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Environmentalists Coming Around to Nuclear Power? 1092

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the background-research-results-just-coming-in dept.
Heywood J. Blaume writes "In a Washington Post editorial Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, now says he was wrong about opposing nuclear power 30 years ago. In the article he addresses common myths about nuclear power, and puts forth the position that nuclear power is the only feasible, affordable power source that can solve today's growing environmental and energy policy issues. From the article: 'Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.'"
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Environmentalists Coming Around to Nuclear Power?

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  • It's about time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DavidinAla (639952) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:02PM (#15144987)
    The logic behind using safe forms of nuclear power has been clear for a long, long time. It's nice to see some greens finally start accepting what has been obvious to some of us for 30 or 40 years. Now I'm curious how long it will be before the same people start realizing that they have been duped about global warming -- by the same people who duped us about the "coming Ice Age" and hundreds of millions of people supposedly dying of hunger from overpopulation in the '70s. The same crackpots who have been feeding us false predictions are still being given credibility today. Why people such as Lester Brown and Paul Erlich are given any credibility is beyond logic.

    David
    • by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:07PM (#15145028) Homepage
      Global warming and climate change are real and undenyable. All it takes is some sampling of weather patterns over the past few hundred years (since we have been recording them) to note the drastic shifts in the past few decades.

      It is absolutely not refutable that change is occuring. What is refuta ble is whether or not it is because of a natural cycle, or because of man-made change.

      But the thing is, it does not matter what the cause is. If the cycle continues it will certainly, without a doubt, lead to the death of us as a civilization, whether we were the cause or not.

      Hence the concern. It doesn't matter if we are the root cause or not, we're the only species on the planet with the capability to reduce and possibly reverse the cycle.

      • by ndansmith (582590) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:16PM (#15145099)
        I concur! There seems to be a lot more hot air circulating around Slashdot . . .
      • It's not a question of whether or not we can do anything about it, it's whether we should. Why should we tune the ecosystem to our own benefit, when the planet has gone through things like ice-ages which have only served to refine the life here?

        A lot hinges on the question of whether the changes are our doing. If they're not, we should adapt ourselves, not the planet. If they are, we need to start controlling ourselves. Your view of the solution sounds a bit external to humans ("reverse the cycle") for my t

        • Why should we tune the ecosystem to our own benefit, when the planet has gone through things like ice-ages which have only served to refine the life here?

          The question of whether we should is irrelevant. If we can do something to maintain the status quo, we will. It's the nature of natural selection that life forms do everything in their power to survive. It's beside the point that no species in Earth history has had the capability (assuming we do) to consiously affect a change in the global climate befo

        • Why shouldn't we? Every other animal attempts to make itself most likely to survive at the expense of other organisms. What makes humans an exception? What life form would you rather see survive and reproduce than yourself?
      • by Golias (176380) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:24PM (#15145165)
        But the thing is, it does not matter what the cause is. If the cycle continues it will certainly, without a doubt, lead to the death of us as a civilization, whether we were the cause or not.

        I was with you up until that point.

        We don't know whether another three degrees of warming over the next century (which is what the most pessimistic of Global Warming predictors are saying will happen regardless of what changes we make) will, on balance, be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing.

        Historically, periods of warm climates have been more prosperous for mankind than cool eras, because most of the land in the world lies outside the tropics.

        All the Ice melting off Greenland might suck if you live in Venice, New Orleans, or some other port town that is mostly below sea level, but it's the best news ever if you've invested in any arctic real estate.

        I'm a big fan of going to nuclear as an incrimental step towards Solar, fusion, or some other, better power source... not because I buy in to "greenhouse" climate models, but rather because I like the idea of cleaner air in our cities. It just plain makes sense, no matter which side of the Global Warming debate you are on.
      • by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:20PM (#15145553)
        Global climate change scares me. Not for the usual reasons, but because humans are notoriously bad at "managing" the environment, and I sure hope whatever we come up with to "fix" the problem is not worse than nature's own course.

        Granted, we are generating a lot of pollution, and it would be great if we could stop without majorly fucking something else up in the process.

        But that last part there has been VERY DIFFICULT for us humans to do.

        The chinese curse is alive and well. Whenever I hear the latest global warming scaremongering, I can't help but think of it. "May you live in interesting times." Indeed!
      • Glad to see some people coming around to the fact that we aren't really certain any changes that may be occurring to the climate are human-related. There's some good evidence in favor of it, and some good evidence against it.

