The Long Emergency. Nuclear power

Nuclear power plant

If we truly have reached the peak in oil production and everything is downhill from here, then we need electricity produced reliably in huge quantities without using oil, natural gas, or coal.

Renewable energy sources like wind, wave, water, and solar can help and should certainly be used. But they can’t go the distance. There’s only one way to create the enormous amounts of energy needed, and that is nuclear power.

The Long Emergency. James Howard KunstlerYes, nukes. That’s the conclusion Jim Kunstler reaches in The Long Emergency, and I reluctantly agree. France already generates 70% of their power that way and have never had an “incident.” Yes, there’s the radioactive storage problem as well as safeguarding against weapon proliferation. But without reliable electricity, much of what we call civilization goes away.

Further, nukes could be used to recharge electric vehicles at night, and thus could keep transportation going when and if plentiful, cheap oil becomes a thing of the past.

If you accept the thesis that oil is running out, then we need to find ways to keep the lights on. Nuclear will do just that. I’m not sure there are alternatives.

  • woody

    Wind, wave, solar, and magnetic power systems can and will generate all the power we need. If you think they can’t then answer me this: How does life exist on this planet? It’s been enough to promote and sustain life, providing all the power we’ve needed for thousands of years.

    I think what you’re saying is that to keep living at the energy levels we enjoy now it may not be enough. That may be true. But there are two ways to deal with power: Make more or use less. If we use less, and use it in a smarter way, the renewables are more than enough to power everything we need and several things we want.

    Using nuclear is just as bad (if not worse than) using any other rapidly depleating resource. Nuclear uses a resource that is finite, just like oil, coal and all the others. Not to mention the both the inputs and wastes that it makes which is more dangerious to humans than any products from the fosil fuel systems we use now.

  • The problem with renewables is that if the sun isn’t shining or the wind stop blowing, then the output stops. Nukes don’t have that problem. It’s also much cheaper and there’s no emissions problem.

  • “Wind, wave, solar, and magnetic power systems can and will generate all the power we need.”

    What exactly is a magnetic power system? It sounds like something Steorn Ltd. sells.

    “Nuclear uses a resource that is finite, just like oil, coal and all the

    Those natural resources will last for a very, very long time if they’re used properly and not wasted.

    Everything is finite. The hydrogen in the sun is finite. The free energy of the universe is finite.

    “Not to mention the both the inputs and wastes that it makes which is more dangerious to humans than any products from the fosil fuel systems we use now.”

    Is that so? Care to prove it?

    Given that 30,000 people die annually in the US alone as a result of air pollution, predominantly caused by the dangerous fossil fuel waste poured straight into the atmosphere, care to point out where all the deaths from nuclear energy are?

  • DJ

    One speck of radioactive waste ingested by eating, drinking, or breathing, is enough to kill a mammal or bird with cancer– from hummingbirds to humans to elephants. To prevent that from happening, radioactive waste must be kept safe for 200,000 years– longer than our species has been on the planet! Considering the global changes that have taken place in just the last 200 years, never mind the last 10,000, it’s pretty arrogant to assume our descendants will be able to carry that burden.

    If you think radioactive materials are safe, check out the saga of Utah’s downwinders, killed because of the reckless disregard of our federal government.

    On the other hand, the problem with renewables is not capacity, it’s storage– a problem that already has some technological answers, including batteries, hydrogen storage, and mechanical storage. We can expect new storage answers fairly quickly, as they are already in development.

    And on the third hand, why is it that we assume the U.S.’s excessive energy consumption level must be maintained? We use twice as much energy per person as France, Japan, Germany, or the U.K.; almost three times as much as Italy.

    Currently 6% of our electricity comes from non-nuke renewables; by cutting our energy consumption to the level of other industrialized countries, we’d double renewables’ contribution to our energy needs with no additional investment! And I don’t assume France’s consumption level to be a minimum for maintaining civilization– there’s room for still more conservation.

  • paradoctor

    The trouble with an ‘energy’ economy is that people do not want energy; they want a _constant_flow_ of energy; a.k.a. power. Ergs per second, not ergs. If you buy energy, then soon you use it up and must buy some more. What you really bought was temporary ownership of an energy flow; rented power.

    What people really want is permanent ownership of a stable energy flow, or in other words “owned power”; and that’s exactly what “renewable energy” is. When you put up the windmill or the solar panel or the tidemill or the hydropower dam, then the power-flow is yours, you get to keep it, no matter what others do. Of course you have to maintain the stuff; that’s a typical burden of ownership.

