Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Environmentalists Coming Around to Nuclear Power?

Comments Filter:
  • It took 30 years... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by C-Diddy (755183) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:03PM (#15144994)
    ...for this "progressive" voice to come around to nuclear power. Heck, if it's good enough for socialist France, why not here in the US?
  • Amazing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gUUU ... inus threevowels> on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:07PM (#15145023) Homepage Journal
    Wow. I mean... just... wow. I knew that the anti-nuclear movement had long been losing steam, but to get a Greenpeace founder on board? Wow.

    Perhaps even more amazing is that he really does understand the pros and cons. His article spells out in plain language that Nuclear power is not dangerous, and that the chance for nuclear weapons is a small risk to take to reduce the amount of pollution coming from coal plants. To read this, you'd think he was a regular on NuclearSpace.com!

    Some excellent sound-bites: ... Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power ... ... What nobody noticed [...] was that Three Mile Island was in fact a success story: The concrete containment structure did [...] prevent radiation from escaping into the environment ...

    ... Wind and solar power have their place, but because they are intermittent and unpredictable they simply can't replace big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric ...

    ... Within 40 years, used fuel has less than one-thousandth of the radioactivity it had when it was removed from the reactor. And it is incorrect to call it waste, because 95 percent of the potential energy is still contained in the used fuel after the first cycle. ...

    (The emphasis is mine. This is the first time I've ever heard a hard-core environmentalist promote nuclear recycling. It's just incredible!)

    ... And even if a jumbo jet did crash into a reactor and breach the containment, the reactor would not explode. There are many types of facilities that are far more vulnerable, including liquid natural gas plants, chemical plants and numerous political targets. ...

    ... If we banned everything that can be used to kill people, we would never have harnessed fire. The only practical approach to the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation is [...] to use diplomacy and, where necessary, force ...

    Everything he says in his article is basically true. I never thought I'd find myself in 100% agreement with Greenpeace, but at this very moment I can't disagree with anything he's said. Kudos to you, Mr. Moore!
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:09PM (#15145046) Homepage Journal
    after all nuclear power has come a ways in the last 30 years.

    Is it our savior now? Yep it is. I know that there are people who seem to feel that we should use less power, kumbaya, blah blah,.. but realistically that is NEVER going to happen. We are junkies for the stuff.

    Question is how are we going to continue making the energy we need to keep our habit up.

    Nuclear is it.

    Why now? Because we have reached a point where even if we don't know what to do with the waste, we're going to have to switch to it anyway and hope that we find a solution in the future. We are fast approaching the point of no return regarding global warming (opinions of G.O.P. lackies not withstanding) so if we're going to keep up this consumption then that's our only choice.

    Yeh I Know what some of you are thinking, hydrogen! Don't forget that using current technology it takes a tremendous amount of power to make hydrogen. And how are we going to do that? Solar and wind? Getting there, but not there yet.

    So is deferring the issue of dealing with waste going to be THAT bad? Well it's a moot point, we have no choice.
  • 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.
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:14PM (#15145077) Homepage
    Doesn't really share the views? That's putting it mildly.
    When I helped to create Greenpeace from a church basement in Vancouver in 1971 I had no idea that I would spend the next 15 years as an international director and leader of many Greenpeace campaigns. I also had no idea that after I left in 1986 they would evolve into a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics to silence people who wish to express their views in a civilized forum. And I could never have guessed that my former colleague and then teen-age founder of Greenpeace France, Remi Parmentier, would be the one issuing the orders to silence me.
    http://www.greenspirit.com/printable.cfm?msid=26 [greenspirit.com]
  • by Zerbs (898056) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:15PM (#15145085)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the uranium ore radioactive to begin with when it's dug out of the ground? The difference is it has been concentrated for use as nuclear fuel in the reactor. Why can't they find a way to re-dilute the end products?
  • Re:Posts? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:16PM (#15145100)
    It doesn't solve the small-scale atonimous energy factory (car) problems...

