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Nuclear Power feasibility

10/18/2008 8:29 AM

Burning fossil fuel increases greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, causing global warming. Use of environment friendly fuel is thus a necessity. There are several options for environment friendly alternative fuels: Wind power,solar power,tidal power,geothermal power,hydropower etc, made from renewable resources. Nuclear fuel is environment friendly alternative fuel, but made from non-sustainable sources and is not renewable. Request views from CR4 on the long term feasibility considerations, to go in for nuclear power option,apart from environmental pollution aspect.

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#1

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/18/2008 2:15 PM

I think that to ignore the environmental benefits of nuclear energy is to to leave out the main part of the issue, but to comply with your request I'll discuss just the supply feature. There are hundreds of years' worth of uranium available at low cost (Ref). Advanced fuel cycles multiply the fuel value by a factor greater than 60. There are some three times as much thorium as uranium. Advanced fuel cycles also make lower grades of uranium and thorium economical, owing to the much greater energy extraction. The supply, therefore, will last something over 10,000 years. Perhaps there is some subtle difference between sustainable and lasting 10,000 years but for practical purposes they are the same. I'll stick my neck out and predict that in 1000 years fusion will be up and running.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/18/2008 11:15 PM

Canada has had nuclear plants for years with an excellent safety record. The reactor that they use is called a CANDU. This reactor was developed by them because they had no facilities for creating enriched fuel and this reactor uses relatively low grade fuel. I think we should be investigating this type for use on the USA. I recently read in one of the publications by Platt's that China is getting ready to put one into service. Why are we not following suit?

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#16
In reply to #2

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 9:38 PM

I actually commissioned some support equipment at three brand new Candu reactors sold in Korea a few years ago. They are being used around the world. The Koreans had also bought European and American models. We might eventually see a Korean design using the best of all the above mentionned...

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#55
In reply to #16

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 9:41 AM

They're all internationally inspected so no matter who the nuclear reactor is built by they all meet the same standards.

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#3

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/18/2008 11:17 PM

Pebble bed reactors offer a tremendous number of benefits. No chance of meltdown, no possibility of creating weapons grade materials and less refining of materials to begin with.

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#4

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/18/2008 11:34 PM

Nvmani wrote: "Burning fossil fuel increases greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, causing global warming. Use of environment friendly fuel is thus a necessity."

Burning fossil fuel does increase concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere and I applaud your efforts to keep such discharges to a minimum.

However, suspicions are growing in the scientific community that the Sun is the primary cause of global warming, not man made additions to the atmosphere as is commonly held by many lay people.

I agree that we should pursue the development of environmentally friendly energy sources so we do not exacerbated the problem.

If we think that the greenhouse gasses are the only cause of temperature variations, we'll exhaust our scientific resources chasing the wrong villain.

By so doing, we compromise our ability to deal effectively with what is turning out to be the real cause: temperature increases on the Sun. Every planet in our solar system has registered temperature increases that match the Sun's fluctuations precisely! We can hardly blame the Global Warming on Mars on factories that don't even exist

The jury is not in yet, in spite of what Al Gore would have us believe. Besides, he's not a scientist, not even remotely. All he is sputtering is what others tell him.

L. J.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 1:30 AM

Laughing Jaguar, the notion that CO2 isn't the main cause of global warming comes from coal-financed advocacy groups that found sympathy among right-wing conservatives who just don't like the idea of laws limiting what people can do, including burning fossil fuels. There are very few scientists who reject the mainstream scientific view, and none of them agree with each other.

It's true that before the 20th Century the sun caused most of the climate changes, either because of varying solar activity or because of variations in Earth's orbit. But solar influences don't explain what has happened since 1980. For more on this, please look here.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 2:46 AM

Red I have more important things to concern myself with then Global Warming so I do not save every piece of material that comes across my desk.

What made the Solar argument stick in my mind was that it was put forth in a report by a body of scientists numbering over 5,000!

They were said to be angry with the elected officials who run their organization for having caved into "consensus" and "bar room" science. Those 5000 scientists are vehemently in opposition to the current "sky-is-falling" hypothesis.

The glacial ice caps have seen more snow in recent times than ever and temps are dropping according to people who measure such things. Those are hardly signs of a warming trend.

I'm not suggesting we not attempt do something to curb greenhouse gases and made that very clear at the onset.

To attribute changes in climate exclusively to our species is pretentious and sophist thinking at it's worst. What causes me concern is that it's an invitation by every Luddite and environmentalist wacko on the planet to throttle every industrial nation extent.

And, is being used by politicians to frighten people so they can get the votes.

"Elect me! I'll fix it!"

Yeah Sure!

L. J.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 11:48 AM

Laughing Jaguar, I appreciate that your time is too valuable to be spent checking sources and evaluating evidence, but these arguments don't bear up under scrutiny. Your position would be easier to respect if you could provide references for the claims you make; otherwise you're asking us to ignore solid evidence and postpone effective action just because someone you don't remember told you some unspecific opinions. By the way, the thousands of scientists who sign these petitions turn out to be mostly non-scientists or scientists in fields unrelated to climate science. The organizations who compile the petitions are paid for it.

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#26
In reply to #7

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 10:50 AM

Beings how Global warming is a controversial issue, I'm sure you can find solid evidence to support arguments on both sides of the coin.

As for Nuclear power plants. The safety of Nuclear power plants has been greatly enhanced since the Chernobyl incident world wide. As the person mentioned about the Canadian Nuclear power plants, all Nuclear power plants go through the same inspection processes world wide. It's a precaution that was initially set up as a USA and Russia joint project that has been joined by more then 35 other countries that utilize nuclear power.

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#33
In reply to #7

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 9:06 PM

That Al Gore should be given a Nobel Peace prize is almost as offensive as it being given to Yasser Arafat. That Gore should get an Academy Award is fine. They simply gave him the award for the wrong category of film. It should have been Sci Fi Fantasy or Adult Cartoons

At some point advocates of the man-made global warming theory should at least admit that they might be wrong. Shouldn't they?

Thirty years of warmer temperatures go poof

October 20, 2008, 10:26 AM

Lorne Gunter

In early September, I began noticing a string of news stories about scientists rejecting the orthodoxy on global warming. Actually, it was more like a string of guest columns and long letters to the editor since it is hard for skeptical scientists to get published in the cabal of climate journals now controlled by the Great Sanhedrin of the environmental movement.

Still, the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly. Because a funny thing is happening to global temperatures -- they're going down, not up.

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#45
In reply to #33

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/22/2008 3:07 PM

You Wrote: "At some point advocates of the man-made global warming theory should at least admit that they might be wrong. Shouldn't they?"

I'll tell you what, when the "world is round" crowd finally admits that the world could be flat, then I think the "global warming crowd" would feel obligated to admit its possible that all this climate change is just natural.

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 2:05 PM

Hi Red Craig,

Methane is a hundred times worse than CO2 for causing global warming, but nothing is being done about that?

Most of the methane comes from animals like cattle and sheep, while about 5% comes from landfill sites all over the world, and what are they going to do about that?

Spencer.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 2:45 PM

And what about all those human bathroom ventings that become active while following the earths morning time zones? This could conceivably affect the rotational equilibrium of the planet!

If only Sandford Fleming knew what cutting the pie would do...............

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 5:05 PM

Well, not a hundred times worse, but certainly methane is a more potent greenhouse gas. Actually, agriculture scientists are pushing for lower methane releases by changing the way animals are raised and through low-till farming. Landfills are capturing methane and burning it or even selling it. Where I live the county is encouraging people to compost their food waste along with their garden clippings.

But CO2 emissions are rising faster than methane emissions, so they have more impact. Anyway, the OP was asking about nuclear energy, which can't do much to reduce methane emissions.

Duckinthepond is onto something. If people would stop defecating the world would be a safer place. We could print up some bumper stickers saying "Just say no to Metamucil!"

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#22
In reply to #10

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 9:37 AM

I had an interesting discussion with a chemists and a biologist from our large city sewer treatment plant and they said that the sewers emit large amount of gas (N2Sxx.. if I recall properly) much worst than CO2 (500x).

I am convinced that our climate is changing and that human activity is a good part of it but base on history, the consensus and political parasites are usually wrong on figuring the real causes of problems. CO2 is certainly a contributor but there are certainly other emanations that might even have more effects. It is not because a group of scientists have concentrated on CO2 that it is the only culprit.

If we don't look properly, we will spend a lot of money trying to eliminate CO2 while other emanations that might be easier to reduce (such a methane and N2Sxx..) will go free and continue to affect the climate.

Nature is built on diversity. Nothing is simple. There is never only one cause or one effect. The fact that "WE" are trying to simplify this problem to only one variable is a sign that "WE" are probably missing something.

The main problem with coming with a whole list of emanations to reduce will make it too complicated for the masses to come on board. They quit once something is too complicated. Just plain mental laziness.

Meanwhile, this is a good season to plant a few trees. It will do much good global warming or not... Nature is always right.

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#34
In reply to #10

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 9:30 PM

Craig, very good point raised by some of our contributors- we should look for all out program to limit or even eliminate global warming. If we cogitate, we may find some other big contributor like CH4 which can be stopped easily from going into atmosphere directly. I think we are missing one fact that a big part of methane is coming from collieries/ mines. Though, we have started methane drainage, yet , it is not fully adopted by all the collieries or it is not done in efficient way. Even it is not effectively implemented in all the caol producing countries. We need to make universal law on this to be strindently followed by all countries. We need to adress this on proirity basis than methane from farming or husbandary. I don't tell that we should stop development in these minute contributing factors like farming, but, it should be an all out approach with priority based on the degree of contribution.

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#56
In reply to #10

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 10:02 AM

What are they going to do, make the cows defecate less?

Our farm lands are turning into deserts from the saline left behind from irrigation and the chemically based fertilizers. We are loosing much of our farmlands to housing developments. We have South Americans burning down rain forests.

As people are taking up more space and leaving less in the way of vegetation behind to scrub our air, we are complaining about global warming. At least the forestry industry in the United States takes steps to replenish what they cut down and schedule the cuttings and replanting by cycles. Done cost effectively by utilizing inmates as their labor force. In South America, that's not happening.

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#58
In reply to #56

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 10:23 AM

Bottom line, there are way too many people living on this planet. We have become an "infestation" due to our superior ability to flourish in nearly every nook and cranny of the globe. Our overgrowth is unsustainable!

We really need to cut our population drastically. My guess is that about 1 billion people would be a reasonable balance. I am by no means advocating any type of "forced reduction". However, based on the inability of "developed societies" to replenish themselves, I think we could "naturally" achieve this goal.

It would be very interesting to see a calculation, based on the" % population shortfall" of a typical "developed society", just how long it would take for World Population to dwindle to only 1 billion. My seat-of-the pants guess is about 300 years.

Any Math whizzes out there?

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#60
In reply to #58

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 10:38 AM

That's absolute nonsense. There is more than enough food for everyone in the world. There is more than enough resources. Its just that some hoard it and some don't.

