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    • CommentAuthorRobinB
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Posted By: JSHarrisor that to heat and light their homes for around 20 years would result in a bit of waste about the size of an aspirin tablet, they might get a sense of proportion about it.


    That's precisely the sort of false comparison that I object to among pro-nuclearati (not sure if that includes you JSH) The size or volume of the stuff has no bearing on its power.

    I'll freely admit my negative view of nuclear is partly linked to it's "invisibility" as well as what I'd see as more rational reasons - leaks and lies about it, falling into the hands of terrorists etc. , decommissioning costs and risks.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012 edited
     
    I'm not pro or anti nuclear, just a pragmatist really. People do seem to really get wound up about nuclear waste (with good cause, because it is a big, long term problem) but few seem to realise the scale of the issue.

    Maybe the better informed do realise just how little waste a nuclear plant produces, but chatting to people over the years convinces me that many people think we are producing enormous amounts of waste from nuclear power, which simply isn't true.

    Perhaps my use of a 300 mg aspirin tablet to illustrate the amount of nuclear waste produced from heating and lighting a home for around 20 years was a bit frivolous, it happens to be about right, all the same.

    By the same token, heating and lighting the same house with gas fired electricity for 20 years would produce around 48 tonnes of CO2, with a volume of around 24,000 cubic metres.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Posted By: JSHarristhe amount of nuclear waste produced from heating and lighting a home for around 20 years
    Posted By: JSHarrisheating and lighting the same house with gas fired electricity for 20 years would produce
    Both hideous - how can any comparison help? One ogre is here - so lets welcome in another - can't be worse, might even have nicer table manners (for the first 200yrs). Just because we're too lazy, paralysed by pessimistic 'human nature' perceptions, to make a success of the alternative to both - negawatts. That is precisely what we'll be blamed for by future generations - not bad choice of power technologies, but cowardly, money-conniving failure to change the game.
    • CommentAuthorpmagowan
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Admirable but I think pessimistic is the wrong term, maybe realistic. You can wear the hair shirt if you like but try and get everyone else to even contemplate it! Look at the large numbers who don't even believe in global warming. While you push the rock up hill with the vultures circling you will find the world has two options, crumble or evolve. I go for the second. Nuclear is not the 'final' solution but it is a step on the path. Energy is a requirement of development and we are not going to suddenly stop. We will do what we always have, strive for more, push on and out. Our energy consumption will rise (maybe with occasional blips at transition periods). I see this as natural and a good thing. To hold back the tide you might as well offer up a cull of the population as this is the equivalent of stopping progress.
    I would like a world where we had clean power stations pumping CO2 back into the ground. Windmills won't hack it. Negawatts is a dream for some and a nightmare for most.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    And gd profits for those who smell the mustard:
    "Looking forward, new types of efficiency service providers are needed. Those companies will combine the operational efficiency of Toyota, the sales approach of Avon, the scientific approach of Google, the product design of IDEO, the social engagement within Facebook and the hassle-free transactions of Amazon to drive up demand and drive down costs. Those who figure it out are most likely to capture the largest share of the $1.4 trillion net opportunity."
    from http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/02/21/benefits-building-efficiency-go-far-beyond-energy-costs?page=0%2C1
    linked from http://blog.rmi.org/Spark2012_6
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: fostertom</cite>Both hideous - how can any comparison help? One ogre is here - so lets welcome in another - can't be worse, might even have nicer table manners (for the first 200yrs). Just because we're too lazy, paralysed by pessimistic 'human nature' perceptions, to make a success of the alternative to both - negawatts. That is precisely what we'll be blamed for by future generations - not bad choice of power technologies, but cowardly, money-conniving failure to change the game.</blockquote>

    I agree, neither is desirable, but we do need to make a tough choice now, one that will affect millions of people for hundreds or thousands of years to come, either way. Being pragmatic by nature I'd rather we veered towards a mix of renewables with nuclear base load for now, and removed all fossil fuel burning power stations as quickly as we reasonably can. I'd also like to see massive investment in energy storage technology, so we can overcome the core issue of most renewables producing power when we don't need it and not producing power when we do.

