I've made up my mind that there are actually things worse than the scare stories about nuclear power ( some valid and some wildly over inflated)
I'm discouraged about continuing a discussion with someone who has already "made up their mind" but nonetheless, a couple of points:
On coal, the FACT is that we still have more coal plants than China and we are still the dirtiest country in the world. That has to be dealt with, aside from fears for the future.
Look, perhaps you misunderstand me. I'd prefer solar and wind over nuclear. As I said, I do my part on limiting my use of energy. I'm one of the few whose current low power consumption might allow for getting by on some solar panels IF they could ever solve the battery problem with all its "lead acid" waste problems.
But I am not the typical consumer household nor am I the typical 15,000 mile per year driver.
Reality enters this picture. California and world population reality also enters the picture. Unless some amazing breakthrough happens in solar production as well as the all important battery technology, then solar is not going to produce even 10% of the projected growth in power needs.
Those are facts which all the best intentions and wishful thinking doesn't change.
Electric vehicles need electric power produces somewhere. Hydrogen vehicles need hydrogen, which some people fail to realize need vast amounts of electric power to produce. It takes more power to produce the hydrogen than you derive from the hydrogen when you put it into a automobile. Once again, the need for fast amounts of 24 HOUR power.
Solar does not produce power 24 hours per day. Wind does not produce power 24 hours per day.
ALL the known environmental groups are against any more dams in California. Most of the environmental groups are fighting against new wind farms in California. Back east even the Kennedys are fighting against wind farms off the coast from the Kennedy compound.
NIMBY is everywhere.
So we are left with some difficult problems. Do you force people to abandond air conditioners in the summer and heating in the winter.
If that kind of regulation is not enforceable then WHERE do you get the projected power growth everyone says is happening as we speak.
Like I said, California is growing a million people per year.
The Sierra Club etc. are unwilling to take any stance that would limit that growth.
So we come back to that pesky math problem. Where are you going to get reliable 24/7 power over the next few decades.
Natural gas? Thats more greenhouse gases. Coal, the dirtyest and largest source of greenhouse gases. Fuel oil......from the oh so safe, Middle East, along with more Greenhouse gases..
Bottom line, is the recent rise in talk about Global Warming real?
If the answer is yes, then some hard choices are gonna have to be made. Those choices may have to include options that were previously objectionable.
A few years ago, during California's energy crunch and brownouts, I was in charge of the care of a elderly person. We had to contact the fire department and set up special provisons such that during the brownouts the person would not be at risk do to lack of power for their life sustaining electronics, including oxygen generation other emergency assistance.
Brown outs are not a option as a method to address lack of power.
Reality set in. Silicon wafer factories cannot operate with power interruptions. It ruins millions of dollars of product when they lose power.
This is not just about folks running their radio, computer and TV from a few solar panels. It is not about a perfect world where the perfect choice exists.
All I ask is that people get out a simple $5 calculator and do the real math involved when someone suggest we can all drive down the road on biodiesel and power our TV with $3,000 of solar panels and $2,000 of lead-acid batteries. Now multiply that set-up by 10,000,000 houses in California....... Lets see, thats 200 million lead-acid batteries needing disposal every few years... Hmmm.....lead........now is that good stuff?
Magnitude.....math........real calculations. Reality
7 year pay backs on solar power. Oh sure, I believe that. Why its right here in the brochure the Solar Power company gave to me.
OH, you mean thats for a 1,000 sq ft house in the Arizona desert with a 50% government subsidy (we pay).....and OH, you mean thats the payback of the money assuming we don't count interest, and that we don't ever have to either buy or replace batteries?
Oh, you mean no batteries because we will only use the power during the daylight.......and then we'll just hook up to the grid for the night?
Solar reality, when done by fair minded accountant types, comes up with paybacks of close to 15 years, and that does not include the "cost of money"......meaning it doesn't account for what that same money would have earned invested elsewhere.
So you are right. Nuclear is not a perfect solution. Not even close.
But IF...........and its a big IF...........If the dire warnings about Global Warming are indeed true, then we need to choose among the REAL, VIABLE.......methods to produce massive 24/7 power.
Among those choices, many environmentalists aren now comming to the shocking realization that nuclear power may be one of our better choices.
We can't wish the future away. We can't stop population growth or the growth of the new Asian power hungry societies.
China's power consumption is growing by 14% per year. That equals a doubling every 5.5 years. They are powering it by coal.
To your point about the USA having more coal plants than China.
According to the World Coal Institute
Top Ten Hard Coal Producers (2005e)
PR China 2226 Mt
USA 951 Mt
Australia 301 Mt
South Africa 240 Mt
Russia 222 Mt
It would appear both from the World Coal Institute and from the NY Times article, that China not only passed the USA several years ago, but is growing at many times the rate of coal consumption that the USA is.
The USA is replacing old coal plants a few per year. China is building "additional" coal plants at the rate of 1 per week.
As I said in another thread. The projected (by the Chinese Govt.) increase in coal use in China from 2004 until 2020 will be from 1.9 billion tons to 2.9 billion tons annual usage.
Putting that annual 1.0 billion ton "increase" into perspective in terms of additional CO2 gases...
That is the same as adding 3.0 "billion" additional Ford Expeditions to the USA roads.......EACH driving 15,000 miles per year.
Currently we have only about 60 million SUVs. So Chinas burning of coal will be like adding 50 times all the SUV's we currently have.
I know.......sounds like made up figures. Massive exaggeration huh?
Thats what I first believed when I read this example in Forbes magazine.
I thought even though the article was not about global warming, that this must have been some convoluded right wing propaganda to do something. But the article was about the bright prospects of a certain coal company in China. The global warming aspect was only included to inject some problems that may occur with this company's prospects.
In other words......it was a warning about the economic prospects of the company being allowed to continue its current growth.
So the fact about the 3.0 billion SUV's was essentially true.
I checked the basic math from other sources....
Coal is so amazingly dirty and CO2 producing that even hardened enviromentalists are having to rethink the future.
OK........enough facts for now.
The PollyAnna's (I don't mean you) of the environmental movement are getting cold buckets of water (coal) poured over there heads as reality bites back.
Its time to bite teh bullet and choose the best "bad" choice.
Thats why I and many other environmentally responsible people are coming around to newer nuclear technology.
The other choices or non-choices are just too scary.
Thanks for listening
BTW, the founder of Greenpeace is one of those who have changed their mind. Many other examples. Public polls in California are also begining to favor nuclear although the multiple "enviro" pressure groups still have the politicians ears.