Look, I know that it's a popular theory that we are overpopulated. It's a good thing. Technology evolves with population. The more of us there are, the more specialized we can be. The more specialized we are the faster technology can progress. We live on a tiny speck on the edge of a bigger speck in the universe. There is plenty of room to expand. Denying population growth is denying our very nature and that never ends well.

So stop it. Stop it right now. We don't need population control, if we do nature will do it for us. What we need is to stop being lazy and invest in science again. We need to stop listening to dumb people and start listening to smart people again.

Ray8, when you say "cut population" you may as well be saying "If everyone in the world would send me a penny I'd have 60 million dollars". It sounds good in theory but it's as likely to happen as the sun rising in the West.

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#61
In reply to #60

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 11:33 AM

Yes..

I like this response as it is in essential agreement to where i have arrived as well..Also i'd like to get to the site of the conference in Istanbul re nuclear technology update .I tried to use the given link and also found it to be a dead end...CAn we find it or has it been removed from the public domain ??

Regards,Marty Wolf also known as a belly button lint collector......

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#62
In reply to #60

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 12:15 PM

Roger,

Perhaps your "engineering bent" is clouding your vision. Sure, we could use technology to support continued population growth for a while yet … lots of Bio-Engineered crops, ever more mechanized planting and harvesting, better chemical control of "pests", Windmills and Solar Panels spread across most "unused land", Power Plants and Transmission wires everywhere, People clustered in efficient hi-rise dwellings watching HD Videos of "the outdoors" on full-walled screens, computer-controlled electric Carts shuffling us thru the maze.

But the environment in which we live is then looking less and less like the "natural" conglomeration of plants and animals distributed about the Seas, Mountains and Plains. Our "World" is becoming more and more like a huge "Starship". Only species that serve us directly are propagated, and they become arraigned into neat geometric blocks for processing. Oceans are becoming "fished out", while Fish Farms are filling the niche. Species that don't interest us are pushed out (often to extinction). That to me is a very stale world!

Call me "Old Fashioned", but I would prefer to live in a more Natural World …and I suspect that our problems maintaining a comfortable environmental balance would also be much easier that way.

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#66
In reply to #62

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 1:32 PM

In a more natural world you'd already be dead. Most people didn't make it past 30 back then.

By the way, you refuted an argument I never made. My argument was that population expansion is human nature. You might as well ask the sun to rise in the west. Railing against the inevitable is a waste of everyones time. While you are being self righteously impractical we are turning food into alcohol to mix with our gasoline while others starve. Where is your moral outrage there?

Your antipopulation rant is quite simply an extremely subtle veiled "blame the victim" approach. You see, it's poorer nations that have higher birthrates because they tend to be more religious and can't afford contraception. So by blaming the ills of society on overpopulation, you can sit back and watch people starve and say "there, you see, that's overpopulation" even as you drive around in a car burning five percent corn alcohol, corn that would otherwise be sent overseas to those same starving people.

What a wonder it is to divine such a wonderfully impractical solution as limiting births as we sit in our temperature controlled buildings and type on our energy guzzling machines. I think there is no greater irony than that of the computer chair activist and yes I mean myself as well.

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#67
In reply to #66

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 2:11 PM

Roger,

Please don't try to paint me as an extremist. I fully appreciate what technology has done for us over the past 1000 years or so (as an engineer, I am enthusiastically involved in its advancement). However, I think it is more extreme to extrapolate our technologies indiscriminately.

Sure it is "Human Nature" to reproduce, however, unlike the other species, we also have the intellectual capacity to see a broader view of our situation and make choices accordingly. We are coming to the time when the past "Natural" inclination to propagate right up against the barriers is no longer the best course. The fact that most people don't yet see this is testament to the degree in which we are bound by our past experience. New ideas come harder than simply going with the flow. But as in all of Nature, environmental pressure drives the diversity …not only of physical mutations, but of ideas. Ultimately the survivability of a species is measured by its ability to adapt. Technology, great as it is, is only one aspect of that adaption.

At some point, is seems reasonable to seek a new balance between what we can do, and what we should do. Certainly advances in Medicine, Agriculture, Energy production, Transportation … should all be pursued. Where I differ is in the choices of application of these advancements. If we enthusiastically embrace technologies without also gaining some control of our population, we will find ourselves always living "close to the edge". That means while many of us are comfortable, there will still be multitudes barely surviving. That also means that we will be ever-engaged in a struggle to "manage" an environment which is suffering ever further "structural collapse" as the Natural balance is pushed out, requiring a "Human Engineered" intervention …Spaceship Earth.

I am from a large family (oldest of 8) and see no reason we can't still live with that freedom to reproduce. Fortunately, the experience of "developed countries" shows us that population decline is possible without personal infringements. I fully expect that we will collectively come to this conclusion I the near future and will adjust our attitudes to suit.

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#69
In reply to #67

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 2:31 PM

You just insist on having the debate you want to have, not the debate we are in. At no time did I say technological innovation will help ease the problems of overpopulation. Never.

I'm saying that overpopulation is a myth. There is plenty of excess food and future arable lands for the population to expand for many more generations unchecked. There is just a unprecedentedly wide gap between rich and poor nations.

Also, what I said is human progress has been marked by technological innovation and technological innovation is critically coupled to population. The moment you try to restrict the population you may be restricting our ability to grow as a society as well. Have you consider the consequences of stagnant or regressing technological innovation? Of course not, you see only positive consequences to population control.

But forget all of that, my main point is that what you are suggesting is impossible, unless you surgically "fix" people, and if that is what you are suggesting, then you have turned a very dark corner my friend.

You suggest limiting births as a way to reduce population, but there are other methods. You could kill people when they turn 65, refuse to export food so those countries that can't supply for themselves starve to death. Tell me, what makes your solution, denying future life (timeism) any less a moral hazard than the two other methods I'm suggesting above?

Morality has a funny way of suiting our own needs.

"What sins should you go to hell for?" is answered with "Anything worse than anything I or someone I loved did". I suggest you reexamine your morality on this issue.

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#70
In reply to #69

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 5:25 PM

That's not what I was learning in my Natural Science course three years ago.

We discussed that we're going to be out of resources to support our populations at the rate of growth by 2050.

That's not generations away, in fact, for some of us that is within our life time.

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#71
In reply to #70

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/25/2008 3:20 PM

I disagree and here are the facts to support my claim.

The average American eats 1500 lbs of food per year.

There are 6.6 billion people in the world

If everyone in the world ate like us Americans, the world would consume about 5 billion tons of food this year.

Projections of Worldwide population growth vary but a fair estimate is that by 2050 the world will have 9.5 billion people. So that would require 7.1 billion tons of food if every person in the world ate like an American.

Here are the amount of grains produced in the world last year (source (go to the crop statistics section)) (don't forget to convert from metric to english tons):

Cereals - 2.5 billion tons produced per year
Vegetables - 1 billion tons produced per year
Roots / Tubers - .75 billion tons produced per year
Milk- .65 billion tons produced per year
Fruit - .5 billion tons produced per year
Meat - .3 billion tons produced per year
Fish, Eggs, others - .5 billion tons produced per year

That is a grand total of 6.2 billion tons of food produced in 2004.

So how do you make up the 900 million ton shortfall so everyone can eat like us Americans in 2050? Simple. 1 ton of beef requires 3 to 10 tons of grain. If we cut our worldwide meat consumption in half, we easily can reach 7.1 billion tons of food.

So lets recap. We produce enough food today to feed everyone in the entire world like an American in 2050 (1500 lbs a year). Here are 5 reasons why that is remarkable.

1. In India and China, which account for almost a third of the worlds population, the average person eats roughly 500lbs of food per year. Yes, that's right, one third of what we eat. And they aren't starving either. In the estimate above we assumed a 1000 lb increase in food per year for 1/3 of the population.

2. We are assuming no improvement in yields over the next 40 years. That would be remarkable given the chart below on crop yields over time. Notice that over the previous 40 years the amount of grain produced has tripled. Again we are assuming no improvement which is crazy:

3. Now consider this. It is estimated we use only 60% of the arable land on this planet. Let me say that again. 60% (source). We are assuming no increase in our usage of arable lands in this calculation.

So you see, we have plenty of food. Plenty of land to make more food, without any technological innovations necessary. I understand you guys believe it to be a common fact that over population is an issue, and regionally that is very true however globally that is nonsense. Essentially we are hoarding food. And in our arrogance our suggestion is that others should have less babies rather than we having to share.

Please don't come at me with anecdotal evidence on issues ok? Look into it, gather your facts and get it straight. Perpetuating misinformation can cause a lot of problems.

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#72
In reply to #62

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/27/2008 6:06 AM

Ray8...Populations,whether homo sapiens or some other species of life,generally achieve a maximum level on their own,utilizing their biome in a completely self serving way until either the biome is devestated (grazing herds of buffalo moved around) or some other factor enters the species life balance be it disease/weather/predator etc..In the end the number of that particular species will be kept in check at the local level...Why would we homo sapiens be any different...Is our role on this planet to care for competing life forms or our own?...Perhaps both....as we do share this common "Spaceship Earth" to quote RB Fuller...We haven't reached our natural limit of homo sapiens numbers as we continue to increase...Is there sufficient...Based on other entries into this thread (Roger Pinks tables of food etc.) it seems yes using even current technologies...Others will evolve out of neccessity/profit/sense making..

I'd like to toss this in to the wringer of thought re both energy/food/humanities survival/greed etc which seems to be the overall theme of this thread...Say you had a 3500 mile pipline generating both frictional heat on a continuous basis and internal heat due to the nature of the product being pumped vectorially..How much food could you grow if you had a 3500 km greenhouse system as part of this pipeline...If the Chinese can build as many kilometers of railroad by 2010 as suggested in another thread in 2 years time i have no doubt that technological skills will save homo sapiens from starving and being genuine stewards of the rest of their spaceship

Regards, Marty Wolf

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#73
In reply to #72

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/27/2008 11:54 AM

Reply to Roger Pink and Marty Wolf:

(Roger Pink )Your point (backed my numbers) seems to be that we still have enough useable land available to support food production for decades. However, in making this "allocation" you assume that all this land is ours for the grabbing. What about the other uses for land? What about Lumber Production? What about Housing and our desire to live in "Urban Sprawl" communities? Should we all live in the cities, stacked neatly in High-Rise apartments? What about the habitats of birds, animals, bugs trees, and assorted vegetation which all require a reasonable balance between them for sustainability, but are now being severely strained by our encroachment?

It was recently stated that One Quarter of World's Mammals Are Threatened With Extinction , the causes being habitat loss and overhunting, along with climate change. Even NOW the Oceans are becoming fished out, our intensified farming is oozing pesticide and fertilizer runoff that is creating algae blooms and disturbing the reproductive hormones of many species.

Do you account for the fact that every day huge tracts of what was fertile farmland, and huge tracts of what was forest are being plowed under to make housing developments. How does that eat into your projected use of "arable land"? Where I live, I see more and more Deer foraging in our yards, because just around the corner is yet another forest that was recently bulldozed and filled with houses …solution: we shoot the "excess Deer" (it is for their own good because it keeps them from starving bcause we took away their food source). Point: Our confiscation of "arable land" is grossly distorting the balance of biodiversity. This distortion then forces US to manage the survivors.

