Okay, where’s the pro-nuke party?

Quick question: I’m looking for the political party that says “Let’s build nuclear power plants to replace our oil, coal, and natural gas plants.” Better yet, the party that says “It’s okay for you to ship nuclear waste to Utah. Burying things in a geologically inactive desert is safe and cheap.” How about the party that says “Solar, hydro, and wind technology are harder on the environment than oil or coal, thanks to the massive areas of land they require and the highly toxic substances they must employ to store energy (PCBs, anyone?).”

I don’t want to vote for the “let’s stop Global Warming” camp, because they’re as badly tainted by partisan politics as the “Oil is great” camp. Also, they don’t seem to be pro-nuke… it’s as if they think there is some magical “new way” to get more energy out of the environment than our local star puts into it. That’s all it comes down to, really: depend on the energy the Sun sends us (and the most efficient ways to collect it still seem to involve Vast Tracts Of Land, whether you’re farming photosynthetic step-down, water-cycle energy states, or air-pressure gradients), or make energy the same way the Sun does. Leave the Solar Energy for folks who can’t get their energy any other way: plants and the animals who eat plants.

Even TPD (Thermal Depolymerization), which is being billed as the best renewable energy source around (summary: hydrocarbon wastes from agriculture and industry can be reduced very efficiently into fuel oils, leaving existing carbon sinks like natural gas and oil reserves intact. Link.), is just a slightly better method of photosynthetic step-down than Exxon uses.

Okay, true geothermal systems are a little different: the temperature gradient introduced by Earth’s active tectonic processes is more “leftovers from the planet’s formation,” with a mix of heat induced by Lunar tides, but those systems still require Vast Tracts of Land, and are subject to disruption by the very processes they seek to tap. We could also tap the magnetosphere for power, and though this WOULD slow the Earth’s spin over time, it would take a Very Long Time.

Gimme nukes. Who do I vote FOR (not AGAINST. FOR.)

*sigh*

64 thoughts on “Okay, where’s the pro-nuke party?”

  1. I’ve mentioned (to the point of nausea) before that I’m a liberal.

    That being said, when you find this party, tell me so I can vote for them too.

    Nuclear power, when one takes the hysteria out of the equation, is the cheapest, safest power out there. A carefully balanced plan of nuclear energy plants, coupled with continued research into affordable nuclear fusion power, can lead to vast amounts of power with little to no down side.

    Rather than simply throw our hands up and talk about the evils of nuclear waste, let’s put our collective scientific and engineering knowledge to solving the problems of it. And rather than continue to count on fuel sources that take tens of thousands of years to renew (or need to be spread out over huge tracts of land), let’s go for economy of size and cost.

    Besides, when we begin producing clean energy in bountiful supply, from that energy will come the potential for all those liberal causes I support. Infrastructure. Reduced cost of manufacturing. Greater distribution of information electronically.

    So, sign me up. I want me some nukes.

    1. Oh, not to mention the tremendous environmental benefits. I mean, do you have any idea what a dam does to a river ecosystem? Do you have any idea how a wind farm disrupts or destroys a local biome. A nuclear power plant’s environmental impact is generally limited to the dimensions of the building it’s it, plus maybe clearing enough area for the high tension wires that are leaving it.

      (They’ve just started making breakthroughs in nonpetroleum based ‘plastics,’ which reduces dependence on oil even further.)

    2. While you and I have political stances in opposition on some other areas, I completely agree with you here. There is one drawback; the uranium isotopes that we need are also in less than abundant supply. But they will do well for us for quite a long time — and give us a chance to put in the unlimited power source: Space Solar Power.

      In the meantime, I’m with you. I want me some nukes.

      And hey, your “liberal causes” are my causes — those are what capitalism does! ];-)

      ===|==============/ Level Head

      1. There’s plenty of Uranium available. Heck, we could extract it from seawater instead of mining it as well. The whole waste management thing is slightly overblown. Yes, it will cause a problem if it’s liberally spread into the environment. However, a large percetage of it is lower-level waste – used rad suits, meters, etc.

        Good to see more like-minded people that Nuclear power isn’t all bad. Talk about it as Fission power instead, you don’t get the irrational fear over the word ‘Nuclear’.

        1. We face a momentous decision
          And boldly must face some derision
          The future is dour
          If shorn of all power
          So I’ll vote with you — let’s do fission.

