Sunday, June 08, 2014

Why Did Cosmos Ignore Nuclear Energy?

Sunday night is a crowded spot on the television calendar (Mad Men & Game of Thrones), which means that in my house, the re-boot of Cosmos hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson goes straight to my DVR. When I first heard that the show was being resurrected by Fox's Seth MacFarlane, I immediately began looking forward to the premiere. I'm more than old enough to remember watching the original PBS series hosted by Carl Sagan. It was a huge hit, challenging the Big 3 networks in the ratings on the night it premiered in September 1980. For a kid who had grown up fascinated by space exploration, it was a real treat.



Let's get back to 2014. I've been plowing through each episode a couple of days after it originally aired and was really enjoying it (I've been a fan of the cosmic calendar from the start). Then I watched Episode 9, "The Lost Worlds of Planet Earth." That night, Dr. Tyson touched upon the topic of climate change* (emphasis mine):
We just can't seem to break our addiction to the kinds of fuel that will bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs, a climate that will drown our coastal cities and wreak havoc on the environment and our ability to feed ourselves. All the while, the glorious sun pours immaculate free energy down upon us, more than we will ever need.
I'm not the only person who knows that renewables like solar energy, while they have a role to play on the electric grid, can't provide all of the electricity we need, never mind all of the energy we want.

That's not just a theory. We have real world experience in Germany where a push to phase out nuclear energy and replace it with renewables has led to a resurgence in the use of coal and an increase in CO2 emissions. In the U.S., an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy that includes nuclear isn't just a buzzword, it's a matter of national policy, one that was reinforced last week when the U.S. Environmental Protection introduced new regulations that explicitly referenced using nuclear energy as a tool to constrain CO2 emissions while providing reliable baseload power.

Still, I resisted the urge to tweet or blog about that aside in order to keep an open mind about what might come next. Then, just a few days after it aired, I watched Episode 12, "The World Set Free," where Dr. Tyson laid out the case for climate change science.

There were some wonderfully compelling stories from the past about the history of solar technology, but when it came time to propose real-world solutions to keep the lights on while constraining CO2 emissions, the only examples that were provided were wind and solar. Which was when Dr. Tyson said the following (again, emphasis mine):
There's another inexhaustible source of clean energy for the world. The winds themselves are solar powered, because our star drives the winds and the waves. Unlike solar collectors, wind farms take up very little land, and none at all, if offshore, where the winds are strongest.
Not according to the sources I consult, which includes the the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change. In October 2013, they published this helpful infographic detailing just how much space would be required for wind and solar farms to provide the same amount of electricity as the proposed 3,200 MWe Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. Let's just say it's not even close.


This isn't the first time we've seen the use of nuclear energy omitted from the options we need in order to reduce atmospheric carbon while providing affordable electricity. The good news is, as we saw in the film "Pandora's Promise," there are a number of environmentalists who have come around when it comes to supporting nuclear energy. Here's hoping Dr. Tyson gives it a viewing and joins other environmentalists like James Hansen, Stewart Brand and Mike Shellenberger (among others) in making sure nuclear energy has a role to play in meeting our environmental challenges.

UPDATE: Reddit user Greg Barton decided to continue the conversation there. Please stop by.

* NEI stated its position on climate change in a paper in October 2007.

33 comments:

jimwg said...

Good report and love that infographic and it ought be hung every school and mall bulletin board and subway car! It doesn't even take into account the percentage of windmills and solar panels put out of commission by damage from weather and wildlife and vandalism/theft over such a wide area to effectively patrol (trust me, night scavengers will rip solar panes right off their stands). As for the new Cosmos, I kind of sensed they'd go the Green-PC route to toe the line of political and media favoritism. Even NASA cuts a low-key mention that its best probes are nuclear-powered but nearly trips over its feet mentioning those ones using solar power. Nuclear-war-haunted Carl Sagan wasn't exactly a pro-nuker but he did admit and respect nuclear's necessity at least for space projects. A PBS-NPR baby, Tyson is straight from the Bill Nye/Michio Kaku "nukes are evil" mold so no nuke-love there. People thought wrong that "Pandora's Promise" would spark a media wave of nuclear even-handedness. Not going to happen during their Sierra Club & Friends of the Earth marriage. The ONLY answer is for the nuclear community to pass the cup and gin-up its OWN (adult) nuclear education program/series because nuclear just isn't going to get a break from nuke-bigoted media powers-that-be. Just pleading the media to de-FUD Fukushima is like pulling teeth (Was the nuclear age born in a Chicago pile or a desert explosion?) I'm encouraged zero by all this supposedly happy EPA clean air news for nukes; when I see non-token scores of new nukes being ordered on the dotted line with the same gusto that green start-ups have been lavished on by this administration THEN I'll believe that report has meat in it positive for nuclear power. Talk and promises are cheap. Deeds and commitments are gold-plated.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Anonymous said...

As a person who works in the industrial scale wind and solar field, my opinions may be a little skewed, however, in the spirit of Carl Sagan, I believe Cosmos is prodding us to do more than just replace the fossil fuel energy sources, but to replace ALL non-renewable energy sources. Nuclear is a great power source and is not contributing to global warming. However, it is a finite power source and it does have adverse byproducts. If we truly want to change the world for the better as Dr. Tyson suggests, we need to change how we create and consume energy.

