# Climate Change(d)?

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
Loren Pechtel said:
And note that Fukushima killed nobody, the political reaction to it killed a lot of people.
It may have killed one person, though of course the absurd panic killed a lot more. But the solar industry kills a lot more than the nuclear industry (several times more), even counting Fukushima (an old design with flaws not present in present-day ones).

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
steve_bank said:
Nuclear could be safe if we had a standard well tested common design.
But it could be safer than anything else if it were...just as it is. Or even twice as dangerous.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
Germany will pull the plug on three of its last six nuclear power stations on Friday, another step towards completing its withdrawal from nuclear power as it turns its focus to renewables.

And more generally, here one can find more examples of nuclear phase out. It's a terrible idea, and it's the result of pressure from left-wing "green" activists and panic, not from right-wing climate change deniers.

#### steve_bank

##### Contributor
And western Europe wants a new natural gas pipe line from Russia.

Fukushima did not kill any civilians, but it made a large residential area uninhabitable.

#### steve_bank

##### Contributor
steve_bank said:
Nuclear could be safe if we had a standard well tested common design.
But it could be safer than anything else if it were...just as it is. Or even twice as dangerous.
Wow, simply stunning analysis.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
steve_bank said:
Nuclear could be safe if we had a standard well tested common design.
But it could be safer than anything else if it were...just as it is. Or even twice as dangerous.
Wow, simply stunning analysis.
It's not a stunning analysis. I am pointing out that nuclear already is safe, at least better than anything else by a large margin.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
And western Europe wants a new natural gas pipe line from Russia.

Fukushima did not kill any civilians, but it made a large residential area uninhabitable.
Did it? What area?

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
And note that nukes are not actually expensive. The insane cost is due to the regulators defining nuke as too expensive--nuke suffers under a standard of as safe as practically attainable--which means you can't build a cheap nuclear plant because you could pile more safety systems on it. Set nuke to a standard of as safe as it's safest competitor and you'll find the price much more reasonable.
Carnegie Endowment said:
the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.... The large quantity of radioactive material released has caused significant human suffering and rendered large stretches of land uninhabitable. The cleanup operation will take decades and may cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
In your proposal, would the Fukushima plant have had FEWER insane safety systems?

IIUC, the insanely huge amount of steel and concrete used in containment structures is a major cost. Do your sources show how thick sane containment structures need to be? (I'll admit that the present U.S. standard — "strong enough to withstand the impact of a fully loaded passenger airliner without rupture" — might seem high. But ...)

Meanwhile, great strides are being made on the energy storage needed to increase the viability of wind and solar power. Lithium batteries have been halving in price every six years. Economic gravitational energy storage is in view, e.g. at https://heindl-energy.com/ . (No plug! Just a Google hit.) And wave or tide power doesn't even really need storage.

If the high priority is to cut down on carbon fuels quickly, should nuclear be kept in the picture? Sure! All I ask is for a wider perspective, and acknowledgement that economic storage systems are in view, making renewable power very cheap. And that nuclear power does have real drawbacks.
No human has suffered due to the effects of ionising radiation from Fukushima, other than two workers who sustained beta burn to their legs after wading through radioactive water in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami. Both recovered fully, were discharged from hospital within twenty four hours of presenting with symptoms, and are not expected to suffer any long term health effects.

No part of Japan has or had radiation levels that rendered it dangerous for humans to inhabit. Declaring land 'uninhabitable' when it is less dangerous than areas of the world that have been inhabited for centuries without any ill effects, is just a consequence of awful criteria based on discredited methodologies and baseless fear.

Declaring perfectly good land 'uninhabitable', evacuating it, and then saying "look at all these poor evacuees whose homes are uninhabitable; Clearly this is a massive disaster" is as excellent an argument as that of a defendant who when accused of murdering his parents, begs the court for mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan.

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#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Note that the very fact we are talking about Fukushima is an indication of the safety of nuclear power--in what other industry would a zero-death industrial accident be worldwide news?
^THIS

If airliners (one of the safest technologies in history) were as dangerous as nuclear power plants, there would have been three plane crashes in history worldwide, only one of which, a poorly designed soviet aircraft, resulted in any fatalities.

Nuclear power is so ridiculously safe that people literally cannot believe how safe it is. Nothing humans have ever done comes anywhere close to being as safe as generating electricity from nuclear fission. Nothing.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
We still do not have a long term nuclear waste program, back again to a lack of political will to make hard decisions. National control of anything is opposed by conservatives, a national electric plan is not possible.
You still don't have a long term heavy metals waste program, or a long term plan for handling the waste from electronics, solar panels, wind turbines, mine tailings, or, well, anything at all.

Why would you expect or demand a standard for partially spent nuclear fuel that you don't apply to any other waste stream?

Radioactive materials literally go away over time on their own. Unlike most waste.

Nobody has ever been harmed by the 'waste' from nuclear power generation; And it is the ONLY technology in human history that has contained and is managing its waste. For no other waste streams is that even attempted.

The current systems (which have been completely effective for your entire lifetime) are perfectly adequate for use indefinitely - though as the "waste" in question is only hazardous at all because it is energetic, it likely won't need to be stored for long before we use it as fuel for fast reactors.

The entire 'waste' issue is a fabrication of the anti-nuclear lobby. We know exactly how to deal with it, but they won't let us because they don't want solutions, they want to be angry at the absence of solutions, so any solution that is offered gets rejected.

#### bleubird

##### Veteran Member

It's not the science or technology, it's the financing.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member

It's not the science or technology, it's the financing.
That depends on the case. For example, countries are not phasing out nuclear due to the financing, but due to activists, Green politicians, etc. And nuclear is also made expensive by excessive regulations.

In any case, industrialized countries do have the financial means to build the reactors they need, even at a high price. If making them locally is too expensive, they can buy them from France or another friendly country.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum

It's not the science or technology, it's the financing.
So we keep hearing.

But the financing is only a problem because of massive political opposition since the 1960s.

