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Bruce Sterling On Lovelock's Pro-Nuclear Stance

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the whistles-gunsmoke-and-tumbleweed dept.

Science 693

Robert Berger writes "Bruce Sterling, author, journalist, editor, critic, blogger is also the creator of the Viridian Notes series of emails that comment on articles and websites about global warming. The current Viridian Note 00415: Doom is Nigh (scroll down past the inital links) has inserted his Sterling's pithy comments into Jame Lovelock's assertion that 'Nuclear power is the only green solution.'" (See also this earlier Slashdot post about Lovelock's nuclear apologia.)

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the life i live (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299035)

hmm i thought it had no comments, but then i left and i came back and it did have no comments but now it is probably not first post anymore.
this post meant nothing

Re:the life i live (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299086)

You failed to fail it.

Super Dan (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299054)

You Fail!

Yes, please give dan money. It will be greatly appreciated

it's green alright... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299057)

a burning, corrosive, glowing green.

Re:it's green alright... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299319)

What you are thinking about is Cherkenov radiation. This is due to particles travelling through a substance faster than the speed of light in that substance (and leaving a bow shock of atoms excited and now emitting gammas). Typically its blue, not green though.

Criticism without Solution (5, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299069)

Of course nobody likes nuclear energy. Nuclear's some scary shit even if you don't mess it up, and messing it up is what humanity does.

Unfortuately, coal and oil suck too. Natural gas is better, but also somewhat finite. And the other alternatives suck, too -- solar and wind might be eco-friendly, but they sure ain't cheap. Think the recession in 2000 was bad? Wait until you see what doubling the cost of electricity would do.

Bruce can make all the "pithy comments" he wants, but unless he has some terrific solution stashed up his sleeve they're ultimately not very helpful or insightful. So, unless you're looking to opt out of using electricity and other sources of power (I was camping this weekend -- it's fun, but it's no way to live), it's a necessary evil.

Re:Criticism without Solution (1, Redundant)

Papillon3111 (655288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299110)

nobody likes nuclear energy

James Lovelock [slashdot.org] does.
And he's an well-known environmetalist.

No.... (5, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299210)

I believe what Mr. Lovelock is saying is that in the next 50 years or so we're going to deplete our supply of fossil fuels to the point where they can't cover our power demands, and that nuclear fission is the only current method we have of replacing the huge gap that's going to be left.

He's right. Unless there's a fantastic amount of oil and coal someplace that we can get at reasonably soon, or unless all the cars in the world start getting 90 MPG Real Soon Now, the price of gas is going to go to a place where it's not usable anymore.

Try to understand: We're not just talking about those evil SUV drivers paying $80 to $100 at the pump. The depletion of the world's fossil fuel supplies will mean a breakdown on a global scale if it isn't planned for *well* in advance. We're talking about a collapse of the global economy and a return to a way of living that can't support the global population. Famine, disease, abject poverty, devistating wars, genocide. A return to a feudal economy, a breakdown of our civilization and another dark age for my children and grandchildren to live in.

While some of the more frustrated environmentalists might suggest that this is what we have coming to us, I'd rather see it avoided. You can't wait for it to happen and then start responding -- humanity has got to get on this one now, and pie-in-the-sky "what if we could increase the yield of solar cell" shit isn't going to cut it.

Once you devise a method of generating power that can compete on an economic level with nuclear, of *course* the world will switch. It only makes sense that we'd switch -- it's basic economics. But we can't count on the tech genie popping up at the last second to save our bacon.

Re:No.... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299340)

"I believe what Mr. Lovelock is saying is that in the next 50 years or so we're going to deplete our supply of fossil fuels to the point where they can't cover our power demands, and that nuclear fission is the only current method we have of replacing the huge gap that's going to be left"

No. He's saying that global warming will pose a significant threat to humanity and the only way to minimize its effect is to minimize greenhouse gas creation. Nuclear power doesn't make greenhouse gasses, therefore it is the logical choice. Alternative sources can't scale up economically enough to provide a solution, otherwise they'd be the better solution. But since the global warming threat requires immediate action, there isn't enough time to make the alternative sources competitive with nuclear power. In effect, build nuclear power now to significantly cut C02 output.

Re:No.... (1, Insightful)

flossie (135232) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299350)

Once you devise a method of generating power that can compete on an economic level with nuclear, of *course* the world will switch.

The nuclear industry (in the UK at least) is *heavily* subsidised by tax-payers. It has to be, it wouldn't be competitive otherwise (and that is before you consider the cost of decomissioning). The real problems with nuclear energy, however, are that we can't get rid of the waste and the consequences of even minor mistakes are catastrophic.

If the amount of money that has been spend on the nuclear indusry had been invested in renewable energy sources, we wouldn't now have an impending crisis. We would still have people complaining about wind farms being a blot on the landscape, but that is a much easier problem to solve.

Re:Criticism without Solution (4, Insightful)

Johnathon_Dough (719310) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299150)

Actually I like nuclear energy.

The navy has been using it pretty much constantly for years, with no noticeable mishaps at least in the last 30 years(last one I could find was a release of contaminatd water in 1978).

There is a town not too far from here that has an oil refinery that about every six months has an accident that causes alerts to be broadcast over all news sources. These alerts tell people to stay indoors, keep their wondows closed etc etc. Because of the toxic fumes in the air. This is safe?

The bigger problem with nuclear power is getting rid of the waste products. If someone could figure out a good way to launch those into the sun cheaply nuclear power would probably be the best solution.

As other sources dwindle, nuclear power is going to have to be looked at more and more, regardless of the people's inherent fear of it. We as a society are demanding more and more electricity as time passes.

Re:Criticism without Solution (4, Insightful)

Aglassis (10161) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299258)

You said: "The bigger problem with nuclear power is getting rid of the waste products. If someone could figure out a good way to launch those into the sun cheaply nuclear power would probably be the best solution"

The waste problem is completely political. If it wasn't for cold war/war on terrorism fears (no reprocessing of waste or use of breeder reactors) and irrational fears of storage (not in my backyard syndrome), waste could be safely reprocessed and the minimal high level waste could be safely stowed away.

I hope you didn't underestimate the difficulty on getting anything to the sun. The Earth's orbital speed is about 30 km/s. Kinetic energy is one-half the mass times the velocity squared. In order to get to the sun you have to cancel out the 30 km/s orbital speed (where 0 km/s is the Sun's 'orbit') and that will require enourmous amounts of energy. Doesn't really make sense.

