I recently started re-reading The Wheel of Time, because I enjoyed the first season of the new TV adaptation. I read some of it when I was a kid. My friend John had the series, and loaned me the books (I think I damaged one and had to replace it). At the time, the main problem I noticed with the books is Robert Jordan’s bizarre views on gender and on relationships between men and women. In researching for this post, another thing occurred to me.
The basic premise of the series is that there’s a Supreme Good and a Supreme Evil, and there’s an eternal war being waged as Mr. Evil tries to take over and do Evil things. The eternal nature of the war is complicated by the fact that reincarnation is a definite, confirmed reality in this universe, and so specific people involved in that war keep being reborn and fighting each other in successive lives. Combine this with the fact that powerfully magical or powerfully good or evil events can leave lasting magical effects, and you get a landscape littered with old ruins and buried temples and whatnot, half of which could destroy the world if some person happens to knock over a particular pile of rocks, or insult the wrong ghost. More that that, it’s clear that another one of these “magical exclusion zones” could pop up pretty much anywhere, any time. I think this is a pretty good metaphor for nuclear power, because I’m not particularly worried about Chernobyl or Fukushima-style meltdowns, but I still think there’s reason to be afraid of nuclear power.
I also, as I’ve said, think that there’s reason to continue the development and use of nuclear power, that’s just not what I’m getting into today.
Right now, Russia is in the process of invading Ukraine, which has highlighted the “security” angle of my fear:
Ukraine is home to 15 nuclear power reactors across four plants that supply about half of its energy needs—if struck, they could release radioactive waste that would contaminate the area for thousands of years. Among these facilities is the largest nuclear plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhia power plant, which sits around 125 miles west of the Donbas combat zone and could soon find itself directly on the front line of conflict. This would cause unknowable environmental damage, and would also threaten the country’s energy security (the plant provides around a quarter of the country’s overall electricity supply.)
I’ll start by saying that the world has suffered a great deal of harm from military activity around fossil fuel infrastructure, and while the exact nature of that damage is different, the death toll, through climate change and air pollution, is much higher than the death toll of nuclear power. That said, there are two complicating factors that dramatically increase the danger I see from nuclear power. The first is that if we do replace a large portion of coal, oil, and gas power plants with nuclear reactors, that will mean multiplying the number of active reactors around the world that could become targets for terrorist or military action (to whatever degree those two are separate). It will also mean an increase both in waste storage sites, and in the volume of waste being stored. Use of nuclear weapons is not required for a war to create radioactive fallout, and the more nuclear power we have around the world, the more true that will be.
The second part of this is that climate change has long been considered a “threat multiplier”, because it will create refugees, resource shortages, and other material problems that historically drive an increase in conflict, as we saw recently in the Syrian civil war. That means more political violence of all kinds. If Putin’s invasion of Ukraine doesn’t result in any radioactive contamination, that will probably be because there’s not much benefit in having control over a fallout zone. That will not be a concern for every group involved in political violence. It’s not hard to imagine either governments or non-government forces deciding that deliberately causing fallout would either “send a message”, or would be a convenient way to keep people out of a particular region.
And again, the risk of that happening goes up as global temperatures increase, and as the number of reactors and waste disposal sites increase.
The other big risk factor is the climate itself. In 2020, a wildfire broke out near Chernobyl, which got a lot of people worried– wildfire smoke is bad enough, without adding radiation to it. Rising sea levels, strengthening storms, and droughts all also pose potential risks, as they do with the other forms of pollution that litter the landscape.
We’re entering an era in which conditions in ten years will almost certain be different from what we’re dealing with now, not just because politics are volatile, but because the planet itself is now going through a major transition to a new, much hotter, stable state. One might assume that it would be possible to avoid at least some of these problems by burying the waste in a geologically stable area, but unfortunately the rising temperature is likely to also cause changes in seismic and volcanic activity.
I don’t think that means nuclear power needs to be erased from human society, but it does mean that we have to be proactive in both plant design, and in disposal of waste. The reality is that we need to begin actively cleaning the planet as soon as we’ve stopped actively making the problem worse.