And even if it were a legitimate problem, it would be a self resolving one. You don't need to ban unprofitable activities, they fail to get off the ground without intervention, and harm nobody but their investors.

The 'it's too expensive, and cannot be financed' argument is almost always paired with an admission that the other arguments were always bullshit, and is the last desperate straw to clutch for people whose opposition was never reasonable or rational from the outset.

Nuclear power, like gas power, can produce electricity when the wholesale price is high (because intermittent renewables aren't producing); But unlike gas, it is also constrained to selling when the wholesale price is low. And subsidies and price guarantees given to wind and solar mean that wholesale prices are often negative. Nothing can compete against a heavily subsidised competitor.

You might as well argue that Usain Bolt can't compete in the 100m, because he's regularly beaten by the guy you gave a car to.

On a fair assessment, nuclear excels - its so strong financially that even with the massive hurdles not imposed on other generation technologies, and even with the massive subsidies routinely given to other generation technologies, it is still profitable.

#### Swammerdami

Staff member
IIUC, the insanely huge amount of steel and concrete used in containment structures is a major cost. Do your sources show how thick sane containment structures need to be? (I'll admit that the present U.S. standard — "strong enough to withstand the impact of a fully loaded passenger airliner without rupture" — might seem high. But ...)

I don't mind the containment domes. I'm talking about all the layers upon layers of safety systems. Make sure there isn't a single point of failure and you've done 90% of what's needed.

IIUC, the steel and concrete and labor associated with containment structures is a major portion of the total cost. THAT is what I was trying to drive at. Speaking in generalities, one might get the impression that oodles of Benjamins are being wasted on "red tape" or something. Nope, steel and concrete is a big cost. And now you say you don't mind that?

You tell us nuclear is very safe. Did I say otherwise? The simple fact is that, for whatever reason, nuclear power TODAY is much more expensive than renewables; and renewable technology continues to improve.

Something I do NOT understand is that financing is a major cost:
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2019 said:
The discount rate for nuclear construction projects in the United States is generally about 12.5 percent, higher than in many other countries, especially those where the nuclear industry is at least partially subsidized by the government. For example, discount rates for plant construction are typically closer to 8 percent in France and just 2–3 percent in Japan.
Given the long time for a nuclear plant to come on-line, a 12.5% interest rate will be onerous. But why is that rate so high? Is it that bondholders and shareholders demand a high return because of the big chance that the eventual plant will be obsolete or unsafe?

The government subsidizes petroleum and renewables. Should it subsidize nuclear more than it does? Before addressing that question I'd like to understand this high 12.5% discount rate.

#### steve_bank

##### Contributor
steve_bank said:
Nuclear could be safe if we had a standard well tested common design.
But it could be safer than anything else if it were...just as it is. Or even twice as dangerous.
Wow, simply stunning analysis.
It's not a stunning analysis. I am pointing out that nuclear already is safe, at least better than anything else by a large margin.
In one incarnation I was a reliability engineer and I deigned avionics that went on Boring and Airbus jets. If you want to lecture me on safety and reliability go right ahead.

Back in the 90s a commercial twin engine jet first lost the electrical generator on one engine, and then the other. The oidds of that hapeng were low to begin with. When the pilots tried to star the emergnecy gas turnibe gebertor you can see coming out the tail of some aurcft the emergency batteries faild. The plane had zero electric power. Fortunatly it was not fly by wire and had cbles from the cockpit to the control surfaces and it landed safely. Throttles are mechanical.

My company made the battery charger and was involved in the failure analysis. The problem was in the batteries themselves.

Or the battery failures on the ISS, improperly conditioned batteries had been used.

Point being low probabilities do happen and sometimes catastrophically even with redundancy. The question is the potential effect of a complete failure. There is no absolute protection from human failures. Fukushima demonstrates that.

If yiu make a safety claim what is the Mean Time Bteween Failures of the control systems? Numbers talk.

Even up through recent times there have been catastrophic chemical pant, gas plant, and refinery explosions. People die. However the long the effects are temporary.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

With nuclear there's no room for error. Sure, on paper it's safe, but that safety has a cost. We built grid straps for fuel assemblies that have been refueling reactors around the world for decades. The tolerances are exacting.

We were to supply the ap1000 reactors that were being built in the US but were abandoned. When you build foundations for nuclear the testing is much more extensive. Whole foundations have to be removed and rebuilt if the tests are not satisfied. Just doesn't happen with other technologies. The average joe has absolutely no idea of the differences. It's those differences that make the technology more expensive, because it is catastrophically dangerous and proactive safety measures beyond your typical are the norm.

Can something like Pripyat happen with gas or coal or renewables? No chance. But it can with nuclear.

For those here who are hurrahing the safety of nuclear it comes at enormous cost.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
steve_bank said:
In one incarnation I was a reliability engineer and I deigned avionics that went on Boring and Airbus jets. If you want to lecture me on safety and reliability go right ahead.
I do not want to lecture you on safety and reliability. Why would you think so? Rather, I want to say that nuclear is already safe, at least compared to any of the alternatives.

steve_bank said:
Point being low probabilities do happen and sometimes catastrophically even with redundancy. The question is the potential effect of a complete failure. There is no absolute protection from human failures. Fukushima demonstrates that.
Well, there is absolute protection from human failures if one goes AI and the humans are out of the loop.

But that's for the future, and this is now, so to answer your point:

1. Absolute protection is not the goal, but low risks. Nuclear risks are lower than those of other forms of producing energy.

2. Fukushima was a minor accident. Well, you can say it was big because any human fatality is a tragedy, but in that sense, alternative energy sources have many more.

3. Fukushima could not happen with current designs, or even with older designs that are still an improvement over Fukushima, so that sort of risk does not apply to power stations to be made now or in the future.