    Yes, this would leave a legacy of a few hundred tonnes of very nasty waste, but at least we can contain it, because it doesn't take up much space. It's a nasty legacy to leave future generations, but at least it's a legacy that is manageable and which may even be useful, if technology is developed that can exploit the large amount of energy still available in nuclear waste. Pumping thousands of tonnes of CO2 and other stuff into the atmosphere isn't manageable or containable, as even sequestration technology presents long term legacy storage issues, on a pretty big scale, plus we still seem to be a long way from having viable large scale sequestration solutions.

    It'd be great if we could flick a switch and get the majority of people to think and act as members of the forum tend to, but that's a pipe dream - most people seem to have a thousand other priorities before it comes to being energy wise. I'm sure the message will sink in, eventually, but will we have done significant harm to the planet in the mean time?
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012 edited
     
    A masterly summing-up JSH
    Posted By: JSHarrisbut will we have done significant harm to the planet in the mean time?
    Pity the 'Answers on a Postcard' thread name is already taken!
  1.  
    Hang on, sorry all, Davey Jones has died????? But then I saw his face now I'm a bereaver!!!!!!
    Hang my head in shame..........
    Back to the nuclear stuff, not that its that important....
    Oh, and while we are on the doom and gloom subjects, RIP Gary Speed. Thats our football up the creek again,
    Gusty.:tooth::wink:
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    I don't think that technically the storage issue is that hard, just low density and relatively expensive.

    Now, a physics lesson.

    ½.mass.velocity²

    So if a hair shirt weights half a kilo (about a pound), and a person moves about 1 km a day (just general movement and twitching), then that hair shirt has cost the environment an extra 3.35 x 10^-5 J. Negawatts are not going to change that.
    May not seem much, but multiply by 7b people, that is 234.4 kJ, or 65 kWh.d^-1. That is enough to run my house for a week in the summer.

    There is no way I am turning my lights off for the hairshirt brigade :wink:
    • CommentAuthorpmagowan
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Maths is great isn't it?:bigsmile:
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Only when I get it right, which is not very often :shamed:
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Lies, damn lies and maths
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    All Arithmetic really :wink:
    • CommentAuthorgcar90
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: JSHarris</cite>Yes, this would leave a legacy of a few hundred tonnes of very nasty waste, but at least we can contain it, because it doesn't take up much space. It's a nasty legacy to leave future generations, but at least it's a legacy that is manageable and which may even be useful, if technology is developed that can exploit the large amount of energy still available in nuclear waste</blockquote>

    I think you are sitting on the fence a little here Jeremy, you may know if you have done your research that spent nuclear fuel is a fantastic resource for future generations containing 99% of the fuels original energy. It can produce heat and thus power on demand, controllable by humans. An electric grid cannot practically be based on energy sources that are unavailable most of the time. History shows that Nuclear Power works and was indeed the fastest energy source developed to 10 ExaJoules. In fact it produces the energy equivalent of all the Saudi & Kuwaiti oil pumped out of the ground each day - Just for comparison the total cumulative solar energy produced to date is equal to the number of barrels of oil from the Saudi fields extracted over a time period of just 19hrs.

    There is no perfect solution as fostertom continues to allude to but the most affordable, reliable, emissions free power source will eventually displace fossil fuels.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    One day I have no doubt, humans will resume using cheap energy in large quantities - it's been a nett upward forever. Nothing wrong with that in itself.

    What's gone wrong is that extremely dirty energy sources have been resorted to. Well perhaps they were often dirty in one way or another thro history - but that fact, previously not obvious, is now blindingly clear - but we continue to shit in our bed as if we have no choice. That is simply neurotic, mad, bad, of the human race. Anyone looking in from outside would not believe it.

    'Hair shirts' my foot. Whatever it takes to shake sanity into what looks like a species with death-wish, or is it self-harm? We have to learn to 'live within our means' energy-wise and finite-resource-wise. Mrs T and maybe Red Ed wd understand, from different perspectives - Cameron doesn't want to even think about it.

