Tag Archives: anti-nuclear

Challenge to nuclear opponents

It has always mystified me (and I think I can speak for all of us in NPYP) that someone can be anti-something when it comes to energy. Lets suppose for instance that someone declares himself to be anti-chemical energy, the logical follow up question to the fellow would of course be "what kind of chemical energy?". The question is logical because there are so many different ways one can extract chemical energy, everything from burning cow dung in huts to the engine in your car to high tech gas turbines to dynamite. Our friend there probably didn't even think of those distinctions when he made his statement, but what if he did? Let's say he rebukes by stating he really means that he is anti coal. Even that statement can be challenged, it must by necessity be conditional otherwise it is moronic. If he is anti coal because of air pollution, then would he change his mind if there was a solution to the pollution? If someone developed a filter that reduced pollution levels to insignificant amount is fossil fuels then ok? Logically he should think so. If he is anti coal because of the immensely destructive coal mining, would he change his mind if environmentally sound mining practices where developed? The guy is presumably actually anti air pollution or anti dirty mines, not anti chemical energy or anti coal. He just never bothered to go through the chain of reasoning to understand what he really opposes in chemical energy.

Same can be said of any energy source, there is no rational reason to be against the energy source itself, rather one is against some undesirable effect due to the present application of the energy source. NPYP are not fans of coal by any means, but I dare say that if there was solid solutions to its problems, then none of us would oppose its use. There just isn't any justifiable reason to oppose it if the problems are solved. There is no other way to rationally look at energy production.

The advantage with digging deep and specifying exactly what one is actually opposed to means opening up to the possibility of finding solutions! If someone simply state that they are anti windmills then the discussion pretty much ends right there. If the person instead states that the noise from windmills is disturbing then the discussion can turn to possible solutions to reduce noise. Everyone wins on that! There is no reason to be horribly emotional about the whole thing and cling to an anti-something idea so hard that one blocks any fruitful discussion and becomes blind to solutions.

A discussion goes no where until one gets to the core of the argument, which is, what properties of a specific energy source makes you oppose it and and how can it be improved so you no longer oppose it?

The frustrating thing in the nuclear debate is that the discussion never seems to reach that point. Ask leading environmentalists that exact question and they will squirm like a worm on a hook.

If someone specifies that they are opposed to nuclear energy due to the waste problem. Fine we say, but what exactly do you mean by the waste problem and what effect does the waste have that you find repulsive? If you are bothered by the possibility that the waste will hurt future generations, then lets discuss how to safely dispose of the waste. If you are anti nuclear because you are bothered by the safety of nuclear installations, then specify what level of safety is safe enough (obviously there must be a level where an activity is considered safe enough, otherwise the person in question would never get out of bed to shower for fear of slipping and dying) and lets discuss how to reach that.

But the discussion always ends before reaching that point because the "anti person" generally never  seems to be interested in solutions to the posed problems and they are usually not even able to state clearly why they consider the issue as a problem in the first place. This is not only valid for the nuclear debate, one sees the same tendencies in all kinds of discussion where there is a clear anti side. Anti genetic engineering, anti cars, anti meat, anti space exploration, you name it! It seems very hard for people to go past the simple emotional attachment of being against something and instead engage into a meaningful discussion about the issues. It is too easy to just be opposed to something, it is damned much harder to actually find solutions.

So to move the nuclear discussion into a more fruitful direction it would be enlightening if some nuclear opponents could specify what conditions nuclear would have to fulfill to be an acceptable energy source. Believe it or not even we have such conditions. I don't think for instance anyone in NPYP wants to see more RBMK reactors built (the type of reactor at the Chernobyl plant) and just to speak for myself I have quite strict demands on what nuclear energy should be in the long run to be an acceptable energy source. I am not anti nuclear, but I am certainly anti towards some ways of extracting nuclear energy.

To summaries and to state the challenge again clearly.

 

What conditions would have to be fulfilled for you to consider nuclear an acceptable energy source?

 

George Monbiot: "...the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all"

George Monbiot, environmentalist and journalist... and once a strong opponent to nuclear power has faced an "unpalatable truth": the anti-nuclear lobby lied to us.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/05/anti-nuclear-lobby-misled-world

The article is only about 30 years overdue... but I cannot stop smiling when I read this. Monbiot did what everyone should do: check the facts, think for yourself, dare to think you may have been either right or wrong.

The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all

I've discovered that when the facts don't suit them, the movement resorts to the follies of cover-up they usually denounce

George Monbiot

Over the last fortnight I've made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

Thank yo so much for this George. Along with Mark Lynas and Patrick Moore, you have shown that "green" does not have to mean "unscientific zeal".

This... is an ex-parrot!!

Let me indulge myself in a bit of personal commentary for a moment and convey my frustration about debating nuclear power. When browsing the sheets, TV-programs and the web, I as a nuclear friend more often than not run into absurdities so staggering it leaves me wondering if this is reality or some really tripped out stage comedy.

