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Environmentalists Coming Around to Nuclear Power?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the background-research-results-just-coming-in dept.

1092

Heywood J. Blaume writes "In a Washington Post editorial Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, now says he was wrong about opposing nuclear power 30 years ago. In the article he addresses common myths about nuclear power, and puts forth the position that nuclear power is the only feasible, affordable power source that can solve today's growing environmental and energy policy issues. From the article: 'Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.'"

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It's about time (3, Insightful)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144987)

The logic behind using safe forms of nuclear power has been clear for a long, long time. It's nice to see some greens finally start accepting what has been obvious to some of us for 30 or 40 years. Now I'm curious how long it will be before the same people start realizing that they have been duped about global warming -- by the same people who duped us about the "coming Ice Age" and hundreds of millions of people supposedly dying of hunger from overpopulation in the '70s. The same crackpots who have been feeding us false predictions are still being given credibility today. Why people such as Lester Brown and Paul Erlich are given any credibility is beyond logic.

David

Re:It's about time (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145006)

ohhhhh you are so gonna get flamed!!!

It is real, look out the window (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145028)

Global warming and climate change are real and undenyable. All it takes is some sampling of weather patterns over the past few hundred years (since we have been recording them) to note the drastic shifts in the past few decades.

It is absolutely not refutable that change is occuring. What is refuta ble is whether or not it is because of a natural cycle, or because of man-made change.

But the thing is, it does not matter what the cause is. If the cycle continues it will certainly, without a doubt, lead to the death of us as a civilization, whether we were the cause or not.

Hence the concern. It doesn't matter if we are the root cause or not, we're the only species on the planet with the capability to reduce and possibly reverse the cycle.

Re:It is real, look out the window (4, Funny)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145099)

I concur! There seems to be a lot more hot air circulating around Slashdot . . .

Re:It is real, look out the window (2, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145101)

If the cycle continues it will certainly, without a doubt, lead to the death of us as a civilization, whether we were the cause or not.

Yeah, shorter winters and longer growing seasons. I'm out of my mind with panic already.

Re:It is real, look out the window (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145147)

not everywhere the winters get shorter by this.

and besides, you know the domino theory, if the domino starts to fall, and it will eventually 'fall on your crops' so there's no environment for your stuff to grow in, what exactly will the long summer be good for ?

i wouldn't be so obsessed with end-of-the-world theory though, things are just going to change and we'll see what's going to happen. it aint good but right now we can't anymore do much about it neither, too little too late.

ps. if you drive a suv and drive it alone to get to your office which 2km away and you take a 10km route to do it, i still hate you :)

Re:It is real, look out the window (1)

irablum (914844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145190)

ps. if you drive a suv and drive it alone to get to your office which 2km away and you take a 10km route to do it, i still hate you :)
I have an SUV. a Suburban. A Big one. and I drive alone to work every day. but not in that. at $3 per gallon it sits in the driveway for those times when my wife must go to the store dragging kids (which isn't more than 2 or 3 times a week) I drive an old 300 ZX that gets >20 mpg (sorry, can't afford a better car w/ better mileage). And I drive 55 miles to work each direction.

Ira

Re:It is real, look out the window (1, Insightful)

DirePickle (796986) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145161)

And droughts. And more powerful storms. And the melting of the glaciers on Greenland and Antarctica, and the resulting 10' rise in oceans heights. And the disruption of the jet stream to northern Europe. And the ensuing famines. And the flooding of coastal areas.

Certainly, as a people the world can surely overcome the coming troubles, but it won't be pleasant. You want to take in the tens of millions of displaced people? If you're in the US, do you remember the trouble that the loss of part of one city caused, last year?

Sure, maybe the hundreds of scientists are wrong. But, you know, maybe they're right too? Shouldn't an attempt be made to curtail some of this?

Re:It is real, look out the window (2, Insightful)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145105)

> It is absolutely not refutable that change is occuring. What is refuta ble is whether or not it is because of a natural cycle, or because of man-made change.
>
>But the thing is, it does not matter what the cause is. If the cycle continues it will certainly, without a doubt, lead to the death of us as a civilization, whether we were the cause or not.
>
>Hence the concern. It doesn't matter if we are the root cause or not, we're the only species on the planet with the capability to reduce and possibly reverse the cycle.

Boy, am I glad you weren't gloabl emperor in the 70s when "it was absolutely not refutable" that the problem was global cooling, and not warming.

That's the indelicate way of saying that it bloody well does matter what the cause is, because unless you understand the cause, you're likely to apply the wrong solution, because the correct solution to "natural" global cooling in the 70s would have been to ignite every coal seam on fire in order to dump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as possible to keep things warm.

Re:It is real, look out the window (2, Insightful)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145111)

It's not a question of whether or not we can do anything about it, it's whether we should. Why should we tune the ecosystem to our own benefit, when the planet has gone through things like ice-ages which have only served to refine the life here?

A lot hinges on the question of whether the changes are our doing. If they're not, we should adapt ourselves, not the planet. If they are, we need to start controlling ourselves. Your view of the solution sounds a bit external to humans ("reverse the cycle") for my tastes, though my impression may be wrong.

Re:It is real, look out the window (1)

sendtwogrey (967794) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145138)

But the thing is, it does not matter what the cause is. If the cycle continues it will certainly, without a doubt, lead to the death of us as a civilization, whether we were the cause or not.

No, life will go on. If we slip into and Ice age the landmasses on the equator will be habitable or the northern and southern extremes should we slip the other way. A nuclear winter from the fight over who will own the land masses may be another story.

Re:It is real, look out the window (4, Insightful)

Golias (176380) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145165)

But the thing is, it does not matter what the cause is. If the cycle continues it will certainly, without a doubt, lead to the death of us as a civilization, whether we were the cause or not.

I was with you up until that point.

We don't know whether another three degrees of warming over the next century (which is what the most pessimistic of Global Warming predictors are saying will happen regardless of what changes we make) will, on balance, be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing.

Historically, periods of warm climates have been more prosperous for mankind than cool eras, because most of the land in the world lies outside the tropics.

All the Ice melting off Greenland might suck if you live in Venice, New Orleans, or some other port town that is mostly below sea level, but it's the best news ever if you've invested in any arctic real estate.

I'm a big fan of going to nuclear as an incrimental step towards Solar, fusion, or some other, better power source... not because I buy in to "greenhouse" climate models, but rather because I like the idea of cleaner air in our cities. It just plain makes sense, no matter which side of the Global Warming debate you are on.

Re:It's about time (1)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145039)

There were real safety concerns about nuclear power 30 to 40 years ago, especially about nuclear waste. Now, technology has advanced enough that modern reactors produce much less high-level waste, and the risks of meltdown or other accident have been reduced greatly with new reactor designs.

I fully support the building of modern nuclear reactors to replace coal and other high-pollutant non-renewable sources of energy, but I would not support nuclear using the reactors that were being protested against so heavily in the 1970s, and I probably would have been protesting against them too.

