Author Topic: Addressing climate change  (Read 7615 times)

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Offline segnosaur

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Re: Addressing climate change
« Reply #60 on: May 27, 2019, 12:13:20 pm »
hey now! Nothing like the currently running HBO series 'Chernobyl' to refocus on the cautionary side being taken by those scientists/engineers working on/towards the next iteration of nuclear reactors...
Keep in mind that Chernobyl was a bad reactor design (e.g. they used graphite moderators, which can, you know, burn, and didn't have a containment dome), that was run in an unsafe manner. Reactors in the western world are much better designed (use water for a moderator, have containment domes.) Suggesting nuclear power is 'unsafe' based on what happened at Chernobyl is like suggesting all cars are inherently death traps based on the exploding Ford Pinto.

Unfortunately, there is a big risk that people will look at the Chernobyl mini-series, and falsely extrapolate that to all nuclear power.(We saw the same sort of thing with The China Syndrome in the 70s.)
And, by the by, how do you pronounce, "Fukushima"
Ah yes, Fukushima...

A nuclear power plant (and an old design at that, one that was expected to be decommissioned) was hit by an earthquake and a huge wave, and it still didn't melt down, and the only immediate deaths had nothing to do with radiation. There may be a slight increase in Cancer rate in the future (although ironically the increased screening that will result may actually serve to decrease the death rate.)

The fact is, even if you consider accidents like Fukushima, Nuclear power is still the safest form of energy production in the world (in terms of kilowatts produced).

Energy Source               Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)
Coal – global average         100,000    (41% global electricity)
Coal – China                         170,000   (75% China’s electricity)
Coal – U.S.                               10,000    (32% U.S. electricity)
Oil                                               36,000    (33% of energy, 8% of electricity)
Natural Gas                                4,000    (22% global electricity)
Biofuel/Biomass                    24,000    (21% global energy)
Solar (rooftop)                              440    (< 1% global electricity)
Wind                                                 150    (2% global electricity)
Hydro – global average          1,400    (16% global electricity)
Hydro – U.S.                                     5    (6% U.S. electricity)
Nuclear – global average              90    (11%  global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)
Nuclear – U.S.                                0.1    (19% U.S. electricity)

Now, it may sound rather backwards to think that solar and wind are more 'dangerous' than nuclear. But the problem is, those forms of energy still lead to accidents (during the mining of raw materials, during construction, etc.) Nuclear energy has the potential to cause significant problems if something goes wrong, but nuclear plants also produce a lot of power, and you need a heck of a lot of windmills or solar panels to replace one nuclear plant.

And of course new nuclear power plant designs (e.g. molten salt reactor) would be even safer.