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Wasserman writes: "Supporters of nuclear power like to argue that nukes are the key to combatting climate change. Here's why they are dead wrong."

A power plant. (photo: Noticias MVS)
A power plant. (photo: Noticias MVS)


How Nuclear Power Causes Global Warming

By Harvey Wasserman, Progressive.Org

24 September 16

 

Nuclear power protest in Derby, UK, Indymedia

upporters of nuclear power like to argue that nukes are the key to combatting climate change. Here’s why they are dead wrong.

Every nuclear generating station spews about two-thirds of the energy it burns inside its reactor core into the environment. Only one-third is converted into electricity. Another tenth of that is lost in transmission. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Nuclear fission is the most water intensive method of the principal thermoelectric generation options in terms of the amount of water withdrawn from sources. In 2008, nuclear power plants withdrew eight times as much freshwater as natural gas plants per unit of energy produced, and up to 11 percent more than the average coal plant.

Every day, large reactors like the two at Diablo Canyon, California, individually dump about 1.25 billion gallons of water into the ocean at temperatures up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the natural environment.

Diablo’s “once-through cooling system” takes water out of the ocean and dumps it back superheated, irradiated and laden with toxic chemicals. Many U.S. reactors use cooling towers which emit huge quantities of steam and water vapor that also directly warm the atmosphere.

These emissions are often chemically treated to prevent algae and other growth that could clog the towers. Those chemicals can then be carried downwind, along with radiation from the reactors. In addition, hundreds of thousands of birds die annually by flying into the reactor domes and towers.

The Union of Concerned Scientists states:

The temperature increase in the bodies of water can have serious adverse effects on aquatic life. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water, thus discharge from once-through cooling systems can create a “temperature squeeze” that elevates the metabolic rate for fish. Additionally, suction pipes that are used to intake water can draw plankton, eggs and larvae into the plant’s machinery, while larger organisms can be trapped against the protective screens of the pipes. Blocked intake screens have led to temporary shut downs and NRC fines at a number of plants.

And that’s not all.

All nuclear reactors emit Carbon 14, a radioactive isotope, invalidating the industry’s claim that reactors are “carbon free.” And the fuel that reactors burn is carbon-intensive. The mining, milling, and enrichment processes needed to produce the pellets that fill the fuel rods inside the reactor cores all involve major energy expenditures, nearly all of it based on coal, oil, or gas.

And of course there’s the problem of nuclear waste. After more than a half-century of well-funded attempts, we’ve seen no solution for the management of atomic power’s intensely radioactive waste. There’s the “low-level” waste involving enormous quantities of troublesome irradiated liquids and solid trash that must be dealt with outside the standard civilian waste stream. And that handling involves fossil fuels burned in the process of transportation, management, and disposal as well

As for the high-level waste, this remains one of humankind’s most persistent and dangerous problems. Atomic apologists have claimed that the intensely radioactive spent fuel rods can somehow be usable for additional power generation. But after a half-century of efforts, with billions of dollars spent, all attempts to do that have utterly failed. There are zero successful reactors capable of producing more reactor fuel than they use, or able to derive more energy from the tens of thousands of tons of spent fuel rods they create.

Some reactors, like Fukushima, use “mixed-oxide” fuels that have proven to be extremely dirty and expensive. It’s possible some of this “MOX” fuel containing plutonium, actually fissioned at Fukushima Unit Three, raising terrifying questions about the dangers of its use. The mushroom cloud that appears on video as Fukushima Unit Three exploded stands as an epic warning against further use of these impossible-to-manage fuels.

The MOX facility under construction near Aiken, South Carolina, is now projected to require another ten years to build with another ten possible after that to phase into production. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said on September 13, 2016, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that the mismanaged project was "impossible" to carry out and that it could cost $30 billion to $50 billion. Even the current pro-nuclear Congress won’t fully fund the project and the Department of Energy DOE continues to recommend abandoning it.

There are no credible estimates of the global warming damage done by the intensely hot explosions at the four Fukushima reactors, or at Chernobyl, or at any other past and future reactor meltdowns or blowups.

Atomic apologists argue that the disposal of high-level reactor wastes should be a relatively simple problem, lacking only the political will to proceed. The industry touts New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project, or WIPP, which has long been the poster child for military attempts to deal with high-level trash from the nuclear weapons program. Accepting its first shipment of waste in 1999, WIPP was touted as the ultimate high-tech, spare-no-expense model that proved radioactive waste disposal “can be done.”

But a series of disastrous events in February, 2014, led WIPP to stop accepting wastes—the sole function for which it was designed. Most significant was the explosion of a single barrel of highly radioactive waste materials (it was mistakenly packed with organic rather than clay-based kitty litter). About a dozen WIPP workers were exposed to potentially harmful radiation. The entire facility remains closed. In a phone interview, facility management told me it may again accept some wastes before the end of this year. But at least part of the cavernous underground labyrinth may never be reopened. The Los Angeles Times estimated the cost of this single accident at $2 billion.

Overall, the idea that atomic power is “clean” or “carbon free” or “emission free” is a very expensive misconception, especially when compared to renewable energy, efficiency, and conservation. Among conservation, efficiency, solar and wind power technologies, there are no global warming analogs to the heat, carbon, and radioactive waste impacts of nuclear power. No green technology kills anywhere near the number of marine organisms that die through reactor cooling systems.

Rooftop solar panels do not lose ten percent of the power they generate to transmission, as happens with virtually all centralized power generators. S. David Freeman, former head of numerous large utilities and author of All Electric America: A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future, says: “Renewables are cheaper and safer. That argument is winning. Let’s stick to it.”

No terrorist will ever threaten one of our cities by blowing up a solar panel. But the nuclear industry that falsely claims its dying technology doesn’t cause global warming does threaten the future of our planet.


Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. He edits nukefree.org. You can find his GREEN POWER & WELLNESS SHOW at www.prn.fm

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-63 # jdd 2016-09-24 17:56
A preposterous article which neglects the obvious, that nuclear power emits no CO2 or greenhouse gases and therefor is supported by governments world wide, especially in the developing sector. But the author is not really concerned with producing energy as much as generating fear of nuclear power even though 80% of Africans lack access to electricity. Solar panels can never produce enough energy to raise the living standards of the world's population to at least European standards. But what does Wasserman care, he lives comfortably, and it is always true that ant-nuclear activists, when push comes to shove, will call for population control or reduction as the answer. The future lies in nuclear fusion, which can provide practically unlimited energy at almost no cost and create a platform for a technological revolution. Windmills and solar panels are limited by natural factors, such as the amount of sunlight reaching the earth per square acre,. Mankind, on the other handm can"create" energy, even mini-suns, through the a truly unlimited resource - human creativity.
 
