Posts Tagged ‘Nuclear Energy’

New Green Deal is Nuclear, Or Is Not! Mass Murder the Alternative!

April 7, 2019

Combining evidence from various sources, it’s obvious that fossil fuels kill directly more than ten million people, a year. So why the negative obsession with nuclear? Have We The Sheeple been programmed to love the tar, breathe it all day long?

Enough with the hypocrisy of Communal Wisdom! Today we celebrate! The New York Times just aligned itself on one of my most ancient positions, so I shall reiterate, and celebrate this sudden Enlightenment of the old gray lady (nickname of the NYT).This is not an original essay: most of what’s below, I have said again and again, even 10 years ago. However here is the refrain again:

90% of humanity’s worldwide energy comes from burning fossils (even more than 90% of energy comes from burning, once one integrates the burning of forests).

We burn, therefore we are. Only one emergency solution to decrease dependency on burning fuels: nuclear energy.

Yet, all too many of the haggard populations, soon to be devoured by the climate catastrophe, hate nuclear energy, that is, they hate the Sun, our nuclear Sun, and they hate the Earth, our nuclear Earth, and don’t even know it.

The world International Energy Agency just revealed that CO2 emissions from burning fossils augmented nearly 2% in 2018, up to 33 gigatons of CO2. (Total emissions of CO2 are much higher from other human activities, like pouring concrete, deforestation, etc.)

Says IEA: “Coal-fired power plants were the single largest contributor to the growth in emissions observed in 2018, with an increase of 2.9%, or 280 Mt, compared with 2017 levels, exceeding 10 Gt for the first time.” I guess pseudo-ecologists like Angela Merkel loves that. Merkel closes nuclear, because she is an ecologist, she says, while opening full up on the world’s dirtiest coal, lignite… First used by Neanderthals 80,000 years.

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Germany Climate Mass Murder, and Its Wind Illusion:

Wind illusion? In case of massive greenhouse, winds will go down. Renewables provide 40% of German power, and government propaganda emphasizes this with relish, reminding me of “Arbeit Macht Frei” at the entrance of Auschwitz (namely a misleading slogan covering up mass murder). Although Germany has one of the most advanced renewable energy systems in the world thanks to its Energiewende (energy transition) policy, it has not reduced its emissions since Angela Merkel’s decision to phase out nuclear power following an enormously murderous tsunami in Japan from a 9 Richter quake (that’s what is called logic; at least Angela didn’t accuse the Versailles treaty: progress!)

Coal, the most CO2 emissions productive fossil fuel, now provides more than 42% of Germany’s power according to the International Energy Agency – a proportion that has been growing since the nuclear decision. The result is that Germany’s carbon emissions have been growing, since Germany’s horrendously selfish decision… while the neighbors’ CO2 emissions have been declining. France, in particular CO2 pollutes less than half of Germany per capita… due to nuclear.

Not happy with digging grand canyon sized craters in Germany, to extract “brown coal”, Germany is importanting gigantic amounts of gas from the Russian dictatorship next door…. While complaining about Trump’s strong man rule, to cover its own Putin puppet status…

Notice France is just at world average… The less polluting wealthy country in the world. Clearly, except for massive nuclear right away, the world’s total CO2 emissions will climb spectacularly as two-thirds of humanity catch up in energy utilization.

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I denuclearize, therefore I mass murder:

Renewable energy won’t change make enough energy to do without getting 90% of our energy without burning fossil fuels. Massive nuclear and hydrogen are needed, right away. Who disagrees with this is morally indifferent, ignorant, misinformed, cruel, & will help kill 6 billions.

I could go on like that: fossil fuel burning kills at least ten million a year, probably more than a million a year in Europe (looking at the latest numbers).

How many did nuclear energy kill?

In Fukushima, the unimaginable happened: four nuclear reactors, terribly located, without back-ups, or sea wall, crushed by giant waves. And, yes, there was no back up for the cooling systems. Back-ups were in Florida. Three reactors blew up and melted down. Result? Nobody died, and the beach is reopened for babies, 15 years later.  

