Bill Nye on nuclear

Discussion of Skeptic magazine and Letters to the Editor
User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:23 pm

I am going to quote directly from the latest Skeptic mag, an interview between Michael Shermer and Bill Nye. I hope no one thinks this is plagiarism. I disagree with Nye on this.

"Shermer : It's a liitle bit like nuclear power. You can't see it, taste it, smell it. So it's sort of the bogey man. Don't you think nuclear should be in the equation of energy sources?

Nye : We don't want to shut down any more nuclear power plants.

Shermer : What about building new ones?

Nye : It takes years and nobody wants them. I've seen on one web site - so it doesn't mean it is true - that someone on the Trump administration is proposing to go back to Yucca Mountain and put the nuclear waste there. Nobody in Nevada wants that. That's a bigger problem than anything. Nobody wants it. And the other little problem is that the place leaks. The unanticipated thing with nuclear power, as I understand it, is that there's no economical place to put the waste material. So the biggest problem the nuclear industry faces is their history of having bad problems. In short. Low probability, high consequences.

Shermer : What about the much smaller nuclear power devices that are being designed - they are supposed to be much safer and more efficient?

Nye : It'd be great if you could make them the size of a scuba tank and put them around the block, but again, nobody wants them.

Shermer : Why? Because they fear the high consequences if there is a problem?

Nye : There are about 430 commercial nuclear power plants in the world. The Three Mile Island reactor almost blew up. Then Chernobyl blew up. And then Fukushima happened. I do a job for Toshiba for the National Science Teachers Foundation, and everyone in the Japanese company knows a person who was affected by that disaster. You may say, 'Well. They shouldn't have built the power plant right next to the ocean.' But they did! You would not get into a car that blows up 3 out of 400 times. So the nuclear industry has been its own worst enemy. It's a great idea, but great is not how it necessarily works out in practise."

For a person who supposedly represents good science, Nye has spouted an unbelievable amount of bulldust in this interview, on this subject. For example, neither Chernobyl or Fukushima "blew up". They had melt downs, which is an entirely different thing, and the use of the word 'blew up' is alarmist, inaccurate. Basically garbage.

His statement about Fukushima that 'everyone knows someone who was affected by that disaster' is seriously misleading. What does he mean by "affected"? Fukushima to date has not killed a single person. But the panic stricken evacuation is estimated to have killed 1500 people. The nuclear power plant was not the cause of the problem. Human stupidity was. Is it appropriate for Nye to add to that?

The comparison with cars is utterly inappropriate. If you want to make a point about the safety of a plant for generating electricity, the proper comparison is other plants for generating electricity. If you dig out the actual numbers, and express safety as number of deaths per terrawatt year of electricity produced, nuclear suddenly shines, as the safest of all generating methods.

Is it proper for a supposedly rational scientific thinker to reject a valuable method for generating electricity, which is one of the few that does not generate greenhouse gases, entirely because "nobody wants them"? Are irrational fears a suitable basis for dumping one of the most potentially valuable ways of combatting global warming?

In other words, is Nye being a rational scientist, or an irrational alarmist?

User avatar
Gord
Real Skeptic
Posts: 29477
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:44 am
Custom Title: Silent Ork
Location: Transcona

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Gord » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:29 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:...neither Chernobyl or Fukushima "blew up". They had melt downs, which is an entirely different thing, and the use of the word 'blew up' is alarmist, inaccurate. Basically garbage.

Yeah, I caught that too.

...In other words, is Nye being a rational scientist, or an irrational alarmist?

My take was that he was presenting the irrational arguments of the people who are against nuclear power because of those inaccurate arguments. However, he could also have just been making lazy comments. In fact, the comments were lazy either way, since he left them without a better explanation.

Lazy comments are a consequence of having to dumb things down, which Bill Nye (and other people who reach out to the public) do in order to be understandable to the "common man".
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
#ANDAMOVIE

Matthew Ellard
Real Skeptic
Posts: 26776
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:31 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Matthew Ellard » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:51 am

I understand your points Lance. I would also add that it is a bit unfair to compare a Soviet Nuclear reactor from 1977 to modern nuclear reactor designs. That's a 40 year gap in technology advancement.

