1. @ Rod – Not to nitpick your latest post, but could the units on the oil vs. nuclear plot be updated to reflect “millions” of metric tons? Otherwise that plot is the “picture worth a thousands words” or in your case the maximum allowed 5,000 characters.

    1. @John – thanks for picking that nit. I have corrected the figure as suggested. 6 orders of magnitude is a bit deal!

  2. What we need to do is to find a battlefield on which we can engage the fossil fuel industry — a battlefield where the enemy will not be able to bring its trillions of dollars to bear. One possibility would be an assassination campaign against fossil fuel executives and their bought politicians. A bullet can kill a billionaire just as effectively as it can kill an ordinary working stiff.
    However, I don’t think I’d make a very good violent revolutionary. Any better (ie non-extralegal) ideas?

    1. The tools for non-violent change have always been widely available … all we need is simple carbon legislation. Cornell research report (adding to previously published EPA findings) looks at lifecycle emissions for shale gas, and it’s no better than coal, conventional gas, or diesel. “The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured — as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids — and during drill out following the fracturing … Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is 1.2- to 2.1-fold greater on the 20-year time frame and is comparable when compared over 100-years.”

    2. @George – I believe we have been given a much better field on which to do battle than we have ever had before. Information is power, yet it is far harder to control the flow of information than it was when there were just a few TV networks and little ability to distribute newspapers across the continents.
      Exposing and pulling back the curtain on the real source of funding and organization behind the opposition to nuclear energy will help change the course of human history. I am convinced of that more and more each day.

      1. No kidding. It is no accident that renewed interest in nuclear energy has grown along side that of the internet. Lone voices are now finding a chorus to belong to, and as a consequence are being heard in places they were not before.

      2. @Rod
        At grand-strategic level, “victory” for us would mean “eliminating the vast majority of fossil-fuel driven electricity generation in favour of a clean alternative”. I don’t even mention nuclear here, because I suspect most of us here support nuclear because we see it as the best tool for the job, rather than because of any attachment to this specific technology.
        At theatre level, “victory” would mean “eliminating the barriers to the construction of new nuclear power plants”. According to DV82XL commenting on a previous post, the frivolous lawsuits and regulatory ratcheting that are the favored tool of our enemies do not actually require mass support, only “money and sitzfleisch”. I don’t see how our information campaign would affect this. The main way in which mass movements achieve change is through the ballot box*, but what happens if the politicians pretend to be pro-nuclear during their campaigning only to kowtow to their fossil fuel backers once they are safely in power? Or what if there’s a situation similar to the French presidential election of 2002 (such as a 2012 US presidential election pitting an anti-nuclear Democrat against Sarah Palin)?
        *I don’t believe the Civil Rights movement won by itself – the Cold War and decolonization were crucial. The Democrats knew that if they supported black civil rights they’d be handing the White South over to the GOP, but they also feared that retention of Jim Crow at home could deliver newly-independent Africa to the Soviets.

        1. @George – we have an incredible tool on our side. Nuclear energy is not just a bit better than fossil fuel – it is orders of magnitude better on many measures of effectiveness.
          I believe that the primary barriers remaining are attracting a sufficient number of well healed investors that will patiently work their way through the process and fight those frivolous lawsuits with far more intensity than displayed by the established nuclear plant vendors and utility operators. From my point of view, those folks did not try very hard because they had too many conflicts of interest. GE, Westinghouse, and Combustion Engineering made far more money in their fossil fuel support businesses than in nuclear. GE has now turned to wind turbines, smart grid, and natural gas fired turbines while still claiming a role in nuclear that they give short shrift on internal investment choices.
          Utilities really did not care much about nuclear – it was hard work to do it right. They were also able to convince regulators to establish a cost recovery model that favors low capital cost and fuel cost pass throughs. If the primary advantage that nuclear fission has is that its fuel cost is low and predictable, but utilities treat fuel as a customer cost item that does not provide any profit, why would traditionally regulated utilities be interested in nuclear?
          Merchant generators got very interested when natural gas prices skyrocketed; how long can the petroleum industry keep those prices low enough to discourage nuclear investments? As soon as demand starts picking up or as soon as reasonable regulations get imposed on fracking…

  3. Rod,
    Enjoy your posts. However, I think your comment regarding government control over fission in the early days is a bit harsh. The first major use of fission was for a weapon. As one of those subject to penalties for leaking Restricted Data, I think that is a very good idea. Too bad some others entrusted with classified information do not share a similar sense of duty.

    1. @arcs-n-sparks – Leo Szliard patented a nuclear reactor heat source for power production in 1938, almost as soon as he learned about Fermi’s experiments.
      The scientists who developed fission science were definitely focused on producing a useful energy system; they were merely distracted by applying that knowledge for weapons because they saw Hitler as a threat to the survival of the human race. (It did not hurt that many of the scientists or their families were minorities persecuted by the Nazis.)
      When the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 was passed, it included all uses of uranium, not just weapons uses. That was true even though the scientists and engineers knew just how hard it was to produce weapons material compared to stacking up a bunch of appropriately selected materials for a heat producing furnace.

