Thursday, February 17, 2011

The LFTR in Social Media and in the Media

A couple of years ago Kirk Sorensen traveled to England to speak before a pnel gathered by the English newspaper, the Guardian. The panel was looking for innovative solutions to the problem of global warming, Part of the deal with the Guardian was that Kirk got video interviewed and the LFTR received a short write up. Molten Salt Reactors and LFTRs were included in a December 2009 story on Generation IV nuclear technology in the Economist. And then last August The Telegraph carried a story on thorium which mentions Kirk Sorensen and the LFTR. Now the Environmental Blog of the Guardian is carrying a LFTR related post, titled, "China enters race to develop nuclear energy from thorium." And the popular British technology web site The Register carried a brief story about Chinese LFTR plans and Kazuo Furukawa's FUJI MSR. A link to Nuclear Green that accompanied The Register story has tripled my web traffic from the UK during the last month.

Duncan Clark commented in his Guardian Blog post,
Despite [the Chinese announcement of LFTR development plans] not making a ripple in the wider press, there's a chance this development could be very significant. If the advocates of LFTRs are proved correct – and their arguments are certainly very compelling – then the Chinese could be taking one of the first substantial steps in a new type of nuclear race. And the stakes are high: as [Kirk] Sorensen reports, the project "aims not only to develop the technology but to secure intellectual property rights to its implementation". It will be very interesting to see what happens next.
Clark's post has drawn 55 comments so far.

While the LFTR and the recent Chinese announcement that they plan to develop their own proprietary LFTR technology have received virtually no attention from the Mainstream media in the United States. This statement does not include Wired, of Fast Company which recently posted, Will Green Nukes Save the World? on its FC Expert Blog. Ecologist/climate scientist Curt Stager, who untill recently was a bitter opponant of nuclear power, tells us of his Damascus road experience,
As a climate scientist, I'm well-aware of the perils of global warming and I've long favored a timely switch to alternative energy sources. However, I've also drawn the line at nuclear power, having been an anti-nuke protester in college. I was therefore horrified when prominent environmentalists first began to suggest that nuclear power is preferable to fossil fuels, as though their apocalyptic climate rhetoric had trapped them into minimizing the risks of meltdowns, radioactive waste, bomb proliferation, and nuclear terrorism.
But my attitude changed recently when I raised this subject with an environmental scientist friend whose son is training to become nuclear engineer. "He's working on a new kind of reactor," my friend explained, "It can't melt down, it makes only minimal waste, and it can't be used for making bombs. It doesn't even use uranium, which is rare and dangerous to handle; it uses thorium instead, which is common and safer to work with."
A self-education tour of the Google-verse soon convinced me that his summary was accurate. Much of the most reliable-looking stuff online is written by engineers who aren't particularly lucid communicators, but I'll try here to sift out some of the key concepts for you, show where you can listen in on what experts are saying (try here), and get you thinking and talking about this up-and-coming technology.
In other words, I want you to help save the world. If green nukes are even half as promising as their proponents claim, then supporting their development may be our best hope for a sane, sustainable, and abundant energy future.
The link in Strager's post is to Energy from Thorium. Stager is both an ecologist and a climate scientist, he elsewhere names the friend from whom he learned about the LFTR, Professor David Franzi.
Imagine my shock when arch-environmentalist Bill McKibben [of 350.org] recently began to tout nuclear power as an energy source that emits no greenhouse gases. What? Has he drunk so much of the global warming Koolaid that he's now talked himself into making a pact with THE DEVIL????

But now I'm starting to come around, too, thanks mainly to my geologist friend David Franzi. We were exploring the Altona Flatrock in the northeastern Adirondacks this past summer, looking for wetlands that might contain long climatic records in their underlying peat and mud deposits. In the course of conversation, he mentioned a new kind of nuke that lacks most of the problems that have made "regular" nukes so objectionable.
Stager's post has caught the attention of AGW skeptic Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That? Watts previously offered a post by Charles Hart, who belongs in the skeptic camp, but who has bought into the the LFTR argument in, "Finding an energy common ground between “Warmers” and “Skeptics.”

I have argued this view from a "Warmer's" perspective, suggesting that even "skeptics" can be convinced that the LFTR offers economic advantages over fossil fuel energy sources.
Kirk Sorensen began in 2006 to use social media to spread the word about a virtually unknown technology, the thorium breeding Molten Salt Reactor (or LFTR). In 2007 I signed up for the movement, and added Nuclear Green to the slender list of blogs that discussed the LFTR and its implications. We have come a long way very quickly, and the mainstream media has not caught up with us. We, that is the Energy from Thorium Community, have started a social movement that may within a few years spearhead the Nuclear Green Revolution.

2 comments:

Harlz said...

One huge PR advantage thorium has over its heftier cousin is that in the public mind uranium is irrevocably tied to bombs and meltdowns. Thorium, as an energy innocent, is regarded as blameless (no need to mention Operation Teapot).

We live in an increasing (mainstream and social) media-driven society. Political and cultural revolutions are being fomented almost daily by peoples’ aspirations, enabled by new communications technologies.

You and Kurt are doing yeomen’s work in advancing the nuclear energy solution that got left behind, perhaps fortuitously, in the debris of the Cold War.

B. W. Rex said...

Great work, Kirk and Charles. Let's keeps working and hopefully this energy revolution will come to fruition!

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