The wind turbines and solar panels, as they stand now, cannot replace the generation capabilities to support the demand on the grid. I believe the point Dr. Tyson was making was that we need to continue to slowly make the change, use the knowledge we have now as a stepping stone and continue R&D so that one day in the future, renewable energy can solely support our energy demands.

Rod Adams said...

May I suggest a word replacement in the following statement from your post?

I'm not the only person who knows that renewables like solar energy, while they have a role to play on the electric grid, can't provide all of the electricity we need, never mind all of the energy we need.

Based on context and sentence structure, I think you meant for the last word to be "want" vice "need."

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights

Tim v.G. said...

Good post, but I query the claim about how much land wind farms take up. How is this measured? Does it take into account the fact that windfarms are generally compatible with other land uses, e.g. grazing? The effective footprint of a wind farm is much less than the total area bounded by the perimeter turbines. That said, a wind farm remains a massive industrial scar on the landscape.

Charles Barton said...

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Toutes himself as an advocate for science, yet his case for science stops when it comes to scientific evidence about renewable energy. There are certain questions that havev to be answered before solar and wind generation can be considered a reliable, 24 hour a day, source of energy. Berry Brook's blog, BraveNewClimate contains the best discussions of these questions. The discussion focuses primarily on papers by Peter Lang and Dr. Ted Trainer, who seperately analize various plans for providing electrical power for australia from renewable sources. Lang and Trainer demonstrate that renewables do not meet their goals. Renewable advocates lost badly early in the game, and resort to the recourse of the science imposters, they ignore their critics.

At any rate the scientific case for renewables is weak, and it is difficult to understand how a self styled champion of science could advocate wind and solar while ignoring nuyclear.

Mitch said...

Anonymous said...

> Nuclear is a great power source and is not contributing to global warming. However, it is a finite power source >

I think a couple of tens of million years is finite enough for civilization!

S.A. Kiteman said...

I think a couple of tens of million years is sustainable enough for civilization!

JRT said...

Well, Anonymous, suppose that we only have enough Thorium to last for 30,000 years. Is that long enough?

I hope that fusion and LENR will have been perfected long before the Thorium runs out.

Anonymous said...

"Comsos" didn't ignore nuclear, it lumped it in with the problems instead of the solutions. Did we all forget that sequence in the May 18 episode when they showed the TMI/Chernobyl/tsunami/Fukushima montage? Yes, I feel they deliberately conflated the overall tsunami damage with the accident.

I'm more disappointed, however, that the "Cosmos" crew lacked the courage to even begin to explain all the OTHER infrastructure changes (i.e., energy storage and transmission grid upgrades) needed to get wind and solar to play a significant future role.

Critical Richard said...

Is it affordable? As far as I am aware most nuclear reactors are constructed with huge government subsidy at the state and end point and the electricity it produces is still incredibly expensive. But beyond that fact you still have to deal with waste and what to do with the reactor once its life has been exceeded. Factor that in with the incredibly long start up time and the issues regarding power production immediately and in the long term just wont be solved by nuclear reactors.

Mitch said...

Blogger Critical Richard said...

Is it affordable? Well, do you put a price on reversing, not just capping, global climate change? What's a flooded-out city worth? The waste issue is a political not technical hamstring we knew long ago how to solve and the reactor life issue is more abstract than apparent because no one knows or is allowed to see just how far you can max their functional longevity, just like with coal-fired plants and B-52 bombers doing well long after their assumed time. Nuclear scores better when one quits looking gift horses in the mouth!

Anonymous said...

Poster Critical Richard said...

"Is it affordable? As far as I am aware most nuclear reactors are constructed with huge government subsidy at the state and end point and the electricity it produces is still incredibly expensive."

You've reversed nuclear and unreliables (renewables). Unreliable energy sources like wind and solar would not exist but for massive subsidies in various forms such as tax breaks, direct grants, feed-in tariffs, must-take legislative provisions, etc. Nuclear receives no "subsidies". There are a couple of power plants under construction that have received loan guarantees, but a loan is different from a subsidy.

"But beyond that fact you still have to deal with waste and what to do with the reactor once its life has been exceeded."

The useful operating life of a well-maintained nuclear plant is comparable to or better than other energy generators, things like hydroelectric dams and fossil-fueled plants. And the waste is relatively small in volume and in a sealed, manageable form. Not like CO2 and fly ash and sulfur dioxide left to blow around the atmosphere wherever the winds take it.

"Factor that in with the incredibly long start up time and the issues regarding power production immediately and in the long term just wont be solved by nuclear reactors."

Construction time can be reduced by a combination of regulatory reform and standardization. The regulatory system in this country is incredibly cumbersome, expensive, and inefficient. Likewise, industry has to step up and come up with ways to reduce costs through standardization and efficient fabrication methods.

Nuclear reactors are certainly not the complete solution for all energy needs, but for generating large amounts of reliable and reasonably priced electrical energy, they can certainly play a very large role in meeting our needs.

American Trekker said...