Re:It's about time (2, Informative)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145073)

If anyone wants a good read about the environmental movement, check out Paul Driessen's Eco-Imperialism [amazon.com] . It changed my mind. He lays out how environmental movements are holding back development in the third world (keeping poor people's living standards low) with their misguided policies.

Re:It's about time (2, Insightful)

dynamo52 (890601) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145079)

While I disagree with your comments on global warming, I also think that it is about ime environmentalists came around to nuclear energy. If managed properly, nuclear can greatly alleviate our energy problems. Waste can be stored in a safe and isolated location and modern plants have almost no chance of meltdowns.

The environmental movement today has become a front for anti-corporate activists.

Re:It's about time (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145083)

Because it isn't just the two people you mention who talk about Global Climate Change - it's an entire section of physicists that have come to largely the same conclusions. I wonder how long you'll be in denial?

Also, the technologies that make nuclear power safe today did not exist 40 years ago. To argue that you knew for 40 years that nuclear power is safe simply demonstrates that you argue from dogma, not science. Today's pebble reactors have nothing in common with the heavy water reactors from a couple of decades ago.

Re:It's about time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145087)

But wait! don't we have to 'evolve' into nearly advantageless hybrid cars? and then to hydrogen? and THEN realize that nukes are the only thing that can provide enough power if we are ever to cease hits on the crude oil crackpipe? (which will, in several hundred years dry up)

Hear Hear!

Mod me flamebait, or not at all, but at some point myths need to be put to bed to move beyond what amounts to knee-jerk wives tails.

If the US ever lets go of its nuke paranoia at least we already got over the assertions that battery leaks in collisions will be devistating.

All verified with the codeword 'missile', how delectably ironic

The shape of things to come? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145110)

Nuclear power [economist.com]

The shape of things to come?

Jul 7th 2005
From The Economist print edition

Climate change is helping a revival of the nuclear industry, though its economics still look dodgy

[Image] [economist.com] (Alamy)

THINGS have not gone well for the nuclear industry over the past quarter century or so. First came the Three Mile Island accident in America in 1979, then the disaster at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine in 1986. In Japan, Tokyo Electric Power, the world’s largest private electricity company, shut its 17 nuclear reactors after it was caught falsifying safety records to hide cracks at some of its plants in 2002. And the attacks on September 11th 2001 were a sharp reminder that the risks of nuclear power generation were not only those inherent in the technology.

Nor was safety the only worry: there were financial problems too. British Energy, Britain’s nuclear-energy operator, required successive government bail-outs. Britain also recently finalised a £50 billion ($90 billion) scheme to deal with the nuclear-waste liabilities of British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), an inept re-processor of nuclear waste that is itself bust.

But lately, things have brightened for the nuclear industry. In Asia, which never turned against it in the way the West did, the prospects are excellent. China already has nine nuclear reactors, and is planning to commission a further 30. New capacity is being built or considered in India, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Russia has several plants under construction.

Now western governments are increasingly looking anew at nuclear energy. A few weeks ago TVO, a Finnish consortium, started work on the first new nuclear plant to be built on either side of the Atlantic in a decade. Pertti Simola, TVO’s chief executive, proclaims that, “Finland has opened the door to a new nuclear era! Many western countries will come behind us.”

France’s parliament has recently given its approval for a new nuclear plant. Guillaume Dureau of Areva, the world’s largest nuclear supplier, captures the dizzy mood that has overtaken vendors: “We are pretty convinced of a nuclear revival and [we] need to prepare for it. We need to hire 1,000 engineers.”

Despite its earlier doldrums, the nuclear industry is still a sizeable business. In 2004 Areva had sales of €6.6 billion ($8.2 billion). That figure includes mining uranium, designing power plants and reprocessing waste fuel. General Electric’s nuclear division, which designs and builds plants but does not handle fuel or waste, turned over about $1.1 billion last year (its turnover was double that figure if sales of non-nuclear bits of nuclear plants, such as generators and turbines, are included). Westinghouse, an American brand currently owned by BNFL, which recently put it up for sale, had sales of around £1.1 billion ($2 billion).

The main reason for the shift is climate change. As it has risen up the political agenda, so the impetus for a nuclear revival has grown.

More, and more respected, voices have been making the case that nuclear energy is essential if the rate of change is to be slowed. As a result, there is an unlikely alliance between the nuclear industry and many environmentalists, as a growing number of greens have come to believe that nuclear energy is the best way to reduce carbon emissions. Industry lobbyists are finding support from unexpected areas. Keith Parker of the Nuclear Industry Association, a British trade group, points to a recent quote from James Lovelock, a founder of Greenpeace: “Only nuclear power can halt global warming.”

Scientists are also lending their support. Sir David King, Tony Blair’s chief scientist, recently argued that one further generation of nuclear power stations is needed (in Britain at least) to buy time, in order to keep down emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, while new carbon-free non-nuclear technologies are developed. He thinks that renewable sources of energy are not currently up to the task: “We need another generation of nuclear-fission stations.” Others agree. The World Nuclear Association, an industry body, dismisses its green rivals in a recent report: “the potential scope for renewables contributing to the electricity supply is very much less because the sources, particularly solar and wind, are diffuse, intermittent and unreliable.”

Such opinions have caused consternation among nuclear energy’s long-standing opponents, notably Europe’s green movement. Anti-nuclear sentiment was so strong in Germany at the end of the 1990s that the ruling socialist-green alliance banned new plants. Sweden was the first country to turn against nuclear plants, in a referendum back in 1980; at the end of May it shut down its second nuclear plant. Yet in both countries opinion polls suggest waning public opposition to the nuclear option. Indeed, Germany’s Christian Democrats now say they may overturn the ban if they win the forthcoming national election. In Finland, says TVO’s Mr Simola, concern about climate change was the chief reason why his country pushed ahead with the new power plant.

In America, although the Bush administration remains hostile to any mandatory action on slowing global warming, it is keen to boost nuclear power. That has led some greens to take the view that a nuclear revival is better than doing nothing much about climate change. Leaders of respected environmental outfits such as Environmental Defence and the World Resources Institute have recently made positive noises about nuclear power as part of a response to global warming.

Of course, nuclear power is not the only carbon emission-free option. Making existing energy production more efficient, and reducing waste in the use of energy by consumers, would have a big economic and environmental impact. Renewable energy sources such as wind and waves have plenty of backers.

There are also direct rivals to new nuclear plants, such as fossil-fuel plants with carbon sequestration that can provide baseload power. A flurry of investment and experimentation, from Algeria to China to America, is already under way in this area.

Vattenfall, a Swedish nuclear utility, is investing in technology to remove carbon from its newish coal plants in eastern Germany and Poland. Cinergy, an American utility just bought by Duke, is looking into coal gasification and carbon sequestration in Indiana. A Scottish consortium led by BP recently announced the first commercial-scale project to produce carbon-free power from natural gas, re-injecting the waste carbon dioxide into fields in the North Sea--thus not only storing the gas underground, but also enhancing hydrocarbon recovery from the field. And combined heat and power, which allows companies and householders to use the heat created by power generation as well as the electricity it produces, is booming. But the nuclear industry has the momentum right now. That’s partly because its economics have improved markedly.