Re:Criticism without Solution (1)

chrisd (1457) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299281)

Actually, this was considered by the AEC/DOE in the mid to late 60s. The problem with launching it was two fold:

1...might want the "waste" later.
2...don't know what it will do with the sun.

They didn't think they could hurt the sun, mind you, but who wants to screw something like that up. Also, it's fiendishly expensive to do. The result was that they chose vitrification (glassing in of the waste) and internment (at the time, to nevada was the preferred site) as being the best way to "deal" with the waste.

Chris DiBona

Re:Criticism without Solution (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299360)

Until orbital launches are cheap enough, throwing nuclear waste into the Sun is going to cause more pollution than it eliminates! Perhaps in ten or twenty years we might be at that point.

In the meantime, we already have a solution. Vitrify, encase, and dump the waste into deep ocean trenches. It will get "recycled" into the mantle, never to be seen again for more than a million years.

Re:Criticism without Solution (3, Interesting)

Stinking Pig (45860) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299153)

Yeah. Those "pithy comments" were practically all from the list of fallacies we covered back in Logic 101, lo these many years ago. Too bad Bruce didn't take time from his busy schedule to attend Logic 101, he might have been able to stir up so cogent counterclaims.

I'm no fan of big nuclear reactors, but I am a huge fan of using fossil fuels for materials science instead of energy. It's a limited resource, and it looks to my untrained eye like we're much more able to replace it as an energy source than we are to replace it as a plastics source.

Recession = cost doubling? (1, Insightful)

Pi_0's don't shower (741216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299158)

Hold on a second. You just said
And the other alternatives suck, too -- solar and wind might be eco-friendly, but they sure ain't cheap. Think the recession in 2000 was bad? Wait until you see what doubling the cost of electricity would do.
Correct me if I'm misinformed, but aren't the greatest users of electricity the large corporations, plants, etc. and laboratories owned by the government, the largest corporation of all? While this might cause a small hit into the profits of those corporations, average Joe isn't going to go to the poorhouse because he has to pay more for electricity. Example, I'm a graduate student. I make roughly $1400 a month after taxes. My monthly electricity bill comes to about $50 per month. That's about 3.5% of my salary. If I can afford to pay 7% to electricity instead, we can use solar and wind, as you say. Doesn't sound as terrible as what the article says are the alternatives. And do you really think when we run out of coal, oil, and gas, we'll go back to living in the stone age? Please. Necessity is the mother of invention, and although it may not be as cheap as what we have today, I'm sure that when the time comes, we'll be able to make do.

Re:Recession = cost doubling? (5, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299203)

While this might cause a small hit into the profits of those corporations, average Joe isn't going to go to the poorhouse because he has to pay more for electricity

This won't cause any hit in the profits of corporations because they'll simply pass on the cost of electricity to the consumer.

Re:Recession = cost doubling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299220)

I think you miss the point that without the corporations or the government you wouldn't have a job. If you make $0 a month *before* taxes, that $100 a month electric bill is going to seem pretty large. If you double the electric cost, many companies will go under.

Re:Recession = cost doubling? (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299264)

Big corporations take no small hits into their profits. They raise prices. Or take your employer - think he will pay twice as much for air conditioning you? No, he'll either stop, or lower your wage.

Um, duh? (4, Insightful)

emarkp (67813) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299314)

Add this to the logical fallacies. How do you think the grocery store refrigerates your food before you buy it? Now, how much would refrigerated goods cost to you (the average Joe) if refrigeration costs doubled?

You might even notice other goods and services increase in cost. It's silly to think that the cost of electricity is only reflected in your electricity bill.

Re:Recession = cost doubling? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299346)

Just as a few cents change in the price of corn sugar changes your grocery bill considerably for someone who never buys corn sugar, a change in the price of electricity will hit you in a lot of ways.

Actually, the grocery store is a good place to start. Did you know the largest single cost of a big grocery store is the electricity bill ? It can easicly exceed $100,000 a month, more than labor.

The price of aluminum is essentially tied to the price of electricity, because the electrolytic regfining of bauxite to aluminum costs more than the ore itself. That's why bauxite is shipped around the globe to where ever electricity is cheapest -- usually big hydroelectric areas such as our own Pacific Northwest.

So while your electric bill might go up by twice, a lot of other things will go up by 10 to 25 percent.

Even 10 percent is huge. Remember, Alan Greenspan creams his pants if consumer spending changes by a tenth of one percent from month to month. What's he going to do if it drops 10 percent, as everyone cuts back in small ways to make that extra $200 a month ?

At this point... (5, Insightful)

ttfkam (37064) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299174)

Nuclear is to power what democracy is to political systems. Yes, it sucks. But sucks less than the alternatives.

Re:Criticism without Solution (1)

SpamJunkie (557825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299176)

Somewhat finite? I wasn't aware somthing could be somewhat finite. So it just kinda has an end? What's that like, Return of the King, or what?

Re:Criticism without Solution (0, Redundant)

SpamJunkie (557825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299202)

Somewhat finite? I wasn't aware something could just kind of have an end. Is that like Return of the King, or what?

Re:Criticism without Solution (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299361)

Eventually more oil, coal, and gas will form. Ultimately they are renewable energy sources. But for our purposes they are finite. "Somewhat finite" was a bad choice of phrase. "Practically finite" would have been better.

Re:Criticism without Solution (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299206)

...solar and wind might be eco-friendly, but they sure ain't cheap.

Volume, my friend. Volume. Volume and time. yeah that's it. Volume and time. Volume, time, and desire. That'll do it. I remember a time when a 16mhz, 8mb of RAM, 80mb Hard drive, 68030, Mac was $6000 USD.($7000 with a wide carriage impact printer) I hope I don't have to tell you what that 6 thou will get you now. The prices we enjoy now are because of gov't subsidies to the petrol industry. In a real free market, the costs of the alternatives would be truly competitive, if not lower.

Are you kidding? (5, Insightful)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299255)

You've got it backwards -- the only reason that wind and solar plants exist is because the government (a) heavily subsidizes them, (b) gives power producers a tax break for buying power from them and (c) in some cases mandates that a certain percentage of power delivered by the power industry be from renewable sources.

Of course, in the end, this means that we (taxpayers) are paying more money to fund wind and solar producers (*not* wind and solar research, BTW, but to pay off people to have these plants).

If wind and solar were really reliable and less expensive, what in God's name makes you think we'd be relying on fossil fuels? The oil lobby is powerful, sure, but the rest of the economy would crush them like a bug if a cheaper source of energy came along. That's capitalism for you.

Re:Are you kidding? (2, Informative)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299344)

That's capitalism for you.