I think the proposal I’ve heard most often for dealing with spent fuel is to recycle and re-use it, since the high level of radioactivity demonstrates there’s still power to be used, if we can figure out how. Unfortunately, spent fuel “contains about half the periodic table“, meaning we have to either invest a huge amount of energy removing contaminants, or we have to develop a way to safely use un-refined radioactive material. There is at least one working theory for how to go about doing this that I find appealing:
In the early 1990s, Carlo Rubbia, Nobel prize winner in physics (1984) and then CERN’s director general, launched a small experiment applying cutting-edge accelerator technologies toward energy production. The First Energy Amplifier Test (FEAT), funded by the European Commission, successfully demonstrated the principles of a clean and inherently safe process of energy production, based on widely available thorium. Since then, numerous experiments have demonstrated the feasibility of a large scale-up for industrial use. They also demonstrated that existing long-term (240,000 years or more) nuclear waste can be “burned up” in the thorium reactor to become a much more manageable short-term (less than 500 years) nuclear waste.
An Accelerator-Driven System (ADS), as the process is called, comprises an assembly of key technologies developed at CERN: an accelerated proton beam focuses on a metal target, usually lead, in a process called spallation. This spawns neutrons that in turn convert thorium into fissile uranium233, producing heat by way of nuclear fission. The heavy uranium233 nuclei divides into smaller nucleus such as zirconium (think Shopping Channel jewellery) or xenon (used in camera flash bulbs), with only minimal radioactive waste produced.
The advantages of an ADS over other energy production process are many:
Clean: No emissions are produced (CO2, nitrogen or sulphur oxides particles, among others), unlike with fossil fuel. Heat is generated from the transmutation of thorium into the highly radioactive uranium233 and its subsequent fission into smaller particles.
Feasible: ADS technology development has been proven to be a bounded problem with a realistic development timeline. In comparison, fusion is an unbounded problem that does not have a constrained development timeline.
Transmutation of nuclear waste: the ADS process has been proven to transmute long-term nuclear waste, harmful for 240,000 years or more, into short-term radioactivity waste of less than 500 years toxicity. The technology would solve the intractable problem of very long-term radioactive waste storage.
No military usage: The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly stated that the technology is “intrinsically proliferation resistant.”
Large thorium reserves: enough for 20 centuries at 2018 level of global electricity consumption. Thorium is well distributed around the globe, with no nation having a monopoly.
High energy density: 1 tonne of thorium would provide the energy equivalent of 3 million tonnes of coal, or 200 tonnes of natural uranium enriched for use in a nuclear reactor.
Inherent safety: the process operates at atmospheric pressure therefore the plant can’t explode (unlike Chernobyl). The reaction is also stops immediately when the proton beam is interrupted, providing inherent safety.
Smart grid friendly: Immediate ON/OFF capability would make ADS power plants ideal for base load energy production for smart grids.
Small footprint: A 500MW ADS plant would only be as large as a medium size factory, compared to 26 km2 (10 mi2) for the 550MW Topaz solar farm in the sunny California desert. In the wintery north-west, an equivalent solar farm would be almost three times larger, approximately 62 km2. Wind turbines require even more space.
Proximity: inherent safety and small size make ADS ideally suited for any use, industrial or urban, and able to be located in remote regions, including high latitudes with little sunshine.
Decarbonized hydrogen production: reactors could be set close to abundant freshwater at high latitudes for clean hydrogen production, allowing the conversion of electrons into a green gas used for transport, heating and industrial processes.
We’ve known for some time that it’s possible to literally transmute matter in the alchemical sense, as long as you have enough energy, and you don’t mind the finished product being radioactive. In this case, the point is to start with something radioactive, and burn off that energy to run a generator, while generating waste that’s both smaller in volume, and less dangerous. That said, 500 years is still far longer than we’ve even had nuclear technology, and it’s the kind of timespan that has seen entire civilizations collapse. What we also need is a way to take that less-radioactive waste and render it inert. There’s promising research into using bacteria to do this, but it seems like we’re farther behind on that than we are on the ADS thing, as the bacteria involved are good at eating the sorts of things that might be used to contain them for industrial use.
So. Where does that leave us?
Well, I still think that we’re likely to need the “energy density” of nuclear power to survive climate change, and I’m still very concerned about the dangers posed by a dramatic increase in the amount of radioactive material out in the world. I’m under no illusions about how much influence I have. My actual readership is absolutely dwarfed by the number of people who accidentally clicked on one of my recent low-effort posts because it had the words “sexy video” in the title. That said, just as I think we should going beyond a “WW2-scale” response to climate change with renewable energy and agricultural changes, I also think we should be investing heavily in things like ADS technology and radiation-munching bacteria, as part of our broader effort to figure out how to clean up the mess we’ve made.