Better management allows companies to make existing plants much more efficient. In America, for instance, the country’s 103 nuclear plants are no longer owned by individual municipalities. “Nuclear consolidators are the key,” argues Michael Wallace of Constellation Energy, a utility that owns several plants and hence can retain good managers, share best practices, gain economies in maintaining parts and inventories and so on. The top ten nuclear firms now own 61% of the sector. Exelon, the largest firm, has a 15% share. American nuclear power plants’ capacity utilisation has risen from 56% in 1984 to more than 90% today.

This is a lesson that France had already learned, says Bernard Dupraz of Electricité de France. EDF is responsible for all the country’s nuclear plants. Unlike America, where no two nuclear plants are exactly alike, France stuck with a few standard designs. “We standardised nuclear plants like Ford did the Model T.” The results: 20% lower operating costs and 30-40% lower capital costs than those of one-off designs used elsewhere, notably in Britain.

CERA, a consultancy, calculates that 31 countries have commercial nuclear-power reactors today. Taken together, these 439 reactors produce about 16% of the world’s electricity, worth annually $100 billion-125 billion. And the pot is growing.

Expansion in China alone is likely to involve some $50 billion or more of capital spending. That’s quite a prize--though it is important to put China’s nuclear interest into perspective. Even if it really builds all 30 mooted plants, nuclear power will still make up only about 5% of its electricity mix in 2030. Meanwhile, natural gas is expected to grow from a 1% share today to over 6%, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In many power markets today, nuclear electricity is the cheapest you can buy. Entergy’s deregulated nuclear plants produced 13% of its revenues but a quarter of its profits last year. It costs German utilities perhaps 1.5 (American) cents per kW-hour to make nuclear electricity, estimates Vincent Gilles of UBS, an investment bank, but they can sell it for three times that amount once credits from Europe’s carbon-trading scheme are included. In contrast, it costs 3.1-3.8 cents to produce power from natural gas in Germany and 3.8-4.4 cents to produce it from coal. In America, where there is no mandatory carbon regulation (and hence no penalty on fossil fuels), nuclear power has less of an edge: coal power costs about 2 cents per kW-hour on average today, gas-fired power costs about 5.7 cents, while nuclear cranks out electricity at 1.7 cents or so.

But the economic case is not as clear-cut as it seems. The costs of nuclear power produced by existing plants are likely to be far lower than the costs of newly built plants, because the capital costs of nuclear plants--typically reflecting half to two-thirds the value of the project in present-value terms--are long forgotten. Most of today’s plants were built in an era when central planners or state utility boards had no idea of the true cost of capital. Today’s low interest rates are good for big capital projects like nuclear, but those rates may change sharply in the future. At the same time, gas and oil prices--whose current astronomical levels enhance nuclear’s charms--may well fall.

Subsidy, what subsidy?

[Image: Mid-term generating costs of new power plants] [economist.com]

Critics also argue that the best designs the nuclear industry can come up with are not competitive with rival energy technologies in the open market. The nuclear industry points to some studies that seem to suggest that nuclear plants might be economic if only their “life cycle” benefits (such as lack of greenhouse gases) and their rivals’ disadvantages (such as fuel costs for natural gas plants) are factored in.

For example, the Nuclear Energy Agency, an arm of the OECD, has just released a study done jointly with the International Energy Agency (IEA). After reviewing the economics, it seems to conclude that there is indeed a bright future for nuclear: “on a global scale, there is room and need for all baseload technologies.” Assuming a discount rate of 5%, it argues that the cost of generating power from new nuclear plants would cost between $21/MW-hour and $31/MW-hour; costs for gas-fired power, it reckons, would range from $37/MW-hour to $60/MW-hour. (The report also assumes high gas prices, which favour nuclear, a view contradicted by the IEA’s official forecast of a medium-term reduction in gas prices.)

But there’s plenty of scope for argument about the economics of nuclear power generation, because they are so sensitive to assumptions about the cost of power from other sources. As Ed Cummins of Westinghouse insists, “The biggest motivator for nuclear today is $6 [the price per MBtu] natural gas. If gas goes back to $3.50, then nuclear plants aren’t competitive.”

The other source of uncertainty is the disposal of radioactive waste. That’s what messed up the economics of Britain’s nuclear programme: Britain decided to reprocess its waste, which proved hugely expensive. America, by contrast, just stuck it in swimming pools--literally--at the power plants. The current consensus is that the best solution is geological storage--that is, to bury the waste very deep. The bad news is that nobody is making much progress getting there, or knows how much it will all cost in the end.

Taking into account the uncertainties, most studies done on nuclear economics (including the most authoritative ones, done by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and by Britain’s Royal Institute of International Affairs) conclude that new plants built by the private sector, with investors bearing the full brunt of risks, are not economic without subsidy.

Though nuclear vendors are promising that their new designs will cost only $1,500 per kW of installed capacity, that assumes ideal conditions and no delays. A more realistic assessment (indeed, the consensus view among experts not aligned with the nuclear industry) is that new plants will probably cost close to $2,000 per kW. That may be less in real terms than the capital cost of previous generations of nuclear plants, but it is still about double the capital cost of a conventional coal plant today. The upshot of all this is that even today’s cheaper, safer nuclear designs are still more expensive than coal or gas.

The money men are not very enthusiastic. Standard & Poor’s, a rating agency, recently declared, “The industry’s legacy of cost growth, technological problems, cumbersome political and regulatory oversight, and the newer risks brought about by competition and terrorism may keep credit risk too high for even (federal legislation that provides loan guarantees) to overcome.”

Part of the problem is that nuclear plants are seen as too “lumpy” and uncertain as investments. A 1,000MW nuclear plant would cost $2 billion and take at least five years to build. A coal plant of that size would cost perhaps $1.2 billion and take three to four years, while a combined-cycle gas plant that size costs about $500m and takes less than two years to get up and running. The bigger the project, the more susceptible it is to delays--and UBS’s Mr Gilles estimates that a two-year delay in nuclear projects wipes out 20-25% of the project’s value to investors.

Political risk is a problem, too. The links between nuclear power and weapons hurt the business--as was sharply illustrated last week. Westinghouse was in the bidding against French and Russian companies for a Chinese contract. But the House of Representatives, fearful of giving China access to American nuclear know-how, voted down a $5 billion loan from America’s Export-Import Bank.

So, if the economics are so unpromising, why is so much nuclear capacity being built? Some of it--in China, for instance--may be the result of mixed motives. China could be after the technology that America wants to deny it. Security might also be a factor: energy importers may want a proportion of their needs met by sources over which they have control.

Nuclear fans point to Finland where a private consortium seems to have managed to finance a new power plant without government subsidy. But was it done without subsidies or unfair state aid? Absolutely, insists TVO’s Mr Simola. “You must be joking,” retorts UBS’s Mr Gilles.