    Temporarily, until the new clean energy sources come along, there's a shortage, once fossil burning stops (as if). That's good - it's the education the human race needs, arriving nicely on cue. Let's not avoid the lesson by resorting to a new kind of dirty - nukes. Let's accept the challenge, learn to live within our means for a bit, which is eminently possible - no need even to abandon Growth in money/value/utility terms (but definitely to abandon Growth in resource-use terms).

    Once we've proved that we can do it, then Star Trek technology will be ready for us to set off again. But this time we'll know how to do it clean.
    • CommentAuthorjamesingram
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012 edited
     
    Posted By: fostertom but we continue to shit in our bed as if we have no choice. That is simply neurotic, mad, bad, of the human race. Anyone looking in from outside would not believe it.
    Once we've proved that we can do it, then Star Trek technology will be ready for us to set off again. But this time we'll know how to do it clean.

    Amen to that brother :bigsmile:

    though I do sometime wonder if all this money thats being spent on the stop gap solution might be better spent on the star trek solution .
    But then we wouldn't learn the lesson of energy minimalism , and the how to harness the interconnections of our biosphere in a cyclicial way (sorry for the ism's etc)
    Though to be honest i doubt we will as a species every learn that one , so that brings me back to
    "all this money thats being spent on the stop gap solution might be better spent on the star trek solution ."
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012 edited
     
    Money can be printed, no prob, zillions coming off the presses right now, but instead of being used for either the above educational project, or for Star Trek, or for anything else life-enhancing (that wouldn't be Austerity), it's being given to Bank profits, thence perhaps a little trickling out into 'consumer confidence' spending on biz-as-usual resource-hungry disposable trinkets.
    • CommentAuthorpmagowan
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    FosterTom, I am afraid your philosophy takes away the driving force of development. It is a stagnation. Necessity is the mother of invention and the driver of mankind. We once had a subsistence economy where we lived at one with the land, living and dying as if we were dumb animals. We strove forward and burnt wood as a power source to drive out the night, developing smelting technology in the process which allowed us to further assert our dominance on the world. As we pushed to make more, better and faster we had to develop a better power source. We invented charcoal and in doing so we were able to make alloys and develop more. But we used all the trees so we turned to coal until we had to delve too deep to get it. Then we had to invent a machine to drain the mines and the steam engine was formed. This allowed us to have what is now called the industrial revolution (simply the part of the curve where things start to go up, up, up). Our engines became better and smaller and eventually we needed cleaner and richer fuel and so with oil (first from peanuts I believe) we made the internal combustion engine, the ship, the lorry, the electricity, the planes, the atom....etc etc.

    We are at the transition. We are running out of fuel. This is good for humans as this is when we show we are different from other animals. We don't die when we outstrip our supplies like a predator/prey relationship, we make more, think of a solution. The solution is atomic (in one form or another). It is the only thing that makes sense. You cant walk before you run, you have to burn wood before you burn charcoal! We need nuclear fission before we get fusion. One is on the timeline of the other and to invest in it speeds you along that path. Windmills, negawats etc are all helpful ways of giving us a bit more time but they are inevitably redundant in the not too distant future.

