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Comment Nuclear's impact on the environment (Score 1) 461

The great thing about nuclear's impact on the environment is that it typically mostly happens near the point of use. Fukushima is going to have terrible consequences, but mainly local ones; i.e. it's mainly those people who benefited from it that will bear the cost.

Contrast with coal burning: everybody gets hit by the carbon bill, even if you don't have electricity.

Comment Same problem has stiffled wind power in the US (Score 1) 529

According to someone I know who works in windmill financing, the whimsical nature of wind subsidies in the US has been almost as bad for the industry as if there had been none. Wind projects, as well as manufacturing and deployment infrastructure (barges, trucks, cranes ...) are decades long investments. Congress let subsidies expire almost every other year; that's made it nearly impossible for financiers and actuaries to project the profitability of farms.

Comment The point of the Drake equation (Score 1) 344

is not to compute its result, it is to show how much we do/don't know.

We're slowly, or quickly depending on your outlook, filling in the gaps. We now have enough data on extrasolar planets to do statistical extrapolations.

In the next decade or two, we will have telescopes nearly large enough to do spectroscopic analysis of the atmosphere of nearby extrasolar planets. In particular we will be able to see if they have significant dioxygen, which can only happen as a result of life as far as we know. That will remove another unknown value.

Advances in neurology and evolutionary biology will begin to highlight how likely it is for intelligence to evolve.

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