In other words, those who oppose nuclear energy are the lowest of the low, the sleepiest of the sheep. Let me buttress these cogent observations, in full metal jacket complement to:

Nuclear Power Can Save the World

Expanding the technology is the fastest way to slash greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize the economy.

[By Joshua S. Goldstein, Staffan A. Qvist and Steven Pinker

Drs. Goldstein and Qvist are the authors of “A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow.” Dr. Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard. Yes, usually I criticize Pinker for finding everything pink… But here he focuses on the biggest, blackest problem…]

Young people rightly bleat in unison to mitigate the man-made climate catastrophe. However the young sheep should be advised that the question is not what to do — eliminate fossil fuels ASAP, and by 2050 at the latest— but how. It’s impossible to achieve this by ill-informed, however well-meaning, bleating.

Right now 90% of the world primary energy production is by burning fossil fuels. Repeat slowly, and try to understand what it means: we need a humongous source of energy, right away, to replace that.

Renewable energy will not change the 90% of fossil fuel burning except in a few special places such as California (a rare place with water, mountains, wind and sun).  Norway and New Zealand, full of water and mountain, get their electricity for dams. Yemen is also full of mountains, and had the first dam. However Yemen’s electricity will not come from dams. Yemen’s electricity will not come from Solar Photovoltaic, either, except for a few hours a day, because batteries hold at most 4 hours and are immensely expensive.

Ethiopia, on the other side of the Red Sea, is building a giant dam on the Nile. That enraged Egypt so much, at some point, it made military threats (those stopped, simply perhaps war with Ethiopia promises to be counterproductive). The fact is, the planet is dammed out. (One could build artificial lagoons and mountains to store energy as elevated water, but that would be expensive, and best done in places full of water…)

Humanity must provide for the fast-growing energy needs of poorer countries. It also needs to extend the grid to a billion people who now lack electricity. And our energy needs will only grow. One will need to more electricity to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by mid-century, and stabilize the climate (the present CO2 density has launched natural self-feeding warming mechanisms with a life of their own…)

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Pinker and company now proclaiming the truth about nuclear power, of all places, in the New York Times (those knowing the NYT will appreciate the U-turn!):

Where will this gargantuan amount of carbon-free energy come from? The popular answer is renewables alone, but this is a fantasy. Wind and solar power are becoming cheaper, but they are not available around the clock, rain or shine, and batteries that could power entire cities for days or weeks show no sign of materializing any time soon. Today, renewables work only with fossil-fuel backup.

Germany, which went all-in for renewables, has seen little reduction in carbon emissions, and, according to our calculations, at Germany’s rate of adding clean energy relative to gross domestic product, it would take the world more than a century to decarbonize, even if the country wasn’t also retiring nuclear plants early.”

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One must with renewables is storage. But this massive storage we do not have yet in the present state of technology (but for a few dams where water can be lifted and turbined back down). Batteries are extremely far from being able to provide that mass storage, for months at a time (there are possible possibilities, for the future, but we aren’t there yet)…

There is only one way to store renewable energy which is affordable, and expendable on a huge scale : the hydrogen economy. That hydrogen economy has not been developed massively, yet. Although it’s feasible. It could be used in planes… This is the only way, in the foreseeable future, to get 100% CLEAN planes.

The hydrogen economy is so feasible, that the first thing Obama did, on the first day, arriving in the White House, was to destroy it, so that his friends in the fossil industry could prosper. And prosper they did… And reward him and his family, thereafter. Hey, Obama is a family man. So fracking and bituminous sands prospered , and the ill-informed populace bleated its approval, as Obama made plenty of seductive ecological noises, while hyenas laughed in the night.  

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So what energy source are we left with, if we want to decarbonize? Nuclear energy.

Fission now, which could be rendered rather innocuous, if Thorium reactors were developed. Fusion soon, which could bring reactors connected to the grid in ten years, if massive spending was engaged. Fusion brings neglectable pollution, and not at all if using Helium 3.  

