#611nonukes: photos, video from Japan anti-nuclear protests

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68 Responses to “#611nonukes: photos, video from Japan anti-nuclear protests”

  1. Anonymous says:

    What happens when we start running out of plutonium and uranium?
    Nuclear power seems like one big doomsday clock.

  2. JProffitt71 says:

    I agree with asbuuu, we cannot give up on a fantastically powerful source of energy because one company refused to upgrade their reactors and properly prepare them for emergencies. One commenter asserted in a previous post that other forms of energy can’t make massive swaths of land permanently uninhabitable, to which I observed that coal, the other considerably cheap option, is making this planet uninhabitable.

    When we learn how to efficiently harness the power of the sun, wind, and tides, then we can think about phasing out nuclear energy, but before then we have to use everything we have to prove we can do better than coal. I feel sorrow for the people hurt by this, but I feel it is the people who decided safety was too expensive that should be removed, not the amazing technology which they abused.

    • MertvayaRuka says:

      “One commenter asserted in a previous post that other forms of energy can’t make massive swaths of land permanently uninhabitable, to which I observed that coal, the other considerably cheap option, is making this planet uninhabitable.”

      You know, it’s funny how we just keep ending up with “It’s either nuclear or COAL!”. Both are perfect examples of energy industries that have promoted their short-term advantages and done all they can to bury any mention of their long-term costs and also bury any discussion of non-fossil fuel and non-nuclear energy production.

      All this talk of how safe nuclear is is entirely predicated on the idea that “never” is an accurate prediction of when an accident or incident will occur. It also assumes that there will be no malfeasance, incompetence or skimping on safety in an industry that all ready has an established track record of all three.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        No, the problem is actually the oil and gasoline used for transport: “coal or nuke” is the question appertaining to the future, as to how we power our alternative-energy electric vehicles.

        And the prudential radiation monitoring Japan has been doing has been and continues to be excellent, from what I can see.

        As a matter of fact, I think that Japan’s overall response to Fukushima has been exemplary, and on the whole, very well carried out –
        that is, considering the exigencies of the situation they were facing, and are continuing to face.

  3. silkox says:

    I’m really sorry to see the retreat from nuclear, too. Japan had about 20,000 MW of nuclear capacity. Coal produces about 6,000 tons of CO2 per MW. What do they/we think they/we’ll replace nuclear with?

    • Cowicide says:

      What do they/we think they/we’ll replace nuclear with?

      I guess you think they are all just plain stupid?

      Replace it with sustainable energy. Instead of building more reactors at up to $10 billion a pop, we can all (as in the entire planet) benefit by putting that money into rapid deployment of sustainable energy sources and also put plenty of money into research and development to keep it going faster, better, stronger.

      Of course, the nuclear power industry website think tanks and books from people tied to them won’t tell you any of that. They only spread FUD that sustainable energy is “infeasible”… you know what, any energy source you don’t put money into is “infeasible”. It’s a matter of making the right choice.

      The energy companies want to profit from the staus quo up until the last minute. If we wait on them to switch over to sustainable energy, it’ll likely be too late.

      • silkox says:

        Of course I don’t think they’re stupid. I do think they (and you) might be unaware of just how embryonic “sustainable energy” is at this point in history. I’m all for taking the money we (the US) is spending on the wars in the Middle East and putting it into energy R&D, along some money from taxes on the super-rich.

        • silkox says:

          Cowcide, I see you’re online now. I agree geothermal is worth looking at, but wind isn’t base load. Tidal isn’t a bad idea, either. I have to go get some work done, so I’ll have to read your insults later.

        • Cowicide says:

          I do think they (and you) might be unaware of just how embryonic “sustainable energy” is at this point in history

          That’s what the energy companies would like us all to believe. For example, geothermal has been in place for 35 years. Solar has been advancing by leaps and bounds for many years. And the only thing that is keeping sustainable energy at bay has been a lack of investment and stifling from energy companies content to get every last drop out of their current infrastructure.

          With nukes going for 8 billion a pop, we can redirect that money into finally making sustainable energy our most viable source of energy.

          It’s a matter of will. The last thing they want us to know. It’s only a matter of will.

          I’m all for taking the money we (the US) is spending on the wars in the Middle East and putting it into energy R&D, along some money from taxes on the super-rich.

          Agreed. Once again. It’s a matter of will. The last thing they want us to know. The people need to look beyond the FUD that tries to drive fear into our hearts and finally demand that we change this disastrous path we’re on now.

    • Anonymous says:

      thermal energy is safe and will give us free energy for hundrets of jears to come,there are plenty of hot springsin japan for the start

  4. Joseph Hertzlinger says:

    I’m waiting for the protests against bean sprouts.

  5. Joshua Ochs says:

    I’ll be very interested to see if this protest has legs through the summer, when diminished electrical capacity is predicted to require electricity rationing and/or rolling blackouts. Tokyo is not going to be a pleasant place without air conditioning.

    @silkox – Excellent point. Some countries can switch to other forms of energy, but Japan has always been a bit of a resource-starved nation, just due to its geography. Importing small amounts of uranium is a lot simpler than importing thousands of tons of coal.

    • Cowicide says:

      ome countries can switch to other forms of energy, but Japan has always been a bit of a resource-starved nation, just due to its geography. Importing small amounts of uranium is a lot simpler than importing thousands of tons of coal.

      Sigh… um, due to it’s geography? There are 124 active volcanoes in Japan. Ripe for geothermal energy that barely exploited at all right now. It’s surrounded by ocean which is great for offshore wind farms. There tidal, there’s… nevermind, look it up (but be sure to actually try to find unbiased sources)

      It breaks my heart that nuclear industry and fossil fuel industry FUD has penetrated so deeply into so many people’s mindset. It’s criminal, really.

      • Joshua Ochs says:

        One of the critical issues I’ve seen with many renewable sources of energy (please feel free to refute) is that they simply don’t provide as much power. For example, how much geothermal does it take to replace a nuclear plant? How much area does that require? Although you mention that Japan is volcanic, I assume these will be placed *far* from volcanoes – will that reduce their efficacy? How reliable is wind and tidal power, especially as weather varies? Again, how large of an installation does it require to replace a nuclear plant? How much does it cost to maintain it over time?

        None of this should imply I’m against such options – in fact, I think they should be the first things we implement due to their low impact on the environment and independence from foreign trade. However, from what I’ve seen they’re not the panacea they’re presented as. Nuclear meanwhile has many positives, including massive energy generation and reliable production. The negatives are patently obvious. Plant design has moved on in the last forty years, and today is generally considered entirely safe (passive safety systems are employed rather than active control rods, for example). So I’d say produce all you can via renewable sources, but use nuclear as a reliable source to even out the supply.

        Coal and natural gas are at the bottom of my list. Coal is extremely dirty, and the mining of it is very hazardous. Natural gas looks clean until you start looking at “fracking” and the horrible things that does to the environment and people.

        So, my never-humble opinion:
        1. Renewable first, as long as there aren’t major downsides (space, efficiency, etc)
        2. *Modern* nuclear (pebble bed and other passive safety systems – not Chernobyl, TMI, or Fukushima Daiichi)
        3. Fossil fuels

        Ultimately we (humanity) need to produce “x” amount of power (maybe less if people would be serious about efficiency and conservation) – how we do it is a game of constraints and what limitations and issues we’re willing to live with.

