Re: [asa] Re: Renewable energy

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Tue Mar 31 2009 - 01:05:35 EDT

I am still reading John's (David MacKay) offering and have finished
through his chapter on nuclear --and now glanced and perused Karl's
reference below, and they make for an interesting contrast that may help
answer your question, John. While MacKay according to his own words
"isn't trying to be pro-nuclear --just trying to be pro-arithmetic",
the other paper obviously considers nuclear to be evil incarnate and
refuses to concede virtually anything good about it. While MacKay's
sweeping assumptions about various energy source viabilities were
outlandish, he was at least consistent about it and doing his level best
to make sure he was comparing apples with apples. I think part of the
nuclear industries woes (as the RMI paper details with apparent glee)
come from a national NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) syndrome and an
ingrained fear of the entire concept of "nuclear". MacKay doesn't even
try to touch this political/economic morass that (rightly or wrongly) is
holding nuclear back --or dragging it down. He just tries to do the
math --part of which was to point out that using EU statistics giving
"deaths per gigawatt-year of produced energy", nuclear, (followed!) by
wind energy look most impressive compared to coal, oil, and every other
major source. Expanding this statistic worldwide is challenging MacKay
notes -but that does then lump in Chernobyl with its 9000 or so deaths
that singlehandedly would raise nuclear to 2.4 deaths per GW-year (not
as impressive, yes, but still lower than either coal or oil). And
given that coal plants expose their communities to more radiation than
nuclear plants do, it would seem grounds for suspecting our national
fear of nuclear (energy) may not be entirely consistent or rational.
But be that as it may, MacKay wisely notes of the populations who find
"insurmountable" problems with every big proposed solution: they will
eventually have to say "yes" to something ... probably many
somethings. That or we will have to accept saying a whole lot more
"no" on the consumption side. Almost certainly the real solutions
forced on us (if indeed we get there) will be a combination of all of
those things.

--Merv wrote:
> Burgy,
> Try the Rocky Mountain Institute, especially
> Karl
> (ASA member)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
> The issue of renewable energy is one I am now getting "deep" into.
> What I have not (yet) figured out is why nuclear energy plants are not
> usually part of the solutions promoted.
> Burgy
> On 3/27/09, Merv Bitikofer <> wrote:
> > John, thanks so much for your lead to this work. It is so accessible,
> > even in its "technical" chapter end-notes that my high-school science
> > students should easily be able to follow it & find it at their level of
> > challenge. It's an excellent work. (And I'm learning a few things
> > going through it too.)
> >
> > --Merv
> >
> > John Burgeson (ASA member) wrote:
> >> Sorry -- I forgot to include the link:
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> jb
> >>

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Received on Tue Mar 31 00:10:45 2009

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