Nuclear Is NOT a Low-Carbon Source of Energy

Why Do People Claim that Nuclear Power is a Low-Carbon Source of Energy?

Even well-known, well-intentioned scientists sometimes push bad ideas.   For example, well-known scientists considered pouring soot over the Arctic in the 1970s to help melt the ice – in order to prevent another ice age.  That would have been stupid.  Even Obama’s top science adviser – John Holdren – warned in the 1970′s of a new ice age … and is open to shooting soot into the upper atmosphere. That might be equally stupid.

In other words, scientists – even prominent ones – sometimes fall prey to hairball theories and dangerous proposals. (Remember, doctors used to bleed patients to remove the “bad humors”.)

Similarly, some scientists are under the mistaken impression that nuclear power is virtually carbon-free, and thus must be pushed to prevent runaway global warming. (If you don’t believe in global warming, then this essay is not aimed at you … although you might wish to forward it to those who do.)

But this is a myth.

Amory Lovins is perhaps America’s top expert on energy, and a dedicated environmentalist for close to 50 years.  His credentials as an energy expert and environmentalist are sterling.

Lovins is a former Oxford don, who taught at nine universities, most recently Stanford.  He has briefed 19 heads of state, provided expert testimony in eight countries, and published 31 books and several hundred papers.  Lovins’ clients have included the Pentagon,  OECD, UN, Resources for the Future, many national governments, and 13 US states, as well as many Fortune 500 companies, major real-estate developers, and utilities.  Lovins served in 1980-81 on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Research Advisory Board, and in 1999-2001 and 2006-08 on Defense Science Board task forces on military energy efficiency and strategy.

Lovins says nuclear is not the answer:

Nuclear plants are so slow and costly to build that they reduce and retard  climate protection.

Here’s how. Each dollar spent on a new reactor buys about 2-10 times less carbon savings, 20-40 times slower, than spending that dollar on the cheaper, faster, safer solutions that make nuclear power unnecessary and uneconomic: efficient use of electricity, making heat and power together in factories or buildings (“cogeneration”), and renewable energy. The last two made 18% of the world’s 2009 electricity, nuclear 13%, reversing their 2000 shares–and made over 90% of the world’s additional electricity in 2008.

Those smarter choices are sweeping the global energy market. Half the world’s new generating capacity in 2008 and 2009 was renewable. In 2010, renewables except big hydro dams won $151 billion of private investment and added over 50 billion watts (70% the total capacity of all 23 Fukushima-style U.S. reactors) while nuclear got zero private investment and kept losing capacity. Supposedly unreliable windpower made 43-52% of four German states’ total 2010 electricity. Non-nuclear Denmark, 21% wind-powered, plans to get entirely off fossil fuels. Hawai’i plans 70% renewables by 2025.

In contrast, of the 66 nuclear units worldwide officially listed as “under construction” at the end of 2010, 12 had been so listed for over 20 years, 45 had no official startup date, half were late, all 66 were in centrally planned power systems–50 of those in just four (China, India, Russia, South Korea)–and zero were free-market purchases. Since 2007, nuclear growth has added less annual output than just the costliest renewable–solar power –and will probably never catch up. While inherently safe renewable competitors are walloping both nuclear and coal plants in the marketplace and keep getting dramatically cheaper, nuclear costs keep soaring, and with greater safety precautions would go even higher. Tokyo Electric Co., just recovering from $10-20 billion in 2007 earthquake costs at its other big nuclear complex, now faces an even more ruinous Fukushima bill.

Since 2005, new U.S. reactors (if any) have been 100+% subsidized–yet they couldn’t raise a cent of private capital, because they have no business case. They cost 2-3 times as much as new windpower, and by the time you could build a reactor, it couldn’t even beat solar power. Competitive renewables, cogeneration, and efficient use can displace all U.S. coal power more than 23 times over–leaving ample room to replace nuclear power’s half-as-big-as-coal contribution too–but we need to do it just once.

(Read Lovins’ technical papers on the issue here.)

Alternet points out:

Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School … found that the states that invested heavily in nuclear power had worse track records on efficiency and developing renewables than those that did not have large nuclear programs. In other words, investing in nuclear technology crowded out developing clean energy.