    Unfortunately for nuclear, it is an energy technology, not a power technology. It needs a supply of fuel, and what’s worse it generates deadly poison. You have to pay for upkeep long afterwards, so it’s worse than rented power; it’s _borrowed_ power.

    High-tech owned-power systems do exist. Ocean-thermal works fine for some islands and coasts. Geothermal has huge potential. My favorite speculative high-tech owned-power system is space-based solar power.

  • paradoctor

    And by the way, the challenge in creating an owned-power economy is twofold: 1) building an owned-power source of sufficient capacity, and 2) living within those means.

    The price is vigilance, labor and sacrifice. The benefit is independence and security.

  • According to Kunstler, radioactive material from a reactor becomes the equivalent of naturally occurring uranium after 500 years. Which is still a long time.

  • Big Po

    Nobody said radioactive materials are not unsafe – as with everything the dose is the question. Since fossil plants emit far more radiation than nuclear plants (i.e. tramp Uranium in coal) and have for over 50 years and since the age adjusted cancer rates are dropping, one can conclude that the small amount or radiation associated with nuclear plant operation is perfectly safe.

    It is grossly unfair to compare radiation concerns from above ground nuclear testing with normally operating nuclear power – if I throw the average person into a windmill or into a coal furnace they will fare as well as the downwinders except the effects are more immediate.

    Finally it would be interesting to describe how a speck of radioactive waste that was turned into glass (vitrified – imagine a coca-cola bottle “eroding” at a drop of water per year), buried 1500 feet from water (migrating at inches per year) and encased in an engineered container will become available for eating, drinking or breathing before it decays to well under natural radiation levels (~ 600 years) all around us.

  • DJ

    I have little quarrel with the safety of nuclear materials while they’re in the plant (Chernobyl and a few other incidents notwithstanding). My concern is for the safety of the ever-growing collection waste which has (in my understanding) a 20,000 year half life. Even if the risk was reduced to a “mere” 500-600 years, that’s still a long time.

    Look back 600 years– Europe was barely coming out of the Dark Ages and the Vikings were the only Europeans who had been to the Americas. Russia was a tiny city-state; Poland and Lithuania together forged an empire. People thought the earth was flat, religion and monarchy were intimately linked, and the Spanish Inquisition had not yet begun. China and India were just being “rediscovered” by the west. Democracy did not exist.

    I predict that in 600 years, the United States as we know it will not exist, having been dismantled into smaller states and perhaps swallowed up or recombined into other permutations. There will almost certainly have been a second Dark Age, the aftermath of which I cannot even imagine.

    Whatever the length of its deadly reign, nuclear waste must be kept safe from both acts of nature and acts of man. In this environment of increasingly brutal terrorism, that concerns me– a dirty bomb would be AT LEAST as deadly as what the downwinders experienced.

    Comparing nuclear waste with “naturally-occurring” uranium does little to impress me. My parents’ well water is now undrinkable because of naturally occurring uranium contamination of the groundwater. So what you’re saying is that nuclear waste would only compound that risk, any mistake inviting further contamination.

  • Dezakin

    If you’re concerned that spent fuel wont be managable because of collapse of civilization, the average person will have far more existential worries (such as being shot by bandits) than being concerned over people dredging up magic glowmetal. Its paranoid fantasyland.

  • Big Po

    Some of you guys seem to think that the radioactive waste is lying around on the ground or in supermarkets ready to be eaten or somehow turned into breatheable dust.

    Yes there is naturally occurring Uranium (also non radioactive lead) – both are heavy metals that are not good to dissolve in drinking water – so don’t do that. That’s why the waste is put into cannisters well underground and well away from the water tables in a form that it cannot dissolve.

    The fact that something is dangerous means that you handle it carefully – not ban all its beneficial uses (which in this case far outweigh the adverse affects).

    Have you ever wondered how people can live in Hiroshima within years of a completely unshielded nuclear weapon exposure and have life spans essentially no different than non Hiroshima residents?

    Have you ever wondered how the “waste” from a naturally occurring reactor in Gabon Africa that had no attention at all to packaging is still immobilized at the site even with lots of water around?

    Have you ever bothered to understand what happens when more than 10 – 15% of the grid is “non dispatch’eable” (scheduleable)? The Danish and German windmills would not be viable without French and German nuclear power.

  • Andres

    Great piece, Nuclear is a safe,effiecient and clean way to generate power.France uses Nuclear for 80% of their energy production, as a result they have the cleanest air in the industralized world and the cheapest energy bill in europe.They recycle the “waste” since it stills has 90% of its energy.

