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Creator of the Gaia Hypothesis Urges Nuclear Power 1185

SteamyMobile writes "Professor James Lovelock, creator the Gaia Hypothesis and long-time intellectual leader of the Green movement, says that global warming is a dire threat, more urgent than was previously realized. He compares the threat of global warming with the threat of the Nazis in 1938, and says that in both cases, the Left was not able to grasp the urgency of the situation and see the necessary solution. What is the necessary solution to stop the global warming problem? He says it's nuclear power. Needless to say, the Greens don't agree with him, and he chides them as having irrational phobias of a safer, cleaner energy sources. Even if the "Left" isn't fully aware of the urgency of the world's energy problems, it seems like Slashdot is."
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Creator of the Gaia Hypothesis Urges Nuclear Power

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  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Peden ( 753161 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:41AM (#9236032) Homepage
    Does this guy know how much energy that goes into mining the Uranium? (Clue: Quite alot) We have to forget all the nonsense in mining our energy from the ground, and start putting some research into renewable stuff like plant-oils, wave and wind energy.
  • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gorny ( 622040 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:43AM (#9236039) Homepage Journal
    We just don't have the time to develop those techniques into really usefull ones. Before we can apply them on a large scale and before we are able to get all our energy supplies from such sources we need to have a temporary solutation.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:44AM (#9236042) Homepage Journal

    If a guy like him advocates nuclear power as a way to avoid global warming, the risks must be enormous indeed.

    Even if global warming is not as bad as predicted, the about face is certainly interesting.
  • Damn Straight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mphase ( 644838 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:48AM (#9236053) Homepage
    I really like it when people involved in saving the planet and all that are still able to think rationally use see things like nuclear power as useful. And it is useful, even if only for a few generations nuclear power is one of the best options available. That said I want an array of satellites collecting solar energy and sending it down to earth via microwave as soon as is feasible. And then after that I want feasible fusion damnit.
  • by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:50AM (#9236063)
    The sun? We've been harnesting the sun for thousands of years for our energy, why not keep going? We know we can grow things with the sun, we know the sun's rays can be converted into heat to turn a turbine, we know that the sun's radiation can be converted directly into electrical energy. From that alone, we have enough to power ourselves for quite a while.. Question is, when will everyone be convenced there is a problem, and when they are convenced, how willing will they be to give up their SUV's?
  • These green people are ultimatly interested in saving the human race...not the planet.

    Do we really think that we, with a few fossil fuels and other environmental crap we throw into the air and water over the past 150 year, can really change the Earth?

    The Earth will shuck us off like a bad case of fleas. 1 million years from now...which is but an eyeblink to the Earth...we'll be long gone. A footnote as it were. The Earth will heal itself.

    So please, stop with the "Save the planet" high-horse. The planet isn't going anywhere...WE ARE! So say what you really mean...save the humans.

    (paraphrased quite a bit from George Carlin btw)
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:52AM (#9236071) Homepage Journal
    Could very well be.

    Its not like all the missile and space-radar scientists weren't getting all white-paper'y about meteorite attacks when that WhatsItsName Bruce Willis movie was in the theatres ... ... or the SMART initiative guys getting all festery when the "Day After" movies were made (about nuclear war) ... or all the DNA-priests getting all aglow after "GATTACA" ...

    Hollywood. Its propaganda, done right.
  • Some ranting. (Score:5, Insightful)

    Not a great deal more energy than mining fossil fuels.

    I tend to agree that nuclear fission is a pretty good interrim solution, particularly when coupled with aggressive conservation measures.

    The problem is, it's got a lot of problems that we are simply deferring. Two big ones: risk of disaster, and what to do with the dead fuel rods. The first is controllable, the second is a pain in the ass. Both are suffer from the 'not in my backyard' mentality.

    But nuclear power is NOT a long-term solution. There probably isn't even a long-term magic bullet. Some of the things that can save us: high-temperature superconductors (for zero-loss transmission lines), nuclear fusion, alternative energy sources, and reduction of power use.

    The latter needs to be taken seriously with the others. If it's too hot to live where you are in the summer, the right answer might be 'don't live there' rather than 'turn up the A/C'. This is easy to manage: simply let the price of power rise to match how much it actually costs to make.. INCLUDING the environmental cleanup costs of the technology you use.

  • by smoker2 ( 750216 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:56AM (#9236081) Homepage Journal
    Ok, we all know that the sea levels will rise, the weather will be come (even more) unpredictable, etc,etc. But every documentary I have seen on this subject, seems to use 2 different sources for its data. At first, they use data gained from antarctic ice cores that show that this has happened ("global warming") time and again over a considerable amount of time. Then suddenly, the doomsday scenario is based on the fact that the changes in the global climate have happened in the 400 or so years since records began.

    How can you accept both points of view ? It is misleading to suggest that humans are the cause of global warming. I fully agree that we as a race should seek some non-polluting energy source over one that has shown to be bad for us, let alone the planet, but to use misleading information to achieve social indignation is wrong.

    Global warming is a catch-phrase, being used to describe potential doom. Even if we all stopped using electricity and cars etc, then the planet would still go through immense environmental changes, as it has done since the beginning. News flash, the sahara used to be green and pleasant, and before that it was under water. Are we as humans responsible for that too ?
  • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ciroknight ( 601098 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:56AM (#9236085)
    Do you know how much energy goes into *name an energy collection technique* (Clue: Quite a lot).

    The question isn't how much energy goes in, it's HOW MUCH COMES OUT. The three technologies you name can't produce the kinds of power we need. Wind, maybe, waves, no, plant-oils, only in combination with other hydrocarbons with current technology.

    Nuclear energy is the right avenue to take.. but the question is can we do it safely, and will we not just create more nuclear waste? Seems like we could create nuclear devices that never needed to be repowered, since radioactive material stays radioactive for a long long time. But I'm not in the mood to work that out..

    Maybe we should look into the big nuclear orb in the sky that has powered life on earth since long before our existance: the sun?
  • by torpor ( 458 ) <ibisum@gm a i l . com> on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:57AM (#9236087) Homepage Journal
    A) Special Interests, and:
    B) Special Interests.

    Until Solar Towers are proven effective - i.e. have been online, operational, and generating power for at least 2 years, maybe 5, nobody is going to invest in them.

    Its far too easy for power brokers to keep their capital tied up in fluid, moving markets, such as those offered by petroleum industries, than to invest heavily in something which currently has no market, and no 'capital strengths' other than "it will make everyone happier" ...

