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"Fill in Alarmist and Armageddonst Factoid Here":

A reader points me to this amusing item in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing.

"This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the "threat" posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all: "In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

Had Greenpeace been hacked by a nuke-loving Bush fan? Or was this proof of Greenpeace fear-mongering?

The aghast Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, said a colleague was making a joke by inserting the language in a draft that was then mistakenly released.

"Given the seriousness of the issue at hand, I don't even think it's funny," Smith said.

The final version did not mention Armageddon. It just warned of plane crashes and reactor meltdowns.

mark nelson (mail) (www):
As a professional rafting guide for years now, i've had to listen to many other rafters complain about how all the dams on nearly every single American river have caused untold environmental degradation, loss of natural wonders (Glenn Canyon for example) and the reductions of salmon runs and other fisheries.

I agree with all that.

So, i'm starting the "Nuclear Power for Wild Rivers" campaign.

Think of it, only large nuclear power plants have the capability to replace mammoth power-generating dams like the Hoover, Glenn Canyon and Grand Coulee dams.

If we could someday remove all the dams except those needed for vital flood control and irrigation (don't get me started on water diversion!), and return our great rivers to their wild state, wouldn't that be worth the risk?

Just to list two obvious benefits: Significantly increased fisheries and more stable coastlines.

I think it's the start of something big!
5.30.2006 1:34pm
therut:
No. I like to fish, ski, camp in and around some of the great lakes those "awful" dams made. I must move surely as I live very claose to a nuclear plant and a high voltage electric line and I must not forget not to sit too close to the TEE VEE as it will ruin my eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!
5.30.2006 1:47pm
jab (mail):
Of course,
we all know that conservatives NEVER, EVER use
"ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID[s]" in any
of their instant press releases...
5.30.2006 2:04pm
JRSTL:
I tend to support the nuclear side, and i hadn't even considered the damage from dams discussed by Mark. First, while I'm no expert, my understanding is that modern reactors are essentially meltdown-proof as water is used as both coolant and moderator. If the core loses coolant, reaction moderation is also lost and the reaction shuts down naturally prior to a meltdown. Second, while fission waste is extremely toxic, it is containable. Right now we just shoot toxic waste from fossil fuel plants into the air; less concentrated but just as deadly. Anyone remember the air study conducted (Dartmouth??) during the Northeast blackout? Several airborne pollutants dropped substantially and others disappeared entirely. The primary cause (I believe) was identified as the idling of coal-fired power plants. Third, won't encouraging fission power lead to increased research to be the first to develop a viable fusion solution?
5.30.2006 2:10pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Grr...It really ticks me off the way enviornmental groups seem to be unable to prioritize. In the bay area many of the envionrmental groups are demanding we tear down the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric power plant. We need to make power in some way that doesn't create greenhouse gases and it seems unlikely that wind and solar can do this on their own in a reasonable time period. Only by pursuing a combined strategy of nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric can one hope to get CO2 emissions under control in a reasonable time frame.

Well at least greenpeace is consistant and demands that we shut down current nuclear power plants (at least I assume they do). I find it totally absurd the way most people tend to be comfortable with the current generation of nuclear plants but opposse building any more out of safety concerns. The new power plant designs are *way* more safer than the old designs (meltdowns become physically impossible, fuel is sealed in pellets etc..). Either the new power plants are a reasonable risk to produce power without releasing CO2 or they are not and the old power plants are a horrible menance and danger which must be dismantled immediatly.

I tend to fall on the new power plants are good side and don't think most old US power plants need to be decommissioned immediatly (old russian power plants on the other hand are a serious danger) but whichever side you take the default position of keeping the old ones and not building new ones doesn't seem to make sense.
5.30.2006 2:13pm
dk:
Maybe so, but they don't get caught doing it.
5.30.2006 2:14pm
Urijah (mail):
5.30.2006 2:37pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Didn't something similar happen recently to either the New York or LA Times when someone left "Insert X here" in one of their pieces that was published? I cannot recall exactly but I think that the piece they left instructions to insert in the article was either antiwar, antiBush or both.
5.30.2006 4:46pm
Thief (mail) (www):

First, while I'm no expert, my understanding is that modern reactors are essentially meltdown-proof as water is used as both coolant and moderator. If the core loses coolant, reaction moderation is also lost and the reaction shuts down naturally prior to a meltdown.