Your (Marty Wolf ) idea of utilizing the heat and adjoining land from a pipeline for "Greenhouse" food production is a good one. I am all for consolidating various processes such that the "waste" from one process becomes the "Source" for another. (My favorite is to use an internal combustion engine running on Natural Gas to heat our homes while generating electricity for the grid.)

Yet, all things considered, we are converting out planet into a giant "Space ship (a Starship). It we simple use these "advances" to sustain our near-geometric growth then we will have gotten nowhere. Our environment will become ever more stale and man-made, devoid on the Natural assortment of species it once had. For all this effort decades from now, we would find ourselves still living on the edge" …still scheming ways to get more "productivity" from ever more process refinements to out Starship. That to me is not progress, it is "infestation.

I reject the notion that just because all life forms reproduce until they become limited by the available resources, that WE are destined to follow suit. We have the ability to project the ramifications of our activities and adjust our behavior accordingly. We use this "insight" to develop better Farming, safer Water Supplies, and Sewage Treatment etc. What is preventing us from doing the "Social Engineering" that produces a society where everyone has the freedom to reproduce per their choice, yet collectively, we limit our population to center around replacement levels? (Surly you must be aware that many "modern societies Naturally reproduce below sustenance levels.)

Why do you defend process engineering so strongly yet not see that is doomed without also gaining control of our Population? My main point is that though we should enthusiastically pursue improvements in the technological aspects of our existence (Energy production, process efficiencies, robust and compact Food production …), we should also work to reduce and stabilize our population to level that allows the other creatures the space they need to sustain a natural balance.

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#74
In reply to #73

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/27/2008 1:11 PM

Actually I make none of the assumptions you suggest. I use current land use in my calculations. Current technology, current arable land use, etc. I take these assumptions and apply them to the population in the year 2050, forty years from now. It's a completely unrealistic calculation used to demonstrate that it is a complete myth that we are somehow overpopulated on this planet. My point is that its not that there is overpopulation, its that some hoard food (and waste it) while others go without.

You so casually suggest population control as a solution to a problem I'm trying to show you doesn't exist. Arable land disappears at very small rates globally. You still seem to want to cling to your overpopulation idea, so let me try a different approach.

Look at all the empty spots on the map above. Obviously deserts aren't going to support us without a vast improvement in technology, so here is a map detailing where the world deserts are:

Basically any region with 0-1 on the first map is either a desert or a glacier. However note how many sparsely populated regions there are (1-3, 3-6, or 6-10). There is plenty of growing for us to do.

So stop suggesting there is any kind of overpopulation problem globally, there isn't. Many religions forbid birth control or population control. You may feel it is correct to limit births, but why is it your opinion should be applied to others? I personally believe that our development as a race depends on our population growth and that population controls are misguided and ill advised. I'm sure your intentions are noble, but I'm afraid your premise is terribly flawed.

Admit it, you can't even conceive of negative consequences of population control. You don't consider the slowing of diversity which makes us resilent to a multitude of infections and diseases, you don't consider technological advancement which depends on population increases to provide the specialization and wealth necessary for advancement. You see only the negative consequences of population growth and want to act without consideration to the potentially devastating side effects of population control.

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#81
In reply to #74

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/29/2008 5:56 AM

One speaking about a subject about which one has no more than superficial knowledge. So stop that. It's always easier to find "evidence" for what is reinterpreted as plausible...so long as what's plausible is not well comprehended.

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#83
In reply to #81

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/29/2008 9:25 AM

I have much more than superficial knowledge on the subject I assure you. Generally I say only a small percent of what I know. I try to keep the arguments basic to get my point across.

However, anytime you want to sign in and discuss this, I'm ready and waiting. Lets see how deep our respective knowledge goes. Lets see how you hold up against my "superficial knowledge".

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#127
In reply to #81

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/15/2008 1:45 PM

" If you understand no explanation is needed. If you don't understand no explanation is possible"

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#132
In reply to #81

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

02/05/2009 7:16 PM

What ever Trevor!

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#131
In reply to #74

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

01/24/2009 4:47 PM

Pompous much?

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#75
In reply to #73

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/27/2008 1:14 PM

Ray et al:

Look closley at your argument..You live in an area encroached upon by yourself and your immediate neighbours and have deer nibbling in your yard...We can't all live in highrise towers?...Well I too have the comfort of living on the edge of urbanity just somewhat removed and at times feel shame for all the space i have to pay taxes etc for...Ideally extremely large towers could be virtually self sustaining if NASA type recycling /living unit systems were part of the plan...Even locally(in building)developed food generation systems would not be a long stretch...We (humanity) are on a Starship/Spaceship whatever..WE are aware of this as a fact and will be at some time required to treat our planetary/shared home/starship as such...High rises of substance/virtual cities are not beyond the ken of modern builders/technocrats/sensible people all over this planet..There would be pluses and minuses compared to to-days constructs be they economic(which has been noted elswheres fail because of selfishness at the end of the day)/societal..(how many individual have extended families these days in say North America and if you are living in a high rise what inputs do you have outside of condo/rental fee payment on demand..A larger structure would require input on a constant basis from members of that particular hive..likely governed by a variety of boards..for this corporate oversight would be local..

To get to this systemitization of living units while returning the burbs to primal land is not tenable but as with National Parks rights of land will have to change..Many will find this anathema to their vigourously held beliefs in private property rights.As a small landowner i know those rights are yours only so long as you have paid off your mortgage/owe no one any money/and can continually pay the taxes due on the property within a reasonable time frame.

Any way,I hope you realize where my visions are coming from...The knowledge that there is more than enough available for humankind to support not only his own species but the rest of the planets species,which it is now known to be required to keep the entire biosphere,on which we the homo sapiens of this planet depend,intact and functional..Gaia notions make sense..Knowledge ,while not power in itself ,does give you the ability to see the potential in even a cubic cm of sand properly dealt with.

Regards,Marty W.

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#80
In reply to #73

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/29/2008 4:52 AM

Read the article about 1/4 of world's mammals faced with extinction.

Pardon my scepticism but this is the sort of fodder which gives unfashionable areas of research large grants.

What percentage of mammals was faced with extinction ,say 400 years ago? We haven't a clue, but it may well be a similar figure.

About 5 years ago I bought 4 trees which were so endangered that the parent was identified as tree number 47. I also officially listed as "rare and endangered".

In an ordinary nursery recently the same species was for sale. It is no longer "rare and endangered".

If only 5 years or so can change the status so completely, how secure is the basis of "1/4 of the world's mammals are threatened with extinction"?

Most of the threatened animals are so specialized they would be struggling to survive anyway.

This is not to say we shouldn't take reasonable steps to conserve the existing ones, but lets not go overboard and give ourselves a massive guilt trip.

Incidentally, the human threat to most of these animals is from developing countries. Should we assume guilt for their actions?

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#63
In reply to #60

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/24/2008 12:19 PM

"nature will do it for us.again."

You got that right. Here's a excellent read on this topic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse:_How_Societies_Choose_to_Fail_or_Succeed

and another great book by Jared Diamond:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs,_and_Steel

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#23
In reply to #5

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 9:57 AM

Yo, Commie Craig, you need to be suspisious of what "mainstream Scientist" tell you. It wasn't all that lomg ago that they were all saying that the earth was flat and the center of the universe.

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#30
In reply to #4

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 12:56 PM

It would seem undeniable that the Sun is a very significant contributor to Global Warming (or Cooling). However in assessing the situation, is should be intuitively obvious that there are many factors which contribute to Global Warming. By Man's injecting massive amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, we have added an unnatural factor to the situation. (Our ever-increasing emissions CO2 rose to record high of 9.34 billion tons in 2007.)

Therefore our contribution will be added to whatever the Sun does. Simulations suggest that this summation is what is pushing our planet towards a "Tipping Point".

Currently, we are experiencing an unusual absence of Sunspots. This means that the amount of solar radiation is lower than usual …yet the Polar Ice is still melting to near-record lows. Consider what might happen once sunspot activity resumes normal levels.

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#77
In reply to #4

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/28/2008 3:53 AM

As a side issue, all the available fossil fuels were at one time carbon in the environment, predominantly either living things or CO2. Geologic CO2 levels are generally far higher than present, without runaway warming. Why is it supposed to suddenly be a danger to the environment? It is only returning to where it originally came from.

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#78
In reply to #77

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/28/2008 6:43 AM

You are so right,

CO2 is supposed to be an imminent danger because these people do not see the real dangers.

And they do not see that the natural excursions up and down in climate/temperature are much bigger than we want to live with.

The ice ages have been for much longer periods than the warm periods.

We still do not know what caused the ice-ages to come back (after many million years of nonrecurrence) around 1 million years ago.

So we will waste our money and power for useless efforts,

we will drive to extinction most forms of life on this planet,

some have learnt that we can't eat money,

I hope that enough persons will learn but I doubt.

RHABE

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#79
In reply to #78

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/29/2008 4:25 AM

"Will drive to extinction most forms of life on this planet"

We have been unable to make anything extinct by our choice (with the possible exception of smallpox), because most species are sufficiently adaptive that changes we (and they) make are readily handled and the species continues to thrive, or at least survive.

Anything which goes extinct has become so specialized or inflexible that it was doomed anyway. Extinction has been an ongoing process for a long time. Claims that we have accelerated it are suspect because we have no sure way of knowing what the rate was in previous times.

A common mistake made by the doomsayers is to underestimate the adaptability of life. This leads to such bloopers as the famous Club of Rome report "Limits to Growth" which in the early 70's predicted massive, world scale famine within a decade or so. This report was issued by some of the top scientists of the day. In modern parlance "the majority of the scientific community are agreed".

I fully agree "we can't eat money". the economists and money men should realise that money is only any use because of what can be achieved with it. Of itself it is worthless.

Incidentally, the freezing of the mammoths shows that major climate change can occur very quickly. There was no anthropogenic effect there!

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#84
In reply to #79

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/29/2008 9:35 AM

"We have been unable to make anything extinct by our choice"

Not by choice but by habits!

Mammoths not only fell into permanent freezing but also were hunted by Neanderthal people - may be related or not but both no longer existing since nearly the same time.

The big mammals of North-America that vanished 13000 years ago? - easy prey to new invaders, the early (4th wave of immigration) Indians arriving over the Bering strait.

The Dronte and other non-flying birds in 18th century - food supply for sailors.

Elephants, lions, gazelles and other of Northern Africa?

Most wild animals of Europe?

Tigers all over the world surviving only by active protection - for how long?

We do not give enough untouched surface area for many endangered species to survive.

National parks and military training grounds are good for endangered species as every-days activity is limited or banned.

Most of the birds I watched as a youngster are gone (maybe a handful still existing) because farming habits changed totally and clearing wild bush-land for agriculture or houses and streets did the rest.

The "Limits to Growth" of the Club of Rome are still existing, to be debated is when and how. To predict the future is a tough task.