Additionally, Australia sells coal to India and China. At some point in the future we will have to stop doing that for world Climate Change reasons. It would seem appropriate for Australia to start converting to nuclear now, as we have massive reserves of Uranium and can develop a commercial advantage in nuclear power technology, with high levels of safety, over the next twenty years that we can offer other countries when they may wish to convert to nuclear.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:02 am

Ha, ha....... "as usual" I disagree with Lance. Not "trying to"....its just always the case.

Blew Up: From Memory, Fukushima did have an associated explosion. Serious melt downs create ....I forget what and too easy to just say Hydrogen...conditions within the plant that will explode. Not the core...but the plant. Don't know about Chernobyl, but wouldn't be surprised. The Aftermath looks just like an explosion took place.

Any disagreement about the use of the term "Blew Up" is a linguistic quibble missing the import of the issue. For some reason, explosion seems worth the quibble....but I'm quibbling.

That said, Nuke Power is unsafe creating long term poisonous substances that Mother Earth does not need. That is why I support the creation of the now safe designs that on all power and water loss simply shut down on their own. forget what they are called, but have seen several shows on them. The "real" benefit is that at least on of the designs can use the spent fuel we are currently failing to safely store as their power source......ie...a totally excellent way to remove that poison from our environment. We should build them even if only for the removal of the waste.... the power generation and no need to mine the Earth is just a happy bonus.

Otherwise............all efforts should be made to go solar in all its many forms. No good argument counters this full recognition of where we need to get to ...........asap.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:25 am

Bobbo

The term 'blew up' is no linguistic quibble. It goes right to the heart of the issue. The biggest problem with nuclear power is people, and the ignorance and stupidity of people. The root cause of that ignorance is that most people have only a hazy idea of the difference between a nuclear bomb and a nuclear reactor. The use of criminally careless language like 'blew up' in relation to reactors, especially when used by a respected person like Bill Nye, is very, very damaging.

On nuclear waste.
Nuclear reactors actually produce minimal waste. A few thousand tonnes per year. Compared to coal burning power plants, which produce mega MILLIONS of tonnes of toxic waste each year, plus millions of tonnes of exceedingly harmful gaseous waste, which kills at least a million people each year from respiratory illness, what nuclear power plants produce is miniscule.

Nor is it a major problem to deal with in technical terms. The problem is political. Meaning too many blithering idiots in the world. If I were in charge of dealing with nuclear waste, I would find a few abandoned open caste mine sites in the desert (plenty exist), and use them as long term nuclear waste repositories. Such sites need to be in geologically stable areas, but plenty exist.

Nuclear waste needs to be kept under water, close to the power plant where it is produced, for perhaps 20 years. During that time, the worst of the isotopes decay, and radioactivity drops substantially. After that, it can be packed into proper containers (already designed, tested, and proven with experience. Capable of surviving train crashes without rupturing.), transported to the waste site, and left. Eventually, the site will be filled in and the waste left, so that over 10,000 years it will decay to the point of relative harmlessness.

User avatar
fromthehills
Has More Than 9K Posts
Posts: 9890
Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2009 2:01 am
Location: Woostone

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby fromthehills » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:42 am

I'm far from an expert, but as I understand it, Nye was using the hyperbole of the anti nuke crowd. I'm for nuclear power. Going with the reactionaries against reactors just impedes the better technology that prevents tragic events from happening.

Deaths from coal=?
Deaths from nuclear meltdown=?

I don't have those stats at hand, but from what I recall, it's pretty cut and dry. Though, perhaps we could look at death per square foot powered from each per year to get an accurate view.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:56 am

Lance: once again, continuously, you demonstrate a complete avoidance of the issues presented/contested. All you have done is restate your original position without any engagement at all with the counterpoints raised. Hmmm...I guess simply restating your premise is some kind of response, but it is entirely unsatisfying.

