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

Would you prefer that the Legislature pursue nuclear or coal power in Kansas?

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The Lawrence Journal has put this question to the Kansas community. Impressively, the phrasing of the question clearly recognizes that, for the majority of the electrical energy production of the state, in practice, it’s a choice between nuclear energy and burning coal.

Let’s look at the comments from the four citizens interviewed:

“Given a choice between the two, I’d go with nuclear. I think it’s cleaner for the now. You can at least sequester the waste, whereas with coal you can’t. Coal-burning plants seem too archaic.”

This person recognizes coal to be a problem, and nuclear energy is recognised as a clean alternative to replace coal.

“I’ll go with coal. It’s cheaper for the consumer, and the resources are more readily available here.”

This was the first thing that came to my mind as a response to that.

“I’d say nuclear. I think it’s more efficient; it doesn’t consume as many resources, and the output is better for the environment.”

Another person who recognises nuclear energy as something which is important as a realistic alternative to large-scale coal-fired electricity generation, and the grave effects of same.

“I’m definitely against the use of coal-burning power plants, because it seems too much like going backward for a quick fix. But I really don’t know enough about nuclear power to endorse it as an alternative.”

It’s great to see these kinds of comments in the community, too. This woman recognizes the problems posed by coal, but doesn’t pass any judgement on nuclear energy, since it wouldn’t be sensible to do so since she doesn’t know enough about it, and wants to learn more.

The majority of the people interviewed are clearly opposed to coal-fired generation – that’s good to see.

Whilst the, uh, signal-to-noise ratio of the comments on the comment board isn’t particularly appealing, there are still some positive and interesting comments.

I gotta go coal. I just don’t really trust the whole nuke thing… I think leaving all the radioactive waste for later is worse than leaving our kids with a deficit, or dirty air.
Not that I like coal either. There just isn’t any free ride when it comes to energy.

Coal, by God. It’s better for the State’s economy.

Unfortunately, decades of cheap, pollution-ignored coal and fear have held us back from getting to work on improved, refined, and simplified nuclear plants.

And, for those who aren’t aware, Lawrencians get about 100 times the radiation dose from Uranium and Thorium emitted in the flue gases and only nominally restrained ash piles at our KPL coal plant than the people of Coffey County do from Wolf Creek.

But, given these limited choices, I’d pick nuclear over coal.

As always, do consider leaving your comment, if you’re interested.

Written by Luke Weston

May 9, 2008 at 8:50 am

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