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View Diary: The Irrational Fear of Nukes - A German Perspective (262 comments)

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  •  I'm anti-nuke (24+ / 0-)

    but not necessarily for all of the reasons you provide.  I can all refer to US nukes.  They are exhorbitently expensive to construct (and then add the cost of the uranium to mine, refine, make the rods, maintain, store after "spent."  They cause thermal pollution and have been responsible for many aquatic kills.  They have a relatively short lifespan -- and then, after they are decommissioned, they remain a visual blight.

    There is not one form of energy which is safe.  Yes, I've heard the arguments re: wind turbines -- they have to utilize 100s of pounds of rare earths -- China controls 95% of the market are are notorious polluters with these highly toxic elements.  Solar is terrific -- but not a panacea in areas of the country where sunshine is limited.  Desert solar facilities are fantastic -- as long as a legitimate environmental impact assessment has been conducted.

    There are viable combinations of energy sources which do not include nukes, coal or oil.  I'm waiting for our government to present those options.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 11:08:26 AM PDT

    •  you're right (16+ / 0-)

      there is not one silver bullet solution to our problems, and never will be. I think of it like an ecology of solutions, weighing all the different options we have and also be mindful that different sources of energy work better in different places. But the one thing in my opinion we can't do is to think that we can just keep growing and consuming more. If we don't at least find ways to scale back gradually, I doubt there will be any energy solution for our continued ravenous hunger for growth.

      •  that hunger will soon be manifesting itself in the (6+ / 0-)

        middle east and africa...some emerging issues there.

      •  I tipped and rec'd (9+ / 0-)

        your diary enthusiastically because I love your writing style and legitimate arguments.  I've often been pegged as a nuke shill -- in response to my mantric demand for facts rather than hysteria.  Fear is not necessarily hysteria.  I've had my fair share of fear when I represented former workers at nuclear plants regarding lax controls and worker safety.

        " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

        by gchaucer2 on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 12:13:08 PM PDT

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      •  We aren't growing, but the world is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skillet, Klaus

        And they will find ways to produce the energy they need

      •  So here's a meta question: Stewart Brand (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        recently said, "We've become as gods, there's no retreat, we better get good at it" while Bill McKibben has taken up EF Schumacher's banner "Small is Beautiful". Which way folks?

        “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”, Theodore Roosevelt

        by the fan man on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 12:15:24 PM PDT

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        •  Small means the future of democracy is assured. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Earth Ling, splashy, mrkvica

          My favorite anthropologist, the late great Marvin Harris, puts it thusly in the epilogue to his "Cannibals and Kings":

          There already exists the electronic capability for the tracking of individual behavior by centralized networks of surveillance and record-keeping computers.  It is highly probable that the conversion to nuclear energy production will provide precisely those basic material conditions most appropriate for using the power of the computer to establish a new and enduring form of despotism.  Only by decentralizing our basic mode of energy production– by breaking the cartels that monopolize the present system of energy technology– can we restore the ecological and cultural configuration that led to the emergence of political democracy in Europe.

          Clearly, the future will be a mix of nuclear and renewables, but the percentage of the mix will be important.  I believe that over the next two decades, we will see nuclear-dominated societies trending towards authoritarianism; not by any malicious design, but simply as a result of energy being in the hands of too few.

          •  Funny, my anthropology prof thought (0+ / 0-)

            Harris was duplicitous, even as he assigned readings from his books. Regardless, Harris's toe dip into energy and society was the fashion at the time. I used to believe likewise, not any more.

            Back in the sixties Popular Mechanics had articles about home nuclear plants! Sounded great at the time. (Where is my hovercraft anyway?) Whether BP or my local utility leases me solar panels for my roof or my utility sells me wind power from somewhere else is a secondary consideration. Production will be the primary concern.

            “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”, Theodore Roosevelt

            by the fan man on Fri Apr 01, 2011 at 07:52:46 AM PDT

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    •  Hi gchaucer2. I am impressed and appreciate the (12+ / 0-)

      evolution of your presentation of these other combinations of energy sources.

