Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nuclear Power

Aerial view of cooling towers and nuclear plant.Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, I posted some of my feelings about the pending legislation for health care reform. It drew a rather spirited comment from the American Idiot, not on the health care debate, but rather on the climate change bill. (I will now refer to the American Idiot as Idiot, with an upper case I. This is not a derogatory salutation as idiot with a lower case i would be.)

Idiot makes the argument that the US should be the leader in developing green technologies. I could not agree more. American ingenuity and know-how should lead the way on these technologies much like they have led the way in other areas (like nuclear power but I am getting ahead of myself). Where we differ is in what to do until these new technologies are developed and on line. I prefer to take an "all of the above" approach. Let's drill for more domestic oil and natural gas, let's build new nuclear plants, and let's develop those green, renewable sources as well. Idiot on the other hand favors abandoning the old technologies in favor of the new. An admirable goal.

Idiot makes the case that in addition to developing these green technologies, we should be exporting those technologies to other countries as global demand for them increases. Excellent point and I concur.

One of the technologies that Idiot rejects that I fully support is building more nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is a green technology in that it gives off zero CO2 emissions. Idiot's argument is that it is an old technology, that can not be exported, and then there is the whole nuclear waste issue.

I came across an a Newsweek article by Andrew Bast that discusses some of the issues the US faces if they were to go back to nuclear power. While the US developed the first nuclear power reactors, we failed to keep our edge in that technology. Initially we exported the technology to other countries, now if we were to go back to building nuclear facilities, we would have to rely on the improvements in the technology developed in countries like France and Japan.

France now gets 80% of their electricity provided by nuclear power plants. They now export electricity and technology to other countries. I think Idiot would agree that if we hold the edge in a technology we should do everything to keep that edge to benefit from the exportation of that technology. On another note, how in the hell did we ever let France get better at us at anything other than producing fine wines, though the argument could be made that some of our better California vineyards produce as fine a wine as Bordeaux, but I digress.

In regards to nuclear waste, there is a lot that can be done on that front. First off, several countries engage in the recycling of nuclear waste to produce more energy. Japan in particular has made great advancements in recycling nuclear waste. Recycling, another thing that the greens of the world should be able to get behind.

There are always going to be detractors to any form of energy. Even wind turbines have their detractors, ie they could kill birds or they are an eyesore. The biggest argument against nuclear power is the "potential" for a nuclear accident. Yes that exists, but there have been very few major accidents. The potential exists that I could fall down in the shower and hurt myself, does that mean I should stop bathing? (OK that isn't on the same level as a nuclear accident, but just a cheap attempt at humor.)

Anyway, in conclusion, thank you Idiot for visiting my humble blog. I hope you will come back often. I also linked to your blog at the top of this posting.
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  1. at least the nukes would keep the air cleaner,but do you do with the spent rods?

  2. Dickster,

    I agree with you on two points:

    1. The US is sadly not a leader in renewable energy technology.

    2. You should not stop showering.

    I'm not sure how I feel about nuclear energy at this point, but I'm not sure how we meet future demands without it.

  3. Mike G-Japan is apparently reprocessing and recycling the spent rods

    Bowie Mike-not to worry, I can't stand having that "not so fresh" feeling



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