 
+26 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-24 19:06
Recently, I spoke with a visitor from Japan. I asked him how he feels about nuclear power. He said, "we love it even tho we had a "small" mishap with it some time ago." (You know this comment about a Japanese visitor was intended as humor.)



Windmills do not care about how much solar energy is distributed per acre unless we are speaking of how solar affects wind movement.

Yes, eventually, nuclear fusion is another way to go. And yes, solar and wind power, water wave power can supply all the energy we need. Germany and other progressives nations are proving it right now.

I do think hydrogen is going to be a very important component of renewable non-polluting power.

What fuel got us to the moon? Name of the fuel starts with the letter H.
 
 
+21 # jimallyn 2016-09-24 23:02
Quoting Eldon J. Bloedorn:
Yes, eventually, nuclear fusion is another way to go.

My favorite statement I have ever heard about nuclear fusion is this:

"Nuclear fusion is still 50 years away, just as it has been for the last 50 years."
 
 
+1 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-25 00:34
Earl Nightengale made a statement some decades ago: "we have a natural resource from which we can make plenty of power, ultra cheap, which is not polluting, does not kill fish, birds, humans, the planet, etc.

Water-ocean water-lake water-river water-undergrou nd water. Can be easily broken down into hydrogen and oxygen using D C current. You do not even have to transport it as it, hydrogen, can be generated on site where it is to be used. What do you need? An electric utility line and of course water. No electric grid? No problem. Use power, electric power,generated by the sun.

Why think about transporting it, hydrogen via pipeline because it can be generated where you need it. If you do not have an electric grid source near a source of water, it is so much less expensive to build am electric line to the water source or use solar electric D C power where the water is to be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen vs. a dirty polluting breakable, subject to rupture crude oil pipeline.

I do think the U S will some day catch up to other European nations which are developing and starting to use hydrogen engines, fuel cells.

What is the product of combustion using hydrogen? Water. Imagine replacing a coal burning power plant with a hydrogen burning power plant. Fantastic!!

Obama's limited vision on renewable energy is so disappointing
 
 
+4 # economagic 2016-09-25 12:21
Uh, that is a common fallacy: Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen requires energy in the form of electricity, and while the energy actually applied to split the molecule of water is exactly equal to the energy released when they recombine (burn). If there were no "friction" in the apparatus we would have perpetual motion but with zero net energy output. In the real world there is always friction, electrical resistance in this case if the source is DC, leading to a net LOSS of energy, much like motor fuel from corn. If the source of electricity is AC there are additional losses.

Since hydrogen exists in pure form only in deep space, it is not a source of energy on Earth, but a means of storing energy, like an electrochemical battery or a very large capacitor.

Why am I the first to point this out? It is high school basic science!
 
 
+2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-25 13:39
Think you do not understand the concept of generating hydrogen and oxygen from water by means of solar panels.

Further, you do not understand the relationship between burning carbon based fuels and health risks, ecological damage, killing the planet.

I quote you, "Since hydrogen exists in pure form only in deep space......" Your reasoning needs to be exercised and refer to math and science rather than taking advice from Capt. Dolittle.

You do know that the first stage of the Saturn rocket relies on the use of kerosene and liquid oxygen? The second stage uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
 
 
0 # crispy 2016-09-27 18:30
eldon. there is a HUGE loss of energy (as heat) when you electrolysis water and you don't seem to know about that or take it into account. I've done it aa a kid and the water heats up a lot
 
 
0 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-27 20:01
Nothing new. Most all chemical reactions generate measurable heat. Your body is a "chemical factory." That is why you normally maintain a temp level of 98.6 degrees F. Perspiration is Nature's way of cooling certain animals as well as humans as long as the relative humidity level is complimentary.

Does your car have a radiator assuming it is water cooled? Do nuclear reactors have cooling towers?

Here is California, in one installation, we have hundreds of acres of solar panels which generate electricity. Solar panels are not fire hazards in my community where almost 30 % of homes are using roof top solar panels.

Using solar power to break down water into its component gases and using those gases to generate power is a "crazy idea." But then, when "the street people" heard that Edison was working on perfecting a practical light bulb which did not need to be "lit" as candles, gas fixtures, do, etc., people thought he "was crazy." Einstein gave his thoughts on creating workable T V transmission, reception, the street people said that Einstein and that idea was "crazy".

You do know that there is a certain % of people, U S citizens, who believe we never landed humans on the moon. And there are many U S citizens who think Noah's ark was real, that a whale gulped down a human.

"Nothing is real unless it is observed." -Basis of scientific knowledge. -John Gribben.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2016-09-25 13:34
A high school friend went on to become one of the small global group of experts on inertial confinement fusion (laser driven). I attended the 50-year class reunion partly because he had indicated on the web site that he would attend. His wife became seriously ill so he was unable to do so, but I emailed him about that and a couple of other items. His response was essentially that, and to the best of my knowledge it applies equally to magnetic confinement.
 
 
0 # Ray Kondrasuk 2016-09-25 04:37
EJB, I think there were two fuels that yielded massive force when reactively blended... um... noxigen and nydrogen?
 
 
+2 # economagic 2016-09-25 13:49
# Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-24 19:06

Hydrogen is a medium for storing energy, not a source in itself. See my reply to your comment just below. The fuel you're thinking of was hydrazine, synthesized at some cost by various chemical processes from ammonia or urea. ALL fuels are storage media, not primary energy sources.
 
 
-2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-25 16:14
I quote you, "Hydrogen is a medium for storing energy, not a source in itself."

Sorry. Stage 11 of the Saturn rocket relies on liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Be sure to tell NASA scientists that they were in error (they, according to you) when the rocket fuel tanks were filled.

You might also be surprised to know that the first stage of the rocket used kerosene and liquid oxygen
 
 
+1 # economagic 2016-09-25 17:29
Correct (second and third stages). Please ask your favorite NASA scientist where s/he GOT the hydrogen. It does not occur naturally except in deep space, and the energy it releases when oxidized is the energy supplied in separating it from the oxygen to which it binds.

