Nuclear crisis at Fukushima continues to unfold: 3 reports by PBS NewsHour's Miles O'Brien (video)


#21

Science correspondent?
Nuclide
Not nucleoide.
Not nucleotide.


#22

Germany disagrees with you.


#23

God, this is so frustrating.

Nuclear is the only alternative to coal that is potentially scalable enough to replace coal for the majority of human energy needs across the world, and coal is so fucking dangerous that it would take 25 full-scale nuclear meltdowns a year to equal the death rate caused by coal plants operating normally. The nuclear waste we're all so terrified of is less radioactive than coal ash. More on the dangers of coal vs. nuclear; more. But we all act as if nuclear is a terrible scourge that must be eradicated this instant, and coal is just an inconvenience that we should probably think about replacing with some nebulous complex of sustainable sources whenever we can manage to get around to it.

At Boing Boing, we're all very fond of mocking the people who are mortally terrified of airplanes being hijacked by terrorists but don't care at all that driving is hundreds of times more deadly. Demonizing nuclear power makes exactly the same mistake. The tens of thousands of cancer deaths from coal are easy to gloss over, so we do, and no amount of evidence will make us stop.


#24

Nuclear is the only alternative to coal that is potentially scalable enough to replace coal

And, that's an industry lie. Expand your research horizons beyond industry "think tanks".


#25

Coming from Scotland I have this weird perspective on energy.
Obviously, a lot of the economy is driven by oil and gas but our renewable energy sources seem to be quite good and getting better.

There's great research with wave energy going on and the First Minister (to his major detriment at a sensitive time) has implemented a fairly extensive program of wind turbines across the country.

And now I hear that fusion is yielding a (tiny) surplus. If the only output from the nuclear plant is some non-radioactive steam, could the 'nuclear option' ever become palatable? And what about liquid thorium reactors? Aren't they a 'safe' way to do responsible nuclear power. Or can those two words not coexist in a sentence?


#26

You conveniently left out the second half of my quote. What I said in said in full was....

Taking someone else's statements out of context is pretty inexcusible. When someone follows up a statement with another that qualifies the first, they necessarily must be treated as a single unit.

But even putting that aside, your argumentation itself is also rather flimsy.

You make an ad hominem attack accusing me of lacking humanity. You put words in my mouth and distort my actual argumentation vis-a-vis other power production methods. You make another ad hominem attack accusing me of being an ignorant victim of a supposed nebulous "industry campaign" conspiracy. You make yet another ad hominem attack accusing me of not thinking for myself and merely mindlessly repeating the words of others.

You claim wind and solar power inefficiencies do not exist, when they quite obviously do. There is a measure for this sort of thing (because it's a vitally important thing to measure) called capacity factor. The capacity factor of wind, solar, and biomass (taken together) is around 33%. The capacity factor of nuclear energy is roughly 90%.

Importantly, capacity factor is only one measure of efficiency which we're concerned with. There are other vital considerations as well, such as the energy density of a plant's chosen form of fuel. Nuclear wins with no contest, as the famed Randall Munroe helpfully and humorously demonstrates. The amount of fissionable materials required to produce a given amount of electricity is a mere iota of what other power generation methods require.

You treat correlation as implying causation, touting growth in French wind energy as some sort of evidence of an inherent unfeasibility of nuclear power. (I could go into detail as to why this thinking is simplistic and flawed, but we'd be here a while.) You argue for the phasing out of fossil fuels, but who doesn't? They're unsustainable.

And then you top everything off with a right doozie of an ad hominem attack, making me out to be a laughable, sick, egotistical, vain enemy of humanity.

I think that pretty well demonstrates the irrationality of your post and its contents. I'm sorry we couldn't have a more rational discussion about this - you clearly care a great deal about the topic of energy production.


#27

Okay, maybe I'm wrong. Can you cite research to the contrary?


#28

That is the sweetest disclosure I've ever read. Good luck to you both.


#29

That's simply not true. Or if it is, human beings still haven't figured out how to do it "right".

I have been peripherally involved with both nuclear reactors (Savannah River) and nuclear weapons (Peacekeeper, among others) in a professional capacity. Before having those experiences, I was a strong proponent of nuclear power. Now I understand it far too well.

Terrestrial nuclear fission reactors (including the much-ballyhooed thorium pipe-dream reactors) are obsolete antiques. They are also completely unnecessary.