Not necessarily. The Chinese are working on a "pebble-bed" reactor that is cooled and moderated by helium, a design which is also essentially meltdown-proof.
5.30.2006 4:49pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jab:

Give me an example of what you see as the worst ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID used by conservatives.
5.30.2006 5:30pm
Bryan DB:
If we don't cut back on your civil liberties, the TERRORISTS WILL WIN.
5.30.2006 5:35pm
Robert Racansky:
Didn't something similar happen recently to either the New York or LA Times when someone left "Insert X here" in one of their pieces that was published? I cannot recall exactly but I think that the piece they left instructions to insert in the article was either antiwar, antiBush or both.

It was the New York Times that needed "some quote from supporter" of Pope John Paul II.
5.30.2006 5:39pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Thank you Robert Racansky. I actually had that very article bookmarked but didn't look at when trying to find the article I (partially) remembered.
5.30.2006 5:45pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
In talking to a recent legal intern at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission I learned the following.

The lawsuits and other obstructionist activities by anti-nuclear groups do have a detrimental effect on the NRC and the nuclear power industry. Some staff lawyers came in with the usual idealistic pro-environmental anti-nuclear mindset, but changed their opinions about groups like Greenpeace once they learned how much damage they do.

The legal staff tends to be liberal and anti-Bush, even though Bush is trying to raise their budget-- the triumph of ideology over self-interest.

The legal staff for the most part is affable, sensible, intelligent, and understands the risk benefit tradeoffs of nuclear power.
5.30.2006 5:45pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
If we don't cut back on your civil liberties, the TERRORISTS WILL WIN.


Nice caricature but the challenge by A. Zarkov was to find a conservative using an "ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID" not some idiot misstating the arguments in favor of increased security measures in order to stop terrorism.
5.30.2006 5:48pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
If we don't cut back on your civil liberties, the TERRORISTS WILL WIN.

Too vague, not armageddonist enough. Try harder. We really need a planet buster to compete.
5.30.2006 5:50pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Third, won't encouraging fission power lead to increased research to be the first to develop a viable fusion solution?

No. We have had more than 50 years of fusion research with little progress. Fusion research comes in two flavors: magnetic and inertial confinement. Research on the former is more mature (but still not productive) than the latter. They keep raising the energy level only to encounter new instabilities. Forget fusion, it's a pipe dream. Concentrate on fission which we know works and can be made safe.
5.30.2006 6:03pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"Grr...It really ticks me off the way enviornmental groups seem to be unable to prioritize."

The first diagnosis that must be ruled out is that they don't want to prioritize. They don't want to solve problems. They want to be problems.
5.30.2006 6:21pm
JRSTL:
Thief:

True, I should have said American-designed reactors, which use water as coolant/moderator. Anyone know if there are any other designs that use something besides water or helium?

Zarkov:

I'm no scientist, but history has shown us anything is possible, and I don't want to give up hope. Pipe dream? Possibly... I'm just hoping a sustained American nuclear power effort would create an influx of private-sector research into fusion beyond what is currently there.
5.30.2006 6:30pm
Thief (mail) (www):

True, I should have said American-designed reactors, which use water as coolant/moderator. Anyone know if there are any other designs that use something besides water or helium?


Well, the pebble-bed reactor was initially designed by an American (Farrington Daniels, a chemist who worked on the Manhattan project). His design got muscled out when the Navy moved in to the nuclear power field and started churning out water-cooled, fuel-rod reactor designs for use in submarines. The Chinese just picked up the ball and ran with it.

Another design I'm a fan of is the Integral Fast Reactor. This kind of reactor is cooled/moderated by liquid sodium. Liquid sodium reacts violently when exposed to water and burns easily in air, but the IFR has the advantage of generating far less waste, and the nuclear material cannot be diverted for use in nuclear weapons. (Indeed, that was the reason the IFR concept was designed: to create a reactor operation scheme that was basically proliferation-proof.)
5.30.2006 7:07pm
mark nelson (mail) (www):
The only other coolant i've heard of, besides variations of the water- or helium-cooled designs, is sodium.


