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Name: David
Gender: Male
Hometown: St. Paul, MN
Member since: Tue Sep 25, 2012, 03:53 PM
Number of posts: 25

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To all those above who doubt Adam Lanza was bullied

you must be disconnected from reality or something.

Obviously, it doesn't excuse his crime. It should go without saying that nothing anyone may have done to him could justify what he did. If you think the family is trying to deflect blame, fine, but it doesn't really matter now. In fact, I always just assumed he was bullied.

Do you really believe that a quiet, odd kid who apparently had an autism spectrum disorder or something similar was never bullied in school? Kids can be merciless - all it takes is to be a little different; the more different you are, the more difficulty you have with social skills, the bigger target you become. I can attest - it was always a problem for me, especially in elementary school and junior high; and I was merely a shy, nerdy kid. It happens at every school across the country, elementary, middle, high school, for sure. I was still in school not that long ago, I remember the terms that would get thrown around casually, just to get a laugh. "Retard", "homo", "that's gay", "skank", "dicklick", "douchebag" - even "short bus" and "special education" could be used as insults. (Not saying that I think any of those in particular were targeted at Lanza.) Those only scratch the surface. It's not surprising that whether physical or just verbal, it can leave an emotional scar. Whatever bullying he suffered later on probably only reinforced and intensified his memories from when he went to Sandy Hook.

I do understand the desire to assign blame. I know I am supposed to hate Lanza, or at least his mother. Instead I am just sad. When he was born, it was not necessary that he would one day become a monster - his life could have taken many other paths. I don't know enough about him to say whether he was in control of his actions that day or just completely insane. Along the way he may have made free choices that led him down the wrong path, but it seems to me no mentally stable person could walk into a room and just start killing strangers. The poor parenting is indisputable - but I don't think that means Nancy deserved to die any more than any of the other victims.

It's all just sad - so many lives cut short, so many parents who will have to live with their loss every day for the rest of their lives - for no good reason. (That's where the majority of my sympathy goes.) We Americans have a particular need for moral blame, often even placing the condemnation of "character flaw" on harmless natural differences that we are born with. That is a heavy burden to carry for those who are subject to such treatment. Instead of denying that anything other than guns and Adam and Nancy Lanza could have played a role, we all should make a renewed commitment to understanding people's natural differences and teaching our children to do the same.

Negative learning curve?

Complexity is a thing you can't avoid with modern technologies. Whatever can be said about nuclear, you might say the same thing about any safety-critical system. Nothing is ever completely fool-proof.

A commercial airliner is more complex than a car, but airline travel is subject to a lot more safety scrutiny than highway travel - and, as we all must know by now, it's many times safer. The situation is analogous to nuclear and coal.

fatal (in more ways than one)

Ha. The safety record of the nuclear industry is actually very good compared to other technologies. How many people has nuclear killed in its entire lifetime compared to coal? It's not even close. (link)

Now, lest you accuse me of presenting a false dilemma, let me say this:
Currently, we use both coal and nuclear. They're our main sources of electricity. Coal provides about half, nuclear about 20%. Over the coming decades, we must transition to renewables to save our planet and prevent untold misery. As we do so, which are we going to phase out first? Coal or nuclear? Coal plants cause actual widespread health problems, emitting harmful substances like mercury and also emitting a significant (way more than nuclear plants) amount of radiation. (Nuclear plants' radiation is less than natural background radiation.) And, of course, they're the biggest culprit behind climate change. Nuclear, by comparison, has had a handful of serious accidents, but otherwise provides a steady supply of electricity with only a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions.

No energy technology is without any consequences - we have to weigh the benefits and risks and make the best decision we can. When I compare the risks of nuclear to the consequences of coal, nuclear is the better alternative. We need to use it as a bridge to a clean and sustainable energy supply.

I am in no way associated with the nuclear industry, so don't accuse me of trying to protect their image, or some other bull. I'm just a guy who cares about the environment and I came to that conclusion on my own. I can't understand why so many environmentalists insist on shooting themselves in the foot by hating on nuclear when it can help save us from global warming. It's like an irrational fear I would expect to find on the right side of the political spectrum.


After I posted that I was thinking 'too many percentages'...

Now, your '100%' line may seem like common sense, but it's not even close to true. Actually, a coal plant releases 100 times as much radiation as a nuclear plant under normal conditions (link)

Your real point, that nuclear is responsible for 100% of nuclear accidents, is of course true, even if rather meaningless. Fukushima and especially Chernobyl were tragic. These accidents have identifiable causes:

For Chernobyl, still the worst accident, the Soviet RBMK type reactor is an inherently unsafe design with serious flaws, including a high positive void coefficient - meaning that as water in the reactor turned to steam, it actually accelerated the nuclear reaction (the opposite is true for US reactors.) In addition, the workers at the plant had inadequate training and experience and had disabled many of the safety systems to run an experiment. These plants lack a containment structure like the ones found on western plants, so that after the explosion, the reactor core was exposed to the outside, leaking huge amounts of radiation.

At Fukushima, flooding from the tsunami disabled the emergency generators needed to power coolant pumps. Even with the reactors shut down, the decay heat caused them to melt down when power could not be restored to the pumps. However, this accident could have been prevented had Japan taken proper precautions to protect against tsunami flooding; in fact, it showed that the plant was capable of withstanding a large earthquake alone. If they had acted sooner to flood the reactors with seawater, disaster could have been averted; they didn't do this because they were holding on to hope that they could avoid irreparable damage.

Despite these accidents, nuclear power overall has a good safety record; Chernobyl was the only accident to result in deaths (56 including deaths from thyroid cancer) and the technology in that case was the exception rather than the rule. There have been lessons learned from Fukushima and Three Mile Island. Currently operating nuclear plants are safe and the next generation of reactors will be even safer, with standardized and simplified designs and passive safety systems.

Are there some concerns with nuclear? Of course; but we need to weigh the benefits and risks of our various options. Coal and oil have far more real and serious impacts on your health, and their use is leading us down the road to ecological disaster.

The concerns about spent fuel are overblown, as there are various options to deal with the problem. A permanent storage facility has so far been politically impossible to achieve, but that does not rule it out as an option. This waste would be secure if it is buried in properly designed containers in a stable geological formation. The waste can also be reprocessed to make it less harmful, greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to become harmless, reduce the volume of waste, and to gain more energy from the uranium. The separated plutonium created in this process can be used in mixed oxide fuel to deal with proliferation concerns.

I'm glad we can agree that coal is bad and clean energy is good; renewables are great, and I naturally want to see greater use of them. However, progress so far has been slow and it will be a long time before we are able to get all or even most our energy from them. In the meantime, we still have a problem with fossil fuels. This is why I say that as we get a greater proportion of our energy from renewables we should be using that capacity to shut down coal-fired plants while at least maintaining our current proportion of electricity from nuclear.

Sorry this post got so long. As an illustration of the relative safety of nuclear, I'll leave you with a link to this graphic which illustrates the difference in the number of deaths from coal, oil and nuclear: link
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