    Special Interests are cold, vicious animals of our own creating. The corporate view isn't always the holiest one ... but give us (yay Aussies!) enough time to bring solar towers into the collective consciousness, and these SI's may turn yet ...
  • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:57AM (#9236088)
    Except, nuclear energy is not a temporary solution, more like an eternal problem and a very high short term risk. As long as people drive around in 10+ l/100km (25miles/gallon) cars, there's absolutely no rational reason for nuclear energy. You can buy less wasteful cars _right_now_. You can build homes with excellent efficiency _right_now_.
  • Einstein (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:57AM (#9236089)
    > He compares the threat of global warming with
    > the threat of the Nazis in 1938

    He makes the same mistake Einstein made: choosing the lesser evil in the face of a greater one (Einstein wrote a letter to the US President urging the development of the atomic bomb to stop the Nazis...a step he later regretted as the greatest error of his life).

    Nuclear power is not clean by any means or even resource-smart. It's not even the possibility of an accident that's the main issue: the amount of radioactive waste *before* and *after* the power generation is simply staggering. We don't have the luxury anymore of "solutions" that aren't. There is no magic wand in any case, nuclear power included. Any resolution will have to be a combined framework of multiple approaches, aforemost all of them is energy conservation which alone could slash current energy demand by a third if not half if thoroughly addressed on all levels.
  • Re:Great (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @06:59AM (#9236097)
    > Does this guy know how much energy that goes into mining the Uranium? (Clue: Quite alot)

    How is this energy obtained? If it's in the form of petrol used by mining machinery, I see your point, but if it can just be pulled from the power grid then it doesn't stop nuclear power from being greenhouse-gas-neutral. Assuming that the power grid is being supplied by nuclear plants.
  • Question is, when will everyone be convenced there is a problem, and when they are convenced, how willing will they be to give up their SUV's?

    This is a good question, but unfortunately it appears that the answer to this question is that people just will not do it (take their fat asses out of their SUV's) unless there is some catastrophic reason to do so...

    The SUV syndrome is mob mentality at its utter finest. "If no-body else is going to stop driving SUV's, why should I stop" is really one of the biggest problems with this issue, a typical Consumerican viewpoint, derived directly from the callous mob mentality currently perpetuated by "consumerist" ideals ...
  • Bogeyman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mariox19 ( 632969 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:01AM (#9236105)
    [Lovelock] compares the threat of global warming with the threat of the Nazis in 1938...

    Don't get me wrong -- the Nazis were bad, bad men. But raising the "Nazi bogeyman" at every turn is really the sign of intellectual laziness.

  • Reactor safety (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lachlan76 ( 770870 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:04AM (#9236120)
    I don't know very much about three mile island, but as I recall, the Soviet reactor designs were all quite unreliable. At the time, I guess what the Soviet Government really cared about was the electricity plutonium that the reactor produced. I think Chernobyl melted down around 82? In the 80s I think. I'm only 14, so I don't remember the Soviets, but being towards the end of the Cold War, the Soviet economic situation would have been quite poor, and they could not have afforded maintenence, etc. as well as we can now.
    Since technology has improved, I would have thought that today's reactors would be safer and more efficient than designs from 20 years ago. I'm from Australia where we don't have nuclear rectors (except for Lucas Heights, near Sydney, but that is used for research, producing isotopes for radio-medicine, and producing more pure silicon (neutron bombardment doping, i think) by using neutrons to turn 1 in a billon silicon atoms into phosphorus, producing N-Type silicon. Lucas Heights has 15% of the world market, and I would like to see how well a processor made of this would overclock).
    Nuclear power will be the way of the future, but Australia will take time to adopt it, with a supply of coal to last hundreds of years.
  • by Talisman ( 39902 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:05AM (#9236122) Homepage
    For those who doubt the effects of global warming, I recommend taking up SCUBA. Not only is it a great sport, you'll get to see first-hand the effects of global warming, and it WILL scare you.

    The Seychelles reefs [disasterrelief.org] are just about gone. What was once arguably the best reef to dive in the world outside the Great Barrier is now a graveyard.

    And this knowledge isn't from reading an alarmist's evaluation of the situation, it is from seeing it with my own eyes on dives I did last year on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. A conservative estimate would be that 90% of the reefs are dead. Probably closer to 95%, but as I didn't dive every square inch, I can't say there aren't some pristine patches somewhere. There very well may be, I just didn't see them.

    As for the Florida and Great Barrier reefs, I can also attest to their ailing health. I live just above the Keys and dive them regularly, and I dove the GB Reef about 10 weeks ago. The destruction is real.

    Don't take anyone's word for it. Go strap on a set of tanks and see it for yourself. It's a wake-up call.

  • There is some hope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:05AM (#9236124) Journal
    Nuclear fusion is getting there [bbc.co.uk] slowly but surely.
  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:08AM (#9236136)
    Who is "the left"?

    I have been very impressed with the diverse range of opinions many people have.

    The only place where I haven't seen this is in people who buy their ideas wholesale in a package deal from talk radio dj/cranks like the author of this thread has.

    Who is "the left"?

    If you eat tofu are you "the left", and are you against atomic energy?

    Now that this person supports atomic energy does that mean he is a republican?


  • by Scarblac ( 122480 ) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:18AM (#9236172) Homepage

    These green people are ultimatly interested in saving the human race...not the planet.

    And this is a bad thing... why?

  • by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:21AM (#9236184) Homepage
    There is no question that global warming is happening. There is a question of whether humans have anything to do with it and whether humans can do anything to stop it.
  • Get a Clue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lancebert ( 450767 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:22AM (#9236187)
    Get a Clue: Building and running a nuclear plant requires LESS energy than it takes to build and maintain a solar or wind farm of the same capacity. The energy payback time for building a nuclear plant is less than a month. The energy payback time for building a wind farm is 2 months to 2 years and 2 to 7 years for solar.

    Also, what is not frequently mentioned is the difference between baseload and peaking power plants. Nuclear, coal, hydro are baseload power stations that provide constant energy throughout the day. Natural gas and renewables are peaking plants that cover periods of peak demand - though renewables are less reliable even here. Therefore, renewables are not an attractive option for a large fraction of our energy use since they cannot compete for the baseload market.
  • by Whitecloud ( 649593 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:23AM (#9236194) Homepage

    current situation:

    we use oil for energy. Problem, oil is a finite resource, it WILL [peakoil.net] run out. Alternatives are needed. Okay, we agree so far.

    What about using the most obvious Nuclear Energy..The Sun?

    No viable alternatives exist [hubbertpeak.com] yet. To quote verbatim:

    Direct conversion of sunlight to electricity by solar cells is a promising technology, and already locally useful, but the amount of electricity which can be generated by that method is not great compared with demand. Because it is a low grade energy, with a low conversion efficiency (about 15%) capturing solar energy in quantity requires huge installations--many square miles. About 8 percent of the cells must be replaced each year. But the big problem is how to store significant amounts of electricity when the Sun is not available to produce it (Trainer, 1995), for example, at night. The problem remains unsolved. Because of this, solar energy cannot be used as a dependable base load. And, the immediate end product is electricity, a very limited replacement for oil. Also, adding in all the energy costs of the production and maintenance of PV (photovoltaic) installations, the net energy recovery is low (Trainer, 1995).