I present a more sophisticated analysis making distinctions and rationals for how and when to use Nuclear and you go back to the idea that it is all political and totally safe? aka: Clean Coal?======>pulease! Nuke is NOT safe nor clean nor easily stored nor safely dumped into a hole. Now....note the engagement: maybe some hole would be or could be safe for 100K years.....but do we really know which one? My fear would not be some explosion or melt down but rather water contamination. 10K years from now?===who can guarantee that? So I say: burn it up and avoid all the mining abuses of Mother Earth and use the waste material as the fuel source. Why not engage that idea rather than restate your faulty, at least arguable premise?

..........and WHY NOT TOTAL SOLAR??????????? Total safety, future proof, more jobs. Silly how Luddite you are.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:05 am

http://www.buildtheenterprise.org/nucle ... rgy-source

Bobbo

Again with the straw men.
I definitely did NOT say nuclear was totally safe. No method of generating electricity is totally safe. All is relative.

But nuclear power kills fewer people per terawatt year of electricity generated than any other method I am aware of.

Solar power is not totally safe either. In fact, the highest death toll per terawatt year of power generated is solar, believe it or not. The reason is two fold.
1. Not much power is generated this way, meaning that a few deaths adds up to a big total per terawatt year.
2. Much solar power is domestic, from solar cells on roof tops. People who install such facilities use ladders. People fall off ladders and sometimes kill themselves that way.
Combining points 1 and 2 means that deaths from solar energy per terawatt year is a very large number.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:31 am

Lance: thanks. Totally responsive and engaging. One telling difference in the number of deaths....for solar...its for those freely engaged in the activity of solar. The other energy sources kill 1000's of people who want nothing to do with the process.

Is there any reason to use Nukes "if"/when solar can provide all the energy needed?

Hint: its a trick question..................and as always.................. don't quibble.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
psychiatry is a scam
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1291
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:23 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby psychiatry is a scam » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:35 am

people do not care how many workers die .
the problem with nuclear is that it stays in the news forever .
everyone knows about Chernobyl and Fukushima because they will be news stories forever .
AND they could cause a problem for me / everyone .
for the real minority ; there will be no justice , there will be no peace .
makes sense 2me , so it has 2be wrong .

User avatar
psychiatry is a scam
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1291
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:23 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby psychiatry is a scam » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:37 am

what are the actual numbers for solar energy production .
if solar could provide all energy is an admission it can't
for the real minority ; there will be no justice , there will be no peace .
makes sense 2me , so it has 2be wrong .

User avatar
psychiatry is a scam
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1291
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:23 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby psychiatry is a scam » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:42 am

who can say how many people get cancer from nuclear powered ships n boats .

the government is going to open n honest about that :burn:
for the real minority ; there will be no justice , there will be no peace .
makes sense 2me , so it has 2be wrong .

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:47 am

Bobbo

Nuclear does NOT kill thousands of people. Unless you rely on liars for your data.

Chernobyl killed fewer than 50 people as far as clear data can show. About 40 at the time of the melt down, inside the plant, and another 16 from thyroid cancer. Now, there are probably others who died indirectly due to cancers. But the numbers of such deaths are not quantifiable. I watched an interview with the chief guy in the Ukrainian Health Department, and he said that such cancers did not create any measurable blip in the statistics. You may argue that he did not necessarily tell the truth, but I have done a lot of reading on this subject, and I have seen nothing to contradict him, except (always, always this exception) for extremist "estimates" by crackpot organisations like Greenpeace.

As I said, and will always say, nuclear power is definitely not totally safe. Nothing is. But the death toll from nuclear power is way, way less than most other methods of generating power. The biggest such method is burning coal, and it kills over a million people per year, through respiratory disease. Natural gas is another big one, and it has frequent gas explosion problems, killing far more people per terawatt year of electricity generated than nuclear. Wind power is often touted as 'special'. But it involves tall towers, and there are always industrial accidents around those towers, which means the death toll from wind power per terawatt year is way higher.