4S (Toshiba): The 4S is a very small molten sodium-cooled reactor designed by Toshiba. The reactor presently being considered is 10 MWe though larger and smaller versions exist. The 4S is designed for use in remote locations and to operate for decades without refueling. This has led to the reactor to be compared with a nuclear "battery". The use of molten-sodium as a coolant is not particularly new, having been used in many FBR designs. Sodium-coolants allow for higher reactor temperatures. Potential fuels are uranium or uranium-plutonium alloys. When uranium is the likely fuel in the United States, present plans call for 19.9 percent fuel enrichment. This high level of enrichment is one reason the reactor could be able to operate for extended periods without refueling. Toward the end of 2004 the town of Galena, Alaska granted initial approval for Toshiba to build a 4S reactor in that remote location. Original plans called for completion in 2010 though it was acknowledged that this was ambitious. Galena and Toshiba officials discussed their plans with the NRC in early February 2005.


Further info here.
5.30.2006 7:16pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Greenpeace claims it has a sense of humor?
5.30.2006 7:28pm
Chris Bell (mail):
JRSTL is right, American reactor designs are based on a negative feedback principle that prevent catastrophic meltdowns, unlike Soviet reactors. (No offense to many of the authors of this blog.)

Three-mile island was a coolant leak, not a reactor meltdown. I guess radioactive coolant leaks can be bad enough, but it will never be like Chernobyl.

--------
One of my favorite environmentalist stories involves California. A few years ago they shut down some nuclear plants (out of fear). Then they also shut down some wind farms (because rare migratory birds were being chopped up). The next summer the State had those rolling black-outs because they didn't have enough power. Oops.
5.30.2006 7:34pm
Broncos:

Third, won't encouraging fission power lead to increased research to be the first to develop a viable fusion solution?

No. We have had more than 50 years of fusion research with little progress. Fusion research comes in two flavors: magnetic and inertial confinement. Research on the former is more mature (but still not productive) than the latter. They keep raising the energy level only to encounter new instabilities. Forget fusion, it's a pipe dream. Concentrate on fission which we know works and can be made safe.


Why does energy policy debate tend to be watered down to the argument that Preferred Technology X is better than Y and Z, so the latter should be abandoned for the former? (whether renewables, nuclear, clean coal, etc.?) But given the challenges associated with energy supply - whether economic/developmental or environmental - this just seems irresponsible.

I disagree, for example, that research into fusion has shown "little progress." Apart from the ITER, here's a recent report on progress being made in magnetic confinement.
5.30.2006 7:36pm
Broncos:
By the way, I am not the author of the following blog, but I've found it fascinating:

http://www.thoriumenergy.blogspot.com/
5.30.2006 7:39pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
Nice caricature but the challenge by A. Zarkov was to find a conservative using an "ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID"

The Soviets will burn us to a crisp if we don't build Star Wars.

Somebody (don't know who or why) will attack us with ICBM's if we don't build a ABM system (of course we don't know how, if or when it will work).

The commies are going to beat us with their ________ (fill in with "spies in the state department", "fluoridation", "unions", "missiles", "tanks", etc) and it went on and on until the whole system collapsed in a whimper.

Oh yeah, Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Vietnam were all deadly threats to the US.

And now global warming is an nonexistent threat dreamed up by some nefarious group of ???? (who, can't be the commies) whose real purpose is to destroy our god-given right to burn as much oil as we want.

Oh yeah, Nucular power is the only solution to the (nonexistent) problem of global warming, eventhough it is economically non-viable, nuclear power plants take more than a decade to build and we still don't have a clue where we are going to put the wast.
5.30.2006 7:55pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Why does energy policy debate tend to be watered down to the argument that Preferred Technology X is better than Y and Z, so the latter should be abandoned for the former?"

The policy debate doesn't get watered down; it gets boiled down. Fission is a proven technology while fusion isn't. It's not that we have neglected to do any fusion research; on the contrary, the federal government has been funding magnetic fusion research since the 1940s, and laser fusion research since the early 1970s. It's a trail of broken promises. For example in the (I think) September 1972 issue of Scientific American reviewing laser fusion research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lowell Wood wrote that they would have scientific breakeven by circa 1975 with a kilo-joule laser. It's now 2006 and we have yet to see scientific breakeven even on an experimental basis. Never mind that a staff member had shown them that you would need 1-2 mega-joules for breakeven. They knew they would never get a mega joule laser funded in the 1970s, so they ignored the calculations. The current laser fusion program in the US (surprise) uses a mega-joule laser, but it's not operational yet, and it's late and over $ 1 billion over budget. Even if they get breakeven, how do you turn this into an operating power plant? The experiments use glass lasers and the glass wears out. What kind of laser to you use for a power plant and how do you couple the energy out?

