Posted by: NotAScientist | November 19, 2008

Nuclear power? Not in my back yard!

cooling-tower

One of the ‘dangers’ of being labeled a liberal is that I hold many positions that aren’t traditionally considered liberal. That may not seem like a danger to many other people, but it’s never fun being hunted down by a mob of angry environmentalists.

Which is not to say I’m against the environment. But my support for something like this might get me banned from a lot of ‘green’ parties:

Nuclear power plants smaller than a garden shed and able to power 20,000 homes will be on sale within five years, say scientists at Los Alamos, the US government laboratory which developed the first atomic bomb.

The reactors, only a few metres in diameter, will be delivered on the back of a lorry to be buried underground. They must be refuelled every 7 to 10 years. Because the reactor is based on a 50-year-old design that has proved safe for students to use, few countries are expected to object to plants on their territory. An application to build the plants will be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission next year.

‘You could never have a Chernobyl-type event – there are no moving parts,’ said Deal. ‘You would need nation-state resources in order to enrich our uranium. Temperature-wise it’s too hot to handle. It would be like stealing a barbecue with your bare hands.’

How freaking cool is that!?

The one issue that I sided with McCain with over Obama was his stance on nuclear power. I’ve done my own research, and to me it looks like nuclear energy is the way to go if we want to ween ourselves off the oil and coal. Obviously we can work on other technologies like solar power and wind power, but nuclear power is the only thing currently out there that can compete with oil for the amount of electricity that Americans use.

It is also incredibly safe and clean. These mini reactors, over 10 years, would allegedly only produce a softball-sized amount of waste. And most of it could be recycled and used as fuel for another reactor! How can the amount of pollution that we pump into the air every 10 years even compare to less than a softball of nuclear waste?

I think a key problem with some of my environmentalist friends is that they hold an irrational bias against nuclear power. Perhaps it’s the word ‘nuclear’? There’s a lot of baggage there. When one sees that word, the next word you think is usually ‘bomb’. Or perhaps it’s the cooling towers? I didn’t even know until a few years ago that those massive smokestacks are not pumping radiation or pollution into the air…just steam.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I definitely want my own reactor in my back yard.

If nothing else, it will make me feel like the Bond-villain every evil atheist truly wants to be…

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Responses

  1. I agree with you. I’m as liberal as they come, try to think green too, yet think nuclear power is part of the solution.

  2. I really do like nuclear power as well but I am skeptical of the ‘softballiness’ of nuclear waste.

  3. The softballiness only refers to these mini back-yard nuclear reactors. Obviously a full scale reactor would produce more waste.

    But a surprisingly large amount would still be recyclable.

  4. nukes RULE!!! lol. No seriously, it makes more sense than anything else. Who loses when you use nuclear? i don’t understand why there is ANY opposition to it at all. Besides, it will be a great bridge to get to Fusion (He 3 on the moon. i left a link on Nance’s blog, but i guess i could drag it over here.). You know what the best thing about it is? It was made in the U.S. of A, finally. It’s about time we had a cool and profitable industry, instead of merely accruing massive trade debt.

  5. Your irrational evironmentalist friends suffer from the same impediment as you do in a wierd sort of way.They belive they have been given the charge from mother earth,(not God , because they don’t believe in god either), To stop the evil super preditors(humans) from destroying the earth.The truth be Known the only group inside the liberal democrat party that they favor is the pro-abort crowd. It’s not that they want us to use less resoures or live in straw huts. They want us dead. They would be in favor of a nuclear catastrophe that wiped out the human race, if it wouldn’t harm plants and animals and rocks. They have a thing for rocks.

  6. Let’s all thank Super Dave for your daily dose of Christian propaganda!

  7. As an environmentalist, I’d like to say, I do have a bit of a thing for rocks- since they are awesome. And they’re also a fantastic way to debunk silly creationist young earthyness.

