I found another interesting post titled The final nail in the pro-nuclear argument by my old “friend”, Dave Roberts over on Gristmill. (See Interesting discussions on Grist for links to our last discussion.)
Of course, I could not let Dave forget that there are people who disagree with his stance against nuclear power, so I added my $0.02 worth to his discussion thread. Here is a copy of what I told Dave about his dismissal of the potential for nuclear power to make a difference in the world energy markets and about its potential to help alleviate the pollution caused by human consumption of fossil fuel.
(Really careful readers might notice that I did a little more proofreading and correcting in the time between when I posted this as a comment on Gristmill and when I posted it here. I have trouble resisting the error correction ability of having my own blog.)
Thank you for your dismissal, but, if you do not mind, (and even if you do) heavy metal (uranium, thorium and plutonium) power is going to remain in “The New Great Game” for a very long time. If we are reasonably smart about it we might even win a substantial portion of “The Prize” in the coming years.
Forgive my vanity, but I think there are some of the world’s most intelligent people working on our side who are operating and developing some of the world’s most disruptive energy technology.
Some of you may not get my allusions. If you are a student of technical and business history you might recognize that the phrase “The New Great Game” refers to the territorial struggles over oil producing regions in the Middle East that has been going on for the past 60-80 years, and you may even recognize that “The Prize” is the title of Daniel Yergin’s seminal 1991 book about the petroleum energy business. (The subtitle of “The Prize” is – The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.)
You might think that the anti-nuclear movement is an environmental quest, but I have found that a good deal of financial assistance and technical direction comes from the fossil fuel industry. The thought leaders in that very rich and powerful industry have a lot more to lose by allowing nuclear power to flourish than people that like clean air and water and reduced human impact on the planet. Would you like finding out that you are helping them to do their work?
In my former life as a nuclear submarine engineer officer, I lived by the mantra “remain undetected”. That is a pretty good mantra for an environmentally aware human, it is very close to the mantra of backpackers on the Appalachian Trail which is to practice “zero impact hiking”. We were able to follow that mantra on my submarines because we had a power plant that did not produce any gaseous emissions, and operated on an amazingly tiny quantity of fuel. We could stay underwater for months at a time, and the plant that powered my 9,000 ton submarine ran for 14 years on a couple hundred pounds of fuel.
Studies that assign green house gas emissions to the nuclear fuel cycle completely ignore the Canadian example of using natural uranium and the French example of using nuclear generated electricity to run enrichment plants. Those who believe that only U-235 is fission fuel are ignoring the fact that thorium was the fuel for the final core of the Shippingport reactor and that U-238 fissions just fine on the second neutron that hits it.
The authors of the study that you think leads to “game over” are well known as anti-nuclear activists and have been pushing their point of view for quite some time. If you are the kind of person whose decisions can be made without further research into what others might think, there is little possibility that anything I can say here would matter.
If you are interested in learning why some of us disagree with Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith you can feel free to Google for Rod Adams, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc., Atomic Insights, or the Atomic Insights Blog. From those sources you can find hundreds of links to others with differing points of view on the matter. (I did not want to put in any links, just in case that action offends or leads to people believing that my contribution is simply spam.)