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14 December 2009

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Mark Logan

On nuclear: Why not like the French? I would say primarily because we have cheaper alternatives.

While it is certainly the cleanest in terms of carbon generation,it faces some formidable barriers in the US.

First is cost. You can find a lot of data on cost per kilowatt hour, and
currently for coal and natural gas most are within the 3-4 cent and nuclear
is in the 10-11 cents range. We have a very large reserve of natural gas,
and so does Canada, and this makes investors quite skittish. Add to that the history of bond defaults in the industry and it's
not all that hard to see why no one has been very eager to start one, although the press is full of statements that about barriers being primarily regulatory. More on that later.

Second I would say is lack of experience. The people who built nukes in the country have almost all retired, and even if they were still around the industry has taken many leaps from those times. It is difficult, no, make that impossible to find a US contractor who will give a firm quote on the undertaking of starting one
from scratch. The French are the ones with the expertise, and in fact are
partnering with some US firms on a few projects now. This barrier is certainly surmountable in the existence of favorable economics, but nevertheless limits internal enthusiasm in the constrcutions industry greatly, IMO.

Last on my list are those much touted regulatory barriers, of which NIMBY I call a big part of. We really have become much, much more timid in our willingness to bulldoze opposition to large scale undertakings than we once were. Permitting can be nearly intermit able, and
construction slowed by extreme caution. So much so that typical time frame's are well over a decade. Projections of economic viability that far out involve a lot of sheer guessin'.

Is it the smart way to go? I believe that question depends mostly on how
serious we are about cutting carbon emissions.

optimax

Cieran,

The evidence for or against depends on which side you listen to, the big one being do CO2 levels precede or lag temperature increases?

Read an article by a scientist who was a believer in AGW that stated there was a huge variation in the temperature increases between various models and the alarmists (Gore) always picked the worst case scenarios. He thought that was harming the public's understanding of the science.

Mr. Whole Earth, Stuart Brand, is an advocate of nuclear power. He's been involved with the environmental and back-to-the-land movement for a long time, when global cooling was the BIG FEAR.

You're right about facing uncertainty. That's why so many people walk around staring at those little screens in their hands, ignoring the world around them, and the more they ignore the world the bigger their FEAR becomes.

Charles I

optimax, just to be absolutely clear, I believe in anthropogenic climate change. I believe, based on a broad canvas of popular and expert references, that not only do we face warming, but also the potential catastrophic change in ocean chemistry as a result of increasing CO2 levels dissolved in seawater that will precipitate the destruction of the current plankton food chain and fill the oceans with hydrogen sulfide-spewing anaerobic organisms to the exclusion of all other species.

You can read an admittedly alarming but very well documented synthesis of chemistry, biology, sea current studies re: salinity, temperature and composition, anthropology and astrophysics that all, play a role in various theories of climate change that predicts this scenario in "Under a green sky: global warming, the mass extinctions of the past, and what they can tell us about our future." by Peter Douglas Ward, Smithsonian Books/Collins 2007

optimax

Charles I,

There is a dead-zone in the ocean off the coast of Oregon.

Mark,

The nuclear engineers I've kown are all retirement age but I do meet plenty of young environmental scientists. Maybe that's why the emphasis is on windmills and solar.

In a probably irrelevant aside, I no a man who was in Texas doing a bird count for a proposed windmill farm who told me that the blades create a vacuum which explodes the bodies of bats. I wonder if there is some high frequency sound produced by the windmills that attracts bats. Would like to see a study, don't want to destroy a necessary creature in the ecosystem.

AssumsGow

Hi, my name is Tim. Just wanted to say hi to the forum, I been creeping around here for a while now, but tend to participate more. Looking forward to make some new friends. Ciao!

Tim

NY, NY

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