In fact, the answer is unclear. TVO is a consortium involving six shareholders--but one of them is a state-owned utility, Fortum. TVO’s owners are also its only customers. Some of those customers are big paper and pulp companies, who use a lot of power; others are municipalities, which may not be sensitive to market economics. Indeed, the €3 billion deal is not a conventional commercial transaction. Mr Simola explains that there is a lifetime power-purchase contract agreed at zero profit: “We pay dividends in the form of competitive power,” he jokes.

The plant is to be built by France’s Areva on a fixed-price bid. If there are delays or massive cost overruns, Areva must cover them. Areva’s Mr Dureau vigorously denies that French government ownership means that that country’s taxpayers will be subsidising Finnish power: his firm will yield all its assets and go bust before the French taxpayer will pay a penny, he insists. But if it does go bust, the French taxpayer must write that cheque to TVO.

Even if the Finnish experiment is not explicitly subsidised, the model may nevertheless be tricky to replicate elsewhere. If it can be--and there is some interest in France and America among heavy energy users--then the nuclear industry may yet be justified in claiming that new nuclear plants can be built without state aid.

Yet most studies reckon that even a moderate carbon tax would not make nuclear power generation competitive in a free energy market. Europe’s emissions-trading system (ETS) is, in effect, that sort of a tax. And according to Oxera, a British consultancy, even with that implicit tax on carbon-based power generation, new nuclear plants would not be economic without government help.

But if the implicit tax rose, that might change. The point of a carbon tax is to reflect the cost to society of damage that using carbon does. Setting a price on those social costs is difficult. Europe’s ETS implies that the social costs of carbon dioxide are €20 per tonne; but a British government study in 2002 estimated them at £70 (€112). Such estimates are necessarily vague; but if that higher figure is fed into Oxera’s model, new nuclear plants begin to look economically viable.

However, politics make it unlikely that carbon is going to pay its full social costs--for some time to come. That’s why some governments--including America’s--are thinking of subsidising nuclear instead.

President Bush is trying to shoehorn a provision into his energy bill that would give the nuclear industry about $500m in insurance against the risk of regulatory delays, and a further $6 billion or so in subsidies now being considered for new nuclear plants. American utilities want several billion dollars for the engineering and construction costs associated with building the first three or four such plants. They are also hoping for over $500m in subsidies to go through the licensing process, and an extension of the government’s blanket insurance policy against catastrophic accidents.

They may get them. There’s a powerful business lobby in America that’s hostile to the idea of importing emissions trading from Europe. Subsidising nuclear is one of the only ways of squaring that lobby’s interests with the electorate’s rising awareness of the need to do something about climate change. With President Bush and the tree-huggers both on its side, the nuclear industry is back in the game.
 
::: yfnET

Re:It's about time (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145179)

He's wrong, though, at least on some points. For example:

Three Mile Island was the only serious accident in the history of nuclear energy generation in the United States.

Um, did you forget about Brown's Ferry? The Fermi breeder? Ginna plant? I could easily keep going.

The multi-agency U.N. Chernobyl Forum reported last year that 56 deaths could be directly attributed to the accident, most of those from radiation or burns suffered while fighting the fire.

The problem with the accident was the large swath of Belarus and sizable chunk of the Ukraine that it rendered uninhabitable, not the number of immediate deaths. A major problem at Indian Point would render the US's largest city uninhabitable, sending the US economy into the toilet.

No one has died of a radiation-related accident in the history of the U.S. civilian nuclear reactor program.

How about Wood River Junction for an example.

Don't get me wrong - I support nuclear power. But lets support it with facts, shall we? There have been many accidents in the history of nuclear power generation, even with designs as modern as the CANDU. What has repeatedly saved us is containment structures. As long as there's a containment structure, I'm generally happy with it. But take it away (for example, PBMRs), and it's a different story.

Wow (0, Offtopic)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144991)

and I was wrong about never trying for a first post!

Re:Wow (1)

RockModeNick (617483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145008)

Trying and failing, that is. Of course, I'm glad to hear this, because having had the brookhaven labs reactor in my backyard all my life, I'm not in the least bit worried about reactors. They are safe to operate, and the wastes the produce, while terrible, are containable.

Its pronounced nukular. (3, Insightful)

Cowclops (630818) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144992)

I've always said that nuclear is the way to go... while there are implications in the extreme long term as far as what you do with the wastes, there are no blaring short term problems like running out of coal and oil or spewing waste directly into the air.

Re:Its pronounced nukular. (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145045)

Unless you count highly toxic (and slightly radioactive) mine tailings and enrichment plant by-products. And what to do with old reactor parts that have been exposed to neutron flux for 30 years.

Re:Its pronounced nukular. (2, Insightful)

Nef (46782) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145162)

Those parts that are up to snuff (e.g. negligible hardening and change in NDT) should be refurbed/reused. Those that are not could be melted down, including a process to remove activated isotopes in the process, and re-used to create new parts!

Re:Its pronounced nukular. (2, Interesting)

Zerbs (898056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145085)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the uranium ore radioactive to begin with when it's dug out of the ground? The difference is it has been concentrated for use as nuclear fuel in the reactor. Why can't they find a way to re-dilute the end products?

It took 30 years... (2, Interesting)

C-Diddy (755183) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144994)

...for this "progressive" voice to come around to nuclear power. Heck, if it's good enough for socialist France, why not here in the US?

That "progressive" voice (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145131)

I don't necessarily disagree with his thinking, but it's worth having some perspective on how "progressive" his voice really is. I saw mention of this editorial on DailyKOS in this article [dailykos.com] yesterday. Notable quote:

"Moore may indeed have been an early Greenpeace member, in the distant mists, but more recently can be better described as the founder of Greenspirit Enterprises, a consulting organization focused on improving the environmental PR of his mining, logging, biotech and energy industry clients."

I'm not saying he's full of it, but before we say that even environmental progressives are re-thinking nuclear, it might be useful to actually get the thoughts of people still in the progressive environmental movement.

Re:It took 30 years... (1)

flink (18449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145187)

Heck, if it's good enough for socialist France, why not here in the US?

I wouldn't say that Socialism and enviromentalism are necessarly linked. I mean the Soviets weren't exactly green were they? ;-)

Wrong disaster (1)

ballpoint (192660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144995)

Global warming is not the pending disaster, energy shortage is.

Wrong again! (1)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145130)

No wait, it's overpopulation!

No, now it's Iran's nuclear program!

Argh, it's changed again! Now it's back to global warming!

Now the sky is falling!

Lack of drinkable water!

Now we're getting cancer from ozone depletion!

smug? (-1, Flamebait)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144996)

Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too,

I think you are full of shit, and the rest of the world needs to update its views about you, too...

Re:smug? -- makes two of you (1)

ameline (771895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145107)

Your post is probably the first I've read on /. that I would use mod points to mod down. It is your good fortune (and possibly everyone else's bad) that I don't happen to have any at the moment.