One possible good reason that a discussion of climate change would omit nuclear energy is because nuclear power replaces coal like arsenic replaces cyanide. What would be the point of averting global catastrophe by eliminating coal just to replace it with slightly different but equal or even worse catastrophic consequences of a global nuclear economy? Dr. Tyson is a smart and educated man, of course he has better sense than to promote worldwide nuclear contamination as being preferable to climate change!

Engineer-Poet said...

"nuclear power replaces coal like arsenic replaces cyanide"

You forgot to add "baby-killing".  It's in the Anti-Nuclear Activist's Style Book, you should have been issued a copy when you got the job.

"What would be the point of averting global catastrophe by eliminating coal just to replace it with slightly different but equal or even worse catastrophic consequences of a global nuclear economy?"

Yes, a global nuclear economy that produces energy without producing pollution.  I can see how the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement would find this a horrific possibility.  Others, not so much.

"Dr. Tyson is a smart and educated man, of course he has better sense than to promote worldwide nuclear contamination as being preferable to climate change!"

Dr. Tyson does not seem to do research any more; his last publication was in 2008, and had a bunch of co-authors.  He runs a planetarium, a job that is capably done by many people with master's degrees.

One should ask what qualifies a PhD astrophysicist to opine on matters of climate change or nuclear energy.  By and large, the premier climate scientists of the world are either neutral on nuclear energy, or have declared that it is the only proven way to deal with GHG emissions.

Riki Tiki Tavi said...

SO TYPICAL to see nuclear apologists attacking the messengers of those who desire to leave a clean world for their children! "Engineer-Poet" denigrates Dr. Tyson for not having any recent research publications, and insinuates that Dr. Tyson's choice of jobs and a Ph.D. in astrophysics somehow disqualifies him from having an educated opinion about nuclear power. Of course he doesn't offer his own qualifications or dates of his most recent research publications to show he's even qualified to be a judge in a dog show, other than his indirect claim to be an 'engineer'.

Such sleazy ad hominem attacks always seem to come from right-wing authoritarian types, and such low mentalities are never concerned about anyone else's health or safety but only their own financial status and social power. Brutal psychopaths, in other words. Of course they never admit it, so I won't bother asking "Engineer-Poet" if he really is the psychopath he portrays himself to be, I wouldn't expect an honest answer. I will however ask the "Engineer-Poet" a few direct questions:

Riki Tiki Tavi said...

Mister "Engineer-Poet":

1) What are YOUR qualifications in terms of degrees, experience, and recent publications that qualify YOU to 'opine on matters of climate change or nuclear energy', since you seem to think these things so important?

2) Do you have any financial interests, direct or indirect, in the proliferation of nuclear power and/or nuclear weapons?

3) Do you have children, and would it concern you if one or more of them got cancer from a tiny speck of plutonium-containing dust they inhaled or ingested, of which there is plenty already scattered around the world from decades of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing and nuclear accidents?

4) You claim that a global nuclear economy could produce energy "without producing pollution", as if you had never heard of Fukushima or Chernobyl or Windscale or Santa Susana, and as if you are totally unaware of the long history of nuclear accidents and gross contamination at places like Hanford or Rocky Flats or Oak Ridge, just to name a few. Please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_nuclear_disasters_and_radioactive_incidents if you are really as ignorant of the industry you are misrepresenting as you seem. Or is your absurd claim based on some kind of presupposition that nuclear power will SOMEDAY not produce any pollution, and we should ignore its long record that invalidates such a ridiculous presupposition? In other words mister "Engineer-Poet", do you KNOW you're fabricating, or are you just delusional?

5) When you mockingly attack "Anti-Nuclear Activists" and fabricate straw men like the "Voluntary Human Extinction Movement", you behave as if you think that people should not be concerned about their children's health and safety and that of future generations, as if you imagine that nuclear power represents no threat at all. I would like to ask you a simple question about this: do you think such ugly behavior raises your credibility and that of your industry, or does it only validate what most people believe about nuclear power and weapons and the kinds of mentalities that promote them?

6) You claim that "... the premier climate scientists of the world are either neutral on nuclear energy, or have declared that it is the only proven way to deal with GHG emissions", but if that were true, why would it be such big news whenever a 'greenie' gets conned by the nuclear industry's denials and false promise propaganda and comes out in favor of nuclear? Can you actually document your absurd claim somehow? I don't think you can, I think responsible scientists and educated people of all types are a whole lot smarter than that.

Mister "Engineer-Poet" I challenge you to actually answer these questions instead of doing the typical irresponsible nuclear apologist's dodging and diverting onto other topics. Do you think that is within your capabilities? I would like to see if you have any ability to actually defend your dirty industry, or are you only about ad hominem attacks and blatantly false statements like the other 99.999% of you?

Mitch said...

What Riki Tiki Tavi said...
Those anti-nuclear heroes who feed your kind that marlarky WON'T come debate live with real nuclear professionals like on the Atomic Show at atomicinsights.com. That says it all to me about how bulletproof their -- and your "facts" are!

Engineer-Poet said...

"Mister "Engineer-Poet":

1) What are YOUR qualifications in terms of degrees, experience, and recent publications
"

Absolutely standard Alinsky tactic there:  refuse to deal with the facts, go after the messenger.  And this after hypocritically decrying "sleazy ad hominem attacks"!  I'm sure your charge of psychopathy is projection as well; the brutality of your response has to come from the brutality of your nature.