      The way you do it here, is a big improvement, IMO.  


      Additional, concerns with nukes are the generation of enormous quantities of radioactive waste, for which which we in the US still have no permenent repository for.

      Having large amounts of spent fuel rods, in uncontained spent fuel storage ponds creates a risk of dirty bomb contamination from terrorists.

      But, as you say, we are seeing a wide vareity of technological advances in alternative energy.  

      Just two days, ago, I read about the new marine tital kites, off the cost of England that run 24 hours a day, and maybe supplying enough electricity for a city the size of Bristol by 2020.

      Let's keep on trucking with these new alternatives.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 11:42:08 AM PDT

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      •  Thanks, HoundDog (7+ / 0-)

        but I think my thoughts have been consistent.  I depend on facts, data and science.  I cannot condone hysteria or gut reactions to a crisis.  I have been anti-nuke since the 1970s and have represented clients who have worked in the industry and raised serious concerns about operations.

        " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

        by gchaucer2 on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 12:16:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was trying to be delicate about the "T" word. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Earth Ling

          I agreed to support a $250 million prototype, if we could not make it the central headline issue of our comments about conventional nuclear reactors.  

          Or, am I confused in my memory of our exchange last week.  

          Sorry, gchaucer2.  I wasn't trying to be snarky, sanctimonious, or a pain in the neck.  

          Just struggling to get ourselves focused on a high level push for the real, clean alternative energy generation of the future, most of which would be solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, efficiency improvements, and conservation.

          Plus, some smaller scale reseach into other kinds of advanced technologies, that might very well turn out to be important, but could also confuse average folks.  

          Let's keep on trucking.  

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 01:15:40 PM PDT

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    •  My own experience (11+ / 0-)

      I got a unique experience when I joined the Navy right after Vietnam in that I was enrolled in the US Navy Nuclear Power Program and ended up being an electrician on a nuclear submarine.  We had extensive classroom and prototype practical training in all operations of running a nuclear power plant.  We were trained in physics, thermodynamics, nuclear medicine, electronics, hydraulics, you name it, anything that could affect the operation of those reactors.  

      The science and engineering was amazing and the quality controls were unbelievable.  Leaving school we felt as if nothing could go wrong but once out on the operating submarine we got our taste of the human factor.  I watched the classic Hollywood scenario of a stuck gauge that all of a sudden jumped when someone tapped on it and we discovered our pressurizer was nearly empty.  I watched screw ups that ended up dumping radioactive waste water into harbors.  But I think what gave me the most insight into the real danger was when I watched my fellow crewmen, overworked and ready to head off the boat for liberty, go down their list of valve lineup checks and just mark the sheet saying everything was in order without actually testing.  

      While the engineering might be flawless in theory, human beings are flawed, lazy, engage in speculation, easily rationalize their irresponsible behavior.  In the Navy we had one less motivation too.  It wasn't run for profit.  Fit that into the mix and you have a toxic stew.  

      I left the nuclear Navy about a year before 3 Mile Island and had no surprise at all that incident occurred.  And yet, despite all my experiences, I still believe we shouldn't abandon nuclear energy.  Yeah the risks are there, the waste is a problem, systems imperfect but at this point in our evolution we need diversity in our power sources to survive.  Our goal should be a constant push away from the riskiest and most ecologically damaging forms of energy but we have no choice right now but to utilize it all.  A perfect world doesn't include it.  We're far from that point yet.

      "A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism." -- Carl Sagan

      by artmartin on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 01:13:49 PM PDT

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    •  Me too. That's what is interesting, and should be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      invested in and researched.

      Fretting over whether we should get rid of oil or nuclear first is not the point.

      I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Thomas Jefferson

      by Lucy2009 on Thu Mar 31, 2011 at 03:06:35 PM PDT

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    •  I'm less worried about rare earth (0+ / 0-)

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