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Mark Atwood
fallenpegasus
fallenpegasus
A recurring discussion in rec.arts.sf.written
Actually the real question is whether we can afford to keep burning hydrocarbons, wherever we gets 'em from. x
So you do your part in conviencing the folks around you to be pro-nuke, yes? x
Indeed I do .. and yourself? x
I try. The problem is, it seems that everyone who already isn't convienced, the moment someone says "nuke", their brain turns off. Of course, it seems that for people who do think about energy and pollution and who are not already pro-nuke, the "brain turn off" function is already either on a hair-trigger, or is welded down. It's worse than the goddamn "for the sake of the children" problem. x
Atoms make baby Jesus cry. That's about the only explanation I can give for some people's reactions. x

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Current Music: (Rachid Taha) Rock el Casbah.mp3

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Comments
pnh From: pnh Date: August 30th, 2005 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Alternately, "for thirty years, the nuclear power industry lied to the public like lying was the royal road to complete personal and sexual fulfillment."

For some reason, people eventually stopped believing what they said, even when it was true.

I'm in favor of nuclear power, but I don't blame anyone for being cynical about the claims of utilities monopolists. The baby Jesus has nothing to do with it, except as a way of reassuring ourselves that other people are ever so much stupider than we are.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 30th, 2005 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)
If you have an actual workable proposal for sidestepping the problem that the generation and distribution of high-density high-quality on-demand energy is a canonical Natural Monopoly, I'm all ears. Mister Fusion? Bender Power Packs? Sunstones? Personal Zero-Point-Energy extractors?

Spill it.
pnh From: pnh Date: August 30th, 2005 11:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope. I agree that it's a "canonical natural monopoly." I'm just observing that such monopolies tend to produce a kind of business behavior which, over time, makes people very cynical about them. (Adam Smith was all over this point.) One doesn't haven't to postulate an extraordinary level of anti-scientific prejudice to account for the modern distrust of nuclear power; the behavior of the nuclear power business accounts for it just fine.

I don't have a solution in mind. But I think we need to start from an accurate assessment of the problem.
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: August 30th, 2005 06:44 am (UTC) (Link)
For me, it isn't the nukes, but the companies and governments controlling them that has me rejecting this source of energy.

I don't trust corporate or government culture with stuff this dangerous.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 30th, 2005 08:25 am (UTC) (Link)
And yet you are currently trusting them with the far more poisonous and toxic technology of coal...
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: August 30th, 2005 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Not by choice, see.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 30th, 2005 09:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, you can't choose neither one. Coal, or nuke. And coal is the more poisonous.
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: August 30th, 2005 01:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Depends on the defintion of poisonous.

In Australia, we can chose to go wind/solar/hydro: we are around the size of the contiguous USA and have a popn of 20 million.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 30th, 2005 08:26 am (UTC) (Link)
And who do you trust it with? Communes?
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: August 30th, 2005 08:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Nah. They would be the same soon enough.

Hugely well-structured quangos, in which all the staff are personally repsonsible and liable, possibly.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 30th, 2005 09:02 am (UTC) (Link)
As potential staff, I don't think that's going to happen any time soon.

(Having lost one job already over the Declining To Implement The Bloody Stupid And Hazardous - although merely to our customers' data, not their lives - I'll sign up for something that will inevitably in practise leave me hung out to dry for everyone and anyone else's errors on the same day that Satan starts exporting deuterium slush, belike.

I don't think I'm the only one by a long chalk.)
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: August 30th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, as an utterly cynical Skeery Old Lady, neither do I.
From: ex_cerebrate131 Date: August 30th, 2005 09:03 am (UTC) (Link)
(And that was me. Damn on-site non-logged-in-ness.)
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 30th, 2005 09:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I could tell it was you, just from the tone. :D
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: August 30th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ne'er mind :-)
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 30th, 2005 09:35 am (UTC) (Link)
So, in other words, nobody.