4. Fukushima could not have happened in a place where tsunamis cannot go, even with older technologies.

steve_bank said:
If yiu make a safety claim what is the Mean Time Bteween Failures of the control systems? Numbers talk.
I was thinking about number of fatalities. For example:

But if you want more numbers, I recommend bilby's defense of nuclear energy, for example

steve_bank said:
Even up through recent times there have been catastrophic chemical pant, gas plant, and refinery explosions. People die. However the long the effects are temporary.
But whether they are short-lived or long-lived (I'd argue they're always long-lived, but regardless) is a matter that has to be considered in the context of how big the effects are. Take Fukushima: radiation levels in large areas will be higher than before for a long time. However, they will remain low enough that they're not a threat to humans. So, that's not a long-term side effect that is a problem. Additionally, as I mentioned safety of current reactors is better, and the same sort of accident could not happen.

#### Bomb#20

##### Contributor
With nuclear there's no room for error. ... It's those differences that make the technology more expensive, because it is catastrophically dangerous and proactive safety measures beyond your typical are the norm.

Can something like Pripyat happen with gas or coal or renewables? No chance. But it can with nuclear.
You're right, with renewables there's no chance of something like Pripyat happening, for sufficiently specific values of "like".

For those here who are hurrahing the safety of nuclear it comes at enormous cost.
Catastrophically dangerous and enormous cost compared to what? Is it catastrophically dangerous and an enormous cost compared to the danger and cost of not going nuclear?

250,000 deaths a year from climate change is a ‘conservative estimate,’ research says

#### T.G.G. Moogly

Catastrophically dangerous and enormous cost compared to what? Is it catastrophically dangerous and an enormous cost compared to the danger and cost of not going nuclear?
Point taken. The Pripyat factor is, however, enormously important and my point is to inform those that nuclear safety is not an accident. Certainly the same measures can be undertaken wrt fossil fuels. I'm in favor of paying those costs up front, as we do with nuclear. So far we have not. Mitigating radiation danger and mitigating climate change danger are the same thing wrt the article you linked.

#### Elixir

Loren Pechtel said:
And note that Fukushima killed nobody, the political reaction to it killed a lot of people.
It may have killed one person, though of course the absurd panic killed a lot more. But the solar industry kills a lot more than the nuclear industry (several times more), even counting Fukushima (an old design with flaws not present in present-day ones).
I doubt (correct me please) that solar-related deaths exceed the 108/yr who die in the oilfields alone ... not counting those killed in the later production and transportation of the product. But hey - thousands kill themselves and others annually in the process of consuming it, so what's a few more? Unless it's nukes. That shit you can't see, it just blows up your gametes and fucks with your dna until you die and don't even know what hit you. Let me get hit with a coupler on a rig instead, or give me black lung disease; just don't make me worry about invisible shit, ok?

/sarcasm

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
steve_bank said:
Nuclear could be safe if we had a standard well tested common design.
But it could be safer than anything else if it were...just as it is. Or even twice as dangerous.
Wow, simply stunning analysis.
It's not a stunning analysis. I am pointing out that nuclear already is safe, at least better than anything else by a large margin.
In one incarnation I was a reliability engineer and I deigned avionics that went on Boring and Airbus jets. If you want to lecture me on safety and reliability go right ahead.

Back in the 90s a commercial twin engine jet first lost the electrical generator on one engine, and then the other. The oidds of that hapeng were low to begin with. When the pilots tried to star the emergnecy gas turnibe gebertor you can see coming out the tail of some aurcft the emergency batteries faild. The plane had zero electric power. Fortunatly it was not fly by wire and had cbles from the cockpit to the control surfaces and it landed safely. Throttles are mechanical.

My company made the battery charger and was involved in the failure analysis. The problem was in the batteries themselves.

Or the battery failures on the ISS, improperly conditioned batteries had been used.

Point being low probabilities do happen and sometimes catastrophically even with redundancy. The question is the potential effect of a complete failure. There is no absolute protection from human failures. Fukushima demonstrates that.

If yiu make a safety claim what is the Mean Time Bteween Failures of the control systems? Numbers talk.

Even up through recent times there have been catastrophic chemical pant, gas plant, and refinery explosions. People die. However the long the effects are temporary.
Fukushima Daiichi demonstrated exactly what a meltdown in a nuclear power plant looks like. It was a worst case scenario for a non-Soviet Generation I design. The core melted down, causing the total loss of an expensive facility; And this occurred three times in three of the four reactors (the fourth was in a maintaining shutdown when the earthquake struck).

The human cost?

One killed falling from a crane during the Magnitude 9 earthquake (this could have occurred at any industrial facility, and many in the area suffered far worse). Two cases of beta burn (basically just like a bad sunburn), both discharged from hospital that night. Zero other fatalities*. Radiation levels outside the plant perimeter fence never exceeded levels routinely seen as background in many cities.

That's as bad as it's possible to get - for a Generation I facility. And it wasn't a fluke - none of the three independent core meltdowns caused any deaths or serious injuries.

The nuclear power plant next door, Fukushima Daini, suffered minimal damage, and was ready to restart as soon as the damage to power distribution infrastructure in the area was repaired. It's a Generation II facility.

Worst case disasters in other industries kill people. In the nuclear power industry, nobody dies, but a lot of expensive equipment is irreparably damaged.

Of course it's possible to design nuclear power plants that do kill people when they fail - but only the Soviet Union ever built such plants, and the Soviet Union hasn't existed for thirty years.

Worst case disasters happen in any industry. Only in the nuclear industry does nobody get hurt when they do.

*One woman later persuaded a judge that her heavy smokier husband's death from lung cancer was due to his employment at F. Daiichi. The courts awarded her sizable compensation, despite expert oncological testimony that the cancer was almost certainly present in his lungs prior to the Tōhoku Earthquake.

#### Loren Pechtel

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
3 Mile Island put the kaibosh on nuclear power in the USA.

Once again, a major overreaction. Nobody died.

We still do not have a long term nuclear waste program, back again to a lack of political will to make hard decisions. National control of anything is opposed by conservatives, a national electric plan is not possible.