    Actually nuclear in conjunction with hydrogen power does just that. Hydrogen is only as dirty as the means used to produce it. So use nuclear to extract hydrogen for hydrogen fueled cars and we get a fairly significant reduction in pollution.

    That said for now hydrogen is still too early to deal with (I am a realist), but a switch to nuclear, espicaly with the very safe Pebble Bed reactor design, certainly would be a great start.

  • by Kohath (38547) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:16PM (#15145101)
    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.

    Yeah, shorter winters and longer growing seasons. I'm out of my mind with panic already.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:19PM (#15145123)
    Was this article written by the nuke PR folks?

    Nope. But you're clearly the exact sort of person he's talking about - who can't see the fundamental difference between the Chernobyl and TMI events.
  • He's a lobbyist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 2short (466733) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:36PM (#15145261)
    Patrick Moore is not a modern environmentalist, he is a paid lobbyist for the energy industry.

    He consistently presents himself as a "founder of Green Peace"; while he may have been an early member, "founder" is, as far as I can tell, a stretch. It is rather disingenous of him to keep mentioning his now quite distant association with the enviromental movement, without ever mentioning who's paying his salary today.

    Mind you, he's welcome to express whatever views he has, and I don't even necessarily disagree about nuclear power. But the news outlets that continue to identify him as "Patric Moore, founder of Greenpeace" instead of "Patrick Moore, Exxon-Mobil shill" need a lesson in journalism.

    Greenpeace got too political, so he left to become a lobbyist? Right. He found out what side of the debate paid better.
  • hello... logic? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wall0159 (881759) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:38PM (#15145272)
    With all due respect, just because _one_ self-proclaimed environmentalist, ex-anti-nuclear 'activist' now says he was wrong, and nuclear is good, this doesn't suddenly count as a huge weight of evidence against every person who's ever spoken against nuclear.

    Some people are quick to forget that it's possible to weigh the benefits of nuclear objectively, and conclude that it is NOT THE BEST OPTION. Sure - there will be opinions that differ, but that doesn't make anyone who is against nuclear power a tree-hugging hippy!

    Personally, I think it's curious that humans think we need a SINGLE source of energy. why can't we make as much use of efficiency/wind/solar/hydro as is reasonable/practical/possible and then 'top-up' with nuclear on an as-needs basis? To my mind, that would be a much better solution than just replacing every fossil-fuel power plant with a nuclear substitute.
  • 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.
  • Re:It's about time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by good soldier svejk (571730) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:42PM (#15145298)
    Driessen is a paid oil industry lobbyist who professionally promotes junk science through industry funded think tanks [motherjones.com]

    "Driessen has also written about the role that think tanks can play in helping corporations achieve their objectives. Such outlets "can provide research, present credible independent voices on a host of issues, indirectly influence opinion and political leaders, and promote responsible social and economic agendas," he advised companies in a 2001 essay published in Capital PR News. "They have extensive networks among scholars, academics, scientists, journalists, community leaders and politicians.... You will be amazed at how much they do with so little."
  • by Dram (149119) <grant@henninger.name> on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:44PM (#15145308) Homepage
    World Changing [worldchanging.com] had a post last week explaining why nuclear power is not a great solution to fossil fuels [worldchanging.com]. There are three main reasons why they say nuclear is not the answer: 1) They bring up the issue of safety, not only for the reactors but of storing the radioactive waste. 2) Mining the ore needed is a very high impact activity, so the environmental impact might not be any less, although it would likely be concentrated in a few locations. 3) The money to develop and build new nuclear reactors could be more efficiently spent on greener technologies.