    Countries that actually meet kyoto rely heavily on nuclear like sweden and finland among others.And around the globe their building reactors Finland, Japan,France,India,China,Brazil,Argentina..even canada is building a new reactor in ontario.

    People that oppose nuclear and are worried about global warming are simple hypocrites or delusional to think that renewables alone can make any difference on decreasing our dependency on coal.Look at the numbers Nuclear produces 20% of our energy while renewables are in the low single digits.

    Finally, we are not going to build the same reactors we did in the 50’s.Nuclear technology has made huge leaps from peddle bed reactors that dont melt down to breeder reactor that produce more fisile material than it consumes.New reactors are much safer and efficient than older models.

  • donb

    Using nuclear is just as bad (if not worse than) using any other rapidly depleating resource. Nuclear uses a resource that is finite, just like oil, coal and all the others. Not to mention the both the inputs and wastes that it makes which is more dangerious to humans than any products from the fosil fuel systems we use now.

    Breeder reactors (several types of which have already been demonstrated) can: 1. use the “waste” from present day reactors that leave behind unused about 95% of energy in the fuel, 2. output waste that in decades (rather than centuries or millenia) is no more radioactive than natural uranium ore and which also contains valuable rare minerals, 3. using “waste” and depleated uranium make mining uranium unnecessary for perhaps a century, 4. increase the amount of energy extracted from natural uranium by about a factor of 100, 5. make extracting uranium from low concentration sources such as sea water economically viable, 6. also use thorium, which is even more abundant than uranium, 7. deplete the supply of uranium and thorium after tens of thousands of years while furnishing the world’s total energy needs at the intensity of the USA.

    Note that today waste from coal generating plants (which contains radioactive elements) is simply tossed into the air via the smoke stacks or spread out over large, easily accessable areas (e.g., products using concrete), not carefully stored away from people.

  • Big Po

    You might also have commented on the fact that the only material the environmentalists don’t want recycled is nuclear fuel despite the fact that it would reduce the radioactivity of the remaining waste by literally 1000’s of years, reduce the waste volume to be stored to only a few percent of original and, unlike newspaper and bottles, actually makes economic sense given the amount of energy still left in the “waste”.

    The French have been doing such recycling for decades such that all of the waste from all of their reactors since nuclear generation began can be stored in one building.

    Can you imagine what the environmentalists would say if we pumped 100 gallons of oil out of the ground, put it in a car and then, after using 10 gallons, had to remove the remaining 90 gallons and find some place to store it?

  • A some things.

    Everything everyone has said about the French is true (even their health care system is better than the US)…but they don’t reprocess *all* their fuel, only about 28%. Reprocessing is very expensive, but, of course, it’s worth it. The French are working in expanding their reprocessing facilities. Most nuclear countries (but the US) do some reprocessing. Most store the spent fuel on site…and they can do that until the plant is decommissioned, which for most plants now, means another 40 to 80 years.

    The point about anti-nuclear types opposing rcycling is a profound point we should make over and over again until they cry “uncle”. They know that *any* solution to the waste problem means it’s a “plus” for developing nuclear energy further. This means that even if every NPP were to shutdown today, the mis-named “Greens” would still have to come up with a solution. They won’t, *ever*. They “like” nuclear waste because it is about the only issue that can sway anyone to an opposition pont of view. Don’t ever let them off the hook, as them “OK, what is YOUR solution to spent fuel?”. You’ll get a ‘deer caught in headlights’ look from them, which is better than them actually trying to lie their way out.

    David Walters

  • DJ

    I have no problem with recycling– assuming it can be done on site and securely. By secure, I mean immune to today’s terrorist threats (you don’t need to wait for Dezakin’s collapse of civilization– dirty bombs are a risk right now) as well as acts of nature.

    BTW, the U.S. has now agreed to ship nuclear materials to India– a country with over 150 active terrorist groups where over 2,500 people were killed by terrorists last year alone. Some (but not all) of those groups have Islamist links.

    If recycling is financially viable, given all the waste currently waiting for a storage location, why don’t we shut the uranium mines down and reuse what we’ve got? I’d be in favor of a finite pool of nuclear material in secure hands. In fact, that would make a whole lot more sense than the nuke business as it now operates.

