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March 13, 2011

On Nuclear Reactors

-- by Dave Johnson

A year ago I wrote in favor of using nuclear energy to fight global warming. Here is part of what I wrote,

I believe that global warming is the most serious threat humanity faces. So we need to use every possible technology we can to replace energy sources that put greenhouse gases into the air. This includes nuclear energy.

One big problem with nuclear is figuring out what to do with the dangerous radioactive waste. But here's the thing, when we burn coal and oil we're just putting the dangerous waste product into the air and it is destroying the planet. So we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good -- nuclear waste is not destroying the planet and fossil-fuel waste is. We simply have to replace coal and oil as our energy source.

Climate change is an emergency. We need to do everything we can.

[. . .]

Make them safe. This means a highly regulated effort, not a free-for-all for profits. ...

Buy American. If we are building nuclear power plants we should regulate that they create American jobs...

Today someone asked me if I am still in favor of using nuclear energy. Here is what I replied:

Si, those 30-year-old reactors should not have been allowed to operate. The new generation of reactors can't melt down, and I think global warming is much more serious than most people think it is. So the trade-off is in favor of using nuclear as long as we stop using coal.

But I think a reactor has to be built and operated by a strong people-oriented government, with no profit considerations at all. Which we do not have.

So I don't see many governments I would trust right now to do that. Maybe Canada.

Posted by Dave Johnson at March 13, 2011 9:11 AM


Comments

It is worth noting a couple of facts:

1. The Fukushima reactors were about to be decommissioned, they were at their end of useful life and were about to be dismantled. If this quake had happened a few months later, the reactors would have been turned off and the fuel removed.

2. The General Electric Mark I Model 3 reactor is in widespread use, including the Fukushima reactors. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission required design improvements to fix possible problems and the Model 4 was developed as a replacement. This reactor is no longer in production, but is still in common use, I live 35 miles from a GE Mark I Model 4 that is licensed to operate until 2034.

Source:

http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/13/6256121-general-electric-designed-reactors-in-fukushima-have-23-sisters-in-us

Posted by: Charles [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2011 10:14 AM

Insanity. Nuclear energy is at least as dangerous as global climate change. (I'm not saying climate change isn't dangerous.)

There will always be a better reactor. There are always better cars. (Actually MUCH better cars.) But people operate them, and they continue to kill themselves and others at ridiculous rates.

Some technologies are intrinsically catastrophic. Green nukes and clean coal. Both frauds.

Posted by: Richard Reich [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2011 10:38 AM

Your analogy is very poor. The auto accident fatality rate has dropped to less than half of what it was in 1975.

Life is inherently catastrophic, it always ends in death. What are you going to do until then? Go back and live an agrarian lifestyle from 1900? Back then, people died from lack of simple basics things we take for granted, like refrigerated food storage.

Posted by: Charles [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2011 6:10 PM

Oh, oops, I forgot to post my link. Here's what your preferred 1900 agrarian lifestyle looked like:

http://tinyurl.com/677lnnl

Posted by: Charles [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 13, 2011 6:13 PM

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