The only thing that matters is the facts brought to the table.  I have data, Tyson has opinion, you have a rant.  People of good faith go with the data.

"fabricate straw men like the "Voluntary Human Extinction Movement""

A couple seconds with a search engine could prevent someone from linking to the official website of said group and making you look like a complete idiot.  But I'm all about revealing reality as it truly is.  If reality paints you in a bad light, so be it.

"4) You claim that a global nuclear economy could produce energy "without producing pollution", as if you had never heard of Fukushima or Chernobyl or Windscale or Santa Susana, and as if you are totally unaware of the long history of nuclear accidents and gross contamination at places like Hanford or Rocky Flats or Oak Ridge, just to name a few."

Of course, if I mentioned that all save one of those names pertained to either military or dual-use sites (the RMBK was designed for plutonium production as well as power), you'd go off on another hysterical diatribe.  But you will anyway, so why not?

Just to put your hysteria on steroids, I'll note further that the sole civilian site on your list has zero radiation-related fatalities as a consequence.  So far as I know, there are not even any disabilities.  How can something be a "disaster" if the consequences are limited to property damage?  Even that is overblown by "protection" standards set in utter disregard of the science.  The Tohoku tsunami killed close to 20,000 people, but the dead and the displaced are ignored so that attention can be devoted to this fake "disaster" of the meltdowns.

Yes, nuclear power produces radioactive byproducts.  However, these (like nitrate and phosphate) are only "pollution" if they are causing harm.  The vast majority of them stay locked up inside the cladding of the fuel rods.  Of the incidents where some have escaped, the only one where the effects led to off-site pollution (harm) was Chernobyl.  About 1000 ha of forest was killed by radiotoxicity, and some number of thyroid cancers arose from radio-iodine.  The toxic levels quickly decayed away.  By any rational standard, the pollution is gone.

As it happens, mammalian life does better with radiation levels somewhat above the natural background:

"The threshold for lifespan reduction of mice and Guinea pigs exposed to radium gamma rays is 4 roentgen per week or ∼ 2000 mGy per year. Their mean survival time is 7% longer than the controls at a dose rate of 0.5 roentgen per week, which is about 240 mGy per year."

Engineer-Poet said...

Now, I know what you would say if I didn't pre-empt you.  You'd go ape with all kinds of nasty words wrapped around flat denial.  And there is one question you absolutely will not ask unless someone holds you down and forces it out of you:

Is it true?

This is an empirical question.  The data are the result of an experiment.  Experimental results can be verified, and experiments repeated if necessary.  Just because it invalidates the anti-nuclear movement's—and presumably your—entire raison d'etrĂ© does not make it wrong.

Based on the data, I conclude that the anti-nuclear movement is just as as ridiculous as the various end of the world cults which have arisen over the years.  However, it is infinitely more damaging, because it serves as a front for the fossil-fuel interests whose products are destroying our once-hospitable climate.

Incidentally, I neither work for the nuclear industry nor do I own stock in it (aside from the possibility of one of my IRA's mutual funds possibly owning a piece).  I'm strictly interested in the truth, and what the truth implies for the future.

Riki Tiki Tavi said...

Of course it's no surprise that "Engineer-Poet" is unable or unwilling to answer a few simple questions (except one, somewhat evasively), as the criminally psychopathic nuclear industry he pimps for exhibits similar behaviors in their avoidance of responsibility and accountability (just Google 'Santa Susana' for one of many examples if you're in any way unclear why they qualify as criminally psychopathic). One can only wonder, how many times have they contaminated the world somehow and gotten away with it entirely? Worse though, even when their incompetence and criminalities are exposed, the wealthy corporate psychopaths behind nuclear power have such power and influence that they usually are allowed to continue their irresponsible activities after a minor wrist-slapping. I think it is long past the time that many if not most of them deserved to be in prison at hard labor -- but sorry, I digress; high-level corporate psychopaths are not likely to be the ones posting on this blog after all, but their low-level surrogates. "Engineer-Poet" acting on their behalf may be incapable of or unwilling to engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue despite my earlier attempt at establishing some baseline motivations with a few simple questions, but there is still value in exposing his deceptions and hypocrisies because they appear to pretty well mirror how the industry as a whole operates, and it is important for people to understand the extreme level of contempt the nuclear industry holds for the general population today and for the health and safety of future generations. And that extreme level of contempt they have for most of us is best illustrated by their deceptions and hypocrisies. Examples to follow.

Riki Tiki Tavi said...