    When it comes to climate change, nuclear is probably a better option. But in no way is nuclear a green technology, it just alleviates the most pressing issue facing fossil fuel use. What we need to do is develop truly green and renewable energy sources, which doesn't include nuclear.
  • by gumnam (815935) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:47PM (#15145333) Homepage

    Quote *Global warming and climate change are real and undenyable. *

    Is there undeniable evidence of global warming. Is there undeniable evidence that human race if the primary reason for this phenomena (if it exists!) Is there is undeniable proof that steps being taken to reduce greenhouse gases will actually reduce greenhouse gases and will reverse global warming ?

    If we lack the tools and understanding to predict weather no more than 10 days in advance for small regions, how can we even begin to understand the global level variables that affect climate over several years ?

    I believe we all need to periodically re-evaluate our opinions and beliefs and also reconsider the assumptions on which those opinions and beliefs are based and not just get fixated with certain ideas.

    Nothing is undeniable, nothing is certain. What you think true today can be positively wrong tomorrow. Earth is not flat, earth is not the center of the universe.

  • 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]

  • by partofthething (816738) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:49PM (#15145353) Homepage
    While it is true that at the supply of cheap fissile Uranium-235 (the fuel for conventional nuclear reactors) could possibly run out within 50-100 years, options such as fast breeder reactors and thorium-based fuel cycles have the capability to continue fueling conventional reactors for hundreds of years. The advanced reactors can run on abundant resources while producing excess fissile material. They actually produce more fuel than they burn. They also can process spent fuel (nuclear waste), converting most of it into usable fuel and the rest of it to a form that will only be of concern for 500 years as opposed to 100s of thousands. The advanced reactors could produce enough electricity using only the accumulated nuclear waste in the USA to power the whole country for at least 200 years. That's something worth looking into.

    Believe it or not, but George Bush has already proposed and funded the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which utilizes advanced reactors to ensure a supply of nuclear fuel well into the future. Development of the advanced reactors has been underway since the 60s but now it is really picking up again. In my Nuclear Engineering department at The University of Michigan, for one, there are a group of professors and graduate students devoting lots of time to designing fuel cycles and looking at safety concerns of sodium-cooled fast-reactors, one particular option for the advanced reactors.

    The advanced concepts will not be ready to be deployed for at least 15 years at best. So keep up the good words for nuclear power and we'll have an environmentally safe energy source. For more information on what the nuclear community is looking into, check out the generation 4 roadmap at: http://gif.inel.gov/roadmap/ [inel.gov]
  • 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:It's about time (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the argonaut (676260) on Monday April 17, 2006 @06:58PM (#15145418) Homepage Journal
    Does he also lay out how multi-national corporations and their government cronies are poisoning the environment in third world countries, exploiting their labor and natural resources, and keeping their living standards low with their misguided policies? Oh wait, he probably wouldn't mention that, seeing as how he's a tool for people like this [cdfe.org]. I'm sorry your mind was so malleable that it could be changed by the rantings of this Randian nut job.
  • 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 afidel (530433) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:12PM (#15145509)
    It's called a minivan, it can haul more people, has more cargo room, and on average gets about 50% better fuel economy. Hell I wish Ford hadn't changed the Windstar, with the older model's you can haul 4'x8' sheets of sheet rock and plywood, try that with most SUV's! There is very little justification for a solid framed enclosed truck, for the people who need them I am fine with it, for the other 95 percent I resent their terrorist loving butts.
  • 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!
  • by fish_in_the_c (577259) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:25PM (#15145576)
    well, the cause of global warming is in some ways very much at
    issue. Because if we are warming as part of the natural cycle of glaciation then:
    a) there is nothing we can do about it
    b) it is unlikely to end the spiecies.

    On the the other hand if we are the cause:
    a) we can definatly do something about it.
    b) it is possible (although extreemly unlikely) we are causing natural changes to happen far too rapidly and we are doing enough enviormental damage(also unlikely) do to speed of change that we jepordize the food supply of higher mamals including humans.