Ideally, I’d like to see those new disposal methods in place and functioning before any massive increase in reactors. It won’t eliminate problems. Nothing will, and that’s true for everything we do. To get back to my opening reference, we’ve learned enough to avoid “cursing” random bits of the planet, we just need to put that knowledge into action. As with so many things these days, I think a lot of the reason that we’re not doing that is that our political and economic systems (to whatever degree those are separate things) aren’t set up to encourage responsible behavior by those in power. Basically, there are so many ways in which we could drive ourselves to extinction in the next couple centuries that revolutionary change seems like our only hope of survival. It all comes back to politics.
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“I’m not particularly worried about Chernobyl or Fukushima-style meltdowns, but I still think there’s reason to be afraid of nuclear power.”
Meltdowns are by far the greatest thing to fear from old-tech nuclear.
“Ukraine is home to 15 nuclear power reactors across four plants that supply about half of its energy needs.”
Which is why Ukraine doesn’t want them damaged. The reason Russia doesn’t want them damaged is that they are Russian designs, and Russia wants to sell its reactors to the world. Very bad advertising for your products if you demonstrate how easy they are to destroy.
“there are two complicating factors that dramatically increase the danger I see from nuclear power. The first is that if we do replace a large portion of coal, oil, and gas power plants with nuclear reactors, that will mean multiplying the number of active reactors around the world that could become targets for terrorist or military action”
Something like an underground molten salt reactor would make for a very unappealing target. Much easier and more effective to target planes, trains, roads, bridges, schools, stadiums, theaters, malls, restaurants, night clubs, concerts, parades, public gatherings, government buildings, skyscrapers, municipal water supplies, hospitals, chemical plants, refineries, fertilizer plants, grid transformers, hydropower dams, natural gas facilities, and package delivery services–none of which are we going to get rid of simply because they could be targeted.
“It will also mean an increase both in waste storage sites, and in the volume of waste being stored.”
The dominant hazard that can break contaminants out of nuclear fuel is melt-down. The hazards that can break open spent fuel are trivial risks by comparison.
“One might assume that it would be possible to avoid at least some of these problems by burying the waste in a geologically stable area, but unfortunately the rising temperature is likely to also cause changes in seismic and volcanic activity.”
Not in geologically stable areas, and we know of places that have been stable for hundreds of millions of years.
“we have to either invest a huge amount of energy removing contaminants, or we have to develop a way to safely use un-refined radioactive material.
Or we consume the spent fuel whole and use low-energy means to remove specific isotopes.
“In the early 1990s, Carlo Rubbia, Nobel prize winner in physics (1984) and then CERN’s director general, launched a small experiment applying cutting-edge accelerator technologies toward energy production. The First Energy Amplifier Test (FEAT), funded by the European Commission, successfully demonstrated the principles”
That was a very cutting-edge (for the 90’s) high-performance proposal to get around the problems of a difficult fuel (thorium). It is the techy reactor we don’t need–because we don’t need to burn thorium. The stuff we actually want to get rid of is spent fuel, surplus and decommissioned bomb fuel, neptunium and other actinide wastes from bomb fuel production, and depleted uranium. For complete burn-up, those need consistently-fast neutrons (ADS, at best, can only deliver a mix), which makes molten salt fast reactors the better choice for those. Not as much glamour, but way more practical. And there are already multiple teams developing those, so they won’t need a WWII-style mobilization. We just need some serious regulatory reform to get some pointless obstacles out of the way, and a small investment in some lab oversight.
After we consume the junk fuels, what that leaves is fission products. Some of those we can use, and the rest can be mixed with glass and entombed down a deep borehold. And after all the junk is disposed of, then we can look at thorium, if we’re still interested. But just getting rid of the junk we already have will take centuries, and the stockpile is still growing.
“Ideally, I’d like to see those new disposal methods in place and functioning before any massive increase in reactors.”
If any of the teams can develop reactors which are cheap, safe, flexible, and quick to build, that would be good enough to justify a large deployment. Final disposal will take centuries, so for that, it doesn’t matter if it starts ten or twenty years earlier or later. The Deep Isolation boreholds can also be used for temporary storage, and that could be developed within the next ten years. Their drilling, emplacement, and retrieval technology has already been demonstrated, so the big piece remaining is working out the transfer procedures (from cask to hole), and getting regulatory certification on that.