That's not an option. The selections are coal companies, nuke companies, or freezing in the dark, and the rest of world is not going to go along with the 3rd option.

(And to head off the invocation of hydro, solar, tidal, photovol, wind, or orbital beamed, I can shoot each one down in detail, merely on the basis of costs of environmental pollution, climate change, and human lives.)

This is an *old* and well hashed debate over in the forum I pasted the original quotes from, and I am well versed in it. We regularly get newbies subscribe, get all indignant at the quiet pro-nuke conventional wisdom there, and get firmly argued to a standstill on the issue.
From: ex_cerebrate131 Date: August 30th, 2005 10:32 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll confess to having a soft spot for orbital beamed power, largely because of the relative ease of adding the Microwave Death Rays From Space option to the satellites in question.

And we cannot allow a MDRFS gap.
ruth_lawrence From: ruth_lawrence Date: August 30th, 2005 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
It *is* an option in australia.

Our circumstances and political structure are quite different.
tonyawinter From: tonyawinter Date: August 30th, 2005 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
While playing the board game powergrid I was thinking about this very thing. To win the game you really do need to step past burning coal... Ultimately though I won by buying the far more expensive hydro and wind plants. However I was completely willing to go nuke if that was what it would take.
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 30th, 2005 08:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Does the game properly credit the extreme environmental devastation of hydro? Or the extreme cost in mangled humans and local climate change from windfarms?
tonyawinter From: tonyawinter Date: August 30th, 2005 05:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
No of coure not. It also doesn't address cleanup costs/issues with the other two types.

I'm interested in this 'mangled humans' thing you are talking about? Do people get hurt erecting and maintaining windfarms more than other plants or structures?
fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 31st, 2005 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)
The calculations show that they do. Working high up is dangerous. Working on heavy rotating machinery is as well. Working on machinery that *wants* to spin, even when you have clamped it and braked it, is even worse. And combining the two makes the risk more than additive.

The BoE calculations I have seen, which assume extremely careful work discipline, still result in serious casualties and fatalities on par with logging, which is currently the most dangerous regular job in the US.
tonyawinter From: tonyawinter Date: August 31st, 2005 09:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, well I'm ok with that.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 31st, 2005 01:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Why do we have to have centralized power?

Can we not generate our own power in smaller amounts?

Why giant windfarms? Why not solar panels on homes? Why not small wind turbines?

fallenpegasus From: fallenpegasus Date: August 31st, 2005 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
Because of "economics of scale".

Specifically, the laws of thermodynamics result in the fact that you suffer the least losses and gain the most efficiency when the energy density relative to the surroundings is as high as possible. Thus, generating plants waste the least amount of fuel and produce the least amount of pollution per energy unit when they are as large as possible. You then balance this against the transmission losses from "piping" the energy from the generator plant to the end users. However, economics of scale kick in here as well, where huge high voltage lines lose the last amount of energy.

In short, "generate our own power in smaller amounts" wastes more fuel, creates more pollution, requires more machinery, and costs more money.

Thermal solar is less about "generating power" then using some of the free stuff that is falling from the sky. As for putting PV panels on your roof, manufacturing PV panels creates a *lot* of really nasty pollution (something that the "happy sun power, get off the grid" folks like to gloss over, and it was just very very recently that *some* PV technology improved to the point where a PV panel would produce more power over it's life then it took to manfacture the damn thing in the first place.

That's why.

More questions?
From: samildanach Date: August 31st, 2005 06:56 am (UTC) (Link)
What are the risks and costs with orbital beamed power, either laser or microwave? (Risks presumably include the problem of launching radioactives on a rocket; what else?)
mauser From: mauser Date: September 7th, 2005 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I blame 1950's Monster movies. Clearly some folks have learned everything they know about atomic energy from them.

Hmm, call it Atomic Energy instead of Nuclear.....
xenologue From: xenologue Date: September 7th, 2005 12:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no particular comment about nukes. Just wondered if you're OK cuz you haven't posted in a while.
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