    1. “The last time I saw a TV ad for the Nuclear Industry was … never.”
      Well, I’m sure that the folks in the marketing department of my company will be sorry to hear that. They have been running ads on TV for at least seven years now (the ones with the “funky town” music in the background) promoting nuclear energy.
      Compared to the gas (i.e., oil) companies, however, my company does not have the resources for more than a very, very modest media campaign, so I believe that these commercials have been run mostly on cable venues (e.g., CNN).
      Sadly, my company has also recently gotten into the business of selling windmills too.
      What’s telling is that the huge companies that do nuclear, like General Electric, which has owned television networks for decades, have never seen fit to promote their nuclear products in a big way. Is it really surprising that they can’t sell an ESBWR? Their heart just isn’t into it, and there is a profitable business to be had in selling GE wind turbines, which are backed up by “clean, green” natural gas, in power plants that contain GE heavy-duty gas turbines. Coincidence?

      1. @Brian – I’ll answer that one – “I think not.”
        As I have pointed out to many in the past, it is sadly interesting to compare the market capitalization of your company against the annual after tax profits of a company like ExxonMobil. Heck, compare the estimated market value of your company – one of the largest nuclear focused conglomerates in the world – against the amount that ExxonMobil paid last year to acquire a relatively unknown company in the North American natural gas production industry. ($41 billion for XTO.)

  4. Rod, I think your head is in the sand on this one. Look who the intervenors are many/most of the relicensing and other issues before the NRC. I really don’t think these groups — or the people that comprise them — consider themselves happy puppets of the fossil fuel industry (you seem to come across many of them in your travels, so ask them). They seem to hate nuclear on its own terms, not because they’re paid by some nefarious trade group to do so.
    Admittedly I’ve never seen a poll on this question, but I’d feel safe guessing that most of those in professional “green” organizations (i.e., those that make a living pursuing environmental goals) are anti-nuclear.

    1. Yeah, the usual suspects are the usual suspects.
      Nevertheless, I believe that most people who work for “professional green organizations” don’t realize where their funding comes from. (If they did, I bet they would soil their pants.) This is not surprising, because there is an entire network of foundations, non-profits, funds, and trusts, to “launder” the money and obfuscate the path between the original donor and the organization that finally spends the money to promote various “green” causes.

        1. @Atomik Rabbit who wrote:
          And GP lobbies hard against fossil interests as well, so how can the RF be sure they are getting their investment targeted in the right direction?
          Ahh. But which interests does it lobby against? As far as I can remember, GP takes direct action mainly against new drilling and exploration and leaves existing production assets alone. If you are an established producer, actions that limit new supply of energy – even if it is the same kind of fuel that you are selling – helps to keep prices and profits up.
          Take a look at the primary tool in the OPEC box for controlling prices – they adjust supply to a level that they believe will provide profit maximizing prices. What is the difference between that and fighting against supply on “environmental” grounds?

        2. @Rabbit Look at Greenpeace’s energy [r]evolution blueprint: http://www.energyblueprint.info/fileadmin/media/documents/2010/0910_gpi_E_R__full_report_10_lr.pdf
          There in figure 0.1, they show a scenario where by 2050, nuclear is completely gone, coal minimal, hydro unchanged. By 2050 they plan huge sources of solar energy and biomass (both almost as much as coal provides today, and more than nuclear provides today) and above all, massive energy conservation. Now it gets interesting: By 2050 oil and natural gas are supposedly half the amount of today. But if the “conservation” efforts should fail (90% certain), or solar should fail to provide as much energy as coal today (99% certain), then obviously oil and gas will make up the difference.
          And that’s just one example. Greenpeace also campaigns against electric cars, and new hydro. Big Oil has never had a better friend.

          1. @Jerry, you have hit the nail on the head. Greenpeace gets to talk the talk against both nuclear and fossil fuels. But the walk they walk causes fossil fuels to continue on as the prime energy source. In the future, when it all blows up in their face, as we continue the heavy use of increasingly expensive fossil fuels, they get to proclaim their innocence because they said they were opposed to fossil fuels, even though their actions did nothing to reduce their use.

    2. edf,
      Yes, the professional greens who make a living pursuing anti-nuclear goals do hate nuclear on its own terms, not because they’re paid to do so. You

    3. @edg – I once had the opportunity to ask Paul Gunter point blank why he worked so hard to organize against nuclear but paid no attention to trying to organize against coal. His answer was that he was paid to organize against nuclear, but was not paid to organize against coal. I have also had the opportunity to talk with several different groups of professional Greenpeace canvassers who only knew their talking points and knew that they would be paid at the end of the day or week to stick to those talking points.
      I have had the opportunity to work and socialize with many professional environmentalists; few of the ones I met hated nuclear energy. Their organization had an official position that opposed new nuclear power plants on the body of water they were organized to protect, but that was a legacy position that had not been evaluated in many years.
      Anyway, my theory does not rise or fall based on what the rank and file thinks. I believe that most decisions in the world are made by powerful people, not by powerless people. Most puppets do not even realize who is pulling their strings.

      1. I find this scapegoating of Greenpeace pretty hilarious. Their global budget is some $271 million, and most of this goes to salaries and pensions (and high profile campaigns in Southeast Asia, Brazil, and other global hotspots). Their focus in US is predominantly on GMOs. They distribute a few handy brochures via the web, but spend very little money on media and communications, public outreach, political campaigns, and direct action support (compared to their more weighty domestic neighbors in advocacy in Washington

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