  • mod article troll (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sentientbrendan (316150) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:28PM (#15145591)
    As many have pointed out, while Moore may once have been with greenpeace, he is no longer any sort of environmentalist. Currently he's working for the timber lobby among others and using his former title as founder of greenpeace to dupe people into thinking that he represents the environmentalist movement. A quick search for "Patrick Moore timber" on google will give you the real story.

    That said, I personally agree that nuclear power is the best option in most places in the world. It is certainly *not* the perfect option, but the technology has slowly but steadily improved over time, whereas the alternative, fossil fuels, have become more expensive and not a whole lot cleaner.

    Solar power has also improved greatly in efficiency over the years, but solar power is only viable in certain places. The same could be said of wind, geo thermal, and hydro power. They are great options where available... but nuclear power represents the only general purpose replacement for hydrocarbons.

    My state, Washington, is run almost entirely on hydro power, which provides us with cheap and reliable power. However, even with the large number of damable rivers, there's still excess need for power, which is split pretty evenly between coal and nuclear power. The thing is, that while nuclear is more environmentally friendly, and doesn't rise in cost with increasing fossil fuel prices, it still comes with its own problems. Additionally, cleaning up the hanford nuclear site has been a nightmare, especially for the people downwind... and the federal government has been remarkably slow to clean up the mess they made. This has done a lot to sour public perception of nuclear technology.

    If you are interested in nuclear power, hanford is important to consider. The site was of course used for developing weapons (enriching uranium specifically I believe...), but there's a lot to be learned from the cleanup effort... specifically, that it goes very slowly, and that the federal government pinches every dime they can in the effort. I think that the estimated end of the cleanup is sometime in 2030, not counting further delays... Considering that other messes are likely to happen with widespread enough nuclear power, no matter how careful we are, the slowness of federal cleanup efforts could really become a problem.
  • by Rei (128717) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:32PM (#15145611) Homepage
    Nice job of truncating the last paragraph without mentioning it:

    "Apparently, the peer review and editing process involved in scientific publication was sufficient to provide a sober view. This episode shows the scientific press in a very good light; and a clear contrast to the lack of any such process in the popular press, then and now."

    The article previously described those concerns: that, *excluding* anthropogenic alterations, which they *specifically stated that they could not model well at the time* (quite the contrast to the present, where the papers state that we *can* model quite accurately**), there would be another ice age in *tens of thousands of years*.

    How did you read the article and miss all of that?

    ** - If you want to get into a debate over present day climate modelling, go ahead and light the match. After watching a long presentation by the director of NCAR (Tim Killeen) and speaking with him at length afterwards, I'd be more than happy to discuss this with you. We can start with the fact that present day computing per dollar buys you about one million times as much computing power, progress into the fact that the amount of funding available for that computing has skyrocketted (their advancing computing needs easily beat Moore's law), and continue into the details of the climate models (datapoints every county or two, collecting data down to how dust lifted off the Sahara affects algal blooms) and the verification of the models.
  • by moultano (714440) on Monday April 17, 2006 @07:49PM (#15145728)
    Why is an owl more important than a logger's family?
    It is most likely very easy for the logger to find other work.
    Why is old-growth forest more important than a parking lot? ... Redwood forest? That shit would look really good as a new deck.
    Old growth forests are beautiful. They have the capacity to inspire. They smell like you wouldn't believe. There are other places much less valuable to society to build your parking lot, or to get the wood for your deck. Would you knock down St. Peter's to build a parking lot?
    Why are we worried about dolphins?
    A lot of people spend money to go on boat tours for the chance of seeing dolphins in the wild. This happens just about everywhere in the pacific that cruise ships stop. That should give you some indication that they valuable to society in general.
    Poverty in Africa? Fuck them! We have poverty in America.
    Apparantly you've never heard of diminishing returns. An investment in Africa could fulfill basic needs for an order of magnitude more people than the same investment in America. Some of us don't subscribe to the belief that American lives are worth more than others.
    Cows? Good for boots and steaks; and milk's ok too.
    I eat cow too, and go hiking in boots made of cow.