Looks a little [google.com] like [daviesand.com] socialism [greenpeace.org] to me...Maybe I'm not sure what capitaism is, but from what I was taught in school, this doesn't look like it.

Re:Are you kidding? (1)

acidrain69 (632468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299345)

If wind and solar were really reliable and less expensive, what in God's name makes you think we'd be relying on fossil fuels? The oil lobby is powerful, sure, but the rest of the economy would crush them like a bug if a cheaper source of energy came along. That's capitalism for you.


You mean kind of like what linux does to windows? Who is the richest man in the world again?

Re:Criticism without Solution (3, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299212)

Of course nobody likes nuclear energy. Nuclear's some scary shit even if you don't mess it up, and messing it up is what humanity does.

I love nuclear energy, and I think Sterling is full of shit. To be perfectly honest, I love my first-world, technologically sophisticated existence, and my research depends on having shitloads of electricity available. But I'm also from the Left Coast, and since we still have some natural resources left unpillaged I'd like them to stay that way. So I'm a pro-capitalism, pro-industrial-society environmentalist. It's really not much of a contradiction; I support sustainable development. And I think it'd be great if the rest of the world could have the same happen.

Over here we have it a little easier because of hydroelectric power, which I think is generally the best source we've found so far (although also the most immediately destructive to the environment). Most of the world doesn't have this luxury, and such projects are anathema to environmentalists and can be a huge pain in the ass in general (Three Gorges Dam).

Sterling's objections seemed pretty incoherent to me. The first is that nuclear power is unsafe, which has become a religious rather than scientific argument at this point. (My own impression is that Three Mile Island is one of the most overblown "disasters" in history, and Chernobyl was due to Soviet incompetence. But I'm sure there are plenty of hysterical leftists who will claim otherwise.) The second is that nuclear power == nuclear bombs; or at least that's what I got from his invocation of Hiroshima. This isn't really worth debating; we'll have to worry about nuclear bombs anyway. The third is that we're not doing enough about climate change, and adding a new energy source will make things much worse.

I have no objection to making fossil fuels obsolete; I wouldn't mind seeing a reduction in cars either. (I don't own one; I walk to the grocery store and work, and use public transportation or carpool.) I'm sure as hell NOT going to give up living in the 21st century, though. The claim that nuclear power is a "necessary evil" makes it sound like something we should get rid of ASAP, and Sterling says something similar. This only works if you believe in some dream world where we all grow our own organic vegetables and soybeans, bicycle to work at sunlit offices, and don't need any industrial goods. (That includes medicines, although some leftist environmentalists sound like they're actually endorsing shorter lifespans and global die-offs.)

I get the impression that Sterling would rather see us reverting to candles and typewriters than embracing nuclear power. I guess at least we'd be spared his ridiculous Internet rants.

Re:Criticism without Solution (1)

MooCows (718367) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299283)

This only works if you believe in some dream world where we all grow our own organic vegetables and soybeans, bicycle to work at sunlit offices, and don't need any industrial goods.

And let's not forget: printed slashdot :(
Please, think of the trees!

Re:Criticism without Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299330)

That includes medicines, although some leftist environmentalists sound like they're actually endorsing shorter lifespans and global die-offs.

Not just "seems", some actively advocate global die-off, for example, VHEMT [vhemt.org] - Not so much shorter lifespans though. I thought this was a very good post.

Are you implying that Nuclear *is* cheap? (1, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299272)

Because when you factor in the waste storage and decomissioning costs, the nuclear option looks damned near stupid. BNFL for instance is desperate to offload it's decomissioning costs to the government and hence the taxpayer, it's the only way it could be remotely profitable.

e.g.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2091561.stm

Solar and wind power in comparison are being rolled out by already privatised power companies, they can make a profit running onshore and offshore wind farms.

Re:Criticism without Solution (0)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299313)

If you calculate add all the REAL costs of Coil / Oil fired plants to include the cost of River-damage, air pollution, health-care-costs, habitat loss and the like, you'll find that Wind is actually MUCH less costly.

The trouble is Oil/Coal are entrenched capital... if someone proposed switching from Wind to Oil/Coal TODAY, people would laugh "you expect us to LIVE near this crap?!".

The trouble isnt that Wind is more costly, just that we allow the Plutocrats to keep polluting our communities.

Whole Cost accounting and a Green Tax shift are a good first step to making Oil/Coal really bear their complete burden...

A Solution (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299334)

While all of these are interesting, and various people can prove how witty they are, balance is generally a good concept to stick to. Of course that would require a balanced energy policy down to, at the very least, voluntary usage limits (a balanced usage policy). How the hell we can continue driving individuals around in several tons of engineered material is beyond me. How we can continue to go without some checks on our desire for bigger and better is also. The general consensus among those who look into reducing waste, is that a reduction in usage, say packaging materials through engineering, is much more effective than attempting to say recycle, or in this case match ever increasing usage requirements. Plenty O big name brains get by on 56k as opposed to personal T1s.

I would agree that attempting to meet our unreasonable energy requirements through drastically increasing nuclear power is ridiculous, and likely dangerous. There was mention of micro-muclear power plants on /. a while back. I find this interesting, though would rather not have targets scattered across the landscape. A drastic switch in energy types is probably not even possible without massive expenditures. Hey, let's switch to DC current! Where's my electric car? They've been coming! Hydrogen? I put my bets on 20 years for an economy like ours.

I just ditched my BMW, moved into the city, and walk to work. I have to say that I am much happier, not worrying about my car, and losing weight pretty damn rapidly. It was a great decision!

NIGGERS NIGGERS NIGGERS NIGGERS NIGGERS(hate them) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299081)

gjlkdsaflks

well... (2, Funny)

spangineer (764167) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299082)

It is the "green" power solution... until a plant goes crazy, and it becomes the "yellow [angelfire.com] " power solution.

What the hell is this? (5, Insightful)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299094)

I don't see how this qualifies as a news piece, even by slashdot standards.

Somebody writes a piece in support of nuclear power. Some blogger fisks it, with as poor or lesser quality than the original article was written. No hard science, lots of hyperbole, and random conjectures.

Juvenile activity all around.

What the hell was timothy thinking?
If he's trying to advance his political views- and I'm not so sure this is the proper forum for him to do so- this is the least subtle and least effective way to do so.

Re:What the hell is this? (1)

pinchhazard (728983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299139)

Agreed. Sterling comes out of this looking like a child.

Re:What the hell is this? (2, Funny)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299145)

What the hell was timothy thinking?

