Skip to comments.Only nuclear power can stop global warming, says British environmentalist (Lovelock)
Posted on 05/24/2004 7:09:26 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
LONDON (AFP) -
Only nuclear energy can slow down the rapid and potentially devastating warming of the earth, a veteran British scientist and environmental campaigner argued.
"Only one immediately available source does not cause global warming and that is nuclear energy," James Lovelock wrote in an opinion piece published in the Independent newspaper.
The 84-year-old is best known for fathering the "Gaia Hypothesis" in the mid-1960s that states the earth is alive and maintains conditions necessary for its survival.
Lovelock warned that environmentally-friendly energy sources were not being developed quickly enough to replace coal, gas and oil, whose waste gas -- carbon dioxide -- is at the origin of the so-called greenhouse effect or global warming.
"We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources, civilization is in imminent danger," Lovelock said in reference to renewables such as wind, tide and water generated power favored by most ecological advocates.
Lovelock also raised the alarm over the possibility of global warming moving at a faster pace than expected, as he recalled Europe's sizzling hot summer of 2003.
"If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from the overheating in Europe last summer," he said.
"Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media," he charged.
"These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources," said the scientist, who has attracted ire from other environmentalists for his pro-nuclear feelings.
"Lovelock is right to demand a drastic response to climate change but he's wrong to think nuclear power is any part of the answer," British Greenpeace chief Stephen Tindal told the Independent.
"Nuclear (energy) creates enormous problems, waste we don't know what to with," he added.
Tony Juniper from fellow green group Friends of the Earth (news - web sites) echoed Tindal's position.
"Climate change and radioactive waste both pose deadly long-term threats, and we have a moral duty to minimize the effect of both, not to choose between them," he said.
A cow grazes on a field next to Sellafield nuclear plant in North England. Only nuclear energy can slow down the rapid and potentially devastating warming of the earth, a veteran British scientist and environmental campaigner argued.(AFP/File/Odd Andersen)
No, we need windmills.
Nuclear energy was the basis for the Kyoto Treaty--if ratified, the only way the US would get out of paying fines for the non compliance of other countries would have been if the US switched to nuclear power (just like France).
Too bad the mainstream media either does not know this or does not want you to know this.
This is just hillarious...after all the fear spread about Nuclear power. Maybe we could store the waste in Iraq.
France would be a better choice.
Try and get a nuke unit permitted. No utility has the stomach for such a fight. These days, they're selling off their generation, not adding to it.
I like that picture. I remember we were near Oxford and stopped at a place for lunch. The tour guide said the only thing included in the tour for lunch were baked potatoes. One apeice.
They were monstrous. And filled with stuff.
We remembered seeing a nuclear power plant a few miles back next to a farm and got veeery suspicious about where those potatoes were grown. :-)
If only we further decimated our economy they would looovve us.
As for nuclear power, let's hope this scientist doesn't wind up being 'disappeared'.
PEBBLE BED REACTORS (Google it) ARE THE ANSWER!
You could have one in the backyard!
BBQ at night is one benefit........
| I hope I have time
for the two-week French Open
before the collapse . . .
No, we need about 18 quadrillion guinea pigs.
"Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen. If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from overheating in Europe last summer.This is so incredibly ironic. The inventor of the Gaia hypothosis tearing into the political hypocrasy of the left.
"I find it sad and ironic that the UK, which leads the world in the quality of its Earth and climate scientists, rejects their warnings and advice, and prefers to listen to the Greens. But I am a Green and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy.
"Even if they were right about its dangers, and they are not, its worldwide use as our main source of energy would pose an insignificant threat compared with the dangers of intolerable and lethal heat waves and sea levels rising to drown every coastal city of the world. We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear - the one safe, available, energy source - now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet."
I thought the problem was the cows and their, um, toots. Issue corks; problem solved.
You know, the same thought occurred to me, but then I realized that all those guinea pig farts would put us right back in the hothouse.
Windmills are not a primary power source. They have no "on" switch.
First I've never heard any valid science to suggest that fissil fuels cause that. Second, either way that fact or my belief therein has absolutely nothing to do with the validity or potential of windpower.
Windmills can be part of the mix however but it will be nearly impossible to convince private landowners to have them in their vista as the places where such machinery needs to be located is often near the location of vacation properties in the mountains and at the seashore.
This is a very very big country. Many people lose sight of that. A mere 5000 windmills located in the corner of Iowa could power all of Iowa at 39 TWHR per year plus or minus intermittancy which can be backfilled with hydro and coal. N Dakota could power the entire midwest easily except for lack of grid. You haven't considered the numbers quite as well as I have. BTW farmers love windmills as they get 2-5K per year per unit in lease money and still grow crops around them.
Such folks who have invested heavily in their property do not wish to see and hear windwills and you and I shouldn't blame them as they are indeed not a method to convert energy in an efficient way with respect to spacial characteristics, ie., it is not energy dense.