In fact, the only type of power plant that compares to nuclear for low death toll is geothermal, and it is relatively unimportant on the global stage. Hydroelectricity is not good. The single accident in China in the 1970's (the Banqiao dam burst) killed nearly 200,000 people and made more than 10 million homeless.

I could go on.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:54 am

When traveling in a circle, the journey never stops.

Death toll: we can make it any number we wish based on whats in and what is left out. But still, directly: 1000's. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_n ... death_toll

And as usual: you keep walking the ring rather than divert from your chosen path by answering direct questions. Is that on purpose, or just lack of attention?
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:14 am

http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2013/01/ ... ve-places/

Bobbo

You are not very sharp, are you?

No. Those are not thousands of deaths. Take another look.
Certainly there have been "estimates" of thousands of deaths from Chernobyl. But as time passed, it became very apparent that those "estimates" were way out. At most, the deaths might be hundreds.

Even taking every nuclear power station death into account, and making a generous allowance for possible cancer deaths, nuclear is still way less damaging than any other system, with the possible exception of geothermal.

Nothing compares to the 200,000 deaths at Banqiao, or the million each year from coal, or the numerous gas related deaths from gas turbines, or the ladder accidents for solar, or even the industrial accidents on wind turbines.

One of the major myths perpetrated by crackpots about nuclear power is that humans are very vulnerable to low levels of radiation. But we are not. Radioactivity is a normal part of our background and we evolved to have a reasonable level of resistance. The most common rock on Earth is granite, and it contains from 1 to 20 parts per million of uranium. This means that everywhere on land there is a natural background of radioactivity.

How much can we tolerate? Exposure to radiation is measured in millisieverts per year. The highest natural exposure is over 200 millisieverts per year at a place in Iran. It does not appear to cause much, if any, harm to the residents. As a general rule, and being conservative, we can assume that 100 millisieverts per year is 'safe'. That level is above what anyone visiting Chernobyl, at least 500 meters from the plant, will experience. It is way, way higher than any exposure at Fukushima except right inside the plant.

Sadly, journalists are innumerate, and pay no attention to numerical data. So we get alarmist reports of radiation at various places where the levels are harmless. However, there are heaps of idiots who take alarm. As I have said before, you need to know how much radiation, and compare that to how much is considered 'safe'. Otherwise you are also an idiot.

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:31 am

https://climate.nasa.gov/news/903/coal- ... ear-power/

And just to add to what I have already said, the above is a NASA paper describing how many lives have been saved due to the fact that 12% of the world's electricity is generated by nuclear power instead of coal. Would you believe 1.8 million human lives saved over 40 years? Not to mention the gigatonnes of CO2 not released.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:03 am

Oh Lance: I give you numbers with the supporting link. You give back bare naked obtuse nay saying.

The argument is NOT about Nuke vs Coal, but SOLAR vs anything non-solar.

Since the count began, you now have 2 direct questions you refuse to answer---if you even noticed them.

"....♫... Walking the Ring....."
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:22 am

Bobbo

You asked why use nuclear if solar energy is available.

There are several answers.
1. Solar is still more expensive than nuclear. Even more so if batteries are used to store power.
2. Solar kills more people per terawatt year of electricity.
3. Solar is intermittent. Does not work at night and very badly on cloudy days. Nuclear, by comparison, is a great baseload supplier. Very steady.

Solar has its place. It is good for homes off the grid. It is good for small scale and isolated communities. It is good for people who want to feel virtuous. It is even good for electricity companies who want to project an image of being green. However, nuclear is much better as a steady supplier of large scale electricity onto national grids.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:41 pm

When you answer one of two questions asked: thats progress.

1. Solar is still more expensive than nuclear. //// Only when you don't include all the storage and clean up costs that are picked up by society/taxpayers. I even wonder if you consciously picked and chose what to include and exclude? Since facts and links don't matter to you....I won't counter factually myself: solar "used to be" more expensive...but not so for some years now. Update your bias.