    But that’s not what happens: new production continues, and the pool of waste is so large, no one quite knows what to do with it. From what you guys say, even the French fail to recycle 72% of their nuclear waste. And the uranium mines are still going strong. (Some of them are located just north of where I live.) Mining the stuff is big business, and I doubt it’s going to stop anytime soon.

    Much like recycling plastics, the theory is belied by reality: there’s apparently more more money in NOT recycling, and sending perfectly reusable waste to be buried for future generations to deal with. Maybe they’ll find a use for it, or maybe it’ll poison their water supply. The same appears to be true for spent nuclear fuel.

  • JimHopf

    The public health and environmental risks of nuclear are negligible compared to fossil fuels. US coal plants cause ~25,000 deaths every single year, according to EPA. The worldwide figure is hundreds of thousands of annual deaths. Meanwhile, Western nuclear plants have never had any measurable impact on public health. Credible estimates for the (one time) Chernobyl event range from ~100 to ~10,000 deaths (i.e., somewhere between 10 and 1,000 times less than the ANNUAL toll from fossil fuels).

    Every scientific study on the external (i.e., public health and environmental) costs of various energy sources has shown that nuclear is far superior to fossil fuels (especially coal and oil) and is not much worse than renewables. The most recent and comprehensive such study is the European Commission’s ExternE project, whose results are summarized at:

    On top of this there is global warming; coal plants being the leading single cause. The entire nuclear energy production cycle emits ~2% as much CO2 as coal, and ~5% as much as gas. Renewables’ net emissions are similar to nuclear’s. Net CO2 emissions from each source at:

    Long-term uranium supply will not be an issue. Nobody in the utility industry are even remotely concerned about it. Uranium is a fairly ubiquitous element in the earth’s crust that we have barely started looking for. The “official” reserves that we already know about are a tiny (~1%) fraction of what’s actally out there, similar to the situation with oil, say, around 1920 (then the official reserves were only ~1% of what we know to be out there today). The exploration cost (in dollars per energy yield) for uranium is 300 times lower than oil’s. Also, the cost of raw uranium ore is only a few percent of the final cost of nuclear electricity (whereas fuel cost is most of the cost of fossil power). Thus, even a large rise in ore cost has almost no effect on nuclear’s economics. If the allowable ore cost rises significantly, however, the amount of economically extractable reserves exponentiates.

    The bottom line is that we have hundreds of years of uranium, even assuming no breeding or reprocessing, as well as a large increase in nuclear power. This is more than enough time to develop an economic and practical breeder, or to develop some other limitless energy source (such as fusion or renewables). With breeders, the fuel supply is essentially infinite.

    I talk more about this at:

    And a uranium mining expert talks about it at:

  • JimHopf

    The rational definition of a solution is that the waste stream’s long term risks be no greater than those of other indutries or energy sources. By this definition, nuclear’s waste problems have been solved from the very beginning. Note that fossil fuels wastes have never been contained, and have always been dumped directly into the air and water, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths annually, worldwide, and causing global warming. By contrast, nuclear power plant waste has always been completely contained, and has never harmed anyone or had any effect on public health. Being generated in one millionth the volume, per energy produced, certainly helps in this regard. It is fossil fuels, not nuclear, that have the untenable, unsolved waste problem.

    The nuclear waste problem is completely overblown, and completely political. If not for Nevada’s political stonewalling, this “issue” would not even be talked about anymore. Particularly comical about Nevada’s political posturing is the fact that right next door to the repository, hundreds of nuclear bombs have literally been detonated underground. Any long term radiological risks from a repository where reactor waste (in the form of leach-resistant ceramic pellets sealed in metal rods) is placed underground in ultra-corrosion-resistant containers is obviously negligible compated to those from those bombs. And yet nobody even talks about that……

    Also obvious is the fact that the risks from nuclear waste are smaller than those of other waste streams. And yes, even over the very long term. The notion that nuclear waste is unique with respect to long term risks is a myth. The waste steams from fossil plants, the chemical and petrochemical industries, and even from ordinary garbage (e.g., styrofoam), are all probably greater than those from nuclear waste. These wastes are generated in vastly larger volumes (factors of a million or more). Thus, providing deep burial and/or engineered containment like that used for nuclear waste is impractical. The waste are simply dumped into the environment or shallow-buried w/ no containment. These wastes are also much more dispersible in forms such as liquids, sludges and other highly leachable forms, while nuclear waste is in the form of solid, ceramic, leach resistant pellets. Finally, some of the toxic elements in these wastes literally never decay away, whereas the radioactivity of nuclear waste falls to that of the originally mined ore after ~30,000 years.