#30

Can you cite research to the contrary?

Yes, I went into it in (painful) detail here in this previous conversation on the topic of nuclear versus more sustainable energy resources here:

There's also more examples throughout that thread in my posts there.


#31

So you were a nuclear engineer then? Wait, no... peripherally involved....? Hrmm. Were you part of Security? Or any of a dozen other secondary positions which require zero knowledge of nuclear energy beyond what you receive in on-site training? Nuclear sites are in constant need of such personnel, after all.

If you're going to claim to speak from experience, we need to know what that experience was to be able to give your claim any merit.

The safety of nuclear energy can be demonstrated by examining the history of nuclear energy accidents. There simply aren't that many. The big ones like Chernobyl and Fukushima are extreme outliers. Daily operation at a properly built nuclear plant is not meaningfully different than daily operation at a fossil fuel plant.

There are risks, certainly, and those risks have to be taken into account in order to safely run a nuclear plant, but it happens safely every single day of the year in countless nuclear plants across the planet.

It's like saying flying a plane is unsafe because it's more complicated than driving a car. After all, when a plane falls out of the sky, it's really terrible, especially compared to a mere car crash. But planes actually don't fall out of the sky very often.

Sure, there are a lot more things that can go wrong with an airplane than with a car. Operating an airplane takes far and away more vigilance than operating a car does, and it takes much higher standards of safety to keep planes in the air. And yet we accomplish it every day in staggering numbers, and in fact planes are statistically the safest way to travel.

Of course, that doesn't stop certain people from being afraid of them. I have a friend who simply cannot fly in airplanes without having an anxiety attack. He knows they are safe, he logically understands it. But his irrational response to the concept of a giant machine weighing dozen of tons soaring miles above ground suspended on air alone is so strong he'll collapse at the boarding gate. You can show him the numbers a thousand times, you can explain the physics over and over, it doesn't make a difference to the unreasoning part of his mind that takes control when he stands in front of one.


#32

Hear, hear!


#33

Except when one of the units has a meltdown.


#34

I complain about someone taking my comments out of context in order to twist them into something they aren't...

...and your response is to make a comment apropros of absolutely nothing solely to bring up an unrelated scary buzzword concept?

You can't make a reasonable, meaningful response to my actual statements? You have to change the subject and rely on panicky fearmongering? Have you no shame?


#35

It seems like every time I talk to you the first thing you do is always ad hominem. Yet you complain about others attacking you? But OK, here's what peripherally involved means in context.

In the case of the Savannah River plant, I worked on software used to physically control reactor operation on a five-minute real-time loop.

In the case of the Peacekeeper, I wrote the software for the heavily customized hardware used to test the launch system. Technically, I am a former rocket scientist, although I never worked in design or production, only testing and control systems.

Your risk assessments do not seem to acknowledge that a low risk of catastrophic harm can be worse than a high risk of relatively minor harm.

I'll be seeing my friend Mike, who actually was trained as a nuclear engineer by the US Navy, later tonight. I'll ask him to assess your claim that nuclear power is "perfectly safe, or at least as safe as any conventional power plant can be."

Edit: Mike laughed.


#36

So you're a software engineer, and you have no real expertise in the fields of nuclear engineering or rocket engineering. Thank you.

Except that PhasmaFelis provides direct evidence in an above post that normal coal power plant operation is already far more damaging than absolute worst case scenario nuclear disasters.


#37

So, how about we stop arguing about how we should be doing both or just one, and focus our energies on not doing either one. Yes, coal plants suck. Guess what, so do nuclear plants. So, lets ditch them.


#38

Nevermind that you're moving goalposts, you're flat out ignoring the fact that nuclear is nowhere NEAR as bad as coal.

But even if it were, you're proposal is unrealistic. It's quite easy to just say "Oh, well we should all be on clean renewable energy! Let's just ditch fossil fuels and nuclear!", as if it were all so very simple.

Clean renewables are currently incapable of serving our needs, and will be for a long time to come. We must use either fossil fuels or nuclear in the meantime, and in practical fact we're going to be using both.

Going forward, we're going to have to create more power plants, even if we only replace existing plants that need to be retired. Those new plants are going to have to be either fossil fuel, or nuclear.

Nuclear is no less safe than fossil fuels, and far less polluting. Pick one.


