RE: USGS estimate of oil supply

From: Vandergraaf, Chuck (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 12:29:00 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: USGS estimate of oil supply"

    Mr. Hammond,

    A few comments on your comments:

       Neutron activation and Neutron damage is a problem. However,
    compared to the nightmare of tons of Plutonium storage, transfer,
    and processing, it seems minor.

    Neutron activation may seem to you to be a "minor problem" but you would
    have to convince the people who have to move those highly radioactive pole
    pieces. As to plutonium storage, most Pu isotopes have long half lives and
    are, therefore, not highly radioactive. Most Pu isotopes decay by alpha
    emission and this radiation can be stopped by a sheet of paper (as the Pu
    ages and daughters grow in, there will be some gamma emitters present). As
    to its toxicity, some years ago a nuclear physicist offered to eat a gram of
    Pu if his antinuclear proponent would eat a gram of nicotine. Nobody
    volunteered for obvious reasons: nicotine is toxic while Pu would probably
    pass through the GI tract without absorption. Only if Pu gets into the
    blood stream or if finely divided Pu oxide is inhaled, is there a (serious)
    problem. I have worked with Pu and it's no big deal. As to transfer of Pu,
    this can be done quite safely and effectively, as long as Pu is being
    considered as valuable as gold.

    > As a less-theoretical (non-theoretical) person, I gave up on fusion years
    > ago. Matter of fact, at a conference about a year ago, one speaker
    > mentioned that about the only pronouncement on the fusion is that it is
    > "forty years away from being viable." This has been the case for the last
    > fifty years. ;-)

      During the war they needed Radar to spot submarines on the
    surface to win the battle of the Atlantic. No one even knew
    if it could be done. The "candu" attitude at MIT nevertheless
    produced the Magnetron and cm-wave radar that wiped out the
    U-Boats. Same with the Manhattan Project and the A-Bomb. They
    didn't know if one could be built, or what would happen when
    they set it off. Same with Fusion.

    CANDU should be capitalized: it stands for CANada Deuterium Uranium and
    indicates that CANDU nuclear power reactors are designed in Canada and use
    heavy water as moderator. "Same with fusion" reflects ignorance of the
    temperatures that are reached in the fusion process and the need to contain
    the plasma.

      Bush had a chance to pump $1.3 trillion into Fusion over
    10 years. Instead he opted for a tax cut. There is no law of
    physics which says a Fusion reactor can't be built. It's just
    a matter of money. Big money. But oil IS a big money problem.
      Point is, there is no option... it's either Fission or
    Fusion when the oil runs out. If the West doesn't come up
    with an Energy plan, based on Nuclear power, the 3rd world
    knows it's days are numbered, and they are starting to revolt
    under Islamic leadership because the Moslems own the bulk of
    the remaining oil reserves. Saddam even tried to take Kuwait
    because of it.

    Throwing money at a problem is no guarantee of success. As for "laws of
    physics," show me how to contain plasmas that operate at temperatures much
    higher than any known material and show me how one can maintain this

    I'm glad to see you admit that nuclear power IS an option; this is something
    in your initial e-mail in this thread that you argued against when you wrote
    " Obviously what with the onset of a Third World revolution that will
    probably continue unabated for the next 30 years, I would think the last
    thing we should be thinking of is producing hundreds of tons of Plutonium or
    U235. The entire US Army couldn't
    protect it from terrorist attack or theft. The idea is absurd...."

      Only 20% of the Moslems are Arabs. Hundreds of millions
    of them live in S.E. Asia and Malaysia, Iraq-Iran and even
    N. Africa. What with the inclusion of Mecca they form a
    continuous highway running the full length of the Eastern
    Hemisphere from Sumatra in the East to Gibraltar in the West.
    They have begun to attack Buddhism in the East (the Taliban)
    as well as Christianity in the West.

    There are a large number of Muslims East of Sumatra, i.e., Java, Kalimatan,
    Spice Islands, Philippines, etc.

       Point is, it's obviously time for some big ideas, because
    let's face it, the end of the Oil Age is a big problem. It
    could be the biggest problem the World has ever faced. A
    "world energy plan" requires new and undreamed of levels of
    "world government".. which means first of all pointing out
    to the Russians that a military enforced one party system is
    not viable. They are going to have to cave in to the Democratic
    reality of a Left and a Right. On the other hand, Capitalism is
    going to have to recognize the absolute necessity of massive
    Socialist structures to accommodate the human and economic rights
    of the billions and billions of less developed populations in
    the 3rd World.

    The solution will have to include a mix of energy sources (hydro, gas,
    nuclear, solar, wind) and better designed, energy efficient buildings
    coupled with a decrease in the (especially Western) appetite for energy. It
    won't be simple and it won't be pleasant.


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