I guess I'm feeling like I have karma to burn today :-)

Re:smug? (1)

shadow-9 (755814) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145150)

If this guy can change so completely after finding proof, what else is he wrong about right now? Maybe whale killing isn't as bad as it's seemed to him either all those years ago . . .

With the technology of 30 years ago... (2, Insightful)

rthille (8526) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144997)

He was probably right to oppose nuclear power. Certainly we have better technology today to make safer nuclear power. Again, nuclear power will never be completely safe, but neither is wind, hydro, nor coal. Conservation, both thru individual action and thru technology are probably the safest 'forms of power', but they would never be enough.
It is time to bring nuclear power back into the discourse about our energy needs, but I'm not sure it's time to start building plants as fast as we can either...

Environmentalists /= anti-nuke (4, Insightful)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15144999)

I've been an environmentalist all my life; planted close to 10,000 trees, maintain habitat for the critters, that sort of thing. No small expense or effort. I consider myself to be more of an environmentalist than some bozo with a "save the (whatever)" pin that only gets angry about things and doesn't actually do anything to improve the situation.

That said, I'm puzzled at the attitude the submitter apparently has, in that he seems to be describing environmentalists, and pro-nuke-power people, as two separate groups. To me, nuke is an obvious choice. If you need no other explaination, see how the anti-nuke people resort to blatant lies and unrealistic comparisons in order to get people to _feel_ that it's bad. The pro-nuke side goes with science so people _think_ about, and _understand_ the issues.

My point, I guess, is that this isn't surprising or new, some guy who left Greenpeace when it diverted from his POV is just saying what so many other environmentalists have known for decades. I'm not sure this is news, other than that whoever this guy is, is saying it.

Re:Environmentalists /= anti-nuke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145034)

There are more trees now in North America than there were when Columbus landed in 1492. (source: Cato institute)

So why are you planting trees again?

Re:Environmentalists /= anti-nuke (1)

EntropyXP (956792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145178)

This comment above is the sole reason I can't freakin stand the pedantic losers that troll slashdot. OMFG! Get a life you pathetic moron. As for the guy plants all the trees... keep em' coming, Johny Appleseed. I just wish that Johny Appleseed had really been named Johny Marijuanaseed!

Re:Environmentalists /= anti-nuke (2, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145076)

I'm not sure this is news, other than that whoever this guy is, is saying it.

The real news, if you RTFA, is that his former green bretheren still treat him like a pariah for... being rational.

Re:Environmentalists /= anti-nuke (4, Insightful)

bnenning (58349) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145118)

To me, nuke is an obvious choice.

That's because you're a rational environmentalist who wants to actually protect the environment, as opposed to the utopians who want to Change the World.

Obvious Simpsons quote (2, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145001)

Excellent...

At last.. (1)

SlyW (966913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145002)

And I thought we were going to have to wait for colonization of Terminus before everyone agreed that Nuclear power is the best power.

He came around a long time ago (4, Informative)

moonbender (547943) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145004)

This isn't a new thing, as the article (summary) implies. Moore has had this stance for a while now. Here's a 2004 Wired article [wired.com] on this "Eco-Traitor."

Posts? (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145011)

I think its a good step in the right direction. I think nuclear power doesn have the potential to be a very positive energy source now and to the future. I've always been a little environmentalist, but I never really understood the outcry from others about how evil nuclear is.

The technology may have been iffy in its advent, and even though there is bi-product, try comparing it with oil/coal burning and its quantum leap forward IMHO. I think the bigger -hate- for Nuclear came from the common roots of environmentalists and anti-war crowds. It was just assumed de-facto that nuclear was an ill to this world like land mines and chemical weapons. It -can- have a positive purpose if used correctly.

It doesn't solve the small-scale atonimous energy factory (car) problems, but it could at least cut down on the other energy waste going.

Re:Posts? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145100)

It doesn't solve the small-scale atonimous energy factory (car) problems...

Actually nuclear in conjunction with hydrogen power does just that. Hydrogen is only as dirty as the means used to produce it. So use nuclear to extract hydrogen for hydrogen fueled cars and we get a fairly significant reduction in pollution.

That said for now hydrogen is still too early to deal with (I am a realist), but a switch to nuclear, espicaly with the very safe Pebble Bed reactor design, certainly would be a great start.

I'm all for nuclear power (2, Insightful)

Swampfeet (758961) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145013)

and wish we had moved to it in a big way the way France has, but this Moore fellow is an easily discredited shill for industry. He's not the representative we want to advance our cause. Richard Rhodes [nci.org] , James Lovelock [energybulletin.net] , and Bernard Cohen [pitt.edu] have a hell of a lot better credibility.

Egads! (1)

TheJediGeek (903350) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145015)

Wouldn't that imply that they were more focused on the politics of the environmental movement rather than the science of it?

Seriously, 30 years to realize that nuclear power is viable, and the other environmentalists still need to figure this out?

This is the kind of thing that makes me keep my distance from most organized environmental groups. Too much political pandering without paying attention to the real situation.

As a side note, how long do you have to wait in between posting? I can't help it if I read fast and have opinions about stories faster than the system will allow me.

And in another 30 years? (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145017)

So 30 years from now, what new things will we be hearing the environmentalists say they were wrong about? And what price will we have paid for heeding their advice?

Maybe people should use their own judgement, thoughtfully weigh all the facts, and consider the consequences instead of just doing whatever some environmental activists say.

Re:And in another 30 years? (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145149)

Yeah, exactly - cuz because some people in the past were wrong about a specific topic , everyone who says anything about something that makes you uncomfortable has to be wrong too.

How about instead of grasping at straws, you actually look at the data? And I mean, all of the data, not just the one that makes you feel fuzzy and warm?

Patrick Moore is not a modern environmentalist... (1)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145019)

...but he is what they should be.

Patrick Moore was a founder of Green Peace, and he shows up on Penn & Teller Bullshit from time to time.

Although, it's sort of unfair to label him an environmentalist these days... It's not that he's against the environment or anything, just that he has nothing to do with the enivormental movement anymore (he became disenfranchised when he realized the organization he had helped to found became a vehicle for political bashing). So he doesn't really share the views common of modern "environmentalists."

He explains all of this in one of the P&T episodes. I don't remember which one, though.

Re:Patrick Moore is not a modern environmentalist. (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145047)

And I thought Patrick Moore was the monacled presenter of The Sky at Night!