I’ll leave one comment on something new that you mentioned here. Accelerator solutions are from academia and tech people with a solution in search of a problem. Anything involving an accelerator for nuclear plants or nuclear disposal is basically a scam, or a design from someone living in the clouds and completely detached from the realities of nuclear power.
PS: Let me remind you about the underground natural nuclear fission reactors at Oklo, Gabon. After a billion years in a water rich environment, the plutonium moved 5 ft. We have done the experiment. Disposal of nuclear waste is easy, cheap, and safe. The only reason why we haven’t disposed of nuclear is because the anti nuclear politician lobby doesnt want a solution. They want this pseudoscience issue as an attack on nuclear power which they hate because of other reasons, often because they’re (not so) secretly neo Malthusians and they hate nuclear power because it works, aka they want the world to be poor because of their misguided – and often racist and colonialist – ideas about how to protect the environment.
@ ^ GerrardOfTitanServer : “We have done the experiment.”
Singular form. One very specific and rare case.
Saying so, constantly asserting so, does NOT make that true. Anymore than Trump cultists claiming Mango Mussolini “won” the last USA’s Presidential election makes that true or transphobes saying as “fact” that there are only two binary genders.makes that true. Other people equally argue the opposite of that.
You can cherry-pick some articles and so can they for instance :
Then there’s also :
Source : https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/nuclear-reprocessing-dangerous-dirty-and-expensive
In addition to :
Source : https://cen.acs.org/environment/pollution/nuclear-waste-pilesscientists-seek-best/98/i12
Only reason? Not y’know all those other points the articles linked above and more say huh? How do you know that? What is your basis for claiming that?
Pseudoscience? Really? See links above and tell me what part of those are pseudoscience please.
Fallacy of well poisoning a.k.a. attributing negative motives.
@ Abe Drayton : Excellent informative post here. Thankyou.
Just skimming that, the fundamental problem is that you never stop and ask yourself: What if it leaks? What would actually happen? You have been conditioned by liars in Greenpeace and other Green NGOs to believe that any leak, no matter how small, is the end of the world. That’s not how nuclear works. That’s not how radiation works. That’s literally homeopathic thinking. It is this fundamentally broken assumption which underlies all of the points that you make. Basically, everyone on your side is liars. What we have here is a bunch of creationist-level arguments against the real science.
The armor piercing question
to you should be: Name me a single person who has ever been harmed by radiation from a nuclear waste leak. Spoiler: None. Not a single one. And it’s very likely that there never will be.
I know you didn’t mention it, but consider this. Ignorant dupes like you constantly harp on the tritium water held in tanks at Fukushima as another example. I know you didn’t, but same vein of nonsense argument. I assume you’ve heard of it from the sources that you trust. You could drink nothing but that contaminated water directly from the storage tanks at Fukushima for years and probably not be harmed. And people are up in arms about a plan to carefully dilute it and release it into the oceans – a completely nonsense and indefensible position.
If you do nothing else, please read “The Myth Of Plutonium Toxicity” by Bernard Cohen.
Also, citing experts from Precourt institute? From a natural gas think tank? Pro move there.
@ StevoR re: #3
“I think it’s discouraging that we continue to release radioactivity to the environment because after more than 40 years we still have not developed a successful plan for going forward.”
This is a reference to the corroding containers of liquid waste from bomb fuel production. Spent fuel assemblies from nuclear power plants are not like this.
“What about the waste from nuclear energy? Is that clean-up cost also high?
In short, very. ”
That’s actually not a “clean-up” problem. (How do you clean up something that is already contained?) But it is a disposal problem, and in the U.S., that is an artifact of haphazard way we have arrived at this point. If someone were to come forward tomorrow with a robust demonstration of a cheap way to put nuclear spent fuel very deep that would be secure for millions of years, and if some community were to come forward and say they would be happy to host such a deep repository for a reasonable sum paid to every nearby resident, it would take many years under our present system to sort out who has effective legal ownership of the spent fuel and which agency would have controlling authority to evaluate and decide whether such an option and all the related transport and handling operations would be sufficiently secure and in compliance with all the relevant land and mineral rights, treaties, contracts, laws, ordinances, regulations, court rulings, and procedural requirements–with such a review process being potentially stalled or derailed by funding cuts, changes in administration, or activist legal challenges. Which is why I generally agree with Professor Rodney Ewing’s recommendation on a sensible “reset” for the way we do nuclear waste administration and management:
I do, however, think we should run the spent fuel through molten salt fast reactors first, to extract the vast amounts of energy they are holding.