        • Cowicide says:

          One of the critical issues I’ve seen with many renewable sources of energy (please feel free to refute) is that they simply don’t provide as much power. For example, how much geothermal does it take to replace a nuclear plant? How much area does that require? Although you mention that Japan is volcanic, I assume these will be placed *far* from volcanoes – will that reduce their efficacy? How reliable is wind and tidal power, especially as weather varies? Again, how large of an installation does it require to replace a nuclear plant? How much does it cost to maintain it over time?

          Thank you for your thoughtful questions. I don’t know if you’re still hovering over this thread or not, sorry I’ve been busy and unable to post here. I probably don’t have time to answer all your questions, but when looking for sources of info, be sure and find out exactly WHO is putting that info out there. There is massive amounts of FUD being put out about alternative energy by nuclear and fossil fuel industry.

          That said…

          Large geothermal plants can power entire cities with a small footprint.

          I mention the 124 active volcanoes to reinforce that Japan has a shit-ton of potential for geothermal power. As you mention, you wouldn’t stick the plants inside the volcanoes (especially Unzen! …what a name.. Un-Zen) but geothermal sources are all over the place aside from nearby volcanoes.

          Geothermal is far from perfect and we need to increase spending on developing it to utilize carbon capture and storage, but even as it is now it outputs FAR LESS greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.

          As far as maintenance over time, I’m not sure, but I imagine it would be on par with traditional steam turbine plants.

          Tidal power is very reliable. Tides go in and out like clockwork every single day.

          The things is, there’s tons of sustainable energy sources that would be used all at once and if we put money into that technology instead of 10 billion per nuke… we can make this happen.

          Imagine a world without the danger of nukes and a severe reduction of fossil fuels. It can happen if we try.

          Don’t take my word on it, Chevron is heavily vested into geothermal because they know that some day they are going to have stop this fossil fuel hell ride. The only problem is Chevron is going to try and milk their fossil fuel infrastructure as long as they can. And, until the public demands it, they are likely to keep doing it until it’s TOO LATE.

          Sorry, I didn’t get to all questions and stuff but I’m terribly busy right now and I doubt anyone is still reading this thread anymore anyway. :/

          • Gulliver says:

            Sorry, I didn’t get to all questions and stuff but I’m terribly busy right now and I doubt anyone is still reading this thread anymore anyway. :/

            I read it :)

            There are several major energy players investing in developing renewable and relatively low-carbon-footprint energy sources. In the end, though, it’ll be economics that drives the transition. The burgeoning demand due to more nations becoming major energy consumers will continue raising the price of fossil fuels.

            To my way of thinking energy is a hierarchy of needs.

            Fossil fuels are the least desirable source.

            Nuclear is the second least desirable source, but a far cry from fossil fuels. Of nuclear reactors, the only even remotely acceptable design I’ve seen is the pebble-bed reactor, but I’ll take energy from that over coal plants any day of the week since the latter risk killing the whole ecosphere. That said, I’m much more optimistic about this technology for space exploration (radioisotope thermoelectric generators for probe missions, for example) than terrestrial power production.

            Tidal barrages have their drawbacks, but they’re reliable and compared to fossil and nuclear are pristine in terms if impact.

            Wind is great, but supplementary at best.

            Ocean thermal and geothermal conversion are the most promising for the mid-range (decades) time-frame, particularly given recent and ongoing advances in solid state thermoelectric materials.

            Solar is far and away the best energy sources on or off the planet. But the technology (efficient, ultracheap, dirt-resistant photovoltaic cells and, later, solar power satellites) isn’t where it has to be to replace fossil fuels.

            Fusion reactors will eventually reach a commercially viable gain factor, but not for decades so that can’t be our short-term plan for addressing either peak oil or anthropogenic global warming.

            I personally don’t get the emotional exchanges over what tool to use. Just look at the problem and do a cost/benefit analysis. All the furor on both sides seems a tremendous waste of time and productivity, IMHO.

          • Anonymous says:

            A true cost/benefit analysis shows that nuclear – every single form, even the much-praised, mostly mythical pebble bed – is not worth the investment.

            If you pretend that fuel-feeds and control mechanisms can never jam, natural disasters never happen, and that you can safely dispose of radioactive compounds like iodine-129 (that last for literally millions of years) you can discount some huge costs. But a real analysis would necessarily include high-severity low-frequency events like Cherynobl and Fukushima, which will probably continue to drain money from Ukrainian and Japanese taxpayers for the next five hundred years. These events provably do happen, and therefore cannot be discounted in a fair analysis. It’s also worth noting that US nuke operators are supposed to be setting aside millions of dollars to finance eventual plant decommissioning – but the 2009 NRC Biennial Decommissioning Funding Assurance Analysis says that at least 26 nuclear reactors are not profitable enough to do so.

            Governments that have liberalized their electricity markets – preventing fixed nuclear power generation monopolies – have discovered that nuclear plant operations simply aren’t competitive in a free and open market. The wikipedia article on the economics of new power plants is illuminating, and shows some of the reasons that nukes are not viable without coercive government interference in the marketplace. They cost too much even when you cheat by discounting accidents and long term costs!

            Britain literally gave away their nuke plants to private operators and those operators went bust and had to take a multi-billion dollar bailout.

          • Gulliver says:

            @ Anon #67

            If you pretend that fuel-feeds and control mechanisms can never jam, natural disasters never happen, and that you can safely dispose of radioactive compounds like iodine-129 (that last for literally millions of years) you can discount some huge costs. But a real analysis would necessarily include high-severity low-frequency events like Cherynobl and Fukushima, which will probably continue to drain money from Ukrainian and Japanese taxpayers for the next five hundred years. These events provably do happen, and therefore cannot be discounted in a fair analysis.

            Every solution comes at a cost. Only a fool would argue that a complex system can never fail.

            That’s why I said nuclear fission was only more desirable than fossil fuels. I agree with you; the costs and risks are substantial. Those of fossil fuels are higher. Events like Cherynobl and Fukushima are disastrous, and they are a drop in the bucket compared to ruining our planet’s entire ecosphere. Nuclear waste disposal is a major expense, and paltry compared to the toll of ecocide.

            Governments that have liberalized their electricity markets – preventing fixed nuclear power generation monopolies – have discovered that nuclear plant operations simply aren’t competitive in a free and open market. The wikipedia article on the economics of new power plants is illuminating, and shows some of the reasons that nukes are not viable without coercive government interference in the marketplace. They cost too much even when you cheat by discounting accidents and long term costs!

            At present, yes. Fossil fuel prices are only going to rise, changing the relative price as surely as the tide comes in.

            I’m not advocating for nuclear fission as the best alternative for terrestrial power production. I’m saying it’s better than fossil fuels. If you ban nuclear fission and not fossil fuels, the outcome will be worse than the inverse. If you plan on making neither an option, then you better have other sources ready to take up the slack because the peoples of the world will demand energy and any increase in efficiency or decrease in demand from developed nations will be more than compensated for by increasing demand from developing nations. Getting more upset about nuclear fission than fossil fuels in irrational, and irrationality doesn’t help solve problems.