That's putting it mildly. (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145077)

Doesn't really share the views? That's putting it mildly.
When I helped to create Greenpeace from a church basement in Vancouver in 1971 I had no idea that I would spend the next 15 years as an international director and leader of many Greenpeace campaigns. I also had no idea that after I left in 1986 they would evolve into a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics to silence people who wish to express their views in a civilized forum. And I could never have guessed that my former colleague and then teen-age founder of Greenpeace France, Remi Parmentier, would be the one issuing the orders to silence me.
http://www.greenspirit.com/printable.cfm?msid=26 [greenspirit.com]

Patrick Moore plays the xylophone though! (2, Funny)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145124)

/Sorry, mandatory Patrick Moore link [weebls-stuff.com]

Shill! (5, Informative)

rjung2k (576317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145020)

I'd be more impressed if Moore would admit that he's now serving as a consultant for the mining, logging, and energy industries. [greenspiri...tegies.com]

Hell, I'd settle for the Washington Post admitting that they're trying to pull one over its readership. [dailykos.com]

Re:Shill! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145156)

What if he IS, and is advising those industries on what is ecologically sound?

The amount of uranium (3, Insightful)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145021)

I seem to recall that something similar to this was brought up a few months ago here at Slashdot and several seemingly very intelligent posters made citations and pointed out that the amount of uranium we have available that can be processed will last for only a very limited timespan and that nuclear perhaps isn't the best way to go.

Of course, there's always the "we'll run out of oil by 1995" theories running around, but the arguments seemed quite compelling. I can't find them again now, but what's the real deal with this? If the whole world went nuclear, would we all be desperate for sources of uranium in fifty years' time?

Re:The amount of uranium (1)

Cybert8 (968584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145049)

I remember around a two-century time. It is, of course, a lot more energy dense so new sources would go a big way. The future might be in sea water fusion which is practically limitless.

Re:The amount of uranium (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145142)

Yes, that's correct as far as I know. But you know how this will turn out: a couple of people will post the numbers, another few will bash them for those numbers, saying they're either incorrect or irrelevant. And around and around. In the end, no one will be any smarter and the side with more time on their hands will win the debate by having the last word.

born-again big business shill (0, Offtopic)

SledgeHBK (148480) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145022)

I used to think Big Macs were the bomb until I ate a Whopper. Whopper's are much better.

Re:born-again big business shill (1)

Swampfeet (758961) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145061)

and you can get real onions on them, none of this tiny chipped onion crap that McD's uses!

Amazing (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145023)

Wow. I mean... just... wow. I knew that the anti-nuclear movement had long been losing steam, but to get a Greenpeace founder on board? Wow.

Perhaps even more amazing is that he really does understand the pros and cons. His article spells out in plain language that Nuclear power is not dangerous, and that the chance for nuclear weapons is a small risk to take to reduce the amount of pollution coming from coal plants. To read this, you'd think he was a regular on NuclearSpace.com!

Some excellent sound-bites: ... Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power ... ... What nobody noticed [...] was that Three Mile Island was in fact a success story: The concrete containment structure did [...] prevent radiation from escaping into the environment ...

... Wind and solar power have their place, but because they are intermittent and unpredictable they simply can't replace big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric ...

... Within 40 years, used fuel has less than one-thousandth of the radioactivity it had when it was removed from the reactor. And it is incorrect to call it waste, because 95 percent of the potential energy is still contained in the used fuel after the first cycle. ...

(The emphasis is mine. This is the first time I've ever heard a hard-core environmentalist promote nuclear recycling. It's just incredible!)

... And even if a jumbo jet did crash into a reactor and breach the containment, the reactor would not explode. There are many types of facilities that are far more vulnerable, including liquid natural gas plants, chemical plants and numerous political targets. ...

... If we banned everything that can be used to kill people, we would never have harnessed fire. The only practical approach to the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation is [...] to use diplomacy and, where necessary, force ...

Everything he says in his article is basically true. I never thought I'd find myself in 100% agreement with Greenpeace, but at this very moment I can't disagree with anything he's said. Kudos to you, Mr. Moore!

Read up on Patrick Moore please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145132)

For christ sakes, do some reading.

Although he once did, this guy hasn't worked for Greenpeace in decades. He is now a paid public relations flack for the lumber, mining and nuclear industries. He uses his "founder of greenpeace" title specifically to hoodwink people like yourself into thinking that he is an envrionmentalist who has "seen the light", all the while conveniently overlooking the fact that he makes a substantial amount of money selling that title to the highest bidder.

what about nuclear waste? (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145029)

Is nuclear waste any better than the CO2 emissions?

Oh, and according to the current projections, how long will the nuclear reserves last?

Re:what about nuclear waste? (1)

Gates82 (706573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145082)

Yes "nuclear waste" (or waster from a nuclear reactor) is better then the pollution from a coal power plant. With nuclear energy you get hot water and a contained, concentrated radioactive substance. From a coal powerplant you get millions of tons of air pollutants as well as radioactivty. There is plenty of uranium and other radioactive materials locked in coal that is released when burned. A coal powerplant release more radioactive particles in to the atmosphere then nuclear plants do.

--
So who is hotter? Ali or Ali's Sister?

Re:what about nuclear waste? (1)

bevo14 (820443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145153)

Nuclear waste is much easier to manage than fossil fuel emmissions. Radioactive waste can be buried deep underground in secure and hardened structures. C02 and hydrocarbon emmissions just gets released into the air with no form of management or containment at all. So yeah, I think nuclear waste is better.

Re:what about nuclear waste? (1)

Peter Mork (951443) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145189)

According to this site [americanen...ndence.com] , we may have up to 1000 years worth of uranium. Now, this article clearly has an agenda to push, but that figure does not include recycling the uranium. According to the original article, uranium retains 95% of its energy and can be recycled. Thus, even if we assume that 1000 years is an exaggeration, once we factor in the benefits of recycling, a millenium doesn't seem so outrageous.

Yes to more nuke plants! (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145030)

Not only would more nuke plants cut burning coal, the goal of the article's author, if we were aggressive enough in building plants we just might be able to generate enough energy cleaply enough to consider using some of it to get a hydrogen enonomy going. That breaks our dependency on oil imported from nations that range from neutral, at the most optimistic reading, to violently hostile to our very survival.

No guys, biodeisel isn't the answer. Solar isn't the answer. Wind power is promising but it isn't the answer. As the article points out hydro is already maxxed out. Until fusion becomes viable our only sources of energy are fossil fuels, with their polution and political instability or the big N. I vote for building em as fast as we can safely bring em online.

me too (1)

robgue (829997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145033)

i'v e changed my position fairly recently too. it was to do with not only how modern practices are not as dangerous and wasteful as i was lead to believe it once was. really it's about the electrification of the rest of the world. think of china and india. What would be the the ecological consequences of the rest of the world also developing their own electrical infrastructure and to just industrialize in general. Fossil fuel is not the way forward for humanity.

"Nucular" (0, Flamebait)

Thomas Henden (804134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145035)

Nuclear power will probably get much safer the day America no longer has a president who thinks it's spelled 'nucular'...

NIMBYs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145038)

Not In My Back Yard (TM Economist Magazine)

These are the folks that are going to impede nuclear power. just look at the news when the Federal Gov. wants to put waste in some hole somewhere. The locals just go apeshit and start massive legal challenges.

I have to say, I'd be one of them. Regardless of how safe the waste storage is, I don't want to be a home owner who lives near a waste storage facility. I'd be afraid that I'd never be able to sell the house.