It's amusing how "Engineer-Poet" displays his rightwing behavioral tendencies without sufficient pride in his overarching worldview to admit to it, perhaps thinking nobody will notice, perhaps as concealment of motives, perhaps imagining he won't be yet another little stain on the nuclear industry if he keeps his mouth shut about it, knowing how repugnant his worldview is to most people. Only he knows his reasons for evading us learning his motives, and since he's already tried to pass off the blatant falsehood that nuclear power "...produces energy without producing pollution", it's not likely that he'd be any more honest about such ugly politics and motivations anyway so there's no point pressing him on it. The reason 'rightwing' is important in this context is because most pro-nuclear types fit that description and a very large fraction of them are also climate change deniers, yet we are increasingly observing the nuclear industry trying to recruit from the 'green' segments of the population they hate most by claiming they are the solution to global warming -- as if they actually believed in it and cared! Hypocrisy doesn't get any more well-defined than that, and we see "Engineer-Poet" similarly cultivating the habit when he quotes me asking him: "1) What are YOUR qualifications in terms of degrees, experience, and recent publications", leaving off "SINCE YOU SEEM TO THINK THESE THINGS SO IMPORTANT?" (caps for emphasizing how he tries to deceptively divert the topic into something it wasn't) after he has tried to denigrate Dr. Tyson on those very issues!. Then he says "Absolutely standard Alinsky tactic there: refuse to deal with the facts, go after the messenger.". Is that FUNNY or what? He's complaining about what he actually did as if I was doing the same! But I was only asking, not making any accusations or ad hominems, SINCE HE SEEMED TO THINK THOSE QUALIFICATIONS WERE IMPORTANT. After all, who would criticize someone for their educational and research credentials unless they had some claim to at least comparable or better ones, right? But "Engineer-Poet" must realize himself an educational and intellectual inferior to Dr. Tyson or he would have responded appropriately so, and ONLY RIGHTWINGERS RISE TO THAT LEVEL OF HYPOCRISY! I had pointed out that his sleazy ad hominem attack on Dr. Tyson was a mark of rightwingers, and instead of being honest, recognizing his bad behavior, and apologizing for it, he dishonestly tries to claim himself a victim of the same! The Cherry On Top was his mention of Alinsky, a man greatly denigrated and scapegoated by extreme rightwingers all the way out to the lunatic Birther fringe! Thank you for inadvertently making yourself so clear, "Engineer-Poet"! Now why don't you tell us what you think of the Teabag Party LOLOL?

Observe closely the behavioral clues in the words of those who promote nuclear power and weapons, and you will discover the psychopathic mentalities of those who would poison the world for thousands of generations, bringing excess cancers, miscarriages, birth defects, and other problems upon the whole world just so they can get rich off a few year's electric power that will bring absolutely no benefit to those future generations. Only psychopaths would do such a thing, only psychopaths would advocate such a thing, but they can be identified and interacted with appropriately when revealed by their own rightwing deceptions and hypocrisies.

More to follow ...

Engineer-Poet said...

Quoth Riki Tiki Tavi:

"Of course it's no surprise that "Engineer-Poet" is unable or unwilling to answer a few simple questions (except one, somewhat evasively)"

You mean your highly personal questions, which are none of your business, and have absolutely no relation to the facts at hand?

Tell me, Oh Mister Mis-spelled Pseudonym From a Kipling Book, what is your legal name, what is your location, what is your occupation, and what qualifies you to offer psychiatric diagnoses of people you have "seen" only as text on a screen... when you cannot even correctly classify the projects and enterprises you're listing?

"the criminally psychopathic nuclear industry he pimps for"

Not that you're, like, judging people or anything.

"just Google 'Santa Susana' for one of many examples"

Ahem.  DEFENSE PROJECTS.  It's irritating to have to hit you in the face with such distinctions over and over again, but I'm assuming that it's on your short list of astroturfer talking points and you have to make your quota.

"I think it is long past the time that many if not most of them deserved to be in prison at hard labor"

Funny, I'd save this for the fossil fuel (and particularly oil) interests that have blocked every off-ramp from our highway to Climatageddon, and the "soft path" loons which have bought their propaganda hook, line and sinker.  There's no cure for criminal stupidity, because those so afflicted don't have the brains to do better.

""Engineer-Poet" acting on their behalf"

Didn't I tell you that I have no association with the industry?  What you just wrote there is a lie.  Of course, psychopaths have no scruples about lying.  So far, you've done plenty to support the charge that you're a psychopath.

"may be incapable of or unwilling to engage in any kind of meaningful dialogue"

Posting and re-posting false and deceitful claims is not part of "meaningful dialogue".  If you had the slightest shred of good faith, you'd begin by admitting that Santa Susana was a laboratory associated with defense and weapons work, and had zero to do with the commercial nuclear industry (either power or medical).

So long as you insist on posting disinformation, the only meaningful responses to you will be debunkings.

" my earlier attempt at establishing some baseline motivations with a few simple questions"

Tell the world:  why are you trying to divert talk to matters of personal motivation, when those motivations have zero to do with the effects that particular actions will have on the earth?  What IS your "baseline motivation" for that, since it is obviously more important to you than the effect of different energy paths on the planet?

"there is still value in exposing his deceptions and hypocrisies"

Projection again.

"that extreme level of contempt they have for most of us is best illustrated by their deceptions and hypocrisies."

Hypocrisy.  Willing to remove Santa Susana from your list of talking points?  No?  You're a hypocrite.

(continued)

Engineer-Poet said...

Continued reply to Riki Tiki Tavi:

""1) What are YOUR qualifications in terms of degrees, experience, and recent publications", leaving off "SINCE YOU SEEM TO THINK THESE THINGS SO IMPORTANT?""

My goodness you're obtuse!  Dr. Tyson's degree, work and research history are totally relevant to the weight we should put on his opinion in this matter.  If he hasn't made a study of climate and he's not referring to anyone who has, his opinion on it is worth little more than that of someone off the street.  If he hasn't studied health physics, his opinions on radiation (and anything that falls out of it, such as the hazards and desirability of nuclear power) are similarly of little worth.