The pseudo ecologists who refuse nuclear energy refuse the earth and the sky. In the core of the planet, a fission reactor generate plate tectonic and the magnetic shield which made life possible (by controlling CO2 and radiation). In the sky, that thermonuclear reactor known as the sun.

A further complicating factor is that massive ecological disruption always bring war.

Pseudo ecologists refusing nuclear energy condemn the biosphere to the Sixth Mass Extinction. They are the objective accomplices of fossil fuel fanatics. Just their propaganda angle is different. Instead of just being greedy to no end like the fossil fuel fanatics, anti-nuclear “ecologists” are, on top of that, completely irrational.

Anti-nuclear pseudo-ecologists do to reason what Jihadists do to faith in God.

Patrice Ayme

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Let me quote Pinker and Al in the Times again: such sweet revenge, I have been saying these things forever, and been called devil incarnated for them… By repeating them, I repeat myself…

Pinker and Al: Nuclear made France and Sweden clean:

…”we actually have proven models for rapid decarbonization with economic and energy growth: France and Sweden. They decarbonized their grids decades ago and now emit less than a tenth of the world average of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. They remain among the world’s most pleasant places to live and enjoy much cheaper electricity than Germany to boot.

They did this with nuclear power. And they did it fast, taking advantage of nuclear power’s intense concentration of energy per pound of fuel. France replaced almost all of its fossil-fueled electricity with nuclear power nationwide in just 15 years; Sweden, in about 20 years. In fact, most of the fastest additions of clean electricity historically are countries rolling out nuclear power.

This is a realistic solution to humanity’s greatest problem. Plants built 30 years ago in America, as in France, produce cheap, clean electricity, and nuclear power is the cheapest source in South Korea. The 98 U.S. reactors today provide nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity generation. So why don’t the United States and other countries expand their nuclear capacity? The reasons are economics and fear.

New nuclear power plants are hugely expensive to build in the United States today. This is why so few are being built. But they don’t need to be so costly. The key to recovering our lost ability to build affordable nuclear plants is standardization and repetition…

***

Worldwide CO2 emissions went down as China opened several new giant nuclear reactors(one French designed, but made so much faster than the French in Finland and France, that it is the only such EPR in use!). Pinker and Al.:

France has two types of reactors and hundreds of types of cheese, in the United States it’s the other way around. In recent decades, the United States and some European countries have created ever more complicated reactors, with ever more safety features in response to public fears. New, one-of-a-kind designs, shifting regulations, supply-chain and construction snafus and a lost generation of experts (during the decades when new construction stopped) have driven costs to absurd heights.

These economic problems are solvable. China and South Korea can build reactors at one-sixth the current cost in the United States. With the political will, China could replace coal without sacrificing economic growth, reducing world carbon emissions by more than 10 percent.

***

Nuclear Power is safer, and less polluting, even when one is talking about second generation nuclear fission plants (now fourth generations plants are developed… Thorium would still be something else, much less polluting…). Pinker and Al.:

All this, however, depends on overcoming an irrational dread among the public and many activists. The reality is that nuclear power is the safest form of energy humanity has ever used. Mining accidents, hydroelectric dam failures, natural gas explosions and oil train crashes all kill people, sometimes in large numbers, and smoke from coal-burning kills them in enormous numbers, more than half a million per year.

By contrast, in 60 years of nuclear power, only three accidents have raised public alarm: Three Mile Island in 1979, which killed no one; Fukushima in 2011, which killed no one (many deaths resulted from the tsunami and some from a panicked evacuation near the plant); and Chernobyl in 1986, the result of extraordinary Soviet bungling, which killed 31 in the accident and perhaps several thousand from cancer, around the same number killed by coal emissions every day. (Even if we accepted recent claims that Soviet and international authorities covered up tens of thousands of Chernobyl deaths, the death toll from 60 years of nuclear power would still equal about one month of coal-related deaths.)

Nuclear power plants cannot explode like nuclear bombs, and they have not contributed to weapons proliferation, thanks to robust international controls: 24 countries have nuclear power but not weapons, while Israel and North Korea have nuclear weapons but not power.

