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Monday, August 4, 2008

No easy way out

A long-time foe of nuclear power and nuclear weapons points out that nuclear power plants have a huge carbon footprint over their lives.

Comments (12)

Yeah, but politicians think the public is willing to ignore such realities, including a waste disposal problem, for short-term energy cost reductions. They think we are all as selfishly motivated as they are. Are we?

So far, I don't think we are. But wait 'til people pay their heating bills this winter.

Most of what Caldicott says about the building and processing phase of nukes is the same as coal, oil or natural gas fired electrical generation. Building anything, mining, regining and transporting anything generate similar carbon footprints. She completely ignores the possibilties of things like solar or wind to supply electricity for large parts of the energy-comsumptive phases of nuke construction and operation. It's all dark side, Luke.

She's a zealot - and zealots are the same on either side of any issue. If you only look for data to support your side, and ignore data that don't, you'll certainly become convinced of your rightness (or should that be leftness?).

Higher tire pressures will solve everything...

...and the band played on.

It's not just the carbon footprint, it's the opportunity cost of that carbon footprint. John McSame has advocated building 45 nukes "as soon as possible", with 55 more to come after those. At a projected cost of $10 billion each, that is $450 billion dollars. That money could buy:

18,000,000 Toyota Priuses @ $25K each, or
18,000,000 American homes retrofitted with $25,000 worth of solar, personal wind, or geothermal capacity or energy conservation measures, or
1,000 light rail lines @ $450 million each.

I could go on, but a sound argument could be made that any of the three alternatives would yield better overall outcomes than building more nukes.

Her analogy is a total crock. If a nuclear plant generates the same amount of carbon as burning carbon fuels, why would there be any need to build them nor there an economic incentive to do so. Why would the utilities want to invest in them if that were true? Vaughan is a little off on her math (and her rocker) by a factor of 100 give or take. One can substitute energy for dollars in this equation, and if it don’t pencil out in energy, it won’t pencil out in dollars. Just try to generate the same amount of energy using carbon fuels over a 20 year period and see how much that will cost.

18,000,000 Toyota Priuses @ $25K each, or

Tell me that you really aren't that ignorant. The Prius and its ilk are among the highest-polluting vehicles currently on the market. If you want to "Save the Planet", buy a freakin' Hummer; they cause far less environmental damage.




If nuclear plants are so bad, then why is one of the founders for Greenpeace advocating their use (may be the lesser of several evils, but so what)? Or is he on the take, which is probably the kneejerk greenie response?

Caldicott is the worst anti-nuke advocate to cite because, to put it bluntly, she makes stuff up.

There are many reasons that the much-touted nuclear renaissance will not be televised, or even observed, but carbon footprint is not one of them. (Short summary: it costs too much and takes too long. And we're running out of free energy to use to make such an energy intensive investment.)

A good summary of the situation:

As for carbon, the total per-kWH life-cycle carbon footprint for nukes (from mine mouth to waste facility) is down there with geothermal and wind (e.g., it takes a metric buttload of concrete to build a dam or hold a wind turbine in place, and dams emit a lot of methane from the reservoirs).

Just the other day I saw this lengthy analysis:


Or you can have that whole report in one picture here:


And, yes, Patrick Moore (and early Greenpeace member but not actually a founder) is "on the take." Meaning, literally, he is PAID to boost nuclear power. Nobody knows what his views are, he speaks only the views of his sponsors. You should only listen to what he says if you think you should get your advice on what cellphone suits you best from Catherine Zeta-Jones.

"Meaning, literally, he is PAID to boost nuclear power."


I am otherwise indifferent to cell phones. If Catherine Zeta-Jones is the bit I need to get over the hump, so be it. Likewise, there aren't really any good, viable, reliable energy options (don't start with the wind turbines and solar panel b.s.). If the industry and even some eco-friendlies suggest nuclear is a better alternative (or companion) to coal, oil, etc., I'd consider their arguments, too.

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