    Also, I rather like nuke power, many of us smart environmentalists do. I’m not sure about the back-yard nuke, I haven’t looked at it to much- but I’m way in favor of a diversified power portfolio, including nuke, wind, and solar- especially solar. Efficient solar power is vital- even more than nuclear power- since uranium isn’t renewable. The sun is effectively an infinite source of free-for-the-taking energy. If we can get to the point where every house can have a panel or two on it’s roof and feed into a decentralized power grid. Able to support not only it’s own power, but feed back into the system to support other houses which are generating less power.

    That will be awesome.

  8. I am just agreeing with you.

  9. Smart evironmentalist. Is that an oxymoron?

  10. “Smart evironmentalist. Is that an oxymoron?”

    No.

    “Intelligent creationist” is.

  11. Actually, most “liberals” and “environmentalists” came around to the nuclear philosophy years ago. It’s only the most militant and extremist folks who oppose it. But like “Jesus Camp” doesn’t represent all Christians, these extreme environmentalists don’t speak for the rest of us. It’s just that, like the “Jesus Campers”, they’re the most vocal. What needs to happen is these vocal minorities need to be distanced from. I don’t, however, believe Obama’s stance is firmly against nuclear as you saw in the campaign. He was preaching to a base he needed, just like McCain went after those Christians that want to bring about The Rapture.

    That being said, can you clarify “These mini reactors, over 10 years, would allegedly only produce a softball-sized amount of waste. ” Is that per reactor or in total? If per, that might be a lot depending on how many of these are rolled out. A softball field sized amount of carbon in the atmosphere is not a lot. That much nuclear waste can be, especially if you’ve got thousands of these reactors all producing that amount and I’d need to know more about how that’s being recycled before I can fully get on the bandwagon. That being said, though, I wouldn’t have any problem having one of these close by. Currently, my backyard’s only a few hundred feet from an oil distribution center. I’m more concerned with that than having a small reactor buried the same distance away.

  12. ““Intelligent creationist” is.”
    Morsec0de,
    After our long, drawn out discussions, I am slightly offended, but its fine.
    I am a Christian. I believe the Rapture is imminent(spoonman), but I don’t believe Jesus needs to rely on some mini-nuclear reactors as a distraction for His return. He’s coming back with or without nukes. If you want to talk about bringing about a world wide anything and using nukes to do it, research a Muslim Twelver or the 12th Imam(spelling?)
    Back to the nuclear issue, use it! It makes sense. Harnessed power, clean power is great power.

  13. Joe: “If we can get to the point where every house can have a panel or two on it’s roof and feed into a decentralized power grid.”
    The problem with said program is that solar takes a long time to pay itself off, but if everyone implimented it, like you say, then that issue might end up being solved as PG&E send checks out to those houses that are in fact Generating power lol.
    However, the most efficient source of solar energy is in space, and piggybacking that energy on a carrier microwave down through earth’s atmosphere. They have already proven that it’s possible in a test run on Kuaii when they generated a focused microwave beam that extended as far out as 80 miles from the source. The atmosphere only is 60 miles thick. Very cool stuff. We currently have the tech to accomplish this too, so i think what you are saying is somewhat unnecessary. Though, who ever said anything about “too much solar power”? you won’t catch me saying it.

  14. To be worth anything the energy created by a couple of solar panel has to have current thats greater than the power in the grid. At the same time it has to be nearly perfectly 60 hz, or there will be a lot of apliances that will burn out. Thats why it isn’t practical at this time. Also when power lines go down during bad weather the line men would be in peril of electrocution if every single solar panel wasn’t disconnected. If it was easy everyone would be doing it.

  15. Morse: come on, why is it smarter to believe that everything came from nothing and evolved to a level of complexety, that the very smartest among us say that they can’t even comprehind, the probability of this occuring by chance, much less be able to calculate the odds of it happening by random selection.

  16. “why is it smarter to believe that everything came from nothing”

    Simple. NO ONE believe that everything came from nothing.

    Nice strawman, though.