            For the record, I don’t think you are being irrational. Your thoughtful reply was much appreciated. You should get a Boing Boing account if you don’t already have one. Rational discourse is always a boon to any online community.

  6. Mark Boyd says:

    The reaction for the community in Japan is fantastic and the discussion above is the first to have prompted me to join up and try and contribute more in future rather than be a sideline viewer.

    One of my main interests is citizen rights in the whole smart cities movement and am even planning a website to focus specifically on that in the next month. During my research, i found a Spanish wireless sensors manufacturer (Libleium) who were designing a radiation sensor to share with effected Japanese communities via Tokyo hackerspace. I reported on this for Desktop Engineering magazine (im a freelance writer), there’s a link here: http://www.deskeng.com/articles/aabawh.htm

    I saw this as an opportunity to promote Libelium’s social enterprise efforts within its overall for-porofit company and how engineers were contributing to putting tech in people’s hand so they can judge risk themselves as there is a rich history of TESCO (Fukushima’s managers) fudging data over the years, including during this crisis.

    What i was surprised by was the negative reaction on hacker and engineering boards when Libelium announced their efforts to contribute to making sensor tech more accessible. Of course, with any prototype design their would be a lot of limitations but i thought it was a fantastic move in the right direction and by making it opensource if allowed anyone with a better idea to add to it.

    I would like to think these sorts of efforts by many in the tech community – pachube comes to mind as well – that gave alternatives to communities otherwise reliant on official or company data to make their judgement call of their own safety. Yes, the govermnment was doimng a good job sharing data but this was stiull limited in drilling down to a level of need for communities, such as those needing to scan donated food before distribution.

    I still dont understand the strong naysayers that were so quick to comment on the initiative on hacker boardsbut hope that in some small way libelium’s offer of a prototype allowed a greater understanding amongst local communities as to what to measure and how to collect and analyse data themselves, and perhaps some of this data or similar efforts were used to inspire the community protests . Comments like jphibbys at #32 demonstrate the need for community access to their own forms of measurement and hopefully the tech can now be used in other communities living near other nuclear power plants.

    And as a sidenote to anon at 32, they could always take a leaf out of the Spanish governments recent approach in dealing with the 15-M movement that sought to draw attention to the disenfranchisement of many young people in banking, employment and political systems do you think.

    • Anonymous says:

      City planning is a really important part of the lessons to be learned from Fukushima. From the 70′s onward, urban planning in Japan was very comprehensive and very centralized: basically, every ten years the central government would put a master plan out and EVERY local government would figure out how to implement it. The purpose of the plans was to close the rural/urban income gap, but you had municipalities hundreds of miles away that had to make their plans with reference to Tokyo.

      How is this relevant to Fukushima? Well, the plants were producing energy exclusively for Tokyo. None of the electricity produced there was even used in Fukushima Prefecture. In return, these municipalities got fat subsidies and a new employment source. All of this helped reduce citizen opposition. But this is now widely viewed as a failed policy. Not just because it was undemocratic, or because of this disaster, but because it also contributed to Japan’s huge public debt, and because it ultimately failed to produce independent sources of capital for these historically suboordinated places and didn’t stop the population drain (Japan has rural cities that look a bit like Detroit because jobs have dried up.)

      Right now there’s a big question about what happens next. Everybody wants a more decentralized system, but there’s also concern about ‘disaster capitalism,’ a la Naomi Klein, being used as the paradigm for rebuilding. The job you’re interested in doing is very important.

  7. vmaldia says:

    earth has 3 basic options

    1. continue with fossil fuels. Result would be catastrophic climate change

    2. renewables only. Result would be much delayed weaning off from fossil fuels because no one likes the attendant side effects like electricity shortages. We need fossil fuels to fill the gap until renewables are perfected and are brought into play. Climate change will be mitigated but at a slower pace

    3. hybrid renewables plus nuclear then phase out nuclear once renewables are perfected. Probably the fastest way to wean off fossil fuels (see #2) since nuclear power can deliver massive amounts of electricity NOW and can easily produce hydrogen. Of course you pay the price of an occasional nuclear accident. But compared to the massive effects of climate change, its worth it

    • MertvayaRuka says:

      “hybrid renewables plus nuclear then phase out nuclear once renewables are perfected. Probably the fastest way to wean off fossil fuels (see #2) since nuclear power can deliver massive amounts of electricity NOW and can easily produce hydrogen.”

      And “hybrid renewables plus nuclear then phase out nuclear” will likely work out the same way “hybrid renewables plus fossil fuels then phase out fossil fuels” did.

      “Of course you pay the price of an occasional nuclear accident. But compared to the massive effects of climate change, its worth it”

      Worth it unless you happen to live near where said nuclear accident occurs.

  8. Rindan says:

    I’m not 100% anti-nuclear, but I think it should be approached with extreme skepticism. Before you build a nuclear power plant I think you should need to check off three criteria.

    1) Can you envision tolerating a 100 mile exclusion zone around the place where you are dropping this plant. A nuclear power plant should NEVER EVER be within 100 miles of NYC. Plants have accidents. Even if they didn’t have accidents, a 747 ramming into the plant can make an “accident”. You can’t fool proof one of these things. You need to be prepared to clear out a large section of your nation for years wherever you drop one. You should NEVER do this in economically vital areas. A nuke plant pulling a Fukushima next to NYC would literally destroy the WORLD economy for a few years. Don’t risk it to save a few bucks on power.

    2) Can you build it without government subsidy. If the answer is no, don’t build it.

    3) Are all of the costs internalized? Have you REALLY paid out the cash for shutting this fucking thing down when it is done and disposing of the waste? If the answer is no, don’t build the fucking thing. Is the plant insured against rendering a large swath of land uninhabitable. If the answer is no, don’t build the fucking thing. If internalizing the costs of these things causes the price to be too high to be worth building it, the market is telling you something… fuck off.

    There are some places where slapping down a nuke plant makes sense. Dropping a nuke a couple hundred miles east of Las Vegas? Eh, I can maybe buy that. The land is more or less empty, there is a power need, and if the worst happens it won’t devastate the nation. Plopping down a nuke within 100 miles of NYC? Are you fucking insane? Can you even begin to contemplate emptying out NYC as people flee over an accident or attack?

    Frankly, I think that nuclear power is too politicized to be done right. People tend to either be for it or against it without reservation. We should really view nukes as one tool in our arsenal. It has some nasty toxic solid waste, but it doesn’t spread that waste around. It produces a lot of relatively cheap power, but its failure mode is absolutely devastating. We can’t pretend that we can engineer out of all failures, if for no other reason than that someone can blow up and sabotage these plants intentionally, to say nothing of potential accidents due to poor management or unforeseen perfect storms of failures.

    • anansi133 says:

      3) Are all of the costs internalized? Have you REALLY paid out the cash for shutting this fucking thing down when it is done and disposing of the waste? If the answer is no, don’t build the fucking thing.

      This can’t be stressed enough. Until we factor in the cost of disposing of all that waste, we just don’t know how safe nuclear power can be. It’s got to go somewhere. If there were a good way to do it, it would have been done by now.