Next there is - more near to now than dangers of fading species - the life cycle of cultures and civilisations. None has succeeded (in known history) for more than 500...1000 years.!

My suggestion

A.: Reserve 10% of existing area for wildlife -not only in remote areas but also in and near all cities! and also if good arable land. Do not create this as isolated islands but as a net of interconnected reserves.

B.: Do not spend money in "climate protection", but spend the money in education to give to the next generation the best possible way of mastering any threat.

RHABE

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#85
In reply to #84

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/29/2008 11:28 PM

Rhabe

"A.: Reserve 10% of existing area for wildlife -not only in remote areas but also in and near all cities! and also if good arable land. Do not create this as isolated islands but as a net of interconnected reserves.

B.: Do not spend money in "climate protection", but spend the money in education to give to the next generation the best possible way of mastering any threat."

Agree, we need to provide reasonable room for wildlife, provided we then control the ferals. Here in Australia, wild pigs and feral cats tend to play havoc with the wildlife we try to preserve.

My main point with the Club of Rome was the time scale they set.

At the time, this was generally agreed to be about right. The actual result was an increase in food production over the next couple of couple of decades, the exact opposite of the confident predictions being made.

As Roger Pink has so ably shown, the limits to growth are considerably further in the future than even the optimists had predicted.

Life is not as fragile as people claim. It is actually very resilient, and humanity is probably the most resilient of all.

We mustn't give in to the doomsayers. Instead we should look for solutions rather than concentrate on problems.

Problems are nothing but an opportunity to develop and advance.

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#86
In reply to #85

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/30/2008 9:41 AM

Skeptic:

Life is indeed "fragile", yet adaptive. However "adaption" often means that species must either make a suitable transformation or wither away. Humanity is the most resilient of all due to our intellect, but still we need a clear picture in order to make good decisions.

Great Graphs from Roger Pink, but they are misleading because they don't get into the realities of all those unpopulated lands which are not actually "desert". Certainly vast tracts of those lands are either forest, grazing pastures for cattle, marsh wetlands/flood plains, or otherwise infertile or difficult to farm.

Furthermore, when we look at the runoff from Farming even today, we see high levels of pesticides and nitrogen which accumulate in our waterways stressing and killing species and alerting the reproductive cycles of many. Dead Zones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_zone) around farming regions are increasing along with farming intensity. The Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico is currently about 8000 sq miles. Imagine how these affects amplify as Food production increases to meet the needs of rising populations.

Still, there is certainly room for significantly expanding our food supply if we are willing to incur the increasing costs.

However, my main point is that if we use our technological advances simply to foster continued population growth, our gains will be minimal. We will have further distorted this planet to support only OUR needs, while many of us will continue to live on the edge.

Technological advances without population stability leaves our destiny still out of control.

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#87
In reply to #86

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/02/2008 5:14 PM

And my point is that we mistake "inconvenience" for "impossible". In the U.S. we eat much more than we need to, turn some of it into fuel, and throw the rest out in our garbage.

I know people who call for restrictions in population growth think they are being the good guys. I get it. But I see way to much "good intentions" in this world and not enough good actions. Consider the following:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/19/paying-attention-to-the-food-we-dont-eat/

There isn't terrible over farming because of over population, its because in the first world food has become a product rather than a necessity. Think on it, right now, as an average american, you can probably have any kind of food from anywhere in the world within the next 24 hours. Think about the waste required for such a luxury.

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#114
In reply to #86

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 10:57 AM

I was misleading in other ways as well. I didn't include deer, squirl, rabbit, etc as animals that could be eaten. When you think about it, we in the western world are remarkable food snobs who refuse to eat most of what is edible, wastes almost half of what we are willing to eat, take our excess corn and turn it into alcohol to mix with gasoline to power our cars, then lecture the third world on population control.

Our arrogance is exceeded only by our ignorance when it comes to "over population".

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#82
In reply to #78

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/29/2008 6:00 AM

In fact, the cooler periods have gone on much (much, much, much, much... ...) shorter than the warmer periods of Earth's history; it's just that hominids have not been around to witness other than the cool period.

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#11

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 5:31 PM

I would rather not involve myself in the general discussion over what causes global warming, but I am totally lacking in confidence that the "Powers That Be" have sufficient understanding of the overall climate system (read all the disclaimers in the UN climate report...) to be able to effectively limit any climate variation no matter what the cause without the threat of something even worse happening (like initiating a new ice age). The projected levels of CO2 and global temperatures are NOT out of line with the paleoclimate record, if one goes back far enough in time. The data are manipulated by selecting only a relatively modern window in which to compare the past with now. If one goes back, say, 65,000,000 years, or 350,000,000 years, one sees periods where the level of CO2 far exceeds what is projected for the next century, and temperatures and sea levels varying by significantly more that the mavens have declared as "catestrophic".

There are other reasons for weaning ourselves off fossil fuels (like cleaner air to breath). Planting trees has been argued to provide significantly greater potential for reducing CO2 than any other high-dollar scheme the politicians have come up with. Unfortunately, no one has figured out how to make a fortune from planting trees, so we have to deal with ideas like pumping it into old wells and such.

Nuclear power is clean and sustainable, and cheaper, if you follow programs such as the Canadian, the Japanese and the French approaches, rather than the American style of over-regulation and "cost-plus" contracts for building these things. Nuclear waste? More nuclear waste is pumped in to the atmosphere when burning coal that is collected in a spent fuel dump, per unit of energy produced (unfortunately, I do not have access to the citations supporting this particular fact, but is something that has been running around the edges of the nuclear debate for years).

But planting trees is still the best solution. And if that doesn't really solve the problem? So what? You have a beautiful forest to enjoy, and it cost a whole lot less that 1% of the total world economy (which is the latest estimate I have heard from the wonks promoting the wildest manipulation schemes).

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 5:48 PM

Hi cwarner..........to add.......Coal ash and cinders are concentrates of high radioactivity....amusing this subject is never broached.

Forgot where exactly location is but do recall nuclear facility in the UK being held responsible for radioactive contamination of a waterway. Investigation discovered contaminant was cinders from nearby coal plant that were being dumped into the waterway.

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#14
In reply to #11

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 9:00 PM

cwarner, what the paleoclimatic data don't show is the rapid warmup we're experiencing. More to the point, the plants and animals we depend on aren't adapted to the conditions of millions of years ago. If the changes were occurring as slowly as before and the world had time to adapt, then there wouldn't be alarmists like me.

Your point about trees is well taken. There is the concern that eventually all plants die and return the carbon they absorbed back into the atmosphere as CO2, but if there were some practical way to cut and bury the trees, perhaps that could be the sequestration scheme everyone hopes for. At present, though, deforestation is continuing apace.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 9:25 PM

Yes......but what the paleo data does show is that once there were hippopotomi living in England (except it wasn't called England then). Given the evidence of same would one conclude that they lived there? Or vacationed? Their demise, as that of mammoths, was remarkably swift in that particular hemisphere.

There is also evidence that methane and hydrogen sulphide caused global extinctions. Again, there is no evidence of a slow or speedy progression that led to the event....only conjecture based on scientific principals and some good detective work.

The idea that the earth slowly evolves is a fiction adhered to by proponents of a static bio/geosphere.....one of many hangovers from the Victorian age.

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#21
In reply to #15

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 8:36 AM

Hi Duckinthepond,

Here in England we have started to build five new nuclear power stations on the same sites as the older ones, but we are still left with the problem of what to do with the highly radioactive waste material?

We now have about 3000 wind turbines and will increase this by 7000 by 2020, so as you can now deduce we at least are gearing up towards zero CO2 emmisions!!!

Spencer.

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#24
In reply to #21

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 10:03 AM

Say here is a question for all you windies. Has anyone ever studied the impact on the environment from the windmills? After all they remove energy from the atmosphere which directly contributes to global warming...

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#35
In reply to #24

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 10:05 PM

"Say here is a question for all you windies. Has anyone ever studied the impact on the environment from the windmills? After all they remove energy from the atmosphere which directly contributes to global warming..."

You are joking right? This is tongue in cheek, right?

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#88
In reply to #14

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 5:02 AM

"...what the paleoclimatic data don't show is the rapid warmup we're experiencing. More to the point, the plants and animals we depend on aren't adapted to the conditions of millions of years ago. If the changes were occurring as slowly as before and the world had time to adapt, then there wouldn't be alarmists like me."

How do we know the past changes were slow? The assessment of previous rates of change depends on the assumptions made and such things as the rapid freezing of the mammoths indicate these assumptions may be dubious.

It seems more likely that climatic change occurs quite rapidly when it does and that present changes have little, if anything to do with human activity.

Pumping CO2 into the air will increase the rate of plant growth and in particular the output of food. Double CO2 equates to about 75% increase in food output. Admittedly this would require more subsidies to farmers not to grow, but biofuel can mop up the surplus.

Meanwhile, others starve. Sorry about my cynicism, it sometimes gets the better of me.

It is notable that Anthropogenic warming only became "the opinion of the majority of scientists" after sizeable government money became available.

Apparently Mars is also heating up. Are we sending too many probes there and increasing their temperature too?

Historically, the 1930's were hotter than now. In addition, around 1000 AD the climate was warm enough to have vineyards in England and grain growing in Greenland. Why do you think it was called "Greenland"?

The so called J curve owes more to mathematical manipulation than real fact.

I believe we are being taken for a ride on this issue. Anthropogenic warming has been politically proven, but the science and available facts give limited support to the proposal and when you look at all the available facts, the case becomes extremely flimsy.

The entire field is full of wooly assumptions giving wooly conclusions, with a few milking it for all they can.

Sorry about the rant, I will now leave my soap box.

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#89
In reply to #88

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 8:02 AM

Your analysis of the climate hype suggests you may have read at least some of the UN climate report. I find it difficult to believe anyone who has actually read all or part of the UN report on climate change would be all that concerned...

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#90
In reply to #88

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 9:30 AM

Sceptic,

I have found that I agree with you on other issues, and I'm willing to bet if we explored this issue we'd share a lot of opinions (I'm against Kyoto, strongly against biofuels, strongly against capping carbon emissions, etc.) so I'm going to try to say this as respectfully as possible. You are absolutely wrong about global warming. It has been shown irrefutably to be caused by man.

You're fighting the wrong fight. Rather than try to disprove or fight something that has been proven to be true (global warming caused by man) you should be helping people like me fight the boneheaded, politically motivated, half-assed "solutions" (Kyoto, Biofuel).

Please stop quoting that "Mars is heating up". The paper that was taken from was a paper on the albedo effect in mars from Nature. Here is the paper:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v446/n7136/abs/nature05718.html

The argument that a few scientists are corrupt or misguided regarding global warming seems plausible, but every major scientific organization has issued a statement that global warming is real and caused significantly by man. To suggest all the scientists in the world are corrupt or misguided seems unlikely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_consensus

This is not even a political issue anymore as can be seen by the following:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi6n_-wB154 (How these two don't burst into flames just sitting next to each other is beyond my understanding)

I know its annoying to be on the wrong side of an issue and the scientists weren't sure until this decade, so your position was legit in the 90's or before, but now it isn't, and you're fighting yesterdays battle when there is a really important battle to be fought today, how to tackle global warming.

