Friday, February 15, 2008

In the long run we are all dead

A basic green argument is that "nuclear waste" is deadly dangerous, ergo it is a problem that must be solved before nuclear power can be deemed safe. Further more no satisfactory solution to the problem of nuclear waste has been found, hence nuclear power is unsatisfactory and reactors should be shut down as soon as possible.

There are flaws in this reasoning. First, there have been no known illnesses or deaths associated with reactor modified fuel in its present form. Hence there is no currently problem with "nuclear waste." This is in sharp contrast to the problems associated with the waste from the burning of fossil fuels. Now Greens will reply that the problem lies not in the present, but in the long run future. The problem with that argument was summed up best by John Maynard Keynes, "Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead." Thus Greens object to solving what they have designated as a probem, by claiming largely unknowable long term consequences for problems they oppose solution too.

There is a second absurdity to this. Greens seldom object to the use of reactors by the Navy even though Naval reactors also generate "nuclear waste." Thus even if there were no civilian reactors, there still would be a nuclear waste problem. But The Navy is probably an unpopular target for Greens attention. Greens are all about theater not about substance. Demonstrating against naval "reactor waste" would not go over well with the 6:00 PM News audience, so the Green leave the Navy reactors alone.

Thirdly, greens are far less incensed by the burning of fossil fuels, than they are by reactors. In fact, Greens love to drive to the airport in their SUV's, and then fly off to to Pago Pago to get some sun in between demonstrations against nuclear power.

Green object to any proposal to do something with reactor modified fuel. They argue that if we put the U238 in the post reactor fuel, back into reactors and breed it, some dictator will take over Argentina and will build atomic bombs. This is not very logical, but logic has never been the strong point of greens.

In short then, while I do not regard the current method of handling reactor modified fuel as ideal, but it is sufficient to protect human health. Sure there are certainly better ways to handle the stuff that comes out of reactors. Most should be stuck back in reactors and burned to nuclear cinders. Then the cinders should be taken out of rectors, given a vacation of a few hundred years, and then put to work in building the economy. Oh I forget, Greens don't like industrial civilization. Building the industrial economy is a big no no to them


DaveMart said...

Charles, you might be interested in the result of a debate in TOD about plutonium allegedly causing wipe-out in a group of production workers in the states:

Anonymous said...

I looked at that & found the article about "Green Freedom" ( more interesting. The claim that methanol or gasoline could be made from CO2 & water for little more than the current pump price of gasoline sounds wonderful.

BTW the authors of the article mention that "Hydroelectric power is attractive but its availibility is inherently limited." I think this reflects a too US-centric viewpoint. Using the abundant hydropower from the Congo River to produce fuel for much of Africa would be valuable. Similarly we might be better off making fuel using the hydroelectric power of Labrador than sending that power through 1000s of km of power line.

Jim Baerg


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