Re: [asa] Re: Renewable energy

From: David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Mar 31 2009 - 20:41:24 EDT

The number of cancer deaths resulting from the release of radiation from
burning coal may exceed that by orders of magnitude. Was that enough to
spur a movement to shut down coal? I don't think so. The anti-coal
sentiment comes from fear of melting icecaps, not from human deaths.

On Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 6:16 PM, George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com> wrote:

> 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<http://home.roadrunner.com/%7Escitheologyglm>
>
> ----- 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<http://home.roadrunner.com/%7Escitheologyglm>
>>> >
>>> > ----- 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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>>>
>>>
>>
>>
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>>
>
>
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>

-- 
=========================
I often suffer from nostalgia, that fondness for something that never was.
Pleasant memories have a tendency to expand.
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Received on Tue Mar 31 20:42:12 2009

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