I have said and I continue to say that the key to fixing global warming is the same as the key to increasing our national security, namely a giant government investment in the development of Fusion power and solar power. And if Pickens wants to build a few windmills, I'm cool with that too (though I have my doubts as to the effectiveness of that plan). But to try and limit emissions, or to do carbon capping.......it just isn't going to work. It's a pie in the sky idea. Anyway, we need people like you to bring common sense this argument, but if you start suggesting the entire scientific community is corrupt, you are invalidating your opinions, some of which might be beneficial in this discussion. Just think about it.

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#91
In reply to #90

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 10:45 AM

Hi Roger Pink,

some global warming is man-made, but which share of the total?

We have had near 80% cold ages within the last 1 million years and only a few moderate - so that agriculture, woodland and "good" climate/weather could exist above 45°north.

We do not know for sure, when and why we will fall back towards the cold phase, there are too many mechanisms that work.

We are not able (by money and manpower and willingness) to combat "global warming".

In China there is a new coal-fired power-plant ready and switched on every week!

Do you dream that this can be limited in CO2?

So let it exist until some natural or man-made effect is working. Some effects will be good some effects will be bad.

The only approach I see that is making sense is careful energy use: cooling in the south and heating in the north can be made much more effective.

I agree with you that some considerable money should go to fusion power - but we must have in mind that there may be never a success! Especially the problem of heat extraction in an environment with ultrahigh neutron flux is a big task.

I do not agree with you about solar power - the chance to come to a breakthrough should be nourished by research money - but the todays wasting of consumers and tax money for some few kilowatts is ridiculous. The chance to have oil producing algae with a good yield should be evaluated and funded too.

RHABE

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#93
In reply to #90

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 3:37 PM

There is little doubt that human activities impact weather, but I suspect the greenhouse gas effect is a minimal aspect of this. I am very much in favor of finding alternatives to fossil fuels, but more because I like breathing clean air. I am very, very nervous about allowing a group of Scientists, no matter how well-respected and ethically oriented, to play with tweaking the climate system in an attempt to maintain some semblance of a non-existent equilibrium point. These same Scientists that are insisting we do something radical to counter the effects that are blamed on human activity will be the first to admit that we do not fully understand the full dynamics of the climate system. Furthermore, the climate system is chaotic, and should a tweak happen to push the cycle in slightly the wrong direction, we could very easily find ourselves in a new ice age.

If you are seriously concerned about the effects of global warming, start planting trees. Some studies (note, I do not insist "all" studies, or even a majority of studies) suggest that a much smaller sum spent planting trees will have a far greater effect at carbon sequestration than any scheme currently being proposed. Plus, it makes the world a nicer place. Plus, if it turns out to be the wrong approach, and we find ourselves in another ice age, there should be a lot of fuel around to help keep us warm.

The projected temperature rises, the projected rise in the sea level, the estimates of total carbon in the atmosphere are no where near the limits recorded in the ancient past. Trying to argue about the rate of change is silly, because the data is not there- there is insufficient resolution to the paleoclimate information to determine if change was rapid or not (although frozen Mamoths suggest rapid change- in the wrong direction). And then there is the nasty little bit of data that suggests that a peak in CO2 in the atmosphere heralds an impending ice age (of course, peaks much larger than what the UN projects, by the way).

So, let's plant trees. The worst case result of this approach is that we will do no harm, a pretty good standard by which to judge the potential effects of our efforts...

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#94
In reply to #93

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 4:12 PM

You Wrote: "Lets plant trees"

This is exactly the type of ridiculous solutions I'm talking about. We need real solutions that at least have a cursory understanding of the scale of the problem. Lets plant trees? Good lord. How about "lets read some books and educate ourselves on the subject since just being able to breath doesn't entitle us to an opinion on all things".

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#95
In reply to #94

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 5:16 PM

"Lets plant trees"

This is neither ridiculous nor a "solution".

We will not have a solution as there is none.

We shall admit that

we do not have enough knowledge,

we do not have enough money,

we do not have enough influence on unwilling states.

So I agree with cwarner that any of the todays activities is useless, ridiculous, money burning and may be contraproductive.

Maybe next year we do not have any more any money to support uncertain actions.

But to send a lot of engineers to the Netherlands to learn there how to live on dry land beneath sea-level would be a petty good investment.

RHABE

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#99
In reply to #95

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 9:28 AM

Planting trees itself may not be ridiculous itself, but Planting trees as a method to reduce CO2 emissions is. Everytime we allow these nonsensical solutions time and consideration, we are taking away discussion from real solutions like Fusion and Solar Power.

I understand the idea of wanting to be polite and protect feelings, but when you do it by allowing miconceptions and misinformation to spread, you do all of us as a whole a disservice. Much better that you correct the person and when they are on board immediately forget they ever weren't. Otherwise we are going to live in a world where every scientific theory, from evolution to global warming, is questioned and considered open to debate. Rather than pushing science forward we will forever be fighting a rear guard action.

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#100
In reply to #99

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 9:38 AM

"we are taking away discussion from real solutions like Fusion and Solar Power."

You got that right. Those are our real solutions.

Planting trees is a really good idea, for a variety of reasons, but not to reduce CO2 emissions. If you want to reduce emissions, stop emitting.

Not cutting down the rain forests is a good idea too, but that's another thread altogether.

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#103
In reply to #100

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 1:40 PM

""we are taking away discussion from real solutions like Fusion and Solar Power."

You got that right. Those are our real solutions."

Hi,

Why do you think these are real solutions?

Fusion power is estimated as far away as it was 50 years ago! and may be there is never a success!

Solar power is much too expensive but we hope that a real breakthrough will happen.

So both is based on hope.

But what to do if the hope does not become real?

For the foreseeable future we need oil, gas and nuclear fission, enhanced by wind, solar and bio, further enhanced (a lot) by careful use.

This will work. Anything else may work.

RHABE

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#104
In reply to #103

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 2:08 PM

There is direct causality between money invested and results. To quote the history of the research in fusion without then also discussing how it has been chronically underfunded the entire time is disingenuous Rhabe.

Hope has nothing to do with it. We are all scientists and engineers here. These are real attainable goals if we bothered to fund them. Solar is almost there now without any real funding. You are speaking in misconceptions and generalities. You should be more responsible in what you say on this subject.

Nuclear fission is not an option. It is way too dangerous. You leave a fusion experiment alone it goes out, you leave a fission reactor alone it eventually overheats and destroys everything in it's vicinity. I wish people understood that difference, it's an important one.

We have a moral obigation as scientists to find real solutions to problems. Planting trees, biofuels, wind power are supplemental solutions at best. Fusion and Solar are the only viable solutions to replacing fossil fuels (along with great improvements in battery storage). To simply say a task is "difficult" and therefore dismiss it as impossible and replace it with an impossible solution (a solution that has no chance of working) is insane, yet that is where we find ourselves, isn't it. It's time to look deep into your soul Rhabe and ask yourself if the energy needs of the human race are growing exponentially, how are we to meet those goals except with technology that provides exponentially more energy. Only Fusion has that potential.

Below is the paragraph on the advantages of Fusion Power taken from the Wikipedia article on Fusion.

Fusion power would provide much more energy for a given weight of fuel than any technology currently in use and the fuel itself (primarily deuterium) exists abundantly in the Earth's ocean: about 1 in 6500 hydrogen atoms in seawater is deuterium. Although this may seem a low proportion (about 0.015%), because nuclear fusion reactions are so much more energetic than chemical combustion and seawater is easier to access and more plentiful than fossil fuels, some experts estimate that fusion could supply the world's energy needs for millions of years.[14][15]

An important aspect of fusion energy in contrast to many other energy sources is that the cost of production is inelastic. The cost of wind energy, for example, goes up as the optimal locations are developed first, while further generators must be sited in less ideal conditions. With fusion energy, the production cost will not increase much, even if large numbers of plants are built. It has been suggested that even 100 times the current energy consumption of the world is possible.

Some problems which are expected to be an issue in the next century such as fresh water shortages can actually be regarded merely as problems of energy supply. For example, in desalination plants, seawater can be purified through distillation or reverse osmosis. However, these processes are energy intensive. Even if the first fusion plants are not competitive with alternative sources, fusion could still become competitive if large scale desalination requires more power than the alternatives are able to provide.

Despite being technically non-renewable, fusion power has many of the benefits of long-term renewable energy sources (such as being a sustainable energy supply compared to presently-utilized sources and emitting no greenhouse gases) as well as some of the benefits of such much more limited energy sources as hydrocarbons and nuclear fission (without reprocessing). Like these currently dominant energy sources, fusion could provide very high power-generation density and uninterrupted power delivery (due to the fact that it is not dependent on the weather, unlike wind and solar power).

I beg you to reconsider your stance on this important issue. If we as scientists and engineers don't show a unified front on these issues we have no hope of convincing our governments to invest in the best solutions.

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#106
In reply to #104

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 5:14 PM

Hi Roger Pink,

"chronically underfunded" Fusion Reactor:

any research is chronically underfunded, so also fusion.

I do agree (naturally) that the benefits of a working fusion reactor will be tremendous.

I expect that there may be soon a (short time) working plasma fusion experiment (ITER) soon.

I am sure that the following 2 problems will pose longterm very difficult tasks that may not been solvable:

1. energy extraction: neutrons and gamma-rays are not at all easy to convert to usable (thermal) energy!

2. neutron activation of plasma tubes will pose terrible problems on material purity and neutron irradiation induced radioactivity.

Both tasks may be not solvable in a sense that there is an option for commercial power generation.

That is the basis for my statement: fusion may work but we cannot be sure.

Solar Energy:

We are far from a commercial solution, everything existing (except thermal water heating in some very restricted areas) is a big factor too expensive (factor is 3 to >10 depending on region).

Nuclear fission is not an option. It is way too dangerous.

There are some ways that are much better. And if we refrain from reprocessing used fuel we can avoid a big part of the risks. Reprocessing used fuel is necessary to produce nuclear weapons - enough of these are existing.

One of the old designs that is safe is CANDU - look for the characteristics at www.aecl.cn other new fission reactors are presented at 2007 ICENES conference.

If military versions have been not ok in the past (Hanford waste storage , Tchernobyl reactor ...) this is no indication that this is not safe.

((Cars are not safe, planes are not safe, life is not safe...))

"you leave a fission reactor alone it eventually overheats and destroys everything in it's vicinity"

not with the modern ones, once more: see aecl or search for CANDU.

"I wish people understood that difference, it's an important one."

I feel that you are biased by the fears of the public but reality is different.

" Fusion and Solar are the only viable solutions to replacing fossil fuels"

In 500 years very likely but not now nor within the next 100 years.

We extract oil from the known fields only at 20 to 30% of the existing oil - why not improve this?

If you think about exponential growth then think also about the limits. There is no one single exponential process existing nowhere.