    If you can think of a way to store this energy, fantastic, please share. Otherwise, back to the drawing board.

  • Re:It's About Time (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:24AM (#9236204)
    "Unfortunately for us in the UK, the "environmentalists" coupled with weak-willed and short-sighted politicians have squandered away our nuclear exeprtise and brought about the decline of the civillian nuclear industry, much to my personal dismay and that of former colleagues and friends."

    That and the fact that our nuclear industry is a bankrupt money pit despite the high subsidies it receieves, never having made a profit or even having faced its running costs, let alone the cost of spent fuel disposal.
  • This is great as a complementary solution. The problem is that the solar energy could only be affordable on countries like mine (Spain), with loads of solar light every year but what about nordic countries? Wind harvesting is great, but you need huge amounts of terrain to do that (think about Holland). My hope is on hydrogen fussion, but I think that we're not specially near of using it on a regular basis. And I fear the huge amounts of energy we could launch to the planet with such a (supposed) cheap energy source... we're not kind enough to avoid soiling our own environment.
  • by Ewan ( 5533 ) <ewanNO@SPAMlongwords.org> on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:30AM (#9236222) Homepage Journal
    Even 22-27mpg is bad to a European. I get 40mpg in my fairly sporty car, the everyday version of it gets about 60mpg.

    I'm not aware of any "normal" 2WD vehicle on sale in the UK which would get 22mpg, even given the 1US gallon = 0.8 UK gallons conversion.

  • There's one. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:31AM (#9236233)
    While the analogy of threat of global warming to threat of Hitler can be argued, if nothing else, non-conventional means of energy shall soon be required since there aren't that many natural resources available anymore.

    There is one prominent natural resource that we still have plenty of....

    Unfortunately that resource is coal. And burning coal is some of the nastiest shit we've ever done.

    That is a whole 'nother worry about the oil situation: at some point, oil prices will start to go up, and won't ever stop. Maybe that's happening now. We'll have a choice - do we supplant our flagging energy sources with clean, risky, expensive nuclear... or clean, inadequate, expensive wind/solar... or dirty, plentiful, cheap coal?

    We as a species have made decisions like this before and it doesn't look promising. Frankly, the problem of dealing with spent rods is a lot more palatable than a resurgence in coal burning....

    (Aside: let's not forget, nuclear critics... 'threat of terrorism' is not a good reason to stop doing anything worthwhile)

  • Re:Great (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:34AM (#9236246)
    It's complicated technology [lutins.org] which is hard to control, regardless of political beliefs. Even if you think that we have the power plants under control, you have to be nuts to create waste which will still be deadly in thousands of years.
  • by blancolioni ( 147353 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:34AM (#9236250) Homepage
    You appear to be rebutting the "SUVs get bad mileage" meme by redefining 22-27mpg as good mileage.
  • by ostrich2 ( 128240 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:35AM (#9236252)
    I agree that not all SUVs are as bad as others (Ford's new Escape hybrid is an example of this), but pretty much EVERY car is bad for the environment. The real problem is apparent in your construction "you don't have to give up anything..."

    As I see it, if you tell people they have to give up something, the implication is that they're worse off than before they gave it up. In fact, "giving up" driving has so many more benefits than driving, it's interesting that we do it at all. Improved health from walking/riding a bike, less congestion on the roads when driving is really necessary, and improved air quality are what we GAIN by not driving. What are we giving up again?
  • by SrDrew ( 200086 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:36AM (#9236259)
    bringing Nazis or Hitler into an argument on a completely unrelated subject is the hallmark of weak debate skills and/or a weak case.

    first of all terms such as "left" "right" "liberal" and "conservative" have little meaning anymore, any even less when comparing the 1930's incarnations of these poorly defined groups to their contemporary counterparts.

    it was the "right" in classic terms that viewed itself as against empowering federal the government and against military interventionism, trying to blame hypothetically preventable actions during the second world war on one political party or ideology is a cheap shot and pandering for emotions. I agree a lot of time was wasted and many lives could have been saved had countries gotten involved sooner but as with everything in government, politics played a large role in the decision making process of both major parties.

    On the issue of nuclear power, there are some obvious advantages to other energy sources but one disadvantage that is often overlooked is that the total lifetime cost of nuclear power is practically impossible to measure. The relatively low cost of power generation while the plant is operational is offset by the large initial cost of construction, and the absolutely enormous costs of decommission and cleanup. When a nuclear power plant goes out of service it leaves a massive complex and surrounding area that is all contaminated to various degrees, no one wants to live near it and no one wants to pay for the cleanup.
  • by kiatoa ( 66945 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:39AM (#9236279) Homepage
    The SUV syndrome is mob mentality at its utter finest. "If no-body else is going to stop driving SUV's, why should I stop" is really one of the biggest problems with this issue, a typical Consumerican viewpoint, derived directly from the callous mob mentality currently perpetuated by "consumerist" ideals .

    SUV owners are subject to supply and demand just like anyone else. As gas prices go up demand for SUV's will drop. I think I read somewhere that it is already happening. Do we need nuclear energy? Well... define "need". In my opinion "The Great Transition" [away from oil as a primary energy source] might be painful but the predictions of disaster are greatly overblown. Between belt tightening and alternative sources I think we can make it. As for global warming, again, the "new" environment will be different, it will suck in some ways and be better in others. Lastly, in all of this, the simplest and most powerful solution for making a transition is almost never mentioned. Tax oil (BEFORE refining). Try this thought experiment. Tax oil. Consumption goes down (supply/demand etc.). Competing suppliers respond with lower prices barrel prices in an attempt to keep market share. We (as a nation) effectively pay *less* for our oil AND our consumption rate decreases AND new markets are created for energy effiency AND alternative sources of energy become more attractive AND greenhouse gas emmisions decrease.
  • by DerWulf ( 782458 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:42AM (#9236293)
    Maybe you should read up on how reserve (coal, for practical reasons) plants have to be kept in standby mode to balance the eratic energy generation by wind.
    Maybe you should realize that the sun is not always shining everywhere on earth.
    Maybe you want to imagine how many people do not life near rivers, lakes or oceans.
    Renewables are not going anywhere ...
  • On Demand Power (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GeekyGurkha ( 775031 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:42AM (#9236294)
    How long do nuclear power plants take to produce energy from the moment that you press the big red button?
    One of the largest wastes on energy going at the moment with coal & gas stations is that they have to stay on 24/7 to be able to provide energy when it's actually wanted.
    to take an example two power stations in my country. One is coal, the other is hydro-electric.
    The coal one takes ~12 hours to start producing energy. The hydro-electric takes 12 seconds!
    That is what we need in this day and age - If we need 1300 watts per house at the end of an episode of Corrie, with the coal systems we actually have to have the 1300 watts x 5 million houses being produced all the time, which is being wasted.
    Spare capacity being produced is not what's needed. Spare capacity that can be created when it's needed, and switched off when it's not is the requirement.
    Unless nuclear can provide this, it's still going to be contributing to the energy-drain of electricity produced that doesn't get used.
  • Re:Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DerWulf ( 782458 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:49AM (#9236329)
    > Let's harness the nature's powers instead of
    > raping it's resources.