If private industry wants to waste its money on fusion research then let them do it. But it's time the taxpayers stop paying for a program that has so little chance of success. I am not impressed by these reports of "progress," I've been seeing them for decades.

We have finite resources and we have to make a rational allocation of research funds. Why should continue to fund a speculative technology at the expense of others?
5.30.2006 8:38pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"The Soviets will burn us to a crisp if we don't build Star Wars."

Better, but still not a planet buster.

I don't know if anyone actually said that, but anything is possible. As I remember the matter, the missile defense system was promoted as an alternative to the MAD doctrine—something you want to do to reduce risk. I don't remember its advocates saying the lack of a missile defense system would surely result in the destruction of the entire world. As we now know, the primary purpose of SDI was to stress the defense budget of the Soviet Union.

A better example would be the atomic airplane. We were warned that the Soviet Union was building one, and we would be in grave danger without it. But in those days the liberals played this game too. Hubert Humphrey was all for ICBMs.

".. even though it is economically non-viable, nuclear power plants take more than a decade to build .."

They don't take that long to build if we reform the licensing system. The problem is political, not technological. BTW the waste storage is a non-problem if you are willing to build above ground storage facilities. We knew this back in the 1970s. Instead we opted for the Yucca Mountain Project, perhaps the most poorly run program in the history of the US. The Yucca Mountain Project is a big joke inside the DOE complex. When an administrative law judge ruled you have to have substantial containment for a million (!) instead of a mere 10,000 years that effectively ended YMP. All you can do is laugh. Even 10,000 years was too much. Did anyone ever tell these clowns that on a million year time scale we have more to worry from asteroids than radiation leakage?
5.30.2006 8:58pm
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
The next summer the State had those rolling black-outs because they didn't have enough power. Oops.

I think you misspelled "deregulation" and "Enron." Oops:


"Burn, baby, burn. That's a beautiful thing," a trader sang about the massive fire.

"He just f---s California," says one Enron employee. "He steals money from California to the tune of about a million."

"Will you rephrase that?" asks a second employee.

"OK, he, um, he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day," replies the first.
5.30.2006 8:58pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
Hey, here's a question for all you smart folks. I've heard several times that nuclear power is one of France's primary energy sources. That makes me wonder — what does France do with its nuclear waste?

- AJ
5.30.2006 9:43pm
Chris Bell (mail):
From the BBC:

"When the UK deregulated energy prices, it had excess capacity, and set up a pricing scheme to encourage producers to continue generating more power than the country used. California, on the other hand, was facing a rapidly increasing energy demand and did not encourage excess production. In fact, some blame the state's strict environmental laws for discouraging energy firms from building new power plants."

Sure Enron and a piss-poor deregulation scheme hurt, but California opened the door by not keeping up with its power production.
5.30.2006 9:52pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
OK, well I went ahead and Googled it — which yes, I should have done before asking. But it turns out the results are interesting, and somewhat contradictory.

First, it appears that up until now, France has largely dealt with the problem by ... not dealing with it. First, they seem to reprocess much of the waste, suggesting they use primarily breeder reactors. So there's not a huge volume of waste to begin with. And it appears much of that has simply been stored on-site. In the 1980s research began into long-term solutions, but evidently there was a huge NIMBY backlash. This year, 2006, was supposedly the deadline for finally selecting a long-term storage site, but now apparently even that deadline is going to get a 10-year extension.

I say "contradictory" because some sites say that France not only reprocesses its own waste, it actually accepts waste from other countries for reprocessing. But this page:

http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=31466

says that GreenPeach is much more critical. It says France deals with much of its waste by shipping it to Russia for storage and reprocessing.

"Meanwhile, according to the national radioactive waste agency, there are more than a thousand sites in France being used for temporary nuclear waste storage, and some lack any type of protection," it says. "The volume of all types of radioactive waste in France grows by 1,200 tonnes a year. "

- AJ
5.30.2006 9:58pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Alaska:

Mostly they recycle it. Nuclear waste can be broken down into less potent nuclear waste and a little bit of extra fuel. It takes an expensive extra reactor system, but you can do it.

