Now that we are witnessing (at least a partial) core meltdowns in Japan, I guess it's fitting to say a few words about the nuclear salvation, that is going to save us from global warming and fossil fuel depletion. Some of the forum members here seem agitated that I have blocked them from sending me the gospel of Nuclear industry. I apologize. But after a while you can only take so much. Even the Jehova's witnesses can take a hint after you slam a door to their face, how ever the same is not true to the acolytes of Nuclear Renaissance. They seem eager to regurgitate the nuclear industry talking points of de jour, even to people who have repeatedly said that they are not really interested.
I personally think that a lot of these people have lost their minds. Someone claimed that fukushima proved that nuclear energy is safe. In that case we should redefine the word "safe". We should also add that getting hit by a meteor is also considered "safe". Another person claimed that I was responsible for the energy policy in the United States. Now that is impressive, since I actually live in a very small country the other side of the ocean. But apparently I have superpowers to influence Barack Obama and the White House. Cool. 8)
I personally don't believe in Techno Triumphlism or in some kind of a Utopian vision, like the one marvelously presented in Fallout game series. I am more interested in practical issues that may come in the way of said nuclear nirvana:
-Net energy: some studies indicate that with nuclear energy the EROEI is actually negative. In any case it is not as good as with fossil fuels. So what is the actual EROEI? We should get as many independent studies on this subject, before we make any kind of long term plans with nuclear energy.
-Nuclear Waste (It has to be stored for longer than any human civilization has existed. Only one government is implementing plans to do so, Finland) Some of the side products of nuclear industry go into weapon manufacturing, such as depleted uranium. It has a half life of over 4 billion years. It has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan widely. It will be there till the end of times, killing people. It is causing serious health issues to civilians in those countries plus soldiers returning home.
-Safety, The industry has been dumping nuclear waste into oceans for decades. They have also given false safety records (like Tepco at Fukushima) Are we to really trust them now?
-Trying to substitute the- "just in time delivery system" addicted to oil, with nuclear energy. Can we maintain this level of socio-economic complexity without fossil fuels? If not, then should we even try? Shouldn't we rather adapt to a future that has a lot less energy instead?
(For reference, read the Hirsch report) Perhaps build local economies and local resilience?
Just a month a go Japan was held as the prime example of hot to do Nuclear and how technologically advanced they are. Today we hear about the fake safety records, the complacency, reliance on decades old technology that was desogened to be used in nuclear subs, not in civillian use.... The point being; Perceptions change. What was considered and take as truth yesterday may be falsified by tomorrow.
-Replacing the current energy infrastructure takes 3 decades. That's an estimate that has been widely accepted in various peak-oil circles and with people who are interested in issues energy depletion.
-World gets about 6,3% of it's energy from nuclear energy. What are the practical implications of ramping up nuclear energy production to make that figure higher? Are the resources there? Labor, capital and fuel? Do we even have enough oil to take on such a massive project? Won't this project just burn up even more fossil fuels and push us over the edge in terms of global warming? Will this not be a self defeating endeavor?
- The Nuclear industry is in it's present form reliant on fossil fuels. Construction, maintenance, uranium mining, decommissioning and dealing with nuclear waste, all presently require fossil fuel inputs. How will the industry survive another oil shock that is surely coming (again refer to the Hirsch report)? How will the future generations be able to maintain, decommission nuclear power and deal with the waste without fossil fuel inputs?
Lastly , If I get nuclear industry propaganda here, I will just delete those post. People who are interested in that stuff can go and visit the industry web sites instead.