BBC notes:

Building the [nuclear] power station produces a lot of CO2 ….

Greenpeace points out:

When it comes to nuclear power, the industry wants you to think of electricity generation in isolation …..  And yet the production of nuclear fuel is a hugely intensive process. Uranium must be mined, milled, converted, enriched, converted again and then manufactured into fuel. You’ll notice the [the nuclear industry] doesn’t mention the carbon footprint of all steps in the nuclear chain prior to electricity generation. Fossil fuels have to be used and that means CO2 emissions.

An International Forum on Globalization report – written by environmental luminaries Ernest Callenback, Gar Smith and Jerry Mander – have slammed nuclear power as catastrophic for the environment:

Nuclear energy is not the “clean” energy its backers proclaim. For more than 50 years, nuclear energy has been quietly polluting our air, land, water and bodies—while also contributing to Global Warming through the CO2 emissions from its construction, mining, and manufacturing operations. Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage—releases greenhouse gases, radioactive particles and toxic materials that poison the air, water and land. Nuclear power plants routinely expel low-level radionuclides into the air in the course of daily operations. While exposure to high levels of radiation can kill within a matter of days or weeks, exposure to low levels on a prolonged basis can damage bones and tissue and result in genetic damage, crippling long-term injuries, disease and death.

See this excellent photographic depiction of the huge amounts of fossil fuel which goes into building and operating a nuclear power plant.

Nature reported in 2008:

You’re better off pursuing renewables like wind and solar if you want to get more bang for your buck.”

***

Evaluating the total carbon output of the nuclear industry involves calculating those emissions and dividing them by the electricity produced over the entire lifetime of the plant. Benjamin K. Sovacool, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore, recently analyzed more than one hundred lifecycle studies of nuclear plants around the world, his results published in August in Energy Policy. From the 19 most reliable assessments, Sovacool found that estimates of total lifecycle carbon emissions ranged from 1.4 grammes of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (gCO2e/kWh) of electricity produced up to 288 gCO2e/kWh. Sovacool believes the mean of 66 gCO2e/kWh to be a reasonable approximation.

The large variation in emissions estimated from the collection of studies arises from the different methodologies used – those on the low end, says Sovacool, tended to leave parts of the lifecycle out of their analyses, while those on the high end often made unrealistic assumptions about the amount of energy used in some parts of the lifecycle. The largest source of carbon emissions, accounting for 38 per cent of the average total, is the “frontend” of the fuel cycle, which includes mining and milling uranium ore, and the relatively energy-intensive conversion and enrichment process, which boosts the level of uranium-235 in the fuel to useable levels. Construction (12 per cent), operation (17 per cent largely because of backup generators using fossil fuels during downtime), fuel processing and waste disposal (14 per cent) and decommissioning (18 per cent) make up the total mean emissions.

According to Sovacool’s analysis, nuclear power, at 66 gCO2e/kWh emissions is well below scrubbed coal-fired plants, which emit 960 gCO2e/kWh, and natural gas-fired plants, at 443 gCO2e/kWh. However, nuclear emits twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic, at 32 gCO2e/kWh, and six times as much as onshore wind farms, at 10 gCO2e/kWh. “A number in the 60s puts it well below natural gas, oil, coal and even clean-coal technologies. On the other hand, things like energy efficiency, and some of the cheaper renewables are a factor of six better. So for every dollar you spend on nuclear, you could have saved five or six times as much carbon with efficiency, or wind farms,” Sovacool says. Add to that the high costs and long lead times for building a nuclear plant about $3 billion for a 1,000 megawatt plant, with planning, licensing and construction times of about 10 years and nuclear power is even less appealing.

***

Money spent on energy efficiency, however, is equivalent to increasing baseload power, since it reduces the overall power that needs to be generated, says Sovacool. And innovative energy-storage solutions, such as compressed air storage, could provide ways for renewables to provide baseload power.

Thomas Cochran, a nuclear physicist and senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group in Washington DC … argues that the expense and risk of building nuclear plants makes them uneconomic without large government subsidies, and that similar investment in wind and solar photovoltaic power would pay off sooner.

