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Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Your point about disposal is well-taken; however, space disposal, which Jim also mentioned earlier on the thread, has at least two fatal ( and I do mean FATAL) flaws.  I let it slide when focusing on another point he made, but it does bear discussion.

Adding nuclear waste to the accumulation of space junk in Earth orbit is problematic...all orbiting objects eventually lose altitude and crash to ground, unless they burn up in the atmosphere upon re-entry.  See this interesting article:  http://science.howstuffworks.com/space-junk2.htm

All of this detritus poses a risk for space travelers and unmanned satellites in the meantime.  That includes much (if not most) of our communications capabilities. 

Second, and more of an issue, honestly, is not having the junk somewhere overhead, it's getting it there.  It's been less than a month ago that we lost a very valuable set of satellites destined for orbit, when one of the most reliable workhorse rockets we use to place them there exploded on the way up. 

NASA is not batting 1000 on this, even with over a half-century of practice.  Rockets - like nuclear reactors - are examples of controlled chaos, and we sometimes - not often, but occasionally - lose control and end up with just plain chaos.  Would not want to be in that flight path's shadow. 

There are places remote enough and stable enough to make quite logical nuclear disposal sites.  Outer space just simply isn't one of them....

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Senior Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

I agree about the China's and India's putting in nuke power to eash our relience on fossil as long as the plan is in" effect to handle the by- products" of these---on the other hand "should" Iran or Iraq use nuke to ease the strain on fossill resources----wasn't the reason we went to Iraq-- to stop weapons of mass destruction  ? ? Yucca moutain is supposed to be the dump site for high radiation material--

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Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative? nuclear or poverty

For some reason, this thread appears to be fracturing on me this morning.  I can see posts, then not see them....hmmmm.

Please understand: You do nto need to make a case to me for nuclear power.  I never understood why TMI stopped us cold as a nuclear nation, but it did.  I think Fukushima will, too, but on a more global scale. 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

This entire thread is a mirror of the varying approaches that will be seen in great intensity as the energy debate grows.  Nearly every proposal has been opposed for various reason, not all of which are well researched.  But popular opposition does not require research.

 

I guess I'm figuring I'll die before the debate gets to the point where we reach the point where agreement is critical.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Solve the waste --GO nuclear--after all waste that is radiant for a "couple of centuries" or more isn't a Sunday School picnic--

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Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

I heard an interesting perspective on nuclear power recently.

 

By far the two largest civilian nuke programs in the world are in France and Japan.

 

In the case of Japan, the country has virtually no oil and it was turned into a parking lot when it decided it needed to make a grab for the oil fields of Southeast Asia. The risks of nuclear power look fairly small in comparison.

 

Likewise, France has arguably suffered from war more than any other nation in the 20th century. They got tired of the endless war in Algeria in the 50s early 60s that was trying to keep control of their colonial oil and went home. 

 

Whatever the risks, an assessment might conclude that nukes are cheaper than war and that probably even goes for wars that you win (although we never look at the costs of wars we win in that way).

 

One thing about both France and Japan, though, is that they have highly federalized systems. That means that if the central government decides that X is the best spot for a nuke plant, that is pretty much wherre it goes and too bad if it is next to you.

 

Doesn't work that way in our system.

 

fwiw, h 

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Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

The earthquake was one week ago today.  The G7 had to agree to support the Japanese economy yesterday...to prevent its meltdown, too.  What does this say about the durability of First World economies? 

This is going to be an object lesson to watch for many reasons.  How will they proceed in rebuilding?  How will it be financed?  Will they build back in innundated areas, or do as we did in 1999, and move certain land uses out of low-lying flood planes? 

Does Japanese risk management include loss coverage insurance?  Will companies stand up to the widespread loss? 

Jim, I do not know how old you are, but I sometimes wonder how the world will have to change elementally while Mike and I are still inhabitants in this incarnation.  Have done a Real Life assessment, and am supposed to have nearly forty nore years this trip; so, I expect to see a lot of things done differently before checking out. 