Nuclear waste is compact — America’s total from 60 years would fit in a Walmart — and is safely stored in concrete casks and pools, becoming less radioactive over time. After we have solved the more pressing challenge of climate change, we can either burn the waste as fuel in new types of reactors or bury it deep underground. It’s a far easier environmental challenge than the world’s enormous coal waste, routinely dumped near poor communities and often laden with toxic arsenic, mercury and lead that can last forever.

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Misinformation, intellectual laziness, and Pluto engineered tribal hatred explain the distaste for nuclear energy. People love to hate. When one is not officially a racist and hater of low lives, one has to invent new hatreds, and hatred for nuclear energy ecology comes, ready to wear. Pinker and Al:

Despite its demonstrable safety, nuclear power presses several psychological buttons. First, people estimate risk according to how readily anecdotes like well-publicized nuclear accidents pop into mind. Second, the thought of radiation activates the mind-set of disgust, in which any trace of contaminant fouls whatever it contacts, despite the reality that we all live in a soup of natural radiation. Third, people feel better about eliminating a single tiny risk entirely than minimizing risk from all hazards combined. For all these reasons, nuclear power is dreaded while fossil fuels are tolerated, just as flying is scary even though driving is more dangerous.

Opinions are also driven by our cultural and political tribes. Since the late 1970s, when No Nukes became a signature cause of the Green movement, sympathy to nuclear power became, among many environmentalists, a sign of disloyalty if not treason.

The hilarious, and very telling, part, personally, is that I was an early anti-nuclear activist… on some specific type of reactors (Plutonium surgenerators… I am FOR Thorium surgenerators, though…)

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And Pinker and Al. to conclude:

Protecting the environment and lifting the developing world out of poverty are progressive causes. And the millennials and Gen Z’s might rethink the sacred values their boomer parents have left unexamined since the Doobie Brothers sang at the 1979 No Nukes concert.

If the American public and politicians can face real threats and overcome unfounded fears, we can solve humanity’s most pressing challenge and leave our grandchildren a bright future of climate stability and abundant energy. We can dispatch, once and for all, the self-fulfilling prophesy that we’re cooked.

There are lots of things which could have been done, since Sparta, financed by Persia attacked Athens in the Peloponnesian war, nearly 25 centuries ago. Hence many catastrophes, the worst of them all the collapse of Greco-Roman civilization which started with the condemnable Aristotle, and ended with a flood of barbarian tribes going through the Frankish military curtain at the Winter Solstice of 406 CE (nearly three-quarters of a millennium later).  Yes, bad philosophy was in the driver’s seat:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/aristotle-destroyed-democracy/

This time, though, collapse will be faster, fiercer… and nuclear bombs will be used. Thus it would be wiser to use nuclear energy in a civil manner….

 

Under Water

December 1, 2015

A Maui Native told me something stunning: when he was a teenager, the West Coast of West Maui was a wide continuous golden sand beach. Now that beach is gone, only small patches survive, between small rocky capes. He accuses sea level rise. The Native works for a taxi service, and he is scared that the sea level will take out the road which is the lifeline to West Maui. He is even scared sea level rise will soon cut Maui in two.

He showed me where the road was cut by the waves, during high tide, and I could see the makeshift barriers the government had installed, pathetically. He says the cutting of the road has become the principal threat to his employment (and to the massive tourist sector of West Maui). Traffic crawls at 5 miles an hour when the waves come in.

Sea level is very hard to estimate: it varies continuously. Yet, as I saw in Maui, and as I have seen in other coast, full grown trees of deciduous species are not capable to grow where waves batter. Seeing tree roots exposed by waves, as I found on the French Cote d’Azur, on a particular beach which I knew, but is now under a meter of water, demonstrate clearly that sea level rise is grossly underestimated.

All This Was A Golden Beach, Now It IS Under Water. West Maui Coast, Facing Lanai.

