Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No Nukes Is Bad Nukes

I'm an environmentalist who likes the Green Party but has yet to really support it.

After years of consideration, I've decided that global warming is man-made, and that we can alleviate it. I'm starting to think nuclear is the way to go. My left-y and enviro friends scorn the idea, but what's worse: underground garages with small amounts of radioactive waste, or millions of tonnes of toxins randomly dispersed into the air?

Enviros respond with, "We're leaving that nuclear waste for our grandchildren, I hope you know." Yeah, well, so are we leaving the air pollution for them, too - your point is....?

I refuse to use a/c, my refrigerator/freezer is on the warmest setting, I got the magic lightbulbs years ago, I bike - the truth is, mass society is never going to give up too-cold a/c or too-warm heating, they're not about to install solar panels, and wind is great but not enough. Non-renewable is a problem, granted, but I'm pro-nuclear anyway. Maybe before the uranium and maybe thorium run out, we can come up with a better solution, but for now, I'm right behind Dalton McGuinty's nuclear plan, and I think more Kyoto acolytes should be, too. Canada has wonderfully safe nuclear capabilities, and if France can get 77% of their power from nuclear, well we should be getting 80%, just to get them back for DeGaulle.

The Green Party should consider a heavily pro-nuclear platform.


Anonymous Curly Sue said...

I like the blog but I don't want to welcome a nuclear accident.  It can happen and it has happened.  Not often for sure but just like jumbo jet crashes, few get out alive.  So it's safe, just like they say commercial jet travel is the safest mode of travel out there, but man when it fucks up it really fucks up!

I think we're just scratching the surface when it comes to renewable energy.  California gets 20% of his power from windmills now and what do we have?  One stinking windmill on the Lakeshore!  That's beyond dismal!

I think we're on the cusp of great things.  Necessity IS the mother of invention so give it a bit of time and we'll have an Energy Revolution just like the Industrial Revolution followed by our current Communications Age.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 8:56:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Thanks for your comments.

I share your concern over nuclear accidents, although Chernobyl was a poorly run and poorly staffed plant with safety violations; it's hard (though of course not at all impossible) to see a Chernobyl happening here.

I agree that we're on a cusp of an Energy Revolution, but it's going to take time to get there, and I'm actually concerned about our time limits. Not til total destruction or such, i don't want to be alarmist. But when I see the rate of melting in Greenland and look at the projections of what would happen the Gulf Stream - I get antsy. I think nuclear might be our best shot at drastically reducing carbon emissions until that Energy Revolution.

Ontario is building quite a few windmills, I visited a huge tract of land covered in them at Christmas. It's going to be big in time, but so many engineers and professionals caution "not big enough" that I'm left with concern.

(Toronto should have more, that single one is a bit dismal, you're absolutely right)

Also, there must - just MUST - be some way to make them more bird-friendly. How many are killed in California annually, is it 5000? Where's my photographic memory when I really need it.....

Thanks a lot for your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006 9:03:00 PM  
Anonymous e said...

The thing that gets me about nuclear is the level of risk. There's something inherently dangerous about something that can poison an entire region. Even if it is managed well, designed well, and properly maintained, that potential remains. If the likelihood of something going wrong at a reactor is only 0.001%, the more reactors we build, and the longer we have them, the greater the risk we pose to ourselves. And the more reactors we have chugging away, the more waste we will produce. That waste has to be stored somewhere for a few thousand years.

One thing I really like about the Green Party is the idea of decentralization and personal responsibility. These ideas can be applied to power generation.

Decentralization takes the form of locally run, low risk enterprises (like microhydro; small, local windfarms; biodiesel; etc) that can be run by small businesses. So long as the energy sources they are using are safe, then accidents are much less significant. In addition, small businesses are pretty efficient, they are innovative, and they tend to employee a lot of people.

Personal responsibility is the idea of conservation. We should all be responsible for the amount of power we consume, and do our best to reduce it. The best way to achieve this is by slowly (and predictably) raising the cost of energy. As energy costs rise, people will start doing the math, and start using more efficient appliances/vehicles/etc.