“An Argonne National Laboratory scientist recently estimated that the cost premium for reprocessing spent fuel would range from 0.4 to 0.6 cents per kilowatt-hour”
That actually would not be very costly (several measures to support wind and solar have cost ratepayers more) but the larger argument against reprocessing is that it is pointless and counterproductive. For today’s reactors, it is both cheaper and cleaner to do fresh fuel from natural uranium, and for future reactors it would be easier and cheaper to consume our existing supplies of spent fuel in its current form. We should just leave it alone until we are ready to consume it.
“About one-third of the nearly 180 storage tanks, many of which long ago outlived their design lives, are known to be leaking, contaminating the subsurface and threatening the nearby Columbia River.”
Again, that’s bomb fuel waste. Doesn’t pertain to the nuclear power spent fuel issue.
@ GerrardOfTitanServer re: #4
Someone asked me if I was Gerrard. I’m guessing that was a reference to you.
“You could drink nothing but that contaminated water directly from the storage tanks at Fukushima for years and probably not be harmed.”
I think I would have refrained from phrasing it that way, mostly because the tanks still contain a lot of water that has only been through quick processing (to bring down the gamma-levels just outside the tanks as quickly as possible). Some of the water won’t go through final treatment until just before it heads off for dilution. And I’m not sure what that open-ended tritium exposure load could amount to, but I am sure that I’d rather drink the purified water before it gets “diluted” with seawater than after. Also sure the seawater they will be diluting it with will have more heavy radio-isotopes and will carry a higher radiation dose potential than the treated water.
Abe Drayton says
I have limited energy to read and respond to the walls of text that always come with this subject, but I just want to respond to one thing in Kronk’s first reply:
What current governments want is irrelevant. Leaving aside the fact that war is and always has been inherently chaotic – Russia didn’t want to lose 3,500 troops this quickly in Ukraine, this is about the broader issue, not that specific war.
And war in general already leaves behind a lot of toxic, and sometimes radioactive, waste. It’s not remotely a stretch to think that a government would choose to strike a nuclear plant in a different kind of war in the future, especially with the current rise in fascism and talk about eugenics and overpopulation.
Hell, it wouldn’t shock me to see some primitivist/anti-civilization nutjobs trying to create Chernobyl-style exclusion zones “because wildlife has thrived there since the humans left”
Pointing out that neither Russia nor Ukraine want a radioactive incident isn’t an argument.
It’s a simple enough exercise to look up the curies per liter, and look up the LNT risk factor for ingesting tritium, and look up the amount of water ingested on average per person per year, and get an effective dose in sieverts per year. You get a number that is likely completely safe based on the recent MIT mice experiments.
The real problem is that the dangers of nuclear waste, while real, are exaggerated a million fold.
re: Abe Drayton’s #8
“I have limited energy to read and respond to the walls of text that always come with this subject”
Is anyone forcing you to read or respond to comments? I mean just because Freethought Blogs is represented as a venue for discussion doesn’t mean you have to participate. You could just let the comments stand unanswered. Or if you don’t like that option, you could simply refrain from blogging on this subject. It’s a complex subject, a controversial subject, and a very important subject, so if you are looking for simple, easy topics that won’t generate comments, this would be a very good one to avoid–especially given how little you know about it. (What you got from me was the extremely truncated version. To actually address the problems in your post would have required several times the length of your post.)
“It’s not remotely a stretch to think that a government would choose to strike a nuclear plant in a different kind of war in the future”
Presumably, there would be no more constraint on that than actually using atomic bombs.