    This really ticks me off regulary! Why the hell do you think it is a resource in the first place? Because WE use it und thus WE gave value to it! The earth, the solar system, the universe doesn't give a shit wether liquified dinos get burned or not *because* 'they' can't. They are just objects, like almost everything else. Meaning does not exist seperated from our mind, and resources aren't unless they get used!
  • by raduf ( 307723 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:50AM (#9236335)

    I'm sorry to tell you, but sometimes numbers _do_ matter. It's true, we can get energy from sun, wind, biomass or tides, but it's the order of magnitude that kills you.

    I didn't do the math, but try to think: what can you get from sun energy? 5% growing crops? 60% fotocells? Even at 100% it's just not enough. Covering square miles with cheap reliable high-efficiency solar panels would (maybe) get us close, but we don't even have that. From 1 square meter you can maybe boil a glass of water, but you can't heat your house in winter, nor make cars or computers.

    There's more energy in the wind and in the tides, but 1. it's still not enough and 2. how much energy goes into melting 1 ton of steel? not to mention processing of ore etc. It takes years for such technology to break even (wind turbines have a lot of steel in them).

    The real answer (not counting truly non-conventional approaches) is fusion, but nobody pretends it's closer then 50 years.
    What we have left is classic nuclear power, or fission. It has its problems, mainly radioactive waste, but has a big hidden advantage: currently all nuclear power plants use old technologies, sometimes even ancient. Why? because the political climate is against innovation in this field, and sometimes greed: it's expensive to update a power plant that still works.
    New plants can be cheaper, more efficient and a lot cleaner then what we have now, _if_ we give them a chance.

    And another aspect: we, as a species, will never reduce our energy consumption in the forseeable future. SUVs or not, a lot more power goes into industry then cars and air conditioning. _And_ there's two thirds of the planet that still has to reach the level of cars and air conditioning, and they're not going to care about ecology until they do (nor should they, truth be told).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:57AM (#9236383)
    It's 8 o'clock on a January morning, it's dark and sleet and freezing rain are being blown horizontally by gale-force winds. You've got ten miles to cycle to work and most of it's uphill.

    I'll be sure to wave to you from my nice warm car as I drive past ;-)

    > What are we giving up again?

    The freedom to go where we want, when we want, with comfort, convenience and speed. Next question :-p
  • Re:Some ranting. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by catherder_finleyd ( 322974 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @07:58AM (#9236386)
    One major solution to "what to do with the fuel rods" is to recycle them. The French and others are doing this now.
  • nuclear power... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malor ( 3658 ) * on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:07AM (#9236448) Journal
    What's really frustrating about nuclear power is that the Greens are so vehemently opposed to it, and they're exactly the people who should love it and embrace it. They fear it because they think it's bad 'for nature', when in fact it's only bad FOR HUMANS. Humans are uniquely vulnerable to radioactivity. Most(all?) other species are not.

    Consider Bikini Atoll. It was the site for many, many bomb tests, including the first hydrogen bomb. You probably think of it as a blasted desert, but in actual fact, it's a tropical paradise. It is in BETTER shape now, ecologically, then it was when humans lived there! It's even safe to visit, but you wouldn't want to eat the bananas. :-)

    In other words, nuclear power is WONDERFUL for the environment; the more radioactivity, the better (within reason at least), because it chases nasty humans out of the area and lets normal plants and animals live in (relative) peace.

    The primary beneficiaries of nuclear power are also the ones who are hurt most by it, which seems eminently fair. We need to be very careful with nuclear waste for OUR OWN sake, but as far as Nature is concerned, it just doesn't matter all that much. This is exactly backwards to our existing power generation, in which we get all the benefit but pay virtually none of the cost.

    Additionally, although many people simply will refuse to hear this, we have made many improvements in nuclear power since we last built plants. We had a tendency to grandiose engineering in the 70s, and we paid for that. There are much cleaner and simpler designs now. Materials science has improved enormously as well. Couple that with our much improved ability to monitor remotely, and we should be able to build plants that are nearly failproof. And if they DO fail, well, it's only humanity that will suffer.

    I just don't understand why the Greens aren't all over this.... if they don't embrace this idea, it seems likely to me that their true motivation is less about "loving Nature" and more about "hating humans".
  • I think the point being made is that Nuclear power Isn't a geniune long-term solution, but more the only PRACTICAL alternative at present

    It's true, we do not have an unlimited supply of nuclear materials, but we DO have a longer term supply, which would enable mankind to maintain power generation from Nuclear sources, while alternatives are sought.

    The other option is to ignore nuclear power because we all know "all things nuclear are bad", then turn out the lights for a few hundred years when the oil runs out and we're left searching for alternatives.

  • by plumby ( 179557 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:12AM (#9236483)
    Or you could get a motorbike (mine does around 65mpg), which is even better for getting around the city.
  • by jpmkm ( 160526 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:26AM (#9236567) Homepage
    It isn't great, but there are plenty of cars that have been on the road longer than SUVs and use more gas than SUVs. Why do people not complain about people driving pickup trucks? What about sports cars? "Oh, well, blugh blugh, well most of the people who drive SUVs don't even need them!!" Fuck off. How do you know what they do with their cars? Do you follow them around all the fucking time? Well I say you don't need your car. It is completely overkill. Get rid of it. Ride a bike. That is all you need. You have absolutely no reason to be driving a car. I know this because I am an expert in everything you do and I know what is best for you and everyone else.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:26AM (#9236569)
    "best reef to dive is now a graveyard" - hm, you sure the reason is global warming and not by any chance the divers who caused this?
  • by raduf ( 307723 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:33AM (#9236622)
    Try this thought experiment. Tax oil. Consumption goes down (supply/demand etc.). Competing suppliers respond with lower prices barrel prices in an attempt to keep market share. We (as a nation) effectively pay *less* for our oil AND our consumption rate decreases AND new markets are created for energy effiency AND alternative sources of energy become more attractive AND greenhouse gas emmisions decrease.

    Tax oil. Keep taxing it for several months, maybe years. Lose elections. Stop taxing oil.
  • by Gulthek ( 12570 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:34AM (#9236628) Homepage Journal
    Then get a Jetta Wagon with the TDI engine. Assuming that you drive an SUV for the space then you won't be loosing quite as much as if you got the lil Prius or the itty bitty Insight. I'm averaging 44 MPG and I drive that car like a maniac (every once in a while) :-). That car is just so much fun to drive!