In discussing "sources of energy" we are implicitly referring to materials available for human exploitation at the surface of the earth. Ultimately all are remnants of the energy released in the purported "Big Bang." Most of our usable energy arrives at the earth in the form of solar radiation, which in turn is released through nuclear fusion. The "fossil fuels" are stores of flammable carbon that was "fixed" (extracted from the air) by plants millions of years ago. We treat them as primary sources because for our purposes they are available in ready-to-use form. That is not the case with hydrogen, which must be "mined" by adding energy to the substances in which we find it, most notably water.

Similarly, water behind a dam can be released to turn a turbine to turn a generator to generate electrical energy. We can reuse the water (perhaps at night to replace energy from photo-voltaics in the daytime) by expending energy during the day to pump it back above the dam, thus storing that energy just as we could store it in a chemical battery.
 
 
-1 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-25 19:45
Sorry to bust your cherry. Hydrogen can be very easily economically obtained by merely subjecting water to D C current using an anode-cathode, from voltage produced by solar cells.

We do not get a bill from God because we generate current and voltage from the sun. Last time I talked to God, He said except for the cost of building a solar cell, the electrical energy was free.

I really DO NOT know anymore than you do what you are trying to prove? Thanks for your dissertation on photosynthesis, hydro-electric power of which I became aware of in second grade science class.

It has been said by the English that "when an author writes a book, delivers that book to the intended audience and the audience does not understand the material, NEITHER DID THE AUTHOR." If you are in the first stages of writing a book, presenting the material here, have it proof-read by an expert in that field.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2016-09-25 20:21
What do you think I am saying?!?

Yes, hydrogen is obtained by the action of direct current on water. The amount of energy obtained by burning the hydrogen thus produced is equal to the amount of electrical energy used to liberate it, MINUS all system losses (first and second laws of thermodynamics).

It is impossible ever to get out of any energy conversion process as much energy as we put in. God always imposes a tax. The excess we gain over the useful life of the hardware by using fossil fuels and other resources to construct PV cells is possible because it is not a single process in a closed system, instead absorbing solar energy and "outputting" (such a lovely word -- NOT!) a significantly smaller quantity of energy in the form of electricity, but still enough to more than offset the energy used in its construction.

The term for that excess of energy "produced" over energy used to produce it over the life cycle escapes me at the moment, but it is one key figure when discussing whether an energy system results in a net gain or loss, and how big. For example, that figure for motor fuel from corn is approximately one. It would be much lower were it not for the gain through photosynthesis (system open to solar input). The figure for burning hydrogen generated by the electrolysis of water is somewhat less than one. That is why we say hydrogen is a storage system rather than a source.
 
 
-1 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-25 20:38
I quote you, "We treat them as primary sources because for our purposes they are in ready to use form."

Pretty exciting! Now I understand why 20 gallons of gasoline just seem to arrive on my front porch every Monday morning. LOL!

Of course, gasoline is in a ready to use form. We do not have to drill holes in the earth to find "it." There is no crude oil that has to be transported, refined, transported by pipeline, railed, shipped trucked to point of demand. Same for coal. It just arrives by the Fairy Godmother when we need it. Does not have to be mined, stored, cleaned, trucked. Just shows up at the power generation facility.

Thank you for your "understanding" of the matter.
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-26 08:31
Eldon, to a certain extent we are arguing over semantics (e.g., "fuel" vs "energy source"). But to a certain extent you are ignoring or missing entirely a crucial aspect of energy as it is exploited for human purposes.

The term I was trying to recall earlier is "energy returned on energy invested" (EROEI), as opposed to "net energy gain" (NEG). NEG is a fuzzy term, in part because it is not expressed as a ratio (percentage), as is EROEI. Recognizing that most "fuels" or "energy sources" (also loosely defined) are not "provided by God" in the form in which we ultimately use them, most ultimate "sources" require processing in order for us to use them. Even photosynthesis requires that we harvest some p0lants in order to benefit from it, and usually to plant the seeds and tend them.

EROEI is simply the ratio of energy output to energy input, or of energy delivered to energy expended in any given situation. It is useful because it distinguishes types of energy that deliver a lot of energy to the end users (us) compared to the potential energy consumed in the process from types that deliver very little, and in particular those for which the net gain (NEG) is zero or negative. EROEI for most fossil fuels is pretty high, but increasingly lower for "extreme" sources such as tar sand. EROEI for hydrogen would be 1 (one) in the absence of thermodynamic "friction," but in reality is less than one.

(continued)
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-26 08:37
(continued)

When we split water molecules to get hydrogen, we expend more energy in the process than is released when the hydrogen is burned. Hydrogen has some unique and desirable properties that could make its use worthwhile for certain purposes, as long as we have some energy to spare. In general, however, that is a losing proposition.

In this sense, there is no "free lunch" (i.e., "free" energy): In general, we must spend energy to get energy. In most cases it makes no sense to spend more than you get. In those terms, hydrogen is a very costly "source" or "reservoir" of energy (either way), because it costs us more (energy) than it provides.

See Douglas Jack's post just below for additional context.
 
 
-2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-26 09:40
You did not understand the concept of breaking down water into hydrogen/oxygen by means of electricity generated by means of solar power. Hydrogen is very easily, cheaply produced by using solar power. That my friend is indisputable.
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-26 10:32
Sorry Eldon, it is you who fails to understand that process ("concept"). I have no idea how much you actually know about electricity or energy in general, so not sure how to help you to understand.

How about a numerical example:

Suppose we have a tank of water in which two electrodes are immersed. Suppose we burn some coal to produce 1,000 btu of energy in the form of heat which we are then able miraculously to convert to 1,000 btu of electrical energy (DC). Forget about the standard units, and we'll get back to solar power in a moment.

We apply our 1,000 btu of energy in the form of electrical current to the electrodes in the tank, which liberates a certain mass of hydrogen. We collect the hydrogen and direct it to a perfectly efficient burner and measure the energy in the form of heat that is generated. Theory and experiment agree that we will get less than 1,000 btu from burning the hydrogen. It is unlikely that either you or I has the equipment to actually perform this experiment, but it has been done many times, always with the same result.

"Ah," you say, "but solar energy is free." Yes it is, but only in its raw form. In order to transform the energy in the solar radiation into energy in the form of electric current we need solar cells -- a LOT of them. To manufacture them requires a lot of energy that must undergo multiple transformations.

(continued)
 
 
+1 # economagic 2016-09-26 11:16
(continued)

When our solar ("PV") array is completed, it will generate energy in the form of electrical current for perhaps 30 years, and over that period it will generate several times more energy than was expended to build it. Research yields figures of 10-60 times more.

That's not a bad return on energy invested, and that's why we should continue to promote and expand the use of this technology.