    In the rest of your points you seem to want to destroy things without getting anything useful out of them, so I'm going to assume you aren't trying to go anywhere with those.
  • by hackstraw (262471) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:05PM (#15145816)
    And droughts. And more powerful storms. And the melting of the glaciers on Greenland and Antarctica, and the resulting 10' rise in oceans heights. And the disruption of the jet stream to northern Europe. And the ensuing famines. And the flooding of coastal areas.

    Face it. Most people in the US are bored. They on average spend 4 hours a day in front of the tv, 8 hours working, 8 hours sleeping, and 4 hours unexplained.

    From what I hear, New Orleans is a blessing since the hurricane. Crime is almost non-existant, and people are focused on rebuilding the city, working, and being nice to each other.

    Maybe a shifting environment and real estate changes will be good for us.

  • by rickst29 (553930) on Monday April 17, 2006 @08:18PM (#15145865)
    Here's a delicious quote... not too long, I think, to show in full. From the 2006 edge.org question, "what is your dangerous idea", answer from Jeremy Bernstein:

    "The most dangerous idea I have come across recently is the idea that we understand plutonium. Plutonium is the most complex element in the periodic table. It has six different crystal phases between room temperature and its melting point. It can catch fire spontaneously in the presence of water vapor and if you inhale minuscule amounts you will die of lung cancer. It is the principle element in the "pits" that are the explosive cores of nuclear weapons. In these pits it is alloyed with gallium. No one knows why this works and no one can be sure how stable this alloy is. These pits, in the thousands, are now decades old. What is dangerous is the idea that they have retained their integrity and can be safely stored into the indefinite future."

    No nuclear power station has ever been fully decommissioned successfully. All of human civilization has a history of about 5000 years, and yet we imagine that we can successfully manage this incredibly deadly poison for thousands of years into the future. And, on the basis of barely 60 years, some so-called experts express "confidence" that there won't be enormous disasters, both accidental and intentional, in the future.

    Instead of huge taxpayer subsidies to make more Nukes, and continuing to never really clean them up afterwards, why not spend some research and pricing support $$$ to get solar panels as a standard roofing material on people's houses? (Or, at least stop building and re-roofing houses with black asphalt shingles in hot geographical regions.... an incredibly wasteful practice.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 17, 2006 @10:03PM (#15146285)
    That's just the high-level waste -- the worst part of the problem, for certain, but there's plenty of other waste that isn't as potent, takes up much more space, and that is still a challenge to store.

    I'm not all that impressed by the analogy. If that much high-level nuclear waste were densely packed together on a football field, alot of it (the more recent stuff) it would be dang hot (temperature-wise & radiation). The analogy excludes all the heavy shielding that has to go around it to make it possible to handle, and it ignores the requirement to keep it cool. In reality, it takes alot more space to place it anywhere or to transport it to that site. You would need a large mine to store all this stuff, and it would be an ever-growing problem. You'd need at least as much secure space for the next 40 years of operation, and the next after that, and so on, assuming no expansion (and I wonder what fraction was generated by the last 20 years versus the first 20 - it is interesting that 40000 tonnes / 2000 tonnes per year is only 20 years).

    Can you recommend a site in the U.S. for the reprocessing plant, assuming the legislative obstacles were removed? And, while you're at it, a transportation route to and from it for those 40000 tonnes -- preferably one along the way that everyone would be happy with? In fairness, final storage has the same challenge, but at least you can tell people it won't be coming back.

    Keep in mind that while it recovers unused fuel and reduces waste volume, reprocessing generates a fair amount of useless waste itself, which still has to be transported and stored somewhere, and it is usually *alot* hotter than the original, unused fuel bundles were that went into the reactors.