          ===|==============/ Level Head

  2. Better yet, the party that says “It’s okay for you to ship nuclear waste to Utah. Burying things in a geologically inactive desert is safe and cheap.”

    Cause noone wants to have that 1 in a million chance of the train crashing happening in their backyard.

    Also, did you know that Magnetic Resonance Imaging, otherwise known as MRI, should be called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, known as NMR in chemistry and biology circles. However, they changed the name for the hospitals and medical use because the word “nuclear” scares people.

    People are irrationally afraid of anything that has to do with the word or concept of nuclear. Honestly, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with “Heat Generating Fission Power Plants”

    NUCLEAR!!! Run for the hills!!! 😉

    1. Cause noone wants to have that 1 in a million chance of the train crashing happening in their backyard.

      Even if the crash did occur, the container is built to survive a train wreck. Literally.

      Ya’ll do have a point, though. People are totally irrational about fission power. Considering that the newest plant is in my back yard, figurativly speaking (I live in phoenix, and a good chunk of us have elctricity provided by the Palo Verde power Plant.) It went online in ’86, or almost 20 years ago. It’s time to start building them again…

  3. I entirely agree. Best I found is the Libertarian Party. They may not be specifically for nuclear power plants, but they sure are against the excessive regulations against the plants that are keeping them from being a viable source of energy.

    I really don’t understand how people like the Global Warming/We Hate Oil/Pro-Environment/Whatever people can talk about all the evils of oil and fossil fuels, and then when presented with a less polluting, generally safer, much more effecient, and cheaper alternative, they call it evil and start mentioning impractical alternatives like solar and wind power.

    Of course, my neighbor works with nuclear power plants. I’m not sure exactly what he does, but his company works with plants when they are refueling, and he always has lots of nuclear safety equipment on hand, like full rad suits, geiger counters, and even uranium pellets for calibrating the geiger counters. So while I was growing up I would occasionally hear about what nuclear power could do versus what it is limited to do because of government interference.

    1. Yeah. I agree entirely. I remember reading years ago about some of the failsafe designs they have and being boggled that we weren’t using nukes. And assumably the technology has moved on since then.

      The two examples quoted eternally are Chernobyl and Three Mile Island… a total disaster caused by incompetence in design, construction and operation, decades before the kind of modern technology we us now, and an example of the failsafes working when a problem occurred that, once again, has been designed away.

      And then of course there’s the ‘what about the waste?!’ people–when coal and oil power plants are shifting the climate and driving species into extinction, disrupting industry and creating treacherous and in some case dangerous weather–it’s unfathomable to worry about the need to seal something away for virtually forever. Yes, if we stick it in the ground and wander away and forget it, we’ll be screwed…but why assume that’s going to happen? Won’t the people of the future understand the need better and be able to seal it safer than we can?

      Every year in my homestate huge protests go on about the tiny amount of waste shipped through the state from Michigan. It’s a chunk of waste the size of a computer in a freaking semi-truck. You could hit it with an airplane and not lose containment, and it’s totally useless for weapons or anything else, so no one is going to steal it.

      In the choices between sticking my head in the sand and holding out for power plants powered by children’s smile whose only waste product is peppermints, I’d rather…take a sledgehammer to Washington, really. Grr argh ngh.

      –John

      1. I don’t know, peppermints can be a pretty hazardous waste product. What about people with allergies? We should really cantion the factory. Maybe on some sort of island. Because then we can call it “Smile Isle”

      2. In this case, Washington reflects the will of the people. And the people reflect the will of the media. Global Warming is being used as a boogeyman to scare people in exactly the same way.

        Nuclear power has one implacable force against it: liability lawsuits. Public opinion is a close second.

        It is too bad.

        ===|==============/ Level Head

    2. I concur that the Libertarian Party seems to be, if not the best, the least-worst in this regard.

      There are some windmills in the area where I live, and they would seem to make some sense – it’s seldom still here on the plains. But it’s telling that the power company (or companies) charge a premium to those who sign up for wind power. That tells me it’s not competitive. Also, even here, there are times that the wind stops. These times, of course, are not scheduled.

      1. I grew up in Livermore California. Right next to it is the Altamont Pass. If you have ever seen film footage of golden colored rolling hills covered with windmills of various types, that would be the Altamont Pass as it was when I was a teen. It was supposed to be the powersource of the future.