  17. So where did it come from?

  18. Not sure.

    Best guess? Another type of universe.

  19. What if Time is actually cyclic superdave? Beginning and end wouldn’t be necessary then.

  20. Good point. Check out the latest skeptoid podcast on how recycling isn’t always good. For instance, paper products leave way more carbon footprint when they are recycled instead of using lumber from sustainable logging operations.

    It pays to be skeptical of your own positions!

    Josh Nankivel
    http://non-theist.com

  21. What if time were cylical? Is that a falsifiable hypothesis? Or do you believe that in faith without any evidence?

  22. “Is that a falsifiable hypothesis?”

    I think it was a question.

  23. don’t even mention “falsafiable” without first demonstrating it yourself Nance. Actually, there is some evidance to the notion of cyclic time; it was a particular solution of spacetime that was made possible by Einstien’s General Relativity.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_timelike_curve
    There was also a seminal paper written by J. Richard Gott III and Li-Xin Li of Princeton in 1997 titled “Can the Universe create itself?”
    And just because it may not apply to our universe it may very well represent the multiverse, as there are certainly some universes which fall into this pattern, and given Eternal Inflation which is always a posssibility with our current model of the universe, and there you have it. If you want to test the assertion of a multiverse be my guest; http://scienceblogs.com/evolutionblog/2008/11/is_the_multiverse_real.php?utm_source=networkbanner&utm_medium=link

  24. Here’s the actual paper, if anyone is interested; i’m not sure how long this link will work or if it does. be sure to tell me if it doesn’t.

    http://www.citebase.org/fulltext?format=application%2Fpdf&identifier=oai%3AarXiv.org%3Aastro-ph%2F9712344

  25. Rick,
    The links works, but I’m here to write about nuclear power!!!

    Don’t know about you, but when I think of nuclear power, I think of green radiation, or a nice green glow. Not sure why, maybe all the movies, or maybe there’s something to that. Krytonite is green, The Hulk is Green, hmmm.

    So, nuclear power is green! We should all be happy. Isn’t this fun 🙂

  26. sorry treefan (and i actually saw a cd of their music while i was shopping for festivus), that was a response to Nance. thanks for looking into it though lol.

  27. hate to be off topic morse, but let’s vote on taking “in God we trust” off.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10103521/

  28. The notion of the existence of a mutli-universe is a metaphysical assertion, not an empirical observation, thus non-falsifiable. Good grief, you will believe anything as long as it allows you to be your own god.

  29. Nance,

    Please define ‘metaphysical’. I’ve heard a number of definitions for it, so I’d like to know how you’re using it.

    I think a problem you’re running into is that you seem to think that suggesting possibilities is the same as asserting something as true.

    The point is that NO ONE KNOWS how the universe came to exist. All we have is a little bit of evidence and then a lot of guesswork.

    That being said, we can look at those guesses and determine to certain levels of certainty which guesses would make sense and which ones wouldn’t.

    God is a guess, in my humble opinion, that doesn’t work too well as an explanation.

  30. A Multiverse isn’t a metaphysical assertion Nance. Look into the idea of “Eternal Inflation.” Clearly you don’t even have a proper understanding of the current Big Bang Theory, which, unlike your misinformation would lead you to believe, didn’t “Bang” at time 0, but expanded later, After a specified length of time, known as Planch Time; i keep bringing this up, but no one seems to mind that this is a completely pivotal statement. for graeater knowledge on this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_inflation

    and a specific section on
    Eternal Inflation (Chaotic Inflation):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaotic_inflation