***

Another question has to do with the sustainability of the uranium supply itself. According to researchers in Australia at Monash University, Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales, Sydney, good-quality uranium ore is hard to come by. The deposits of rich ores with the highest uranium content are depleting leaving only lower-quality deposits to be exploited. As ore quality degrades, more energy is required to mine and mill it, and greenhouse gas emissions rise. “It is clear that there is a strong sensitivity of … greenhouse gas emissions to ore grade, and that ore grades are likely to continue to decline gradually in the medium- to long-term,” conclude the researchers.  [And see this.]

Beyond Nuclear notes:

The energy consulting firm Ecofys produced a report detailing how we can meet nearly 100% of global energy needs with renewable sources by 2050. Approximately half of the goal is met through increased energy efficiency to first reduce energy demands, and the other half is achieved by switching to renewable energy sources for electricity production. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees and predicts close to 80% of the world’s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid‐century.

***

Since nuclear power plants are reliant upon the electrical grid for 100% of their safety systems’ long‐term power, and are shut down during grid failure and perturbations, it is “guaranteed” only as long as the electrical grid is reliable. When the Tsunami and earthquake hit and power was lost in the Fukushima Prefecture, nuclear energy wasn’t so “guaranteed.” Instead, it became a liability, adding to what was now a triple threat to the region and worsening an already catastrophic situation.

***

[The claim that] Nuclear power is “low‐carbon electricity” … is the propaganda line commonly used by the nuclear industry which conveniently leaves out every phase of the nuclear fuel chain other than electricity generation. It ignores the significant carbon emissions caused by uranium mining, milling, processing and enrichment; the transport of fuel; the construction of nuclear plants; and the still inadequate permanent management of waste. It also ignores the release ‐ by nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities ‐ of radioactive carbon dioxide, or carbon‐14, to the air, considered to be the most toxic of all radioactive isotopes over the long‐term.

In fact, studies show that extending the operating licenses of old nuclear power plants emits orders of magnitude more carbon and greenhouse gases per kilowatt hour from just the uranium fuel chain compared to building and operating new wind farms.

***

Nuclear might begin to address global carbon emissions if a reactor is built somewhere in the world every two weeks. But this is an economically unrealistic, in fact impossible, proposition, with the estimated construction tab beginning at $12 billion apiece and current new reactors under construction already falling years behind schedule.

According to a 2003 MIT study, “The Future of Nuclear Power,” such an unprecedented industrial ramping up would also mean opening a new Yucca Mountain‐size nuclear waste dump somewhere in the world “every three to four years,” a task still unaccomplished even once in the 70 years of the industry’s existence. Further, such a massive scale expansion of nuclear energy would fuel proliferation risks and multiply anxieties about nuclear weapons development, exemplified by the current concern over Iran. As Al Gore stated while Vice President: “For eight years in the White House, every weapons-proliferation problem we dealt with was connected to a civilian reactor program.”

Many experts also say that the “energy return on investment” from nuclear power is lower than many other forms of energy. In other words, non-nuclear energy sources produce more energy for a given input.

David Swanson summarizes one of the key findings of the International Forum on Globalization report:

The energy put into mining, processing, and shipping uranium, plant construction, operation, and decommissioning is roughly equal to the energy a nuclear plant can produce in its lifetime. In other words, nuclear energy does not add any net energy.

Not counted in that calculation is the energy needed to store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.

Also not counted is any mitigation of the relatively routine damage done to the environment, including human health, at each stage of the process.

***

Nuclear energy is not an alternative to energies that increase global warming, because nuclear increases global warming. When high-grade uranium runs out, nuclear will be worse for CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels. And as global warming advances, nuclear becomes even less efficient as reactors must shut down to avoid overheating.

Also not counted in most discussions is the fact that nuclear reactors discharge tremendous amounts of heat directly into the environment.  After all – as any nuclear engineer will tell you – a nuclear reactor is really just a fancy way to boil water.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists noted in 1971:

In terms of thermal efficiency, current nuclear reactors are even worse off than the coal plants.  Against the 50 per cent loss of heat in the newest coal plants, as much as 70 per cent of the heat is lost from nuclear plants.  This means that thermal pollution can be even more severe ….