        I drove through about 10 years ago on the way to visit my parents. 80-90% of the windmills were non-functional. They were expensive and enviromentally unsafe to repair. Some of them had even tipped over. Presumably they’d been blown down by the very wind whose energy they were supposed to steal and store. It was rather depressing to drive past.

        I drove through again about 5 years ago and it looked like someone had swallowed the bullet and undertaken repairs. 50% of the windmills were functioning. From this observational experience I’ve concluded that wind power is unlikely to solve any energy crisis.

        1. Actually, from what I’ve heard, it’s not so much that it’s environmentally unsafe to repair the windmills, as that the structure of the wind-power tax credit scheme is such that it’s more profitable to leave a broken windmill unrepaired and put up a new one than it is to repair an existing windmill. You get a hefty tax credit — not just a deduction, but a credit — for installing a windmill, but you get nothing for repairing one, and suffer no penalty for failing to repair one when it breaks down and leaving it standing there broken and useless.

      2. An environmental movement wants wind turbines stopped because of the harm to the environment, particularly the killing of endangered bats by the blades.

        It turns out that it hasn’t happened yet, but it could someday.

        This was the cover feature of Scientific American in February 2004.

        http://www.sciamdigital.com/browse.cfm?sequencenameCHAR=item2&methodnameCHAR=resource_getitembrowse&interfacenameCHAR=browse.cfm&ISSUEID_CHAR=F2587859-2B35-221B-6C1D670E3F3005D5&ARTICLEID_CHAR=F2602F14-2B35-221B-628CD166CDF6D22B&sc=I100322

        ===|==============/ Level Head

        1. That was mentioned with the things around here and it was pointed out that the tower structures were smooth and not suited for nesting or perching. That removes some of the problem. Of course there is the possibility of even random flight through the spinning blades. I don’t know how large a factor that is.

          1. They were discussing the problem only in the context of the blades being on the flight path from nest to food source, not that the turbines were roosting sites themselves. There was also speculation that the high speed whistle of the blades might be attractive to bats. No data — but who needs data when you’re talking gloom and doom?

            ===|==============/ Level Head

          2. Indeed. We used to shoot at bats with slingshots so we could watch them dodge the projectiles. Fast-moving things with non-bug echolocation signatures seem, through my own experimentation, to repel bats.

          3. You’d think so. But most importantly, your hypothesis, and their alternative one, make predictions that can be tested.

            From the results I’ve seen, yours is pretty safe. ];-)

            This seems to be why they don’t want to test it.

            ===|==============/ Level Head

  4. The History Channel’s disaster porn episodes have one about Chernobyl which is based on surviving records of the control room. From what we know, basically, the head engineer for Chernobyl tried to play chicken with a reactor… and that’s never something to win. The other indicates it was all mechanical failure after the senior management team demanded a test that led to the accident.

    (A discussion of the two different versions can be found at http://www.livejournal.com/community/disasterporn/3761.html)

    1. Heh, I was about to mention those myself. A damned clever solution. But you know the primary reqson why they’ll probably never happen?

      They’re scalable. You could have one at the end of the block. You could have one in your back yard. And that would break the deathgrip that the huge utility companies have on generation and distribution of power.

      1. Do you have evidence that the huge utility companies are preparing to invade China and South Africa to stop these active projects? ];-)

        I think that they face other hurdles; see the protests against them in South Africa. (China is somehow not big on protests.) And the power companies would be the primary customers for these devices, once legalized.

        ===|==============/ Level Head

        1. “(China is somehow not big on protests.)”

          Participating in protests in China has a nasty habit of being fatal. =P
          (But then, I just spoiled the joke by making it explicit. Damn)

        2. PBMR in South Africa

          Being a South African, I am extremely disturbed by all the protests around the proposed reactor. On the news last night there were a whole bunch of clueless people whining about how there was no room for “public comment” (lies) and how dangerous nuclear power is. Reminds me of the time during a big eco conference here some wackos from greenpeace (or a similar organisation) were arrested breaking into Koeberg (our only nuclear power plant in the country) to sabotage it. What goes through their minds? “Here’s a nuclear plant! Let’s break in, bypass all the safety mechanisms and blow it up to show how unsafe nuclear power is!”