Now suppose we take 1 kilowatt-hour of that solar-generated electricity (equal; to about 3,400 btu) and use it to split water molecules to obtain hydrogen. When we burn the hydrogen, we get LESS than 1 kwh ~ 3,400 btu of energy in the form of heat.

That inexorable law has been well and quantitatively understood for more than 150 years.

I make my claims on the basis of a degree in physics, experience in electrical engineering going back nearly 60 years, personal study of the basics of thermodynamics and the history of science, and practical work and theoretical study ongoing to this day. To understand the simple principle here requires only a tiny fraction of that knowledge, and you are perfectly capable of achieving such understanding if you are willing to expend a little time and energy.

I urge you to read Douglas Jack's post immediately below. If you wish to explore, the Wikipedia article on EROEI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_returned_on_energy_invested) is a bit technical and disorganized, but might also lead you to interesting insights.
 
 
0 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-26 12:01
You do not understand the concept of using an almost free (except for the cost of manufacturing and installation of solar panels) source of energy to create oxygen and hydrogen. Almost makes hydrogen free.

Yes, LOL, I received my free 20 gallons of gasoline this morning as you say, "we have fuels that are ready to use,"

I spent almost 40 years in the industrial electrical industry. Bachelor of science degree. One year of post grad work. Your degrees mean nothing if you lack perception and understanding. OK?

Why are my neighbors and myself installing roof top solar panels if the economics of solar energy is false?

Sorry, I have to cut this conversation off as it is not logical to continue it.
 
 
+1 # Douglas Jack 2016-09-25 21:11
Economagic, RE: "The term for that excess of energy "produced" over energy used to produce it over the life cycle escapes me at the moment,"

An appropriate word for the cost of all energy & materials used in production & operation over that generated is 'embodied'.

Thanks for your great & patient descriptions here. This mathematical comprehension is particularly limited in a lot of hydrogen & nuclear advocates even those working deeply in these industries are unable to do such basic calculations.

Proselytizers are always in a hurry to make more mistakes instead of going through the calculations step-by-step, fact-by-fact. Engineers gain degrees largely through memorization of facts, which they haven't verified. They are tragically unable to understand & calculate the interdisciplina ry physics, biology, chemistry & of equivalent distributed biosphere production or the epidemiology of human health.

Integration of inter-disciplin ary science requires a free will guided by mentors from a young age. Its incumbent upon human society to take 'education' out of the segregating boxes which imprison students & bring youth back into relationship with elder mentors. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/4-apprenticeship-education

The biosphere being 'self-generatin g' aka 'indigenous' in DNA is far more capable of producing energy biologically than humans are through mechanical reproduction. Its when we study & mimic nature that we learn its mysteries.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2016-09-26 20:18
Thanks Douglas Jack -- looks like I finally wore that one down, not my original purpose. Thirteen years teaching in community colleges made me intensely aware of the intellectual limitations of the greater part of the populace. My last DH and dean were worse than some of the students.

I appreciate your comments on education. With the Infinitely Expanding Home Improvement Project winding down, I hope to get back to my plans for retirement. Still no coherent list of projects small and large, but one of the large ones involves a New Education outside the academy, to parallel the New Economics (Schumacher). For that I have at least one able accomplice, an early auto-didact who graduated from an excellent Jesuit HS in NOLA, then later from COA in Maine, which still sends a student or two to the global climate conferences.

My way-background includes at least passing acquaintance with a number of alternative educational models (Summerhill, Montessori, Waldorf, folk arts schools, fetc.) as well as the late, great Black Mountain College 3 hours to the west, and an equally important school for political/civil rights organizing just a little farther away. Most of these are gone with the wind along with their founders, but their spirit lives on.

Genuine education is a little like that senator's duck or Potter Stewart's definition of porn: People who are inclined that way know it when they see it. We will likely always be a minority, but we will likely always be around.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2016-09-25 20:30
Clarification: I did NOT say that hydrogen is not a fuel. It is, and one with relatively high energy density. It is NOT however, a SOURCE of energy in the sense of providing more energy than is required to generate it.

This is not second-grade material, and it is college-level material only at a fairly high level of "STEM." I can discuss it only because I attained that level a long time ago and have managed to maintain if not expand it a little in the intervening (almost) 50 years.

The basic aspects, however -- such as the distinction between a source of energy in the sense defined and a system that merely stores energy (always with some inherent losses) -- are indeed within the reach of anyone with a good high-school science background, maybe even less than that. "Critical" thinking can take the place of a lot of factoids.
 
 
-2 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-26 12:20
You remind me of the engineer who applied for a job to work as one in Edison's research facility. He was asked as a pre-qualificati on to calculate how much water could be contained in a weird looking jug. The glass jug looked like two fighting dogs joined at their snouts with a small open top above the joined snouts. The engineer worked and worked on the solution. Hours later Edison stopped by and asked how the engineer was doing. The engineer said "I'm on my way. I'm getting it." Edison picked up the jug, poured water into it and then poured the water out into a measuring flask. Showed the measurement to the engineer. Edison to the engineer, "if you want to work around here, you need to be practical."
 
 
+1 # economagic 2016-09-26 20:43
Clearly you were that "engineer"!
 
 
+1 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2016-09-26 21:31
Sorry, I'm not that old to have been "that" engineer. Thank you for conversing. I enjoyed it. The object of conversing is to learn something of value.

I grew up in the electrical field. My father was an electrical contractor. My brother-in-law is a carbon molecular/fluid dynamics researcher for a major aerospace co. here in Ca. We have some great discussions. My brother was a research engineer/freque ncy measurements for HP. Worked on his engineering doctorate. We have had great discussions.

We used to "buzz" each other for certain ideas which we at times disagreed with one another. But, we never took the "buzzings" personally in that we (I) would wake up the follow morning and usually had a good laugh over the disagreements we had.

Before I retired, the last two jobs we completed were (1) installing two natural gas jet engines which drove generators and delivered power to the UCLA campus bldgs. The jet engine exhaust heat was used to cool and heat campus buildings. More heat was generated than we needed to cool and heat campus bldgs. So, we used that excess heat to create steam to run a turbine and which turbine then drove a generator to generate additional electrical power. (2) Built a peaker power plant for the city of Glendale, Ca. using a jet engine obtained from the former Enron Co. The engine was just sitting around in an Enron warehouse. We put it to work.

Very fascinating work.

Best of luck to you.
 