"Oh! Bruce Sterling, on the internet. A cyberpunk author (that's nerdy!) and responding to a previously covered Slashdot topic. This'll make a good story for sure."

Re:What the hell is this? (4, Insightful)

penguinland (632330) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299213)

Hear, hear! James Lovelock took the time to research the topic, find his facts, look at the whole picture, and then write a very elegant piece on it. Bruce Sterling's rebuttal is little more than "You're using the word 'nuclear,' so it must be bad." Lovelock even adresses this in his piece:

"Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen."

Sterling, without a shred of evidence, dismisses this all. Nuclear power really is very safe and controlled - the only reason Chernobyl happened at all was that some idiot had the bright idea to turn off the control system, and then turn off the back-up control system. Other than that and 3 Mile Island (which was a remarkably similar, easily avoidable situation), I do not know of any problems with nuclear power (feel free to give me more examples; I'd like to learn. Also, if I have any facts wrong, please correct me). Sterling seems to think that power plants and bombs are the same thing, despite the difference in grades of feul, elements used, etc. This just goes to show that people can be really illogical when the word "nuclear" is used.
Here's a good example of that: When MRI scans were invented, they were called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans, because that's what they are: they look at the magnetic moments of the nucleii that you are made of. But since it had the word "nuclear" in the name, no one wanted to try it out. Since then, they dropped the "nuclear" bit and called it MRI (same process, just a different name). Suddenly, everyone realizes that this is a fantastic process, and deserves Nobel prises (IIRC, 2 different ones were handed out for different aspects of the process).
The bottom line is, know the facts before you reject something. Nuclear power plants are not going to blow up the world 3 times over. The worst they could do is give you cancer, which happens far more often from smoking (or, as Lovelock points out, breathing). If Sterling actually sat down and learned about the issue, I'm pretty sure he'd change his tune. I'm disappointed that this counts as "news" :-P

Re:What the hell is this? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299226)

I don't see how this qualifies as a news piece, even by slashdot standards.

You must be new here.

mods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299251)

um. WTF are you thinking? you fucking dumb shits.

+5, informative.. MY FUCKING ARSE


how about -1, offtopic. -1, troll, -1, overrated

to the parent, your just lucky i have no mod points.

to the mods, your just lucky im not old enough to metamod.

Re:What the hell is this? (1, Insightful)

sbszine (633428) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299286)

Somebody writes a piece in support of nuclear power. Some blogger fisks it [...]

The reason it's of interest (news for nerds, even) is that Sterling is not merely some blogger (you're a geek, you've read The Hacker Crackdown [mit.edu] ). TFA is not even a blog entry -- it's a tongue-in-cheek mailout to people interested in pragmatic and / or humorous solutions to global warming.

As for no hard science etc., fair enough, point taken, but have a look at this chunk:

Okay == let's say your argument has convinced me. So get me a written quid pro quo that actually cuts carbon emissions way past Kyoto limits, and I'll risk the Chernobyls.

This to me, is the point of the article. The global warming debate is not presently a scientific dialogue about which form of power strikes the best balance between productivity and safety. Right now it's about getting fossil fuel producing countries to even acknowledge that something is wrong. When Australia and the US ratify the Kyoto treaty, then the scientific debate can begin.

Disclaimer: I have a couple of Sterling novels and think solar power is pretty neat. Hey, and fusion would be even better. See .sig for details.

Re:What the hell is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299290)

What the hell was timothy thinking?

I don't know if this is what he intended, but this does serve a useful purpose. We all knew that Lovelock's message would be met with howls of outrage. Will there be anything else? A legitimate counter-argument, for instance? Now that I've seen Stirling's rant, I am more confident than ever that the answer is no.

Re:What the hell is this? (1)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299347)

So? Vote with your dollars, cancel your slashdot subscription.

People in here scream and yell bloody murder at anything crap and always suggest boycotting and voting with one's wallet. "Boycoot RIAA artists!" and "Vote with your wallet, do not buy $(strEvilBrandOfTheDay)" are common around here. Then why do people around here put up with downright atrocious editting, sheer journalistic incompetence, extreme bias and not-so-cleverly disguised advertisements supposed to look like genuine articles? Vote with your wallet, cancel/do not renew your Slashdot subscription.

Seriously, Slashdot is only tolerable to me because it is FREE, for me at least. I really don't care about the stupid political crap, dupes, gross incompetency and horrible spelling errors because those dolts in charge are never EVER going to see any of my money with Slashdot's current standing. I often see subscribers complaining about dupes and everything and a few articles later they'll yell about boycotting a company that did something bad. Put your money where your mouth is.

meh.. (0, Troll)

Haydn Fenton (752330) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299098)

Firstly, no, I didn't RTFA. The first few lines were enough to bore me. I'm gonna assume I know what the whole thing says, and here's my response.. (if I assumed incorrectly, boo bloody hoo).

We've seen it all before!

No doubt it's all true, or they think it's true. But seriously, how many times have we heard humans will be wiped out in the near future because of insert reason here> .

Carbon realses from the amazon, global warming, asteroids, low oil supplies, nanotechnology, nuclear weapons, etc. etc. etc.
Please! We have survived for thousands of years already, people highly overestimate the malvolent potential of whatever. Even if we are going to die because of whatever; no doubt we will come up with some sort of device which will stop it from happening, and no doubt, scientists will start telling us all that that solution is now going to kill us all.

*Yawns*

Fission is stupid. Wish we had fusion ready to go. (1, Informative)

ClausCCC (733333) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299114)

What is so inherently stupid about fission is that you need lots of fuel at one place in order to sustain the criticality of the reactor. A fission reactor is critical (the normal state of operation) when the number of produced neutrons is equal to the number of lost neutrons. Since neutrons are lost through the surface and produced inside the core you want the ratio of volume to surface to be large. That means a huge reactor core. In contrast to the fission reactor which stores the energy for millions of households for a couple of years there is only a few grams of Hydrogen-isotopes in a fusion reactor. Even in a run-away scenario the fuel is used up very quickly and nothing spectacular happens.

Re:Fission is stupid. Wish we had fusion ready to (1)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299197)

Actually, five grams of hydrogen will supply enough energy via fusion to supply a hundred one-kilowatt-consuming households with their electricity for one year. Fusion is nice, but it's not as magical as you say as far as the energy content goes.