We have plenty of good answers for nuclear waste storage. It's just a political issue.

Nuclear could be safe if we had a standard well tested common design. Nuclear power does have costs above a cial plant. Welds have to be to a higher standard. Materials have to witstand long term radiation. Periodic testing.

Agreed--but the nuke plant doesn't need to keep being fed coal.

You can construct a moderate scale natural gas plant 'off the shelf'. Turbines, boilers, control systems, piping are all standard items.

At that scale everything's make-to-order.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
Loren Pechtel said:
And note that Fukushima killed nobody, the political reaction to it killed a lot of people.
It may have killed one person, though of course the absurd panic killed a lot more. But the solar industry kills a lot more than the nuclear industry (several times more), even counting Fukushima (an old design with flaws not present in present-day ones).
I doubt (correct me please) that solar-related deaths exceed the 108/yr who die in the oilfields alone ... not counting those killed in the later production and transportation of the product. But hey - thousands kill themselves and others annually in the process of consuming it, so what's a few more? Unless it's nukes. That shit you can't see, it just blows up your gametes and fucks with your dna until you die and don't even know what hit you. Let me get hit with a coupler on a rig instead, or give me black lung disease; just don't make me worry about invisible shit, ok?

/sarcasm
Is there a point to the sarcasm? I mean, you have an actual objection to make to my point? Just deploying sarcasm doesn't make a point. My point is that the solar industry kills a lot more than the nuclear industry, etc., not about oil fields.

#### steve_bank

##### Contributor
I expect mamy pro nuke people are NIMBY, not in my back yard.

Would you buy a house clode to a nuclear plant?

I saw a nuclear power promotional film from the 60s. It was cliamed that nuclear electricity would be so cheap it wooed not be netterrf, just a monthly flat fee.

It was thought the Navy submarine reactors could be just be scaled up.

In nay case, it is too late to affect what is coming. Developing a national grid with ingerted nuclear plus nob follsil sources to provide clean 24/7 power is certainly doable technically. No new science needed and no difficult technical issues.

It is amatter of piccalilli will. The energy text I had in the 80s at that tome redicted oil production curtailing. It was put off by new drilling and exploration techniques. The industry was well aware of the coming of peak oil. production. If we had stared back then it would have made a differnce.

During the Arab Oil Embargo, rembeber that?, we had tax credits for alternative energy. Japan went small and efficient for cars. When oil came back American auto went big gas guzzlers and the alternative energy subsides disapeared.

The consumer economy is based on mass production of power using gadgets that we do not need. Nuclear power does not really solve the basic issue. Increasing demand.

The text I had at the time said that given current demand and predicted growth there was enough fuelfor about 700 years of nuclear power.

I have seen it metioned, wat about all the enrgy itself? All electric power generated in the end shows up as heat. I wonder what that does to temperture.

I

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Would you buy a house clode to a nuclear plant?
Not only would I happily do so - nuclear power plants are amongst the least unpleasant industrial neighbours imaginable - but I have for years been lobbying in support of a proposed nuclear power plant at Swanbank, which is about 15km (10 miles) from my house.

Sadly, Australian federal law currently prohibits this from being built, but I am hopeful that the law will change in the near future, and that a nuclear power plant will be operating at that site within my lifetime.

Certainly I shall continue to lobby my representatives and senators to repeal s140A of the EPBC Act, which is the first necessary step towards making it a reality.

Your expectation that "many pro-nuke people are NIMBY" is both insulting and wrong. You should stop assuming, and start paying attention.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
The text I had at the time said that given current demand and predicted growth there was enough fuelfor about 700 years of nuclear power.
There's currently enough uranium available at current costs from seawater extraction to last indefinitely. It's not an infinite resource, but nothing is - and it's as sustainable as solar and wind power.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
steve_bank said:
I expect mamy pro nuke people are NIMBY, not in my back yard.
Is there any good reason to have that expectation? Do you think that pro-nuclear energy people are lying? If not, they - well, we - properly reckon that nuclear is safe, so that's not an expectation you should have.
steve_bank said:
Would you buy a house clode to a nuclear plant?
For a number of reasons, I would not buy a house. So, in particular, no, I would not buy a house close to a nuclear power plant. But that has nothing to do with radiation.

steve_bank said:
The consumer economy is based on mass production of power using gadgets that we do not need. Nuclear power does not really solve the basic issue. Increasing demand.
Nuclear power would save millions of lives, though.
steve_bank said:
I have seen it metioned, wat about all the enrgy itself? All electric power generated in the end shows up as heat. I wonder what that does to temperture.
I do not know, but I know our production of energy does a lot less to global temperature if produced by nuclear power than if produced by fossil fuels. Also, global warming is not the only issue that nuclear energy can tackle and improve. Air pollution too.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
I have seen it metioned, wat about all the enrgy itself? All electric power generated in the end shows up as heat. I wonder what that does to temperture
But not enough to actually find out. So perhaps you don't really wonder. Perhaps you're just JAQing off, or just parroting someone else's JAQing off.

The heat due to power generation by humans is utterly negligible compared to the additional heat captured by our atmosphere as a result of carbon dioxide emissions.

#### Elixir

you have an actual objection to make to my point?
...

"Whoosh!" Au contraire.

My point is that the solar industry kills a lot more than the nuclear industry

My point was that virtually every source of energy currently under widespread use is more dangerous to obtain and deploy than nuclear.
But safety isn't what's keeping nuclear off the table, it's ignorance, stupidity and greed. A perfect storm of human traits, conspiring to keep us on the brink of self destruction or possibly push us over it.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
you have an actual objection to make to my point?
...

"Whoosh!" Au contraire.

My point is that the solar industry kills a lot more than the nuclear industry

My point was that virtually every source of energy currently under widespread use is more dangerous to obtain and deploy than nuclear.
But safety isn't what's keeping nuclear off the table, it's ignorance, stupidity and greed. A perfect storm of human traits, conspiring to keep us on the brink of self destruction or possibly push us over it.
Ah, okay, I misunderstood the direction of your sarcasm then, sorry. I'm not sure I get the point about self-destruction, though.

