New Atomic Artwork at PopAtomic.org – Not Just Another Rock Campaign
Suzy Hobbs at PopAtomic.org has released a series of new pieces of original art that will add depth and visual interest to discussions about energy. The drawings are suitable for inclusion into presentations or as components of an advertising/information campaign. I particularly like the “Uranium, Not Just Another Rock” poster. It has the vibrant orange and yellow colors that made uranium a prized coloring agent for glass and ceramics for thousands of years. I am fairly certain that Suzy’s artwork will not raise the ire of the BBB, even if Greenpeace tries to force the issue.
Just in case you do not click the links, my allusion to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) refers to a 1998 story in which the BBB challenged some advertisements purchased by the Nuclear Energy Institute. Here is a quote from a December 10, 1998 New York Times article about the disputed commercial messages.
The Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division, which is based in New York, said in a decision announced today that the nuclear industry should stop calling itself “environmentally clean’ and should stop saying it makes power “without polluting the environment.” Andrea Levine, the director of the division, said such claims were “unsupportable.”
The bureau agreed with environmentalists that nuclear fuel is made using electricity produced by coal plants; that reactors kill fish by sucking them in with cooling water and dumping scalding water back into lakes and rivers, and that nuclear waste poses a health threat.
“Consumers can reasonably interpret the claim to mean that electricity generated by nuclear power is produced without any negative impact on the environment,” the decision read in part. “The record, however, does not support this interpretation of the claim.”
It bothers me when supposedly neutral observers use emotionally charged words that are not even accurate. There is a definition for “scalding water” which is generally agreed to be water that is at least 105 degrees F. Even without any cooling towers, the water discharged into lakes and rivers by nuclear power plants does not qualify for that definition.
I wonder what the BBB has said about “clean natural gas” adds like the ones that decorate about 50% of the buses in Washington, DC or what it has said about the clean coal ads that picture an extension cord going into a lump of coal? Those ads make similar claims to energy sources as clean or green, with less justification. Both gas and coal powered applications must include smokestacks or exhaust pipes that dump large volumes of waste products into our shared environment.
Maybe you should not worry that much about NG used in transportation (or at least, not yet !). From an energy standpoint, it is less than sure that today’s electric cars consume less fossil energy than conventional ones : the accumulators are so expensive that there must be a non negligible energy burden to produce them (mining is a quite fossil energy/water intensive process). From that perspective, using NG for transportation may currently be good idea : after all, it is a domestically produced fuel and one doesn’t risk to create the nightmare we currently live in the Gulf of Mexico. If I had to choose between “Drill Baby Drill” (I.e deepwater oil production) and “Frack Baby Frack” (I.e. Shale Gas), I would prefer the latter. On a long term basis, the Shale Gas industry is profitable only with relatively high gas prices (because of frequent need for refracking), and I think the Industry knows it (though not saying it too loud because it is in a capital raising phase). Transportation is a good market for fossils because people are ready to pay much much more for mobile “Transportation” Exergy than for “Electricity” Exergy, and majors can make money on the production side AND the distribution side. In a sense, the “mobility” service that NG can offer is not valued by power generation, and is thus not remunerated. If NG captures a significant chunk of the transportation market, they will happily let the base-load power generation market to nukes that are, and will become more and more, competitive.
Oops, the Battle Flag of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
There’s a guy who for years has tried to campaign for ethanol with his artwork: http://www.joinfoil.org It is pretty good.
I’m a supporter of ethanol because it diversifies the energy supply, it opens up other sources of energy than oil. The oil industry among others is out there to claim it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it “yields”, yet they ignore that a great deal of that energy is in the form of electricity, which can come from coal&nuclear. It’s like saying a hamburger “yields” less muscle energy than it takes to produce (true), so we stop making hamburgers tomorrow. It’s nonsense. The other camp talks about “it’s our food” as if we had a collectivist system where food produced by a farmer automatically belongs to “the community”.
“The oil industry among others is out there to claim it takes more energy to produce ethanol than it “yields”, yet they ignore that a great deal of that energy is in the form of electricity, which can come from coal&nuclear.”
There’s not a lot of electricity being used to produce corn ethanol. Look at any study of the energy balance of producing corn ethanol. The majority of the energy is from natural gas(mostly in the form of N-fertilizer), diesel, gasoline and LPG. These are all perfectly fine as vehicle fuels so it very much does matter what the energy return of corn ethanol is.
If coal based electricity was a big energy input it would still matter what the energy return is, since it’s not technically very difficult or very costly to gasify coal and produce fuels such as fisher-tropsch liquids, methanol or DME; with the exception of methanol less corrosive, more energy dense and more thermally efficient fuels than ethanol.
Water is a scarce resource, it makes no sense to waste it on corn ethanol unless you intend to make bourbon.
The other camp talks about it’s our food” as if we had a collectivist system where food produced by a farmer automatically belongs to “the community”.”
You de facto have a collectivist system for corn production since there are large subsidies for producing corn, subsidies for corn ethanol, ever increasing mandates for ethanol as an additive in regular gasoline and high tariffs keeping the sugar cane ethanol out of the US.
Even the Bush administration which was hugely in favour of corn ethanol didn’t pretend that corn ethanol made any sense; they simply did a lot of hand waving and claimed that it would pave the way for second generation ethanol from cellulose by making sure there is an installed base of infrastructure ready to use and distribute it.
The argument that natural gas is being used for ethanol production is like arguing that coal plants power uranium enrichment facilities. It can be changed! Many things can be electrified, cars can be plugin-hybrids. The important thing is to diversify, and to have different methods for producing fuel, to have real competiton. A good example is the Canadian tar sands: OPEC and oil-funded Greenpeace are furious: suddenly there would be an alternative to their oil fields, they must not allow that.
Water is not a scare resource, only energy is. With enough energy, you can have all the water you want, where you want it. Subsidies and support for domestic corn farmers, tariffs on ethanol imports etc. are wrong. We should be importing all the “cheap” (that is what they complain about) ethanol Brazil and other nations have to offer on the world market. The point is not supporting farmers, the point is diversification. But farmers will be happy aswell. Food shortages are a myth, prices paid on the wholesale level for grain, corn etc. are ridiculously low, due to abundance of food. Increased demand due to the dual-use as fuel is a much needed relief for farmers.
“The argument that natural gas is being used for ethanol production is like arguing that coal plants power uranium enrichment facilities.”
No it isn’t. The energy required for enrichment is miniscule compared to the energy generated from uranium. In the case of corn ethanol you are taking a valuable vehicle fuel and destroying it to make another, slightly less valuable vehicle fuel; this is lunacy.
It can be changed!
No. If you built the facility to burn fossil fuels for process heat then it’s very costly to make a change over to electricity. It also makes no sense to use electricity instead, because of the huge losses involved; but I suppose with an utterly humongous ethanol plant you could use a small reactor produce heat(this would again require an entirely new build).
Generating hydrogen(for production of ammonia, nitrates and urea) is extremely efficient and low capital cost from fossil fuels with just steam reforming and watergas shift. Any kind of reactor that can produce hydrogen competitively with fossil fuels is decades off.
For the forseeable future you will be burning the very product you’re trying to create.
Water is not a scare resource, only energy is. With enough energy, you can have all the water you want, where you want it.
Of course water is a scarce resource. Desalination for farming isn’t even close to making any sense. It takes ~4000 gallons(~15 cubic metres) to produce one bushel of corn. Desalinating a cubic metre of water costs ~$0.5 and a sizable chunk of that isn’t even the cost of electricity, it’s capital equipment and the cost of replacing filters. A bushel of corn costs $3.50, with desalinated water it would cost ~$11.
Ethanol offers no real diversification; it has an incestuous relationship with fossil fuels, it is not an independent competitor.
I like Suzy’s work a lot. I think she’s injecting a new creative force that might shake up the thought process around nuclear’s public image.
I remember reading about the NEI ad from 1998. Greenpeace’s attack on the ad and their hypocrisy (as Rod points out) shows the depth of their organizational psychosis.
Thanks Jason! Our goal is to engage folks outside of the industry in the important conversation about nuclear energy. The artwork is meant to act as a fun and engaging point of entry into this dialogue, ultimately shifting the negative public misperceptions of all things nuclear into something more like support!
Rod- we truly appreciate you sharing this campaign! I’ve also been playing with some “Atomic Insights” ads, so keep a close eye on your inbox!
Suzy – cool! Now I have even more reason to get excited when my computer tells me “you’ve got mail.”
(Just teasing, I have not used AOL for email much for the past dozen years. I do remember the days when it was exciting to get that pleasant voice featured in the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie. Now, I sometimes just wish that the email would slow down for a while. I guess I could help make that happen if I would stop posting comment provoking information. Oh well. . .)
I don’t know art. So ignore, starting… NOW.
Your goal is to engage? To be “fun?” Okay. I don’t see the fun. The image conjurs for me some non-fun history.
The slogan is pretty neat, but the picture reminds me of unpleasant political campaigns. And not the politics of freedom, I must say. It strikes me as a mess of politics about how a powerful entity such as the government in the guise of “we righteous people” will control our great new future, and by golly you will love it! Anyone standing in our way will be “dealt with.” A tainted history of that bursting paint thing I know. Like I said, I don’t know art. I just know how I “feel” when I see your design. Unless , that is, you must explain a subtle sarcasm. In that case I would get it, but it would need said ‘splainin for my little brain.
Rod’s point is right-on, too. I’m sick of the “Green” ads on busses and the now scarce BP ads with that “Beyond Petroleum” flowery logo and the “think about it” music, as they push natural gas and near-useless “alternatives.”
How do you reach Joe Schmoe? Not with the “Glorious Future” type stuff. What do I know, though? I’m clearly wrong in at least one contemporary example.
Reese- Good observation. The rays of light are a reference to the Tibetan flag and the idea of unjust political persecution. But the color scheme (glad you got the reference Rod!) and message is intended for “Joe Schmoe” and his pals as an easy entry point into the important dialogue about our energy future. I think that the subject of nuclear is intimidating for most, so the easier we can make it to talk about the better! Art is a less intimidating subject and something that tends to provoke a response, so as it turns out it’s a good transitional conversation starter for nuclear.
I hope PopAtomic is still watching this comment string, because I just saw Winchell Chung post the neatest link: http://atomicrockets.posterous.com/banana-equivalent-dose-wikipedia-the-free-enc
Winchell points to a Wikipedia article on the “banana equivalent dose”:
Many foods are naturally radioactive, and bananas are particularly so, due to the radioactive potassium-40 they contain. The banana equivalent dose is the radiation exposure received from that of eating a single banana. Radiation leaks from nuclear plants are often measured in extraordinarily small units (the picocurie, a millionth of a millionth of a curie, is typical) By comparing the exposure from these events to a banana equivalent dose, a more realistic assessment of the actual risk can sometimes be obtained.
This would be a great theme for some graphics.
By the way Winchell is responsible for this site: http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/index.html
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