Of course, we can dismiss anything from you.  You're the one who hysterically demands people ask if they'd expose their children to ONE plutonium particle, when the estimated risk of cancer from a lung burden of 5000 particles is about 1%.  If we divide 1% by 5000 to get the risk per particle, we get 0.0002%.  Even if there's an explosion at e.g. Indian Point, the odds that anyone—ANYONE—would inhale a particle of plutonium are vanishingly small.  Let's assume a really large chance of this, one in 1000.  (There's no evidence that any plutonium particles were inhaled by anyone at Fukushima.  Anything that came from a reactor or spent fuel would be "hot", and would likely show up on radiation scans.)

Suppose that you had a choice.  You could either take 1 in 1000 odds that you could inhale a particle that gives you an extra 0.0002% chance of developing cancer, OR you have to abandon your entire coastal city and build a new home and life somewhere else.  Does the loss and upheaval have more than a 1 in 500 million chance of killing you?  If so, the odds say you should take a chance on plutonium.  The hit to quality of life tilts the balance even further.

If you had to evacuate a coastal city of 1 million people, odds are that at least one person would be killed in a traffic accident in the process.

"he has tried to denigrate Dr. Tyson on those very issues!"

Unless Tyson has relevant expertise, referring to his words on the matter is the classic fallacy of appeal to (inappropriate) authority.  And he doesn't.  If he bothered to research the matter he'd come up with the very same TRUE authorities I'm referencing to you, and he'd be forced to the same conclusion I've reached.

"But "Engineer-Poet" must realize himself an educational and intellectual inferior to Dr. Tyson or he would have responded appropriately so, and ONLY RIGHTWINGERS RISE TO THAT LEVEL OF HYPOCRISY!"

Except my expertise is not relevant here.  What's relevant is the factual truth or falsity of certain scientific questions relating to radiation physics.  I've dealt with those by referring to publications of scientists working in that field.  If a middle-schooler had done the same, the authority of the results would be just as good.

Only a left-winger could mistake skin color for authority on specific questions of scientific fact.  Tyson said it, he believes it, that settles it.

"I had pointed out that his sleazy ad hominem attack on Dr. Tyson was a mark of rightwingers, and instead of being honest, recognizing his bad behavior, and apologizing for it"

The left-wing credo of "Thou Shalt Never Criticize A Black Person", in full flower.  You're not even allowed to say that they made a mistake.  Sorry, I don't believe in special racial privilege for people with sub-Saharan African ancestry.

Engineer-Poet said...

Conclusion of reply to Riki Tiki Tavi:

"Observe closely the behavioral clues in the words of those who promote nuclear power and weapons"

Now who conflates nuclear power and nuclear weapons?  Who's the sort who believes that nuclear power reactors can go up like bombs?  Scientifically-illiterate left-wingers, mostly.  Their "authorities" are organizations like RMI and the Caldicott-founded UCS, which even George Monbiot roundly criticized for scientific dishonesty.

gmax137 said...

Take a couple of deep breaths, E-P. While alot of defense work went on at Santa Susana, I dont think the SRE (and its fuel-melt incident) is in that category. If you're going to argue with people like RTT, it's best to be flawless on the facts.

Engineer-Poet said...

"Take a couple of deep breaths, E-P."

What, just when I'm having a good time?  Fisking is so much fun.

"I dont think the SRE (and its fuel-melt incident) is in that category."

It was experimental, it was on the lab site, and DOE took responsibility for the site and cleanup.  That's as good as an admission that it was much more government than commercial.

The SRE releases probably didn't go much beyond noble gases.  One of the nice things about sodium-cooled reactors is that metallic sodium combines with iodine instantly; NaI has a boiling point over 1300°C.  All of the iodine problems after Windscale and Chernobyl were simply not happening either at SRE or EBR-I.

The easy-to-find info on SRE says stuff was "not inventoried", which is not the same as "emitted".  If SRE-related materials were found on the grounds, you can bet that FoE or Greenpeace would have shouted it to the hills.  Both SRE and EBR-I ran again after repairs.  The real LMFBR cautionary tale is Fermi I, where the reactor was never quite right despite repairs.  However, that may have been as much due to design errors as the aftermath of the accident.

"If you're going to argue with people like RTT, it's best to be flawless on the facts."

Preponderance of the evidence is sufficient, your honor.  This is a civil matter, or at least it was civil until words like "criminal psychopath" started being thrown around.

Riki Tiki Tavi said...

Continued...