          Despite the fact that a pebble bed modular reactor is an inherently safe design (no critical mass anywhere, no possibility of meltdown) it is actually generates less radioactivity than a coal station. Radioactive fallout from coal power is just this side of the safe limit.

          I am currently waiting (in vain, I’m sure) for somebody to get a clue. I just hope I still have a planet to live on when it happens…

          1. Re: PBMR in South Africa

            A sizeable fraction of the United States would stare at you in horror; “How can you even THINK about nuclear power! How can you not be on Greenpeace’s side? Think of the CHILDREN!”

            I visited an aquaintance some years ago and discovered that he did NOT live in a straw hut daubed with dung. During discussions, I learned that none of his comrades did. They took unthinking advantage of technology, and objected to progress based upon soundbite silliness fed by media manipulators.

            We discussed the issues at some length; I believe that he dropped this line of thinking on exposure to good information.

            It seems to me that much of politics in the US is like this.

            ===|==============/ Level Head

  5. You know, a party that builds up a stand on just one issue doesn’t seem very stable to me. I suppose a pro-technology group would be what you’re looking for, since then they’d be, I don’t know, viable.

    At least, if I was going to form a political party. YMMV.

  6. Fusion

    How far away are they from a viable fusion reactor? Is there any waste meterial from a fusion reactor? If the waste is just helium and other inert gases… go nuts.

      1. Re: Fusion

        The truth of it is, ITER is no more likely to work than any previous reactor, because it’s taking the wrong approach yet again.

        Y’see, fusion research so far has failed to produce a reactor capable of reaching break-even for one comparatively simple reason: fusion research has tended to try to develop solutions such that the physics underlying the design is easy, but actually building the thing is nightmarishly hard (and in fact, so far, building the thing well enough to work has in every case proven to be beyond our engineering knowledge).

        Math is cheap. By comparison with concrete in thousand-ton lots, calculations are free. What we need is an approach to fusion that accepts doing harder math and more complex calculations as the cost of developing a technology that can actually be built.

        A Hungarian physicist named Bogdan Maglich was working on this idea some 20 years ago, looking into achieving sustained fusion via neutral-beam physics instead of via magnetic confinement. He’d built six or so successive prototypes on a total investment of about a million dollars, all private funding, and the sixth had come closer to break-even than any torus, tokamak or riggatron at that time ever had. He projected break-even from prototype #7. The last thing I ever heard of his neutral-beam fusion research was that the US Air Force — which has always wanted a nuclear-powered aircraft that could stay aloft indefinitely — had given him a Very Large Grant, and as far as could be determined from any non-classified source, he, his fusion research, and his USAF grant had basically just vanished off the face of the planet.

        (Maybe he was working out at Groom Lake, who knows….)

    1. Re: Fusion

      Fusion has been 20 years away since 1950. The core area itself would likely be radioactively hot from neutron bombardment, but overall the waste would helium and heat. While things have gotten closer or perhaps even past break-even for energy-in vs. energy-out in the last several years, so far I haven’t heard of a truly sustained reaction even running at a loss.

    2. Re: Fusion

      The most recent Popular Science had an article about a large-scale fusion test reactor. Supposedly it’ll be the first one built large enough to get out more power than the put in. As for byproducts, low-level nuclear waste that will degrade in a matter of decades (contrast to the tens of thousands of years fission reaction waste requires) and clean and happy hydrogen. All they’re waiting for is the countries involved to stop bickering and pick if it’ll be built in France or Japan (the US favors Japan).

      Pick up a copy, if you can. It was an interesting (if not entirely educational) read.

      1. edits

        Bah, I really should read these before I post.
        –“More power than THEY put in”
        –“clean and happy helium”
        If I screwed up anything else, forgive me, its been a long day.

  7. Larry Niven has observed that our descendants will curse us loudly for putting all that valuable nuclear “waste” where they can’t get at it.

    The biggest problem is that the current regulatory scheme for nuclear power is specifically designed to keep it from being practical. Those regulations need to be thrown out completely, and regulations designed to promote the safe use of nuclear power need to be adopted. This will mean putting a lot of bureaucrats out of work.

    Personally, I see this as being as likely as adoption of a flat tax – not at all.

