Re: [asa] Re: Renewable energy

From: <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Tue Mar 31 2009 - 18:14:33 EDT

This has many parallels actually. Engineers & companies must effectively assign
some finite value to human life when they design nearly anything of consequence.
 We could reduce transportation fatalities to nearly zero by building every car
like a tank and making its top speed 10 mph. But then the costs of owning and
driving one would become so prohibitive and of such limited benefit that a
company couldn't sell any. So they design things faster, lighter, more
efficiently knowing that more people will die. As soon as the average resulting
litigation rate reaches an equilibrium with the increased benefits such that
profit is maximized, stock holders are happy. If litigation or bad publicity
spikes --then they back off and add more safety concern back in the mix.

It's interesting to me that apart from Chernobyl, all the so-called "BIG"
nuclear accidents (I can only name one and reference another) apparently
resulted in zero deaths. Compared with other daily carnage to which we have
become acclimated on our highways and our violent cultures handily accessorized
and endorsed by weapons industries, nuclear energy would seem to be a "not
smoking" gun.

Still ---I can turn out a lot of lights and say a whole lot more painless "nos"
on my own consumption before thinking I need or want another nuclear power plant
(or any other big plant for that matter). Big scale conservation seems to be a
no-brainer almost no matter how one looks at this.

--Merv

Quoting Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>:

> Hi George,
>
> The below is an interesting observation.
>
> I realize you don't want to raise the issue of capital punishment per se but
> I will say that it strikes me as interesting that nuclear energy and capital
> punishment should happen to be analogous in this manner.
>
> What occurs is that in both instances the cost of error is enormous. One
> wishes neither to build faulty nuclear plants nor execute the innocent - and
> it would seem that a detailed (hence costly) review process is merited in
> both instances.
>
> I suppose the process(es) could be made more efficient in both instances, but
> it would seem that there is no small correlation between the cost of making a
> mistake, and the complexity (hence cost) of coming to a determination as to
> the course of action.
>
> The real issue, it seems to me, is one of perception: that is, it's
> ultimately people's perception of risk which determines the complexity of the
> decision making process. And one of the reasons that many alternative energy
> sources escape scrutiny is because people perceive them as low risk
> (environmentally, economically, technologically, etc) and simply don't
> consider rigorous scrutiny to be necessary.
>
> But if we were to be truly critical of all proposed renewable energy
> technologies (and given that we're depending upon the promise of such
> technologies in a HUGE way) then perhaps more scrutiny would be a good thing.
> I don't think we'll get such increased scrutiny, of course, but it does make
> one wonder if there isn't something dangerous in allowing our perceptions of
> risk (or lack thereof) to determine the degree of scrutiny which we're
> willing to apply.
>
> Blessings,
> Murray
>
> George Murphy wrote:
> > A comment on one component of the nuclear power issue. One of the
> > arguments against nuclear is the cost of building new plants. I wonder
> > how much of the expense is due to lengthy review & appeal processes &
> > safety precuations that go beyond what is really necessary - both the
> > result of opposition to the very idea of nuclear power. I.e., opponents
> > drive up the cost & then use the cost as further reason to oppose it.
> >
> > Lest that seem like an unrealistic argument, I'll point out that just
> > that has happened with capital punishment in the US. Opponents of the
> > death penalty argue that it costs more to execute a person than to
> > confine him/her for life. The reason for that is the lengthy series of
> > appeals that are required before a death sentence can be carried out, a
> > series that can mean that someone condemned to death will serve at least
> > a 10, & perhaps much longer, prison sentence before execution, with
> > accompanying expense.
> >
> > I hasten to add that I am not arguing here against the possibility of
> > appeal, or for that matter for the death sentence, but simply pointing
> > out a parallel to what may be the situation with nuclear energy. & with
> > regard to that it should go without saying that I am not arguing for a
> > lack of safety precautions with nuclear power.
> >
> >
> >
> > Shalom
> > George
> > http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm
> >
> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Murray Hogg" <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
> > To: "ASA" <asa@calvin.edu>
> > Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 4:07 PM
> > Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Renewable energy
> >
> >
> >> Hi Burgy,
> >>
> >> I checked out the article you cited below (note that there is a typo
> >> in the address - should be .../what.htm rather than .../what/htm) and
> >> I would say that given the time-frames and definitions in that
> >> particular article, then nuclear probably could be called a
> >> "renewable" resource.
> >>
> >> Personally, however, I would opt for calling nuclear "long-term"
> >> rather than "renewable" - it certainly is the former, it certainly
> >> isn't the later. It might take a couple of thousand years, but sooner
> >> or later the Uranium supply will peter out.
> >>
> >> Putting aside the definitional quibble, the treatment of nuclear in
> >> your piece is, I think, about right as it stands - you correctly point
> >> out that something significant will need to happen in order for
> >> nuclear to become a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Absent such
> >> developments, however, and discussions about a nuclear future are
> >> entirely academic. Your also clear on the time-scales involved so I
> >> don't think a careful reader should be in anyway misled.
> >>
> >> I'm not sure whether I need to add a rider to the above in order to
> >> satisfy Janice - her response to my last post makes clear that she
> >> missed the point of my remarks. The ONLY issue I was addressing was
> >> whether nuclear is a renewable energy supply and everything I wrote
> >> should be taken in that context - including my remark about the left
> >> not "playing games". Hence, NEITHER the citation from Adam Smith nor
> >> the 32% figure who oppose nuclear on environmental grounds are of any
> >> relevance whatever - unless, of course, Janice wants to suggest that
> >> I've been taken in by the vast green-conspiracy and that the truth is
> >> that one really can keep digging Uranium out of the ground forever.
> >>
> >> Blessings,
> >> Murray
> >>
> >> John Burgeson (ASA member) wrote:
> >>> On 3/30/09, Murray Hogg <muzhogg@netspace.net.au> wrote:
> >>>> Hi Burgy,/
> >>>>
> >>>> If one is strictly speaking of RENEWABLE energy then nuclear is
> >>>> excluded
> >>>> because it's not a renewable resource.
> >>>>
> >>> What I have seen in several places, Murray, is that the above may not
> >>> be true. It seems to be true of plants built on past technology -- but
> >>> there are other nuclear technologies (breeder? ) (fast neutron?)
> >>> (thorium?) etc. that use fuel at a rate that could last 1000s of
> >>> years. Joe Schuster, in his book BEYOND FOSSIL FOOLS, makes this
> >>> argument -- he has a web site which goes into detail. Strictly
> >>> speaking, the energy sources proposed for these are at least as
> >>> renewable as fusion technology.
> >>>
> >>> I don't claim to have sorted all this stuff out. Yet. My recent
> >>> article in the Bugle (www.burgy.50megs.com/what/htm) assumed nucular
> >>> was not a renewable. I may have to write a retraction.
> >>>
> >>> Burgy
> >>>
> >>> Burgy
> >>>
> >>
> >> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> >> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message
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> > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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> >
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Received on Tue Mar 31 18:15:08 2009

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