“Hell, it wouldn’t shock me to see some primitivist/anti-civilization nutjobs trying to create Chernobyl-style exclusion zones “because wildlife has thrived there since the humans left””
Yes, that’s a possible motive–irrespective of their odds of success. We do have some control over the dispersion potential in such events (molten salt reactors, for example, would have very low dispersion potential), but there are indeed some attack or disaster scenarios which might prompt an evacuation from the area with some kinds of nuclear power. But we can’t look at that risk in isolation. What if nuclear power could have displaced some or all lignite mining in Germany? On the one hand, there was the chance that people might have had to leave the area in the event of a breach. On the other hand, this was the certainty from lignite mining (one reach of the Garzweiler mine complex): tinyurl.com/ycktx29s
Lignite mining in Germany has consumed over 300 towns and villages, thousands of farms, and several large old-growth forests and left behind many millions of acres of utterly desolated landscape–along with a carbon release load in the billions of tonnes, If we could have displaced that with nuclear power, it would have been perverse to oppose that on account of some greater-than-zero risk that some nutjobs might try to use them to create a thriving wildlife preserve.
Abe Drayton says
I said that to explain that I wasn’t simply ignoring/discounting everything I didn’t address, nothing more. Take it easy.
Pierce R. Butler says
I wish I had the time, energy, and references-immediately-to-hand to counter all the mis-/dis-information above.
(Kudos to StevoR @ # 3 for a good running start.)
Suffice it to say the pro-nuke statements above deserve the same credence anyone should give to salespeople for a multibillion industry with a long record of lies, pollution, and injury, when those salespeople face absolutely no liability for false promises or product failure.
“I wish I had the time, energy, and references-immediately-to-hand to counter all the mis-/dis-information above.”
If wishing isn’t getting the job done for you, maybe you’d have more luck with praying.
“Suffice it to say the pro-nuke statements above deserve the same credence anyone should give to salespeople for a multibillion industry”
Or play the shill card. That should be easily as good as wishing or praying.
Pierce R. Butler
I’m glad that you know better that most of the world’s climate scientists, such as James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley, and many more. I’ll side with the scientists instead of special interest groups every day.
John Morales says
Gerrard, you are the one who imagines climate scientists are perforce experts in power generation.
(Betcha you don’t think experts in power generation are similarly experts in climate science)
Nonetheless, they too advocate for renewables and ancillaries.
You are the one who dissents from their own conclusions, and who imagines there’s something bad about renewables.
Anyway, I’ve noted that multiple times, and it doesn’t get through your cognitive filter.
“At the end of 2008, James Hansen stated five priorities that he felt then President-elect Barack Obama should adopt “for solving the climate and energy problems, while stimulating the economy”: efficient energy use, renewable energy, a smart grid, generation IV nuclear reactors and carbon capture and storage.”
“Emanuel has long voiced his own skepticism that wind and solar alone can fully replace fossil fuels, and he said he agrees with Shellenberger’s rejection of activists’ “unwise, environmentally harmful, and financially unworkable call for 100% renewables.” But Emanuel disagrees also with what he says is Shellenberger’s “embrace of 100% nuclear.””
“To assess the possibility of nuclear power to serve this need, Duan and Caldeira, along with Robert Petroski of TerraPower LLC and Lowell Wood of Gates Ventures LLC, investigated the wind and solar resources of 42 countries and used this information to evaluate nuclear power’s ability to provide low-cost energy and replace natural gas as a backup energy source. Their analysis focused on identifying which countries would benefit from exploring nuclear power as an option for their energy suite sooner rather than later.
They found that in countries such as the U.S., which have the right geographic and climate conditions for generating ample wind power, nuclear would not be deployed until it was needed to get over the last remaining hurdles of decarbonization. But in countries with poorer wind resources, such as Brazil, strategic use of nuclear power could enable a faster transition away from carbon.”
“Wigley has argued in the popular media that the IPCC has been too optimistic about the prospect of averting harmful climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions through the use of renewable technologies alone, and argued that any realistic portfolio must include significant contributions from nuclear energy.”
And, weirdly, you also imagine those of us who interact with you are somehow purely ideologically opposed to nuclear power in the same way as you are opposed to renewables.
John Morales says
BTW, in local news: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-28/andrew-forrest-begins-work-on-green-hydrogen-hub-in-gladstone/100865988
(Yes, I know, Gerrard. You believe it’s not possible to make green hydrogen using renewables)
Re: #15 by John Morales
“weirdly, you also imagine those of us who interact with you are somehow purely ideologically opposed to nuclear power”
In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve definitely formed the clear impression that Pierce R. Butler is adamantly opposed to any kind of human-controlled fission power, and that opposition appears to be ideological in nature. Have you seen anything that would suggest that is a mistaken impression?
John Morales says
kronk, why ask me? Ask Pierce.
The IPCC report is. They brought in experts. And in spite of the clear and strong anti-nuclear bias in the IPCC reports, the latest report says that solving our problems without nuclear power is impossible and that a great expansion of nuclear power worldwide is probably required.
For every quack like Mark Jacobson, there are 10 real experts like Clack. That’s why Clack’s paper had so many co-authors because they were horrified that Jacobson’s paper was so influential in policy circles. The fact is that 100% renewables position is the scientific fringe, endorsed only by academic frauds and special interest groups which are probably not-so-secretly funded by fossil fuel money.
Not really. Maybe. Partially. Some of them, like Dr. Kerry Emanuel, say that solar and wind is a waste, and we should be spending that money on nuclear power instead. See:
“I probably differ a little bit from my colleagues in that I don’t think it should be a level playing field. I think we should put much more money into nuclear and stop wasting a lot on covering the Earth in solar panels. We can get to 30%, and then you hit a brick wall. We’ve done the numbers. Have you? You cannot power the world on renewables. You can’t do it. Unless there’s a miracle. Alright? We’ve done the math. So sorry I take an exception to you. You’re very wrong on this. Alright?”
Re your Green Hydrogen. People like you, such as Amory Lovins, have been saying every year for literally 60 years, that finally this is the year that renewables will take off, and that we’ll transition off fossil fuels. How long have you been saying this? A decade or more? It wasn’t true then, and it is not true now. The best time to go 100% nuclear and hydro was 60 years ago. The next best time is now. The entire world could easily do it in 30 years, and they could do it in half that time with a great sense of urgency and spending. Instead, we’re going to argue for another 30 years or more about renewables vs nuclear and make next to no progress on greenhouse gas emissions, just like we’ve done for the previous 60 years.
And that’s rich coming from you John, talking about me accusing others of ideological purity, when you also have an hard ideological position against nuclear power.
Finally, what you don’t appreciate is that there is a huge political pressure for scientists to say good things about renewables and not say good things about nuclear. See Dr James Hansen saying exactly this:
I believe that when most of these scientists and experts talk about a mix of power including solar and wind, they are doing it as a political move, and not an engineering move. They’re doing it not because they believe it’s true, but because they think it’s a necessary political lie to persuade pro-renewables zealots to not be so hostile to nuclear.
Does he? I have him on video saying that we should stop spending money on solar and wind and spend it on nuclear instead. What does your source have?
John Morales says
But you didn’t quote the IPCC report, you quoted a set of scientists who I showed all advocate for a place for renewables. As, of course, does the IPCC report.
I have many, many times now told you that what you think that quotation (from your hoary, outdated collection) does not say what you think it says.
What part of “We can get to 30%, and then you hit a brick wall.” (from your own quotation) indicates to you that “solar and wind is a waste”? What it claims is that anything over 30% is impossible — with the implication that, were it possible, it would be fine.
(You don’t even notice how it’s arrogating expertise at power generation, grid management and storage technology)
And yet, there it is. Being actually built.
(Eppur si muove)
For the umpteenth to the power of umpteenth time, Gerrard: I’m all for nuclear power, with appropriate deployment and regulation. No matter how many times I tell you, it doesn’t sink in.
Yes, I know you believe that. You keep saying it, after all.
But those scientists talking about a mix (cf. my #15) include the set of scientists you claim don’t want renewables. It could not be any more in your face, and yet…
Anyway, it’s demonstrable that even your best sources do not share your weird belief.
John Morales says
This is what my source (that is the dude himself, from where he works) has.
(Do you really see a repudiation of renewables there?)
Stop with this reframing. I personaly believe that nuclear + hydro is the best and only real practical option for eliminating greenhouse gases for most countries. However, that position is not driving my belief here, nor my arguments here. You’re basically strawmanning me. I am arguing against the delusion that 100% renewables are cheaper, and against the delusion that 100% renewables are even possible.
Note: That report is also not very reliable because of its rabid anti-nuclear bias. I quote it only to show that even under extreme pro-renewable pressure from within and without, the international committee on this topic still had to publish something saying that 100% renewables are impossible and large nuclear expansion is probably necessary.
