Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

Anti-nuclear-energy rubbish article of the week.

with 3 comments

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080512/parenti/print

“Wall street doesn’t like nuclear power,” says Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. The fundamental fact is that nuclear power is too expensive and risky to attract the necessary commercial investors. Even with vast government subsidies, it is difficult or almost impossible to get proper financing and insurance. The massive federal subsidies on offer will cover up to 80 percent of construction costs of several nuclear power plants in addition to generous production tax credits, as well as risk insurance. But consider this: the average two-reactor nuclear power plant is estimated to cost $10 billion to $18 billion to build. That’s before cost overruns, and no US nuclear power plant has ever been delivered on time or on budget.

Anti-nuclear-energy dogmatists like Makhijani wouldn’t know the difference between a loan guarantee and a subsidy if it jumped up and bit them.

Spent nuclear fuel rods are refined for weapons-grade plutonium and enriched uranium

What a load of rubbish. Weapons-grade plutonium and HEU are produced from “spent nuclear fuel rods”? What an idiot. A sentence like that is only an embarrassment to the author.

In this nether realm, where industry and science seek to reproduce the process that occurs inside the sun, even basic tasks–like moving the fuel rods, changing spare parts–become complicated, mechanized and expensive.

Actually, the nuclear fusion of hydrogen within the stars and the nuclear fission of uranium are two completely different things.

Atom-smashing is to coal power, or a windmill, as a Formula One race-car engine is to the mechanics of a bicycle. Thus, it costs an enormous amount of money.

OK, suppose that, on the surface of it, that that’s a sensible statement. However, a race-car engine produces a whole lot more energy, and runs continually for a much longer time, with much higher reliability, than a bicycle, and it will take you a much greater distance in a given amount of time.

If you want to have a bicycle as your only sole means of transport, as opposed to a (non-polluting, non fossil fuelled) Formula One car, then there’s a reasonably convincing case to be made that you’re not much more than a Luddite.

Moore is also a huge champion of GMO crops, which are notorious for impoverishing farmers in developing economies and using massive amounts of pesticides.

Actually, GM crops require much less pesticide than traditional plant species.

“One of these days a plant will blow,” says Sidebotham, with just a touch of a genteel but steely New England accent. “And when it does, it will cause a great many deaths and widespread suffering, not to mention extraordinary economic damage.”

A plant is going to “blow”, huh? It’s going to “blow” -like a nuclear weapon, maybe? So, exactly what, in terms of real-world physics, is going to happen? What is going to “blow”? How?

What a load of baloney!

There’s a lot more nonsense where that came from, but I’m just one mortal man, with finite patience, and it’s getting late.

3 Responses

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  1. Thank you for “Fisking” The Nation attack on nuclear power.

    Charles Barton

    April 28, 2008 at 11:47 am

  2. Well done. One difference: GM foods actually allow for MORE insecticide because they are designed to be more immune to the adverse effects of insecticide and some pesticides. Plus, there is the ‘suicide seeds’ that are virtually infecting Mexican corn creating sterile varieties…and killing it off. GM is not the greatest thing in the world.

    David

    David Walters

    April 28, 2008 at 1:03 pm

  3. I read your blog everyday, because its good. But the stupidity of the people you quote really depresses me.

    truthwalker

    April 28, 2008 at 1:57 pm


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