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On Future Storm Damage To The Grid May Carry Unacceptable Costs

Rick, perhaps you are the person who needs to learn how nature works.  My mother who was born on a farm taught me that if minerals and neutreants are not returned to the soil then soil fertility suffers.  Anamals eat plants and poop.  Defication returns minerals and neuttants to the soil, as does the decomposition of animal corpses after death.  If you remove vegitation in the form of wood or food materials, you ultimately deminish soil fertility.  

Forest have been around for millions of years without human management, and have done quite well,  It is a huge mistake to think that nature requires human management or can be improved on by human intervention.   

May 3, 2011    View Comment    

On Future Storm Damage To The Grid May Carry Unacceptable Costs

Rick, the issues for future energy systems are cost, environmental impact and impact on human health and safety.  If you removes trees and brush from the land also removes the minerals that are locked up in them as well, and eventually the land begins to loose its fertility.  In order you have to fertilize the land which requires energy input.  From the viewpoint of land use, it might be stop fighting the forestation of the land.  Removing wood from the land does not instantly convert it to energy, it has to be transported to a biofuel processing facility, or to a biofuel powered generator.  By the time you count the cost and energy loss associated with transportation, and fertilizing the land, biofuels look less and less like a bargain.  Then we have the inevitable accidents associated with clearing the land and transporting biofuels to the processor.

My complaint about renewable advocates is that they ignore many of the costs of renewable energy and although claim to be environmentalists they are actually involved in denuding the land of natural vegetation and wildlife, as well as fighting to prevent natural processes like forrest fires from occurring.  

May 3, 2011    View Comment    

On VIDEO: Helen Caldicott Explains Fukushima Threat

Anja, My complaint is that Caldicott has a long history of refusing to engage in a give and take discussion with anyone who disagrees with her views.  Many people who have expertese in health issues related to the use of nuclear power, have not only disagreed with Caldicott's views, but also have pointed to what appear to be mistakes in her use of evidence and logic.  Caldicott has repetedly refused to offer evidence based answers to these criticisms, even though she certainly has had chances too do so.  Thus by the standards of science Caldicott has discredited herself, and anyone who is seriously interested in nuclear safety issues should seek out more credible, and scientifically adiquate sources.

April 29, 2011    View Comment    

On VIDEO: Helen Caldicott Explains Fukushima Threat

In 1999 Bernard L. Cohen wrote a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times.  The Times noted who Cohen was:

 Bernard L. Cohen is Professor-Emeritus of Physics and of Environmental and Occupational Health at University of Pittsburgh, author of several books about nuclear power and of about 275 research articles in scientific journals, recipient of the Health Physics Society Distinguished Scientific Achievement award and of four other national awards from American Physical Society (APS) and American Nuclear Society (ANS). He is a former Chairman of the APS Division of Nuclear Physics and of the ANS Division of Environmental Sciences.

Here is Cohen's letter:

Letters-to the-Editor
Los Angeles Times

Dear Sir:

     I am writing in response to the Commentary piece on the
dangers of nuclear power published in your November 30 edition
by Helen Caldicott, a highly political activist who has never
published a paper in a scientific journal on health effects of
radiation and is not a member of any of the major scientific 
societies that deal with that subject.
     Her principal issue is the potential harm from the
radioactive wastes of nuclear power that will be converted
into a rock-like material and buried in the natural habitat of
rocks, deep underground. She fails to recognize that the ground
is, and always has been, full of radioactive materials from
natural sources,and the wastes from nuclear power will never
increase the amount by more than a minute fraction of one percent.
She also fails to note that most electricity is now generated
by burning coal which releases waste (called ashes) into the top
layers of the ground, and these wastes include cancer-causing
chemicals like cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, etc which will last
forever, not decaying away naturally as do the nuclear power
wastes of which 99% are gone after a few hundred years. Using
the same risk analysis procedures, results indicate that the
number of cancers caused by the coal burning wastes is thousands
of times larger than the number caused by nuclear power wastes
from generating the same amount of electricity. Another of the
wastes from coal burning, known as air pollution, causes even
more total deaths, all of them now rather than spread out over
millions of years. The wastes from oil burning are only a few
times less harmful than the wastes from coal
burning. 
    The Caldicott claim that nuclear power does not greatly
reduce the releases of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse
gases) that contribute to global warming is absolutely
preposterous as any scientist, or even a high school chemistry
student, readily recognizes. It is not supported, as she implies,
by the Friends of the Earth (FOE) study she cites, and is belied
by the fact that France, which derives 70% of its electricity
from nuclear power, has far lower per capita carbon dioxide
releases than any other industrialized nation. She quotes
the FOE study as implying that the fossil fuels used to provide
the materials for nuclear power plants are a significant 
contributor to global warming, but she fails to note that other 
studies attribute far less fossil fuel usage to nuclear power, 
and that solar energy, the darling of FOE, uses more than ten
times as much of these materials (steel,aluminum, cement, glass)
as nuclear power for generating the same amount of electricity.
    In summary, the Caldicott piece is nothing more than a
political diatribe against nuclear power, with no attempt to put
problems in proper perspective or to properly inform your 
readership.