        But it actually is debatable whether or not change is really happening. The global averages temperatures probably really have risen 2/3 of a degree in the past 120 years. There is some uncertainty to that, largely (to the best of my knowledge) due to questions of whether systematic e
      • Oh blah (Score:3, Funny)

        by Julian Morrison (5575)
        Says the species who lives everywhere from the Arctic to the Sahara: "three degrees of warming will kill our civilization".

        And if you bought that one, I have some seafront land in Kansas going cheap...
    • Re:It's about time (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dynamo52 (890601)
      While I disagree with your comments on global warming, I also think that it is about ime environmentalists came around to nuclear energy. If managed properly, nuclear can greatly alleviate our energy problems. Waste can be stored in a safe and isolated location and modern plants have almost no chance of meltdowns.

      The environmental movement today has become a front for anti-corporate activists.
    • The logic behind using safe forms of nuclear power has been clear for a long, long time. It's nice to see some greens finally start accepting what has been obvious to some of us for 30 or 40 years.

      You can sell nuclear energy to me when you can answer the question "What do we do with 48 tons of nuclear waste generated per year per plant [sfgate.com]"? Arrogant people think nuclear power is perfectly safe. Paranoid people think nuclear power will destroy the planet. Intelligent people see plant designs that are intri

      • The only solution on the table right now is Yucca; only problem is, we're just extending the parameters of "bury a hole" and "be long gone when it becomes a problem." The stuff in Yucca mountain will be around for 100,000 years. There are serious problems with making stuff last that long, making signs that people will understand even 1,000 years from now, geological changes over just a few thousand years, etc.

        The problem is time. Radioactive material is radioactive--it decays into stable elements over tim

      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:16PM (#15145529) Homepage Journal
        That 48 tons of waste per plant per year could be greatly reduced with spent fuel reprocessing. Most other nuclear nations, including the UK and France, go this route, which is a lot more sensible than just burying everything, however due to some really boneheaded decisions made by President Carter, it's never been done recently in the United States.

        Until it was banned, we had a whole system under construction for reprocessing spent fuel that would have reduced the scope of the problem we're now faced with. However, in 1977 the research was cut off, and further development and implementation was banned; although President Reagan quietly reversed the ban, nobody has been willing to put money into it. Except of course the military, their ability to manufacture plutonium for weapons purposes was never affected, something which strikes me as endlessly ironic, given that Carter's justification for banning reprocessing was ostensibly to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

        By processing the spent fuel assemblies promptly (before they sit around and create a lot of secondary contamination) you reduce the volume of waste that has to be stored for long periods, and you also get a non-trivial amount of new fuel back (even out of reactors that aren't specifically designed to breed new fuel). Either one of those goals would make the procedure worthwhile in my opinion, pick your favorite and count the other one as a bonus. Right now we're burying tons of waste which isn't itself that radioactive or long-lived or even toxic, but because it's physically joined to stuff that is. The actual volume of long-lived high-level waste produced by a plant isn't that much, if you do the right reprocessing first.

        The plan in the United States was a process called PUREX; you can Google it for more information. The French do their reprocessing at COGMA LaHague, and the Brits do it at a commercial facility called THORP.

        More information here as well:
        http://chemcases.com/nuclear/nc-13.htm [chemcases.com]
      • by splante (187185) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:42PM (#15145680)
        Hmm, because this [nmcco.com] says:
        High energy means a small volume of used fuel Every 12-24 months, U.S. plants are shut down and the oldest fuel assemblies are removed and replaced. All of the country's nuclear power plants together produce about 2,000 metric tons of used fuel annually. To put this in perspective, all the used fuel produced to date by the U.S. nuclear energy industry in more than 40 years of operation--some 40,000 metric tons--would cover an area the size of a football field to a depth of about five yards, if the fuel assemblies were stacked side by side and laid end to end.
        And anyway, the only reason the only solution the industry has right now is because Carter banned reprocessing of the used fuel.

        If we'd just get them going, Department of Energy [anl.gov] laboratories could pretty much eliminate the problem, but anytime someone proposes doing that, who do you think blocks it? But then, if you let them create a way to eliminate the waste, you couldn't block nuclear plants by complaining there's nothing to do with the waste.