Re:Fission is stupid. Wish we had fusion ready to (1)

riprjak (158717) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299321)

Not true, There are "warmers" where a non-critical ammount of radioactive material is used, with an armature which rotates to generate heat and boil water... ergo power; however, these can NOT go critical, if they fail, the armarture stops and the cool down and if they go mad, the armature can spin as fast as it wants, the reaction cant go critical.

course, I cant remember which bloody japanese company invented them, but there was a slashdot story about one being offered to a town in Alaska I think. Of course, Ive been wrong before.

err!
jak

Re:Fission is stupid. Wish we had fusion ready to (2, Informative)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299322)

I think you have your terms confused. Nuclear reactors are sub-critical, meaning that the fusion reaction is not exponential like it would be in a nuclear weapon where you want all the energy released at one time.

Also, the way fusion reactors are designed, I assume that a critical reaction would be almost impossible given the grade of material used.

Wow, just like slashdot. (5, Insightful)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299115)

Bruce Sterling's "response" adds no substance to the debate. His rejoiners come in two forms:
  • No, you're wrong.
  • No, you're wrong, and here's a joke.

Bruce never even touches Lovlock's central thesis: that at current rates of usage and current estimation of reserves, oil will stop meeting our energy needs within just a few decades, and atomic fission is the only replacement we know can take it's place.

If Sterling's comments are taken at face value, then he wants to see a return to 1700s-style labor-intensive agriculture.

You'll seriously get a higher quality of discussion just re-reading last week's Slashdot, rather than looking for any insight in that blob^Hg.

Re:Wow, just like slashdot. (1)

PedanticSpellingTrol (746300) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299229)

Decades? Try years. Current rates of consumption aren't going to be sustained, there'll be a need for more and more as once ignored third-world countries industrialize so they can sell their cheap labor to the US.

Here are some more references.

http://www.peakoil.net

http://www.dieoff.com

http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0406/featu re5/index.html

Re:Wow, just like slashdot. (1)

Allen Varney (449382) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299261)

I think this comment misses Bruce's point. As a reading of past Viridian notes shows, Sterling doesn't want to stop all use of nuclear, he doesn't want to return to 17th-century labor-intensive agriculture, and he doesn't tell Lovelock "No, you're wrong."

Bruce is pointing out that Lovelock ignores the historical mishandling of nuclear, and that Lovelock offers no practical solution to actually make any of this happen: "Okay == let's say your argument has convinced me. So get me a written quid pro quo that actually cuts carbon emissions way past Kyoto limits, and I'll risk the Chernobyls. Do you have the clout to give us one of those == or would you rather just pester hippies, Hollywood, and reporters?"

And then, at the end of the piece: "This nuclear nostalgia is all well and good, but what we need is genuine industrial policy agreed on by the powers-that be. A new Kyoto, genuine international agreement with coherent steps to deal with the menace. Otherwise we just glow in the dark as we die of the heat, and what's the point of that?"

Re:Wow, just like slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299295)

Not only that, Sterling's response keeps conflating nuclear power with nuclear weapons - "Well, yeah, if you don't count nukes.", "add a plague of nukes", "If you don't count the nuclear energy released over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that is.", etc.

I mean seriously, WTF? Both Sterling and his audience are smarter than that.

Bruce Sterling is a fool (4, Insightful)

dokhebi (89124) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299133)

If he thinks switching to a 'green' power will end global warming, he is in for a big suprise. The Earth is just returning to its pre-mini ice age temperature.

Before several volcanoes spewed greenhouse gasses into the air (several centuries before the industrial revolution), farmers in what is now New Foundland and England grew wine grapes. They will be able to again in another 50 to 100 years...

Hey kiddies, it's life. The world get hot, the world gets cold. Live with it or die, because the Greens won't allow us to build the technology to leave.

Just me $0.02 worth.

Re:Bruce Sterling is a fool (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299306)

Citations to scientific journal articles to back up your assertions, please.

Re:Bruce Sterling is a fool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299356)

Ah... the debating equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going "la, la, la" at the top of your voice.

The Only? (0)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299147)

"'Nuclear power is the only green solution.'"

That's the only solution?

So what did humankind do for greenness before nuclear power was invented?

Re:The Only? (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299257)

So what did humankind do for greenness before nuclear power was invented?

Nothing.

Of course, there were different types of nothing; the most popular included "spewing coal smoke into the air and hoping you wouldn't be poor enough to live where you breathed too much of it", "living in dense populations without affordable energy and taking being poor for granted", and "living in sparse populations without affordable energy but having so many children that your great-grandkids couldn't hope to do the same".

Re:The Only? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299262)

Nothing, thimblehead. Burning wood and coal. Not green, not efficient. Lived in *hot* or *cold* housing. Ate food that was *always* on the verge of spoiling. I doubt you'd like it.

Re:The Only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299293)

So what did humankind do for greenness before nuclear power was invented?

You mean before fossil fuels were discovered, right ? They aren't considered "green" either.

We lived short desparate lives under tyrannical systems supported by the general entrapment due to lack of resources.

Re:UCS isn't exactly an unbiased organization... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299296)

Good point. It is one of them. The word "only" was chosen just to be controversial.

Re:The Only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299318)

Lived lives that were nasty, brutal and short.

Sterling doesn't offer solutions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299148)

He's just picking on the poor bastard for saying what must not be said: we're screwed, carbon burning is bad, nukes are looking more and more the safer alternative, etc. Why does he bitch about nukes getting to everybody's hands? There's no reason we couldn't build nuclear energy plants that couldn't be used for weapons grade plutonium production.
Just starving to death is what's going to happen if we don't do anything. And in that scenario, some idiot starting a nuclear holocaust is much more probable than in "World Government or bust, screw sovereignty"-scenario.

Pithy comments? (5, Insightful)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299155)

You mean "misinformed wisecracks". The only reason to conflate nuclear power and nuclear weapons, as is done repeatedly here, is because you want to use the fallacy of equivocation to trick your audience into viewing even the safest reactor designs as weapons of mass destruction. You might as well blame gasoline users for the horrors of napalm.

True (1)

C32 (612993) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299187)

That blog post was the most uninformed, narrow-minded, un-helpful piece of drivel I have had the misfortune of reading all (last) week.

It would appear to me that most people who are anti-nuclear-energy|weapons|whatever are also anti-science morons who think with their feelings and not their brains.

What an Asshat (5, Insightful)

HeghmoH (13204) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299162)

I was under the impression that Bruce Stirling was a cool guy, although I never read any of his stuff, but he comes across as a total asshat in this article. Here is one teeny example:

nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. (((If you don't count the nuclear energy released over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that is.)))