  8. I *generally* agree with the above. One problem not mentioned so far includes accounting for the secondary costs of generating power through nuclear reactor facilities, such as reprocessing and disposal fees. I think that this could be worked out in a capitalistic manner, letting the market set the price. The concern is tracking the materials used, and performing thorough inspections to insure compliance with regulations. As few government regulatory or inspection bodies inspire my confidence, I’m reluctant to see any expansion for the moment, until this gets worked out.

    As a side note, I have personally SEEN a supercritical chain reaction event with my own eyes (and no, I’m not dead): http://www.rsec.psu.edu/faq.html

    THE MOST amazingly cool science thing I’ve yet seen.

  9. If you want a party solid and entire, you’re out of luck.

    However, you may be interested to know the current foremost Senate champion of nuclear power is Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. At the same time (mostly due to the Yucca Mountain issue) the foremost opponent of nuclear power in the Senate is Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Democratic Leader.

    1. Okay, so I need to write to my congressmen and my governor, and tell them to take a lead from the illustrious gentleman from New Mexico.

      (“Er, not that one. The illustrious REPUBLICAN gentleman whose first name is Pete.”)

      –Howard

  10. “there could be some kind of catalytic reaction if we drop the wrong stuff in there”

    Yeah, there might even be an explosion or something.

  11. Safest, yes. By far the most obscenely over-expensive and impractical? Also yes.

    I suppose that enough of it would destabilize the sun, but how much would it take?

    Well, let’s put it this way – if 25% (or come to that, probably 50% or a 100%) of the Earth’s mass were composed of uranium, and we dumped all of it into the sun, then we might see something. But probably only if we did it all at once.

    1. Safest? No. I mean, assuming you GET IT THERE, then it’s safe, but current launch technologies are almost INFINITELY less safe than burying the stuff. Consider the number of space launches and rocket launches that have gone awry, as a total of the launches ever made.

      Now realize that if your waste capsule can be built to survive re-entry without spilling, it can be buried for millennia, too.

      –Howard

      1. Mm. That too, yeah.

        Now realize that if your waste capsule can be built to survive re-entry without spilling, it can be buried for millennia, too.

        Now, that doesn’t necessarily (sp?) follow. The primary danger on re-entry is extreme heat for perhaps a minute or two. For burying, you need something which can withstand the forces of entropy for roughly a million years or so.

        1. Differing technologies, perhaps, but the same care, the same attention to detail, and likely the same expense.

          And as has been pointed out before, shooting it into the sun is foolhardy because we’re going to want to use it again someday.

          –Howard

          1. Differing technologies, perhaps, but the same care, the same attention to detail, and likely the same expense.

            …All of which are likely to be substantial.

  12. I don’t want nuclear power.

    i want microwave power. Or, more precisely: solar panels in space. lots and lots and lots of them. sending down the energy they produce in a tight microwave beam to pickup stations scattered around the globe.

    Planet’s Primary, Alpha Centauri A, blasts unimaginable quantities of energy into space each instant, and virtually every joule of it is wasted entirely. Incomprehensible riches can be ours if we can but stretch our arms wide enough to dip from this eternal river of wealth. — CEO Nwabudike Morgan, “The Centauri Monopoly”
    — Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri

    Vorn

  13. Oh, I almost forgot the point I meant to make in response to this.

    It’s struck me for some time that what a lot of the more rabid environmental groups really want is to turn the clock back to some perceived bucolic, pastoral, pre-industrial paradise. The problem with this idea is, it’s too late for that. Even if we stopped creating new environmental damage today, the damage is done, and it’s not going to just magically undo itself — and even if it would, we’ve become dependent enough upon our technological society that we couldn’t survive without it. The result of any worldwide neo-luddite “revolution” would be global famine on an unprecedented scale and a population collapse of massive proportions. Further, many of our accessible natural resources are now so depleted, and many of the remaining ones so hard to get to, that if we collapsed back into a pre-industrial culture we’d probably never manage to climb out again — and it still might not save the planet, or us.

    What we need to do at this point is not to try to step back and pretend it never happened. Our best chance of long-term survival as a species, and of keeping as many other species on the planet alive with us as we can, is to move forward as fast as we can and do our damnedest to develop clean energy technologies, non-polluting production technologies, ways of cleaning up our mess and restoring the biosphere, in time to repair the damage we’ve done to our environment while we still have an environment left to repair. (And frankly, the oil barons and the politicians who hang on their coat-tails need to either start helping instead of hindering, or get the hell out of the way.) We’re crossing a bridge that’s crumbling underneath us, and if we stop or try to go back, we’re toast. All we can do is run like hell for the far side before it collapses, then try to reinforce and rebuild the bridge once we’re standing on firm ground again.