Using less energy doesn't have to hurt. Every year, we use more and more energy, but our standard of living remains pretty much the same.

I've enjoyed your postings, and you're on my blogroll.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006 2:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Jimmy K said...

besides just nukes, we would do well if we considered a "made-outside-of-ontario" plan as well. Manitoba is teeming with lakes they can hydro up, we could use the electricity, they could use the money, everybody wins. Same thing with Quebec. Problem is we don't have the transmission capacity to go back and forth, and it's much easier for provincial governments to go ahead and do whatever they need to do within their borders than get some province-province deals, which would likely require some level of federal involvement as well. I think a comprehensive anti-global warming plan composed of more hydro, more windmills/solar, more microgeneration, AND more nukes is the way to go. Nukes are good, but in a country as rich as ours in multiple clean energy sources, we don't need to go 100% nuke like the french, we just need to look outside our little provincial borders and get a little creative. And if Harper wanted to show what a great environmentalist he is, he could just throw a billion at making a line between Manitoba and Ontario, but I'm not holding my breath for it as I'm sure all eight of the other non-involved premiers would go absolutely ballistic that they didn't get some fancy electricity goodies too, and the feds can't afford to give EVERYONE billion dollar goodies.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 2:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Actually, E, I am 1000% behind raising the cost of electricity - you're entirely right on.

My biggest concern over nuclear is that ultimately, it's non-renewable, so all of that cost involved isn't going to pay off forever.

I do very much favour the smaller, decentralized power sources you're talking about - I think it's, in the end, how we'll end up. Now, I *am* quite afraid of what might happen in the next 20 years, especially if Greenland melts, so I could be hitting the panic button a bit - but I feel "nuclear-for-now" could be our greenest (and safest) bridge to the local decentralized power stations you're talking about here.

So I'm of two minds, I guess - 1; Desperate times call for desperate measures, and 2. (Panicked) Fools Rush In. I don't which is a more appropriate label for me.... :)

Thursday, July 13, 2006 6:57:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Jimmy K, you've really hit me with something big I didn't realize (and there's LOTS I don't realize) - that France isn't as energy rich as we are to begin with.

We should all be powersharing the way you're talking, for sure - it's nuts that it's the 2000s and we're not.

You know the saying, "Everything causes cancer" - I'm getting to where I don't know what to do anymore, I read this article:

on how hydro-power generation can cause as many GHG's as burning coal, and I just about gave up. I hardly know which way to turn any longer.

The article seemed a bit fanciful to me: surely all those submerged trees can't add up to millions of tonnes of coal?! But, I'm not trying to discredit it, just illustrate my absolute confusion.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 7:06:00 AM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

Just a technical note:

Canadian nuclear reactors do not use enriched uranium so they cannot reach the required temperature for 'meltdown'. So the type of accidents like Chernobyl can not occur at all in Canada.

As well, if memory serves me correctly, Canada has something like half the proven uranium reserves in the world. (don't quote me on that though) So its not an issue of 'running out' of uranium anytime soon.

I'm a little biased on this issue however, my field of study causes me to lean towards supporting nuclear power.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 8:12:00 AM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

do not use enriched uranium so they cannot reach the required temperature for 'meltdown'

Wow - news to me. Well, that's why I wanted to start this blog, so people could teach me things I didn't know... I had no idea.

Also, had no clue that Canada had so much uranium (though I won't quote you on that).

Thursday, July 13, 2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger SouthernOntarioan said...

Let me try to find an article stating it explicitly. No need to trust me completely, for all you know I could be making it all up =P...

In all honesty, I heard it said a few times before around the physics department.. figured they knew what they were talking about.

Ahh.. here's something..


Read through it.. it talks a fair bit about it.

We use 'natural uranium' and 'slightly enriched uranium' (sorry, should have been more specific with my terminology)

We produce 30% of the world's uranium (shucks.. wrong again)..

Thursday, July 13, 2006 9:14:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Bo Green said...

Heck, 30% is pretty good. I was surprised to find, researching your comment, that Australia has 40%. Those lucky bastards - first Baz Luhrman and Nicole Kidman, and now this!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 2:12:00 PM  

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