The latest act in this Circus Macabre is Christer Borg, who in a recent blog entry argues against nuclear power with arguments so false I am relating to John Cleese's character in the famous parrot sketch: Mr. Praline is faced with a salesman who won't admit that the parrot he just sold is definitely deceased. The man behind the counter keeps arguing his fraudulent case with ever more ridiculous arguments until eventually he's trying to convince the customer that the stuffed Norwegian Blue parrot is not dead but "pining for the fjords".


Video provided kind courtesy of Monty Python

Let me show you what I mean... Christer Borg says:

A wrecked reactor is as deadly to all life as it was when Three Mile Island or the Chernobyl disasters took place.

Bringing up Chernobyl in discussions about  Swedish reactors, or any light-water moderated reactor for that matter since its the most prevalent reactor type in the world, is absolutely silly. If we chose to ignore the fact that the comparison requires an act of God, where He gets devilishly drunk and in a stupor goes on to rewrite the laws of physics, the death toll from the accident itself does not even reach 100 people yet.  Anyone arguing differently had best take it up with the UN.

"This parrot is no more!"

Three Mile Island is slightly more relevant to talk about because that concerned a reactor type that actually exists outside the former Soviet Union, as opposed to the accident prone RBMK-type of reactor that blew up at Chernobyl. But the argument is still trying to assert the vitality of a bleedin' demised parrot because the accident at TMI-2 left us with zero dead, zero injured and zero cancer cases. Why does Borg, when he wishes to speak against nuclear power, bring up an event which tells us that even when suffering a nuclear meltdown the safety measures of a western reactor works and prevents death and injury?

"It has ceased to be!"

Borg continues...

The issue of storing nuclear waste is as unresolved as it was thirty years ago.

This argument tries to ignore thirty years of research and development in the area, not to mention 1.7 billion years of geological truth.  The invalidity of the argument is laid bare the moment you step onto the homepage of SKB, Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB. SKB selects the site to build the Swedish deep geological repository in 2009. The year after that they hand in their application to the authorities seeking permission to begin work constructing the repository using the KBS-3 method, validated by science and Mother Nature in her very own experiment into nuclear waste storage.

"It's expired and gone to meet its maker!"

Borg: Operating nuclear reactors is as difficult as before.

OK, so if we again ignore reality, such as the extremely low accident rate compared to other sources of power and the lack of injuries resulting from nuclear power, his argument tries to deny the fact that design criteria for modern nuclear reactors specify them to be "Walk away safe". That is to say a modern nuclear reactor remains safe even if all of the operators simply walk away from the controls. I know of few other human activities that would allow that sort of abuse. And this did not exist thirty years ago.

"It's a stiff! Bereft of life. It rests in peace!"

Borg: Uranium mining is a detrimental to the environment as it has always been.

Again Borg tries to ignore progress and reality. To illustrate how silly his argument is: the radiation dose that a Swedish iron ore miner received in the LKAB mines in the 70's was twenty times that which an Australian uranium miner receives today. I can concede the fact that back in the last century uranium mining was no picnic. But then again that was the case for all mining. And today the situation is different as all mining, including uranium mining is subject to the same kind of environmental requirements as everyone else. Trying to claim nothing has changed is nearly too stupid for words, but Borg somehow manages to utter them with a straight face. I simply don't know how he does it. Overdosing on Botox perhaps?

"If you hadn't nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies!"

Borg: The centralization of this extremely dangerous activity...

"It's run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible!"

...makes it as perfect as before for callous and desperate terrorists.

...which is to say: bloody useless. A nuclear power plant is an unattractive target for terrorists. This case we have covered before here at Nuclear Power Yes Please in our last article "Wind power increases vulnerability to terrorism". Quick recap: distributed power, as endorsed by Borg, shifts our vulnerability from the resilient and easily defendable nuclear power plants to the network grid that is made fragile by distributed and fickle power sources such as wind.

"This... is an ex-parrot!"

As you can surely understand arguments such as those presented by Christer Borg leave me wondering what kind of reality some people live in. There just isn't any truth to his claims. Anyone with a web browser and half a pint of sense can verify that his argument is a load of fetid dingo's kidneys. How does he expect that anyone will not notice the gaping cracks in his anti-nuclear facade?

I'll leave you with the only piece of sense to come out of his ridiculous article... one that I think he in retrospect ought to feel really embarassed about having put there as it perfectly describes the futility of his behaviour:

A lie does not become more true just because you repeat it over and over.

/Michael Karnerfors, member of the network Nuclear Power Yes Please

- No I'm sorry! I'm not prepared to persue my line of inquiry any further as I think this is getting too silly!
- Quite agree, quite agree. Silly silly silly. Right, get on with it. Get on with it!