Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Green in Support of Nuclear Energy?

Dr. Patrick Moore was a co-founder of Greenpeace. Today, he is the chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. Over the last thirty years, he has changed his views about nuclear energy and its environmental friendliness. He testified before Congress on April 28, 2005 on the viability of nuclear energy as a green strategy and believes that “Nuclear energy is the only non-greenhouse gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy global demand."

On April 16, 2006, the Washington Post published "Going Nuclear: A Green Makes the Case" which can be viewed from the Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. website. In this article, Dr. Moore makes strong arguments for the safety and desirability of nuclear energy as compared with other energy sources and gives us much food for thought as we consider our energy needs and our future.


At 4/23/2006 1:50 PM, Blogger James Aach said...

FYI: You might find my website interesting. It contains a novel about nuclear power endorsed by Stewart Brand, one of the environmentalists in the linked article calling for a second look at nuclear. This is a great way to learn more while being entertained. There’s no cost. See the homepage comments for reader reviews. I’ve spent many years in the US nuclear industry.

At 4/23/2006 1:59 PM, Anonymous Nancy Willing said...

Whoa nelly on nukes...we have not been able to control the costs of the clean up..the "spent" materials are a great potential danger for the environment.
Humans err...that is the logic behind my refusal to accept this answer as best practices.

Alternatives do exist!!
We need to focus on them.

At 4/24/2006 9:30 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

I hear you, Nancy. I've always been skittish about nuclear energy, too. But did you read the article? Dr. Moore was able to speak to my concerns enough that I am interested in rethinking and re-examining the issue.

At 4/25/2006 3:24 PM, Blogger AnonymousOpinion said...

A uranium pellet the size of a woman's pinkie finger - well from the last knucle to the end of the finger is equivalent to 1,780 pounds of coal, 149 gallons of oil or 17,000 cubic feet of
natural gas

How many man hours, and how much gasoline does it take to get the equivalent fuel?

The water that makes contact with the reactor core is self-contained within the system.

Other alternatives won't be viable until we update the grid.

At 4/26/2006 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With existing technologies electricity can be generated directly in homes/neighborhoods using stored hydrogen and solar (photovoltaic) electrolysis to generate it. (And this is just one piece of a bright rainbow of clean, renewable options we have at our disposal - just waiting in the wings for public leadership to begin making them the norm. Because this requires courage, foresight, and rejection of special interests it is a battle we must all take up.

Concerning the 'grid' - it will become irrelevant when you need go no further than your roof and basement to find your power plant. The 'grid' is just a means of distributing 'industrialized' electricity generation. Such expensive (and wasteful) methods will be gradually replaced by a flourishing of "distributed generation" that operates on a much smaller scale and eliminates all of the mass production inefficiencies.

No matter how concentrated the fuel source (nuclear or whatever) the transmission of distantly generated electricity to your meter results in a 20% loss, at minimum, as it traverses miles of power lines. Also with mass-generation there will always be over-generation and under-generation because generating mass megawatts is never an exact science and is based on expected demand, which is never precise.

I would say any means of energy generation that loses 20% of its power just to reach its end-user point is inherently flawed and unsustainable. Would you continue to consider gasoline combustion engines as a viable technology if it took everyone a 1/5th of tank of gas just to get home from the gas station? Why we stand for it with electricity is purely laziness about making the hard changeover to new technologies (like the days when people thought computers were just too complicated and out of reach for any average person to ever be able to use.)

Trust me folks, the solutions are within reach. We just need a concerted shift of public resources against oil's subsidization and into production capacity and technology development for these non-carbon-based energy generation systems. They are already here but have been left to the side by 19th Century thinking dominating the landscape of energy generation.

We don't continue to use oil/coal/gas because there are no alternatives. The alternatives are not used because we continue to blaze away oil/coal/gas as if it will last forever. Oil is doomed, but we don't have to be. We just have to throw off its chains first.

As far as nuclear energy it is like every carbon burning mass-generation system (coal, gas, etc.), wasteful and unsustainable but a THOUSAND TIMES MORE DANGEROUS - an insane gamble charged to the expense of future generations. Nuclear power is the most expensive and dangerous means of energy generation conceivable. The by-products will have to be dealt with for 1000's of years, they are deadly, and the risk of an accident is apocalyptic. We do not need to build so much as one more potential Chernobyl. The risk simply is NOT worth it.

The true costs of all of these old world power plants (environmental damage, exhaustion of precious natural resources, dangerous if not deadly by-products) are externalized by these corporate providers. They scour, scar, and deplete the Earth to keep themselves in business but then pass along the tab to all of us. They pay themselves from the pockets of those who will come after us to finally clean it all up. These people will never make room for any alternatives removing them from the equation. They must be PUSHED aside by citizen action in market choice.

Let's think a little bit more about posterity and what messes we will leave future generations in order to serve our selfish, short-term thirst for ease and opulence.

THE APPLE CART HAS TO BE UPSET TO GET RID OF THE BAD APPLES. The stakes are too high now for micro-economic interests to dominate and endanger us any more.

Remember, Photovoltaic Hydrogen Power - coming to a breaker box (really) near you!!

At 4/27/2006 6:54 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...


Do you have figures for these proposals?

How many square miles would it take of solar cells to replace one urban power plant, for example?

What is the cost to make and implement the forms of energy you are advocating?

There is always a cost involved in packaging and distributing power. Even hydrogen needs to be made more dense bec it is such a low density element.

In speaking with someone who has expertise in this field, I learned that one of the crucial issues involved in the use of fuel cells is cost, as in, it would be an order of magnitude difference for a fuel cell engine v. an internal combustion engine---the difference bet. a car costing $20,000 v $200,000. For a house, a fuel cell large enough to power a home could cost as much as the home itself.

These forms of energy have uses esp in specialty areas and can be used to supplement energy, but they, unfortunately, are not viable to meet the energy needs of a nation.


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