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More Nukes!
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Amity Schlaes writes that the environmental movement, with its staunch anti-nuclear power phobia, has shot itself in the foot.
It takes four tons of coal to provide the power needs of one inhabitant of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive for a year. A few ounces of uranium could cover the same need.

There is also the damage to the environment. The central hypocrisy of the green movement in our era is that anti-nuclear policy has driven the U.S. to use the hydrocarbon fuels so much opposed by the anti-global warming movement. Or, as Huber puts it: "If we had simply built all the plants that were in the pipeline at the time of Three Mile Island, then we would have reduced current coal combustion sufficiently to satisfy the Kyoto treaty."
So, basically, really, global warming is caused by environmental activism.

Additionally, the hysteria over nuclear power is progressively less justified, as nuclear power technology advances. If you're worried about Chernobyl or "The China Syndrome", you can relax, and enjoy the brave new world of pebble-bed reactors, like the plans for modular PBNRs South Africa is implementing.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

It would be nice to think that such perspective would lead to something, but you can bet that there won’t be another Nuke built in the USA ever again. The arguments about reducing greenhouse gases through the use on nuclear power have been around for a long time, but that hasn’t caused any change in attitude.

Written By: Nylarthotep
Sadly, I feel nylar is right on the money. Too many people associate ’Nuclear Reactor’ with children being born with an extra leg thanks to greenies who, in my opinion don’t care wo much about the environment but rather are afraid of technology.

How do we go about pressing our congress-critters and senators to actually make the laws that would allow these things to be built? Hell, they can use my backyard for all I care.
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
Unrelated: I’ve been trying to email you for a couple days now, Rob, to no avail. Comcast seems to bounce back from Gmail a lot. For what it’s worth, I did try to respond to your email from a few days ago. Tried to leave a comment at your blog, too, but that didn’t seem to work. Sorry.
Written By: Jon Henke
Nuclear power does offer a number of benefits, but there are still a number of serious concerns. While reactor safety is an issue , including from sabotage, the major unsolved problem with nukes is high level nuclear waste transport and disposal. It is not only very hard to be confident that stuff buried now will be stable for a very long time (on the order of 100,000 years), it is also hard to get Nevadans to accept permanent disposal at Yucca Mountain. On balance, I think nuclear energy should be part of the mix, but it’s no panacea.
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
on the order of 100,000 years

And of course, technology will never advance to the point that we’d be able to do something else with it before then. Sheesh.

Written By: Mark
URL: http://
On balance, I think nuclear energy should be part of the mix, but it’s no panacea.

Well actually, David, per the authors of "The Bottomless Well", if we had built the nuclear reactors we had on the drawing board 20 years ago, we’d presently be in compliance with the Kyoto protocal.

Interesting, eh?
Written By: McQ
And of course, technology will never advance to the point that we’d be able to do something else with it before then.
Maybe yes, maybe no. But I don’t see how that informs the debate on disposal. Are you suggesting that we just leave them at Hanford? Or that we bury them and hope we’ll come up with a use for them before a fault line ruptures? Neither option sounds rational to me.

The other thing that we have to wrestle with is cost. Can nuclear power compete without government subsidies, e.g., via the Price Anderson Act? How would you suggest reducing the regulatory burden on nuclear power generation?

As Dale and McQ both noted, there are some real advantages to nuclear power, and on balance I think they make nukes worth pursuing as part of our energy mix. At the same time, however, there are some real and legitimate concerns about nuclear power that obviate the gung-ho attitude some are exhibiting.
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://
"How do we go about pressing our congress-critters and senators to actually make the laws that would allow these things to be built?"

Who needs new laws? The issue is the harrassment that the antinuke people put up. A simple Executive Order declaring that reliable energy production was a matter of national security would break the logjam nicely, I’d say - particularly if the Democrats got a rush of oxygen to the brain and endorse such a policy. Hell, initiate that policy and dare President Bush to oppose it.

I mean, it’s not like the Greens are ever, ever going to like the Democratic Party, anyway. There’s no real downside for the Democrats to push nukes - and a whole hell of a lot of vicious, vengeful fun to it, which I for one am perfectly content to sit back and watch.
Written By: Myopist
URL: http://
Well for what its worth I consider myself an "environmentally concerned" individual, and I think that nuclear is one of the safest, cleanest, and most efficient options we have available to us right now.

If only we could get renewed nuclear investment in this country... The decision not to pursue this by the Republicans, considering their obvious position of power at the moment, has left me very disappointed.

Its no secret that I am less than satisfied with the current Republican leadership of this country, but my disappointment is all the greater by the fact that they have generally succeeded in doing almost *none* of the things that I usually agree with them on, while somehow managing to push almost every single agenda point that I disagree with.

Not a good time in this country to be a centrist moderate, or a neo-libertarian for that matter, right now.. thats for sure.
Written By: Rosensteel
URL: http://
Am I just dreaming here?
I understand the cooling needs are fairly high, but is staggering amounts of water sent back to waterways so essential? If the heat were banked -melting snow on city streets/heating subways/direct or steam heat for major buildings/etc. Would this not reduce energy needs even further?

Color me green- but how much fossil fuel ends up wasted heat?(potential energy)

Over simplified, to be sure, and more discouraging,
I realize the attempts to recover energy from hot air from DC have proven to be futile.
ANYTHING to make nukes/heat sources more palatable would help. Wouldn’t hurt the impending nuke ship building industry unemployment either.
Written By: CaptDMO
URL: http://
Neither option sounds rational to me.

Using a 100,000 year benchmark for storage does not sound rational to me. Why not drop the waste into a subduction zone?

Written By: Mark Flacy
URL: http://
Using a 100,000 year benchmark for storage does not sound rational to me. Why not drop the waste into a subduction zone?
Well, the benchmark varies according to the nuclides involved. Here is a discussion of why a 10,000 year benchmark is likely too short. As for the subduction zone, the ones surrounding the Pacific are associated with volcanoes. I don’t know how long it takes for subducted crust to contribute to magma (this article suggests several hundred thousand years), but that is one potential concern if timing is shorter than estimated.
Written By: David in AK
URL: http://

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