Density is a meaningless argument, cost and value and the environment are the important arguments.
Nuclear power will have to be the future if you believe in global warming, but I reject the premise so for me and many thinkers we should do what the marketplace orders and that is continue on the present course until alternatives become financially attractive to investors and hence, consumers.
Nuclear power is simply vile. Look at Chernobyl(sp)
Ah yes, Kyoto, the beginning of the euroweenies hatred of the cowboy.
If only we further decimated our economy they would looovve us.
And that was the gamble that the treaty's proponents waged.
Well, we do know what to do with it. However, the same irrational fears that make it difficult to generate nuclear power have made it difficult to properly handle its waste.
Well; lookie here -- another Greenie gets it.
They are doing 20 percent of Denmark's power and will be doing more soon.
Grownups understand...nuclear is best.
They want us to live in caves.
You trot out that old warhorse every time, but there's just no comparison between modern nuclear power generation and that half-assed design which failed during a very ill-advised experimental test.
Denmark can always buy French nuclear electricity off of the grid when the windmills stop. Windmills are NOT a primary source.
That's true. But they are destined to be unhappy given their intolerance. It's what I've learned about the "my way or the highway" kind of people. They tell others what to do. If others do as they are told, but it doesn't work out, clearly they did not follow directions properly. If they don't do as they are told, then clearly they are bad people. They will be miserable forever and destined to yet more misery if they prevail.
It isn't about the environment anymore, it's all about power now, a collectivist end-run around existing political and economic venues in which socialism has consistently failed. Its precepts now have the force of holy canon, and Lovelock will be regarded as a heretic. Watch it happen.
But it can never be 100% without some serious impacts to their lifestyle and economy.
How about just planting a lot of trees?
Nobody talks about that. They bitch about the rainforests and vegetation disappearing around the globe, but nobody just shuts up and plants more trees.
P.S. Nukes, solar, wind, trees, etc., it's all feasible now. Someday, fusion. Then OPEC will be utterly unnecessary.
100 percent is not necessary at all. It is expected that 40 percent would cause very little impact. Maybe on the order of 10 percent on your energy bill. The rest can be supplied by anything, except nukes.
I posted this on another thread. This guy is right, but not for the reasons he thinks.
And as for the "cow cork" solution, methane (CH4, Mol. wt. 16) is lighter than air. So my question is, how ya gonna keep 'em down, on the farm?
Old Technology and poorly managed.
Hold your nose and look at France!
Thanks for the nose warning! I hear that all the time yet all we are doing in improving the odds of something as bad as Chernobyl happening. It's just not worth it.
I'm a nuke fan, but
what exactly is your point --
that WE do not have
bad managers here?!
That OUR companies don't use
If something can be
screwed up, I'm confident that
OUR businessmen will
screw it up BETTER
than Soviet socialists
ever managed to . . .
Note that only a modest fraction of energy use is for electric power. Heat, vehicle fuels, etc are other categories entirely and make up the majority of overall energy demand. One regularly sees high figures quoted for minor methods, that just forget to explain that the denominator is only electric energy demand not overall energy demand. Thus in the US, 104 nuke plants (the most in the world) provide around 20% of our electricity. But only around 7% of our energy.
But nukes and hydro are real suppliments to the fossil fuels. The other stuff isn't. In categories like "renewables", the dominant sources are hydro (up to 75%) and so called "biomass", which is largely a fancy way of saying "wood". With modest suppliment to the wood amount from ag byproducts, trash, etc. Nothing even clean about that stuff; low sulfur hard coal in a plant with scrubbers is cleaner.
Below the wood and only about 40% as large, comes geothermal (in the US). Which is twice the size of wind power. And wind power is 10 times the size of solar. All of them put together are about half as important as burning wood, which is only a third as important as power from dams. This stuff is just completely religious power generation; it has nothing to do with satisfying mass demand in a scalable way.
In terms of years of total world energy demand at present levels, gas would provide 15 years, uranium recoverable at $130 per kg or less around 25 years, oil around 40 years, and recoverable coal at least 60 years (harder to get coal can double that). The uranium figure can be raised by a factor of 10 by breeder reactors, at the same recovery price cut off. Increase that and additional ore bodies become economic. At present, ore bodies below that recovery cost are estimated to hold 4.4 million tons of uranium. Only 35 tons per year are actually mined.
There are 438 reactors running in 32 countries. 31 more are under construction, most of them in east Asia (17) or eastern Europe (11). The economic arguments against uranium are mostly nonsense if oil were to stay indefinitely at or above the $40 a barrel levels we are seeing right now. The environmental ones are all nonsense, but are the actual way nukes have been killed politically in the US and UK.
The only good argument against relying on nukes and especially breeder nukes is their potential misuse for proliferation, as we are seeing in Iran and North Korea today. In the present state of world security matters this is a very serious obstacle. Some future security state might make it feasible, but right now the politics aren't there to spread this method. That is, however, no argument against using it within responsible existing nuclear powers with existing nuclear power industries.