    The fact that mankind has made a lot of technological progress over the last 10,000 years (the supposed “lifetime” of nuclear waste) is not an argument against the practicality of isolating nuclear waste; it is an argument FOR it. If we were cavemen 10,000 years ago, imagine the technology that we will have 10,000 years from now. Do you really think that this will be a problem for them?! Can you imagine a caveman, or anyone from the Middle Ages for that matter, burying something that would cause a real problem for us? If civilization were to collapse, a tiny increase in cancer risk for a few people living in one remote, local area (cancer being a disease which nobody in pre-industrial societies lived long enough to get), would the very least of anyone’s concerns. The fact is that we are working on technologies right now that will allow us to eliminate this waste. The “perfect” solution for nuclear waste is at most a century away, not 1000 or 10,000 years away. The simple truth of the matter is that long before there is any risk of any leakage at all from Yucca Mtn. (i.e., ~1000 years) the waste will have long since been removed, processed, and eliminated.

    And even if we left it there, even the most concervative (unrealistic) analyses show that the worst possible result (leakage) would result in a handful of people getting an annual dose that is well within the range of natural background, and about the same than everyone in Denver is now getting. No studies have shown any health effects (i.e., increased cancer risks) from exposures of this magnitude.

    No matter how you look at it, this is simply not a significant issue. Givin this, it is outrageous that this issue is receiving so much attention (and being used to block nuclear) when there are so many infinitely more important environmental and geopolitical issues out there, including air pollution (25,000 annual deaths), global warming and foreign energy dependence (nuclear being a major solution to ALL of these important problems).

    Finally, in terms of the “burden on future generations”, nuclear is perhaps the only industry in history that has been required to put money into trust funds to cover all of its legacy effects, including decommissioning all plants to greenfield status, and processing/burying all of its wastes such that they will never have any future impact. Once the waste is processed and/or finally sealed in a repository, the future generations do not have to do anything, so there is no further burden. Meanwhile, things we do that really will create a burden on future generations are not even discussed. These include radically altering the planet’s climate, and snarfing down every last ounce of the (extremely useful) hydrocarbons that had built up underground over hundreds of millions of years. Future generations will not curse us for Yucca Mtn. The concept is literally laughable. If anything, they will be furious at us for NOT using nuclear power, and instead wastefully burning up all the fossil fuels.

  • Check out the implosion of the cooling tower of the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant in Rainier, Washington in May 2006:

  • DJ

    Interesting. I was with JimHopf right up to the point where he said, “nobody even talks about” the downwinders. Given that we’ve been talking about them in this very thread, and that it was the federal government that prevented any conversation for decades after the tests, and that it was the governor of Utah (not NV) who forced the fed to take responsibility (a governor who later died of cancer caused by those tests), that’s a pretty irresponsible statement. Most of the western states banded together to (successfully) oppose Divine Strake. Most of us oppose the Yucca Mountain facility. Why? Because every time someone promises us that the risk of radioactive poisoning is minimal, sheep start dying.

    I find it interesting that the length of time the waste must be held varies, even among proponents, from 100 years to 30,000 years. Wikipedia suggests that 20,000 years is the magic number for plutomium. The half life for uranium isotopes is much, much longer: in the hundreds of thousands and millions of years.

    Even assuming 20,000 years is the number, how many civilizations have risen and fallen in that time? How much technology has come and gone? Roman steam engine technology was lost for over a millenium. Greek knowledge that the earth was round (they even measured its circumference) was lost for almost 2 millenia (except in China). My argument is not that technology didn’t exist– it’s that favorable conditions and technology come and go unpredictably. I’ve seen oyster shells in the desert, and read of civilizations that lived on land now at the bottom of the English channel.

    You’re asking me to trust that long after the United States ceases to exist (as it undoubtedly will at some point in the next couple of hundred years), this waste cannot be used by a maniacal person or group to poison a city or civilization? I keep hearing that the technology to do so isn’t that easy… but you ask me to believe that the good guys’ technology marches onward while the bad guys’ technology doesn’t. I’m not that trusting.

    The big difference between fossil fuels and nukes (and I’m no proponent of coal) is that it takes TONS of CO2 to adversely impact the environment, while the toxic level for plutonium isotopes is measured in micrograms. So far, no one has proposed poisoning a city by spraying it with CO2. Plutonium also reacts with moisture to form a substance that is not only raditactive by spontaneously combustible– like silane, mere exposure to oxygen causes it to ignite, which can burst its storage containers. Storage must therefore be failsafe. For 20,000 years.