1971 was a long time ago, but some nuclear plants are older.  For example, Oyster Creek was launched in 1969, and many other reactors were built in the early 1970s.   Most American nuclear reactors are old (and they are aging very poorly).

Indeed, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service claims:

It has been estimated that every nuclear reactor daily releases thermal energy –heat– that is in excess of the heat released by the detonation of a 15 kiloton nuclear bomb blast.

It doesn’t make too much sense to dump massive amounts of heat into the environment … in the name of fighting global warming.

The German Example

Germany permanently shut down 8 nuclear power plants in 2011. Indeed, Germany’s phase-out of nuclear will speed up the reduction in its carbon footprint.

PhysOrg reported last year:

A special issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, “The German Nuclear Exit,” shows that the nuclear shutdown and an accompanying move toward renewable energy are already yielding measurable economic and environmental benefits, with one top expert calling the German phase-out a probable game-changer for the nuclear industry worldwide.

***

Freie Universität Berlin politics professor Miranda Schreurs says the nuclear phase-out and accompanying shift to renewable energy have brought financial benefits to farmers, investors, and small business;

Felix Matthes of the Institute for Applied Ecology in Berlin concludes the phase-out will have only small and temporary effects on electricity prices and the German economy;

***

Lutz Mez, co-founder of Freie Universitӓt Berlin’s Environmental Policy Research Center, presents what may be the most startling finding of all …. “It has actually decoupled energy from economic growth, with the country’s energy supply and carbon-dioxide emissions dropping from 1990 to 2011, even as its gross domestic product rose by 36 percent.”

Beyond Nuclear notes:

Germany reduced its carbon emissions in 2011 by 2.1 percent despite the nuclear phaseout. The cut in greenhouse gases was mainly reached due to an accelerated transition to renewable energies and a warm winter. In addition, the EU emissions trading system caps all emissions from the power sector.

While eight nuclear power plants were shut down, solar power output increased by 60 percent. By the end of 2011, renewable energies provided more than 20 percent of overall electricity.

***

Even after shutting its eight oldest nuclear power plants, Germany is still a net exporter of electricity. In 2011, Germany exported 6 TWh more than it imported. Additionally, German electricity exports to Europe’s nuclear power house France increased throughout 2011.

The Big Picture

The former chief American nuclear regulator says that nuclear energy is unsafe and should be phased out. Whistleblowers at the Nuclear Regulator Commission say that the risk of a major meltdown at U.S. nuclear reactors is much higher than it was at Fukushima.

And an accident in the U.S. could be a lot larger than in Japan … partly because our nuclear plants hold a lot more radioactive material. Radiation could cause illness in huge numbers of Americans, and a major nuclear accident could literally bankrupt America.

More than 75 percent of American nuclear reactors leak radiation … and – contrary to what the snake oil salesmen say – radiation form nuclear plants is very damaging to our health.

Nuclear is wholly subsidized by the government … and would never survive in a free market.

Anyone who says the only choices are nuclear, oil or coal are wrong.  The question isn’t one type of centralized energy generation versus another.

Decentralizing energy production, increasing efficiency, and increasing energy conservation are the real solutions for the environment.

Watch this must-see talk by Lovins, and this inspiring talk by Justin Hall Tipping.

The bottom line – as discussed above – is that scientists pushing nuclear to combat global warming are misinformed.  (True, nuclear industry lobbyists may be largely responsible for the claim that nuclear fights climate change. Indeed, Dick Cheney – whose Halliburton company builds nuclear power plants, and which sold nuclear secrets to Iran – falsely claimed that nuclear power is carbon-free in a 2004 appearance on C-Span. But there are also sincere environmental scientists who are pushing nuclear because they have only studied a small part of the picture, and don’t understand that there are better alternatives.)