#### Bomb#20

##### Contributor
Nuclear power does not really solve the basic issue. Increasing demand.

The text I had at the time said that given current demand and predicted growth there was enough fuel for about 700 years of nuclear power.
Estimates like that one are based on the rate at which fuel is consumed by "conventional" reactors, i.e., U-235 reactors. Natural uranium is less than one percent U-235; conventional reactors simply throw away the other 99%. If the public can be persuaded to switch to nuclear power, then sooner or later the electrical utilities will need to switch to U-238 reactors, i.e., "fast-breeder" reactors. Then current reserves will last many thousands of years. And we already know how to build fast-breeder reactors; we've been building them since the 1940s for specialized purposes. We currently use conventional reactors for power generation because uranium is so plentiful we don't need to use it efficiently.

#### Swammerdami

Staff member
I really do not have a dog in this debate. If I seem anti-nuclear that's just in response to what I see as excessive glibness by the pro-nuke folk here. I'd just like to understand some of the numbers. (For example, I'm still curious about the very high 12.5% discount rate on nuclear plant capital costs.)

Some of the arguments in the thread seem circular. Nuclear power is very safe, but costs much more than it should. And that high price? It's due to the safety! Are some of the safety systems unnecessary? Surely. But waving a magic wand to get rid of "unnecessary" safety features, while keeping the good ones is easier said than done. Building containment structures strong enough to withstand a direct hit from a 747 airliner seems extravagant to me; should that requirement be reduced? Even if another Al-Qaeda stunt is unlikely in the immediate future, how long does the containment need to endure?

Part of the high cost of nuclear power is a sort of "tax" to afford radioactive waste disposal. But in fact, waste disposal is on hold. Do nuclear advocates see that as a problem?

Mention of "construction days" confused me, until I realized the reference was to labor costs. We had that discussion before. Converting all costs to dollars seems simplest. But in fact, if two alternatives cost the same but one has a higher labor component and the other a higher material component, the higher labor product may be preferable!

Someone posted a cost figure based on the assumption that 100% of their power came from a lithium battery. Maybe they should do some of their chores in the daytime?

Should the world really want hydrogen-fueled automobiles or not? I dunno, but if that is the future won't electrolysis be a good way to utilize off-peak electricity? (And if electric cars are the future, charging is a good way to spend off-peak electricity.) I suppose the ridiculously low numbers on this page — $1.80/kg for Compressed Electrolyses — are false, but the actual cost of hydrogen fuel and its future projections would be more pertinent than generalities about "engineering challenges." (Didn't one Infidel brag in another thread that mankind could easily produce any material needed except helium?) I hope the experts can put this 2018 article in perspective for me. Median wind-plus-storage bids came in even lower, at$21 per megawatt-hour.
That's just \$0.021 per kWh if my arithmetic is correct. How does that compare with the cost of nuclear power?

#### Bomb#20

##### Contributor
Some of the arguments in the thread seem circular. Nuclear power is very safe, but costs much more than it should. And that high price? It's due to the safety! Are some of the safety systems unnecessary? Surely. But waving a magic wand to get rid of "unnecessary" safety features, while keeping the good ones is easier said than done. Building containment structures strong enough to withstand a direct hit from a 747 airliner seems extravagant to me; should that requirement be reduced? Even if another Al-Qaeda stunt is unlikely in the immediate future, how long does the containment need to endure?
Good questions all; and I don't object to expensive safety measures provided they actually contribute to net* safety. What it costs to produce electricity safely is what we should expect to pay for it. People need to internalize their externalities and pay the lifecycle costs of their consumption, which include the waste disposal costs and the insurance costs. But the point is, nobody is making nuclear power's competitors pay their full lifecycle costs. The hazards of renewables and fossil fuels, especially coal, are just freely pushed onto the public. The folks who lived and died downstream from the Banqiao dam weren't paid for the risk they were forced to take. It's only nuclear power that has to make its ratepayers pay the full cost of their electricity. If we had a carbon tax that covered the cost to us all of smog and global warming, and if we took the other measures that would be needed to make renewable energy sources, as it were, police their brass, then nuclear power would not seem so comparatively expensive.

(* You have to account for opportunity costs -- when you spend a hundred million dollars on a safety measure that can be expected to prevent one death, you're killing people, because adding those resources to the economy at random will save more than one expected life.)

Part of the high cost of nuclear power is a sort of "tax" to afford radioactive waste disposal. But in fact, waste disposal is on hold. Do nuclear advocates see that as a problem?
It's a problem, yes, but it's a much bigger problem than it needs to be. It's a consequence of the choice to use conventional reactors instead of fast-breeder reactors. Nuclear waste stays dangerous for a long time because 99% of the available energy is still in it. When we transition to fast-breeders the total radioactivity of reaction products per terawatt-hour will go down by a huge fraction so disposal will get a lot cheaper.

Your other questions I'll have to leave to someone more knowledgeable.

#### Elixir

Ah, okay, I misunderstood the direction of your sarcasm then, sorry. I'm not sure I get the point about self-destruction, though.

No worries. Just surmising that if we don't get a handle on either population increase or energy production, we (actually, you or your children; I won't live that long) are likely to render this planet unable to sustain billions of people.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
Ah, okay, I misunderstood the direction of your sarcasm then, sorry. I'm not sure I get the point about self-destruction, though.

No worries. Just surmising that if we don't get a handle on either population increase or energy production, we (actually, you or your children; I won't live that long) are likely to render this planet unable to sustain billions of people.
Population increase has been solved. We got a handle on it when we invented the oral contraceptive - putting contraception into the control of women, and removing the decision about its use from the 'heat of the moment', had the effect of reducing reproductive rates to below replacement levels wherever it was made available at an affordable price, with the exception of areas with high religiosity and low or nonexistent levels of primary education for girls. Basically the only problem we have remaining is that many people hold the counter factual belief that contraception is evil.