  14. Not stupid. One thing to keep in mind is that what we call “nuclear waste” is really “a type of nuclear fuel that we don’t currently have the technology to take advantage of”. We don’t WANT to get rid of it permanently. Geo storage (underground) is the best way.

    Secondly, there are loud screaming protests every time a spacecraft is launched with a nuclear powerplant (technically a radioisotope thermal generator, or RTG). It doesn’t matter that the containment on these is an order of magnitude larger than could ever be needed in a rocket explosion and crash.

    In fact, the containment is so good that on the two occasions where we did have an explosion, we fetched the RTG package out of the wreckage and reused it.

    The sun is a fusion reactor — it operates at temperatures and pressures that make a conventional nuclear bomb seem like rubbing sticks together for heat. All of the uranium on this planet is material condensed from the original solar cloud — the Sun has a higher proportion of it than we do. If the entire Earth were dropped into the sun, it would hardly twitch — but dumping just our nuclear fuel would not change the measuments of it in the Sun enough to be worth calculating. The stuff is there already.

    ===|==============/ Level Head

    1. Aside…

      I remember reading somewhere that there’s math to support the premise that all the gold, uranium, and other really heavy metals in the galaxy were formed by the collision of neutron stars, rather than supernovae.

      –Howard

      1. Re: Aside…

        Collision, or collapse? Collisions between neutron stars seem likely to be fairly rare (except in globular clusters) — and the heavy elements are quite abundant and, I had thought, pretty well understood as products of supernovae formation. But a supernova IS the process of making a neutron star, isn’t it?

        Hmmm… I’m no expert, and I am looking around for what you’re describing. In the meantime, we’ve got up to iron/nickle as part of the fusion ladder in stars, and the supernovae for some of the heavier elements, but there are two other sources of really heavy nucleii.

        Here’s a reasonable discussion about the operation of s-process and r-process (slow and rapid) heavy element formation:

        http://ultraman.ssl.berkeley.edu/nucleosynthesis.html

        ===|==============/ Level Head

  15. I’m involved heavily in Republican party politics and can tell you you’re pretty much out of luck. For now. Most of us, including me, love nucleaar power and agree with everything you said. On a national level, though, nobody’s willing to take the political hit it would cause.

    If we do eventually decide that nuclear is the way to go I think we should, and I hate to say this, follow the European model. Come up with one design for all of the nuclear plants in the country. Right now everyone is different and that creates its own set of problems.

  16. Nuclear Power is one of the places I differ with most liberals. Most are against it and I think it’s fine. I think we’re retarded the way we’re burning through fossil fuels. They’d be so much more useful as plastics and lubricants. But nobody wants to sacrifice the (currently) cheap and easy power. And how many people would be willing to switch to electric cars?

    Bush wasted the best chance the US ever had at switching off of Fossil Fuels four and a half years ago. Yet another reason why I would have voted for Kermit the Frog over him.

  17. Throwing my own two cents in, I am curious why we think that the only way to get energy from renewable sources is to create a large farm to capture the energy. Imagine for a moment if EVERY house had solar panels on its roof. Imagine not needing any external energy to heat your water, or even having great days where the sun is shining and the power company is paying you for your excess energy captured. Now also imagine if every home used geothermal systems for heating and air-conditioning.

    If everyone used these technologies, we would greatly reduce our need for energy from coal, oil, gas, and nuclear sources. A secondary benefit would be the boost these industries would get by every home using their products. Research and development would skyrocket, costs would plummet and costs for oil, gas, etc would also drop due to decreased demand.

    As far as nuclear power goes, all the waste that is created is a serious problem. No one wants a train wreck near them (or at all), and despite containers being made to withstand a wreck, we still have trains carrying poisonous chlorine wreck and require large evacuations. I presume they attempt to make the containers for poisonous gas extra safe, but it doesn’t always work, eh?

    Anyway, my two idealistic cents here.

    Malcor

    1. That type of rooftop solar is pretty expensive, and heavily reliant on good weather. You’d need the power plants in operation anyway in case of extended cloudy periods!