 
+27 # wrknight 2016-09-24 20:11
Quoting jdd:
.... Mankind, on the other hand can"create" energy, even mini-suns, through the a truly unlimited resource - human creativity.
Unfortunately most of that human creativity appears to be focussed on creating more efficient ways to kill and destroy (both of which contribute to global warming).
 
 
+24 # economagic 2016-09-24 20:33
@jdd

Can you read? DID you read this article? "A preposterous article which neglects the obvious, that nuclear power emits no CO2 or greenhouse gases"? Wasserman absolutely does NOT "ignore" those facts, while you ignore everything that he says, including the enormous carbon footprint of the nuclear fuel cycle alone, all of which happens to be correct.

Unless you have some serious credentials in the relevant fields of human knowledge, I recommend that you do as I started doing 40-45 years ago, and learn why many well-informed people today say what Wasserman is saying about the shortcomings and pitfalls of nuclear fission power. Twenty years before that, in the "Atoms For Peace" era (a cover for the nuclear arms industry), I thought nuclear power really WAS as billed. Read some of the patently absurd projects suggested by supposedly serious people in those days, such as creating deep water harbors using nuclear explosives.

Later, having realized that not all of the nice stuff I had learned could possibly be true (because some of it was contradicted by other parts), I began the long and endless journey of learning to distinguish claims that could possibly have some validity from others that cannot (such as those that lead to contradictions) . I'm not there yet -- there is no there -- but with regard to the subjects discussed in this article you have yet to begin.
 
 
+14 # John Puma 2016-09-25 00:15
In fact the author DID ignore one factor in the nuclear power contribution to CO2 production: the massive amount of fossil fuels required to build the plants themselves, including, but not limited to, the high-CO2 intensive manufacture of the concrete.

To refresh the point: CO2 released by burning of fossil fuels remains in the atmosphere, contributing its warming effect, for centuries.
 
 
0 # Douglas Jack 2016-09-25 11:52
Economagic, Yes! The main problem for defenders of nuclear power is innumeracy or the inability to make complex multi-disciplin ary calculations such as epidemiology or bio-statistics require. Innumeracy comes from energy & materials addictive lifestyle & beliefs, which leave advocates with the inability to take complex calculations for the consequences of their lifestyle & actions (responsibility ) into consideration. Being detached from reality, advocates can only continue to dump their lifestyle wastes on unsuspecting populations, while at the same time in continual denial. Irresponsibilit y is an inherent part of 'exogenous' (Latin 'other-generate d') colonial genocide for 1st Nation & worldwide 'indigenous' (L 'self-generatin g') heritage, still not recognized or addressed. Humanity can not go forward as a species under the inefficient extractive, exploitive & hierarchal violent colonial regimes which oligarchs have imposed. We must reawaken our million years indigenous intelligent heritage. www.indigenecommunity.info
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-25 12:22
Amen to all of that. Glad to see you again.
 
 
+24 # Floe 2016-09-24 20:40
This reminds me of the argument surrounding tobacco. No, it's not harmful experts claimed. But everyone knows it is.
 
 
+14 # davehaze 2016-09-24 22:25
Jdd. Are you a conservative against big government and taxing A to give to B? Well, nuclear energy is the most public-subsidiz ed fuel of all, pure (that is "impure") socialism, beating out oil/gas, wind/solar/ther mal and the least-subsidize d conservation.

If we stop wasting energy - and there are hundreds of ways to stop wasting energy - we wouldn't have to build any more power plants in the first world for decades and in developing nations only solar/wind/thermal.

But don't believe me because I would be insulted if you believed me because you live in fantasy land.
 
 
+8 # jimallyn 2016-09-24 23:14
Quoting jdd:
Solar panels can never produce enough energy to raise the living standards of the world's population to at least European standards. ... Windmills and solar panels are limited by natural factors, such as the amount of sunlight reaching the earth per square acre.

I wonder what surface area would be required and what type of infrastructural investment would be required to supply that amount of power by using only solar panels. To create fuel that can be used in vehicles and equipment I am assuming that some of the electricity generated would be used to create hydrogen. We should all start wondering about these things since we will have really no other choice* by the turn of the next century.

So to find this out we start with the big number 678,000,000,000 ,000,000 Btu.

Converting this to KW•h [1 Btu = .0002931 kW•h (kilowatt hours)] makes 198,721,800,000 ,000 kW•h (199,721 TW•h). This is for an entire year. As a comparison, the average household uses approximately 18,000 kW•h per year (1/11 billion of the total world usage).

We can figure a capacity of .2KW per SM of land (an efficiency of 20% of the 1000 watts that strikes the surface in each SM of land).
 
 
+7 # jimallyn 2016-09-24 23:16
So now we know the capacity of each square meter and what our goal is. We have our capacity in KW so in order to figure out how much area we’ll need, we have to multiply it by the number of hours that we can expect each of those square meters of photovoltaic panel to be outputting the .2KW capacity (kilowatts x hours = kW•h).

Using 70% as the average sunshine days per year (large parts of the world like upper Africa and the Arabian peninsula see 90-95% – so this number is more than fair), we can say that there will be 250 sun days per year at 8 hours of daylight on average. That’s 2,000 hours per year of direct sunlight.

Therefore, we can multiply each square meter by 2,000 to arrive at a yearly kW•h capacity per square meter of 400 kW•h.

Dividing the global yearly demand by 400 kW•h per square meter (198,721,800,00 0,000 / 400) and we arrive at 496,804,500,000 square meters or 496,805 square kilometers (191,817 square miles) as the area required to power the world with solar panels. This is roughly equal to the area of Spain. At first that sounds like a lot and it is. But we should put this in perspective.
 
 
+7 # jimallyn 2016-09-24 23:17
If divided into 5,000 super-site installations around the world (average of 25 per country), it would measure less than 10km a side for each. The UAE has plans to construct 1,500MW of capacity by 2020 which will require a space of 3 km per side. If the UAE constructed the other 7 km per side of that area, it would be able to power itself as a nation completely with solar energy. The USA would require a much larger area and approximately 1,000 of these super-sites.

According to the United Nations 170,000 square kilometers of forest is destroyed each year. If we constructed solar farms at the same rate, we would be finished in 3 years.

There are 1.2 million square kilometers of farmland in China. This is 2 1/2 times the area of solar farm required to power the world in 2030.



Compare it to the Saharan Desert:

The Saharan Desert is 9,064,958 square kilometers, or 18 times the total required area to fuel the world.