As for the fossile fuels, there are issues that deserve analysis but they are ridiculously hyped. Greenhouse is real but its scale is not what the scaremongers have advertised - probably an order of magnitude lower. As for limited reserves, such claims are mostly based on misunderstanding proven reserves at any moment in time for all future reserves. We regularly find new reserves.
Up until 1980 or so, reserves were being found faster than they were being used. Taking the current reserves and dividing by the current use rate gives the time estimates above. You regularly see people do the same with a rising demand curve and a static reserve, arriving at figures 2/3rds to 1/2 those above as a result. But they assume nothing is being added to reserves. Not a correct method. One can either use the difference between use and finds against an existing reserve stock, or drop both on the rough assumption that new finds and increased demand will offset each other. On either calculation, the world has a century of fossile fuel use ahead of it without rationing anything.
And it makes no economic or technological sense to pay 2-10 times as much for energy in the short run, to make coal reserves last farther into the 22nd or 23rd century. When the supply of capital and technology will be vastly higher than today, along with demand for energy. Making it unimportant to have more coal lying around, then.
Nor is it obvious that we are even running out of fossile fuels. The current rate of photosynthesis is estimates variously at 1-4x10^21 joules per year. Total energy use by all of mankind is a third to a tenth of that figure. Sometime in this century, we will probably pass photosynthesis for the first time. Energy is not scarce overall, only capture of it in useful forms is. Sunlight incident on earth delivers 7500 times as much energy as mankind uses now.
We should use the fossile fuels to fund development of capital and technology to make other energy sources more economic. If the proliferation issue weren't there, nuclear would be a perfectly reasonable way to get most of the electric power portion of our overall energy demand. That would leave oil for vehicles and gas for heat, extending the useful lives of both. Instead we use coal and gas for electricity and significant amounts of oil for heat.
Eventually capital and technology will advance far enough, and energy demand and thus prices will be high enough, to make the direct solar route economic. In a pure engineering sense, it has clear benefits - that is why scientists boost it so much. It cuts out energy efficiency middleman terms that cut down delivered useful energy by a factor of 2.5 to 10 at multiple intervening levels.
At the moment that does not matter because energy is not scarce - capital to recover it is. But eventually it will make sense to tap the sun's huge 3E24 joules directly rather than through dead plants. Even that number is an upper limit only under capital and tech constraints, since most of the sun's output misses the earth and beams off into empty space. Orbital solar power stations might take 400 years to become economic, but are perfectly feasible in engineering terms.
Energy is not scarce, it is not going to run out, no waxy buildup of entropy is poisoning the planet, the sky is not going to fall. At $40 a barrel oil, nuke power in countries that already have it and can be trusted not to proliferate make sense. So does developing existing oil resources, and allowing full use of clean hard coal. Funding research projects to help the cost of new technologies fall over time as we use the existing reserves also makes sense. Forcing premature, uneconomic deployment of such alternatives does not.
I would love to invest in wind but GE and Shell are much too diluted to be a real wind power investment.
Another problem is that windmills are not good peak power producers nor are they dependable in all weather conditions,
That would actually mean something if we were talking about one giant windmill.
You say you would love to invest in wind. Go ahead and buy yourself a wind powered generator. You need some property though and if one lives in an apartment or some sort of a planned community it is out of the question. I do not have a wind powered generator because it is too expensive, it is a poor investment, and if I can say, ugly. So much for wind power, right now anyway.
Explain to me how a Chernobyl type accident can be initiated and then proceed at a US nuclear power plant.
I'll even let you ignore the containment and biological shielding.
Start with your guess as to how many pounds of graphite exists in a US LWR core.
You don't play CombatMission do you, JasonC?
Why don't we look at Hiroshima and Nagasaki instead?
Believe it or not, neither is the vast nuclear wasteland that anti-nuke activists would have you believe.
Both cities were rebuilt soon after the war and have become important industrial centres. The population of Hiroshima has grown to over one million and that of Nagasaki to 440,000.
Nuclear energy has come to be an important part of the life of each city in a totally new way: today one quarter of Hiroshima's electricity is from nuclear power and half of that for Nagasaki is nuclear. Both cities are testimony to the positive benefits of a technological society which applies available energy resources to the needs of urban populations and industry.
You might be surprised. Myself, there is no wind here, and no sun most of the time. Looks like a nuke would fit behind the outhouse and stil leave room for moose to get by when they go wherever they go.
Here is a little piece about wind power investment if you really want to know about the topic. Investers are cropping up everywhere. It is no longer a fringe zone experiment but it is becoming mainstream. This could only be so if it were profitable. Wind power today costs as much as the fuel alone for a natural gas fired plant.
Sorry, I simply don't have 10 million dollars.
Sure, it could never happen here, and if anyone thinks it could, they just don't know enough about nukes. Right.
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