      • Breeder Reactors? (Score:5, Informative)

        by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @10:52PM (#15146483)
        "The only solution on the table right now is Yucca"

        Well, there's always the reprocessing route. If you use a breeder reactor and waste reprocessing fuel cycle, you can eliminate all of the high level, won't go away for thousands of years waste. Of course, you still have the "low level" waste, but that will go away after a few hundred years (maybe 500 or so to be safe). The great part is that they've figured out how to convert conventional PWR's and BWR's into breeders through advanced computer modeling, so there's no need for any new R&D. The only problem is that it's a lot more expensive than the once through fuel cycle. I guess you can have it clean, or you can have it cheap. Its cheaper and cleaner than coal anyway.

        Storing the high level waste isn't really as much as a problem as you think, either. 48 tons of nuclear waste may sound like a lot, but it's really only a few cubic meters. There are salt domes in new mexico that will probably be geologically stable for millions of years (look up the waste isolation pilot plant, WIPP). The only reason yucca mountain is at yucca mountain is politics, it's really a pretty bad location. At any rate, 48 tons of waste per year compares favorably to the hundreds of tones of waste generated daily by a coal plant, in my opinion.
    • It's nice to see some greens finally start accepting what has been obvious to some of us for 30 or 40 years.

      "Some greens" have always seen Nuclear power as a good idea (check my domain name). There's been a low-level dispute about whether or not the upsides of nuclear power exceed it's downsides.

      As the disasterous implications of global warming have loomed ever larger, the downsides of nuclear power have started to loose their bite.

      The 'badness' of Nuclear power has always been one of preference (or

  • by Cowclops (630818) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:03PM (#15144992)
    I've always said that nuclear is the way to go... while there are implications in the extreme long term as far as what you do with the wastes, there are no blaring short term problems like running out of coal and oil or spewing waste directly into the air.
  • He was probably right to oppose nuclear power. Certainly we have better technology today to make safer nuclear power. Again, nuclear power will never be completely safe, but neither is wind, hydro, nor coal. Conservation, both thru individual action and thru technology are probably the safest 'forms of power', but they would never be enough.
    It is time to bring nuclear power back into the discourse about our energy needs, but I'm not sure it's time to start building plants as fast as we can either...
    • He was probably right to oppose nuclear power. Certainly we have better technology today to make safer nuclear power. Again, nuclear power will never be completely safe, but neither is wind, hydro, nor coal. Conservation, both thru individual action and thru technology are probably the safest 'forms of power', but they would never be enough.

      Actually, if you RTFA'd you'd notice that he scolds himself for being against nuclear power 30 years ago and cites how the safety aspects of the US nuclear power facil

    • Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:32PM (#15145225) Journal
      Certainly we have better technology today to make safer nuclear power.

      No, we don't. The technology is pretty much the same. There haven't been any new nuclear plants in the past 20 years and they really haven't updated much of the safety systems. There still isn't a long term way of dealing with the tons of radioactive waste being produced. Don't get me wrong, I think Nuclear is the way to go, but I would really like the storage system to be fixed soon.
      • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:59PM (#15145423)
        No, we don't. The technology is pretty much the same.

        Yes we do! It hasn't seen much commercial development (none inside the US) but the Integral Fast Reactor [wikipedia.org] produces waste that only takes about 300 years to return to the original level of radioactivity as the fuel that went into the reactor.

        Storing radioactive waste for only 300 years is is many orders of mangitude more feasible than the storage of current waste for tens of thousands of years.
      • by fortinbras47 (457756) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:28PM (#15145590)
        You need to read about a pebble bed reactor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pebble_bed_reactor [wikipedia.org] or http://web.mit.edu/pebble-bed/ [mit.edu] (if you don't trust wikipedia :P) Pebble bed reactors can be designed so that it is impossible for it to meltdown.

        Qouting Wikipedia: The primary advantage of a pebble bed reactor is that it can be designed to be inherently safe. As the reactor gets hotter, the rate of neutron capture by 238U increases, reducing the number of neutrons available to cause nuclear fission.

  • by djh101010 (656795) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:04PM (#15144999) Homepage Journal
    I've been an environmentalist all my life; planted close to 10,000 trees, maintain habitat for the critters, that sort of thing. No small expense or effort. I consider myself to be more of an environmentalist than some bozo with a "save the (whatever)" pin that only gets angry about things and doesn't actually do anything to improve the situation.

