Posts Tagged ‘nuclear power’

Sustainable Energy Choices

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Barry Brooks at ‘BraveNewClimate’ has made a brave effort at summing up the need for nuclear power as part of the CO2-free mix in a brief video, but parts of it still felt to me like “industry propaganda” – to the extent that I might be a bit embarrassed if anyone seeing my earlier references to the BNC site should subsequently come across it.
My first concern is that very little argument is given to support the claim that non-nuclear options won’t suffice. No-one is likely to be convinced that just because Denmark has not yet displaced anything close to the major part of their coal use with wind that they may not eventually do so (though I suspect that in fact they won’t), and the use of that as an apparent argument will just make the case seem weak and forced. Another point that troubles me is at the conclusion where the video compares the golf ball sized lump of nuclear fuel that is capable of providing enough energy to meet the needs of a typical western human lifetime with the many tons of coal that it would “displace”. I suspect that this will seem obviously “unfair” even to those who cannot say why (The only comparison that really matters is with volume of ore rather than volume of fuel).

Of course is hard to tell the full story so briefly, but if it can’t be done well enough then it were better not done at all. The BNC site has a lot of credibility but the video actually undermines it so I actually hope  it doesn’t “go viral”.

 

Where’s the Left Wing Science Denial? Alive and Well in Vancouver I’m Afraid

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Chris Mooney at Discover Magazine is optimistic, asking Where’s the Left Wing Science Denial? But in fact, although there are many reasonable voices (and even George Monbiot has belatedly changed his tune and is now quite critical of the anti-nuke crowd), the media is still full of knee-jerk scare pieces like Olson’s in the Vancouver Courier.
Other anti-nuclear voices, like this at the Huffington Post are actually somewhat more reasonable. But although there certainly are real risks (which I have experienced myself) those risks do need to be assessed fairly in comparison with the risks of whatever alternatives are being considered.

[Note: the last paragraph has been modified in response to the first comment below]

Legitimate Concerns and Overstated Rhetoric

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Colin Macilwain has unfortunately marred a reasonably sensible article in Nature News by adding unsupported inflammatory rhetoric in the opening and closing paragraphs. In between these he refers approvingly to a much better article by Charles Ferguson which appeared a week earlier, and makes some legitimate points of his own about real failings of the nuclear industry (and those that dictate the circumstances within which it operates).

The comments by tas yoto and Chris Phoenix both bear repeating. (more…)

Anti-Nuclear Inflation

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

I was disappointed to see Geoff Olson’s citation  of a totally bogus figure for the number of deaths due to Chernobyl in his anti-nuclear panic piece in the Vancouver Courier on Friday.

The particular figure, which he quoted fourth hand (from another journalist’s report of a translation of a collection from various other sources), is a hundred times higher than the World Health Organization estimate. This is so far from anything remotely plausible that one suspects it may even be a misprint.

In fact the New York Academy of Sciences explicitly denies editorial endorsement of the book in question (which consists of translations from a wide variety of Eastern European sources), saying “The expressed views of the authors, or by advocacy groups or individuals with specific opinions about the Annals Chernobyl volume, are their own.”  It may have been legitimate for the NYAS to bring these materials to the attention of the Western scientific audience for consideration and assessment, but for Olson to report their most extreme assertions as fact was totally irresponsible.

Don’t Stop Darlington

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Here is my (slightly edited) version of the Greenpeace Letter.

Dear Premier McGuinty:

I’m writing to support your plan to maintain the nuclear option by continuing with the development of new  reactors at Darlington and to encourage you not to be swayed by ill-informed fear mongering.

Like so many others, I am saddened by the tragedy taking place in Japan, but I am also awed by the fact that 40 year old reactors have withstood the worst natural disaster imaginable without contributing significantly to the resulting loss of life. The experience at Fukushima, I believe, will provide lessons that should enable even safer designs and protocols to be applied in the future and so should encourage you to continue with your plans for new reactors.

For this reason, I oppose the calls by Greenpeace and others to stop all approvals of new reactors.

The environmental assessment hearings set to begin next week will provide an opportunity to address the capability of the proposed designs to resist the impacts of a major geophysical catastrophe and I encourage you to proceed with those hearings in order that we can have an informed public evaluation the cost and risks of building new reactors.

Most importantly, we must seriously look at continuing our use of the nuclear option as the most viable high baseline source of non-combustion-based energy.

Sincerely,

Alan Cooper