By another measure, “the unpopulated area of the Sahara desert is over 9 million km², which if covered with solar panels would provide 630 terawatts total power. The Earth’s current energy consumption rate is around 13.5 TW at any given moment (including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric). ” This measure arrives at a multiplier of 46 times the area needed and shows that my numbers are very conservative.
 
 
+8 # jimallyn 2016-09-24 23:19
Any other myths you'd like to have me crush for you, jdd?

Source of information: http://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/127
 
 
+1 # itchyvet 2016-09-25 07:52
Well Jim, I don't mean to discredit your work that you've done to impress us all with your intelligence, however, there does seem to be something missing from your calculations.
That is the DEMAND for electricity is DROPPING. I cant speak for the U.S. or Europe, but I certainly can for Australia, where the grid has been gold plated over the years with a massive expected demand growth, only to discover anything but, in fact demand is being reduced. This has been put down to ever increasing prices, thus people use less, also electricity devices today are becoming incredibly more efficient thus again, reducing the demand further still. You only need to look at LED lighting, which is making a huge impact, imagine every home on earth with this type of lighting fitted, what impact would that have upon electricity demand ?? Bugger, looks like you'll need to go back to the white board and redo your sums a bit.
 
 
+3 # John Puma 2016-09-25 00:34
Excellent!
 
 
+8 # Fishmael 2016-09-24 18:43
Personally, I envision a billion unicorns running on treadmills to produce electricity. Why not, since human creativity is unlimited?
 
 
+12 # jdd 2016-09-24 18:57
Creativity is not randomness, it is not fantasy, nor is it bad jokes, but is as Einstein said, the use of imagination to comprehend and apply the laws of the physical universe, which unlike billions of unicorns, exist in reality.
 
 
+18 # economagic 2016-09-24 20:36
Right. Learn them. Do not take at face value the claims of people and industries whose livelihoods depend on perpetuating those claims that grass is blue and sky is green.
 
 
+30 # MichiganProgressive 2016-09-24 19:14
C14 emissions are probably negligible as carbon emissions go, but the carbon footprint involved in mining, refining, and transporting the nuclear fuel is not negligible. Nor is the problem of storage / disposal of spent fuel, which takes millennia to decay to a safe level of radioactivity. That is an expensive problem that still vexes the nuclear fission power industry and humankind in general.
 
 
+10 # librarian1984 2016-09-25 00:07
We should not develop any technology where we don't have a safe way to dispose of the waste.
 
 
+28 # GoGreen! 2016-09-24 19:43
If after reading this you are concerned about the dangers of nuclear power, I suggest you look up Jill Stein's web page. You may have never heard of Jill Stein and the Green Party. The major media has a lock down on what we know about the candidates running for President. We are not allowed to know about Jill Stein because then we might break up the two party system. Under this system we must choose the lesser of two evil candidates.

While the corporate powers don't want you to know about Jill Stein, here on the internet you can learn of her plans for a Green New Deal where we will invest in a rapid change to green energy sources like solar, wind and currents of the rivers and the seas. We can put our people to work creating a new energy system and end all these wars to get the oil.

Remember before the attack on Iraq there was Operation Iraqi Liberation--OIL ! Yep, that is what we are fighting about---stealin g the oil that we can burn to kill our Mother Earth for the profits of the oil industry.

Check out Jill Stein and learn of the many good ideas she has to improve our government and care for the people and protect our environment.
 
 
+14 # Skyelav 2016-09-24 19:57
Agreed and done.
 
 
+24 # MichiganProgressive 2016-09-24 20:05
Been a Green since 2008, since right after President-elect Barack Obama appointed Larry Summers and Tim Geithner to head his economic team. For me, that was the last straw. It wasn't so much that I left the Democratic Party is that it had left me and all working class Americans. It edged back a bit while Bernie Sanders was in the presidential race, but -- nope, they just couldn't bring themselves to nominate the best candidate they'd had since Jimmy Carter.

Jill Stein has the right values, the right world view, and the right plans to move America forward and restore the world's respect for our country. She has my vote.
 
 
+12 # librarian1984 2016-09-25 00:11
The Summers-Geithne r appointments were a revelation, weren't they? That was when it became clear Obama was not what we had hoped. It didn't take long.

We do not need TWO Republican parties.
 
 
+3 # economagic 2016-09-25 12:25
Among others less well known!
 
 
+1 # Thomas Martin 2016-09-24 19:50
This article is misleading and wrong on most points. It combines misinformation with sensationalism, which is a bad combination. First, global warming is being caused by the pollution of our atmosphere by greenhouse gases, not by waste heat coming from power sources that use steam turbines for electrical power generation, which include coal, oil, gas, nuclear, and some solar generation. Second, the main problem with nuclear power is dealing with its radioactive waste, not its waste heat carried off in hot water. Third, saying that there’s a problem with C14 from nuclear plants is … well … stupid. C14 isn’t a problem, but the higher-level radioactive products are. Trying to tie C14 in nuclear power generation to nuclear power’s own faults, or to global warming just because there’s a “C” in its name is, again, “stupid”. How can we ever hope to make right choices when the facts of a matter are presented as misleadingly and wrongly as the ones are in this article are?!? I beg to be corrected if there are faults in these criticisms.
 
 
+2 # MichiganProgressive 2016-09-24 20:08
I like Harvey Wasserman and think he has written some great articles, but I agree with you Thomas -- this one just doesn't cut it, for the reasons you cite.
 
 
+6 # MichiganProgressive 2016-09-24 20:09
I might add that there ARE good reasons not to do nuclear fission power, but making the argument based on carbon emissions is not among them.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2016-09-24 20:49
Please see my reply to Thomas Martin, below. The claims in this article are not matters of opinion. I have never heard of C14 being a problem, so I concede that point, least in significance among the claims in the article.
 
 
0 # Douglas Jack 2016-09-25 11:39
economagic, No need to "concede". Wasserman's well researched on the cutting-edge. He's referring to Carbon 14 as an indicator element with hazards in-&-of-itself but also of other co-commitant radioactive isotopes which cause great health damage & many deaths across populations. Great article 12Jul'16 with X30 references hyperlinked. http://www.agreenroadjournal.com/2014/05/carbon-14-emitted-by-nuclear-power.html

Transmission losses along electrical lines, including transformer losses, is about ~5% per 100 miles. Given average transmission distance from central generating plants there are losses of about 50% of all energy generated in central: nuclear, coal, natural-gas, hydro, wind turbines. Transmission along these massive 2-D Right-of-Way losses include: Electro-Magneti c-Field bleeding, Transformer losses, capital construction costs, maintenance, etc. Factoring Externalities such as loss of biosphere productive value to local communities, human health cost, wildlife disease/death = loss of another 25% of power generated.