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  • David Mills

    What you say is probably true if the element used to make nuclear power is uranium. But a much safer and much more efficient nuclear process using the element thorium was tried at Oak ridge in the 60′s. These reactors can be very small and would be far less complicated to build than a jet liner and could be built on an assembly line. You need to read about the nuclear power we could have had, except for the fact that the military didn’t want it because it could not be used for weapons. Best video is here:

    • Dave Kimble

      Firstly Thorium is not fissile, so it wasn’t a Thorium reactor. It was a Uranium-233 reactor, with the idea being that you could make the U-233 out of Thorium-232. But they didn’t do that in the trials in the 60s – they took a short cut and got the U-233 from the waste of a U-235 reactor.

      Since U-233 doesn’t exist in nature, it is an important question whether running a U-233 reactor can make enough new fuel out of irradiated Thorium-232 to keep the cycle going, let alone grow the industry. That was what the experiment was all about. The experiment was a failure.

      But some people can’t handle that idea, so … it must have been a conspiracy !

      Do you seriously think that the nuclear industry would have rolled over and died if this was a going concern, regardless of whether it can produce weapons materials?

      • nveric

        The bottom line is:

        Will people continue living and improve themselves?

        Will humans evolve into mutual beings who cast aside the need to kill each other and soil their box?

        Will we ever leave this gravity well, and return to the stars?

        • David Mills

          Probably not without thorium.

      • David Mills

        The thorium reactor at Oak Ridge was anything but a failure. It ran for five years. It was also designed by the person who holds the patent on the light water uranium reactor, Alvin Weinstein. I would guess he would know whether it was a failure or not. You obviously did not watch the video (or its entirety) or you would know the status of where thorium reactors stand. At the time thorium power was deselected, the government wanted to breed uranium 238 to produce plutonium so these breeders were selected over thorium. These uranium 238 breeder reactors never worked so the nuclear industry was left producing nuclear power from uranium 235. But the thorium breeder reactor which makes U 233 did work; but, as you say, it has to be started with U 235 or some other fuel. But that is ok because that other fuel can be nuclear waste. The thorium reactor is the best means of disposing of nuclear waste. And the Chinese think so little of it, they are committed to having a thorium reactor by 2020, based on the Oak Ridge model.

        • falstaff77

          “The thorium reactor at Oak Ridge …”

          There was no Thorium used in the MSR experiment at Oak Ridge. There was no breeding of Th into U 233 at Oak Ridge. There was no chemical processing of the Protactinium chain at Oak Ridge. The experiment was based on a molten salt uranium design, with the uranium made available at start-up. Within those parameters, the experiment was quite successful.

          • davidgmills1

            That is news to me. Do you have a source? Because members of the thorium alliance and Kirk Sorensen have always suggested thorium was used, not just molten salt.

          • falstaff77

            “…Kirk Sorensen have always suggested thorium was used”

            No, Sorensen gets the history right in various videos. No thorium. With U-235 and U-233, attempted to emulate a reactor that would.
            http://www.energyfromthorium.com/pdf/NAT_MSREexperience.pdf
            en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten-Salt_Reactor_Experiment

          • davidgmills1

            If I read page 9 correctly, the U233 came from a thorium-uranium recycle facility at Oak Ridge. So I don’t know which one of us is correct.

          • Corey Barcus

            Oh, I see now what you are saying. Yeah, the U233 had to come from somewhere (‘production’ reactors), and irradiated Th232 is a logical source. I think the point being made is that the breeding process was not integrated in the same machine.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium-233#Fissile_material

          • davidgmills1

            That is what I think happened as well. I don’t think there is any way to make U233 other than the thorium >protactinium>U233 process. U233 does not exist in a natural state on earth from what I have read.

          • Corey Barcus

            You are absolutely right that U233, having a half-life of about 160k years, is not available like U235. U233 is not required for starting up thorium-based reactors, but nevertheless, it should be possible to inexpensively breed U233 with fusion. In fact, U233 breeding from Th232 is one of the possible uses of PACER. As the saying goes, “Fusion for the neutrons, and fission for the energy.”

            There are a few motivations for wanting to breed U233 with fusion: stabilizing the price of fissile during a massive ramp up of next gen nuclear, low cost fissile could make faster spectrum reactors more affordable (high fissile startup loads can mean higher CAPEX), and avoiding the environmental cost of greatly expanding U mining and the production of Pu239. Fissile production from a Pacer breeder should be on the order of tons per GWe/year.