I agree that fusion power is up on the list of wanted technologies - but I expect a huge amount of hard obstacles - so let us try but don't let us rely on success.

(I will not comment on the WIKI article on fusion, this is school stuff, engineering needs a lot more.)

You did misunderstand my intention, I agree strongly on the necessity of funding, but I would never rely on uncertain or unlikely success for survival if other options are existing.

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#112
In reply to #106

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 10:42 AM

Hi Rhabe,

You Wrote "any research is chronically underfunded, so also fusion." I disagree. For instance lets compare the amount that has been spent by the U.S. on researching a missle defense system. The U.S. has spent more than 50 billion the past 5 years on developing a missile defense system, over that same time they have spent less than 2 billion on Fusion research. So no, not all research is underfunded.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/politics/16missile.html

http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/doe06s.pdf

You Wrote:

"I am sure that the following 2 problems will pose longterm very difficult tasks that may not been solvable:

1. energy extraction: neutrons and gamma-rays are not at all easy to convert to usable (thermal) energy!

2. neutron activation of plasma tubes will pose terrible problems on material purity and neutron irradiation induced radioactivity."

1. Most of the energy from a Nuclear Fusion reaction is thermal which will power turbines, just like in Nuclear Fission plants.

2. This is one of the problems that must be overcome with better shielding materials. It's still a much less radioactive process (no radoactive waste products) than fission.

You Wrote:"Both tasks may be not solvable in a sense that there is an option for commercial power generation. That is the basis for my statement: fusion may work but we cannot be sure."

Of course we can be sure. No one in the scientific community is suggesting that Fusion may never work, all the concepts are straight forward, it's just a debate as to how long it will take to make it work. Remember, we've demostrated Fusion tons of time, its a sustainable, energy positive Fusion Reaction that is the challenge.

You Wrote lots of things defending Fission...

Listen, it comes down to this. If you leave a fission reaction alone you get a meltdown and everything in its vicinity dies. I'm sorry you don't believe me and you believe that the modern ones don't suffer from this problem, but you are wrong. I'm willing to investigate that last statement in a seperate thread if you'd like, I think it is a very important point you need to understand. There's all kinds of rational you can provide, failsafes you can introduce but in the end the fundamental nature of a fission reaction dictates this. There is no getting around it.

You Wrote:"In 500 years very likely but not now nor within the next 100 years."

I don't know what scientific journals you're reading by your estimates are a joke. Whether its 25 or 75 years will depend on funding. 100 years? Do you realize we barely had cars 100 years ago? What pace of progress are you looking at.

Heres a graph of world energy consumption over time.

Here is a graph of world population over time

Notice any similarities? I'm telling you, 100 years from now the worlds energy needs are going to be 3 times what they are today. We need to act now to meet that challenge. Solar and Fusion are the only technologies that have any hope of attaining such lofty energy goals. Even fossil fuels can't produce that much energy.

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#116
In reply to #112

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 12:00 PM

Roger,

Your graphs support my previous contention (#73 & #86) that in order to get a handle on Energy Sufficiency, we also must stabilize our Population.

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#117
In reply to #116

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 12:35 PM

No, that is how you choose to intepret those graphs. The vast majority of that energy is used by less than 20% of the worlds population here in the U.S., Canada, and over in Europe.

You see, The U.S., Canada, and Europe have about 1 billion people, about 1/6 of the worlds population. Yet they use the vast majority of the food, energy, and materials. Here's where it gets good. Then in our self-righteous arrogance, we blame "overpopulation" for famine and such on the third world, which has higher birthrates, thus absolving ourselves of our gluttony.

How nice it must be to turn a blind eye to the facts to suit your opinion. You need to read up and understand how the worlds resources are used. You're clinging to your argument out of habit. You owe it to yourself to learn the truth.

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#119
In reply to #117

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 1:12 PM

"Then in our self-righteous arrogance, we blame "overpopulation" for famine and such on the third world, which has higher birthrates, thus absolving ourselves of our gluttony."

Here's where you loose me Roger. These third world countries, for what ever reason, can't support themselves now, let alone high birthrates. So, are you insinuating that I support them? You can do what ever you want with your money, but I will resist the redistribution of my limited wealth to feed every hungry mouth in the world. The cold hard fact is that when you feed the hungry children, you end up with many more hungry children. By definition, when people cannot be fed, housed and clothed, there is overpopulation.

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#120
In reply to #119

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 1:35 PM

Let me put it this way.

Imagine there was this really big fat guy and a really skinny guy and a cake. The fat guy can beat up the skinny guy, so he takes all of the cake he can carry. The skinny guy keeps the scraps that the fat guy can't carry. The Fat guy carries what he has, and eats till he can't eat anymore, then throws a 1/3rd of the cake that he couldn't force himself to eat out in the garbage.

Now the skinny guy goes and has a kid and they have to share the same amount of crumbs. Slowly they starve because there is simply not enough crumbs left over once the fat man takes his share. So whose fault is it that the skinny guy and the kid are starving? The fat man argues it's the skinny guys fault, if he didn't have a kid he wouldn't be starving. The skinny man points out that the fat man throws away more than enough to feed 100s of skinny people not to mention that he eats enough to feed 500 skinny people. The fat man asks why should he redistribute his portion? If the skinny person deserved it, he wound take it from the fat man (earn it), rather than get a hand out. Of course being fat gives the fat man the advantage for the cake, which comes from all the extra cake he's eating, so the argument is a bit circular, but it helps the fat man sleep at night, so he believes it.

So here's my opinion:

I don't think giving some of our extra food to starving people is "redistribution of wealth", I think it is a moral obligation. I don't think asking us to eat what we need (2000 calories a day), rather than what we want (4000 calories a day) so others in the world who are starving (less than 500 calories a day) can survive (1000 calories a day). In fact I would argue that such sacrifice on our part would actually help us with our "obesity epidemic".

But hey, I'm a Lutheran, these are just the morals I was brought up with, everyone else has to have their own.

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#121
In reply to #120

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 2:32 PM

I'm not a fat man and I didn't kick the shit out of anyone to get my lunch today. Perhaps, as you suggest, the world is not overpopulated. However, many countries can't or won't feed their people. Ironically, this isn't due to lack of world food production. In many, many, cases, it's due to corrupt political regimes, that would rather spend their GNP on other things. There's little I can due about this. So, this fact can support you parable, but I'm not the fat man.

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#122
In reply to #121

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 3:16 PM

Don't worry, you aren't the fat man, I am. I live in America and enjoy all of our wealth and benefits. I'm the fat man.

The parable is saying the United States and Europe in general are a bunch of fat men. They have 1/6th of the worlds population and use 80% of its resources. That is the definition of Gluttony. (If you don't believe me, here is the definition of Gluttony from Wikipedia) And of course we kick the shit (to borrow your phrase) out of people....all the time. Sometimes we do it as the UN, sometimes as the US, and sometimes as NATO. Those "corrupt political regimes"? We bribe them with aid money.

Here is a link from wikipedia on foreign aid, read the criticisms part

Now please read this part carefully. I'm ok with all of that. I mean it. The world is the way the world is. There will always be strong and weak, fat and skinny, that is the way nature intended it, so who am I to argue with it.

My point, and it's a point that requires us to think carefully about all of this, is, if you make the weak too weak, you make them desperate, and that makes them dangerous. By the same token, if you make the strong too strong, you make them soft, and that's dangerous too. My motives are the motives of a man who recognizes that sometimes morality and self interest can be complimentary. That greed and self interest can be at odds. This is an important concept to understand because it leads to the difference between strength and decadence.

I don't know if you ever have seen the movie Lawrence of Arabia, but there is this great scene where the prince is discussing mercy. To paraphrase, he says "Mercy is a passion for Lawrence, for me it is merely good manners, I'll leave it to you to determine which is more reliable" Sure enough, Lawrence, in a fit of rage, slaughters an entire column of turks for destroying an Arab village. For all his grand gestures of mercy earlier, it was Lawrence, not the worldly prince who committed the most heinous sin, a slaughter to the last man, giving no quarter even as they surrendered.

If you can understand that paragraph above, you can understand me. I may come across as callous or cynical, but what you will find if you dig deeper is that I'm just trying to avoid committing the monstrous sins. That can only be accomplished if we are honest with ourselves, definitely the hardest thing to do in life.

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#123
In reply to #122

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 3:53 PM

Roger-

I like your perspective. Fat man/skinny man is basic Darwinism. And give me a man of reason any day over a man of passion. I can deal with a man of passion.

With regards to the "total solution"- I read recently somewhere an article that detailed what it would take to just keep up with growing demand for energy, in terms of how many plants we have to build, how many solar panels, how many wind mills, how many dams, etc. Unfortunately, I can't find that article right now, but the bottom line was, we do not have the resources to keep up with energy demand even if we wanted to. Without reduced consumption (not redistributed consumption, REDUCED consumption) we face an uphill battle no matter what technology we need. Until fission is ready for prime time, we are stuck with what we have, and we need all sources of energy we can get our hands on.

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#124
In reply to #123

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 4:22 PM

Cwarner7_11,

You Wrote: ".....but the bottom line was, we do not have the resources to keep up with energy demand even if we wanted to."

You left out "with existing technology". Fusion could provide more than enough energy for thousands of years at current growth rates. That is why it is the inevitable next step, it is the only technology that can actually surpass our coming energy needs. It will happen because it must happen. Necessity is the mother of invention. I just would like us to act before we "need" it, call it "Foresight is the father of comfort".

Regarding the Darwin tone to my comments, yes, evolution shapes much of my thinking, but not in the traditional "social evolutionist" way like Nietzsche whom I despise. My take is this, we are decended from the great apes, so observing the social system of great apes can provide insight to the buried instincts that drive us. For instance, great apes are social creatures. Great apes have a power structure. They coordinate and work together when gathering food, yet the food is not equitably divided when consumed. This tells me that inequality of wealth is in our very genes, and to combat it is unnatural. However, a great ape would never allow one of its group to starve when it has had enough to eat, it has empathy, therefore, I think it is also unnatural for man to acquire a disproportionary amount of wealth.

To fully understand how unique these features are to these species, lets look at spiders. Spiders spend the majority of their life alone. There is no power structure or group hunt. The is no sharing. Don't rear young, and in fact will eat young, mates, or be eaten by young or mate. If decended from spiders, our culture would be very very different.

Consider bees. Bees are communal, however they don't all hunt. They are born into specific specialized roles. If we were decended from bees, our culture would be very, very different.

Now I realize that's a bit much, but the point I'm trying to make is that a lot of our social mores and structure are a direct result of our instincts. In the great apes, a leader leads until he is no longer strong enough to lead. In humans we have evolved government to the same position. We have civilized it (we don't bash the leaders head in to let him no he is no longer the leader, we elect), but it is still the same concept.