Bernard L. Cohen Physics Dept.

The Los Angeles Times offered Caldicutt a chance to defend herself 

directly in response to Cohen's comments but she declined to do so.

April 28, 2011    View Comment    

On The Catastrophic Downside Risk of Nuclear, Oil, and Coal

Chris, I second what Paul O., says.  I have been advocating sefer, melt downproof reactors for 4 years.  Critics of nuclear power who complain about the safety of Light Waer Reactrirs have been utterly uninterested in safer nuclear technology.  The nuclear critics are not interested producing safer reaqctors, they are only interested in obstructing nuclear power.  In the mean time we have had unsafe coal fired power plants, unsafe coal mines. unsafe natural gas pipelines, and unsafe natural gas fired power plants.  The same critics who have been thumping the table about nuclear safety, have given pass go and collect @200 cards to the unsafe fossil fuel power system.

April 20, 2011    View Comment    

On Rational Answer to Carl Pope’s Dismissal of Nuclear Technologies

It should be noted that there were 8 probable deaths in Japn due to an earthquake caused dam failure.  Renewables advocates ignore the deaths that might be caused by the intermittant nature of renewable generated electricity.  Such deaths can be caused by two sources, power outges that are triggered by renewable intermittancy, and fossil fuel pollution caused by the operation of spinning reserves, and by the operation of fossil fuel powered renewable backups. 

April 14, 2011    View Comment    

On A Clean Energy Standard Must Address Peak Load Reduction

 

I have been arguing for some time that there is a nuclear path to low cost peak electrical generation capacity. First let be point out the importance of peak electricity. The availability is a public health issue. Electrical demand skyrockets during periods of extreme high and low temperature. The availability of heating and air conditioning during periods of temperature extreme is a public health issue, During a Texas like heat wave in Europe during the Summer of 2004, something like 50,000 Europeans, most of them elderly, died of heat related causes. Renewable energy sources are poorly matched to consumer demands, For this reason renewable advocates are demanding an end of peak energy under the title, "Clean Electrical Standards.". Clearly then "Clean Electrical Standards" may not be good for older people. There are, however, paths to low cost peak energy that involve low cost, highly safe and efficient nuclear technology are available. I have discussed the nuclear peak load concepts on my blog Nuclear Green. http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2010/07/big-lots-reactor-revisited.html http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2009/03/lftr-power-for-stable-grid.html http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2011/03/post-carbon-industrial-process-...

April 11, 2011    View Comment    

On Does the President Realize We’re About to Have an Energy Crisis?

I have repeatedly criticized the President for the weakness and lack of vision of his energy team.  In the Presidents defense it should be noted that we have been living in an eara of unusual confusion about energy, as paradigms change.  The President's confusion reflects the confusion of both energy experts and other people about our energy issues.  

April 5, 2011    View Comment    

On Nuclear Moratorium: 'I' for India Comes After 'G' for Germany?

Dana, Nuclear Decommissioning costs are a small percentage of power costs, that get paid into an account that will pay for nuclear shutdown.  In the future at least part of the  Decommissioning costs can be saved by recycling old nuclear power plants by building new reactors on their site, and reusing parts of the old facilities.   

April 5, 2011    View Comment    

On Nuclear Moratorium: 'I' for India Comes After 'G' for Germany?

Dana, Nuclear Decommissioning costs are a small percentage of power costs, that get paid into an account that will pay for nuclear shutdown.  In the future at least part of the  Decommissioning costs can be saved by recycling old nuclear power plants by building new reactors on their site, and reusing parts of the old facilities.   

April 5, 2011    View Comment    

On Nuclear Moratorium: 'I' for India Comes After 'G' for Germany?

Dana, Nuclear Decommissioning costs are a small percentage of power costs, that get paid into an account that will pay for nuclear shutdown.  In the future at least part of the  Decommissioning costs can be saved by recycling old nuclear power plants by building new reactors on their site, and reusing parts of the old facilities.   

April 5, 2011    View Comment    

On Nuclear Moratorium: 'I' for India Comes After 'G' for Germany?

William, what were the Japanese thinking when they built their capital, Tokyo on a costal plin with an adverage elevation of under 10 meters and with a population of thirty million people, despite the fact that a 10 meter + tsunami can be expected every few hundred years?  Clearly the problems run very much deeper than Japanese failure to appreciate nucclear safety issues.

April 3, 2011    View Comment