  9. travtastic says:

    Do u guyz wanna talk about coal? Let’s talk about coal. Lots of coal. Coal everywhere.

  10. John says:

    “Green” champion Germany is looking to more coal and especially Gas. [ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304259304576375154034042070.html?mod=googlenews_wsj ]

    I guess despite no casualties from radiation, fear beats reason. Mas extinctions, acidic oceans, toxic ponds and wide spread casualties from mining, respiratory ailments and related conditions and toxin production being preferable to a scary nuclear power plant.

    Hat tip to the “real” environmentalists out there that know the value of fear.

    • Ipo says:

      Yeah, but: “The new power stations will be both gas- and coal-fired, Ms. Merkel said, adding that at the same time Germany wants to stick to its target of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 40% by 2020 from 1990 levels.”
      You nuke-fans are just too scared of modern technology.

      I’m glad to see this development in Japan.
      Very unusual. Good for them.
      An awakening.

      • John says:

        First Germany was the green savior – clean all the way. Then they were going to have endure a bit of transition to alternative; now they are looking to the future with clean coal and wonderful gas rendered safe and emission free as well as waste free by technology that hasn’t really been invented yet.

        We are fortunate to have such vociferous “environmentalists” among the no nukes setting the foundations for our future. What is wrong with us for not appreciating such insight.

  11. Magnus Redin says:

    My main point is that we have some realy huge global problems to handel.

    Major problems:
    The climate is probably shifting.
    The cheap and easy to acess oil is running out, and then the cheap natural gas and cheap coal.
    There are billions of people who realy need to live a better life.

    Minor problems:
    The global economie has more debth then net worth and can implode,
    lots of pension schemes etc are empty promises.
    Democracy is being challanged by internal “war on *”, ponzi economie and that some dictatorships seems well run.

    Thus I am worried that every shitty source of fossil fuel will be used, oil sands, oil shale, shale gas and then setting fire on the enourmous number of small coal seams there are by bumping down oxygen and air in them to get burnable synthesis gas. An utter disaster following the more depressing “The limits to growth” scenarios that seems to be playing out now.

    I am pro fixing this mess, or at least getting a lot of the worlds people and culture thru it, or at least get some parts of the world thru it. Thus I am pro every solution that helps with these realy big and realy urgent problems or rather predicaments.

    Nuclear power is one of my favorites since it can provide lots of electricty and heat and it can also be developed further. But nuclear power is not enough we need everything including all the alternatives, power savings and especially poor people need to be able to use more kerosene for cooking, diesel for logistis and fertilizer (essentially natural gas) to grow crops.

    There are manny, manny, goood solutions but there is no one that is large enough for this complex of problems, all of them needs to be used where there are most practical and fit the local circumstances.

    We will either solve this as a species by constructive and humane solutions using investments, reprioritozation and changing habits or we will solve it with fachism and warfare to get rid of competing consumers and grab physical resources. The real solution will probably be a mix, some parts of the world will go to hell, others will invest and adapt.

    Bickering abut if nuclear, wind power or LED-lights is the best solution only gives a waste of time and a blockig of each others efforts. All solutions are limited by the time it takes to implement them, the available manufacturing capacity, peoples skills and energy. It is so easy to block a solution but o so hard to promote one.

    All of this is quite depressing and I grieve that Fukushima will mean that tens of millions of people or more will be withouth electricity and what they need to live in 20 years due to lack of critical investments.

    I have written a lot about this on “The oil drum” and an 130 page book with solutions but lack the personal energie to market it properly. Its depressing…

  12. querent says:

    I stand with you guys, over there in Japan. People talking about how clean and safe nuclear is, in this context, is pretty insensitive.

    And coal is NOT the only option. NOT the only viable alternative.

    From the realm of math-speak, nuclear is what I call an inelegant solution.

    • silkox says:

      Coal is not the only option, I suppose. Given that Japan will need other sources of energy NOW, not after years of R&D, and that they’re looking at replacing base load generation, I can think of coal, natural gas, and…uh, coal and natural gas. What are some other options?

  13. jphilby says:

    Green tea grown 300km SW of Fukushima in Shizuoka prefecture has been declared cesium-contaminated and unfit for consumption. http://is.gd/8cGL2p (sfgate.com)

    Other prefectures affected: Ibaraki, Kanagawa, Chiba and Tochigi. http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110603p2a00m0na004000c.html

    Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years.

    • MertvayaRuka says:

      “Green tea grown 300km SW of Fukushima in Shizuoka prefecture has been declared cesium-contaminated and unfit for consumption.”

      Give it a minute, I’m sure someone will be along to tell us that either the contamination is meaningless because people haven’t dropped over dead within seconds of looking at the tea or that we’re all sickos eagerly waiting for people to die of cancer. Cancer which we can’t prove has anything to do with radioactive contamination because shut up that’s why.

  14. Magnus Redin says:

    Anon 5:23, running out of pure plutonium by using it in nuclear reactors makes it harder to build nuclear weapons, I find that to be a good thing.

    Running out of rich uranium ore that makes it economical to enrich uranium 235 makes todays types of reactors unusable. Pessimists who assume that there are not so much ore left and that it will have to be split on manny new reactors assume that it will run out in about 50 years, optimism about the ore and new reactors gives a few hundred years as do pessimisms about the ore and new reactorbuilds. The end result depends a lot on the year to year growth, a large % increase year on year can absorb almost any resource within a couple of generations.

    Breeder reactors that use uranium 238 or thorium makes lots of reactors viable for millenia or much longer as common granite will be a viable uranium ore. This has been prototype technology for about 50 years and is one of the available but so far expensive realy long term energy sources. The others I know about are various forms of direct or indirect solar energy and geothermal energy.

    Fusion power is still an “it might someday work” large scale energy source and there are a few others that are theoretically possible like draining gravitational energy out of jupiter moons by attaching a long superconductor that trail thru the jovian magnetosphere, makes for nifty hard SF.

    Todays kind of nuclear reactors are enough to give a few hundred million people enough energy to live comfortably and run their part of the global civilization for 50 to a few hundred years. During that time they must figure out how to handle the waste in a permanent way and develop replacement power sources or their culture will fail and leave the following generations with heaps of radioactive trash. This “clock” is already ticking , we already have a lot of waste and must handle it and on top of it we have soon run out of cheap oil and manny other resources. Its these other “clocks” that are makig me realy weary, that and that so manny people and countries bicker and delay instead of actually doing something constructive.

  15. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Cow, Canuck,

    Why don’t you go out and enjoy the weekend.

  16. taj says:

    I didn’t notice any protest in Tokyo this weekend. Lots of coverage of tsunami victims / evacuees on the anniversary of that disaster, though.

    Cowicide, do you have any good plans for tidal power generators that hold up well to regular typhoons and the occasional tsunami?

    • Cowicide says:

      I didn’t notice any protest in Tokyo this weekend.

      Maybe you missed it…

      ” … Streets in parts of Tokyo were completely jammed with thousands of chanting protesters, paralyzing sections of the city. … ” – source

      do you have any good plans for tidal power generators that hold up well to regular typhoons and the occasional tsunami?