    That said, I'm puzzled at the attitude the submitter apparently has, in that he seems to be describing environmentalists, and pro-nuke-power people, as two separate groups. To me, nuke is an obvious choice. If you need no other explaination, see how the anti-nuke people resort to blatant lies and unrealistic comparisons in order to get people to _feel_ that it's bad. The pro-nuke side goes with science so people _think_ about, and _understand_ the issues.

    My point, I guess, is that this isn't surprising or new, some guy who left Greenpeace when it diverted from his POV is just saying what so many other environmentalists have known for decades. I'm not sure this is news, other than that whoever this guy is, is saying it.
    • I'm not sure this is news, other than that whoever this guy is, is saying it.

      The real news, if you RTFA, is that his former green bretheren still treat him like a pariah for... being rational.
    • by bnenning (58349) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:19PM (#15145118)
      To me, nuke is an obvious choice.

      That's because you're a rational environmentalist who wants to actually protect the environment, as opposed to the utopians who want to Change the World.
    • So you have no issues with Iran building new reactors? I'm personally quite puzzled to hear in the news that Australia is looking to sell Uranium to India and China, and practically in the same breath decrying Iran's extension of their nuclear fuel processing plant.

      Similarly people point out that U235 is not up to our predicted unmodified energy use (estimates of less than 70 years are commonly touted), to which nuclear advocates then suggest fast breeders - which produce easily purified plutonium, easily
      • If I had a dollar for every time I heard this in the Australian political blogosphere, I'd be a rich man. Australia selling uranium to China (sales to India have not yet been approved) doesn't pose any additional proliferation risk [benambra.org], and, by discouraging reprocessing, may actually help reduce wider proliferation risks [armscontrolwonk.com].

        As for passive solar, I'm all in favour, but there are several issues:

        • it's not enough
        • There's an enormous existing housing stock that will take many decades to rebuild.
        • Passive solar makes
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:04PM (#15145001)
    Excellent...
  • by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@NOSPAM.gmail.com> on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:04PM (#15145004)
    This isn't a new thing, as the article (summary) implies. Moore has had this stance for a while now. Here's a 2004 Wired article [wired.com] on this "Eco-Traitor."
  • Shill! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rjung2k (576317) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:06PM (#15145020) Homepage
    I'd be more impressed if Moore would admit that he's now serving as a consultant for the mining, logging, and energy industries. [greenspiri...tegies.com]

    Hell, I'd settle for the Washington Post admitting that they're trying to pull one over its readership. [dailykos.com]
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:06PM (#15145021) Homepage Journal
    I seem to recall that something similar to this was brought up a few months ago here at Slashdot and several seemingly very intelligent posters made citations and pointed out that the amount of uranium we have available that can be processed will last for only a very limited timespan and that nuclear perhaps isn't the best way to go.

    Of course, there's always the "we'll run out of oil by 1995" theories running around, but the arguments seemed quite compelling. I can't find them again now, but what's the real deal with this? If the whole world went nuclear, would we all be desperate for sources of uranium in fifty years' time?
    • by DirePickle (796986) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:29PM (#15145206)
      I don't have the figures or a link on me at the moment, but a little googling should lead the way. I had heard the same thing a number of times, and believed it. But I found some info (on wikipedia, maybe. Not that that should be a sole source) that said that although the amount of cheap and easy nuclear fuel could be expended in fifty years, it's possible to use breeder reactors and the more plentiful Uranium-238 and such to give us sufficient nuclear fuel for another few thousand years.

      Went ahead and hunted for the link:

      Wikipedia: Nuclear Power [wikipedia.org]

      I am not a nuclear physicist, so it could be full of crap, but wiki's science info is generally pretty sound.

    • I never saw this, but I have seen a lot of variation in the "number of years nuclear energy will power us for" figures. I think there are a few different things that get done to the statistics depending on which outcome you want to show.

      Probably the biggest is whether you just take today's energy consumption figures and use them for the future, or whether you project the rate of increase of energy into the future, in order to get your numbers. Obviously a source of energy that could power us for 100 years i
    • by srw (38421) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:21PM (#15145877) Homepage
      Disclaimer: I own stock in the world's largest uranium mining company.