More here:
PBS Interview
5.30.2006 9:58pm
Brett Bellmore (mail):

Forget fusion, it's a pipe dream.


Bikini atol proved that inertial confinement fusion is feasible. There are no real engineering obstacles to building a fusion reactor using tactical nukes as "fuel pellets". It's just that the minimum feasible reactor size is rather large.

Instead we've spent decades trying to use clever physics to build fusion reactors smaller than they naturally "want" to be.
5.30.2006 10:09pm
Zach (mail):
I wouldn't say that we've made zero progress toward fusion reactors, but a)They're not available now, b) They won't be available for the forseeable future, c) There are serious challenges involved in commercializing any existing or proposed design, and d) When fusion power becomes commercially available, Greenpeace will protest that, too.

Fusion may come along and offer a panacea at some point in the unforseeable future, but it shouldn't play any role in current energy policy designed to meet current and projected future needs.
5.30.2006 11:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Bikini atol proved that inertial confinement fusion is feasible."

The sun proves fusion will work. A long time ago Edward Teller proposed setting off multiple nuclear explosions in lakes as an energy source. Obviously that idea went over like a lead balloon.

"Instead we've spent decades trying to use clever physics to build fusion reactors smaller than they naturally "want" to be."

That's probably true. The problem is they might "want to be" the size of a star!
5.31.2006 1:39am
Broncos:

Fusion may come along and offer a panacea at some point in the unforseeable future, but it shouldn't play any role in current energy policy designed to meet current and projected future needs.

I agree with this; but I would note that it will be less likely to come along if we stop funding its research.
5.31.2006 10:23am
Freder Frederson (mail):
They don't take that long to build if we reform the licensing system.

So, you've solved one problem. We can build them faster. That doesn't solve all the other problems of nuclear power--it's too expensive, too heavily subsidized, and waste disposal is a huge problem (somehow storing waste above ground for 10,000 years just doesn't seem like such a good idea).

For a bunch of libertarians, you guys sure are sweet on an energy system that is wholly dependent, invented and promoted by the government to justify its nuclear weapons and navy program. Let's see, the government funds almost all the research, trains most of the operators (through the Navy), manufactures all the fuel, insures the plants against catastrophic failure and limits the operators' liability, and is responsible for ultimate waste disposal.

Yet even after all this direct subsidy, nuclear power is still one the most expensive ways to generate electricity. Talk about broken promises, the industry used to promise that nuclear power would be "too cheap to meter"
5.31.2006 11:22am
Broncos:
Freder,
Yes, nuclear has problems. But the real question is how problematic it is, relative to our other options. There are many inconvenient truths, and one of these is that the less nuclear is employed, the more coal will be.

I support wind and solar (though not really hydro), and think that we need to continue to expand these efforts (along with energy storage systems help with intermittancy, and distributed grids, etc.), but opposing nuclear doesn't help these efforts nearly as much as it helps coal. That's just reality. And even if you like sequestration technology, the extraction of coal completely wrecks surrounding ecosystems.

I honestly think that a good portion of the almost-instinctive reflex of some in the environmental movement against nuclear has more to do with weapons proliferations concerns than actual energy policy concerns. Some of the older people came of age in their environmental thinking during the Cold War, and have trouble dissociating their thoughts on nuclear power from those on MAD, etc. This is understandable, but it's also in many ways self-defeating. (Though, I should admit that many of my generation are coming up age in a time of resource wars, so our linking of nuclear with security concerns is radically different.)
5.31.2006 12:01pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The ultimate answer is to move manufacturing into space, as well as energy production, then figure out a way to get energy back down here to earth. Of course, using microwaves might fry some of the birds flying through - but that is cheap on the environment given the alternatives, and they are getting chopped up already in wind turbines.

Power will ultimately be close to free in space, between solar and nuclear power. And a lot of energy intensive industries could most likely be efficiently performed there - maybe even more effectively than down here. If we can get power back down to earth efficiently, we could elminate almost all fossil fuel usage here.
5.31.2006 12:37pm
Freder Frederson (mail):
But the real question is how problematic it is, relative to our other options. There are many inconvenient truths, and one of these is that the less nuclear is employed, the more coal will be.

Your nuclear or coal option is only an "inconvenient truth" because you are stuck in the paradigm of large electricity plants delivering power to individual customers. If you break out of that business model (which has dominated electricity generation for the last 125 years) a whole lot of more palatable options become available.