            But this is not the only way to breed fissile with fusion. If a lower Q can be tolerated, machines like NIF/LIFE, ITER, and others may be considered.

          • falstaff77

            Right. Testing integrated breeding is important because neutron economy in a power-breeder reactor becomes essential, forcing the chemical removal of protactinium from the core. It can’t be allowed to simply stay in the core and decay to uranium given its neutron absorption cross section. Such an integrated system has never been build before.

            Breeding Th into U (only breeding) in the closet down the hall or a 1000 miles away has none of these concerns.

          • Corey Barcus

            No, just U235 & U233 were used as fuel; the MSRE was not designed for breeding from Th232. Iso-breeding is somewhat of a technical challenge, so the final days of the MSR program focused on a single-fluid converter variant known as the de-natured MSR (DMSR). Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR is based upon this approach.

            http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2013/04/12/a-simple-and-smahtr-way-to-build-a-molten-salt-reactor-from-canada/

            I believe Mr. Sorensen is pursuing LFTR with FLiBe Energy, presumably as an iso-breeder, which is a bit more far-ranged in thinking, yet more challenging.

            There are multiple approaches using different neutron spectrums (thermal to fast) and different moderators (graphite and zirconium hydride).

      • Corey Barcus

        Actually, the LFTR machine would only need to break even on breeding. LFTRs can be made to be very fuel efficient, so the required startup fissile is minimal. For that startup fissile, we can either greatly expand U mining, or look into practical fusion breeding. The nation that gets fusion + fission to work symbiotically will dominate the economy of the future and make the greatest contribution to decoupling economic growth from carbon emissions.

        • AldivosTarril

          Heh. The Thorium Cargo Cult soon appear on every story about nukes!

          ‘Myths about Thorium nuclear fuel’ by Nick Touran, Ph.D. Nuclear Engineering http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium_myths.html

          Learn some facts and stop with the pointless fantasies!

          • Corey Barcus

            Not a bad source for information about the thorium fuel cycle and MSRs, but what specifically is your criticism of my post? Do you understand what you have posted?

          • AldivosTarril

            Do you understand that your techno fantasies produce no energy? There are no LFTRs, no fusion nukes, and there won’t be for a very long time, most likely never because there is no need when society is moving towards clean energy.

          • davidgmills1

            China disagrees. They are making as much solar and wind as anybody but they are going to make a molten salt thorium reactor by 2020. What is it they know that you don’t? Maybe you ought to think about it.

      • falstaff77

        This smiley optimism is delusional. Will happen, as in “is going to”? The world ended in 1997. October I think. There is no world and you don’t exist. Worrying about the “future” is a denial of your obvious non-existence.

  • kimyo

    monbiot, pro-nuke, clearly has fallen to the communists. james hansen (‘nuclear saves lives’) too. as they’re part and parcel of the agw full court press, the whole co2=bad thing is called into question.

    sadly, maybe even reddit fave neil degrasse tyson belongs to the apparatus:
    http://www.freshdialogues.com/2011/12/06/neil-degrasse-tyson-challenges-climate-change-deniers/

    in a way, not unlike calculated risk (dis-honoring tanta by trumpeting any nar-positive truthiness).

    i’d ask monbiot / hansen / tyson – does tepco have adequate resources/personnel to stop the release of radioactive materials from fukushima? does ‘cold-shutdown’ accurately describe the state of things there?

  • Honest Harry’s Used Cars

    This delusional, myopic, scientific-centered discussion about -how to save the world- from ourselves, while continuing to expand economic growth through scientific means is best illustrated by this single quote, a quote made in the article. “It [national productivity] has actually decoupled energy from economic growth, with the country’s energy supply and carbon-dioxide emissions dropping from 1990 to 2011, even as its gross domestic product rose by 36 percent.”

    There’s something wrong with any approach that continues to demand expansion of the economy. This single-minded focus on expansion of the economy -as if this were some definitive closeness to God paradigm, is absurd. Why is it absurd? It is absurd because science has proved that it is not just nuclear power that is dangerous. Take a look around. Connect the dots. It is in fact any society that is based upon science that is dangerous. There is no good science. There is not even any environment-neutral science.