Yeah, those 300,00 dead in the nuclear attacks on Japan certainly look horrible compared to the millions of air pollution deaths. He continually treats nuclear power and nuclear weapons as one and the same, and generally comes off making no sense.

I stopped reading halfway through, I couldn't stand it anymore, but he basically says, "What are you thinking? Nukes are bad. I don't care what evidence you have. I don't care what the alternatives are. Bad! Bad! Bad!" It's like a satire or caricature on the wacko ultra-environmental movement. Maybe that's what it really is. If not, then my only response is to say, what a jerk.

In other words... (4, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299165)

"Um, nukes are bad, mmmkay?"

No, really, that's it. "There are risks, so we shouldn't do it". That sums up the entire argument. He equates all nuclear energy with nuclear weapons. I also find it rather amusing that he assumes that the only use for oil is in fuel; this is not true. It would take a lot more than "green energy" to allow us to "leave the oil and coal in the ground"; we would have to completely break our current dependence on polymers as we know them.

There's plenty of propaganda on the other side, too, don't get me wrong. But I find it amusing to find people who consider nuclear energy "too dangerous" yet push for plenty of other equally-dangerous technologies. Let's have some rationality here, please.

This guy is a crackpot (5, Interesting)

iwadasn (742362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299169)

Ok, this is nice, but neither side gives any evidence. Since when does "no it isn't" count as a refutation?

Everything that guy has to say is about nuclear weapons. Well, guess what. WE ALREADY HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS. There, accept it. Get over it. There is no danger of additional reactors turning the US, or China, or India, or Western Europe into nuclear armed powers. NONE, because they already are.

It's easy to tear down someone else's proposal when you don't have on of your own and need rely on nothing but juvenile comebacks. Get some actual evidence. And you know what, even if you count the victims of Hiroshima and Nagisaki against nuclear power (but don't count the victims of conventional warfare against fossil fuels) and you throw in Cherenoble, and maybe round everything up by a few hundred thousand just to be sure, Nuclear killed far fewer people per kWh of energy. It is almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which it might be otherwise. Fossil fuels kill tens (hundreds, depending on how you count) of thousands of people each year.

A nuclear disaster would have to kill tens of millions (at least) in order to even the score. Nobody can even conceive of how that could happen with civilian reactors built to even the most incompetent of standards, like Cherenobl. About the only real possibility is if WW-III breaks out and people start tossing around nuclear weapons (which they already have, and don't need civilian reactors for), and that is far MORE likely if we start fighting over oil.

Just once I'd like to hear a well reasoned out anti-nuclear position. Include some numbers (you know, dollars and cents, lives lost, that sort of thing) and keep them accurate. Include an honest asessment of nuclear waste dangers (assuming various means of disposal) and honest asessments of nuclear proliferation. I have never seen any evidence that civilian nuclear power leads to proliferation, but it seems to be a given for the anti-nuke types. Japan and South Korea both have reactors, and neither has nuclear weapons.

The only scenario the anti-nuke types ever argue against is such a complete straw man. They assume we dump all the nuclear waste into the nation's beer supply, give away spent fuel to everyone with a driver's license, and somehow (though nobody can really imagine exactly how this happens) have lots of melt downs in highly populated areas. Seriously. Assume an even marginally competent nuclear program (needn't be perfect) and then try a comparison with our fossil fuel system. See how that treats you.

It's like comparing against an oil economy where it's assumed that 99% of the oil is dumped raw into the ocean, the rest is burned in the foulest, dirtiest machines imaginable, and that somehow access to oil allows every fool who can rub two sticks together to build a jet fighter with which to kill people. Be serious.

Re:This guy is a crackpot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299247)

Japan and South Korea both have reactors, and neither has nuclear weapons.
That much is true, however Japan is often called a "paranuclear" [fas.org] state, which means that if they so desired, they could manufacture a mass number of nuclear devices within weeks. They have suitable missile systems [fas.org] for ICBM's that could carry nuclear payloads.

I still support nuclear energy though, there's no way around it. Most of the opposition is emotional and not fact-based. I don't particularly fear Japan becoming a nuclear state - if piddly shit countries like Pakistan have the capability but are afraid to use it, I don't think Japan will use it either.

Re:This guy is a crackpot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299338)

Your link says "within a year"... not "within weeks" asshat.

Re:This guy is a crackpot (1)

bear_phillips (165929) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299331)

I have never seen any evidence that civilian nuclear power leads to proliferation, but it seems to be a given for the anti-nuke types.

Many (maybe most) experts agree that Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace Iniative helped spread nuclear weapons. It was meant to help other nations learn to use nuclear power for civilian purposes, buy many say that it helped train foreign scientist that would go on to develop nuclear weapons. NPR had a really good story on it [npr.org]

They assume we dump all the nuclear waste into the nation's beer supply
Nobody thinks that. They do think it is inevitable that leaks will occur. It is also well documented that leaks HAVE occurred. hanford [tufts.edu] , frankfurt [iht.com] , and of course chernoble.

It's like comparing against an oil economy where it's assumed that 99% of the oil is dumped raw into the ocean.
This I agree with. Lovelock may have a point that that fossil fuel would kill more than nuclear fuel. But just dismissing all of the down sides of nuclear power doesn't help your cause. Instead of arguing that nuclear power is totally safe, the better arguement is that it is safer than fossil fuels.

Re:This guy is a crackpot (2, Interesting)

JInterest (719959) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299354)

Just once I'd like to hear a well reasoned out anti-nuclear position.

You won't. All anti-nuclear power arguments I've heard or seen in print are essentially reactionary and paranoid ravings that confuse nuclear power with nuclear weapons and depend on popular fears of new technologies. It is quintessentially luddite mindset. There aren't any rational arguments against nuclear power. There may be rational arguments against certain power plants or techniques for using that power, but the argument never really gets that far. Fear of nuclear power isn't based on reasoned argument, and those who argue most strongly against nuclear power are fully aware of this.

Sarcasm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299170)

...the refuge of those who disagree, and wish to respond - but lack an argument.

I'm unimpressed by Sterling's interjections; they come off as no better or more unique than any other flippant Usenet-style response to an article. In the marketplace of ideas, the "brand" ideally shouldn't matter, so I'm not about to give Sterling's amateurish response a pass solely because of his name recognition.

This isn't a logical deconstruction and rebuttal, it's a screed which appears to be fueled by traditionalist hysteria and which assumes a worst-case scenario as the only possible (or likely) basis. I am strongly reminded of the typical Republican and Democrat responses to the notions of minarchy or anarchy; evil is assumed to be inherent in the idea from the start, and the argument proceeds from that premiss.