In 'built-environm ents' are concentrations of wind, water (grey-water, urine etc), soil (fecal, kitchen cuttings, yard-waste etc) & solar energy & embodied energy in waste materials which destroy biosphere, buildings, wildlife & make the urban environment unpleasant. Eg. Buildings concentrate wind by 15 times ambient speeds on linear-axis helical turbines are mounted. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/9-complementary-energy
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-25 12:46
Right. There are plenty of energy flows that can be tapped to a small degree which together could easily replace fossil fuels even for, uh, fuel, although large-scale diversion could lead to redistribution of heat (the end product) with uncertain consequences.

Throughput of resources other than energy is a problem in itself and also drives energy use. We're in for some rapid changes regardless of whether we succeed in bringing about the shift to renewable energy. That need not be catastrophic in principle, but our track record in such matters is not encouraging.
 
 
+1 # Douglas Jack 2016-09-25 16:04
economagic, Massive Capital, EMF, Transformer, infrastructure, Right-of-Way losses on the Transmission-li ne side from Central generation are unsustainable. Local distributed "energy flows" with generation from COMPLEMENTARY ENERGY clean up living environments, rivers, air, soil etc & protect building skins, roofs, foundations simultaneously.

Building mounted linear-axis helical wind turbines on shear-surfaces concentrate 15 times ambient wind speeds & density, making generation constant, protect building skins from damage & at the same time make roofs, porches, streets & lanes pleasant places to be for humans & wildlife.

Building mounted vertical Photo-voltaic electric & hot-water panels on south, east & west surfaces need a fraction of cleaning, last longer, insulate & protect building surfaces.

Green roofs provide food, insulate buildings & filter soft rain water for consumption. Combined with Grey-Water recycling into gardens etc, we protect foundations & massively reduce expensive city water consumption.

Multihome building fecal-matter combined with vegetable kitchen cuttings channeled through waterless bio-digestion methane toilet tanks, produce significant amounts of methane for cooking & heating. Urine is placed into leaf composters to break down compostables quickly. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/design/5-bio-digestion-toilet

Cities can easily be energy exporters. Key to local generation are multihome economies of scale & expertise.
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-25 17:33
All true. The technologies exist, and some are economically feasible now but for the inertia of bureaucracies and vested interests.
 
 
0 # Douglas Jack 2016-09-25 19:35
economagic, RE: "inertia of bureaucracies and vested interests."

The missing 'fractal' ('part-contains -the-whole') in our society which groups & empowers individual action, investment & trade in critical-mass economies-of-sc ale is the multihome dwelling complex (apartment, townhouse & Village), 70% of us live in multihomes, but have forgotten how to organize this scale of economy.

The average size of multihomes, worldwide is 32 dwelling units with ~100 people. Represented at this scale are 1 - 30 million dollar earning & spending economies. Multihomes are intimate enough for even 3 year olds to know all faces, amenable to intergeneration al-living, separate but in proximity.

Multihomes enable us to catalogue talent, collectively research, invest, implement & install the appropriate energy generating equipment in modular multiples. Thus we're able to employ amongst neighbourhoods, expert specialists to monitor & service building-mounte d solar, wind, methane-digeste rs, grey-water, green-roofs etc. In our LaSalle-Montrea l one-square kilometre neighbourhood are some 6000 people with all the talent, goods & services needed to make community thrive. Presently most are immigrants.

Indigene Community's 'Do-we-know-who -we-are-?' multihome neighbourhood website project with a Human-Resource- Catalogue, Resource-Mappin g & accounting for transaction with a Community-Inves tment-&-Exchang e-System. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/structure/9-do-we-know-who-we-are
 
 
+1 # wrknight 2016-09-24 20:18
You are right on all counts, Tom.
 
 
+16 # economagic 2016-09-24 20:46
# Thomas Martin 2016-09-24 19:50

Sorry:

1. No one is claiming that global warming is caused by waste heat from turbines. Read the article again, more carefully.

2. Wasserman does not claim that waste heat carried away in cooling water is the main problem with nuclear electrical generation. He claims that it is "A" problem, which it is, for the reasons he outlines.

3. As far as I know, C14 in nuclear emissions is not a serious problem, unless it is contaminating the critical (for human knowledge) process of carbon dating of antiquities.

That give you one for three, and you don't question any of the other claims in the article.

I really do not enjoy writing like this, and am working on developing a different tone. But the facts presented in this article aside from C14 are indeed factual, to the best of my knowledge based on 60-plus years of study of the subjects involved, including a degree in physics. If you believe otherwise, please put your cards on the table: Not your claims, as you have already done, but the sources to back them up and your credentials qualifying you to evaluate them.
 
 
-2 # Thomas Martin 2016-09-24 22:44
"Sorry: 1. No one is claiming that global warming is caused by waste heat from turbines. Read the article again, more carefully." ... I did reread, and this is what I read: the title of the article is “How Nuclear Power Causes Global Warming” … period Please tell us how global warming is caused by nuclear power
 
 
-1 # economagic 2016-09-25 12:51
The title is not the article, and is likely supplied by an editor at RSN. Nuclear power obviously does not CAUSE global warming. As the article makes clear, however, it does contribute in several ways both direct and indirect, of which most people (apparently including yourself) are not aware of. The comment by davehaze 2016-09-24 22:25 mentions yet another reason that depending upon it to slow global warming is misguided and dangerous.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2016-09-24 20:54
Where on God's blue earth are you guys getting your "facts"? Wasserman really IS an expert, with years of journalistic experience in this subject. I say that based on even more years studying the science, and also the claims on both sides. Fortunately the nuclear industry does not promote blatant falsehoods the way that firms in many other industries do.

CARBON IS THE LEAST SIGNIFICANT ASPECT OF THIS ISSUE (THOUGH STILL SIGNIFICANT IN TERMS OF CO2 FOR THE FUEL CYCLE).
 
 
-7 # ericlipps 2016-09-24 21:00
The article on carbon-14 cited above claims that nuclear reactors "turn ordinary carbon into a radioactive heavy-metal poison." This is nonsense.

Carbon-14, like all isotopes of carbon, is a lightweight (element #6 of 92 naturally occurring ones) semi-metal, not a "heavy metal." (To repeat: carbon, radioactive or not, is not a metal, period.) If this article gets something like this wrong--somethin g any bright high school student who has taken a chemistry class would know--how can anything else it claims be taken seriously?