    Chaotic inflation could mean that as the universe gets to it’s final stages of existance, where nearly all the energy is substantially closer to absolute 0, there would be plenty of opportunity for Chaotic inflation to spawn new regions of space whch would become new universes.
    After all Nance, energy in the universe is derived from Gravitational energy, and since energy is generared reandomly by vacuum fluctuations, gravitational energy is similarly chaotically created and destroyed.
    However, if any small part of space were to undergo inflation similar to that of the early universe (on the order of 10^26 times its size at that time), then the repulsive gravity would be enough to proliferate the universe with matter and energy like our own. The way that this is possible is because the total matter/ energy of the universe is near or equal to 0, as gravity behaves as a negative energy. So the proliferation of new universes is perfectly alright, given that the time frame for this type of event to occur: it is extremely unlikely, likely to be 1 in a trilltion trillion years time.
    However, there is no reason to speculate that universe will actually End, per say, just that it will get substantially older, emptier and colder. So, in that sense, eternal inflation is an inevitable by-product of the extreme timescales involved in cosmology. If you wish to refute me, use science. Semantics is not very convincing, Nance

  31. Morse, this has been bugging me since i wrote this. feel free to delete the first one okay?

    A Multiverse isn’t a metaphysical assertion Nance. Look into the idea of “Eternal Inflation.” Clearly you don’t even have a proper understanding of the current Big Bang Theory, which, unlike your misinformation would lead you to believe, didn’t “Bang” at time 0, but expanded later, After a specified length of time, known as Planch Time; i keep bringing this up, but no one seems to mind that this is a completely pivotal statement. for graeater knowledge on this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_inflation

    and a specific section on
    Eternal Inflation (Chaotic Inflation):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaotic_inflation

    Chaotic inflation could mean that as the universe gets to it’s final stages of existance, where nearly all the energy is substantially closer to absolute 0, there would be plenty of opportunity for Chaotic inflation to spawn new regions of space whch would become new universes.

    After all Nance, energy in the universe is derived from Gravitational energy, and since energy is generared reandomly by vacuum fluctuations, gravitational energy is similarly chaotically created and destroyed.

    However, if any small part of space were to undergo inflation similar to that of the early universe (on the order of 10^26 times its size at that time), then the repulsive gravity would be enough to proliferate the universe with matter and energy like our own. The way that this is possible is because the total matter/ energy of the universe is near or equal to 0, as gravity behaves as a negative energy. So the proliferation of new universes is perfectly alright, given that the time frame for this type of event to occur: it is extremely unlikely, likely to be 1 in a trillion trillion years time.

    However, there is no reason to speculate that universe will actually End, per se, just that it will get substantially older, emptier and colder. So, in that sense, eternal inflation is an inevitable by-product of the extreme timescales involved in cosmology. If you wish to refute me, use science. Semantics is not very convincing, Nance

    There, that’s much easier to read.

  32. “God is a guess, in my humble opinion, that doesn’t work too well as an explanation.”

    In my humble opinion is works perfectly. But we already knew we differed there.

    Metaphysical- (from Webster’s, since rickroll likes to know my sources) a. concerned with abstract thought or subjects, as existence, causality, or truth.
    b. concerned with first principles and ultimate grounds, as being, time, or substance.

    Are you really just exploring possibilites without any concern for the truth of those suggestions? What are you even discussing them for if all options are true? Or real? Or really true?

  33. “Semantics is not very convincing”

    I have to agree, your semantics was not very convincing.

  34. where’s the science Nance? you’re still playing word games here.
    Nance, get off of “truth.” You’re smothering it. Reality. all that matters.
    God=metaphysics. Double standard much?

    “Are you really just exploring possibilites without any concern for the truth of those suggestions? What are you even discussing them for if all options are true? Or real? Or really true?”

    “Sir, you have to look at this! The irony readings, they’re off the charts!!”

  35. “Reality. all that matters.”
    Is that a truth claim about reality?

    I know you hate discussing it. Truth is the blackhole of Atheist thought. You cannot live consistently withing your worlview and will avoid discussing the truth even you have to distract from the discussion by attacking your opposing person. That’s OK, I’ve come to expect it.

    If absolute truth exists, it reveals a universal standard. For you to deny absolute truth, you have to employ the very claim you are denying. Self-defeating. That must really chap your hide.

  36. “Truth is the blackhole of Atheist thought. ”

    No it’s not.