"Engineer-Poet" makes the diversionary accusation that "I'm sure your charge of psychopathy is projection as well; the brutality of your response has to come from the brutality of your nature", so let's examine that and see if it holds up any better than his ridiculous claim that nuclear power "...produces energy without producing pollution". Wanting to leave a clean and safe world for my children and their children's children is "psychopathic" and "brutal"? I first have to wonder, does he understand what psychopaths even are? Or is he fully aware he behaves like one and that's his best diversionary tactic? Dictionary.reference.com defines a psychopath somewhat redundantly as "a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.". That definition is good for baseline reference points for discussion but there is more to the story that explains why psychopaths are the way they are: it is because their brains don't work like healthy people's. The frontal lobes which in normals process empathy, conscience, and assist in making executive decisions that include morality derived from empathy and conscience, are damaged and/or or disconnected from deeper regions of the brain in psychopaths. So the decision-making of psychopaths is lacking in the qualities that set healthy humans apart from lower animals. But psychopathy isn't an all-or-nothing thing, it's a spectrum of mental disorder which at the lower end is not terribly severe and can even be beneficial to someone's success in business or politics thru a certain ruthlessness. At the high end however are the serial killers, only technically human but best regarded as brutal predatory monsters completely lacking any guilt or remorse for the harm and suffering they cause people, and they even get a thrill from it. Think Dick Cheney and you'll understand the kind of mass-murdering harm and torture they are capable of, then smile and make jokes about it. He's only one example, there are many more. High up on the scale of psychopathy are those who would deliberately crap up the whole planet, knowingly bringing misery to future generations for financial gain, and laugh all the way to the bank knowing they won't be around to be adversely affected by the ultimate consequences of their actions, so who cares? That is how psychopaths think, or one could say it's how they fail to think like an intact human being. By this way this applies not only to the nuclear corporate suits under discussion in this context but the coal and oil ones too. It is as clear as clear can be that their continuing activities represent heinous crimes against future generations because their activities can only bring suffering, misery, and death to the world, as their histories and science testify. Psychopaths who want to deny and debate this further, please step up.

Riki Tiki Tavi said...

Notes on psychopathy

Dr. Robert Hare is a Canadian psychologist who's considered one of the world's top experts on psychopathy. He has a website at http://www.hare.org/ containing much more detail than I have summarized above. This is an especially interesting link and some text leading off from his site which explains how you can sometimes spot one:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10737827/Psychopaths-how-can-you-spot-one.html

"At heart, Hare’s test is simple: a list of 20 criteria, each given a score of 0 (if it doesn’t apply to the person), 1 (if it partially applies) or 2 (if it fully applies). The list in full is: glibness and superficial charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning/manipulative, lack of remorse, emotional shallowness, callousness and lack of empathy, unwillingness to accept responsibility for actions, a tendency to boredom, a parasitic lifestyle, a lack of realistic long-term goals, impulsivity, irresponsibility, lack of behavioural control, behavioural problems in early life, juvenile delinquency, criminal versatility, a history of "revocation of conditional release" (ie broken parole), multiple marriages, and promiscuous sexual behaviour. A pure, prototypical psychopath would score 40. A score of 30 or more qualifies for a diagnosis of psychopathy. Hare says: "A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, once said: ‘Bob, when I meet someone who scores 35 or 36, I know these people really are different.’ The ones we consider to be alien are the ones at the upper end.""

How many of you pro-nuclear psychopaths recognize yourselves as 'alien'?

How many of you are willing to admit it? My guess is zero.

FYI the world is wising up to you, and your dreams of a nuclear future are not going to happen. Think about growing a conscience instead of remaining on the losing end of history and humanity.


Riki Tiki Tavi said...

"Mitch said...

What Riki Tiki Tavi said...
Those anti-nuclear heroes who feed your kind that marlarky WON'T come debate live with real nuclear professionals like on the Atomic Show at atomicinsights.com. That says it all to me about how bulletproof their -- and your "facts" are!"

Sure they will, but not to further the nuclear industry's lying propaganda in some kind of a staged witch hunt. Do it fairly and pay my way and I'll debate any of them. Now you don't get to repeat that falsehood anymore.

Riki Tiki Tavi said...

" gmax137 said...

Take a couple of deep breaths, E-P. While alot of defense work went on at Santa Susana, I dont think the SRE (and its fuel-melt incident) is in that category. If you're going to argue with people like RTT, it's best to be flawless on the facts."

Thank you gmax, he was getting embarrassing even to you, huh? Maybe next you might influence him to tone down his ad hominem attacks on well-meaning good people like Dr. Tyson who aren't here to defend themselves. If anything makes your industry look like a gang of psychopathic thugs, it's his kind of rightwing hysterical BEHAVING like a low-mentality conscienceless thug. Wouldn't it be great if everybody could just put their facts on the table and come to an agreement about what's best in the long term for the whole world, and not just what's good for the cash flow of large corporations? It's now possible to identify psychopaths using MRI and Dr. Hare's clinical assessment questionnaire, we'd only need to test everyone attending such a hypothetical meeting and exclude the psychopaths. Or perhaps better, let them in after evaluation anyway and make sure what's decided is NOT what they want.

gmax137 said...

Riki - I'm no psychologist but I expect there's a diagnosis for individuals who believe everyone who disagrees with them is a "right wing psychopath." Your continuing block text posts that repeat that mantra just make you look like a crazy person yourself.

I have worked in commercial nuclear power industry for about 35 years and in my experience, the people in this business span the political spectrum from tea party hawks to bleeding hearts, with most somewhere in the center. Very few have gotten rich, most of us are working stiffs making a comfortable but not lavish living. We are proud of our contribution to society: emmission-free electric power delivered 24-7. Unlike other power generators, we sequester our waste and don't use the atmosphere and waterways as our dumping grounds. Do errors and leaks occur? Of course they do, but it is rare and in the big picture the effects are small; the alternative (fossil combustion) processes continuously discharge their wastes as a normal practice causing thousands of deaths every year.