    The bottom line to this argument appears to be that waste generation must cease– and nuclear power can be no exception. I’ve been convinced by arguments for recycling that nuke may play some role n our energy needs. But the fact that it’s less dirty than coal doesn’t give it a free pass– unless recycled, it’s still dirty.

    I’m also struck by the foundational assumption that we not only won’t reduce consumption, we shouldn’t have to. We use twice as much electricity per capita as any other industrialized country, and our standard of living is not twice as good– some Europeans consider it lower.

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  • Woody

    Wow… take a weekend off and everything goes to…

    I just don’t see why people are so pro-nuclear here. There are tons of clear examples that nuclear energy is far more polluting and far more dangerous than any renewable system. Sure, recycling the waste is great, but only a small percentage is recyclable. And while we’ve taken great pains to prevent nuclear release, everything eventually gets out, and if even a fraction of whats stored gets out, this planet is dead for a long long time.

    Another big thing to look at is the self-correcting mechanism that exists to take care of the waste. Nature has ways to deal with CO2, even on massive levels. We’ve been pushing those limits, and have excided them, but if we trim back the earth will recover in a reasonable time (one or two generations). The same is not true for nuclear waste, which will be around for thousands of years.

    And finally, what about your children, and their kids? Do you really expect your 600xgreat-grandchild to be responsible for the waste you make today to power your AC? Are you so erragant as to push your waste off on the next 600 generations just because you were too lazy to move somewhere more acclimate or pay a little more for a renewable system where you are?

    Sure, if the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining, renewables stop, but they re-start when those things start up again. If renewable sources stop , this planet has much larger issues than powering your PlayStation.

    And the bitching about storage is dumb. All power systems require a storage system, unless you think nuclear reactions stop at the end of the work day. The difference is that you don’t maintain that now, the power company does. Your complaint is like buying a car and saying “but once the fuel runs out its useless”. You have to monitor it and figure out how much is used, how much comes in, and how much storage you need. If more people had to do that, energy consumption in this country would be drastically lower than it is today.

    Again, the real problem isn’t generating the energy, it’s fixing how it’s used! the argument for the “need” of power runs on the false assumption that you “need” your huge TV, entertainment system, garage door opener, and other such things on 24/7, just in case you want to hit a remote button to turn it on. For example, did you know the charger for your average cell phone charger
    wastes 95% of the energy it consumes
    because its plugged in when NOT charging your phone? If you were running on generated power, you’d quickly put all that junk on a switch and use a small fraction of your own energy to get up and flip that switch when you want to use it. Just one example of how we waste energy in this country because we’re too lazy to do things right.

  • Name

    “… if even a fraction of whats stored gets out, this planet is dead for a long long time.”

    I think nuclear waste is terrible, but the kind of hyperbole Woody applies here is foolish.

    A decade of irresponsible open air weapons test turned some islands with good tourism potential into lonely wildlife refuges, and made miles of Nevada desert and Siberian tundra uninhabitable. Global life expectancy is doing fine.

    The worst Nuclear mistake ever, Chernobyl, is killing thiousands of Ukranian and Belarussian twenty-something-year-olds with thyroid cancer. I don’t trust the Greenpeace report that claims tens of thousands of Europeans will die of fallout related maladies, but I won’t fight you if you disagree. Many more people will die in auto accidents over the same time span and land area measured.

    Most people do not know that the reactor that melted down was one of four in the same complex, and that one of the others continued to produce electricity more than ten years after the incident.

    Modern nuclear energy, if regulated poorly, will increase cancer incidence in a statistically (not overt) way. Is that cost too high?

  • DJ

    “Again, the real problem isn’t generating the energy, it’s fixing how it’s used! the argument for the “need” of power runs on the false assumption that you “need” your huge TV, entertainment system, garage door opener, and other such things on 24/7, just in case you want to hit a remote button to turn it on.”

    I point out once again that the U.S. uses twice as much energy per capita as France, Germany, the U.K., or Japan, and 1 times the avergae per capita used in the developing world.

    This suggests two things: first, we use more than we need, since France, Germany, etc. have quality of life equal to ours (and significantly longer lifespans). Second, if we mantain our right to use 8.35 TOE per person, that gives everyone else in the world the same right, meaning energy consumption (and associated waste problems) must increase by a factor of about 9. But the world ecosystem can’t afford any increase at all. That means WE need to start cutting back– and not just talking about it.

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