Even more so if batteries are used to store power./// Batteries are only one of 1294 to store solar generated power. Update your bias.

2. Solar kills more people per terawatt year of electricity. /// I'll accept this statement and only add the caveat: so far with no accounting for the worst case scenarios of the future and of course not including the the nature of the death. ie: deaths in the production of is not the same as death from. An important distinction or not depending on your bias.

3. Solar is intermittent. /// Then its not available which is the context of the question. IE: Solar providing all the energy required by necessity includes all backup and storage modalities. I especially like compressed air and liquified hydrogen.

Does not work at night and very badly on cloudy days. /// Totally overcome by scale and storage.

Nuclear, by comparison, is a great baseload supplier. Very steady. //// .... or.... not so great. The one near my house was closed years ago after a short period of operation because of safety concerns. Its putting too many eggs in too few baskets. Bad for a number of reasons. The distributed power generation of solar is a huge advantage compared to Nuke.

BUT IN THE MAIN..... as I hinted you would: you don't list the only reason that justifies Nukes: those that would consume the waste products we already have to get them out of our environment. I've read thousands of years of base stock is available. I forget how many nukes that supply is based on. We should get rid of it...can't think of a better way than fail safe to shut down waste nuke products running Nukes. I'm not surprised you didn't include this new info.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3307
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: His Beatitude

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby ElectricMonk » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:38 pm

Bill Nye is 100% right: the problem is nuclear waste, and anyone who thinks this problem is manageable is plain wrong:

In purely economic terms, Nuclear power plants can never make sense, since they create profit for a few decades and costs for thousands of years. No one can make a cost/benefit calculation if you can't expect the company or even the country to still exists by the time the problems become obvious.

There are good places to use reactors, such as satellites, ships or submarines: things that can in one piece be dumped somewhere so far from civilization that 10,000 years is a reasonable time-frame, but on land we simply have no true dump&forget concept that is reliably working so far.

We can argue that we need the crutch of this kind of power to overcome the drawbacks of other energy sources, but no one should fool themselves into thinking that they are doing anything but shifting the burden onto future generations in return for marginally cheaper energy now.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:35 pm

Bobbo

On costs.
The last costs I saw were $US 0.10 per kilowatt hour for electricity from nuclear, which included commissioning and decommissioning costs. Solar cells were $US 0.15, and solar thermal power stations were $US 0.35. I believe solar cell cost has fallen since then. But if you add in the need for storage (and battery storage is the best system, in spite of what you say, unless we are talking very large scale), then the cost increases 50%.

Your comment on safety depends on pure speculation, and is thus invalid.

Nuclear as baseload provider. Very reliable in the main. France has 70% of its electricity generation by nuclear, without any significant problems over many decades.

To EM

On Waste.
Your comments are invalid.
The reason nuclear waste is seen as a problem is mostly political. In other words, assorted idiots refuse to permit rational disposal systems to be put in place. Many have been offered, and political action stops them. My solution (an unused open caste mine in a geologically stable desert) is totally practical. It is just human idiocy that stops such methods being used. Remember that nuclear waste is actually a very minor waste. A few thousand tonnes per year global total. Compared to numerous other toxic wastes, that is utterly minimal.

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3307
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: His Beatitude

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby ElectricMonk » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:54 pm

LK,
you don't know what will and what won't work in 1000 years, no one can.
It's a gamble to assume that we consider safe now will remain so.
There is no way to economically assess the real costs of nuclear power because of the time-frames involved.
You can say that what we know now is enough, but progress has shown more often than not that we know less than we think.
Producing nuclear waste is irresponsible, no matter how you rationalize it.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:58 pm

Lance Kennedy wrote:Bobbo

On costs.
The last costs I saw were $US 0.10 per kilowatt hour for electricity from nuclear, which included commissioning and decommissioning costs.


I agree: only a small fraction of the total costs involved. Where are the costs to mine/refine/create the fuel? Where are the costs of storage of the waste? What is your earlier talk of proven technology for storage???? "Last I heard" the tanks designed to last 500 years are leaking now after 50.