Or perhaps the author does know it, but puts in this claim anyway to make nuclear reactors seem more dangerous, confident that he can con the rubes reading his screed.
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-25 17:40
What article are you citing? I went back through the Wasserman article three times and found nothing of the sort. He mentions C14 only once:

"All nuclear reactors emit Carbon 14, a radioactive isotope, invalidating the industry’s claim that reactors are 'carbon free.'"

Clearly C14 is not a major source of atmospheric CO2, and Wasserman does not claim that it is, going on to relate the ways in which nuclear electric power does have a large carbon footprint.
 
 
+7 # ahollman 2016-09-24 21:59
Wasserman overstates some arguments against nuclear power and understates others. Overall, I still consider nuclear power a poor choice for a sustainable energy source.

Wasserman correctly notes that two-thirds of the energy generated from nuclear fission is released into the environment as heat, mostly as heated water. That fraction, likewise other results, should be compared to fossil fuel plants and to renewables.

The reusability and source of the water is significant. Coal, oil, and natural extraction creates enormous amounts of dirty water and often contaminates groundwater. Cooling a fossil fuel plant releases quantities of heat comparable to nuclear plants. Oceanside nukes plants that take in and release some billion gallons per day put a huge, albeit local, quantity of heat into the ocean. A British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the amount of heat needed to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. 1 billion gallons of water times 7.5 pounds of water per gallon times 20F of heating is a lot of heat per day. Plants that recycle the same water repeatedly emit just as much heat, but put it into the atmosphere.

Fossil fuel combustion adds CO2 to the atmosphere; nuclear fission does not. But, nuclear fission creates other dangerous waste products.

Nukes and fossil fuel plants allow the US, with 5% of the world’s population, to consume 25-40% of its resources. That is unsustainable in the long run. Our challenge is to consume less and let others consume more.
 
 
+11 # futhark 2016-09-24 22:15
"The mining, milling, and enrichment processes needed to produce the pellets that fill the fuel rods inside the reactor cores all involve major energy expenditures, nearly all of it based on coal, oil, or gas."

This is something I have long suspected. The nuclear power industry, like even "clean" power industries, is still dependent on the platform of fossil fuel burning at nearly every step of the way. Until the amount of fossil fuel energy invested in any alternative energy production technology is made explicit, very little that is said about its "clean" nature can be reliably stated.
 
 
+5 # Razzoo2 2016-09-24 22:17
The long term problems of dealing with nuclear waste are given an interesting treatment in the documentary Into Eternity http://www.intoeternitythemovie.com/ which tells of an attempt to do it right in Finland. Thoughtful and thought provoking.
 
 
+3 # itchyvet 2016-09-25 08:02
Of course the storage facility in New Mexico was also supposed to top of the line and perfect until it blew it's top because of human error, cutting costs by using the wrong material. THIS, IMHO, is the MAIN ISSUE when dealing with nuclear waste, you CANNOT cut out the stupid things humans do just to save a dollar and please the bean counters, whilst the whole facility goes up in smoke. THAT'S THE DANGER STARING US ALL IN THE FACE.
Maybe the Fins are extremely clever with their facility, however, human nature being what it is, they are gambling with the lives and environment of everyone around them. Is it worth the risk ?? IMHO, NO ! There is only one earth, when we've stuffed that up, there's no where else to go.
 
 
0 # speedboy 2016-09-25 01:50
I was impressed by the genius of the scientific data submitted in the above comments, but none of these account for the impact of human stupidity, or how we expect to overcome this problem with innovations like "home-schooling ".
 
 
0 # itchyvet 2016-09-25 08:02
My point exactly.
 
 
-6 # revhen 2016-09-25 06:16
Since nuclear power and fossil fuels are so bad, let's revert to candles, fire wood, sail boats, and horses. No problems with these . . . .
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2016-09-25 12:43
Or maybe we could divert the money, energy and resources devoted to war and apply them to technological advances.

Maybe we could fund our schools and capture again the entrepreneurial , inventive and creative approach to problems we used to have, with a generation of engineers and scientists.

Maybe corporations could quit burying advances in transportation and energy that hurt their bottom line.

Or maybe we could learn to live with less so that others might have more.
 
 
+4 # economagic 2016-09-25 13:57
@revhen,

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, or from what standpoint. The science of climate change -- its existence, how it occurs, what drives it (primarily greenhouse gases such as CO2 and CH4, aka methane or "natural gas"), and why it is an existential threat to human survival -- is as solid as that which allows you to drive a car or communicate via the internet.

Abandoning fossil fuels does not by any stretch of imagination require returning to the Stone Age, or even to the nineteenth century. The options are pretty clear and pretty well known.

Nuclear is a separate issue. Some otherwise reasonable and well-informed people (e.g., Henry Giroux) advocate it at least as a bridge between carbon and renewables. That is unnecessary, and probably a very bad idea as Wasserman and several people in this thread besides myself have explained.
 
 
0 # rsstein1 2016-09-25 07:00
The concern has been expressed that nuclear power plants "waste energy" in that about 2/3 of it is emitted as heat with environmentally harmful results. Iy should be understood that conventional fossil fuel power plants also do this because at the usually possible operating temperatures, thermodynamics dictates that only about 1/3 to 1/2 of the energy in the fossil fuel is converted into useful energy and the rest is evolved as heat. If this heat is not utilized, as is often the case, these could also be criticized. The problem could be avoided in both by cogeneration, where this emitted heat is put to use for such purposed as heating buildings or supplying needed heat for processes. This is sometimes done, but not generally because it adds to the initial cost, although it could be ultimately economical in the long run. New nuclear plants are currently not favored because of economics and this "wasted" energy would make them more costly. However, with suitable long range financing and increased efficiency of they nuclear plant, they could eventually become competitive. They are not now and probably will not be for several decades, but we should consider this future possibility.
 
 
0 # economagic 2016-09-25 12:55
Correct in principle. Let us know when fission power becomes competitive with renewables net of subsidies, in money cost and also in terms of energy inputs required to build and maintain the infrastructure.
 
 
0 # proletariat 2016-09-28 08:54
Just a side note. What have been the ecological effects on the planet from all the nuclear bombs that have been detonated over the years. Were there any studies done before and after all the tests in the 40's and 50's. I know this article is about nuclear as a form of clean energy but to me you cannot separate the nuclear energy industry from the nuclear weapons industry, its all connected just like the bio sphere. What kind of effects does a nuke blast have in regards to climate change?
 

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