    Advancing any science that is supposedly more sustainable, is still dangerous. Most reading here are not old enough to remember how nuclear power was sold as scientific invention that was clean, safe and the sustainable wave of the future. Reality is infinitely complex. Who can fix that? A scientist? Ha!

    • nveric

      This is a first. I agree with you.

    • falstaff77

      “It is absurd because science has proved …”

      “…There is no good science”

      Not sure I’ve seen a Malthusian hit himself in the head with his own hammer quite so fast before. Does it hurt?

  • Nick

    Why are the outer planets in our solar system heating up as well if this is “man-made”? Why does NO ONE mention Tesla? Didn’t he discover how to utilize existing energy that is non depleteable?

  • gozounlimited

    The same John Holdren who was ‘open to shooting soot into the upper atmosphere’ got his wish, stupid or not. But instead of soot he uses particles of barium, magnesium, aluminum, nano-fibers, bacillus blood spores and other chemicals. And rather then shooting substances into the atmosphere, the nasty witches brew is delivered by aircraft, drones, and rockets.

    The cumulative affects of this (excuse my expression) crap is causing the Venus Effect, the complete drying out of the atmosphere preventing moisture, rain, and snow. The only use for this technology is in geoengineering when the desire is to destroy or maneuver weather patterns, create hurricanes, tornadoes, drought. As far as protecting the globe from global warming ……chemtrails (geoengineering), is actually making it worse.

    Because Californians are cleaning the atmosphere with white vinegar and other mechanical means, the chemtrail activity has been mitigated …. providing the natural weather patterns that has and will continue to deliver rain and snow to areas devastated by drought causing chemtrails last year.

    And of course the purpose of this evil activity is to convince you of global warming (when the globe is actually cooling). so that you will be willing to be carbon taxed and coerced into supporting a new derivatives market based on weather control. Easy to go short when chemtrail cowboys can create weather anomalies… and no insider trading needed…..amazing!

    To those of you who are standing up to save our planet, our lives, by mitigating the Bitches Brew…..LOVE YOU…..Thanks.

    http://seeker401.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/obamas-science-adviser-says-chemtrails-will-save-the-planet/
    http://globalskywatch.com/stories/my-chemtrail-story/chemtrail-information/chemtrails-or-geoengineering.html#.UWrTWZyRdOY

    • nveric

      Chemtrails.

      http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/

      I see you’ve become “official.”

      • gozounlimited

        And the last Henny-Penny is Schwarzenegger all worried about the 2,000 fires burning in Cali in 2008. Wonder why…. http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/08/opinion/la-oe-0408-schwarzenegger-climate-report-20130408

        California Chemtrail Convergence – Sat May 17, 2008
        Chemtrails – Yuba City, California 2008
        Chemtrails Sky Garbage – San Diego, CA 10-15-2008
        Chemtrails Berkeley, California December 20, 2008 005
        Chemtrails over Nevada City, CA 2008
        Chemtrails over So. California July 22, 2008 – Pt. 1 of 3
        Chem Trails, Nov 18 2008 Commerce, ca.mpg
        CALIFORNIA CHEMTRAIL CONVERGENCE
        Chemtrail Muck Uninterupted over Merced Ca
        Chemtrails over Southern California 4th of July 2008
        I think you get the picture…100′s more on You Tube.

        This guy ripped off California tax payers with side deals with banksters…. and he’s not gonna stop…. he’s got too much capital invested in the deception. In fact as far as the Sweathead and Gore are concerned they are gonna keep spraying us like roaches until we relent to their BS and demands. Got a message for ya’lll ……. the shit won’t stick!

      • gozounlimited

        Children Explain Atmospheric Geoengineering to Adults….Activist Post

        Jet Aircraft anomalies, metals in rainwater and patents all reveal that
        geoengineering our atmosphere has been deployed by the powers that be.
        This is literally an experiment with Life itself…. view video: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/04/children-explain-atmospheric.html

  • nveric

    Decentralizing political control, increasing representation, and increasing public participation are the real solutions for the country.