    If we all got behind nuclear with the caveat that we expect improved next gen facilities and R&D in fusion then it would move faster. It will happen anyway the only thing we can control is how quickly. The 'green' hysteria against nuclear is, in my opinion, slowing us down and causing serious damage to the environment in the process. We, on the green forum, are likely to wear more than our fair share of the hair shirt but I think we can do it while still supporting the future. I know I would prefer a nuclear reactor in my back garden then a coal power station. We need to choose one, I choose the one that will bring the future of clean, green energy more quickly and with less devastation.
    Rant over:wink:
    • CommentAuthorpmagowan
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Now we really would be saving the world if we solved the problem that is money. It is intangible and very odd. Douglas Adams describes it best when he talks of all our efforts being made to move little green pieces of paper around w hen the little pieces of green paper are quite happy where they are. I think this is a half demijohn of homebrew cider problem and I am all out until next season!:cry:
  2.  
    And to point you all back in the right direction - Efficiency and insulation and using less.
    •  
      CommentAuthorfostertom
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    It's not just more of the same inventive progression - like I said, for the first time, the dirtiness of what we habitually do has become very clear. A break point, when we cd choose to do it different and still have the goodies. But we can't choose it seems - we're victims to our inertia, so on to the next, a new unprecedented kind of dirtiness, just a few hundred tons of waste but potentially lethal (equals near cert, over 1000yrs storage) in ways never imagined before.
    Posted By: pmagowanThe solution is .. the only thing that makes sense ... it will happen anyway ... I choose ... green energy ... with less devastation
    Daft, when you could choose no devastation.
    • CommentAuthorDavipon
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    Nick.
    Mr Ed!!:bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorpmagowan
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    There is no golden egg. If it is too good to be true then it is not true. All choices have consequences and since we need power we need to choose a form which has a future and which has the least detrimental effects. I really don't understand your problem with 1000 years of storage. This is a massive bonus to nuclear power. The waste is easily contained in a very small area and what is more it is useful i.e. not waste. It will be able to be used by other reactors in the future, it is certainly not a terrible legacy.

    If you have a magic pill then let us hear it. I would happily adjust my view if the evidence was different. I don't want either a nuclear power plant or a coal one in my back yard. As is clear from my other threads I am being proactive in my own reduction of demand while providing for myself with regards to food etc. The problem is, that above all, I am a realist. I like fairy stories as much as anyone but at the end of t he day I will invest my energies in something that I think will have a chance of working.

    Progression and technological development has proved to be an unstoppable force. We must aim it in the right direction and aid it on its path. If we stand in it's way we will be blamed for holding it back but we will not stop it. A 'religious' fear of nuclear power does the same as any religious view, stops you needing to think! We know we need to clean up, nuclear power is clean in most respects and can be cleaned up in the others given investment and development. We eventually achieve full fusion production which offers only high grade, short half life, 'waste' (about 12 year half life). We can then start building nuclear power plants whose sole job is to capture CO2 and sequester it in all those handy oil wells.
    • CommentAuthorgcar90
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012
     
    It is all very well to call for energy reductions in the OECD countries and I am 100% with fostertom on finding ways to conserve heat through insulation etc but without new (dirty) nukes we are consigning the world to burning vast and growing quantities of very dirty coal - according to the world coal association, "Around 6.1 billion tonnes of hard coal were used worldwide last year and 1 billion tonnes of brown coal. Since 2000, global coal consumption has grown faster than any other fuel. The five largest coal users - China, USA, India, Russia and Japan - account for 77% of total global coal use." This coal problem is the crux of the matter and I think is often willfully overlooked by green people who like to talk about soft energy and the soft energy path.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2012 edited
     
    Right, let's knock this money on the head, money is just a token to allow division of labour, one of two economic theories that hold true (with rational, or irrational consumers).

    Now let us think about the industrial revolution, it started here about 250 years ago (and I mean here, the birthplace of Matthew Trevithick, who improved the steam engine no end). Initially the take up was slow, then got quicker and quicker, peaked and then declined as better technology took over. It was the technology that drove the use of fossil fuel burning, not the other way around. We found fuels that were more energy dense. We slowly changed from on site to off site power generation and now I should think that most mines are powered by the national grid. There are some industries that required the building of power stations, because of their high energy demands, but these were connected to the countries grid system in most places. Think 3 Mile Island, was build for the steel works at Harrisburg, partly because of the mine fire that is still smouldering at Allentown. Again, necessity is the Mother of invention, they needed cheap reliable power, they built it.