I try to use this view of us to help me understand what will and wont work. I like to say that "if every person in the world mailed me a dollar I'd be a billionare". It aptly illustrates the absurdity of the unnatural. You will never get 6 billion people to agree to anything, much less get them to agree to send me money. It's an unnatural solution that won't work. There are many solutions like this that people offer that have no hope of working. Communism comes to mind (we can't have a government based on equality when inequality is in our very natures). That is why I lash out at suggestions such as "if we all planted trees" or "if we all stopped having babies". Such fanciful theories are unnatural and therfore have no hope of success and instead distract us from real solutions. I hope that didn't come off to harsh, it is just how I feel.

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#130
In reply to #112

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/16/2008 3:26 PM

Hi Roger Pink,

I did not have in mind this very dissimilar sectors of research: military spending on different missiles compared to longterm future energy production.

The 2 billion you quote for fusion research is not enough: there is an international community acting: add all up and you will reach around 30 billion.

If you add only US spendings then add the NIF cost of nearly 4 billion. (Some say this is pure military, I cannot judge.)

" Most of the energy from a Nuclear Fusion reaction is thermal which will power turbines, just like in Nuclear Fission plants."

This is not comparable:

Fission energy is mostly velocity of fragmented uranium atoms, then some neutrons and x-rays and radioactive decay.

Fusion energy is mostly concentrated in the resulting Helium atom and a very fast neutron - both to be slowed down and the neutron used to breed some new Tritium from the Lithium blanket (that has to surround the plasma tube).

Look at the Iter-plasma-chamber: 800 cubic meter to generate 500MW and only the surface to transmit energy?

No known neutron-irradiation-insensitive materials! Any material will capture neutrons and be converted to higher isotopes and other atoms, many of these radioactive and some very ugly! So my estimate is that there will be the necessity to have ultra-pure metallic materials for the fusion chamber and surrounding structures. This is not at all a trivial task: a new institute is planned together with ITER to do research in this area. My estimate is further that these structures will need purities below 10-6 - today only available in semiconductor-grade silicon.

So this may pose non-surmountable difficulties! I would try but we cannot be sure and we cannot rely on a solution!

"If you leave a fission reaction alone you get a meltdown and everything in its vicinity dies."

This was and is (unfortunately) existing in todays fission reactors but will be no longer be acceptable from now on. There are constructions that are inherently safe.

"I'm sorry you don't believe me and you believe that the modern ones don't suffer from this problem, but you are wrong."

How can you be so sure without having studied the modern developments?

"but in the end the fundamental nature of a fission reaction dictates this"

Fortunately you are wrong with this statement.

"I don't know what scientific journals you're reading by your estimates are a joke."

Most scientific reports rely on oil-companies reports on known oil and gas-resources.

These have been compiled on known data - not at all including to be explored new fields or new technologies (we extract only 25% of the oil from todays oil fields - do you think this will be for ever?)

If your estimate on needed energy is correct - how do you think that solar energy and may be fusion energy can deliver this?

Make a calculation with 10% the solar energy converted to electricity - and see that this will not work. (I would like this to be better).

Think about the fact that the fusion researchers tell us since the early 1950ies that we will have working fusion reactors in 50 years!

So think about an energy scenario where we will have 10% solar and no fusion.!!!

RHABE

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#105
In reply to #103

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 2:32 PM

With regards to fusion, there was a political decision several decades ago to support a particular technology over a similarly viable alternative, redirecting Federal research dollars into only one option. This has significantly delayed the development of fission (plus the fact that there are those organizations out there that like to soak up research dollars- coming up with a solution cuts off funding...). Fusion will not provide a short-term answer.

With regards to solar, I continue to promote the use of solar where appropriate (solar water heaters, remote radio repeater battery chargers, etc.), but I do not see that as a viable solution either, because the storage technology just isn't there. A recent study I conducted for a client resulted in the conclusion that the payback for a small (single family) solar power installation (fully independent from the grid) was on the order of 50 years, based on current prices of electricity, not including maintenance costs (OK, maybe not current- that was about two years ago, but the prices have not enough to really make this viable on a small scale). A payback of 50 years for a system projected to live for less than 20 years? Not likely...Major solar installations, such as the one north of San Bernadino in southern California take up way too much real estate, and present a serious environmental threat in themselves (nothing can grow if you don't let the sunlight hit the ground, and without plants, no animals...). Again, that is old technology, but I don't see much improvement in this area, either.

I have the same problem with hydro and wind- the amount of real estate required is prohibitive (unless you put your turbines out at sea). Geothermal, ocean wave and tidal power schemes all show much more promise than the current "buzz" systems- why don't we see more money being thrown at these? Because the big money is being thrown a wild schemes like pumping CO2 into the ground, producing "biofuels" which are just another carbon-based fuel source, etc.

As for the "threat" of global warming, read the section of the UN Climate report dealing with the paleoclimate. Compare the worst-case projections from the Committee with the historical maxima normal for earth. The threat is overblown. There are other reasons for reducing dependence on fossil fuels, as I have said before- like cleaner air. The real threat is that political interests will attempt to manipulate the system without a full understanding of the ultimate impact of these efforts, and such manipulations could very easily make the situation worse. That is why I see planting trees as a viable intermediate option- it can't hurt, and might actually help.

Individuals can do their part by reducing consumption (I do not own a car, utilizing public transportation for all my transportation needs- unfortunately, my major clients are located remotely, the only means of access being by boat or small plane. Boats polute more than planes, so I fly a lot, which tends to negate the reduction in my personal carbon footprint. Furthermore, last month I received my first ever negative power bill from the electric company, and indication of how much power I am consuming). But those of us willing to change our lifestyle are a minority, and we have to suffer the majority.

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#107
In reply to #105

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 5:19 PM

Hi cwarner,

I agree totally.

May be we can develop additional geothermal energy - there is enough, but tapping may be very difficult too. (Not going to 100°C but to 600°C is of real interest, 350°C would be a good interim goal.)

RHABE

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#96
In reply to #94

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 10:32 PM

Actually, planting trees may not be as silly as it sounds. There have been studies, and, unfortunately, I do not have links available right now, that suggest that a partial reversion to prehistoric land cover would have a more significant impact on CO2 reduction than anything short of a total ban on carbon burning so far suggested.
More bang for the buck than offered by such things as biofuel substitution, pumping CO2 underground, etc. Although somewhat tongue in cheek, the real advantage is it is a way for the government to spend tax dollars that would have less chance of doing harm than most of the schemes bandied about...The solution will require a lot of different contributions, including the expansion of nuclear power generation options, but, ultimately, what I really believe in my heart is that the human species will destroy itself long before we destroy the earth. And, ultimately, we will have no control over the outcome, anyway. So, let's plant trees...

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#98
In reply to #93

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 8:54 AM

Hi cwarner

Planting trees may not be the whole solution, but it does have many benefits if done sensibly.

Cropping land can usually support up to 20% in trees with no loss of production.

This comes because the windbreak formed by the trees reduces evaporation loss, which gives better yield.

They also encourage birds, who eat insects. The crop eaten by the birds is almost always considerably less than the amount the insects would have eaten. This reduces the need for insecticides.

There is some evidence that in the long run, they also improve rainfall. They certainly reduce salination.

A further benefit comes during drought when branches can be cut off to keep the livestock alive and in reasonable condition.

After sufficient years, they can be profitably logged.

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#102
In reply to #98

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 9:50 AM

Sceptic-

Here in Panama there is an area known as the Azuero Peninsula which has been nearly completely denuded and desertified by agricultural activities of the past. Local rainfall has declined in this area significantly. There are, however, small areas still covered with forest. During the rainy season, clouds form over these forested areas, resulting in significant difference in rainfall between the covered areas and the adjacent "desert"- significant being measured in inches per year. This is anecdotal- I do not know of any study that has been conducted to verify it, but the phenomenon has been brought to my attention by a number of individuals, both with and without scientific credentials (some agriculturalists, as well- who generally have a better handle on weather patterns than scientists!). Reforestation is a popular pursuit here in Panama- unfortunately, a lot of people try replanting with trees like Teak, which is devastating to the native environment, but at least it is a start...

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#110
In reply to #102

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/14/2008 3:37 AM

Hi cwarner

Thanks for the info re trees and rainfall.

I had read this somewhere and also been told it , but getting first hand confirmation is great.

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#97
In reply to #90

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 8:30 AM

Hi Roger

I agree we probably agree on most issues, in particular the ones you mentioned, but I am still sceptical about an anthropogenic cause as a significant factor in global warming.

Firstly if CO2 is the main villain, why doesn't Mars show a strong greenhouse effect? The partial pressure of CO2 in our atmosphere is about 25Pa, on Mars it is about 570Pa.

Allowing for the difference in insolation because Mars is further away from the sun, the greenhouse effect from CO2 should be 9.8x that on earth.

This would be further amplified by Mar's albedo being substantially lower than earth's so it will absorb more of the available sunlight.

The claim that rising CO2 causes rising temps on earth due to the greenhouse effect is basically a "magnitude mistake", ie right mechanism, wrong magnitude.

With regard to the helpful references you gave on the albedo effect on Mars temperatures, I can only gain access to the abstract of the paper, but another paper in Nature seems to indicate that the albedo change is started off by a temperature rise. I'm trying to get copies of the 2 editions to check this out, I may be misreading the abstracts.

As far as alternative energy is concerned, it can only ever be a supplement. We will still need base load power stations.

Carbon trading is nonsense. About all it will do is increase business overheads and multiply bureaucrats.

Like you I think it unlikely that there are more than a few corrupt scientists involved in the scam.

This may be of interest:

http://physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=127482 (Requiem for a hockey stick)

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#101
In reply to #97

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/13/2008 9:44 AM

Sceptic,

Mars doesn't have water vapor in it's atmosphere. The major greenhouse gases are water vapor, CO2, and Methane. Mars just has CO2. I recommend you look into Venus. Venus is by far the hottest planet at it's surface despite the fact it is almost twice the distance from the sun than mercury, and we aren't talking a little hotter.

The reason why increased carbon dioxide levels cause global warming is they introduce a significant displacement from equilibrium levels of greenhouse gases. This is a key point that people like yourself miss. The total is irrelevent, it's the displacement from equilibrium that matters. That is why you are confused regarding the magnitude. You don't realize that the Earth already experiences a greenhouse effect of 10s of degrees celsius (one need only look at the temperatures on the moon to see this), but over time the Earth has found equilibrium and animals evolved in that equilibrium state. It only takes a departure of several degrees celsius from the equilibrium temperature to have disasterous effects on our ecosystem. A few degrees centigrade is an order of magnitude less than 10s of degrees celsius.

The albedo effect were caused by increased dust storms due to the orbit of Mars. Dust storms are caused by temperature differences on the surface of Mars.

Fusion could generate much more energy much more cheaply than any fossil fuel could hope to produce.

Carbon trading is garbage, agreed.

There is no scam, and you do yourself a disservice if you allow yourself to believe there is. There is no master elite controlling what we think. There is just us bumbling, stumbling, barely above monkey animals trying to make things work and we screw it up a lot because lets face it, we're human.

I appreciate the links you provided, but I've debated all of this ad nauseum. I've said this before and I'll say it again and I hope you realize that I'm not trying to be a jerk but I'm just telling you the truth, there is no debate on this issue, none, it was settled the begining of this decade. The only debate now is how to handle it.