Oh come on now. This is cherrypicking. Read the broader passage, and see the context. See the question that he was answering. He’s clearly saying that solar is a waste of money. “I don’t think it should be a level playing field.” “stop wasting a lot [of money] on covering the Earth in solar panels.” You’re full of shit right now, and your head is so far up your own ideaologically driven ass that you can’t even tell.
People waste a lot of money on silly things. What’s your point? That it, plus other kinds of pixie dust, will be able to replace all coal in your country of Australia? Please. Give me a break.
I roll to disbelieve. I find it extremely unlikely that people who say the shit that you do in favor of renewables are not ideologically opposed to nuclear. Your “appropriate deployment and regulations” are probably carefully designed in order to make nuclear power politically and economically impractical or impossible. Also, you’re a troll, and that’s another reason why I don’t believe anything that you ever say.
And this is a clear strawman because I never said any such thing.
What weird belief is that? That 100% nuclear hydro plans work? Or that they’re cheap? I haven’t atttempted to provide sources for those claims. I can if you want. I’ve been focusing on demolishing the delusion that 100% renewables is possible or desirable or cheap.
John Morales says
You know, Gerrard, we’ve had this discussion multiple times on multiple blogs, almost beat for beat. Example: https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2021/11/22/remember-the-lies/#comment-2113175
No doubt we shall, again.
And I assume you’ll be a lying dipshit again when we have this conversation again, just like you always are.
@ ^ GerrardOfTitanServer & other apologists for the urnaium nuclear fission industry.
Been very busy lately but might respond to some of your comments later.
I will just note that Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was on fire today :
TV news said if it blew up / melted down it would be “ten times worse than Chernobyl.” That, folks is why nuclear uranium fission reactors are NOT a good idea I think.
Abe Drayton says
@StevoR – though it’s worth noting that there has been zero evidence of any radiation leak from that attack. I agree that all evidence suggests NEITHER of the major parties in that war want any nuclear incidents, and both have detailed plans on that plant.
I also think that war is inherently chaotic, and assuming you can control all outcomes would be foolish in the extreme.
How is it that you can simultaneously say “trust the scientists on climate change!” and then also say “those climate scientists and the IPCC report preparers are a bunch of shills for promoting nuclear power” ? Talk about compartmentalization to the extreme.
The brute fact is that the Green lobby is a religious cult with no basis in reality. No-nuclear 100%-renewables is a fringe position academically. The large majority of relevant scientists, as made clear in the IPCC reports, say that the solution must contain a large portion of nuclear power and that 100% renewable plans worldwide are impossible.
Let me say it again: 100% renewable plans worldwide are impossible. This is true whether or not you are right about the dangers of nuclear power. So, the world has only two realistic choices: Using substantial amounts of nuclear power, or runaway human-caused global warming. I personally know which I would prefer.
PS: The dangers of nuclear power are probably a thousand, and maybe a million, times less bad than what you think. Greenpeace says that 1 million people may have died from Chernobyl. The real answer is about 100. The longlived contamination of land is a bigger issue, but today, almost all of the exclusion zone is safe to live right now according to radioactivity measurements that you or anyone else can do online. The last concern is farming, and on that, I point to Japan where apparently food grown in most of the contaminated area is tested regularly and is very often / almost always(?) below the legally established safe limits for human consumption, and so even this concern – while real and big – is often vastly exaggerated by the lying Greens.
I ask you again, if nothing else, please read this:
“The Myth Of Plutonium Toxicity” by Bernard Cohen.
John Morales says
Let me say it again: electricity generation is not the only source of greenhouse gases.
For you, I choose my source carefully: https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/energy-and-the-environment/carbon-dioxide-emissions-from-electricity.aspx
So, at best, you’d be removing 40% of the emissions, even if your fervently-desired goal were to be achieved. Not exactly a panacea.
(Again: global warming is a multifactorial problem)
Come on John. Grow up. Stop being a liar. I never said that nuclear alone is the complete solution. No one said that electricity is all greenhouse gas emissions.
Having said that, even Green advocates recognize that the fixes for most other sectors, i.e. transportation, will depend on abundant and cheap electricity. If you solve electricity and everything that can be (easily) electrified, directly or indirectly, then you’re at roughly 80% of human greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a damn good start.
For the remaining 20%, I never claimed that nuclear would fix it. It is, however, impossible to fix climate change without a fix for that 80%, and that 80% is the low-hanging fruit aka the easiest stuff to deal with.