#39

Taking someone else's statements out of context is pretty inexcusible. When someone follows up a statement with another that qualifies the first, they necessarily must be treated as a single unit.

I apologize for taking your statement out of context. It did help to misrepresent your point and I shouldn't have done that.

You make an ad hominem attack

You mean like you do here against @Medievalist here? This was you, right?

...So you were a nuclear engineer then? Wait, no... peripherally involved....? Hrmm." - "So you're a software engineer, and you have no real expertise in the fields of nuclear engineering or rocket engineering."

I think the words, shrill and hypocritical come to mind.

You make an ad hominem attack accusing me of lacking humanity.

Even with your "qualifier" of it being as safe as any conventional power plant can be, your initial sentence that nuclear power is perfectly safe "when done right" doesn't sit well with me after the recent (and ongoing) Japanese nuclear disaster. It may not have been inhumane for you to have said such a thing, but I do feel it lacks a certain sensitivity towards the dire situation to say the least.

Nonetheless, saying that you are putting your ego and pride above humanity was too over-broad, and I do apologize for that.

You claim wind and solar power inefficiencies do not exist

No, I didn't. Please don't continue to be a hypocrite and misrepresent what I've said.

There is a measure for this sort of thing (because it's a vitally important thing to measure) called capacity factor.

I'm very well aware of capacity factors, thanks, and roundly addressed it within this post linked below (with links, etc.). You can educate yourself on the bigger picture, if you're so inclined:


Nuclear wins with no contest

Wins what with no contest? In the big picture, (see my link above) it doesn't.

touting growth in French wind energy as some sort of evidence of an inherent unfeasibility of nuclear power.

No, I didn't. Please don't continue to be a hypocrite and misrepresent what I've said.

I wouldn't have used France as an example in the first place. As anyone who is educated on the topic knows, nuclear power has been very successful for France. My point is that your blanket statements against more sustainable energy sources are false and I proved it.

Once again, if wind energy is "absurdly inefficient" as you say, then France (who is, once again, decidedly pro-nuclear) wouldn't be shifting to wind as they are.

That is a prime example that exposes the fallacy of your broad generalizations.

If you want to see more, I'll point you back to my link above again.

You make another ad hominem attack accusing me of being an ignorant victim of a supposed nebulous "industry campaign" conspiracy.

At least that's better than being a willing parrot of their talking points.

Nuclear wins with no contest, as the famed Randall Munroe helpfully and humorously demonstrates

Go back and look at that cartoon and look at the fossil fuel comparisons it's making. There's no mention of solar, wind, etc., etc.

And, no offense to Randall Munroe (not sure why you even dragged him into this), but a short cartoon is irrelevant in the face of the greater evidence that requires much more complexity to understand.

supposed nebulous "industry campaign" conspiracy

I have to admit that I do find it very strange that you are seemingly able to research things like capacity factors, but you just can't seem to muster the ability to research things like nuclear industry campaigns (that exacerbate the fossil fuel industry campaigns).

One doesn't have to simply use an "ecomagination" to find out about very real nuclear industry greenwashing, etc.:

http://www.nucnet.org/all-the-news/2014/02/04/think-tank-urges-australia-to-reconsider-nuclear

Pandora nuclear industry campaign:

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/storage/pandoras-false-promises/Aug23_2013_Pandora's%20False%20Promises.pdf

More:

Pandora’s Myths vs. the Facts
A new film about nuclear energy, Pandora’s Promise, which appears in theaters in June and will be broadcast by CNN in the fall, features five “converts” who argue that the dire threat of climate change requires humanity to embrace nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels.

http://www.thenation.com/article/174740/pandoras-myths-vs-facts#axzz2XphcgYsz

I'm sorry we couldn't have a more rational discussion about this

Stop using half-truth, blanket statements against sustainable energy while starting off with inflammatory over-the-top pro-nuclear sentences that require weak "qualifiers" to diffuse them and you'll find things will much improve for you.


Electricity decentralization, here we come
#40

@PhasmaFelis The tens of thousands of cancer deaths from coal are easy to gloss over

Hear, hear!

Yeah, I'm going to need you guys to show me where I glossed over the hazards of coal. It's possible to be in support of solar, wind, etc. and against coal at the same time, but the nuclear industry doesn't really want anyone to understand such points of view.