      It has been stated that the world will run out of uranium in 50 years, or variations thereof. The problem with this statement is you have to ignore a lot of facts to come up with it. This statement assumes that the uranium deposits currently being mined are all that there is. The fact is, we're currently sitting on at least 50 years worth, and there is no real reason to start mining new deposits at this time. As these deposits get depleted, and as (if) the market price of uranium rises, more exploration will be done, and more deposits will be mined. If the price rises high enough, it becomes feasable to "mine" the uranium dissolved in the oceans. If it rises even higher, it becomes feasable to produce it in breeder reactors. In short, the world is _not_ running out of uranium. Second, the "50 year" statement assumes that we will not improve our reactor technology. In north america, we're still running 30+ year old reactors that only remove 5% of the available energy in the uranium. The "waste" that comes out of these reactors can be processed and put through again, or can be used in newer designs to extract more energy from the same uranium. So, ignoring the idea of finding new reserves to mine, if we improve our efficiency to even 50%, we'll now have 500 years worth. (of course, now _I'm_ ignoring the inevitable fact that we will consume more than our current rate over the next 500 years.)

  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:10PM (#15145054)
    It's always funny to hear the greenies make fun of the all-too-Texan quirk of mispronouncing "new-cue-ler" while they make the actually meaningful error of not understanding the actual issues at hand. Too bad this guy's old buddies have so rabidly excommunicated him, but they're just as blind in their faith and their Nukes = Evil mantra as they would suggest that an oil-burning, SUV-driving Texan is in his own world view. Critical thinking, people! (both of you!)
  • The sad part? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Badgerman (19207) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:12PM (#15145062)
    The sad thing is it's now news when someone rationally thinks over their position and changes their mind based on reasoning and evidence.
  • Good news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drgonzo59 (747139) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:14PM (#15145078)
    It seems like the French already figured it out years before. And now are making money selling the electricity from their many nuclear power plants to others (read "Germany" where the Green Peace hippies managed to stop the building of nuclear power plants years ago). Whas is really that hard to predict that nuclear power can be made safe and will be a better option than becoming addicted to overseas oil? Sure Chernobyl happened (I was pretty close to it too) but they should have just looked at it that and said "let's see what they did wrong and fix and move on". Oh, no, they all freaked out: "OMG! Teh nucular power is teh evil -- must burn more oil and coal!".
    • Re:Good news (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lazy Jones (8403)
      And now are making money selling the electricity from their many nuclear power plants to others (read "Germany" where the Green Peace hippies managed to stop the building of nuclear power plants years ago).

      Germany has been exporting electricity since 2003 (i.e. more exports than imports) according to this official report [www.bmu.de]. In fact, in 2003, France had to import power from Germany because of the hot summer. Europe already has a larger production capacity than its projected needs and France will have to look

  • by klingens (147173) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:20PM (#15145129)
    a) Is there any commercial insurance company which will insure a nuclear reactor? Here in Germany all reactors must be insured against meltdown, etc. Since no insurance company will write a police for a reactor, the government steps in and "insures" it. All of our reactors here are insured that way.

    b) Is there a place in any western democracy (russia and china probably have less problems in that area) for finally depositing the resulting nuclear waste? A proper finaly resting place for the stuff?
  • pebble bed reactors make all the difference [wikipedia.org]

    because they are super safe. they don't melt down. no china syndrome, no 3 mile island, no chernobyl, no silkwood. the fuel is packed in glass pebbles. meltdown is not possible by accidental means

    explain this to people and their old understanding of nuclear's dangers, based on 1970s era thinking fade away. which is also about the time that nuclear itself faded away, because of the dangers. but in a world of oil-funded islamic extremism and oil-fueled global warming, super-safe pebble bed nuclear energy looks mighty attractive. now all we need to do is wait for popular wisdom and political will to catch up

    and with breeder reactors, we can reprocess the nuclear waste from the bygone era of old-style reactors and do away with all of that left-over pollution. imagine that: run new reactors off of a previous generation's waste. old-style reactors only use 10% of available fuel, the rest sits unused and radiocative for tens of thousands of years. with reprocessing, 95% of the fuel can be used, and left over are isotopes with radioactive half lives measured in a century or two, not tens of thousands of years

    and don't let anyone tell you there would be a fuel shortage with the nuclear option like with oil. there is no peak uranium like there is peak oil. mainly because we can run nuclear power off of thorium as well as uranium. go look up the numbers on thorium reserves. we'd be fine for centuries. and the reserves are in more geopolitically friendly places

