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View Diary: Global Warming - Creating the Conditions for a Cronkite Moment - Part 2: This is solvable (91 comments)

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  •  this is, in a sense, a crisis of the Left (0+ / 0-)

    The obvious solution to the climate crisis is to switch immediately to atomic energy, which is already competitive with fossil fuels anyway- France switched over 40 years ago, but for political reasons as well as the fact of cheap fossil fuels most other countries didn't.

    What political reasons?  On the Left, people witnessed the destructive power of atomic weapons and realized that humanity could not afford to use them.  Early atomic energy programs were run by the same people with the same secrecy as the weapons programs, in fact, the first few British nuclear power plants were designed to produce plutonium close to weapons grade (creating weapons plutonium that can be used for weapons as a waste product from a power reactor is very difficult, no one else has ever attempted it).  Perhaps it was inevitable that people would get confused and protest everything nuclear instead of just the weapons.  Even now, weapons research is done under the Department of Energy.

    But we are now in the 70th year since Enrico Fermi built the first nuclear reactor the Earth had seen is 1.7 billion years.  The civilian nuclear industry has cemented an impressive track record of safety and reliability, with the AP1000 that just received approval from the NRC designed to withstand a passenger jet crashing into it.

    But the really cool new designs that have everyone talking, like the LFTR and TWR, aren't going to wait for us to develop them first.  China is already planning to test them.  

    Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

    by eigenlambda on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 05:26:27 AM PST

    •  Cool new designs (1+ / 0-)
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      In the true cost model proposed in the diary, nuclear could contend, and presumably would get a boost from significant true costs associated with combustion sources.

      What's hard to do is to account for low probability of catastrophe.

      To be competitive, I think there are two standards that new designs need to meet:

      1. If left unattended, they will not blow up
      2. The fuel cannot be used for fission weapons, either  before, during, or after use.

      The Fukishima disaster is basically a result of failing standard #1 - that current designs requires constant attention in order to not have a very serious problem.

      Like many people (many lefties?), I'm leery of new nukes.  But I'll grant that nukes have the potential to be a lot, lot better than the collapse of civilization.  So, I'm all ears.

      We shall not participate in our own destruction.

      by James Wells on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 08:07:20 AM PST

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      •  both of those are in the bag (0+ / 0-)

        but, as always, the solution to fear is knowledge.  Here's the most relevant Wikipedia article about safey:

        And concerning weapons, there's a wonderful article here:

        The other issue is waste.  It's not really solved, so I don't have any one link about it.  Still, there are many reasons to believe that waste isn't as big a deal as it's often said to be, starting with Oklo, but getting activism from me isn't nearly as good as finding your own understanding XD

        Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

        by eigenlambda on Sun Jan 15, 2012 at 02:45:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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