Population growth continues today (at greatly reduced rates) only because of 'demographic lag' - the number of women able to have children is determined not by today's birth rates, but by those at the time in the past when those women were born, so gross population continues to increase for a few decades after the birth rate falls below replacement rate.

We also have a handle on energy production, with the invention of nuclear power. It's clean, safe, efficient, and does almost no harm to the environment. It's fuel is effectively inexhaustible. Like contraception, the only serious barrier to our using the technology to completely solve the problem is that lots of people have a counter factual belief that it is evil.

So neither of your problems require further technical solutions; Both are solved problems. The failure of humanity to implement these solutions is entirely down to our tendency to cling to falsehoods and outdated beliefs (another example of an outdated belief is "there is a population problem which we must urgently address" - that was true in the first half of the C20th, but hasn't been true since the 1980s, when the full impact of the invention of the oral contraceptive in the 1960s became apparent).

When you understand why you STILL believe in the urgency of a problem that was demonstrated to have been solved thirty odd years ago, you will begin to understand why we still have a problem with carbon dioxide emissions. It's not a technical or scientific problem.

#### steve_bank

##### Contributor
Nuclear power does not really solve the basic issue. Increasing demand.

The text I had at the time said that given current demand and predicted growth there was enough fuel for about 700 years of nuclear power.
Estimates like that one are based on the rate at which fuel is consumed by "conventional" reactors, i.e., U-235 reactors. Natural uranium is less than one percent U-235; conventional reactors simply throw away the other 99%. If the public can be persuaded to switch to nuclear power, then sooner or later the electrical utilities will need to switch to U-238 reactors, i.e., "fast-breeder" reactors. Then current reserves will last many thousands of years. And we already know how to build fast-breeder reactors; we've been building them since the 1940s for specialized purposes. We currently use conventional reactors for power generation because uranium is so plentiful we don't need to use it efficiently.
IMO this kind of response is hand waving and avoiding the basic question, what is a sustainable human population?

We are already seeing increasing deaths from drought and climate change. When I was younger I would never have used the yerm decadence to describe American culture, Today I do. What is going to get us is ever increasing gratifications of all kinds requiring more energy.

Computers, gadgets and especciay server farms are driving deman. Back in the 90s all those battery charers actualy became a propem. They draw current ebem when not connected ot not charging. Standards were developed requiring maxim idle currents and minimum efficiencies.

The idea that the entire world is going to become the equivalent of wetern middle class consumption is gatasy, yet it is the underlying basis of out=r foreign policy. Spreading democracy and free choice is about opening free markets to create consumption. It has always been that way.

Free trade and increasing consumption to create return on investment goes back to early civilizations.

#### Elixir

Ah, okay, I misunderstood the direction of your sarcasm then, sorry. I'm not sure I get the point about self-destruction, though.

No worries. Just surmising that if we don't get a handle on either population increase or energy production, we (actually, you or your children; I won't live that long) are likely to render this planet unable to sustain billions of people.
Population increase has been solved. We got a handle on it when we invented the oral contraceptive - putting contraception into the control of women, and removing the decision about its use from the 'heat of the moment', had the effect of reducing reproductive rates to below replacement levels wherever it was made available at an affordable price, with the exception of areas with high religiosity and low or nonexistent levels of primary education for girls. Basically the only problem we have remaining is that many people hold the counter factual belief that contraception is evil.

Population growth continues today (at greatly reduced rates) only because of 'demographic lag' - the number of women able to have children is determined not by today's birth rates, but by those at the time in the past when those women were born, so gross population continues to increase for a few decades after the birth rate falls below replacement rate.

We also have a handle on energy production, with the invention of nuclear power. It's clean, safe, efficient, and does almost no harm to the environment. It's fuel is effectively inexhaustible. Like contraception, the only serious barrier to our using the technology to completely solve the problem is that lots of people have a counter factual belief that it is evil.

So neither of your problems require further technical solutions; Both are solved problems. The failure of humanity to implement these solutions is entirely down to our tendency to cling to falsehoods and outdated beliefs (another example of an outdated belief is "there is a population problem which we must urgently address" - that was true in the first half of the C20th, but hasn't been true since the 1980s, when the full impact of the invention of the oral contraceptive in the 1960s became apparent).

When you understand why you STILL believe in the urgency of a problem that was demonstrated to have been solved thirty odd years ago, you will begin to understand why we still have a problem with carbon dioxide emissions. It's not a technical or scientific problem.
Outcomes from lack of solutions are generally indistinguishable from outcomes from failure to implement solutions.
We had solutions in the 1950s that could have prevented most of the famines and plagues that have ravaged the world since then. “Get a handle” would mean either implementing or obviating the solutions we have in hand.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
Ah, okay, I misunderstood the direction of your sarcasm then, sorry. I'm not sure I get the point about self-destruction, though.

No worries. Just surmising that if we don't get a handle on either population increase or energy production, we (actually, you or your children; I won't live that long) are likely to render this planet unable to sustain billions of people.
Okay, then I disagree with that; I mean, I won't live that long either and have no children, but I mean that's not going to happen. By what mechanism do you think that that could happen?

#### Elixir

Ah, okay, I misunderstood the direction of your sarcasm then, sorry. I'm not sure I get the point about self-destruction, though.

No worries. Just surmising that if we don't get a handle on either population increase or energy production, we (actually, you or your children; I won't live that long) are likely to render this planet unable to sustain billions of people.

Okay, then I disagree with that; I mean, I won't live that long either and have no children, but I mean that's not going to happen. By what mechanism do you think that that could happen?