  • fireofenergy

    Although not a fan of the light water reactor, I must disagree with the title. Fission is about 1,000,000x more compact than combustion, therefore, the insignificant amount of fuel must have an energy payback of close to 6 orders of magnitude greater than that of fossil fuels.

    Find a reactor design that can NOT melt down, that emits gamma rays for 300 years (instead of 300,000 years) and that can be mass produced and then pick the BEST one from there, and yes, there ARE such plans which have been built and proven in the past… No more fossil fuels and no more excess CO2… It’s a like duh concept!

    • junk_the_bunk-UMM

      If you’re really so stuck on big-buck, centralized “nuclear” then the answer should be fusion… in the meantime, would you like a hot fission waste repository constructed next your (italic) community?

      • Corey Barcus

        Yes, a dry cask storage facility for high level waste is quite safe and acceptable, but probably undesirable for a massive expansion of nuclear power. Why not just bury the waste in deep boreholes so we can forget about it?

        As for fusion, it would probably be far more appropriate to employ it for breeding fissile (for the rapid expansion of fission reactors) as the process is neutron rich and energy poor. A PACER type machine has been a feasible for decades, but generally found to be politically unacceptable, despite our need. I believe this position should be reevaluated. A NIF/LIFE machine may turn out to be practical as well, though perhaps with a substantially lower Q.

        • AldivosTarril

          Nonsense. Dry cask storage is highly vulnerable over time to failure, leaks or theft.

          The fact that you think it’s just a case of dropping this poison in “deep boreholes so we can forget about it” just reveals how little you grasp of the impossible nature of this challenge at keeping the deadly poison away from the biosphere for 100,000 years.

          And your techno fantasies about fusion don’t solve a single problem.

          • Corey Barcus

            Actually, the thorium fuel cycle greatly reduces the quantity of long lived waste, but it seems you believe that all radio-waste is inherently unmanageable. My guess is that you subscribe to the erroneous conjecture of LNT, and are completely unaware of how it is an embodiment of the social disease of radiophobia and a major driver of economic waste:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2889503/

            Dry casks do not have to last for 100,000 years, but if they did, you are right that they are unsuitable. Their contents will likely be moved to permanent storage within a salt formation.

            Fusion is not a fantasy, but has been technically feasible for breeding and/or power generation for decades, though perhaps not politically viable, which is why research has migrated to laser-based systems (NIF/LIFE).

            Speaking of techno fantasies, that exactly describes the notions of a global energy system based on renewables, which is not grounded in physical or economic reality. But go ahead and base your assertions on extrapolating from short term trends while not caring about the fundamentals. Your weakness in the science of the matter has been repeatedly pointed out to you (here and in other forums), and once again, your ideological convictions are overwhelming your curiosity.

            It appears to me that you have an extraordinarily low regard for your own reputation, but that seems to be a common trait of ideologues and religious fanatics. You have committed yourself to a set of questionable assertions, the details of which remain beyond your grasp, perhaps due to a lack of scientific training. The investment trends you constantly fall back upon could as easily be evidence for a dangerous social disease, but this possibility is completely ignored by you due to your ‘faith’.

          • AldivosTarril

            You mean the non-existent “thorium fuel cycle” that you fantasise about?

            And you mean the non-existent long-term storage facility that you also fantasise about?

            Never mind. The clean energy revolution continues to accelerate regardless of fools on the internet who cannot grasp what is happening.

      • http://biofry.wordpress.com/ Robert

        Better than living next to a coal plant, and ocean acidification

  • garthpool

    What is the effect on carbon emissions of nuclear disasters? There may be some studies that attempt to answer this question. If there are, and since nuclear disasters are inevitable, I believe they would conclude on that basis alone that nuclear power is by no means low-carbon. That is the mildest way I can put it.

  • Jason Schafer

    Thorium

  • falstaff77

    One can certainly attempt the argument that the like of solar and wind are *more cost effective* than nuclear power at replacing carbon sources. But this obviously is not the same thing as stating as fact that “nuclear is not a low carbon source of energy”. The readers know this, the author knows this, and we know the author knows. Bait and switch is propaganda, not argument.

 

 

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