Sunday, July 20, 2014

John Holdren: The Energy/Climate-Change Challenge & the Role of Nuclear ...

John Holdren is President Obama's science advisor. ROD adams blog, ATOMIC insights, has recently carried a couple of posts, regarding nuclear proliferation avoidance. There are questions that can be raised about Holdren's account. For example a family of reactors that do not require enriched fuel exists. Holdren undoubtedly knows this. Such reactors, called CANDUs, would appear exempt from Holdrens proliferation concerns. Various methods of desposinf of so called nuclear waste, have been tested by scientists, and found viable. The choice of which method to use is a politics rather than science. Holdren knows this. Thus Holdren's David J. Rose was disingenuious in its discussion of nuclear power, and there were members of Holdren's MIT audience who must habve recoganized this.  I knew David J. Rose during my year as a glorified inturn at ORNL.  Rose was an honest man, as was Alvin Weinberg.

Holdren turns nuclear fuel diversion into a huge iassue, while suggesting that we can solve it.  But the issue is that the proliferation issue is an anti-nuclear boogie monster, and no nuclear weapons program has ener been based on diverted fissionable fuel.

This post is in honor of Rod Adams, tireless warrior for nuclear power, and grandfather.  Written on my 72nd birthday.


Tim said...

John Holdren does a good job of balancing some of the scientific, economic, and political aspects of nuclear energy. I find the argument concerning nuclear proliferation around the fuel cycle interesting. Some say that weapons proliferation from diverted fissionable fuel hasn’t been done before therefore it should not be considered significant. However when you ask about thorium, the say people will use the logic of just because thorium reactors haven’t been produced on a large scale before that should not prevent us from making it happen. Even though something hasn’t been done before, we still have an obligation to consider the possibilities. The nuclear energy industry has consistently done a good job making safety a priority and needs to continue to do so moving forward.

Rick Maltese said...

North Korea is perhaps the only country which has a reactor for weapons use only. They do not use it for electricity.

Charles Barton said...

Tim, your hasn't been done before argument is something of a straw man. My argument is quite different. The use of Thorium breeding molten salt reactors in the United States, is not going to lead to the diversion of weapons grade nuclear fuel to the congo. this argument is silly. Only if the United States Government decides to do it will it happen. The diversion argument, in the absence of a plausible of how such a diversion should take place, is simply not credible. Given the urgency of our situation, and the potential of factory mass produced LFTRs to control global carbon emissions, the urgency of building MSRs and LFTRs. The arguments about proliferation must be aqnalized with far greater care, than they have been in the past.

Anonymous said...

How does one see the rest of the speech? It ends after 14 minutes.

Tim said...

Perhaps I misinterpreted the point. I agree the hasn’t been done before argument is a bit of a straw man fallacy. Since the nuclear energy industry doesn’t operate in a vacuum, proliferation concerns should be addressed in an open and honest fashion. MSRs, LFTRs, and other Gen IV reactors may do a better job of addressing some of these concerns in the future. John Holdren seems to focus on the present condition of the nuclear industry.


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