ROTFLMFAO: Ludicrous article! (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145042)

"3 mile island was a success story".

Was this article written by the nuke PR folks?

So many holes, so little time.....

Re:ROTFLMFAO: Ludicrous article! (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145123)

Was this article written by the nuke PR folks?

Nope. But you're clearly the exact sort of person he's talking about - who can't see the fundamental difference between the Chernobyl and TMI events.

Re:ROTFLMFAO: Ludicrous article! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145144)

"3 mile island was a success story".

Was this article written by the nuke PR folks?


It was a failure on the part of the folks operating the reactor, but it was a success for people who designed it. Even though the reactor was permitted to overheat, the containment vessel did its job and no radioactive material was released, and nobody was hurt - which means that the safety features were pretty darned successful.

Unfortunately (1, Troll)

Silent sound (960334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145044)

Unfortunately that's A FOUNDER of greenpeace, not greenpeace itself. Greenpeace itself will continue its crusade against nuclear power, despite the clear environmental benefits nuclear power offers over the current standard of fossil fuels. And the media will continue to present greenpeace as if it speaks for the entire environmental movement.

Greenpeace and PETA are between the two of them doing more damage to environmentalism than anyone else in the entire world except the Bush administration itself.

I don't think he was wrong... (1, Interesting)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145046)

after all nuclear power has come a ways in the last 30 years.

Is it our savior now? Yep it is. I know that there are people who seem to feel that we should use less power, kumbaya, blah blah,.. but realistically that is NEVER going to happen. We are junkies for the stuff.

Question is how are we going to continue making the energy we need to keep our habit up.

Nuclear is it.

Why now? Because we have reached a point where even if we don't know what to do with the waste, we're going to have to switch to it anyway and hope that we find a solution in the future. We are fast approaching the point of no return regarding global warming (opinions of G.O.P. lackies not withstanding) so if we're going to keep up this consumption then that's our only choice.

Yeh I Know what some of you are thinking, hydrogen! Don't forget that using current technology it takes a tremendous amount of power to make hydrogen. And how are we going to do that? Solar and wind? Getting there, but not there yet.

So is deferring the issue of dealing with waste going to be THAT bad? Well it's a moot point, we have no choice.

Iranian environmentalists (1)

ppp (218671) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145048)

... need not apply!

Star Wreck (1)

JimXugle (921609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145050)

Tschernobyl? Tschernobyl!!

Fukov!!!!!!!


- Star Wreck [starwreck.com]

What a breath of fresh air (um, literally). (2, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145054)

It's always funny to hear the greenies make fun of the all-too-Texan quirk of mispronouncing "new-cue-ler" while they make the actually meaningful error of not understanding the actual issues at hand. Too bad this guy's old buddies have so rabidly excommunicated him, but they're just as blind in their faith and their Nukes = Evil mantra as they would suggest that an oil-burning, SUV-driving Texan is in his own world view. Critical thinking, people! (both of you!)

Not emission-free (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145056)

I'm not sure he addresses the contention that the whole nuclear power lifecycle, from mining the uranium to decommissioning end-of-life power stations, is a net producer of CO2.

I suspect this is just because we still have fossil fuel-based mining machinery and transport systems, but if we can switch them all to electricity (or hydrogen power derived from electricity) generated from nuclear power then that might squash that objection.

B

Re:Not emission-free (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145154)

I'm not sure he addresses the contention that the whole nuclear power lifecycle, from mining the uranium to decommissioning end-of-life power stations, is a net producer of CO2.

But he does mention something way, way more important: that 95% of the potential energy is still sitting there in the post-reactor material... and that we're just scratching the surface of re-processing the waste and getting many, many times more energy out of the current byproducts ("waste").

Re:Not emission-free (1)

nuke-alwin (606789) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145191)

Take a look at National Geographic April 2006. All forms of energy produce some CO2, but nuclear prodces the least per kilowatt hour of electricity. Wind is worse by a factor of three, and hydro is almost as bad as fossils. And if you are wondering how wind produces so much CO2, consider the amount of concrete required per pylon.

The sad part? (2, Interesting)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145062)

The sad thing is it's now news when someone rationally thinks over their position and changes their mind based on reasoning and evidence.

Yes (2, Insightful)

abscissa (136568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145063)

As an environmentalist, I have always supported nuclear power. However, to suggest that global warming isn't taking place or that it is another "crackpot" idea of the environmentalist movement is simply flat out wrong.

The people who were leading the anti-nuclear movement thirty years ago were not leading scientists and they did not have the equivelent access to information that we do now.

I do not force my views about electrical engineering or molecular physics on everyone, having never stuided these things. Why does everyone feel compelled to contribute to the environmental debate when very, very few have studed environmental science?

enough with this crap! (1)

Meniconi,Nando (666243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145064)

From DailyKos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/4/16/183226/505 [dailykos.com] Bluntly put, Patrick Moore is a paid consultant for the mining, logging, biotech and energy industries, and putting him out as "ex-Greenpeace" is a lot like calling Scooter Libby an "ex-Hill staffer." Moore is indeed more significantly described as founder of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd -- a firm that, if you are a company in the extraction or other environmentally damaging industries, can "assist in communicating your issues".

slashdot punked (1)

dbs_sf (745580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145065)

It's sad to see Slashdot so easily punked. The liberal blogs chewed up this canard yesterday and spit it out. See http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/4/16/183226/505 [dailykos.com] --Dan

When you can't attack the message... (1)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145151)

attack the messenger.

Ahhh, the wonders of getting your butt kicked in a debate...

Not Quite (0, Troll)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145071)

Moore is a paid lobbyist who specializes is garnering favorable press for environmentally destructive mining and energy industries. He's not just ex-Greenpeace, he's an ex-environmentalist who parlayed his prior experience working for Greenpeace into working against it. If you are a major polluter, Moore is the go-to guy for whitewashing your corporate image.

Good news (2, Insightful)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145078)

It seems like the French already figured it out years before. And now are making money selling the electricity from their many nuclear power plants to others (read "Germany" where the Green Peace hippies managed to stop the building of nuclear power plants years ago). Whas is really that hard to predict that nuclear power can be made safe and will be a better option than becoming addicted to overseas oil? Sure Chernobyl happened (I was pretty close to it too) but they should have just looked at it that and said "let's see what they did wrong and fix and move on". Oh, no, they all freaked out: "OMG! Teh nucular power is teh evil -- must burn more oil and coal!".

Re:Good news (0)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145176)

Would it be as profitable were it not for the hippies in the surrounding countries? i.e. is France insightful, or less retarded than its peers?

This is what it took... (1)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145080)

So, the only way these people can overcome sensationalist fear is by exposing them to another *new* sensationalist fear? What really irks me is that because of these people, *if* conditions are as they are because of fossil fuels, things will have been made far worse than they ever would have been with Nuclear.

So it took melting icecaps with an eternaly rising summer to finally scare these people away from the nuclear winter hype?