Any of us can "say" anything we like. But even what you say, doesn't even pro forma make your case.

Ain't that a bitch?

See Germany. A gubment supported encouragement to go solar and everybody wins and now Germany has solar in excess. We can do it. As you say: politics.....including your lackadaisical lack of interest.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:23 pm

Bobbo
Some time ago, I checked the cost of the uranium fuel. In ready to use form, it was less than 10% of the cost of running a nuclear power station. As you pointed out, the major costs are commissioning and decommissioning.

EM
You are engaged in speculation. To make a case, you need something stronger than that.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:44 am

So....I've google life time cost of Nuke Energy and its in line with what Lance says. Not as button downed and detailed and EXPLAINED as I would wish. I thought the long term storage of Nuke Waste was a much bigger problem than the numbers provided suggest. Could be my lack of understanding ..... being lied to by anti-Nuke advocates....or actually more likely...lies from the Nuke Industry as they are the ones with a $$$$$$ interest in the debate.

Doesn't change anything though.

We need to get to 100% green ASAP "regardless" of "cost" as we are paying dearly until we get there. With "free" energy, most of the other problems can be solved or ameliorated..... unless society crashes in the meantime.... which I still expect. Yes....I'm a pessimist.

Things change until they are not like what they were before. True of about everything.......including hoomans on Earth, History, Trends and so forth. Yes.... Earth will continue on without a shrug. Its not Earth I am concerned with other than its intricate needs to support our own species.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:39 am

Bobbo

Thank you for the agreement on cost.
There is a very good reason disposing of the nuclear waste is not too costly. As I said before, there is just not very much of it.

It is ironic that coal ash from coal burning power plants actually contains more of the harmful radio-isotopes than nuclear waste from an equivalently sized nuclear power plant. It is just a lot more dilute because a coal burning plant generates massive amounts of waste, both toxic ash and toxic gases.

It has always amazed me how the general public accepts coal burning power plants without too much complaint, but goes ballistic over the idea of nuclear power. Rationality pays little part.

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3307
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: His Beatitude

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:30 am

Lance Kennedy wrote:
EM
You are engaged in speculation. To make a case, you need something stronger than that.


Really?
My only assumption is that we don't know enough to declare something safe for the next 10,000 years.


Why don't you take a step back and truly face all the unwarranted assumptions you are making?

You assume (at the very least) that (at effectively no cost), the material will be kept safe from dirty-bomb makers for thousands of years, and that the documentation about the storage will never be lost.

From what we know from history, that is highly unlikely.
It is almost certain that future generations will have to check the storage without proper knowledge of what is in there - we already have that problem today in many semi-permanent nuclear storage facilities.

More likely is that people forget its there and open it by accident or curiosity with next to no precautions.

War, geological and climate changes, economic breakdowns are all going to happen before the material is no longer dangerous.


Please, consider the time involved and ask yourself: are you really confident that you can predict what happens in the next 10,000 years?
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:56 am

EM

Those concerns you voice are true for any and every situation in which toxic waste is disposed of. In the overall picture, nuclear waste is the least of those issues, since it represents thousands of tonnes per year, and seriously toxic wastes are produced in quantities orders of magnitude greater. In every such situation, there is a risk, and the hope is that planning will be sufficient. Frankly, in lots of cases, the dumping of very toxic wastes is done in a manner that is way, way riskier than anything I am suggesting for nuclear waste. It is utterly irrational to think that the current disposal of very toxic waste is OK, and the disposal of nuclear waste is not. If the first is acceptable, then so must the second.

To expand on my earlier suggestion.
In Australia and in several south western African nations, like Angola, there are massive regions of desert which are very geologically stable. No risk of significant movement for the next million years. IN those places, abandoned open cast mines are available. Some are a kilometer deep. Such a repository could take all the world's nuclear waste for the next thousand years. The host nation would, of course, earn millions of dollars per year as dumping fees. As the waste is dumped, it gets covered with the dirt from the original mine. When the dumping is complete, the waste is buried under perhaps half a kilometer of fill. Even if records are lost over the next 10,000 years, the odds are strongly against the waste being dug up again from a site in the middle of a desert and from that deep.