    Now let us look at resources, the world, we cannot take the first industrialised nation as the only example, has plenty of natural gas and coal (the price of coal has hardly changed in 20 years, yet the world is burning more and more), probably 2 to 3 hundred years worth left, so about the same amount of time that we have been industrialised, but if you take China and India, which are perceived by some as a huge threat to both our way of life and the environment, though I see them as opportunities (I may have a skill that they need, even if it is only to warn them of lessons from the past, that division of labour again), they are not repeating the mistakes we made and are already investing heavily in the future, and they have only been industrialised for the last 40 to 50 years. They know that old infrastructure, energy and labour intensive industries have to be more efficient, they try not to get bogged down in petty mindedness (think great crested newts delaying infrastructure changes), they think that intellectual property is a bit of a farce (and I am tending towards their viewpoint these days), they do what is needed to supply what they are asked to supply.
    So it seems to me that we are trying to cling onto a golden past that never really was, while trying to pass the buck of blame to others because we are too wealthy and idle to change. About time we made a collective decision to change our energy infrastructure based on hard facts rather than emotions. I know what my emotions are going to be saying when I get home one day to find no power at my end of the national grid (though I saw something about our lights staying on).
    Interestingly I have dug out all the old energy bills and my day rate, since the beginning of 2006 has averaged out at 14.66p/kWh, the night rate at 4.70p/kWh. They now stand at 15.24p/kWh and 5.77p/kWh, hardly a national crisis financially and must, to some extent reflect where we are on the peak curve (I have not changed supplier either). Supply and Demand is the other economic theory that always holds true. So as energy has been getting cheaper in real terms and seems to be continuing to do so, and we are using more (well I have just about halved my personal household energy use through better management and technology), where is the crisis that I have been hearing about for 40 years.
    I like it when people run around like frightened sheep and I have the numbers, gives me a sense of satisfaction knowing that things are not as bad as they think and we will be alright.
    • CommentAuthorwookey
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2012 edited
     
    pmagowan. 'Development' is all very nice up to a point. But so long as it remains resource-based you _will_ eventually hit the buffers. There is only so much copper, iron, bismuth, tin, silver, soil, water, land area on the planet. You can't expand an enormous amount further than the point we are already at, short of putting the problem off a bit longer by asteroid mining. And you can't make new elements (well, not enough to matter).

    It's not yet clear exactly what will run out first in an unsubstitutable way, or exactly how long it will take, but it seems pretty-much inevitable that important things will run out and we will be forced to change to something more like Tom's way of thinking. We can do that willingly, or due to collapse. The former would be more comfortable.

    I am not optimistic that this (controlled return to sustainable loading) will actually happen, but I can't agree with your 'more development, ever faster' philosophy - it simply won't work for very long.
    • CommentAuthorpmagowan
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2012
     
    None of those resources are consumed and do they do not run out. Technology can be developed to replace many of their uses and thus they are used in more necessary ways. Most of them have very large supplies and so it is not even on the horizon. Water covers 3/4 of the planet. It always confuses me when people are concerned that it will run out. I am not advocating unthinking development. We have brains, we should use them. Certainly, as far as we are aware, the universe seems to have quite a large supply of stuff.
    • CommentAuthorgcar90
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2012
     
    Resources don't run out as such, they just may become more diffuse and require more effort to get hold of. The mineral wealth of the oceans and seabed rock have barely been tapped.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJSHarris
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2012
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: gcar90</cite>Resources don't run out as such, they just may become more diffuse and require more effort to get hold of. The mineral wealth of the oceans and seabed rock have barely been tapped.</blockquote>

    As an aquaintance of mine is fond of quoting: "The stone age didn't end because they ran out of rocks"..............
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2012
     
    I was pondering the exact same thing, if we assume that a typical person has a volume of 0.07m^3 and there is 7 billion of us, that is a total volume of 0.490 x 10^9 m^3.
    The Earth has a volume of 1.08321×10 21 m^3
    Quite a difference.
    Using the Dubois formula to calculate body surface are, that will give us about 1.1 m^2 each or 7.7 x 10^9 m^2 of area.
    The earth has a surface area of 5.1 x 10^18 m2.
    All a load of nonsense really, but we could calculate an 'impact factor' to take account or our recklessness.
   
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