Too many things to mention. Loss of biodiversity would be my best guess over hundreds of years to come. Risk categories however, include biological, geological, climatic, physical and even cosmic hazards for which a species intelligent enough to recognize them should be able to prepare. Species don't last terribly long in general, but intelligence might be the most lethal mutation of all. Or it might let HSS set some endurance record, at least for large mammals. We'd have a long way to go, depending on how far back you want to go referring to "us".
Right now, HSS is hardly even a blip on the planet's biohistory, just another mass extinction event yielding an ever widening niche for one single species. Doesn't seem sustainable to me.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
intelligence might be the most lethal mutation of all
Sure. I mean, so far it's caused us nothing but the ability to occupy most of the land area of the planet; to eliminate famine; eradicate a couple of deadly diseases and massively reduce the incidence and impact of most others; Transport materials around the world so cheaply that it's viable to eat fresh fruit and vegetables all year round almost anywhere on the planet; massively reduce infant mortality and massively increase life-spans; halt population growth; and generate effectively limitless energy cleanly and safely.

What a disaster.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
Elixir said:
Too many things to mention. Loss of biodiversity would be my best guess over hundreds of years to come. Risk categories however, include biological, geological, climatic, physical and even cosmic hazards for which a species intelligent enough to recognize them should be able to prepare. Species don't last terribly long in general, but intelligence might be the most lethal mutation of all. Or it might let HSS set some endurance record, at least for large mammals. We'd have a long way to go, depending on how far back you want to go referring to "us".
It's hard to pinpoint the argument, but let me comment on some of the points:

a. Loss of biodiversity.

Humans are omnivores and do not need any specific food items. Humans eat rice, wheat, soy, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, apples, bananas, etc., as well as all sorts of meat (insects if needed, too). There are more than enough things on the list (more on the long one, the etc.) to keep a large population (i.e., billions) going.

b. Climate change:

1. Some areas will become less suitable for humans (and/or some the things humans eat), but others will become more so - probably much of Canada, Russia, Patagonia, probably the north of Europe and the US, etc. Why can't billions live there? There seems to be no obstacle (the transition can be pretty lethal, but that's another matter).

2. There is also the possibility of genetic engineering to make crops more resistant to droughts, heat, etc., and that's just counting only gradual improvement of our tech.

c. Geological.

1. That is not something our successors are in any way likely to do to the planet, and we're talking about how they could render the planet uninhabitable for billions; more precisely, we're talking about what will happen if we do not get a handle on either population increase or energy production.

2. Even then, a supervolcano eruption would not prevent billions of people from living on the planet. And that or something worse will very likely take so long to happen that it will encounter post-humans with super-advance mitigation technologies, unless something else destroys humans before.

d. Cosmic hazards.

1. That is not something our successors are in any way likely to do to the planet, and in any case it is very probable unrelated to population increase or energy production.

2. Actually, human action will almost certainly mitigate cosmic hazards in a massive way, protecting the rest of the biosphere as well. For example, when it comes to asteroids, I can't rule out a city killer, but a planet killer is so rare that it won't get here before whoever inhabits the planet can easily detect it and divert it. So, that won't happen.

e. Biological hazards.

This one can be pretty lethal. However:

a. If you want to make it lethal enough to threaten extinction, it's going to have to be a weapon or combination of them. But that's not a result of not getting a handle of energy production or population increase.

b. If you don't want something that threatens extinction, it's not the sort of thing that limits the numbers to less than billions. For example, if millions can live with a virus, chances are so can billions - if no one else, the descendants of the millions who got immunity, either natural or by vaccines.

f. Physical hazards.

I'm not sure what you mean by that (but non-physical hazards might do it...just think of all those ghosts, demons and other angels bringing about the apocalypse. ).

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
Elixir said:
Too many things to mention. Loss of biodiversity would be my best guess over hundreds of years to come. Risk categories however, include biological, geological, climatic, physical and even cosmic hazards for which a species intelligent enough to recognize them should be able to prepare. Species don't last terribly long in general, but intelligence might be the most lethal mutation of all. Or it might let HSS set some endurance record, at least for large mammals. We'd have a long way to go, depending on how far back you want to go referring to "us".
It's hard to pinpoint the argument, but let me comment on some of the points:

a. Loss of biodiversity.

Humans are omnivores and do not need any specific food items. Humans eat rice, wheat, soy, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, apples, bananas, etc., as well as all sorts of meat (insects if needed, too). There are more than enough things on the list (more on the long one, the etc.) to keep a large population (i.e., billions) going.

b. Climate change:

1. Some areas will become less suitable for humans (and/or some the things humans eat), but others will become more so - probably much of Canada, Russia, Patagonia, probably the north of Europe and the US, etc. Why can't billions live there? There seems to be no obstacle (the transition can be pretty lethal, but that's another matter).

2. There is also the possibility of genetic engineering to make crops more resistant to droughts, heat, etc., and that's just counting only gradual improvement of our tech.

c. Geological.

1. That is not something our successors are in any way likely to do to the planet, and we're talking about how they could render the planet uninhabitable for billions; more precisely, we're talking about what will happen if we do not get a handle on either population increase or energy production.

2. Even then, a supervolcano eruption would not prevent billions of people from living on the planet. And that or something worse will very likely take so long to happen that it will encounter post-humans with super-advance mitigation technologies, unless something else destroys humans before.

d. Cosmic hazards.

1. That is not something our successors are in any way likely to do to the planet, and in any case it is very probable unrelated to population increase or energy production.

2. Actually, human action will almost certainly mitigate cosmic hazards in a massive way, protecting the rest of the biosphere as well. For example, when it comes to asteroids, I can't rule out a city killer, but a planet killer is so rare that it won't get here before whoever inhabits the planet can easily detect it and divert it. So, that won't happen.

e. Biological hazards.

This one can be pretty lethal. However:

a. If you want to make it lethal enough to threaten extinction, it's going to have to be a weapon or combination of them. But that's not a result of not getting a handle of energy production or population increase.

b. If you don't want something that threatens extinction, it's not the sort of thing that limits the numbers to less than billions. For example, if millions can live with a virus, chances are so can billions - if no one else, the descendants of the millions who got immunity, either natural or by vaccines.

f. Physical hazards.