    the problem is still psychological for people though. nuclear IS scary. it's the same thing as flying: it's safer than driving, but people prefer to drive than fly, and feel safer driving than flying. even though the reverse is true. why? the illusion of familiarity and control. people stick with what they are comfortable with, even if what they are comfortable with sucks in comparison

    for the longest time i've tried to convince my gf to have laser eye treatment for her myopia. it's the best thing i ever did. but she is scared of the procedure. i tell her that she has more chance of getting an infection that will make her blind via contacts than via a laser screw up. but she wouldn't have any of it

    and just this month, they found a connection between bausch and lomb's renu [google.com], which she uses, and a sudden surge in cases of an eye fungus that blinds people. sure enough, on her very own, she made inquiries as to laser eye treatment last week

    so even though nuclear is safer in this world than oil due to hurricane katrina-making global warming and oil-funded 9/11 terrorism, people are more scared of nuclear than oil. they are familiar with oil, and there is an inertia about their reluctance to embrace nuclear

    so we're stuck in the inertia now, and we suffer for the inertia of the general public and the politicians. all of the nimby's who wouldn't let these things be built would apparently prefer to ship their children to falluja to protect oil than build a completely safe pebble bed reactor. meanwhile, china is investing heavily in this technology. so while the usa wears itself down fighting islamonazi wackjobs sitting on top of their precious oil, places like china will enjoy air pollution free totally safe pebble bed reactor power

    some morons don't understand the science, but know how to yell loudly and chain themselves to train tracks to prevent uranium shipments

    and we all suffer for that
  • Instead of just asking "what can we do to pollute less to produce energy", we should ask "what can we do to WASTE less energy?"

    I mean, we can have the most efficient power plants in the world and generate only 10% CO2, but if we keep using incandescent lightbulbs, CRT televisions and XTRA-HOT CPU's, i doubt it'll help.

    Instead I'd welcome more investment in solar cells, ultra-efficient lighting and low-heat CPU's.
  • Change of view (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gfilion (80497) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:49PM (#15145351) Homepage

    It's interesting/funny to read Patrick Moore describing his former colleague in environmental groups:

    [...] They rejected consensus politics and sustainable development in favor of continued confrontation and ever-increasing extremism. They ushered in an era of zero tolerance and left-wing politics. Some of the features of this environmental extremism are:

    Environmental extremists are anti-human. Humans are characterized as a cancer on the Earth. To quote eco-extremist Herb Hammond, "of all the components of the ecosystem, humans are the only ones we know to be completely optional". Isn't that a lovely thought?

    They are anti-science and technology. All large machines are seen as inherently destructive and unnatural. Science is invoked to justify positions that have nothing to do with science. Unfounded opinion is accepted over demonstrated fact.

    They are anti-business. All large corporations are depicted as inherently driven by greed and corruption. Profits are definitely not politically correct. The liberal democratic, market-based model is rejected even though no viable alternative is proposed to provide for the material needs of 6 billion people. As expressed by the Native Forest Network, "it is necessary to adopt a global phase out strategy of consumer based industrial capitalism."

    I think they mean civilization.

    And they are just plain anti-civilization. In the final analysis, eco- extremists project a naive vision of returning to the supposedly utopian existence in the garden of Eden, conveniently forgetting that in the old days people lived to an average age of 35, and there were no dentists. In their Brave New World there will be no more chemicals, no more airplanes, and certainly no more polyester suits.

    Ref: Patrick Moore's Nuclear Statement to the US Congressional Committee [greenspirit.com]

  • BS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by danimrich (584138) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:49PM (#15145355) Homepage Journal
    I call bullshit on this one. He clearly has the facts wrong.

    The article states that the Chernobyl disaster killed just a few firemen who were fighting the fire. In fact many tens of thousands of people already died or will die of some form of cancer as a consequence of the disaster. For the religious among you: it is estimated that there have been 100000 and 200000 abortions because of Chernobyl.

    I read the article because I thought it might offer some sensible views on the topic, but in reality it is just a bad piece of lobbying. I wonder why the editors let this slip into the paper.
    • Re:BS (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mr. Flibble (12943)
      According to Wikipedia:

      Ukraine, put the total predicted number of deaths due to the accident at 4,000 (of which 2,200 deaths are expected to be in the ranks of 200 000 "liquidators") . This predicted death toll includes the 47 workers who died of acute radiation syndrome as a direct result of radiation from the disaster, nine children who died from thyroid cancer and an estimated 3,940 people who could die from cancer as a result of exposure to radiation.