If Sterling would like to be taken seriously perhaps instead of splattering his Usenetty response amongst quoted material, he could author an article with integrity, his own, and present his ideas cogently and in accordance to protocol set by the initial article.

Not that bad (1)

JakeD409 (740143) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299171)

Nuclear power is honestly not as bad as people make it out to be. The only truly bad nuclear accident was Chernoble; Three Mile Island was almost harmless, people have blown it way out of proportion. Furthermore, since then, we've gotten a LOT better at stopping accidents. The fact of the matter is, nuclear power is fairly cheap, clean (when disposed of correctly), and harmless. Coal mining has killed/harmed a lot more people than nuclear power has, and it's not as efficient. People are just paranoid.

Re:Not that bad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299238)

SHUT THE FUCK UP YOUR FUCKING FAG







//and now some extra junk to get past /.s uber fucking lame filter

The Thing is though (4, Interesting)

GrimSean (545405) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299177)

what the hell else are we supposed to do? Sterling is attacking Lovelock based solely on fear of Nuclear weapons - not energy, and a nuclear plant has about as much of a chance of blowing up as my chair does when properly designed. Chernobyl happened because the Soviets let regular Engineers perform a test on a reactor - not Nuclear Engineers who actually would have known what they were doing. Three Mile Island happened because of pure stupidity. A properly designed nuclear plant, with proper safeguards and well trained staff is a fairly safe place.

I think Sterling's comments would have been decidedly better had they actually proposed something else, instead of attacking an idea that is a feasable solution to significantly lowering the emission of greenhouse gasses. I have to wonder if he would have been among the people objecting to wind power because it ruined the view [go.com] , if he lived in Martha's Vineyard.

Re:The Thing is though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299267)

Consistently, the cost to do nuclear energy correctly as you describe, is too much. Here in Texas they brought the So. Texas plant online with promises of 1.4 cents / kilowatt hour. By the time they finished hiring the nuclear engineers, getting caught cutting a few corners and sued by the Sierra Club, the usually contractor disputes and pseudo-corruption in handing out jobs, etc, it is the most expensive electricity in Texas.

Forget blowing up and all of us growing extra eye stalks or whatever. It just isn't worth it on price alone. The people like to promote that shit share a lot with the NASA cheerleaders -- they have all these theories, but when it comes down to the pocketbook, they need OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY to get it done.

Furthermore, I don't see what in this greenhouse effect nonsense makes an emergency. I remember when the vast majority of climitologists were all talking about the comming ice age (late 70s, early 80s) in part because it dovetailed well with the fraudulant predictions of Sagan's nuclear winter crowd. Fixing random bugs in a very complex model until it produces "publishable" (i.e., politically acceptable) results, publishing, then fixing more bugs (without retracting the previous paper) for a few months until the results swing right again and you can publish again, is not science.

Sad (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299182)

This piece is sad. The commentary is written by someone who obviously has a working mind and can write (see his published works) but is so blinded by an irrational phobia against anything connected to the N word he is blindly attacking it, and because apparently his mind shuts down in the presence of the N word he isn't even doing a very good job of rebutting the idea.

This guy can't even tell the difference between fusion bombs and modern reactor designs that are pretty darned failsafe.

If you are really concerned about global warming, dependence on foreign oil, etc, you have to at least have a rational discussion about fission power. Which is why the ultra greens are having none of that and attacking with such ferocity, to them it ia a matter of religion, not science. Gaia told them in a dream or something that "Thou Shalt not Fission the Atoms that I have given unto thee." That's religion for you though, Galieo wasn't the first to be persecuted by religious intolerance and apparently isn't anywhere near the last.

Who is this freak? (2)

HotButteredHampster (614950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299185)

I don't care if this Bruce Sterling person is Albert Einstein, Gandhi or Jesus. Nobody in the entire world can critique anything like that and sound intelligent.

Not only is he just sitting there with the debating sophistication of five-year-olds saying "I'm rubber and you're glue and what bounces off me sticks to you", he is confusing the issue of nuclear energy generation with nuclear weapons. Nuclear energy can be safe, if treated properly. Nobody will argue that nuclear weapons are anything but dangerous. "Painted with the same brush" is the phrase that pays, here.

Having said that: he has the right to say what he wants. We have the right to laugh and point.

HBH

Still trying to figure out... (2, Insightful)

gzerod (229293) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299191)

...the point of this story. All I saw was a bunch of smartass comments by someone who I guess is respected for his opinion. Anyway the whole thing reads like an Anonymous Coward with ADD.

Warheads? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299194)

Does Bruce Sterling even understand the difference between nuclear power and nuclear weapons? He seems to have them confused, and I'm not sure what his point is. It's just some drunken, rambling attempt to shout someone down.

Soylent Green (1)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299195)

Nuclear power or not, as long as people insist on eating food, living life and having babies it looks like we're stuck [straightdope.com] with the greenhouse effect.

bad first impressions. (1)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299199)

nuclear reactions are one of ( it not )the most abundant natural reaction(s) in the known universe. everything "green", plants, wind; is owed to the energy from our sun. A big, bright nuclear reaction.
The reason nuclear has such a bad rap is that it was introduced first as a weapon, instead of an energy supply. Look up "nuclear" on google images and you'll see what people first think of when they hear the word.
Had we created nuclear power plants [ga.com] before blowing stuff up people might view that infamous nuclear symbol [pbs.org] as innocuous as the "+-" of electrical current.

Re:bad first impressions. (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299265)

Actually, the sun is a fusion reactor. All our reactors are fission; the only successful fusion reactors the human race has ever built are called H-bombs.

What gets me is ... (3, Insightful)

TheGavster (774657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299211)

Most of the retorts that this guy is making seem to assume that we're using nucelar *weapons* as a power source, rather than a stable nuclear reactor. Particularly this line:
As opposed to betting our lives on nukes; cuddly objects which have never threatened human survival before.
I mean, human survival was (and is) threatened by the huge number of weapons produced during the Cold War, but modern nuclear plants have zero chance of damaging humanity, and an infintesimal chance of killing those in the immediate vicinity.

Nuclear Hate-Conditioning... (5, Insightful)

RexRhino (769423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299216)

Even though nuclear energy is relatively safe, environmentally friendly, and the only practical solution to global warming we have right now, getting people of Mr. Sterling's generation to accept it will be impossible.