      The poisons nuclear makes ARE very poisonous, but much smaller in volume than what you dump in the air from a coal plant. If there’s a leak, it’s quite localized, as opposed to the aforementioned pollution. It’s just that during the cold war everyone got kinda freaky over radiation, but it’s really not that big a deal. To make an analogy, would you prefer to have low-level poisonous dust all over the house, or a bottle of cyanide in the cabinet?

  18. Photovoltaic panels (which, I assume is the ‘solar power’ being talked about here) are very poor at conversion. A single panel, approximately 1 foot square, gave about 1.5 volts. Four of them, in bright light, gave enough power to run a single hand-held tape player.

    I posted on Nightstar.net, a long, detailed rant about nuclear energy – specifically about fission piles, breeder reactors, and how mixed up the general public was about them.

    I’ll see if I can find it.

    1. Nuclear Power

      Guess what, it’s safe.

      I’m serious. More people died in Ted Kennedy’s car than have died in nuclear power plant accidents in this country.

      You get more radiation exposure doing jury duty in a granite courthouse than the average person around the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power facility during the middle of the critical reaction. Chernobyl was the result of someone running a reactor in an old brick factory, rather than putting it in a special facility.

      Here are some pros and cons.

      Cons

      Nuclear Waste. Of course, most “nuclear waste” isn’t terribly radioactive, the NRC simply declares anything from inside a nuclear power plant as being nuclear waste; to the tune of approximately 2,000 tons per year, at last count. Still, we have to do something with it, other than store it on the plant grounds.

      Fissionables. Nuclear power plants DO produce waste that can be used in weapons production, especially if you have a breeder reactor, which makes its own fuel.

      Threat of accident. This only happened once, and decades ago, but it’s always a consideration. Of course, chemical plants blow up all the time, and people don’t parade around trying to close them down. They LIKE their gasoline.
      (Edit – Note, this was referring to the United States. I wasn’t including Chernobyl. That wasn’t a normal plant)

      Pros

      Once built, cheap. The expensive part of building a nuclear reactor right now is not in the design – the same design that Three Mile Island used three decades ago would still work quite well. The NRC keeps changing the requirements to attempt to make them impossible to build. Still, once you build the plant, you have little to no actual fuel cost. The maintenance cost is similar to that of any other power plant.

      Clean. Nuclear reactors release no toxic fumes, no sulfur dioxide, no benzines – generally, just heat. Combine a nuclear reactor with an alcohol plant, and you can get clean fuel for vehicles with the same heat you get power from.

      Quiet. This is both a visual and an audible thing. When you have no combustion going on, you have very little noise, and no visible light, unlike a flare at a power plant. You would have huge clouds of steam, but you can compensate for that by adding the alcohol plant as part of the cool-down stage.

      Back to the plants themselves, and addressing some issues. Would I live next to a nuclear power plant? Sure, but why would I have to? Thanks to Nikola Tesla, our power plants can be miles from anything but a water source. You can put them in some truly barren environments, and not have to be near them at all. Or simply put them away from normal habitations. It’s easier on the eyes.

      Disposing of the waste products isn’t a huge deal. People think that it is, but considering how our development has run in the last few hundred years, I could see us being able to easily dispose of all nuclear wastes safely within 100 years – which would only be 200,000 tons of waste – it sounds like a lot, but the New York Department of Sanitation picks up over 13,000 tons of trash a day. Not pounds – Tons. This is the equivalent of 6 nuclear power plants in a year, and New York does this every day (this doesn’t include the private pickups for businesses, which amount to another 13,000 tons) (source – http://www.ci.nyc.ny.us/html/dos/html/dosfact.html )

      Conservation of resources. Rather than wasting precious petrochemicals on fuel, both for our transportation and our electricity, let’s put it where it belongs – resources. Plastics, lubricants, and things that cannot be made cost effectively from anything but oil, coal, and gas. Alcohol is high-energy, easy to produce, requires heat, organic matter, and decomposition. Nuclear power produces heat, organic matter is everywhere, and decomposition is simply a matter of enzymes and bacteria. The residues of the alcohol plant can then be used as fertilizer for more organic matter.

      Let’s stop throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and practice some REAL energy conservation. Build more nuclear power plants, lower our cost of living, and start driving cars run on alcohol.

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