      Perhaps he is talking about direct result here?
    • Re:BS (Score:5, Informative)

      by NearlyHeadless (110901) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:32PM (#15145608)
      In fact many tens of thousands of people already died or will die of some form of cancer as a consequence of the disaster.
      Sorry but the best estimate of the scientists [bbc.co.uk] is that a total of 4000 deaths will be caused by Chernobyl, not "tens of thousands".

      By contrast the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards were estimated to have cost 1,300 to 2,600 lives in the United States just during 1993 according to a National Academy of Sciences [nap.edu] study.

  • Economics matters! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fortinbras47 (457756) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:17PM (#15145535)
    I think a huge problem for the environmental movement has been that it has ignored economics, ignored costs, and been too quick to ask for heavy handed governt intervention. Sound economics and "conservative" (in American politics sense of the word) policies can be quite beneficial to the environment, such as allowing nuclear power plants. Just for kicks, I'll list a few examples:

    Problem: Too much sulfur dioxide is getting into the atmosphere.
    Leftist environmentalist solution: Require installation of scrubbers on powerplants when they are upgraded.
    What happens?: Powerplants don't upgrade their powerplants. Those that do upgrade then burn cheaper&dirtier coal leaving net pollution even worse.

    Conservative environmentalist solution: Implement pollution trading credits.
    What happens?: Pollution reduced in the most cost effective way.

    Problem: Power production is heavilly dependent on on fossil fuels... long term issue of global warming.
    Leftist environmentalist solution: Subsidize wind, solar, geothermal. Campaign against nuclear, hydropower dams, etc...
    What happens?: Power prices go up because wind, solar, and geothermal is massively expensive. Also, these alternative energy sources can't produce enough electricity and today we are more reliant on coal than we have been before.

    Conservative environmentalist solution: Implement a modest carbon tax and let the market sort the problem out.
    What happens?: Unclear because it hasn't been tried! Theory would predict a slow shift towards nuclear, and low carbon emitting technologies.

    Problem: A number of species in the United States are close to extinction.
    Leftist environmentalist solution: Ban all construction/anything ANYWHERE these species are found.
    What happens?: Developers/landowners have huge incentives to follow a policy of "Shoot, Shovel, and Shut-Up" If the federal government finds that a *insertspeciesnamehere* is living on your land, then your land will become worthless. Therefore, if you see a *insertspeciesnamehere* you shoot it, bury it, and don't tell anyone about it. (Don't think this doesn't happen.)

    Conservative environmentalist solution:
    Pay landowners some fee if *insertspeciesnamehere* is living on their land. They will then have an incentive not to kill it. Also, the government can try to buy the land from the landowner if it is critical habitat for the animal.
    What happens?: Species are protected and society as a WHOLE (not just a few unlucky landowners) is paying the cost of protecting the endagered species. This is a more effective and fair solution.

  • by Britz (170620) on Monday April 17, 2006 @10:07PM (#15146296) Homepage
    Unfortunately nuclear energy might be the only viable short term solution. There is no way China, Europe or the US will cut their energy consumption to reasonable levels (reasonable as in all the world's population could use the same lever per capita and the world would not melt or blow to pieces like Melmac when they all turned on their hair dryers at the same time). Sustainable energy sources like wind and water energy can't cover the demand. And coal and oil just add too much CO2 to the atmosphere. So we are left with no choice (until we get fusion, cold or hot) but fission.

    But please don't get all excited about it. There seem to be accidents in Japanese plants on a regular basis. Pebble reactors are fine, until you count in terrorism. Uranium is also a limited resource. We produce waste. And even if we refurbish the waste (and take care of the last two points) it still produces waste and it will still run out at some point.

    There are new studies coming out every month that either radiation from power plants does or does not make a difference in cancer rates. Until we have that figured out we are still in doubt about that one. So I count that as not being very excited about the prospect of nuclear energy.

    But you guys are right about one thing. People need to realize that nuclear energy IS the least worse choice out there now. I come from Germany and it is not possible to build power plants here for political reasons. Nobody will! This is rediculous.

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