    Yes, reprocessing is a solution, but it has its own challenges that make one wonder if generating more new waste is really a good idea.
  • 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.
  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @12:04AM (#15146735)
    At least offset. I read a huge study looking at SUV safety. I think the risk was about the same, SUV vs. midsize car before taking into account the SUV's penchant to roll. In a head on (or nearly head on) collision the SUV driver and passengers had about the same risk as someone in a car hitting a car. The car in the car vs. SUV situation naturally had something like an 80% greater chance of fatal injuries. When you count in rolling SUVs are particularly dangerous for children. I guess children tend to get hurt much worse in rollovers.

    So it's not a zero sum game. SUVs are a negative in crashes.
  • by FinMacCool (969097) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @12:51AM (#15146851)

    Solar, wind, hydroelectric, tide power, and other technologies _can_ take the place of nuclear and coal power.

    I see the future as one without nuclear waste and with decentralized power coming from safe and clean sources. Just because our houses today have high energy demands it does not mean that is how it has to be.

    What is wrong with more efficient heating and cooling combined with renewable sources for the future? To hear a bunch of techies debating nuclear technology as the energy source of the future is a little dissapointing.

    The author of the Washington Post article is also a spokesman for- drumroll please....the timber industry, the plastics industry, the Three Gorges dam, genetically modified foods [this guys karma is shot so why not shill for the nuclear industry while he is at it?!].

    "In an email, former Greenpeace director Paul Watson charges, "You're a corporate whore, Pat, an eco-Judas, a lowlife bottom-sucking parasite who has grown rich from sacrificing environmentalist principles for plain old money." http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.03/moore.htm l [wired.com]

    Ouch!

  • by skam240 (789197) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @07:25AM (#15147654)
    Humans are bad at managing the environment? I would argue to the contrary. The massive systems of dykes, canals, and dams that have been engineered for the last several thousand years are a testament to humanities ability to successfully manipulate its environment to its own benefit.

    Also, please explain why we should not attempt to halt or reduce air pollution (as you seem to be suggesting) because we're worried about causing other problems that may or may not exist. With that logic I wouldn't leave the house for fear of creating potential problems for others or myself since me leaving the house could fuck things up on both fronts.
  • by radio4fan (304271) on Tuesday April 18, 2006 @09:38AM (#15148329)
    and the Brits do it at a commercial facility called THORP

    Unfortunately, THORP is currently closed due to a large leak [guardian.co.uk] of radioactive material. It's now planned to be decommissioned (at the taxpayer's expense).

    In any case, the financial and environmental benefits were massively overstated [corecumbria.co.uk], and -- like the rest of the UK nuclear power industry -- has turned out to be a huge white elephant.

    I'm in favour of nuclear power in principle, but in practice it has cost the UK taxpayer untold billions for little benefit.

    We should have just burnt the money and used that to generate the steam!

  • Re:BS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday April 19, 2006 @08:24AM (#15156053) Journal
    From the same report, emphasis added:
    Approximately 1,000 on-site reactor staff and emergency workers were heavily exposed to high-level radiation on the first day of the accident; among the more than 200,000 emergency and recovery operation workers exposed during the period from 1986-1987, an estimated 2,200 radiation-caused deaths can be expected during their lifetime.

    An estimated five million people currently live in areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine that are contaminated with radionuclides due to the accident; about 100,000 of them live in areas classified in the past by government authorities as areas of "strict control". The existing "zoning" definitions need to be revisited and relaxed in light of the new findings.

    About 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents at the time of the accident, have resulted from the accident's contamination and at least nine children died of thyroid cancer; however the survival rate among such cancer victims, judging from experience in Belarus, has been almost 99%.

    Poverty, "lifestyle" diseases now rampant in the former Soviet Union and mental health problems pose a far greater threat to local communities than does radiation exposure.


    In other words, the article does not support your arguement and actually states that the people effected by the radiation are at more risk from their lifestyles and poverty than from radiation.

You've been Berkeley'ed!

Working...