This decision has been delayed before, and may well be put off now, depending upon the extent and duration of the present Middle Eastern uproar.  Some would say the Saudis have been pumping way more seawater into wells than oil out of them for some time now, so maybe the end is nearer than we think. 

I just watched the TV graphics showing the 13-mile evacuation zone surrounding the Fukushima site...it sheared off at the seacoast, as though no impact is being made in our direction.  The information alteration has already begun. 

This is what bothers me: We will be given only that bit of knowledge that the powers that be want us to have.  Commercial developers of resources will tell us only what serves their interests.  How do you trust university research, when it's funded by private enterprise grants?  They will only release "data" that makes their point. 

What we see with our own two eyes and hear with our own two ears will be cast into doubt by "experts," who will tell us to ignore the man behind the curtain.  Raise any questions, and you will be accused of being paid to say what you think..as was done to me when raising issues about natural gas on another thread. 

This is why we haven't solved the energy problem, and why we probably never really will.  The issue gets a lot of lip service about once every generation, then fades away as we absorb this cost of living, thanks to the quick print shop known as the Fed. 

Fossil fuel here has stayed just cheap enough to disincentivize real alternatives.  We've used taxation of its consumption just enough to fund more roads, which only encourages more dependence upon fossil fuels. 

Europeans have had the policy of taxing gasoline hard to fund mass transit. I think we've discussed why that is less satisfactory in such a wide-flung landscape as America; but, we could have taxed for alternative energy R&D that would work here, couldn't we?  If we've made the link to taxing cigarettes for public healthcare expense, the precedent already exists....

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Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Excellent points.  It is true that both Japan and France were carried deep into the state of destruction in WW II. 

I wonder if the new model of nuclear energy in the US ought to be as a national asset, part of our shared infrastructure - like roads - rather than as a private enterprise.  That resolves the land condemnation part of the picture, given our well-established practice of eminent domain. 

Newer Supreme Court opinion may allow for exercise of that principle for private gain, but many states did amend their constitutions to prevent that usurpation of private property.  I honestly think I'd be more comfortable with the Army COE siting and perhaps even designing nuclear plants. 

Given that existing plants routinely fail terrorism defense drills, from recent reports, maybe the thing to do is site them on military installations.,,at least where natural factors like hydrology and seimology support the location.  Converting a lot of our military expense and effort, manpower and real estate, and (most crucial) BUDGET to supplanting our oil imports, is a no-brainer to me. 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

Kay --.

Good points and if you look up Yucca Mountain and absorb the accountability of decision making and the amount of $$$ spent with little to show for syndrome---this is why we have arrived to this point---9 billion spent and still not operational ---also "kilowatt tax" being collected on produced energy from nuclear production facilities was "intended to pay" for the project----better yet Google Yucca mountain and read for one's self----pretty much a "head scratchier ?

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Senior Advisor

Re: Japan and the nuclear alternative?

"Europeans have had the policy of taxing gasoline hard to fund mass transit. I think we've discussed why that is less satisfactory in such a wide-flung landscape as America; but, we could have taxed for alternative energy R&D that would work here, couldn't we? If we've made the link to taxing cigarettes for public healthcare expense, the precedent already exists...."

 

I lived in Germany for 10 years, including the time when the Bundesbahn (German rail system) was privatized more or less).  It always ran a deficit when federally operated.  My understanding at the time was that high gasoline taxes where not to subsidize the railroad as that was done from general funds.  The purpose of high gasoline taxes was to discourage driving.  My observations of my wife's German family was that all it did was make driving more expensive.  A young person in Germany couldn't wait to get their license (cost 2000 DM 20 years ago, about $800) and buy a car.  The result was that only the rich drove without worrying about the price,but everyone wanted to drive.  To the extent that high gas prices dissuaded people from driving it did it only because of cost, not because anyone felt they were doing good for the environment.

 

What we are finding in Iowa is that the cigartette taxes, etc. are going into the general revenues as did the cigarett company settlements of a few years ago.  As the economy tightens up, the idea of using those funds for health kind of got lost.  Darn.  We can't afford to use any of that general revenue for health, don't you know?  I have yet to see an earmarked tax that stayed earmarked, beginning with fuel taxes and including social security.

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