      Here’s a good plan:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwlAeSugjko

      Also, I’m not sure if you’ve educated yourself on tidal energy or not, but you might not be aware they are utilized in rivers too.

      …and if they do fail, you don’t have to deal with radiation (which is nice). TIdal power in other countries have withstood hurricanes fine. The best place to put them would probably be on the eastern side of Japan.

      But geothermal would also be a great idea for a country with 124 active volcanoes, don’t you think?

  17. Magnus Redin says:

    The cost for handling all the waste can only be judged if you actually do the work with handling and work towards a solution. Thus I trust the Swedish and Finlandian figures but not the US ones and I will realy trust them in about a decade or two when the heavy facilities are built and starts to be used.

    I can recommend the anti nuclear film “Into eternity” about this waste handling issues, it has a portrait of the right mindset of handling nuclear waste: http://www.intoeternitythemovie.com/

    Over here in Sweden is a small fee added to each nuclear kWh produced and each year is the fee adjusted for the projected cost. A lot of this money has been and is being spent on RnD and facilities, the waste is not piling up in overfilled pools at the nuclear powerplants.

    You have to do the actual work, only a multi million PR budget and a fund with an impressive ammount of billions on papper is no good on its own. Heck, the real guarantee that the Swedish waste will be handled is the reinvestents in our power industry, nuclear and otherwise, thus will the MW flow and resources can be made available for handlig the waste.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Wait, all these people are protesting, and the police aren’t kettling them, clubbing them, and clapping them into jails? What’s WRONG with Japan, anyway? When are they going to get with the program?

  19. anharmyenone says:

    Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
    Benjamin: Yes, sir.
    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
    Benjamin: Yes, I am.
    Mr. McGuire: Thorium.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Thorium is the new hydrogen… the rich and powerful love the idea of thorium reactors, because following that technological path will help prevent social mobility and preserve existing economic stratification by shortstopping entrepreneurship and preventing true sustainable energy production. Nobody is building a thorium reactor industry on their family farm; only the existing power brokers will get in on the thorium deal. The rich stay rich and everyone else continues to suckle their toxic teat.

      http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/thorium2009factsheet.pdf

      Thorium is no more cost-effective than any other fission plant. Like all terrestrial nuclear power generation, thorium plants would require government sponsorship to compete economically with other forms of power generation.

  20. John says:

    Pretty much everyone in here lives near a reoccurring coal accident. Yet they clamor to shut down the cleaner nuclear. Its kinda a joke when compared to what else is out there.

    For just Air pollution:

    The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America’s Dirtiest Energy Source

    emissions from the U.S. power sector cause tens of thousands of premature deaths each year and hundreds of thousands of heart attacks, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, hospital admissions, and lost workdays. ( http://www.catf.us/resources/publications/view/138 )

    Then theres the ash factor:

    A January 2009 study by The New York Times following the enormous TVA coal ash spill found that there are more than 1,300 surface impoundments across the U.S. containing coal waste, with some sites as large as 1,500 acres.

    In 2007, according to a coal industry estimate, 50 tons of fly ash even went to agricultural uses, like improving soil’s ability to hold water, despite a 1999 E.P.A. warning about high levels of arsenic.
    ( http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/us/07sludge.html )

    It can (and with some of these always does) contain significant amounts of arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, chromium VI, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with dioxins and PAH compounds.

    Cancer risks from arsenic in drinking water.

    It was estimated that at the current EPA standard of 50 micrograms/L, the lifetime risk of dying from cancer of the liver, lung, kidney, or bladder from drinking 1 L/day of water could be as high as 13 per 1000 persons. ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1519547/ )

    Theres also radium-228 and radium-226 of around 6 picocuries per gram in fly ash (which is kinda high considering what water standards are – and this http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/courier/news/article_9a07027d-1ec9-59e3-ad4e-ed788f871487.html)

    So after one major nuclear accident in 30 years in the free world, low actual exposure and all this hype, I am becoming more cynical towards the anti nuclear movement and organizations involved with it.

  21. Magnus Redin says:

    There are currently 3 PWR:s, 7 BWR:s and two closed down BWR:s in Sweden. The PWR:s are US designed Westinghouse reactors, the BWR:s were developed locally on the US GE BWR:s with the kind of containment design that now is normal for new builds.

    The security refinements like the addition of hardened filters are done locally. There has been plenty of incidents at the facilities during the decades they have run. The important thing is not that they have been risk free but that incidents have resulted in actions to handle the risks. This security process must be open to the public, when riscs are secret can and probably will solutions be avoided. You can compare this with ordinary computer security.

    The largest power source in Sweden in raw MWh is btw forest biomasss, its combustion powers industries with steam and process heat and also provide electricity and is used in combined heat and power plants and in simpler boilers in the extremely common district heating systems.

    In about a decade if the current trend holds will every scrap of biodegradable waste be used for biogas but it will still only replace a fraction of the oil use. The best part of making biogas is imho that it gives a good fertilizer for our farms instead of ash or an utterly useless methane belching landfill with a toxic mix of stuff. Almost all of the household waste and other garbage is now either recycled or burned for its heat, around a single percent is landfilled.

    We could in Sweden burn even more wood, build dams in our last undamed rivers, build lots of wind turbines, close down industries and do withouth nuclear power. We could survive on less but we would stop being a net exporter of fairly sustainable goods and embodied energy to the rest of the world and that is a large loss in a world that has a resource crunch. And we would of course also be poorer and have less resources for handling various old wastes. Nuclear waste is not the only problem, each year are some of the old PCB/heavy metal/Dioxin sins dug up.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Sweden (like France) has very limited natural energy resources. Have you been following the Rossi LENR claims and controversy?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Catalyzer

      Conventional fission plants are an antique technology that should be left to the dustbin of history. It’s unfortunate that the human race has already become so dependent on it.

      Personally I’d like to move on to modern biotech and convert several of our deserts into vast bioreactors, but the United States as a culture no longer seems to have the ability to attempt great constructive works. We barely have the willpower to patch up our existing infrastructure; people here actually protest more against “stimulus” spending on highway repairs than they do against bankster bailouts, rubber-stamp re-licensing of aging nuclear plants, or government sponsored torture.

      • Anonymous says:

        So, you want to spend a decreasing water resource on cultivating deserts? That… doesn’t sound like an energy solution to me.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hi Magnus, Anon here again…thanks for the response.

    The dangers of nuclear power seem to outweigh it’s benefits as far as I’m concerned.

  23. igzabier says:

    from Kumamoto in Kyushu!!

    the future is in our hands, here’s some examples of people voicing and voting with their feet. http://twitpic.com/5a4jxo

    http://twitpic.com/5a4l3d

    http://twitpic.com/5a4mnl

    • igzabier says:

      after I read about it here I sent out to friends in Japan and they went! netWORKing

      • igzabier says:

        BTW, conserving energy saves more than ‘green’ energy and probably trumps armchair rhetoric about how we must use nuclear or coal. Japan doesnt conserve near enough though they try(and sure talk about it). And action trumps armchair rhetoric, though analysis and debate can be productive actions(says me from the beach armchair)

  24. Magnus Redin says:

    Ito, if we live in a society that is rigged so that the rich stay filthy rich I rather have them invest in new power production that keeps them rich rather then having nothing to keep the infrastructure that support us running. Over here we try to get more investments done and then are they taxed and in return we get a fairly smooth running society.