    “If absolute truth exists, it reveals a universal standard.”

    Called ‘evidence’.

    Evidence reveals truth. Observation, investigation and the scientific method discover truth.

    Can it find all truth? If we have all the information, yes. As we don’t, it only tells us as much truth as information we have.

    We don’t make up a being and say “that explains it all”. Besides being made up, all it does is push your explanation back, offering no explanation for the thing you’ve made up.

  37. Mcode and all involved in this conversation, sorry to interupt, but I have a question for Rick Roll.
    What was the book you read that changed your outlook on Christianity? You told me before, but I have forgot the title.
    I would like to get a copy so I can see what turned you off to Jesus.

  38. It’s fine, nevigrov.

    lol i was seriously turned off to god anyway by the time i found it, but -and this is incredab;y ironic- the book was Conversations with God, for Teens. It has an outlook of god that was not as supercillious as the christian one, and for that, it forever put that time of my life behind me.

    I ecentually gave up the notion of god, but this was what ultimately ruined christianity for me. Having already read The Hitchhiker’s Guide anthology, it was essentially a foregone conclusion that this would happen.

    Morse, i think that “truth” is not appropriate here, because what we are looking for is the mechanisms behind how the universe opperates, it isn’t something we can label as “truth”. Truth is something which, as we all know, varies based on who you talk to.

    Just based on eyewitness accounts alone, truth isn’t something as tenable as the principles of science. Science deals with proof, evidance to account for the state of reality. “Truth” is anthropomorphising reality, and that, in and of itself, does not seem very truthful. So, truthfully, it isn’t about truth. It’s about facts- there is a huge difference.

    In short, there is NO EVIDENCE to account for any statement of absolute tuth, thus the null hypothosis is observed. I’m not making a statement of absolute truth, because such assertions are unscientific. You might want to look into the concept of empiricism Nance.

  39. ““Truth” is anthropomorphising reality, and that, in and of itself, does not seem very truthful. ”

    Is that statement anthropomorphising reality?

  40. your parrot can type really well, Nance

  41. I haven’t heard about these home unit reactors before now, but I agree with your stance about nuclear power in general.
    1. You get more energy for less fuel substance
    2. No greenhouse gas emissions
    3. Its threats are avoidable, and especially, it sounds like, with such small scale units, whereas the threat of global warming is NOT avoidable with continued greenhouse gas emissions
    That’s interesting and awesome that the softball-sized wastes will be mostly recyclable.

  42. “what are they waiting for?” i say. Are we beggining to impliment this now? IF not we’re really missing out!

  43. R. Roll,
    Thanks for the title. I remember you had told me before but I could not recall the name. Admittedly, it is ironic that the page was turned in your life toward atheism by a “Christian” book. Interresting, to say the least.
    Happy belated Thanksgiving!

  44. It’s not a “christian” book. Not unless it’s like Universalism or something, which i doubt. The completely take apart God as this “Omnipotent thingy outside the universe” and go with the, “inner god-ness” spin. It has truly been too long to remember accurately, but that much i am certain. The point being that God as a totalarian dictator was shown to be unnecessary and fruitless in the context of personal relationships.

  45. I appreciate that Rick Roll. I plan to check it out for myself when time permits.
    Do you remember the author’s last name?
    That would probably help with locating it since there are several books available conversations and God in the title.

  46. All the same guy, i imagine. It is a singularly blasphemous concept: to speak as if one Was God. Nonetheless, it is not apprpriate to dismiss his points merely because of the frame in which he puts them. Consider Heidegger

  47. Thanks

  48. The problem with distributed, “neighborhood” plants is that all it takes is a small conventional bomb to create a dirty nuclear bomb. A terrorist doesn’t need to take or transport the reactor, just blowing a few up in situ would be terrible. Plus as a means of efficiency, it would probably be better to build larger reactors (or a least put these in a well protected “farm”)

  49. Neat website.. I will come back again soon.


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