I'm not sure what you mean by that (but non-physical hazards might do it...just think of all those ghosts, demons and other angels bringing about the apocalypse. ).
And to add a point: it's extremely improbable that a non-engineered bug would only leave millions of survivors on the planet.

#### steve_bank

##### Contributor
It appears Angra is saying with climate change there will be winners and losers? Sounds like a true conservative capitalist. He is actualy sounding a bit like Hannity and Carlson on FOX News.

We are at the start of a l;age scale biodiversity loss with unpredictable results. The diseae attacking bee hives was actauly a threat to both agriculture and natural plant life.

The loss the ocean nurseries erpresented by the loss of coral reefs affects all life in the ocean. The ocean dies and we die.

#### Elixir

intelligence might be the most lethal mutation of all
Sure. I mean, so far it's caused us nothing but the ability to occupy most of the land area of the planet; to eliminate famine; eradicate a couple of deadly diseases and massively reduce the incidence and impact of most others; Transport materials around the world so cheaply that it's viable to eat fresh fruit and vegetables all year round almost anywhere on the planet; massively reduce infant mortality and massively increase life-spans; halt population growth; and generate effectively limitless energy cleanly and safely.

What a disaster.

Yeah, a really good 20-100 thousand year run so far. A geological blink of an eye. But we've only very recently (~last 100 yrs - a geological nanosecond) reached the point where we can drastically alter the planet's carrying capacity.

We are at the start of a l;age scale biodiversity loss with unpredictable results. The diseae attacking bee hives was actauly a threat to both agriculture and natural plant life.
...
The loss the ocean nurseries erpresented by the loss of coral reefs affects all life in the ocean. The ocean dies and we die.

All true. The "unpredictable results" part is what I find most disturbing, in light of the fact that historically, "unpredictable results" include a lot of extinctions. I agree with a lot of bilby's positions, but on this I find his cocksure anthropocentrism very suspect. And I don't even think the direct biological front is where HSS is most likely to lose the battle for survival.

#### T.G.G. Moogly

We are at the start of a l;age scale biodiversity loss with unpredictable results.
Humans perceive themselves as separate from all that natural bullshit. If it's too hot just turn on the AC. And there are those that just don't give a shit.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
steve_bank said:
It appears Angra is saying with climate change there will be winners and losers? Sounds like a true conservative capitalist. He is actualy sounding a bit like Hannity and Carlson on FOX News.
First, no, it does not appear that. It appears to you, but I did not say or suggested that.

Second, since you mention it, obviously there will be winners and losers. Mostly losers.

Third, can you give me a link to the videos or transcripts where they sound like me? Because that would mean that Hannity and Carlson are a bit right.

steve_bank said:
We are at the start of a l;age scale biodiversity loss with unpredictable results. The diseae attacking bee hives was actauly a threat to both agriculture and natural plant life.
Where? Which disease? Do you have a link, evidence of some sort, beyond some declines of some bee species in some parts of the world?

steve_bank said:
The loss the ocean nurseries erpresented by the loss of coral reefs affects all life in the ocean. The ocean dies and we die.
The ocean does not die. Many species in the ocean die. And humans keep going, since humans do not need them to live. Otherwise, can you provide a mechanism by which humans die out?

#### T.G.G. Moogly

The ocean does not die. Many species in the ocean die. And humans keep going, since humans do not need them to live. Otherwise, can you provide a mechanism by which humans die out?
Humans are not going to die out because of climate change. People who make that claim are off their coconuts. The issue is not extinction but rather the quality of life, the quality of that existence going forward, its richness in terms of biodiversity, opportunity and discovery.

Of course oceans do not die, that statement was hyperbole. But oceans and shorelines can lose their richness and become polluted as they have certainly become today. The problem is that those polluted conditions have become normalized. People don't even know what they've lost, they don't even know they are poorer.

But the primary problem is that not enough people care about such things, care about preserving a clean environment, are willing to pay the price to preserve it and improve it for future generations. It's a kind of sickliness that doesn't threaten survival, it just leaves that survival less wholesome. Trees are meant to be cut for human use. Only kooks want to preserve some old growth forest so we can still enjoy ivory billed woodpeckers. That's the problem.

#### steve_bank

##### Contributor
Were failing the Darwin Test, our big brains, manual dexterity, and language allows us to craetae things we can not control. The environment us in the process of deselecting us.

I would say nuclear war is inevitable. Food and resources.

It is pure ignorance. I will leave to Angra to do his won homework and find out where the O2 he breathes comes from, along with rhe ocean's part in the carbon cycle.

Plankton is at the very bottom of life on the panet, it is no exageration.

#### bilby

##### Fair dinkum thinkum
I would say nuclear war is inevitable.
Yes, but that's because your political beliefs don't incorporate anything that has happened since you were a young man, so you sustain the conclusions you reached in the Cold War, despite its having been over for thirty years.

All of your positions would be comfortably mainstream in 1970. But a few things have changed in the half century that you have spent fossilising your conservatism.

#### Angra Mainyu

##### Veteran Member
T.G.G. Moogly said:
Humans are not going to die out because of climate change. People who make that claim are off their coconuts.
But I was not taking issue with your claims there.

T.G.G. Moogly said:
The issue is not extinction but rather the quality of life, the quality of that existence going forward, its richness in terms of biodiversity, opportunity and discovery.
I agree the issue is quality of life...though I do not think those are the main problems involved. In any case, I was responding to steve's claims.

T.G.G. Moogly said:
Of course oceans do not die, that statement was hyperbole. But oceans and shorelines can lose their richness and become polluted as they have certainly become today. The problem is that those polluted conditions have become normalized. People don't even know what they've lost, they don't even know they are poorer.
Hmm...I'm not sure how much of a hyperbole it was - he seems to be talking about a risk of humans dying out. If I misunderstand, alright that's much better. But I'm not convinced I misunderstand.