Me too (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145088)

I'm coming around to nuclear power, but only because if we don't get with the program, we'll be living in the stone age [wikipedia.org] .

As opposed to coal, yes (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145096)

Many people beleive that coal fired electric generation emits more radioactive material into the environment than nuclear plants do. See this article [ornl.gov]

It is a rare thing to see anyone admit (1)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145106)

their mistakes in politics, so seeing this admission really made my day recently. I generally consider myself pro-environment, but have taken issue with the environmental movement many times, precisely because of issues like this. Far too often, the environmental movement is based on warm, fuzzy "it feels good/bad" mentality, facts be darned. Nuclear energy is one such issue. GMOs are another. So is their zero-tolerance approach to hazardous chemicals, or opposition to drilling in ANWR. In these cases, environmentalism is little different than a religion.

I am glad to see more of them are starting to base their politics on facts and balance, rather than childish notions of purity and perfection.

It's good to see Moore writing this (1)

gluteus (307087) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145114)

Why? The obvious point is that he's a respected environmentalist, and not a bought and paid for lobbyist of the nuclear industry. Many people will listen to him just for who is he. Second, it shows he doesn't live with blinders on. A summary of his article is that many huge problems have been dealt with to the point that dumping coal for uranium is a no brainer. No hysteria, no name-calling, just an intelligent opinion.

2 Questions to the pro nuclear folks: (3, Insightful)

klingens (147173) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145129)

a) Is there any commercial insurance company which will insure a nuclear reactor? Here in Germany all reactors must be insured against meltdown, etc. Since no insurance company will write a police for a reactor, the government steps in and "insures" it. All of our reactors here are insured that way.

b) Is there a place in any western democracy (russia and china probably have less problems in that area) for finally depositing the resulting nuclear waste? A proper finaly resting place for the stuff?

My only reservations (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145133)

I long ago made peace with the science of nuclear power as I found it a bit absurd to retain a strong dislike of it after considering the facts.

That being said, I don't exactly have an abundance of faith when it comes to the idea that The Powers That Be managing the plants and disposal sites take safety procedures to heart as much as they should. We've seen corruption before in the industry and the whole energy sector is infested with money-grabbing executives with little regard for anything other than the stock price and who they can br...lobby effectively to remove the burdens of oversight from their shoulders.

I'm not trying to spread FUD, but simply state that history does not leave me with a lot of confidence in the corporate decision makers or the regulatory bodies that oversee them.

It's a difficult place to be in. The alternatives are either crap, or are permanently 20 years away, but the kind of corruption in the energy sector and government makes me hesitant to be very enthusiastic.

Yes BUT... Peak Oil & Peak Uranium (1)

Jakeg (673209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145134)

Yes, I accept for the sake of argument all of Paul's points... apart from one: cost. We are currently seeing rising oil prices as our production of oil reaches a physically-determined peak (peak oil [peakoil.org.uk] ). Oil is a non-renewable resource which we use up. As it depletes, eventually we reach a maximum production level after which production declines and if demand remains high (which it does) prices increase. Hence why oil is currently at its highest price ever.

The same will happen with nuclear. Our estimates of nuclear cost are based around our current low demand for nuclear energy. As supply increases dramatically as governments attempt to switch to nuclear due to peak oil, so the cost of nuclear increases. Uranium is also a non-renewable resource faced with the same fate as oil. We will reach peak uranium production and prices will rise dramatically.

THE answer is with renewables which don't face physically-determined production peaks. Yes, we need a *lot* of solar and wind power, but that's what we have to do. And yes, we'll also have to reduce our demand for energy.

Re:Yes BUT... Peak Oil & Peak Uranium (1)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145186)

But the majority of the world's supply of Uranium isn't located in the Middle East with its political problems.

Hardware - Sould be Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15145155)

Who is classifying these - Zonk ?

Nuclear Power more like a storage device (1)

MonsterMasher (518641) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145157)


As I understand it there is a lot of power which goes into processing the nuclear rods that are used. A value like 80% of power ultimately produced comes to mind - taken from hydropower as I recall.

If that is in fact true - wouldn't a better power storage device be almost as good?

the big difference: pebble bed reactors (4, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15145170)

pebble bed reactors make all the difference [wikipedia.org]

because they are super safe. they don't melt down. no china syndrome, no 3 mile island, no chernobyl, no silkwood. the fuel is packed in glass pebbles. meltdown is not possible by accidental means

explain this to people and their old understanding of nuclear's dangers, based on 1970s era thinking fade away. which is also about the time that nuclear itself faded away, because of the dangers. but in a world of oil-funded islamic extremism and oil-fueled global warming, super-safe pebble bed nuclear energy looks mighty attractive. now all we need to do is wait for popular wisdom and political will to catch up

and with breeder reactors, we can reprocess the nuclear waste from the bygone era of old-style reactors and do away with all of that left-over pollution. imagine that: run new reactors off of a previous generation's waste. old-style reactors only use 10% of available fuel, the rest sits unused and radiocative for tens of thousands of years. with reprocessing, 95% of the fuel can be used, and left over are isotopes with radioactive half lives measured in a century or two, not tens of thousands of years

and don't let anyone tell you there would be a fuel shortage with the nuclear option like with oil. there is no peak uranium like there is peak oil. mainly because we can run nuclear power off of thorium as well as uranium. go look up the numbers on thorium reserves. we'd be fine for centuries. and the reserves are in more geopolitically friendly places

the problem is still psychological for people though. nuclear IS scary. it's the same thing as flying: it's safer than driving, but people prefer to drive than fly, and feel safer driving than flying. even though the reverse is true. why? the illusion of familiarity and control. people stick with what they are comfortable with, even if what they are comfortable with sucks in comparison

for the longest time i've tried to convince my gf to have laser eye treatment for her myopia. it's the best thing i ever did. but she is scared of the procedure. i tell her that she has more chance of getting an infection that will make her blind via contacts than via a laser screw up. but she wouldn't have any of it

and just this month, they found a connection between bausch and lomb's renu [google.com] , which she uses, and a sudden surge in cases of an eye fungus that blinds people. sure enough, on her very own, she made inquiries as to laser eye treatment last week

so even though nuclear is safer in this world than oil due to hurricane katrina-making global warming and oil-funded 9/11 terrorism, people are more scared of nuclear than oil. they are familiar with oil, and there is an inertia about their reluctance to embrace nuclear

so we're stuck in the inertia now, and we suffer for the inertia of the general public and the politicians. all of the nimby's who wouldn't let these things be built would apparently prefer to ship their children to falluja to protect oil than build a completely safe pebble bed reactor. meanwhile, china is investing heavily in this technology. so while the usa wears itself down fighting islamonazi wackjobs sitting on top of their precious oil, places like china will enjoy air pollution free totally safe pebble bed reactor power

some morons don't understand the science, but know how to yell loudly and chain themselves to train tracks to prevent uranium shipments

and we all suffer for that
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