Just using current technology, a combination of passive and active solar along with unobtrusive wind generation can provide single family homes with all the energy they need in most areas of the country and often a surplus. Near the coasts, there is great potential to tap tidal and wave power, an inexhaustable supply of power (at least until the moon breaks free of earth orbit). If we can develop cost-effective fuel cells, fuel cell cars can be an alternative source of power for homes. Even industrial plants waste enormous amounts of energy that could be recovered to generate electricity.

So don't be so grim and glum as to paint the situation as nukes or coal. It is only an either/or proposition if you remain wedded to huge central generating plants. I am not wholly against nuclear power, I just think it is a bad solution in the long term. Distributed mini power generation is a much better long term solution.
5.31.2006 12:38pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I remember reading the IEEE articles on Three Mile Island shortly after it happened. It appears, from a systems point of view, what happened was that an alarm went off, and the technician, having heard that alarm or one much like it (to him) before on multiple occasions, turned it off. One point that the articles made was that the French had a much better safety record because they tended to have much more highly educated technicians running their nuclear plants - many with PhDs. Thus, when something like this happened, they knew what was going on from the physics involved, and not from the previous actions of the reactor. (Caveat - the aricle was self-dealing, as the type of operator along the French mold it suggested would be much more likely to join the IEEE than the type of operator then running our civilian nuclear reactors).

At the time, I was dealing with something very similar. I was still working in operating systems and data communications software. I remember a number of arguments with a certain lead operator about what was going on in the systems at certain times. He was arguing from his observation of the behavior of the systems, and I argued from having read the code and having even written some of it. And often, he would be 100% wrong. I thought at the time this was illustrative of the differences between the French and the American way of running nuclear plants - we would let technicians like this lead operator make the types of decisions that they were incapable of truly understanding because they really didn't truly understand what was happening in the reactors. We could get away with it with computer systems because no one was likely to die there.
5.31.2006 12:56pm
Broncos:
Freder,
I support distributed generation, and think that we need to start making investments in appropriate transmission and distribution lines and energy storage. I also support real-time metering, co-generation, and the development of an actual efficiency market. And I support increasing investment in wind and solar. So I'm not really thinking in either/or terms. (though I don't believe that the hydrogen economy is going to arrive any time soon.)

But I am thinking of energy challenges in terms of, say, the next 50 years: Apart from our increasing domestic requirements (accentuated, hopefully, by an increasing switch from petroleum to the grid), we also need to look at the energy requirements of developing economies like China and India, the increasing effects of global warming, and the ecological problems with coal extraction. Given the sheer size of these challenges, it is thinking in terms of perfect solutions/imperfect solution that results in either/or thinking.

From what I've read, over the next 50 years perfect solutions won't be able to solve these challenges, and the real political choices made will be regarding the mix of imperfect solutions. And politically, we should recognize that huge investments have been made in coal, and our domestic supply appeals to those who want to wean the U.S. from autocratic foreign regimes. Right now, the political deck is stacked in favor of coal. Given these economic and political reality, it is a little naive to think that arguing against nuclear doesn't help coal.

We need to participate in actual, real, political discussions, and not needlessly marginalize ourselves by rejecting all imperfect solutions. (though it sounds like you do not categorically reject nuclear.) Fission might not be a perfect long-term solution, but for the next 50 years, it's a lot better than a lot of other options.
5.31.2006 1:51pm
MegaTroopX (mail):
Chris Bell:

The state had rolling blackouts because the power companies will selling wattage to Nevada in a price-jacking scheme.
---
I think everyone's pretty much missing the point. GreenWar (fixed it) doesn't want power to be cheaper, or less polluting, they want it to be less. The peons (that's us) need to cut back. GreenThieves is dedicated to the proposition of "taking things away from you on behalf of the common good Earth."

Jump back two societal revolutions, untermenschen. It's good for you, and good for Gaia.

They're as much the enemy as CAIR. Maybe more so.
5.31.2006 5:15pm
Broncos:
By the way, case in point: The business section of the NY Times reports that 140 new coal plants are planned for construction, and no more than 12 of these are of a type which are relatively cheaper to retrofit with sequestration technologies, probably because they are 15-20% more expensive to construct.

Something to think about the next time a debate over nuclear gets started.
5.31.2006 6:07pm