Such waste would be useless for war mongers, anyway.

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3307
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: His Beatitude

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby ElectricMonk » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:38 am

Nuclear waste doesn't biodegrade, unlike basically any other chemical, given time and the right organisms.
So no, it's not like any other toxic substance.

Lance, my point is that we can't make a correct economic calculation that far into the future for anything. So it's inherently dishonest to pretend that we can estimate the impact of nuclear power during the whole lifetime of it's waste - we simply can't.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

User avatar
Cadmusteeth
Regular Poster
Posts: 978
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:43 pm
Location: Colorado, USA

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Cadmusteeth » Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:44 pm

Even if radioactive substances don't biodegrade, they are still subject to radioactive decay,
or the natural decline of radioactivity within a substance.
We may not be able to predict what will ultimately happen with buried substances,
but we can still adapt as the situation demands. That is if we are willing to do so.

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:50 pm

EM

Heaps of toxic substances do not degrade. Think of the vast amounts of mercury the gold industry dumps each year. As Cadmus points out, nuclear waste decays. The most important thing, as I pointed out, there is just not very much of it. Thousands of tonnes per year is minimal compared to the vast waste streams from other sources, which are just as toxic. Getting rid of such a small amount is not a difficult technical problem. The real problem is politics. Millions of idiots working their stupid little butts off to prevent a good system being put into place.

Matthew Ellard
Real Skeptic
Posts: 26776
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:31 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Matthew Ellard » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:42 pm

It seems to me that we already have clear and present global harm from coal and carbon producing energy sources. Therefore although there is a risk from nuclear waste, it is still a better option to explore than continuing to use coal and carbon producing energy sources.

Therefore it is a matter of comparing and contrasting establishment costs, waste management and so on from solar, wind, thermal and nuclear. If there is a satisfactory safe way of placing nuclear waste in ceramic pellets and carefully shoving these into the middle of Australia (where there are no earthquakes and so on) then that alternative should be explored.

Bill Nye did argue that no one wanted a nuclear plant near their home. It seems to me that Australia has to be prepared because of its low population and massive empty space to take a good chunk of the world's nuclear waste if a good waste technology becomes apparent.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Apr 15, 2017 1:40 am

It seems to me that we already have clear and delayed global harm from coal and carbon producing energy sources and nuclear energy.

As I stated....the cost figures that are universally presented on a first casual google seem to be based on the "decommissioning process" being a rather short time. My impression was you just store it until it cools off enough to put it into long term storage and then your costs are over. I thought some nuke waste had 100K years half lives of great hazard? Hence.....I'm just not sure who is lying about what......but the Nuke Industry is the one with the $$$ incentive to do so.

I would agree with Nuke being part of the transition going forward......but its simply NOT NEEDED..... so, why put up with the lies and self dealing? "Safe Nukes" is rather like "Clean Coal." Neither have any credibility with me.

GO GREEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sat Apr 15, 2017 1:52 am

Bobbo

Nuclear power IS needed. There is a clear need for a base line system that provides power in quantity, reliably and steadily. Wind and solar power is intermittent. It is also small scale, unless you dedicate enormous amounts of land to power generation. While that energy can be stored, it is only done at a cost. As a general rule, having a storage stage in the process will double the energy cost. There are other systems that provide clean, steady and reliable power, such as hydro-electric and geothermal, but those are limited resources. Nuclear power is not so limited. If we can expand our technology to Uranium 238 and to Thorium (both systems exist in prototype), then there is 10,000 years of practically unlimited power available with no greenhouse gases. Hopefully, long before that time is used up, there will be deuterium based nuclear fusion.

The real point is that nuclear power is poised to replace the burning of coal. Apart from natural gas, which also generates greenhouse gases and is inherently unsafe, nothing else can do it.