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#92
In reply to #88

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/12/2008 11:00 AM

"How do we know the past changes were slow?"

Hi,

there are some convincing arguments that the astronomical facts work towards slow change. Some earth-bound facts too.

But if in the course of slow cooling there is a really cold year and/or a preceding winter with a lot of snow then snow and ice will persist over the summer into next new snow in the Scandinavian and Canadian lowlands, this will trigger an abrupt fall into the cold time - as a lot of the yearly energy is missing by switched albedo.

Same with the highland of Tibet - now slowly rising until in estimated 40,000 years the snow will persist and 8% of the energy input to earth will be missing and the next ice-age will start (if not sooner).

As long as soil and rock is bare at low temperature and not covered by snow there is a very efficient heating: absorption of radiation is high, transport by wind is high, shielding by clouds and humidity is low.

Warming back to temperate times is much slower and will take thousands of years as accumulated ice (millions of cubic kilometers) will need a lot of time and heating to melt.

RHABE

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#13

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/19/2008 7:11 PM

Nuclear works..The sky isn't thickening its just old sol warming up(hopefully just a little bit)..The real need for energy is there..Where i live,Central Canada/southern tip/great lakes region...our chief concern if we live in indivudual living units vs high rise clusters is definitely staying warm during fall/winter/spring..To that end a great deal of energy is utilized to keep us comfortable(this ranges from 14 deg C to 23 deg C) depending on personal needs...I'm at the lower end at about 16 deg C...I'm wondering if any one has seen or thought of heat siphons combined with vortex effects followed by an expansion chamber as follows...U-shaped tube placed into ground with 1 side of U outside the living unit and the other inside...This tube would be placed into the ground to a depth of say fourty feet...Cold air in the cooler months would naturally sink into the outside end of the U tube displacing warmer air at lower depths...If the unit were designed reasonably i think..and i will try this sometime in the future... a fair amount of warmed air could be coaxed up the into the living unit side of the tube....The need for alternative energy source in this part of the planet would drop accordingly and in theory create a whole new industry making U tubes with maybe counter-current loops/vortexs /expansion chambers etc to keep the sound of rushing air down and to take advantage of frictional forces that moving air/matter generates resulting in temperature increase within the system etc...I like free-er energy that utilizes what is already available but generally ignored for more complex systems with rigid (and hence controllable) oversights that results in centralized vs individual control of energy flow...

Regards....Marty Wolf

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#29
In reply to #13

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 12:28 PM

This sounds like a good idea but might not be practical as:

1- Very expensive to implement as you would need a large cave to have enough surface to heat up enough air. The double air shafts will be large and potentially dangerous.

2- Your shafts would need constant pumping as water tends to accumulate when you drill below the water table.

3- The air would likely become contaminated with radon and other gas likes H2S that are found underground. This would kill you slowly.

4- The same result is obtained using a geothermal heat pump at a lower cost and as a side benefit, it is safe and reliable.

Sorry for destroying your idea but keep on brain storming, someday something useful will come out.

Regards,

Marco

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 6:14 PM

Marco...you didn't destroy my brainstorming idea as i believe i have rebuttals for all 4 of your nays..

1.I suggested a fourty foot U tube with one side open to the ambient air and the other to the bottom(basement/crawl space whatever is available...actually 8 feet would be a sufficient depth locally)It is a single U shaped tube of indeterminate diameter ansd ultimate design....Ideally the curve at the bottom of the U tube would have some expanded capacity...The opening need not be large as the effect would be continuous and cumulative over time...It wouldn't be instant but would be steady and be relatively more effective as the ambient air temperature dropped....Cold air tends to displace warm air..The tube shape with a curve at the base would act like any siphon and eventually the cold air would force warmer/ground temperature air out the opening in the living units basement/crawl space whatever where the natural tendancy would be to warm that living unit from the bottom up again over time to the surrounding core earths steady temperature which would be about 4 Deg C +-a few points...At any rate the living unit would then only be heating itself(based on thermostat settings) say 12 DEg C for someone like myself vs say 46 Deg C if the ambient external temperature stayed at minus 30 Deg C for a 2 week period...Which has been known to happen in this parts..The potential energy savings in the extreme conditions are huge ..But even at a more modest minus 8 Deg C the 12 Deg advantage of having a steady state 4Deg C living unit to begin with is large.

2.The ground water where i live is never more than 8 feet below the surface and often at the surface..Its really not an issue as the unit is a hollow tube filled with ambient external air and hopefully made of some durable/water resistant material..

3.Radon gas,Hydrogen Sulphide etc would have to be in the ambient air..Same as above its a U shaped tube with 1 opening on the outside of the living unit and the other inside the living unit.

4.I'm trying to avoid pump systems that require further input of power to operate..A natural siphon should add at least the amount of benifit i rebuttal 1. asabove.

Marco you didn't destroy my brainstorming..I had to think a bit further in response to your criticism realizing i hadn't explained my thoughts sufficientl..I thank you for the opportunity to elaborate/share a bit further...It is a good idea.It will work.One of the keys is to allow the passage of time to establish a steady state inside the living unit.Initially patience will be required.I am convinced that an industry will evolve based on this and other similar ideas that come out that utilize free-er energy sources that have modest input costs and astounding output returns on investment..They will be decentralized,surprisingly simple,and create aggrevation for large energy concerns where to quote Buckminister Fuller they are more interested "in making cents whereas i am only interested in making sense"...WE all have one sure kick at the can of life..Making sense makes sense to me...

Marty Wolf

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 6:58 PM

I agree that using an air tight tube will prevent some of the contamination and water problems but you will have to buy it and install it $$$. Making it able to hold the weight of the earth and possibly the house above is not easy. As the material thickens, its thermal Resistance usually increases.

I use a geothermal heat pump to achieve the same result. What happens during the winter is that the ground temperature at about 2 meter doesn't normally change very much. Maybe 16 to 14 C. But when you start drawing heat from the ground, the temperature decrease dramatically. By spring, the ground temperature is near freezing. I use a closed loop with 3000' of plastic pipe spread about 24" apart. This is equivalent to a surface of 3000 SQ FT of energy collector.

The problem with the passive collector is that as you remove heat from the ground, it will cool down to the point where the temperature difference to the air will be near zero. At this point, you will not get enough heat from the ground.

The only way to get heat from the ground, it to have a large difference in temperature. Either by having very hot ground (near a volcano) or by using a heat pump to circulate very cold fluid for heat extraction at low temperature.

I hope that this will help you refine your idea.

Regards,

Marco

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#17

Re: Nuclear Power Infeasibility in some circumstances

10/19/2008 11:25 PM

Sustainablity and renewability (and disposability) of spent fissile fuel is largely a matter of perspective. Nor is nuclear fueled electricity generation without impacts, potentially serious and/or intractable, to the environment. Cooling requires water in large reserve quantity...and transfers heat in very large amount to the biosphere. Nuke power availability is also very susceptible to drought...as recent (electricity supply crisis) experience in the southeastern US has well demonstated.

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#18

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 3:34 AM

Everything is renewable. It's merely a matter of timescale. For biofuels, it's a few tens of years. For fossil fuels, it's tens of millions.

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#19

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 4:34 AM

We are going to need some Nuclear plants in the future. The rapid industrialization of China and Asia is putting unprecedented demands on non renewable fossil fuels. We also need other developing technologies such as solar to insure a reliable supply of power for the future. Fossil fuels will eventually run out and as the supplies begin to dwindle the price for these fuels will reach new heights. There is no such thing as a totally innocuous source of energy. Every type of technology has it's own problems and costs associated with it. It takes energy to make energy and a certain degree of pollution and costs occur with all of them. These costs are either front loaded, back loaded or a continuous load during the design life of a particular plant. Nuclear has heavy costs up front(construction) and relatively low costs for years then some heavy costs at the end because of disposal and refueling. These may diminish in the future as we develop new methods of dealing with the waste generated or using it for another purpose. Solar has high front end costs, minimal running costs and low disposal costs due to the fact that the spent panels can be recycled by conventional means. The same pretty much applies to hydroelectric plants. What we truly need is a good mix of technologies so we are not completely dependent on one or two of them - or a few nations as with oil. There was a very ambitious project proposal in North America that started in the 1950's and dragged into the late 70's and early 80's - it is called NAWAPA - The North American Water and Power Alliance. Canada, the US and Mexico all would benefit greatly. Basically this plan was to divert a number of rivers in Alaska, Canada and the NW US and impound this water in the southern end of the Rocky Mountain Trench by damming it off. This water would be used to create a green belt irrigation zone some 2500+ miles long and 35 to 50 miles wide. The zone would begin in Canada and end some 200 to 300 miles into Mexico. There also would be many sites for hydro plants - up to a few hundred thousand megs output by some estimates. Farming land that would be created in Mexico alone would be something like 8 times that created by the Aswan Dam Project in Egypt. The US and Canada would also be able to irrigate countless acres. The US would be able to stop over pumping the Ogalala Aquifer and ground water would replenish itself. Potable water sources and supplies would be increased for the entire continent. We were able to focus our efforts and put a man on the moon less than 10 years. We should have put our efforts into this project and we would not be in the fix we are getting ourselves into today - and the planet would be somewhat "greener" than it is now. I think that our politicians and the powers that be need to look at this again.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 5:09 AM

I remember reading about such plans..The affront to Canadians at the time was concern that our "rights" to water were being given away...forgetting that it would have been a joint co=operative effort...When we get a front from the South West or South East or North East and it rains for days on end I smile knowing that the droplets of H2O falling on my head have travelled up from the Pacific/Atlantic/or Gulf of Mexico.. and smile smuggly knowing you can't own something that flows so freely from place to place unless contained in a closed system.....Utilizing the nature of water to generate power/sustain life seems a no brainer...

Regards Marty Wolf

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Anonymous Poster
#25
In reply to #19

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 10:13 AM

Talk about environmental impact!!! How many species of lizzard and toad are you going to wipe out? You are talking about climatic changes on a global scale due to the increased humidity west of the Mississippi river.

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Anonymous Poster
#27
In reply to #25

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 11:16 AM

I'd be willing to swap a few lizards and toads for people. You are the only one here who came up with that argument. In all actuality their habitat will be increased as well habitats for birds and other animals.

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Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Tulare, CA
Posts: 1783
Good Answers: 35
#28
In reply to #27

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

10/20/2008 11:31 AM

This is why people should register an account.

Right now you look like you're talking to yourself.

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Anonymous Poster
#133
In reply to #27

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

02/19/2009 10:31 PM

think about the polar bears !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Anonymous Poster
#126
In reply to #25

Re: Nuclear Power feasibility

11/15/2008 1:39 PM
"You are talking about climatic changes on a global scale due to the increased humidity west of the Mississippi river."
I seriously doubt that there will be any significant humidity change with global consequences. After all the water is already here. It would be stored in an area that is relatively cool and would have WAY LESS surface area in a huge deep lake as opposed to the surface area in countless miles of much shallower streams and rivers. Surface area is a major variable in evaporation rates.

Edmund

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