All This Was A Golden Beach, Now It IS Under Water. West Maui Coast, Facing Lanai.

A Qatari emits 33 tons of CO2 per inhabitant per year. The average Earth citizen emits 4.5 tons of CO2. Switzerland, 5.1 tons. The average in China is 6.5 tons, and 6.6 tons for a citizen of the European Union. Citizens of the USA emit, in the average, 16.1 tons (Canada and Australia do significantly worse).

48% of world CO2 emission is to produce energy and electricity. Transportation is only 23%, Industry 19%, and the rest, including home heating, only 10%.

Coal burning creates half of the world’s CO2 emission.

The inability to cut on greenhouse gases emissions is striking: they are still going up. One problem has been the crackdown on nuclear energy: for perhaps half the planet, right now, only nuclear energy can provide clean energy. Even Switzerland, full of mountains and thus endowed with vast amounts of hydro power, gets its good number from massive usage of nuclear energy (even though some of the reactors have been installed in locations which should have been completely excluded: where are the ecologists when needed?)

Yes, I said clean, when depicting nuclear power, and let no Fukushima or Chernobyl be brandished by the morally dubious, shrilly PC. Both nuclear accidents were caused by demented risks taken by foolish operators, and derelict surveillance authorities. Both situations were deeply insane, from putting reactors where super giant tsunamis have already struck, and not being ready after that happened, to using, in the case of the Soviet built reactor, hyper dangerous technology (graphite-gas), which should never have been built (such reactors are unstable under low power).

Not to do anything about the CO2 catastrophe is incomparably more demented than building nuclear reactors in every city (not that I recommend this!). It’s more demented, not just by orders of magnitude. One cannot compare the evacuations of a few zones left to wild animals (who are very happy), to the assured destruction of the biosphere. Once again, Fukushima happened because Japanese ecologists were out to lunch, and so was the government and the Tokyo Power company. And Chernobyl was the product of a dictatorship which had at least one way worse accident, and kept it hush hush.

Pseudo-ecologists have blocked stridently nuclear power (instead of insisting that it should be made safe, and how). Result? Sea Level rise has now doubled in rate relative to what it was 20 years ago.

United Nations predict a catastrophic rise of one meter by 2100. However that does not take into account the possible catastrophic collapse of Antarctica’s WAIS, Wilkes, and Aurora basins… which I anticipate. And melt massively they will, soon.

Some will smirk, and will suggest to wait until average of sea level rise are much higher than the recently registered 3.3 mm per year average. Yes, whatever. My little theory of sea level rise by catastrophic melting of Antarctica just got a timid support in the first official academic study of the subject. They admit that, instead of taking 10,000 years, catastrophic melting is only a few decades away. (I persist, and sign, that this is a ridiculous underestimate!)

Qatar is at 33 tons of CO2 per person per year. Let’s meditate what it means. That’s evil. And one evil leads to another: a consortium of British journalists just evaluated that the number of workers killed on the world cup stadiums in Qatar was in excess of 900 (yes, nearly a thousand). As we can see, enabling evil here, make it sprout all over (and yes, Qatar enables the Islamist State). Not doing anything impactful against sea level rise is enabling that rise. Thus, it is enabling evil. As average citizens are powerless, it’s our great leaders who are evil. They wanted the job, they got it, they give us hell, surely they won’t mind be called by their names?

The president of Ecuador, triumphantly re-elected, and a professional (USA PhD) economist, says that the climate catastrophe is NOT a technical problem, it is a political problem. The president of Senegal, a country at sea level, points out that there is no plan B, so the Paris Conference cannot fail.

And you know what the political problem is, at the deepest level of analysis? It’s the ultimate, the will to have evil rule. In one word: plutocracy. The will to have evil rule has no better friend than the CO2 catastrophe. As, first of all, it teaches people to live with catastrophe, and love it (as, earlier they were made to live with the bomb, and love it!)

And yes, it’s not as urgent, but even worse than the war against fascism in World War Two. Because there is a non-human operator involves, physics itself. As it is not as urgent, the frogs feel sleepy, instead of anxious. But they will get barbecued all the same.

Patrice Ayme’

Nuclear Salvation

November 16, 2013

In the minds of some, no doubt, the agonizing Obamacare was how to avoid Medicare For All, and go on with health care gouging. Success. Similarly, in the minds of some, hysteria against nuclear power is a way to go on with the various destructive exploitation schemes fossil fuels provide with.

Continuing hysteria against nuclear power makes humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous changes in the biosphere caused by CO2 impossible. Why? Because it deprives humanity of the only new energy source developed by humanity in the last 100 years.

No Nuclear? Dam That.

No Nuclear? Dam That.

Fossil fuel production can be dominated by a few brutes doing brutish things (Qaddafi, Putin). Burning stuff is perfect for plutocrats. Instead nuclear industry demands a control by advanced science and high standards of regulation and government probity. Nuclear energy is too coldly rational to be a plutocrat friendly environment.

The tides in the gigantic Baie du Mont Saint Michel are up to 14 meters high. The energy therein is that of a several nuclear reactors. Construction cost of a giant dam enclosing the entire bay would be enormous. The river Severn estuary in England has been extensively studied. A dam there could bring more than 8,000 Megawatts (8 standard nuclear reactors).

Windmills, watermills, and even tidal power plants, have existed for more than a millennium, and were massive energy sources in the Middle Ages.

The ancient Greeks used solar energy passively, and Archimedes even used it as a weapon against the Romans, very successfully, during the siege of Syracuse. Nothing new there.

Syracuse fell, and Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier. A Frenchman discovered the photovoltaic effect in the early Nineteenth Century. All this to say: been there, done that.

Wind, solar, current, burning animal waste and wood has been tried before. It’s great. However the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems is, overall, the only practical mean of addressing the CO2 production problem, on a planetary scale. It’s tough, but reality tends to be tough.

True, some regions, such as the famously desiccated and sun struck West of the USA, could do only with solar and wind energy. But such places are few on the planet. They tend to be where people are not, because people need water.

Denmark,  posing as an ecological maven, is trying to go mostly renewable. However that small country is heavily dependent upon electricity from Norway, Sweden and Germany… and coal. It’s even building a new giant coal plant. Moreover, although Denmark is flat, much of its renewable power is stored in Norwegian and Swedish mountain dams.

Mountains, and water to lift up mountains, are not found everywhere (for example, Arabia has plenty of mountains, on a huge area, from Oman to all along the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, but this small continent has no too little water… not coincidentally the first dam ever built was there).

Global demand for energy is growing rapidly and must continue to grow considerably to provide for the needs of developing economies. Those constitute more than 90% of the world’s society. So we are talking about the need to augment energy production by an order of magnitude.

One is not going to do that with a bit of wind in North Sea and a little sun in the Gobi.

The need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming blatant, even to the clueless. The hurricane with the most powerful winds ever, by a long shot, just happened.

The CO2 crisis, entailing climate change, and the concomitant population overload, have brought a need for ever more energy. For example a clean water crisis is developing, all over the planet, and, to reduce it, much more energy is needed to produce clean water (say by treatment, or desalination).

We cannot increase energy supply dramatically while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if the newest power plants keep using the atmosphere as a waste dump. The projections of fossil fuels usage in the next two decades are completely insane, thus doubly irresistible. First insanity attracts, and, as producing the last fossil fuels because ever more financially attractive (like, say cocaine), there is ever more activity to produce more.

The same sort of craziness by greed affected finance, which went from 8% of profits to 25%, as it attracted ever more, the crazier it got! Call that the spiral of greed.

Renewables like wind, solar and biomass will play roles in a future energy economy. However, those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough, or big enough, or everywhere enough, to deliver cheap and reliable power on the scale the global economy requires, especially as the apocalypse unfolds (see Haiyan).

Indeed the coverage of the proposed “renewables” can only be spotty in space and time. Consider Poland, for instance. Poland has plenty of cheap coal. In dreary winter conditions, without wind or sun, the only clean alternatives are coal, or nuclear power (gas is not an option, as it would require Poland to depend upon its historical enemy, Moscow, just when that capital is showing an ever increasing Czarist inclination).

Consider also the energy of the sea: it can be exploited, in a few places, if and when the technology can be invented, but certainly not in the middle of continents. Poland has access to a sea with no significant tides or currents.

For half a century, only one tidal power plant existed, in the entire world, on the Rance river, in France. It produces 240 MW, a quarter of a standard nuclear reactor. The hyper pharaonic project, across the Baie du Mount Saint Michel, was contemplated for a while. Instead, a project going the other way, reinstituting the bay to its original state, was implemented.

It may be theoretically possible to stabilize the CO2 emissions without nuclear power, for a few countries. Say in wind rich Denmark. By cheating, as I just explained. Germany may be able to do so, after huge investments, but, for now, it is augmenting its use of coal.

Switzerland has decided to close one nuclear power plant. A very dangerous plant, I agree. And I want it closed too. However, it will be replaced by a giant coal plant in Germany. USA fossil plutocrats will be happy to sell the coal. Also Mr. Putin will delighted to sell more gas to Switzerland. The more gas he sells, the more dictatorial he can get. To make sure he gets paid, the Russian dictator has just embarked on a hyper paranoiac nuclear weapon program (hey, you want to make sure people fear you!).

In the real world, worldwide, there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a considerable role for nuclear technologies. Considering available, or close at hand, technologies.

The only technology that could change everything and could plausibly work, is thermonuclear fusion. Although Korea, in cooperation with ITER, has a crash program, no power deployment will intervene for at least 15 years, at an unknown cost. Whereas very safe fission plants such as EPR, can be deployed now.

Most of the 400 nuclear plants presently in service use 1950s technology that was deployed to maximize Plutonium production. The West, and the so called “Communists”, were getting ready to fight nuclear wars, so they made “civilian” nuclear reactors that were extensions of the military programs. In particular, they produced nuclear explosives (Pu).

Incomparably safer, much more abundant Thorium technology was not developed, because it has no military use.

Fortunately, passive safety systems and other advances can make new nuclear plants, even using the basic Uranium technology of the 1950s, much safer. An example is the French EPR (although it’s expensive, built massively, the cost would go down).

Modern nuclear technology could extinguish proliferation risks. Say by developing Thorium nuclear power. Thorium has no military use, and it reduces the waste problem to insignificance.

If we had scaled-up massive Thorium, it could be proposed as an alternative to, say, Iran. In the future, as the cost of fossil fuels keeps climbing, more and more countries, just like Iran, will desperate to develop nuclear power. As it is they can use only primitive 1950s, military dangerous nuclear technology.

Scientific giants such as India and China have Thorium programs. But the West would progress faster, if it made the crash effort the biosphere needs.

The worst radioactive waste products from the Thorium cycle last only 3 centuries at most, whereas Plutonium’s half period is 25,000 years. Even then, Plutonium can be recycled into a fuel called MOX (for Mixed OXide) and burned again: that’s what France does (and produces MOX for Germany, Britain, Japan and even the USA; although there, weirdly, Congress has made using MOX unlawful).

Hence the radioactive waste disposal problem can be solved by burning current waste, using fuel more efficiently, and using different nuclear processes from different fuels. (Ultimately, more advanced nuclear tech will be able to dispose of all waste, by transmutation, a science discovered by Irene Joliot-Curie around 1932.)

Innovation and economies of scale can make new power plants much cheaper than existing plants.

All energy system have downsides. 200 meters tall windmills are a danger for birds, planes, peace and quiet, and esthetics.

Yet quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with the continued use of fossil fuels. Tyrants, such as Putin, will develop weapons of mass destruction, including of the nuclear kind, the weaker our economy and technology gets, and the more they perceive our decisions to be based on irrational tendencies. Because it’s irrational to hate “nukes” just because it was the most human way to force the fascists controlling Japan to capitulate.

The Chernobyl nuclear explosion was a statement about the Soviet Union, not about nuclear science. That was not the only massive nuclear catastrophe in the USSR. Chernobyl employed a type of nuclear technology deemed extremely dangerous in the West, and not developed, precisely because of its dangerosity.

To make the situation worse, Chernobyl did not even have a containment building. Now, no coal plant has a containment building, and it’s free to spill its mercury, lead, arsenic and radioactivity around the world (so called “bag houses” can capture some of these; I think Obama is trying to impose them through the EPA, and they could price coal out.

Fantasies about Carbon Containment and Capture (CCC) are just this: fantasies. Coal plants are competitive, only if they can spill their dangerous waste, worldwide. Right now burning coal makes 44% of the electricity of the USA, and countries such as Australia, are getting rich selling coal to China (Thorium is abundant in places such as India, which have little Uranium).

While there will be no single technological solution, the time has come for those who take the threat of global warming seriously to embrace the development and deployment of safer nuclear power systems as one among several technologies that will be essential to any credible effort to build an energy system that does use the atmosphere, directly, and the ocean, indirectly, as a waste dump.

The planet’s air, soil and oceans are warming, and the seas are getting dangerously acid, from reacting with CO2, and poorer in oxygen, from the temperature rise. Meanwhile carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than ever.

We cannot afford to turn away from any technology that has the potential to replace a large fraction of our carbon emissions. Much has changed in potential nuclear technologies since the 1950s. The time has come for fresh approaches to nuclear power in the 21st century.

In truth, there are 100 fission nuclear technologies out there that one could plausibly develop. Thorium and high temperature reactors are particularly prominent, because of their promises, and because both were developed on a very large experimental scale at some point in 1960s and 1970s. We know they work. Only details have to be figured out, such as which materials will be the most efficient in the harsh environment of a mighty reactor.

The fact is, civil nuclear energy killed, over the years, much fewer people than, say, skiing. Whereas the atmosphere that fossil fuels creates kills millions.

London Then, China Today, Earth Tomorrow?

London Then, China Today, Earth Tomorrow?

In the USA alone, at least 200,000 die from air pollution, each year. And this is not the place worst affected.

On December 5, 1952, the winds abated, and London sat in thick smog for 4 days. It is now evaluated that more than 12,000 died, in London alone! The recent abandonment of the electric tram system augmented the pollution.

In truth we are doing this to the whole planet, just more dispersed. The plutocrats have displaced their evil works to friendly China, and the slaves there can breathe what they have been ordered to breathe.

Energy decisions must be based on facts, not on emotions and biases that were inappropriate all along, and now prevent us to address the apocalypse we are facing.

The development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy is not just a no brainier. It will happen, no matter what. The only question is whether it will happen after, or before, Jurassic Park is back to an ocean near you. Very near you.

***

Patrice Ayme


Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

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Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

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in truth, only atoms and the void

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Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For The Best Thinking Possible. Morality Needs Intelligence As Will Needs Mind. Intelligence Is Humanism.

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

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EugenR Lowy עוגן רודן

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Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Artificial Turf At French Bilingual School Berkeley

Patterns of Meaning

Exploring the patterns of meaning that shape our world

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in truth, only atoms and the void

West Hunter

Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat

GrrrGraphics on WordPress

www.grrrgraphics.com

Skulls in the Stars

The intersection of physics, optics, history and pulp fiction

Footnotes to Plato

because all (Western) philosophy consists of a series of footnotes to Plato

Patrice Ayme's Thoughts

Striving For The Best Thinking Possible. Morality Needs Intelligence As Will Needs Mind. Intelligence Is Humanism.

Learning from Dogs

Dogs are animals of integrity. We have much to learn from them.

ianmillerblog

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Defense Issues

Military and general security

RobertLovesPi.net

Polyhedra, tessellations, and more.

How to Be a Stoic

an evolving guide to practical Stoicism for the 21st century

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Writer, Editor, Berliner

coelsblog

Defending Scientism

EugenR Lowy עוגן רודן

Thoughts about Global Economy and Existence