Engineer-Poet said...

TL;DR version:  RTT totally unencumbered by the thought process, ought to hang out with anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy, needs to examine his premises but won't.

"Wanting to leave a clean and safe world for my children and their children's children"

You don't even understand what that is.  You are following a fad, like prescribing the entire world a macrobiotic diet of brown rice which is fatally deficient in vitamins and protein.  You are like Jenny McCarthy getting hysterical over vaccines while the lack of herd immunity kills children from preventable measles.  You are hysterical over the prospect of minuscule doses of radiation.  Even after it's shown to you that slightly increased radiation levels are likely to improve your descendants' health rather than harm it (to the tune of 7% longer lifespan), you're still posting hysterical walls of text.

And I'll repeat what I said before:  I'll take some of that "dangerous nuclear waste" if you'll give me just the stuff that's only dangerous for a few hundred years.  The danger decreases over time, of course.  I'll be happy to take either a Sr-90 or Cs-137 source, packaged to my specifications, with initial heat output between 5 kW and 10 kW thermal.  Yes, I will PUT IT IN MY HOUSE.  If it would be a danger to anyone, it would be to me alone.  (I'm quite capable of calculating the thickness of lead or concrete required to shield it sufficiently.)

What would I do with it?  I'd use it to heat my house, generate my hot water and maybe generate a bit of carbon-free electricity.  It would operate for the rest of my life.  Oh, I'd also like the decommissioned nuclear site about 30 miles from me put back into service (maybe with a 6-pack of NuScales).  My land is worth quite a bit of money, and I'd likely be in the fallout path from any accident.  I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.

"is "psychopathic" and "brutal"?"

Here is where, out of the blue, you introduced the words "brutal psychopaths" into this discussion.  Aside from being obvious psyhological projection, such words are an attempt to silence people.  So is a perverse refusal to consider facts contrary to one's position.

I find it useful to shed light on the tactics used by the anti-nuclear left.  They cannot make a case with facts and reason, so they assume their conclusion and simply bully or excommunicate all those who won't go along.  You're cut from that cloth.  Fortunately, your shouting tactics don't work on line.  People reading this thread can see who cites facts and uses reason, and who simply rants and raves.  I address my words to you, but I speak to THEM.

""a person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.""

Oh, but I've learned plenty from the likes of you!  I've learned that you are not the least bit interested in truth if it fails to match your dogma.  Trying to discuss disputed matters of fact results in emotional explosions, not any sort of rational response.  In short, exactly the sort of behavior you exhibit here.

I'm not here to convert you.  I'm here to get you to show the world exactly what you are, and why you should absolutely not be trusted.  With anything.  So far, so good.

Engineer-Poet said...

(continued)

"The frontal lobes which in normals process empathy, conscience, and assist in making executive decisions that include morality derived from empathy and conscience, are damaged and/or or disconnected from deeper regions of the brain in psychopaths."

And then there's the other end of the spectrum, where the frontal lobes are too connected and people have a sense of fairness and decency that is exaggerated compared to the average.  That's where I am.  I used to have trouble understanding the unfair and abusive characterizations leftists heap on anyone who disagrees with them.  It took Jonathan Haidt’s analysis of leftists' attempts to think like conservatives that showed me how their brains are broken... how your brain is broken.  "Psychopathic and brutal", indeed.

A compassionate and loving person would certainly try to get pollution out of the air and keep the ice caps from melting, even if hordes of deluded people thought that the necessary course of action was horribly dangerous.  The problem is the delusion, and those who spread it.  Like voodoo, the belief is harmful.

"High up on the scale of psychopathy are those who would deliberately crap up the whole planet, knowingly bringing misery to future generations for financial gain, and laugh all the way to the bank"

Sounds like fossil-fuel interests to me.  Weathering doesn't equilibrate with CO2 emissions for a million years.  Even Pu-239 is gone in half that time, and nobody in their right mind would throw plutonium away because it makes such good fuel.  The fission products become less radio-toxic than uranium and its decay products in about 500 years.

"By this way this applies not only to the nuclear corporate suits under discussion in this context but the coal and oil ones too."

Now if you could only remove "nuclear" you'd have a true statement... finally.

"How many of you pro-nuclear psychopaths recognize yourselves as 'alien'?"

I'm a flat zero on that scale, starting with "charming".  My worst involvement with the law has been traffic tickets.  You, on the other hand, sound more paranoid than psychopathic, but the traits you attribute to others still apply more to you.

"FYI the world is wising up to you, and your dreams of a nuclear future are not going to happen."

Tell that to Russia, China, S. Korea and India.  They'll do it regardless.  The only question is if the USA will continue to be an industrial nation that can provide a good standard of living for its citizens, or become a third-world dump.  Electricity 24/7/365 is key, and it's got to be carbon-free.

"Think about growing a conscience instead of remaining on the losing end of history and humanity."

Think about examining your premises instead of assuming that anyone who disagrees with you is morally deficient.  If you are wrong on the health question, it is YOU that is morally deficient... by standing in the way of what absolutely must be done.