Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Responce to Lachian

Anonymous Lachlan, a reader wrote this responce to my post compairing nuclear safety to other energy sources.

I think you're forgetting the fatalities from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A major danger of nuclear energy is not the energy generation itself, but the proliferation of nuclear technology and materials.

Do countries like Iran and North Korea have a right to the same energy technology as the rest of the world? I would argue they do. If they shouldn't use nuclear, then the rest of us shouldn't either.

This comment reflects typical thinking errors made by opponants of nuclear power. First the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasak did not occure during the time period covered by the study. But beyond this, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the consequent casualties have absolutely no causal connection to civilian nuclear power. The fissionable material in those bombs was produced by a military proogram. The Hiroshima and Nagasaki referance is thus a canard.

The military potentials of nuclear technology were realized by South Africa. Isreal, and Pakistan without having civilian nuclear power programs. We don't know how much the program to produce fissionable for nuclear weapons cost Isreal or Pakistan, but it is reported that the South African program cost less than $200 million and employed about 150 people.

Neither North Korea, nor Iran have used nuclear weapons. It is not clear that Iran currently is developing nuclear weapons technology. It has denied that it is attempting to build a nuclear bomb. North Korea is capable of producing weapons grade plutonium, but with a reactor that is so small that it probably requires several years to produce enough Pu-239 to build one single bomb.

At any rate neither North Korea nor Iran are converting a civilian nuclear program into a weapons program.

Finally, the post had to do with the relative safety of civilian energy sourses. The evidence demonstrates that nuclear power was shown to be by far the safest energy source of the energy sources studied during the time period covered by the study. This is still true. In addition, nuclear power has proven safer than wind power, and solar voltaics, a fact that anti-nuclear renewables advocates ignore.


Anonymous said...

Does Lachian suppose that by extirpating nuclear power plants that the scientific and engineering knowledge or industrial capacity to produce nuclear materials or build nuclear weapons will cease to exist? Is he seriously arguing that NNPs will necessarily, in fact inevitably lead to nuclear weapons?
Do the the technical and historical facts at the heart of these questions matter in Lachians mind?

Nathan2go said...

Do countries like Iran and North Korea have a right to persecute political prisons in their own country? Rights are not granted by the international community, they are self declared.

The nuclear non-proliferation treaty is not about restricting rights, it is a conditional technology exchange. If a country does not like the terms, they have the right to walk away: if they want the right to nuclear arms, that's fine, they just won't get our help.

Similarly, if we don't like they way a country behaves (whether on nuclear matters, human rights, or anything), we have the right to complain and apply whatever pressure we see fit.

As to whether nuclear technology increases the likelihood of nuclear war, Lachhlan is wrong again. Our failure to reduce our dependence on oil and gas is the single greatest threat to world peace (nuclear and otherwise). In this way, civilian nuclear power makes us safer.

However Charles, I do think it is important to acknowledge that some breeder reactors could be significantly more attractive than LWRs to nations wanting fissile material for weapons. In that way,these breeders would be like fighter jets: yes we'll export them, but not to just anyone.

Anonymous said...

What makes subjects of the USA unsafe isn't the presence of nuclear reactors within the USA. It is the presence of US armed force in other people's countries. It is the interferences made by the US in other people's countries (don't you remember Pres Washingtons warning?). It is the centralised and insolvent banking system with its crushing debts and the titanic destruction of wealth it has been and remains responsible for (crickey! some of your best warned you all about that for years, right from Jefferson onwards, even Warren's father Howard Buffett issued many, many warnings- then there was Peter Schiff et al...). It is the common practice of US subjects to be consuming more than they produce and save over generations (so much for a "great" society).

Until this is remedied the US is going to remain a nation most hated by the majority of the world's peoples. The US subject is going to remain threatened and unsafe both at home and abroad, not only from the "foreigners" his govt so effectively stirred up (giving them the reason and the motivation to hate the US) but also from his own govt and authorities (any of you read the new laws on any of this this?).

Nuclear reactors based in the US generating a relatively tiny amount of electricity are not so threatening in the overall scheme of things (although a few non-generating ones in Japan may well turn out to be a different matter).

See you on the news!


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