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Opening Arguments

Power to the people

It may not be freezing yet, but it's surely getting a little chilly in hell. One of the co-founders of Greenpeace now says, in a Newsweek interview, that perhaps nuclear energy isn't quite the evil it has been depicted:

ZAKARIA: At Greenpeace, you fought against nuclear energy. What changed?
My belief, in retrospect, is that because we were so focused on the destructive aspect of nuclear technology and nuclear war, we made the mistake of lumping nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons, as if all things nuclear were evil. And indeed today, Greenpeace still uses the word "evil" to describe nuclear energy. I think that's as big a mistake as if you lumped nuclear medicine in with nuclear weapons. Nuclear medicine uses radioactive isotopes to successfully treat millions of people every year, and those isotopes are all produced in nuclear reactors. That's why I left Greenpeace: I could see that my fellow directors, none of whom had any science education, were starting to deal with issues around chemicals and biology and genetics, which they had no formal training in, and they were taking the organization into what I call "pop environmentalism," which uses sensationalism, misinformation, fear tactics, etc., to deal with people on an emotional level rather than an intellectual level.

As Moore points out, alternative sources such as wind and solar power can be a factor, but never a major one. If we want an option other than fossil fuels with the potential to supply our world's growing need for energy, nuclear is the best bet.


Bob G.
Tue, 04/15/2008 - 10:18am

One thing they FAIL to mention is that most of our nuclear power plants are coming really close to their decommissioning dates. After that, it's LIGHTS OUT.

Typically, the longevity was about 40 years (give or take), and I think we're rapidly arriving at our energy "decision gate".

Time to you-know-what or get off the pot.
Maybe Greenpeace is getting just a bit worried...NOW.
Perhaps it's time to fix the gate....and where DID all those horses go, anyway?


Harl Delos
Tue, 04/15/2008 - 12:05pm

The license for Three Mile Island expires in 2014, but they just applied for a 20-year renewal, and nobody seriously expects it to be denied.

It's just a hop, skip, and a jump upwind from me, and most people seem to think it shut down a quarter century ago, but actually that was just Unit 2. The rest of it continues to operate.

They've done three dozen studies of the health of the people in the surrounding area, and the best anyone can tell, those who were exposed to the plume of radiation that was released have better health and less cancer than those who weren't.

Meanwhile, people die from the pollution of conventional power plants. A couple of years ago, one in Florida - Tampa? - caught fire and multiple employees died.

I wish they'd hurry up and build some new nukes. It's sorta like driving a 1955 Chevy. It was a study, economical car when they built it, and it was well-designed, but metal fatigue sets in as well as ordinary wear-and-tear, and no matter how well you maintain it, after 400,000 miles, it's not going to be as safe in an accident as a new sedan with anti-lock brakes and air bags.

Bob G.
Tue, 04/15/2008 - 3:05pm

Yes, it was only unit 2....back in 1979 (right around the time THE CHINA SYNDROME came on the bitg screen...talk about timing!
The only thing about "renewals", is that they usually wind up costing more and more over time, as most plants were only scheduled to be operational for a specified period of time. And if you've ever been through a generator replacement, that can take several MONTHS (alone).
Spent fuel replenishment closes the plant as well roughly every 2-3 years for a few weeks.

And it all costs $$$.


Harl Delos
Tue, 04/15/2008 - 4:24pm

My (current) wife worked for Matheson as an inspector back in the 1970s. They made gauges and flowmeters. Some of their products were shipped to TMI.

And of course, you know what failed, leading to the problems there.

It didn't matter whether product passed inspection or not, it got shipped, over her objections. She has wondered over the years if it was a Matheson product that failed, and she has no way of knowing; they used products from more than one manufacturer.

However, she points to TMI as her "fifteen minutes" of fame. Before, that is, she got years more by her marriage to me. But then, that's really more notoriety than fame, isn't it?

Last night, Jerry Pournelle, the science fiction writer, wrote about Jimmy Carter talking to Hamas. I don't have a problem with that. Hamas is the key to peace in the mideast, and you have three choices: you can talk, or you can ignore them and allow the bloodshed to continue, or you can wipe them off the face of the earth.

Seems to me that talk-talk is better than war-war. That's the reason why conventional GOP policy (as opposed to the neo-con policies of recent years) was to have a strong military. It's so you *could* talk. Then these damn fools decided that there's no point in having a fancy sports car in the garage, you ought to take it out for a spin and run over a few pedestrians every day.

Anyhow, back to the point. Pournelle said that Jimmy Carter was the worst president we've ever had, and now he's trying to be the worst ex-president we've every had as well. Well, here in Lancaster Pennsylvania, we take great pride in being the home of James Buchanan, who actually *was* the worst president we've ever had.

Well, until you look more closely. Buchanan managed to keep the nation from breaking out into really nasty conflict, a horrid war that *still* divides us a century and a half later. I grew up learning that whites in the south were nasty racists who talked slowly because they are dumb, and that Lincoln freed the slaves because all men were equal.

Then when I got to college, I talked to black classmates who assured me that the south had segregation, but it wasn't really as nasty in terms of racism as the north was, and that the anti-slavery movement wasn't based on concern for the slaves, because they were considered subhumans anyhow, but because northern businessmen and northern workers thought slavery gave southerners an unfair economic advantage.

"Renewals" always cost more than you expect, but that's hardly unexpected. Cheop's Law stipulates that no construction project is ever completed in the time and money budgeted for it. And it turns out that *attitudinal* reconstruction is equally subject to Cheop's Law. It's a lot faster and easier to build a garage or a house or a factory than to change our ways of thinking, no matter how hard we try.

We get too soon old and too late smart. If I live to be 150, I might work my way up to being a complete idiot; until then, I have to settle for being an incomplete one.

Bob G.
Wed, 04/16/2008 - 7:46am

Sorry, but I've never met an idiot from Lancaster County yet (complete OR incomplete)...nice area, though...reminds me of the outer areas of Allen County (here).

I'd have to say that PA people know a bit more than we're given credit for.

But being formerly from Philly, I'm biased...lol!


Harl Delos
Wed, 04/16/2008 - 10:53am

nice area, though