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Apr 16, 2017 1:41 am

I agree you have identified the "ONE" benefit of Nuke Power. Other "actually safe" forms should be established.

Until then..... we need to provide our kiddies with a clean environment. Recognizing limits to achieve that goal is a values driven assessment. I'm for it....and will accept whatever consequence that makes.

You continue to refer to the intermittent nature of Solar. Like Nukes....that too is just an element of design and scale. Completely addressable.

Values.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:41 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
You continue to refer to the intermittent nature of Solar. Like Nukes....that too is just an element of design and scale. Completely addressable.


OH?

You have discovered a way to make solar cells generate power at night? How remarkable!

bobbo_the_Pragmatist
Has No Life
Posts: 11138
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:39 am

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:58 am

Yes............as an expert in this area I can only assume you are pimping me. If not.......then you are woefully uninformed.

Hot salt storage...used in large arrays "stores" 3-4 days of no sun. Can do the same with compressed air, spinning wheels, pumping water uphill...all kinds of variation. Even study now on some kind of "night array" working with cosmic rays.....or is that my imagination? I rarely read anything too closely..........much like yourself.

Germany, long thought too cloudy, is now or soon will be total solar. They invested wisely, unlike corportist shills arguing......... "otherwise."

Yes I noticed the weasel, BS, off point, mudding point of "generate at night." I SAID DESIGN AND SCALE. More than bias is showing.
Real Name: bobbo the existential pragmatic evangelical anti-theist and Class Warrior.
Asking: What is the most good for the most people?
Sample Issue: Should the Feds provide all babies with free diapers?

User avatar
Lance Kennedy
True Skeptic
Posts: 10245
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 10:20 pm
Custom Title: Super Skeptic
Location: Paradise, New Zealand

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Lance Kennedy » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:58 am

Bobbo

You said the intermittent nature of solar energy was just an element of design and scale. Totally addressable.
What you propose is storing energy, which is not solving that problem. If you understand the basic laws of thermodynamics, you will appreciate that changing the form of energy involves losing a big chunk of that energy, usually about 50%. Storing energy is not an addressable solution to the problem, since you are then losing a massive part of the energy.

User avatar
ElectricMonk
Persistent Poster
Posts: 3307
Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 6:21 pm
Custom Title: His Beatitude

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby ElectricMonk » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:42 am

sorry Lance,
but on this you aren't thinking clearly about time:
nuclear power creates costs and problems for thousands of years, yet you only consider the short-term issues and just assume that all will work out.
This is a deliberately ignorant attitude, which is common since humans are naturally bad at thinking about very longterm consequences; but that is exactly why we have to be extra wary of causing problems that we know will persist for 250 generations: how much must nuclear power increase our wellbeing before it outweighs even a minor irritation for eternity (in human lifetimes) ? do we really have a moral right to close of part of the planet forever, just so we can safe a bit of money now?

if we are honest with ourselves and descendants, we have to accept that fission power can't be compared with any other form of energy creation, because no other has such lasting effects.
calculating that it is cheaper NOW is the denying the actual scope of the problem.


and yes: toxic waste does degrade if we make an effort instead of just dumping it somewhere: cleanup on the order of decades is possible.
but we know of no mechanism to accelerate radioactive decay except to shoot it into the sun.
I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
Spoiler:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
- Douglas Adams

User avatar
Gord
Real Skeptic
Posts: 29477
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:44 am
Custom Title: Silent Ork
Location: Transcona

Re: Bill Nye on nuclear

Postby Gord » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:09 am

What about the PRISM reactor? It was my [limited] understanding that it could take radioactive waste from other reactors, use it to generte electricity, and convert that waste into something with a half-life of 300 years.

http://gehitachiprism.com/prism-waste-not-want-not/
"Knowledge grows through infinite timelessness" -- the random fictional Deepak Chopra quote site
"You are also taking my words out of context." -- Justin
"Nullius in verba" -- The Royal Society ["take nobody's word for it"]
#ANDAMOVIE


Return to “SKEPTIC Magazine: Letters & Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest