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Old 06-28-2012, 10:12 AM   #381
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The massive, dramatic, unprecedented increase in carbon in the atmosphere is the single greatest threat to humanity today.


the numbers simply don't add up. I'm all for 'cleaner' sources of electricity and conversation, etc. etc., but the simple fact is the co2 problem is a non-problem.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:42 AM   #382
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True that, those ****** from the 50's are worse than refrigerators of the same era in terms of motor inefficiency.
1st world problems.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:02 AM   #383
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I use compostable corn-based cups.

anyway, I agree about nuclear. I just say it isn't emissions free.

I suspect if you redirected all the brains in the other segments of the energy industry to focus purely on nuclear power, in <10 years you'd have a safe and effective system that could be implemented.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:41 AM   #384
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anyway, I agree about nuclear. I just say it isn't emissions free.
I guess I don't understand what you mean by emissions, then.

Under normal operation, fossil-fuel plants emit ash, CO, CO2, NOx, and other materials / substances into the air in varying amounts depending on their fuel source.

Under normal operation, nuke plants emit nothing into the air.

Yes, nuke plants generate some solid waste. And in a severe accident, they can leak radioactive material into the environment. But I would no sooner group this into the category of "emissions" than I would the occasional million barrels of oil dumped into the sea from drilling / shipping accidents.



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I suspect if you redirected all the brains in the other segments of the energy industry to focus purely on nuclear power, in <10 years you'd have a safe and effective system that could be implemented.
Define "safe."

I'm serious.

In engineering terms, nothing is 100% safe. Even sitting in a comfortable chair in my own living room isn't totally safe- I could die of a heart attack, the building could collapse onto me, etc.

If the metric is "how many people does this kill as compared to the alternative?" then nuclear power is amazingly safe already. Safer than wind power, in fact. In terms of fatalities per unit of electrical power generated (from all causes, including construction of the power plant), nuke plants have killed fewer people than wind turbines, and that includes Chernobyl.

We cannot be totally risk-averse. We can only be risk-aware.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:46 AM   #385
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I guess I don't understand what you mean by emissions, then.

Under normal operation, fossil-fuel plants emit ash, CO, CO2, NOx, and other materials / substances into the air in varying amounts depending on their fuel source.

Under normal operation, nuke plants emit nothing into the air.
This will continue the epic thread jack, but remember that even in Nukes there are some emissions. Emergency diesels are tested, uranium is mined, people need to get to work, parts that go in the plant have to be made from materials that use fossil fuels, etc. BUT, the amount of fossil fuels used per unit of electricity generated is extraordinarily small compared to a fossil unit.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:58 AM   #386
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The massive, dramatic, unprecedented increase in carbon in the atmosphere is the single greatest threat to humanity today.
Have you done any serious reading of the counterpoints against the alarmists?
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Old 06-28-2012, 01:41 PM   #387
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I guess I don't understand what you mean by emissions, then.

Under normal operation, fossil-fuel plants emit ash, CO, CO2, NOx, and other materials / substances into the air in varying amounts depending on their fuel source.

Under normal operation, nuke plants emit nothing into the air.

Yes, nuke plants generate some solid waste. And in a severe accident, they can leak radioactive material into the environment. But I would no sooner group this into the category of "emissions" than I would the occasional million barrels of oil dumped into the sea from drilling / shipping accidents.
Liberal interpretation of emissions. like my bowel "emits" feces. I really meant that it has byproducts that have got to go somewhere when they're spent. No it doesn't impact the air quality most of the time but it can under rare circumstances. And by that virtue it is somewhat better because airborne emissions are harder to put in a basket and haul away.


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Define "safe."

I'm serious.

In engineering terms, nothing is 100% safe. Even sitting in a comfortable chair in my own living room isn't totally safe- I could die of a heart attack, the building could collapse onto me, etc.

If the metric is "how many people does this kill as compared to the alternative?" then nuclear power is amazingly safe already. Safer than wind power, in fact. In terms of fatalities per unit of electrical power generated (from all causes, including construction of the power plant), nuke plants have killed fewer people than wind turbines, and that includes Chernobyl.

We cannot be totally risk-averse. We can only be risk-aware.
I mean safe as in limited scope of destruction during failure. Radiation has this nasty habit of flying outward from its source and sticking to stuff for a long time.

I was told that if I ever remodel my house that I should not let the construction people haul away my pre 1940s steel beams because the steel in them was created in a time before nuclear bombs went off in Japan. Apparently fancy shmancy labs need this low-background steel for sensitive test equipment and shielding and it is therefore of significant value.

so lets define safe as "the short term radius of death is less than a half kilometer". I made that up but lets use it for the sake of argument. Whatever the radius of a typical natural gas extraction operation would look like if it went up in a big fireball plus some space for people to stand back and go "Damn!"

long term effects are harder to quantify and define. How about allowing properly-suited workers back into the area of the site +50% within 3 days and air quality and environmental effects no worse than Los Angeles on a code red day at a maximum of 1 year for a radius of 10 km.

I think those are pretty reasonable. Maybe not realistic.

A little asthma for a year and maybe we can provide free inhalers to local residents?
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Old 06-28-2012, 02:38 PM   #388
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You're defining risk, not safety.

Risk, in this context, is "there's an X percent chance that this thing will fail catastrophically and cause a large amount of damage and casualties in a short space of time."

Fossil-fuel generation is very low risk to the general public. There's a somewhat elevated risk to those employed in the industry, particularly during the extraction phase of the fuel cycle. (Coal miners crushed / suffocated in collapse, well-drillers blown to smithereens in blowout, etc.)

Nukes also have a very low risk. When something catastrophic happens to them it does tend to be a big deal, but the probability of one going *poof* has been demonstrated to be fairly small. Many more nuke-plant "accidents" have occurred, even within the US, than most people realize. But not a single one of them, including TMI, has had any measurable health consequences to civilians, and even to those inside the plants affected, there has never been a fatality resulting from radiological exposure (some workers have died from falling off of scaffolds, being crushed by equipment, electrocution, the usual industrial-accident type of stuff.) This is partly because we are lucky, and partly because we've gotten pretty good at mitigating risk through design.

*** EDIT: I should clarify that the above obviously refers to the US, and can also be extended to encompass Europe. Obviously there were many fatalities at and resulting from Chernobyl, however the combination of insanely bad design and complete operator incompetence which caused that disaster really has no parallel outside of the former USSR.

Additionally, some radiological injuries have occurred as a result of the Fukushima triple-meltdown, and it's probable that a small number of deaths may eventually result from this. The total number of dead and injured from radiation-related causes will pale in comparison to the more direct effects of the geological disturbance which caused the accident (in excess of 15,000 confirmed dead at present (mostly by drowning), plus > 3,000 still listed as "missing," plus > 1,000 confirmed dead due to long-term effects of displacement and homelessness, such as starvation, hypothermia, disease, etc.)

Further, remember that this applies to civilian nuclear power generation, not military nuclear propulsion or experimental reactors from the 1940s. Military service and atomic research during WWII are understood to be inherently dangerous

*** end of edit.


Safety covers a lot more ground. Part of it is "What will happen assuming this thing does go *poof*?"

Another part is "What are the expected effects of doing this process under normal conditions for a certain period of time?"

Fossil-fuel generation is unsafe. We can easily observe the byproducts and emissions generated by a fossil-fuel plant, and make predictions such as "operating this plant for one year will cause X number of civilians to die or become ill due to respiratory injuries either caused or aggravated by what we're emitting" or "a reasonable model of atmospheric behavior predicts that operating this plant will cause X amount of damage to the environment." We simply have to make a value judgement about how many deaths and how much environmental harm we consider to be "acceptable" relative to the reward of having electricity. The same sort of calculation goes into designing cars, setting speed limits, creating building codes, and so on.

Nuclear power, by contrast, is highly safe. Under normal conditions, a nuke plant emits absolutely nothing into the environment. It creates a byproduct which is extremely hazardous to living tissue, however this byproduct is of relatively small mass, is insoluble in water, is heavier than air, does not easily become airborne, and the tools exist for handling and sequestering it properly. Exactly the opposite of coal / oil / etc.

Last edited by Joe Perez; 06-28-2012 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 06-28-2012, 03:03 PM   #389
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I was told that if I ever remodel my house that I should not let the construction people haul away my pre 1940s steel beams because the steel in them was created in a time before nuclear bombs went off in Japan. Apparently fancy shmancy labs need this low-background steel for sensitive test equipment and shielding and it is therefore of significant value.
This is true. It is a VERY small difference, but the most sensitive instruments can tell the difference.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:17 PM   #390
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Nuclear power, by contrast, is highly safe. Under normal conditions, a nuke plant emits absolutely nothing into the environment. It creates a byproduct which is extremely hazardous to living tissue, however this byproduct is of relatively small mass, is insoluble in water, is heavier than air, does not easily become airborne, and the tools exist for handling and sequestering it properly. Exactly the opposite of coal / oil / etc.
Risk is essentially safety x probability. But enough about that.

I quoted the above because I think you highlight an excellent point that I sort of alluded to earlier.

Stop using sources of energy with hard to deal with byproducts and focus all that brainpower on nuclear.

In other words if we could trade an increase in atmospheric carbon, toxic air loitering around fun cities, and acid rain for the occasional fukushima, do you think the general public would see it as a win or would they be hard to convince because the detrimental aspects of poor air quality are easier to ignore?
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:27 PM   #391
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Slow and steady wins the race...

In this case, fossil fuels are doing damage "slowly" and steadily. Nuclear does no* damage for a while, then does some in a burst, so people notice it more.

The race is to destroy the earth, of course.

*no is a relative term discussed earlier by... y8s I think.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:56 PM   #392
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[quote
I was told that if I ever remodel my house that I should not let the construction people haul away my pre 1940s steel beams because the steel in them was created in a time before nuclear bombs went off in Japan. Apparently fancy shmancy labs need this low-background steel for sensitive test equipment and shielding and it is therefore of significant value.
How much might it be worth?
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Old 06-28-2012, 05:19 PM   #393
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In other words if we could trade an increase in atmospheric carbon, toxic air loitering around fun cities, and acid rain for the occasional fukushima, do you think the general public would see it as a win or would they be hard to convince because the detrimental aspects of poor air quality are easier to ignore?
I would absolutely accept this as a win. And I demonstrate my support for this by not being all pissy and protesting about the fact that there are two nukes located just up the road from where I live at San Onofre. You know, the ones that they shut down earlier this year because they'd detected some minor leakage? Yeah, those. I'm glad that they're there, and I hope they get 'em back online soon.

But skidude is right. The public as a whole would never accept this, mostly because the politicians and news media would make a big deal out of it.

Which is ironic, if you ask me.

Why do we fear nukes? Radiation mostly. Because it's "invisible and undetectable", it must be scary.

But wait, isn't CO2 invisible and undetectable too?


I could write a hundred pages here and yet fail to express to degree to which I am confounded and enraged not just by present-day public perception of nuclear energy, but by those groups and individuals who go out of their way to groundlessly sow fear and dread. It literally pisses me off so much that I can barely think straight.


Some data:

In the 2010, there were 13,200 deaths in the US attributable to fine particulate emissions, which come mostly from coal-fired power plants. Add to that 9,700 hospitalizations, and the total monetized burden (both direct costs and loss of productivity) exceeded $100 billion. (source)

Got that? Thirteen thousand dead, and one hundred billion dollars in cost.

In one year.

In the US alone.



Now, let's look at a worst-case scenario. Fuku didn't happen all that long ago, so the scientists and statisticians are still duking it out. But credible sources both inside and outside Japan have estimated that the total number of expected cancers related to Fuku will ultimately range from between 100 and 1000 in total. (That's not deaths, just cancers. Many will survive with treatment.) We'll be generous and use the 1,000 number generated by Dr. Frank von Hippel of Princeton university. Based on actuarial data, 40% of the Japanese public is going to get cancer anyway, so Fuku bumped the incidence of cancer among Japanese by about 0.001%.


And yet we fear nukes.

ARE YOU FUCΚING KIDDING ME?


We would be ten times better off if we replaced every coal-fired plant in the US with a nuke even if it meant we had a Fuku-sized meltdown every single year!
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Old 06-28-2012, 05:39 PM   #394
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Joe the important thing to realize about what you just said is this:

you could write 100 pages illustrating your confoundedness but the general population would still be swayed more by 15 seconds of heavily graphicked news blurb.
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:24 AM   #395
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Why can't somebody make a heavily-graphicked news blurb about how dangerous coal is compared to nuclear and sway them back? In theory it would be easy, but for some reason I don't see it working that way. Stupid people make me angry.
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:20 PM   #396
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Why can't somebody make a heavily-graphicked news blurb about how dangerous coal is compared to nuclear and sway them back?
Because Jane Fonda.
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:29 PM   #397
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Joe make one. You'll be a star on YT.
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:41 PM   #398
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As much as I'd like to believe that would do some good, posting opinions on Youtube (or in any on-line venue) seems to be a pretty marginalized form of political speech. While this is no doubt changing slowly, I would wager that the vast majority of people who actually vote tend to base their opinions on:
  • The mainstream broadcast media (of which I am a part, but over which I exert no editorial control).
  • The opinions of celebrities.
  • FUD.

The mainstream press isn't going to go after coal because it's not visually exciting. Nuclear disasters provide good art, primarily because they tend to happen all at once (eg: video of roofs blowing off of buildings), draw massive physical response from police / military / men in white plastic suits, create enormous political response, etc.

Fossil-fuel production, by comparison, is about as exiting to watch as paint drying. It is at its most deadly when it is working normally, just silently chugging along out of sight and out of mind.

If we could convince hospital administrators to pile up all of the bodies like cordwood, then we could probably get started. But without a mountain of dead baby corpses to photograph, it's going to be a tough road.



FUD is already against us.



So that leaves celebrity. We need the hydrocarbon equivalent of Jane Fonda.
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:43 PM   #399
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See its different when you're going on what looks like a political rant thats anti obama or whatever. You gotta make it so its scientific not ranty.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:42 PM   #400
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So that leaves celebrity. We need the hydrocarbon equivalent of Jane Fonda.
Ted Nugent?
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