    It's also great to fill up at the diesel pump which is about 30 cents less per gallon than regular unleaded these days.
  • by BDew ( 202321 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:34AM (#9236633)
    And if you weren't an ecoterrorist you would have stopped to read his post. What did you do, search the thread for "supply" and then deliver a prepaid rant? He was responding to the poster ABOVE him, not the story. The grand-post asked what would get people out of SUV's. He delivered a response that was a hell of a lot more reasonable than killing people.
  • Energy Problems (Score:1, Insightful)

    by LynchMan ( 76200 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:39AM (#9236668)
    I am sure the "Left" are completly aware of the energy problems in the world today (being a member of that group myself). Nuclear power is a very efficient way of generating energy. But obviously the problem is when 'Things Go Wrong'. If nuclear plants could be developed that would attempt to control any type of meltdown (Note - not a nuclear expert so no idea if this is even possible) and eliminate the change of environmental catastrophe, I'd support it. I'd rather have that uranium go to nuclear power than weapons.

    But also another part of the solution is conservation. The excessive waste (of energy) that is present in society today also needs to change.
  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mentaldrano ( 674767 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:41AM (#9236687)
    Do you honestly think that a few scattered dumps of well-sealed nuclear waste would be enough to keep developers out of the wilderness? These guys don't care. Just bury it and forget it until the foundations of their 30-years-then-tear-'em-down buildings fill up with krypton and radon. Put them under the parking lot. Hell, leave them on the neighbor's doorstep and let him take care of it. This solution neglects to take human shortsightedness and greed into account.
  • by log2.0 ( 674840 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:44AM (#9236710)
    Go and take an economics lesson ;)

    The idea behind supply/demand is that if you increase the price, its the same as a decrease in supply (kinda like restricting)

    Now petrol (oh sorry, GAS) and 4WD's (oh sorry, SUV's) are supplimentry goods. That is, they go together. Make one expensive and people will use less of the other.

    I cant explain it all (and I havent done economics for a while, so I may be a little bit off), but when we refer to "supply" of oil, we arent talking about how much of it is in the ground.
  • Re:Reactor safety (Score:4, Insightful)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:48AM (#9236734) Journal
    It would have been better had Chernobyl had a true containment facility like PWRs, but none of the RMBKs were so fitted.

    It would have been even better if the reactors had been designed so as to make prompt criticality unatainable. Prevention is better than the cure.

  • by RKBA ( 622932 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @08:55AM (#9236782)
    ...and when they are convenced, how willing will they be to give up their SUV's?

    Why should we have to give up our luxuries? Just put enough nuclear plants on-line to generate electricity so cheaply that it gradually displaces oil fired facilities and powers practically everything that doesn't move. That would reduce America's dependence on oil so much that the price of oil would drop enough to provide cheap gasoline for SUV's! ;-)

    Note: I don't drive an SUV, and in fact I have a 4 Kw photovoltaic "net-metered" array on the roof that generates about half of the electricity I consume (it uses the power grid as a giant storage battery!); however, I think it's fair to say that the attitude of a typical "greenie" is for everyone to sacrifice and use less. All else being equal, I would much rather increase production and produce more, so that everyone could have as much of everything they want very inexpensively. Sacrifice that is pointless and unnecessary is without virtue.

  • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:04AM (#9236833)
    2. Cut seriously back on what we spend energy on. Does an average household really need several TVs, computers, electronic games, microwave ovens, electric can openers etc etc - or are these things just stupid luxuries? If you want to know about what is essential and what isn't, try going on a holiday with a tent (and no car!) or something. It's not a lot of hardship living without a large part of all those things. The tent holiday example shows how little we actually need to survive - comfortably, even. So stop consuming so much unnecessary crap - the most blindingly stupid example I know of is the way our society produces 'instant rubbish': the wrappers, mostly plastic (ie. made from oil), that comes with so many things. Can you think of anything more extreme?

    It's fascinating to see people talking about how we could get along without those little luxuries. Especially when they had to use one of them (a computer) to do the post.

    A quibble: microwaves are generally more energy efficient than ovens for heating things up.

    In general, I agree that people are in love with their "stuff". And would be healthier without the "stuff". And have a standard of living that is considerably worse than they do now (think about the effect on the economy - your own job, if noone else's) if we all bought only what we "needed". Not saying that only buying what is needed is bad, but consider the transitional pain of a society living at a 1930 standard of living, with modern prodcution techniques. It is likely that 80% of everyone would be perpetually unemployed. Which, now I think of it, would mean more time for me to play videogames....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:19AM (#9236939)
    And the conservatives already control you....
  • by trezor ( 555230 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:19AM (#9236943) Homepage

    You, sir, are correct. I don't need a car at all. It might be handy to have one, but I don't need it. And they do lots of nasty thing like polluting, making noises, cost money, and so on.

    So guess what? I don't have a car. Now I do have a bike, but I don't use it. That's because I can take the time to walk the 30 minutes to work every day.

    The real reason ofcourse is that I'm just too lazy to fix my bike, but then again that is kinda fit of me or what? :)

    Damn us green liberals or what? *grin*

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:19AM (#9236947)
    This reasoning really isn't too surprising, if you understand what his Gaia hypothesis is all about. The earth, as a living organism, will "adapt" to the insult of a little nuclear ("nucular", if you're a Bushie) waste scattered about, through some sort of homeostatic mechanism. Apparently this doesn't apply to rising CO2 levels, however...
  • by GooberToo ( 74388 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:23AM (#9236994)
    Thanks for chiming in! Many Americans seem to forget just how crappy our gas mileage is here when compared to the cars other countries drive.

    I drive a sports car with a 350ci engine and get 26 m/g on the highway. In the city, I get anywhere from 18-22, depending on how I drive. Fact is, I live fairly far out, so most of my miles are highway miles. Toss in the fact that most SUV drivers are alone most of the time and generally are NOT getting 22-27 mpg (more like 12-22, and that's on the highway), and I think that's down right shameful. I can at least claim that I often have two or three people in the car with me and I have aerodynamics, by far, in my favor. Anytime you have a brick which you want to push through the air, you're going to require a bigger engine. Bigger engines mean worse mileage. Add in the fact that most Americans typically drive 5-25 over the posted speed limits, especially on the highways, and mileage typically drops through the floor.

    People who drive SUV's, IMO, greatly suffer from the heard mentality anyways. So, any logical argument is more than likely going to be completely lost. IMO, owning a SUV is about status and keeping up with the neighbors. None of this will change until car markers stop pushing, "you are what you drive." Sadly, most people see a SUV as a "cool and trendy owner, ready to go anywhere, anytime." The sad thing is, SUV really translates into "PIG".

