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View Diary: The end of world as we know it . . . (186 comments)

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  •  Nuke power inefficient at avoiding CO2 emissions (9+ / 0-)

    The problems of diversion of nuke fuel to weapons production, attractiveness of nukes as targets for terrorism, and the disposal of long-term nuke waste are worrying, but nuclear power doesn't even solve the CO2 problem very well, given that any given dollar can only be spent once.

    A dollar spent on building a nuke would have been spent better, in terms of the CO2 emission avoided by spending it, if it had been spent instead on improving end-use efficiency, or on developing the renewable sources that become much more practical as those end-use efficiencies begin to add up and cut aggregate demand.

    RMI's Amory Lovins has a pretty clear exposition of this, and I think you can still find it by web-searching "grossly uncompetitive".

    •  interesting argument (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mary Mike

      I'll keep it in mind

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 04:58:12 PM PST

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      •  You still have to mine the uranium... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard, maryabein

        With trucks and heavy machinery, refine it, enrich it, transport it...and above all else, dispose of it.  All of which takes fossil fuel.

        When banjos are outlawed, only outlaws will have banjos.

        by Bisbonian on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:17:29 PM PST

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        •  Not if you use (0+ / 0-)

          Electric vehicles.  

          Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

          by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 06:58:41 PM PST

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          •  There's no ecologically safe way to mine uranium (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Agathena

            really.  The tailings are so profoundly toxic.  We can't be sacrificing ecology to climate; we must insist on close-to-zero impact mining, and must rule out mining at all in certain areas no matter how much uranium is buried there.

            What seems exciting is the concept, discussed previously on this very site, of fast reactors that can use not only uranium, but existing nuke waste, as fuel.  Building a few of these puppies solves two problems at once.

            But overall, nuke plants can't be considered clean energy for the long term.  Not until we're talking fusion.

            Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

            by Leftcandid on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 09:13:13 PM PST

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            •  I am afraid it is a different scale (0+ / 0-)

              Tailings are highly localized and can be contained.  Climate change is global and cannot be.   In any event given that the alternative is coal which is worse on all fronts that is not much of an argument. I am reminded of the people opposing solar because of tortoises that are doomed if the climate heats up.  Nuclear is in fact far safer than either coal or oil.

              In any event, I think the notion that renewables and efficiency are far more cost effective is the clincher, especially if storage can be figured out.  

              Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

              by Mindful Nature on Wed Jan 16, 2013 at 09:25:50 PM PST

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              •  Yes nuclear power worked out so well in (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sue B, Bisbonian

                Fukushima.

                ❧To thine ownself be true

                by Agathena on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 05:37:46 AM PST

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                •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Words In Action

                  Compared to the number of deaths and disease caused by coal, yes

                  I think people are far too sanguine about how dangerous coal slag, dust and spot are

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 07:19:26 AM PST

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                •  It occurs to me (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Words In Action

                  That as bad as Fukushima and Chernobyl were, nuclear at its worst has not even come close to threatening to killing millions and destroying civilization the way fossil fuels are doing right now

                  Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                  by Mindful Nature on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 09:55:08 AM PST

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                  •  We don't actually know how many (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Words In Action

                    nuclear has killed.  When you look at the rise in background radiation and the rise in cancer over the years it's clear that nuclear has played a pretty bad role in killing folks, but we really can't know how bad it's been.

                    nuclear at its worst has not even come close to threatening to killing millions and destroying civilization the way fossil fuels are doing right now
                    Certainly not nuclear power plants, if you know what I mean.
                    •  more or less a fair point (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      AoT, Words In Action

                      we don't have particularly good data, although to be fair, the overwhelming amount of radioactive material released derives from medical uses.  The estimates I've seen put that at 1,000 times what the nuclear fuel cycle releases and is much more pervasive.  Also, in many climates Radon is a far more important source as well.

                      Currently, the occupational health standards are at 5,000 milirem per year, while background rates from all sources combined sit at around 300 milli rem.  Thus, background levels might cause cancers, but it seems that given our understanding of what kind an how much radiation it takes to be bioactive, the evidence suggests strongly otherwise.

                      Also, I don't think cancer rates are particularly informative, since increases of cancer rates also develop from the pervasive chemical pollution which has been documented world wide and also medical improvements in treating other diseases (since preventing early mortality from other causes will drive up the incidence of cancers as people live long enough to develop them.  If you die from nothing else, eventually you will get cancer.)

                      So, in reality we don't know how bad it is (I've seen estimates from Fukushima from 200 to 14,000 (although the latter involved laughably bad methodology)).

                      On balance, the evidence suggest that mortality from nuclear power is an unknown, but very low, number.

                      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                      by Mindful Nature on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 12:59:40 PM PST

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                    •  and yes (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      AoT, Words In Action

                      nuclear weapons definitely fall within the civilization destroying category!

                      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

                      by Mindful Nature on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 01:00:18 PM PST

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                    •  We don't know how many because they are still (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Words In Action

                      dying. Children in the area are now coming down with thyroid cancer.

                      ❧To thine ownself be true

                      by Agathena on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 03:52:17 PM PST

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        •  where do you "dispose of it?" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sue B, Words In Action

          all the stuff we are putting deep in the earth, from nuclear waste, to carbon from carbon capture, toxic sludge from fracking. How long can we keep doing that and what are the consequences of that?

          There's no solution to the problem of nuclear waste.

          ❧To thine ownself be true

          by Agathena on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 05:33:57 AM PST

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