this week (as opposed to one being in summer school or camp) so I'm having to do different time management.. and did I mention it's hot like hell?? It's going to be almost 40C today (don't know the Fahrenheit)..phoo.. anyhow.. I have been wanting to post on this and further investigate with some of my 'newfound' blogger friends who I suspect do have open minds but with all kinds of opinions..that makes for greater discussions doesn't it? I want to read the revenge of gaia and write about 'it'.. but for now.. my email library notice told me that my several requested Asterixes are ready for pick-up (yea for the austin library), plus the golden compass audiobook (intended for all of us since we have the movie and my oldest did read the book) and some National Geographic dvd..
Susan..I agree with you, it's hot now here but we'll probably fry in no has started to sink in and worry me..we've had hardly any rain for the last several mos and my brain is saying..move the South America..or someplace where the earth won't get scorched... this will become the issue of the next big war would you think? I told the lifeguard girl at the pool yesterday that 'we' people will not survive but nature always does (just think of that cockroach in WallE..dang things!)


9:25 AM  

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