    My favorite excuse that SUV owners give is, "I have to transport the kids". Which translates into, two kids and two adults. Seems like most cars can do that fine. Worse, both parents are driving SUVs. How many times do they need to haul two SUV full of kids around. Typically, not many or simply never. People that give that excuse are either stupid or think that the people they are telling it to are even more stupid than them. I guess that may be the case if people are really buying into that load of crap.
  • by mwood ( 25379 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:26AM (#9237010)
    The "consumption goes down" step corresponds to the "then a miracle occurs" in the famous S. Harris cartoon. You'll see a little blip. Consumption will go down by an insignificant amount for an insignificant length of time and then return to pretty much the former trend. And then the tax disadvantage will be eaten away with a dozen abatements.

    People can't afford to junk working vehicles just because fuel prices are spiking. They won't do it. Not for long, anyway. They hold onto older cars *longer* because the money they'd spend on new ones is being swallowed by the gas pump. Once they find a way to bring fuel prices down, the people who were *forced* to accept something smaller than they wanted will go back to bigger models and the manufacturers will be happy to supply their demand for premium merchandise. The only ones left driving small efficient cars will be those of us who prefer small efficient cars.

    That's the way things work outside of repressive dictatorships -- people are free to make their own choices according to their own values. You won't make lasting changes in behavior without making lasting changes in values.
  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:37AM (#9237090)
    I am not willing to give up my SUV.

    I AM (or will be), however, willing to buy a hybrid engine SUV, or a fuel cell SUV.

    I wonder if all these "safety" arguments will go out the window once these machines arrive, and they WILL arrive. There are some interesting things you could do with respect to design of hybrid SUVs and car companies will make them.

    The answer to this is not to try and make SUVs illegal, it is to bring them along in the move to alternative fuels.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:39AM (#9237110)
    What keeps us from plastering earth's deserts with these things?

    What keeps us from damming all the rivers on the East Coast of the USA, rivers that once provided most of the power for the US industrial revolution?

    What keeps us from running windfarms up and down the coast, like outside the Kennedy's houses in Massachusettes?

    What keeps us from building Nuclear Power plants?

    Environmentalists, that's who. I believe in solar power and renewable energy. I do not want a nuclear waste facility in my back yard. I hate cars and SUV's but it seems that every time someone comes up with some alternative method of generating power some environmentalist objects to it. It would seem they will not be happy until we are all living in the woods, naked, eating raw plants for food.

    I am sure that that is just the impression that I get and it is more a case that some environmentalists like wind power and a different group object to its killing migrating birds and its "visual pollution".

    There are probably some who think hydroelectric is the way to go but others who think that it threatens fish populations and interferes with the "natural" course of the rivers.

    I wouldn't mind but some of the same people I see protesting any and every form of power generation also live in suburbs miles from the local grocery store and drive their SUV's to rallies against nuclear power. They want to make sure no one destroys the environment but they like enjoying all the benefits of doing do.

  • by DerWulf ( 782458 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:42AM (#9237133)
    thats the problem! the minute you accept anything scientific as end-of-all truth you are in trouble. We have long since replaced religious dogma with scientific dogma and feel so enlightened. Only that the real accomplishment of the enlightenment was the principle of doubt. Now, we don't do this anymore, do we? When have you last seen someone critical about climate change or the human influence on it on tv? What happens to people that disagree ( like the bush administration or that björn lomborg guy that was called nazi and heretic). civilized discourse my ass. We are still fearing deamons and burning witches ...
  • We have the technology to make safe, efficient, and clean nuclear plants in the United States. We haven't had an accident. Even Three Mile Island, oft-quoted as a disaster, completely contained the malfunction and it is safe to tour the site today as it was right after the incident.

    The only problem with Nuclear power is that the plants take years to build. There is no hope that after investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build a plant that politics will shut it down once it starts up. In effect, no investor will approach it.

    The United States needs to start a campaign to educate its citizenry about the benefits and real drawbacks to the nuclear power industry. We need to teach in our schools the facts of nuclear power from where we obtain the raw materials, how they are processed, how much waste is produced, and how efficient it is. If we laid out the facts, including how long the isotopes will last and where we will store them, then maybe we can get some serious private investment and some serious growth in the industry. Perhaps we can totally replace our coal and natural gas burning plants with nuclear ones. Maybe we can retrofit our commercial ships with the safe reactors that our submarines and battleships have.

    The bottom line is that there is so much misunderstanding about radiation, nuclear isotopes, and the like. The restrictions placed on background radiation on the Yucca Mountain was more severe than the restrictions placed on granite statues in the capitol building. A smart researcher brought his geiger counter with him and demonstrated that some of the statues we adore are actually more radioactive than the Yucca Mountain would be allowed to be!

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,21015,00.htm l

    I for one am still hoping our 1950's utopian dream about nuclear power will be realized.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:44AM (#9237158)
    brakes were put on nuclear power when the Carter
    Now folks - a little modern history general knowledge. What did Carter do before he was President? He certainly knew far more about this issue than any President before or since, so he probably knew what he was doing.
  • by k2r ( 255754 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:46AM (#9237174)
    Please don't consider this posting being anti-american per se but could somebody please explain this to me:

    Why is stopping the wasting of energy (ac/ SUV/ electrical heating etc. pp.) and starting to save energy as a possible solution such an incredibly frightning idea especially to US-Americans?

    I just don't get it.

  • I get 71mpg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:54AM (#9237252)
    Real numbers, but it happens to be a motorbike, and one I specifically chose because it was efficient. I'd ignore the figures quoted by the EPA or manufacturers, they are only vague indications.

    Ask people who actually own a vehicle what sort of milage they get and how they drive. Pure petrol cars get crap milage if stuck in traffic all day, if they are out on the motorway sitting at 55 all day it will be near the optimal. With the hybrids on the other hand it's the other way around, you'll probably get the highest mpg figures if it rarely uses the petrol engine, i.e. crawling about in urban traffic all day at 15mph. If you use it on the motorway it uses the petrol engine rather than the electric motor and so will reduce the efficiency.

    BTW, there are now on the market, fully battery powered vehicles which can sit at motorway speeds with a range of 250+ miles and there are 4 person prototypes which can do 373 miles all on a single charge.

  • by gfxguy ( 98788 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @09:59AM (#9237303)
    Well, the problem is NIMBY. Nevada would have been a good place, I used to live there, I visited the site, and it seemed like it was a good choice for long term storage. I worked at the NSCEE (National Supercomputing Center for Energy and the Environment), and I've seen the simulations of what would happen with a leaky barrel and so forth, and none of it scared me at all... I'd have felt perfectly safe.

    The only dangerous part, IMO, would have only been getting the barrels to the facility - but I've also seen the tests they did on the transportation containers - getting hit by a train at full speed and not breaking. IOW, IMO, the most dangerous part is not particularly dangerous.

