Re: [asa] Re: Renewable energy

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Tue Mar 31 2009 - 19:16:23 EDT

On your last paragraph, one estimate of deaths from cancer in the vicinity
of the 3 Mile Island accident was between 2 & 50: Dorothy Nelkin, "The Role
of the Expert at Three Mile Island" in David L. Sills, C.P. Wolf and Vivien
B. Shelanski, Accident at Three Mile Island: The Human Dimension (Westview,
Boulder CO, 1982), p.145. That's a statistical projection though, & we'll
never know the real number. Similarly, the projections of up to 50,000
cancer deaths in Europe from Chernobyl may be far too high.

Shalom
George
http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

----- Original Message -----
From: <mrb22667@kansas.net>
To: "Murray Hogg" <muzhogg@netspace.net.au>
Cc: "asa" <asa@calvin.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009 6:14 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Renewable energy

> 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
>> > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
>> >
>>
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
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>
>
>
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Received on Tue Mar 31 19:17:10 2009

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