These people have grew up their whole lives with the word "nuclear" being associated with the word "Armageddon". Nuclear energy is permanently associated in their brain with "biblical disaster". They have been sold fear of nuclear annihilation from childhood (duck-and-cover propaganda), to adolescence (China Syndrome), to adulthood (The Day After), and are even now being sold fear about nuclear energy (Iraq weapons of mass destruction, anyone?). Baby Boomer response to nuclear energy is like a Catholic priest response to Satanism. They are never going to be psychological capable of viewing the situation rationally. Nuclear power has been their "Satan" figure for their entire lives, and they will never change.

Once the Boomers start dying off, people will realize the benefits of nuclear power once again. Hopefully global warming won't mess things up too bad before that happens.

Eight tiny reindeer (3, Funny)

malia8888 (646496) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299227)

The North Pole, goal of so many explorers, will then be no more than a point on the ocean surface.

Dang, hope Santa has a contingency plan.

To summarise for the motivationally-impaired (1)

garyok (218493) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299252)

Total useful things to say about nuclear energy in the current debate:

James Lovelock - 0.5
Bruce Sterling - 0

Am I alone in thinking they're equally full of crap, judging the evidence to date? Each of them blatantly refuses to present a sound argument by presenting and refuting counterarguments, and pretend that there's no reasonable way to hold a viewpoint conflicting with theirs. I'm fairly sure we're trolled by both of them here.

nuke != nuke (1)

sweet reason (16681) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299260)

Sterling uses "nuke" to mean both "nuclear powerplant" and "nuclear bomb". And he often seems to consider those to be the same thing. Careless language leading to careless thinking?

a joke (1)

mr_tommy (619972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299270)

The original article (published in the Indepedent) was a well though, coherent piece of insight about a politically and socially sensative subject. The 'debunking' of it is, on the other hand, a piece that can be ranked little higher than childish writing. The author is part of a movement that (as with many lobbist groups) seems completely ignorant of reality, and is engulfed in their own message find it hard to assess properly another reasonable argument.
Mindless moaning you might say? Wrong. It's because of people like this writer that the public at large is scared / paranoid unduely about the Nuclear industry. ICBM's with nuclear warheads are a field apart from the clean, reliable energy source that is nuclear power. As the original article rightly concludes, 1/3 of us will die from cancer / cancer related diseases, and the carcinogens aren't coming from nuclear power stations.

wait a second (1)

cluge (114877) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299273)


This is a joke right? It's April first? - no thats not it. May day? - nope Then why on God's green earth (Pun's intended) would this article be considered even mildly slashdot worthy?

Oh - 3 day weekend, beer + article submission = crap

Got it - knew it was something.

Sarcasm isn't a Solution (3, Insightful)

Null_Packet (15946) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299275)

Bruce Sterling has written some decent material in the past, but I have to say the link to his Blog demonstrates a complete lack of an ability to carry on a conversation. Reading it makes it sound like Lovelock's argument is constantly trailed by smartass remarks and links, with never a solid argument to be found by Sterling.

For God's sake, this is Sterling's blog? I would expect a paragraph AT LEAST at the end to mark Bruce's idea or assertion, but instead his page/article left me more confused and with the impression Sterling just hates Lovelock instead of having a good counter-point.

"So what" all around (2, Interesting)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299310)

Electricity generation is only a fraction of fossil fuel use. Industrial process heat, living space heating, and vehicles will produce almost as much greenhouse gas as we do today even if, like France, we go almost-all-nuclear for the power grid.

We could go to electric vehicles but not with today's generation of batteries. The battery pack in my Prius weighs about a hundred pounds and stores only as much energy as a few ounces of gasoline.

Things get interesting if we could build small reactors economically and operate them safely with off-the-shelf personnel. Then you could have nuclear cogeneration systems where a factory has its own reactor to generate electricity and generate heat for factory processes. Pebble-bed reactors promise to fill this role, if they work as expected.

Nuclear power is bad, because... (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299316)

...it can also be used in a devastating weapon.
Gasoline (oil) is therefore also bad, due to the existance of napalm.
Electricity must be horrendous, because of the electric chair.
Coal is bad because gunpowder exists.

Jesus, Bruce...any energy source can be compacted and used as a weapon.

Prosperity through mass destruction! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9299323)

Neat concept! ;-)

Riiight... (3, Insightful)

rkkwon (784423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299325)

"You know, I sense the makings of a really good, sensible deal here. Shut off the carbon. Destroy the coal companies and oil companies. Use nukes for fifty years while developing sustainable energy. Then shut off the nukes. Become fully sustainable. Legislate that all, worldwide, with global diplomacy."

Bwahahahahahahahahahaaaa....

Anyway.

I think addressing why this guys vision for the future is totally freaking insane is an exercise in futility, akin to debunking the moon landing hoax or creationist websites. It's just not worth the effort, because no matter how well reasoned or cited (to be honest, the article he was ripping was neither) you're dealing with a true believer.

But regardless, the fact he fails to even suggest a realistic alternative is telling. And while risks of global warming and nuclear power are real, most people seem to be happy enough with the current system i.e. we use fossil fuels until it becomes more efficient to use something else. As the price of gas rises, we increase our usage of alternative energy sources. Until then _very few people actually give a damn_, at least in the sense of "I'll give up my SUV", much less "I'm willing to give up the internal combustion engine."

No doubt global warming may cause us problems in the future, at which point we will have to deal with them. I don't think it's clear that a massive investment of time and money to completely overhaul our energy policies (and therefore, our economic and social policies) is really any better than dealing with the problem 50 years from now. Who know what will happen between now and then?

I could be convinced, but present some evidence at least. Even a shred or two would be nice after that boatload ill written and scientifically inept crap.

show of spectacular ignorance (5, Insightful)

Bob Loblaw (545027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299348)

... or just classic misdirection of a discussion to argue the absurd. Both sides of the nuclear debate use this technique.

Q:"Is nuclear power useful?"
A:"No, you idiot, nukes are bad!"

Q:"Is waste from nuclear power managable?"
A:"Would you hippies rather be breathing coal dust?"

Never answer the question ... just answer the question that you wished was asked that makes the other side look stupid ... oh and make sure your answer is derogatory.

How about some discussion regarding breeder vs. non-breeder reactors. Or half-life of waste. Or decommissioning of reactors. Or standardized independent safety inspection and rules ... nope ... everyone would rather spew the same old rhetoric that has been regurgitated for nearly 60 years. Surely we have learned something in all that time to add to the debate?

Viridian RSS (2, Informative)

Torgo X (784442) | more than 10 years ago | (#9299353)

I hereby festoon you all the Viridian RSS feed [interglacial.com] . Much handier than getting the Viridian list in email.
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