  • by nelsonal ( 549144 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:07AM (#9237370) Journal
    In the oil market, even the economists (who love simplicity more than engineers) have to begin to look at inelasticities over time periods. Look at the oil shocks in the 70s and then follow the rise of Japanese (a proxy for smaller and more efficent cars) in the years following that. Also keep in mind that the ideal cartel strategy is to prevent prices from rising to a level where either consumers become rapidly more efficient or E&P picks up signficiantly (after that fixed costs become sunk costs). The oil market is interesting mostly because it's highly inelastic in the short term (I can't drill a well or buy a new car (or factory)next week to take advantage of gas prices), but very elastic in the long term (I can do both in the next 5 years).
    You are exactly correct in your final statement, and there are a host of tradeoffs an oil producer must make between pumping faster vs pumping longer. You can run a well at many pumping speeds but you reduce your overall yield from the well if you deviate from the ideal pumping level. A simple case is drinking a slushee if you slurp quickly you exhaust all the flavor from an area (and get less flavor than if you slurp slowly over a period of time. Unlike your slushy you can't pull your straw and resink it or stir the mixture around in an oil field (I always thought that presented an interesting mental picture).
  • Um, you realize if we can't get enouch energy from the Sun to support our lifestyle, we're doomed. It's the ONLY source of new (not stored) energy for trillions of miles. Then again, if a 360 trillion terawatt fusion plant in the sky isn't enough for us, maybe we all deserve to die.
  • Sorry, no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:41AM (#9237715) Journal
    To make nuclear a truly global energy source, 3rd world countries without training will have to start up their own facilities. Given that both the US (3 Mile Island) and the Soviets (Chernobyl) couldn't do this successfully, what makes us think that the world -can-.

    I wholeheartedly agree, global warming and global dimming (perhaps we should just say "the results of global air pollution") are larger threats -in the long run- than nuclear catastrophy. However, what we should be doing right now is:

    a) getting off gas/oil for vehicles ... if the price goes up another dollar then alternative portable energy becomes much more cost effective. Go ahead and ramp the price now and keep it there. Anything over what is required for the gas gets put into a research fund for the alternative energy. Once those fuels are effective enough that there are mass-market alternatives to gas combustion, then the price of gas should be fixed to be slightly higher than the alternative fuel, with all proceeds going a clean-up fund (we know there are technologies that can begin to scrub the air, and if nothing else planting trees is cheap).

    People will argue that the cost of gas will be too high to go anywhere. I say that we will adapt and overcome. In Ireland recently I noticed that gas was .95Euro per -liter- ... that's almost 4Euro per gallon and that translated to almost $6 with conversion. Other people can get by with fewer cars and less gas, why can't we? Build out mass transit. Get down to 1 or 2 family vehicles. Geeks are often in a prime position to help this by working from home if your company allows. Or car-pool.

    b) research alternative mass production ... we've seen on /. recently that solar cells may be about to get a doubling of efficiency. Where I live we can buy 25% of our electricity from wind power for less than an extra $5/month. Make that $20 and go to pure Wind. Does that mean that the amps you suck down actually got created by a Windmill, not necessarily, but it does mean that for every amp you buy there has to be a Windmill producing that much clean energy. Not every part of the country can use Wind, and not every part can use Solar, but most can usually use one or the other, and those who can't could probably use hydraulics. There are vast areas that could be converted to Solar or Wind production.

    c) Additionally, the government should start subsidizing traditional oil/shale/peat/coal manufacturers with research funding so that those companies that would normally be fighting for their existence can instead lobby for the funding to convert themselves into green companies.

    And ya know, people have said this until the 70's. If no one is going to listen then sure, build nuclear, but be prepared for the U.S., China and the EU to subsidize the oversite for the world. And be prepared for a few more uninhabitable places. Do some research into just how bad Chernobyl was. That place is -STILL- falling apart and is about to have to undergo one of the most expensive construction projects in HISTORY to re-cap it. Even then it is a wasteland for thousands of years.

    I was all for the space race, but we should be making the trip to Mars mean something ... use it to develop renewable technologies (I think a colony would probably need that, anyway) even if it delays things. There are many ways we could be encouraging such research.
  • Renewable power (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SirLanse ( 625210 ) <<swwg69> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:42AM (#9237730)
    The idea of making wind farms is so absurd. It is a remant of big business. Wind mills should be on the top of skyscrapers! Get the power, very close to the users. What better way to say F-you to the arabs than a NY skyline covered with power generators. 40+ stories up, you get lots more wind than at ground level. No miles of copper from some off shore wind farm. No miles of copper from a desert solar array.

    We need to user fission,
    it is a step on the fusion.
  • by mwood ( 25379 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:48AM (#9237775)
    No, *don't* think Chernobyl. That was a stupid design which never should have been built. Think decent designs with proper multilayered safety plans, and then find a way to make sure that's what we get.
  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @11:03AM (#9237890) Homepage
    think the US government should build two huge clusters of nuclear power plants. The first cluster should be near enough to Yucca Mountain to facilitate secure transport of the waste without traveling near populated areas. The second one should be in Alaska with it's own waste disposal site if possible.

    Great idea. Too bad neither Yucca Mountain nor Alaska are significant consumers of electricity. Unless you've discovered a high-temperature superconductor from which to fashion your transmission lines, I don't see how you'd get the electricity to where it's actually needed.

  • by hikerhat ( 678157 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @11:09AM (#9237945)
    I would say greens want to keep the planet in the current state, or maybe the state it was in 200 or so years ago. That is a valid definition of "saving." Just like you put left over food in the fridge to "save" it. It will still be around if you don't put it in the fridge, just not in the state you want.

    Do we really think that we, with a few fossil fuels and other environmental crap we throw into the air and water over the past 150 year, can really change the Earth?

    Yes. There is good evidence that this is so.

  • by ACPosterChild ( 719409 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @11:18AM (#9238039)
    There is a very simple way to eliminate the demand in 99% of cases for fossil fuels: criminalize their possession.

    WTF? Did you step in from Bizarro world or something? That is SO FAR from what is likely to ever happen that it's insane to even say.
  • by Ill_Omen ( 215625 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @11:29AM (#9238167)
    Can you provide some links to credible studies saying "Global Warming Doesn't Exist" or that it's "not a big deal"? By "credible studies" I mean actual scientific reports from scientists not in the employ of or with close ties to the fossil fuel industries. Yes, I'm sure they exist, but as I hardly ever see them I'm not convinced they make up 90% of the scientific literature on the subject.

    And even if it is only a '10% chance of global catastrophe', that seems like a good reason to take steps to prevent it. If a giant asteroid had a '10% chance to hit Earth in the next 10 years', wouldn't it be wise to start looking into ways to make 10% go to 0%?

  • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @11:41AM (#9238265)
    Humans are uniquely vulnerable to radioactivity. Most(all?) other species are not.