    The hydrogen economie were an empty marketing campaign since hydrogen is not an energy source, its a raw material for some important products and a very cumbersome energy carrier. Thorium reactors can yield usable energy in large quantities but they wont give cheap energy, we have to make do withouth cheap energy when you no longer get the oil and gas flowing by drilling a hole in the ground.

    Thorium research reactors would not be bigger then other big ticket reserch projects in a small country like Sweden.

    Rossis “energy catalyzer” is probably a scam and I am sorry that the formerly realy good paper Ny Teknik has fallen for it but the paper got large enough to start mainstreaming and getting experienced staf from our tabloids and its the kind of news that gives lots of new readers..

    I know about dozens of partial solutions for the energy predicament but all of them exept the trivial habit changes cost something and most of them cost a lot, something most be prioritized away to make the investments possible. It is of course a lot easier to do nothing and wait for a magical solution, even I fall into that trap sometimes. Sometimes do indeed the magical solution arrive on its own but its unwise to gamble our future on it.

    Personally I would like energy savings, denser cities with more bicycle lanes and collective traffic, more electrified rail, trams and trolley busses, EV car charging outlets in every parking garage, EV car and hybrid truck development, the last of the dwindling heating oil use replaced by pellet burners and heat pumps, continued build out of biogas production, a national small gauge gas pipeline network, an interrim solution with LNG for our heavy shipping, more district heating networks and reginal 5-50 km interconnects for them for better powerplant utilization and more trade in waste power use, several large scale biomass gasification plants for fischer tropch diesel etc and a switch over of pulp plants to biorefineries, that the oil refineries retool for realy heavy crude oil and renewable feedstock and production of high value producs, more high tensions grid interconnects, hydrogen electrolysis for bulk industrial use, an ASAP replacement of about the six oldest nuclear reactors with new generation 3+ reactors and we could also start uranium mines etc, development of small scale reactors and biolgically farly distruptive use of low quality biomass to have two alternatives for replacing the garbage as district heating fuel as there wont be any low value garbage to burn in about 20 years since almost all of it will be recycled for more valuble uses or not generated at all due to falling consumption.

    I could add more points but something like that should be enough to handle peak oil, or rather the rough decades after peak oil while doing a lot for limiting the climate impact and produce lots of needed export goods for manny people. Guess it will cost about $ 10^12. :-/

    It is not a Business As Usual solution for all the current habits, its BAU for lights and heat on, enough slack to keep the nice things with our culture running and being productive as a society for more people then those who live locally..

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      The Rossi claims seem unlikely to me too. But I’m keeping my eyes on it anyway, because I don’t see any reason particle reactions must be as grossly inefficient and dangerous as today’s conventional fission reactors. The first steam engines were tremendously different from modern steam turbines, and were dangerous and inefficient. I keep hoping someone will figure out some sort of safe light element fusion system in their garage.

      Your call for greater efficiency in the use and generation of power is appreciated. Humans are doing a lot of things wrong that we could easily afford to do right. Sweden’s ahead of the USA in many ways, but we have a great dislike of taxation over here, so it’s hard to get any shared social burdens funded, unless of course they are massively destructive. We Americans do like our guns and bombs!

      I disagree with you about building more nuke plants. I don’t believe the money spent to build, operate and clean up after them, and the risk entailed in having them around, is worth the energy they produce. In the United States, I believe that the same amount of time and money could be spent more wisely to produce more energy than the fission plants can make. I understand that this may not be true in Sweden; the USA is a rich country that sits much closer to the equator. But even if I lived in Sweden, I’d rather turn off the lights an hour early than build a nuclear reactor.

      In the USA, the oil corporations push hydrogen as a fuel because they know that people will have to go to the Texaco station to get their hydrogen cars filled, and the Texaco station will be making the hydrogen from petroleum. For them, hydrogen is just a way to keep everything the same while pretending it’s different. And while I don’t mind the rich being rich, I do mind when the rich purposely distort the market and the political system to try to prevent other people from becoming rich, and I do mind the idle, useless children of the rich inheriting political power and using that power to wreck the environment. Being rich isn’t bad all by itself, it’s what you do with your riches.

      I have to leave for the day, but thank you for your interesting and informative posts!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Awesome. a pro-Climate Change demonstration.
    I can just imagine the chants:
    ” 1 – 2 – 3- 4! / We want the Earth to warm some more / 5 – 6 – 7 – 8! / Rising sea levels sound just great!”

  26. Magnus Redin says:

    Anonymus 6:52 were probably ironic or perhaps trolling.

    Nothing is infallible but peopel can and should try to make it better.

    Japan and Tepco failed to update their old powerplant with the lessons learnt for the new ones. It would of course be even easier to include hardened preassure relief filters, tsunami profing for a much larger tsunami and better mobile backup cooling systems in a new design. And it is possible to build nuclear powerplants with passive cooling but that is probably next to impossible to retrofit.

    Turning off nuclear powerplants and replacing them with renewables or doing withouth the power is of course even safer. The problem is that our civilization cant function withouth electricity and we have other huge problems with fossil fuels.

    It is ultimately about having food, clean water, livable cities (they are energy efficient), tools and toys and in a few years goop for the 3D-printer. Juggling information in ever more intricate patterns is the boingboingy solution , it helps society to change but I dont get how it could provide the basic goods and services that need physical resources. Fully mature biotech or nanotech coud do it by utterly transforming how we live and feed ourselves and even who we are but that takes a while to develop and we have a few decades to muddle thru as good as we can.

  27. Magnus Redin says:

    Joshua, there are two PWR reactors on Three Mile Iceland, one that were destroid in the famous accident and the other one is producing electricity, Fukushima Daiichi is all BWR reactors.

    PWR:s and BWR:s both use ordinary but very well filtered and ion cleaned water as a moderator and about the same level of U235 enrichment of the fuel. Preassure Water Reactors are run at a high preassure with no boiling water in the reactor vessel and it is made of thick steel and the heated water is circulated to large heat exchangers called steam generators where water is boiled and heated to turn a large set of turbines. In a Boiling Water Reactor is the preassure lower, the reactor vessel is larger and the water boils and is heated in the same space as the nuclear reaction takes place.

    A BWR needs fewer large steel vessels but the main preassure vessel is larger, BWR:s tend to be cheaper to build. A PWR has with its steam generators one more layer of isolation between the core and the surroundings while running but the steam generators needs lots of maintainance. Both designs have exept for early Sovjet PWR designs a containment structure around the BWR vessel or the PWR vessel and steam generators with valves that close if the plant is off ballance and shuts down automatically.

    A PWR and BWR with the same power has the same ammount of residual heat generation after a shutdown. This residual heat boils the water in the main preassure vessel and creates steam that escapes into the containment thru overpreassur valves or in a paranoid design bursting discs that breaks before the plumbing if the valves do not funtion. BWR:s has a large water tank inside the containment where the blown off steam can condense into water.

    The water that boils away needs to be replaced and that is the key process that failed in Fukushima, replenishing the water boiling away depended on electrical pumps and the diesel generators and switchgear for controlling the electrcity got damaged by the tsunami. A couple of the BWR reactors had turbine driven emergency pumps that ran on the steam from the boiling water but their control systems ran on too small batteries and the heat sink for the steam were the water in the cointainment and this only works until the heat sink water gets boiling hot itself.

    They did not manage to hook up mobile emergency generators or pumps to get water into the core in time due to natural disaster damages and not good enough preparations.

    The reactor fuel gets realy hot if the water in the core boils away, hot enough for the metal zirconium cladding in both PWR and BWR fuel to start “rust”, essentially burn with the water vapor. The steam is broken down into hydrogen and the oxygen in the water form zirconium oxide that has little mechanical strenght wich makes the fuel bundles fall apart.

    This high preassure mixture of steam and hydrogen had nowere to go in Fukushima. In Sweden have all the BWR and PWR reactors hardened filters connected to the reactor with burst discs. If every security system fails and the fuel starts to be broken down and melt a disc bursts and the steam, hydrogen and radioactive dust is washed thru a filter that catches most of the radioactivity. What they had depended on electricity being available, the high preassure steam and hydrogen mix created cracks or vented somewhere inside the building, mixed with air and blew up the building. I realy dispise this lack of preparation since a simple investments of some tens of millions of dollars would have saved most of the countryside contamination and given four intact much easier to control building. I blindly assumed that the Japanese who sell new reactors had implemented such precautions.

    The TMI PWR preassure vessel held the broken down and partly molten core, perhaps they got more water into it and perhaps it is due to the bottom of a PWR preassure vessel being thicker. The Fukushima news tend to say that their BWR preassure vesels has not contained the broken down and molten core, the steel is thinner and there are manny perforations in the bottom for the control rods and the might have been a weak spot even if they are filled by the control rod shafts. It will take a long time before they get there with robots to check exactly what has happened.

    I guess I now have lost 99% of the readers. The main point is that nuclear power is complex and brittle and needs to be built and run by people paranoid about security who design systems to do well even during failures and especiallay use passive security that do not depend on humans, computers or electricity.

    You do nor want to have nuclear power run in a social situation with incentives to hide problems and motivate non-investments to keep the old capital that you dont want to or cant replace running a little longer. Tepco seems to have behaved in the wrong way and the problem may have cultural roots.

    This nuclear security thinking applied to the overall global situation give the nightmarish conclusion that climate change and the physical ability to feed people and keep the global culture powered is a do-not-want-to-solve problem that is short term economically irrational to solve as most of the economie is run.

    This makes nuclear power a tough sale and I realy would like to have massive ammounts of new nuclear power since we are headed for a crunch and every kWh helps. I realy hope we at least can have some new reactors built locally, we do have an ok security culture, its not perfect but being sure it is perfect is in itself dangerous.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      My own information agrees with what you’ve said, except that I really don’t know anything about Swedish reactor design. It sounds like the Swedes do a better job than we Americans.

      The main point is that nuclear power is complex and brittle and needs to be built and run by people paranoid about security who design systems to do well even during failures and especially use passive security that do not depend on humans, computers or electricity.

      Yes, but even those reactors will not be able to cope with unforseen natural disasters – by their very nature, such events are unpredictable, or they wouldn’t be disastrous. When we have tamed the planet to the point where nobody ever dies in a freak tornado and no buildings are ever washed away by tsunami, then we can build safe reactors.

      You do not want to have nuclear power run in a social situation with incentives to hide problems and motivate non-investments to keep the old capital that you dont want to or cant replace running a little longer.

      Like the 21st century United States, for example.

      Of course, in the United States, we could eliminate all nuclear power and all natural gas fracking for far less than the cost of eight years of foreign military adventuring. Biologically generated, sustainable natural gas (NOT fossil fuel) could already be running every gas-fired power plant in the USA if we didn’t prioritize killing brown people far away over improving the lives of our children and grandchildren in our own country.

      Natural gas does not have to be drilled for or fracked. We could convert every municipal sewer system in the USA into a methane generation facility in less than a decade if we just wanted to do it as much as we want to kill foreigners. That alone certainly wouldn’t be enough to eliminate fossil fuels; using only simple fermentation, it takes the manure from fifteen cows to run a water heater. But we could convert agricultural waste streams using microbial or algal gas production as well (given high levels of government investment) and have a completely sustainable, completely carbon-neutral power grid… if we weren’t far too busy spending our tax dollars to prop up brutal governments in oil-producing nations which sponsor terrorism and foster religious conflicts.

      We don’t need new factories or new power plants or new appliances to use natural gas. The infrastructure already exists; you can buy a gas range and a gas furnace anywhere in the USA. You don’t need to drill or frack to generate natural gas. What is needed, at this point, is diversion of taxpayer dollars from harmful activities (nuclear power generation, foreign military adventuring, corporate welfare, domestic drug wars, bankster bailouts, gas guzzler subsidies, etc.) and less important or useless activities (national art endowments, farm parity, intrusive airport security techology, the TSA, etc.) into a full-scale government-sponsored push to wean America from our fossil fuel and nuclear power dependency. Like the Apollo program on steroids!

      And after we finish cleaning up our own act, we can get rich again, selling our systems to the rest of the world. Surely even the most hard-core neo-con hawks can get behind the idea of maintaining American wealth and technological supremacy? I’d rather give the tech away free, personally, but if we have to make the same deal with the corporate devils that created modern telecommunications, I say make that sucker.

  28. asbuuu says:

    A power plant that is built to standards more than 40 years old and not maintained properly can’t survive one of the largest earthquakes in modern history – therefore let’s completely get rid of one of the safest and cleanest power sources available to us, instead of just fixing the outliers.

    I wish we could just shut down all the nuclear power plants for ten years and see what people think. Then just rewind the clock and start them back up once they realize how fantastically dumb an idea it is. People are asking for their own economic and environmental doom.

  29. Magnus Redin says:

    Ito, you have given a lot of thought to these issues and that is good.

    Nuclear fission is not that hard given the right materials and could be initiated and perhaps even controlled in a garage, the hard problem is doing it in a secure way, and make a servicable reactor that can be maintained and get the energy out in a usefull way. A reactor only producing hot water for district heating could be a lot simpler and cheaper then one producing high preassure steam. Fusion power is a lot harder, there is no known way to make a reaction giving net energy in a garage. A break thru like Rossis energy catalyst would require discovery of a new natural phenomenon, new basic science and that is very rare. It would already irradiate its surroundings if it worked as advertised by somehow catalysing known nuclear reactions.

    The three biggest uses of hydrogen is for making nitrous fertilizer, removing sulphur from oil and upgrading heavy oil into light products in hydrocrackers.

    Adding hydrogen to low quality oil or a lot better adding it to gasified biomasss to make methane, methanol, DME, ethanol or paraffin diesel is a lot easier then filling cars with it directly. Hydrogen cars need large tanks due to the low density of both compressed and liquid hydrogen, tanks for compressed hydrogen must be very strong and thus heavy and for liquid hydrogen very well insulated and last storing hydrogen in metal hydrates is stil heavy and expensive. But it is of course cool that you can mount satellite launcher hardware in a car and fill it up with hydrogen via a high tech flexible hose and power fuel cells or ordinary combustion engine.

    I am an optimist about technological possibilities and I would love to have factories producing hundreds of tons of hydrogen per week from windpower during windy hours or nighttime nuclear power when lights and lots of industrial processes are turned off but using it directy as a car fuel is a PR misdirection. It is such a bad idea that I fear that you got a point about rich people using their power in an irresponsible manner, for instance to block a needed but uncomfortable change for a few years.

    Regarding what power is used where. Saudi Arabia is planning to build 16 nuclear reactors and that makes sense for saving oil for export and would help the US and other countries BAU but I would prefer that such a dictatorous and rigid society close to the equator build massive ammounts of solar power. It would of course be even better if they were a stable democracy with good technlogical provess that ran some nuclear reactors around the clock and handled the daytime power needs with solar power and thus used close to no oil and gas for electricity and fresh water porduction. They could also move the power needs for airconditioning around the clock in a favorable way by using district cooling networks with large storage cisterns for cool water.

  30. Anonymous says:

    It’s a bit depressing how many people here really have no idea what they’re talking about. Chernobyl and Fukushima happened purely because of human error.

    Nuclear power is magnitudes times safer, affordable, and powerful than any other alternative. For America, the literal worst case scenario is three mile island. No casualties and no leaked isotopes because with actual fail-safes installed, there is no chance of a meltdown.

    None.

    • Joshua Ochs says:

      Fukushima Daiichi, if I recall correctly, was based on the exact same reactors as at Three Mile Island. And TMI still came dangerously close to meltdown even without any external disaster.

      Nuclear *can* be made safe – but not necessarily in a forty-year-old plant. Only so much can be done with such an old reactor design. Unfortunately, there’s little impetus to replace old reactors when they’re still generating significant amounts of power.

      One thing to keep in mind is that, while Fukushima Daiichi was a disaster (and one that went much, much farther than I ever thought it could), it was also prompted by the largest earthquake/tsunami to ever hit Japan. At some point you have to factor in that we cannot make things perfect – at some point the cost-benefit just gets too close to zero. We don’t make 100% reliable computers and machines – we’re not going to make 100% safe power plants. We know how to make them (much) better than we used to, but nothing is going to reach perfect safety.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Chernobyl and Fukushima happened purely because of human error. Nuclear power is magnitudes times safer, affordable, and powerful than any other alternative.

      I’ll be fascinated to read your proposal of how to design, build, run and fund upkeep/repairs for nuclear power plants without any human input. Will we be importing aliens from the planet Infallible?

  31. Magnus Redin says:

    The Swedish power needs are probably much like the Japanese as we both are on the same technology and prosperity level with the main difference being that Sweden is sparcely populated with lots of forests and mineral resources and Japan is utterly dependant on imported resources for almost everything. Not being able to add value to imported goods and then export them is life treathening for Japan while we could muddle thru with little loss of life.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think any english-language sources have reported some of this information, so here goes:

    1.) The organizers are reporting 20,000 person turnout for the demonstration in Tokyo. The TBS footage also shows smaller protests in Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka, Hiroshima, and elsewhere, including the action that’s shown of protestors in Hazmat suits approaching the edge of the evaucation zone in Minami-soma.

    2.) This is the latest and largest of a number of protests. There have been two other 15,000 person protests in Tokyo since this happened, and other smaller 4 and 3-figure actions in Tokyo and outside the country. There have been smaller solidarity protests throughout Europe and East Asia (including some large protests, 10,000 I think, in Taiwan) as well as in the US. In general the numbers are increasing. There has also been at least one protest in Fukushima prefecture.

    3.) This is just an opinion, but the people who are bickering over the abstract pros and cons of nuclear power need to learn more about how politics works. The nuclear industry is very entrenched. If you want to even have a serious debate about the advisability of building n-plants in a specific place you need to put people in the streets first.

    4.) I think it’s deeply insensitive to the people who are living in fear because of this accident and who have been displaced because of it to just go on about hypotheticals. It’s the reverse logic of buying up iodine pills in New York City thousands of miles away from any danger. If you were in real danger, you might be protesting too instead of bickering on comment threads.

    • John says:

      I think it’s deeply insensitive to the people who are living in fear because of this accident – Anon

      Stop there – To me being dishonest with medical data on radiation exposure is insensitive now. Showing slide shows like “the children of Chernobyl” without even establishing those effects were from Chernobyl or they were even possible effects of radiation exposure then daring anyone to ask questions – saying areas cannot be decontaminated, exposures are higher than reported and that the ocean is poisoned is insensitive. Reporting every horrific detail then not reporting when radiation drops or an area is no longer showing even above background radiation as many are – thats insensitive. Saying food isn’t being screened just on mistrust – that is insensitive.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Showing slide shows like “the children of Chernobyl” without even establishing those effects were from Chernobyl or they were even possible effects of radiation exposure then daring anyone to ask questions – saying areas cannot be decontaminated, exposures are higher than reported and that the ocean is poisoned is insensitive.

        1.) Insensitive to whom? I can agree that showing medical photos of human beings and claiming that their appearance represents ‘horror’ can be insensitive (at the very least) to the people who have those medical conditions.

        2.) However, as far as the people who are in danger right now, who live in Japan, this is not the nature of the information which they are getting by and large. The Japanese media has been very conservative in announcing problems.

        3.) Nonetheless, there are questions being raised about the government’s information in Japan, in Japanese, because the government has repeatedly revised upwards estimates of the severity of the situation and that has eroded trust, which in turn has prompted civil society in Japan to act.

        4.) As far as the specific other ‘insensitive’ kinds of statements which you cite, I really can’t say because I don’t know of anybody circulating those kinds of statements in Japan, which is where the problem is. I agree that people in the US, for example, really don’t need to worry about contamination from this incident right now (unless they’re worried on behalf of people in Japan.)

        5.) I don’t think it’s realistic to expect everybody in the world to follow standards of scientific proof in all contexts of discussion. I think it is possible–if idealistic–to ask people in a specific forum to keep their minds on where the real problem is and who is being hurt the most. (So, for example, while I don’t think we should minimize the damage done by the Fukushima accident, we certainly shouldn’t minimize the damage done by the tsunami.)

        6.) Anyway, on the off chance that anybody is interested and speaks Japanese, Prime Minister Kan Naoto has been doing these online Q&A’s on alternative energy. Here’s the URL. There’s one soon.

        http://www.kantei.go.jp/live/20110612.html

        • John says:

          If you cant even qualify your beliefs within science and reason to some level of certainty, why would you discus them in public at all? Especially as it could possibly lead to untrue, unjust and destructive actions based on erroneous conclusions.

          Even to me as a visual artist it seems overly haphazard.

  33. Anonymous says:

    At some point people will have to accept that having nuclear power, which is safe and clean compared to fossil fuels, isn’t the same thing as having a bunch of H-Bombs lying around waiting to be accidentally triggered. Hey, whatever, if Japan and Germany want to ban nuclear power and pour R&D money into making renewable power more efficient, I suppose I should encourage them to do so. Until then those countries will be running on coal, but I guess you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs/burying a lot of foreign miners/pouring millions of tons of pollution into the air from coal-based power plants…

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