    On its face, this statement is ludicrous. Exactly what biological differences exist between homo sapiens and any other species that makes us susceptible to radioactive materials and not them?

    Any animal in Creation can get sick and die from radiation poisoning, most of them just do us the favor of crawling away to some secluded spot to do their dying.
  • Re:Reactor safety (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sketerpot ( 454020 ) <sketerpot@gma3.14il.com minus pi> on Monday May 24, 2004 @11:44AM (#9238314)
    Which actually makes stuff, instead of producing expensive steam - and couldn't blow up unless someone packs it full of explosives.

    Don't think of it as producing expensive steam, think of it as not producing tons of toxic chemicals which are randomly spewed out into the atmosphere. And the power from it does things, you know?

    And what is the fascination with nuclear plants blowing up? You do know that nuclear plants only have as much reactivity as they need (so a nuclear blast is out of the question), and they generally employ a bunch of redundant active and passive safety systems, making a meltdown unlikely except in the possible result of extreme mismanagement and poor design?

  • by Hibernator ( 307430 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @11:49AM (#9238390)

    Most people don't seem to be aware of the fact that coal power plants are more radioactive [ornl.gov] than nuclear power plants.

    It is also now possible to design nuclear power plants so that they fail safe [popularmechanics.com], unlike the poorly designed plant at Chernobyl.

    Safety-driven memes [surrey.ac.uk] are difficult to counter, but once we run out of options [dieoff.org] perhaps we'll do what we must.

  • by TheNarrator ( 200498 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @12:00PM (#9238515)
    You know that oil consumption in China since 1990 has more than doubled Source [doe.gov]. India's is growing rapidly too Source [doe.gov]. I think it's time we realized that the rapid economic development of 2 countries containing a mere 2 billion+ people has something to do with rising oil prices in the U.S and the increase in Greenhouse gas emmissions. Guess what! The Indian government doesn't care to much about what the European/U.S centric green movement says and the Chinese care even less. That's why they demanded to be exempt from the provisions of the Kyoto treaty.
  • by vroomfondel ( 165908 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @12:32PM (#9238904)
    Many sports cars -- even some of the more expensive ones -- get 30+ mpg on the highway just like more economical cars. Even a 2004 Corvette with an enormous 5.7 liter engine gets 25 mpg on the highway, which is above average; the Pilot gets 22 mpg, the CR-V 25-29 mpg (depending on transmission configuration). A Hummer, meanwhile, gets only 14 mpg. Of course, if you could get people to live closer to work (failures in modern zoning have made this impractically expensive in much of the USA, but even incremental improvements would help), or to avoid commuting during rush hour, it would have nearly the effect of the whole country switching to hybrids (ones that work, even). But nobody's going to do that either.
  • by cluckshot ( 658931 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @12:39PM (#9238985)

    This is not a realistic presentation. The issue of vehicle size and other issues is really not related in Europe to the USA. The USA is a vast continental region which is has a very low population density. The uses and reasons for vehicles there and in Europe where the density is very high are profoundly different.

    It would be entirely in error to say that the US Tax system encourages the bigger cars etc with the possible exception of some fast write offs for business but those are not specific to any purpose.

    US Climate and road conditions are vastly different to Europe. I own a vehicle that must haul around up to 7 persons quite regularly. It often has to double as a truck to haul loads. In Europe the density of population alters the multiple use needs a lot.

    The Climate here get very hot and very cold. It is quite wild and (Europe does not get many tornadoes because of this difference) demands better control (More Power). I am going to be traveling this week some 1500 km in temperatures reaching about 35 C! Try finding that very often in the EU! There will be 5 persons on the trip. Try that in your EU small car. The vehicle gets about 28 mpg. That corresponds for comparison to a single person car getting about 140 mpg or a whole lot better than some think.

    I would also note that the EU tends to depend for its economy on the US guys buying their goods. It seems the "Problem" described is really the solution for the EU types. But if they don't want me working, consuming etc, I suppose they can go out of business. It is after all the fervent desire I keep hearing from them.

  • by Malor ( 3658 ) * on Monday May 24, 2004 @01:03PM (#9239201) Journal
    You didn't think about it enough.

    Humans live a very long time, and it takes many many years for us to reach reproductive age. Radiation is fairly constant over time, so a short-lived mammal will suffer less damage from a given amount of background radiation. In an area where humans would die out, mice and wolves might be perfectly fine.

    Additionally, most other species have better damage-repair mechanisms than we do. I don't remember the specifics, but all you have to do is look at Bikini Atoll, which was the site of over twenty nuclear tests, including the first hydrogen bomb. It is, as I pointed out in my original post, a tropical paradise, lush and green, with amazing biodiversity. It would be dangerous for humans to spend significant time there, but the ecosystem is just fine.

    So what part was ludicrous again?

  • by beakburke ( 550627 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @01:20PM (#9239374) Homepage
    The US tax system doesn't "encourage" gas guzzling vehicles, it just doesn't extract nearly the punishment for them that other countries do. They certainly aren't subsidized at the expense of other vehicles, which is what your statement suggests.
  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @01:42PM (#9239558)
    Environmental issues aside, what are the real costs of nuclear power? In the early days it was sold as the cheapest energy source available -- "practically free." The question is, how cheap is it, really? How much of the cost is actually being carried by the taxpayer?

    From research and development to mining and processing uranium to disposing of waste, everything is subsidized by government programs. Since many of these are high security defense programs, we'll never know the true cost. Furthermore, government contractors like Bechtel who do this work also do other government work, obscuring the true cost of the nuclear work. A similar example would be Boeing -- its cost of producing airliners is subsidized by cushy defense contracts, but we'll never really know by how much.

    I'm not arguing that government subsidies are wrong. But we must know the true costs if we're going to make fair comparisons, and the true costs of nuclear power are very well hidden.
  • by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @01:45PM (#9239587)
    I just don't understand why the Greens aren't all over this.... if they don't embrace this idea, it seems likely to me that their true motivation is less about "loving Nature" and more about "hating humans".

    It is about hating humans. Widespread nuclear energy might lead to allowing rich, fat, selfish westerners to not "come to Jesus" and reform their evil ways. They wouldn't need to ride bikes and fret over solar panels mounted to their adobe hovels. Instead they may only need to buy large rolling batteries for cars and enjoy all else pretty much as is, big-macs and all.

    This is an unacceptable result. So, when Lovelock proposes something that might be a viable solution to the energy problem without also condemning modern lifestyles, meat, Bush, corporations, smoking, Christianity or anything else, he gets thrown to the wolves.
  • by bluGill ( 862 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @10:46PM (#9244075)

    Take a close look at what happened in the early '90s. Emissions laws got stricter, to the point where manufactures had to trade lower emissions for milage. Valve overlap (when both exhaust and intake valves are open for a moment) is great for increasing total milage, but it costs in emissions so they don't do that anymore. Not to mention other changes.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama