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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-23-10 05:28 PM
Original message
John Holdren: "The most important environmental liability of nuclear fission is..."
"The most important environmental liability of
nuclear fission is neither the routine nor accidental emissions
of radioactivity, but the deliberate misuse of nuclear facilities
and materials for acts of terrorism and war."
- John Holdren, Assessing Environmental Risks of Energy

John Holdren is President Obama's science advisor.
Despite the million-year waste disposal problem,
the mining, milling, and tailings,
the meltdowns, leaks, and venting,
nuclear weapons are still the most important environmental problem with nuclear energy.

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/reprint/71/9/1046.pdf

Assessing Environmental Risks of Energy
PETER H. GLEICK, MS, AND JOHN P. HOLDREN, PHD
AJPH September 1981, Vol. 71, No. 9

<snip>

The most important environmental liability of
nuclear fission is neither the routine nor accidental emissions
of radioactivity, but the deliberate misuse of nuclear facilities
and materials for acts of terrorism and war.

<snip>

where the aim of the assessment is to tally up the total environmental
costs associated with an energy source, or to compare the
environmental costs of one energy source with another, it is
essential that all the fuel-cycle steps and associated subsystems
and activities be included for every energy source that
is being considered. It is surprising how often this elementary
principle of consistency has been neglected in published
assessments. A striking example was the widely publicized
risk comparison of renewable and nonrenewable energy
sources by Inhaber which included the occupational hazards
of materials acquisition and facility construction in the
risk totals for the renewable sources but omitted these
hazards in the totals for the nonrenewables. A less transparent
example of the inconsistent-boundary syndrome is the
much-cited calculation that a coal-burning power plant produces
a greater radiation hazard than does a properly
operating light-water reactor, owing to the coal plant's
release up the stack of uranium and thorium present as trace
contaminants in the fuel. This conclusion follows from
drawing the system boundaries so that they include the main
source of radionuclide emission in the coal fuel cycle (the
power plant) but exclude the activities in the nuclear fuel
cycle (mining, milling, reprocessing) that account for 90 per
cent or more of the routine emissions caused by nuclear
generation of electricity.

<snip>


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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-23-10 05:30 PM
Response to Original message
1. And therefore, nuclear weapons are an appropriate topic for the Environment/Energy forum.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-27-10 02:47 AM
Response to Original message
2. That is an important point...
One that most non-academic proponents of nuclear power are nearly incapable of even admitting.

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txlibdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-27-10 03:32 PM
Response to Original message
3. And it makes a nice RED HERRING, too
Again the usual suspects. The anti-nuke crowd at DU can always be counted on for a laugh as they try and try to tie safe, reliable nuclear power with terrible, terrible weapons. The facts just don't match your hyperbole.

Iran has no nuclear power plants yet they are said to be working on a bomb. How could this be if your premise is correct? Answer: the two are separate and based solely on the intent of those working with the technology. Any technology that has peaceful uses can be turned into a weapon of war somehow. Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, was so shocked that his invention was used in war that he funded the Nobel Peace Prize --he intended his dynamite to help people only and some jerks used it for war. The main ingredients of napalm, the deadly fiery bombs used in the Vietnam War among others, are petroleum based (aka OIL). So by your logic we should immediately ban oil, gasoline and diesel fuels. After all, these peaceful technologies can be perverted for terrible warlike purposes.

The silicon that makes up solar cells also goes into computer chips, and computer chips help guide missiles to their target. So we must ban both solar power and computers immediately.

Where does the guilt by association end?
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-27-10 04:47 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. You really like to step in it, don't you?
You wrote:
And it makes a nice RED HERRING, too
Again the usual suspects. The anti-nuke crowd at DU can always be counted on for a laugh as they try and try to tie safe, reliable nuclear power with terrible, terrible weapons. The facts just don't match your hyperbole.
Iran has no nuclear power plants yet they are said to be working on a bomb. How could this be if your premise is correct? Answer: the two are separate and based solely on the intent of those working with the technology....


Let's repeat that claim; "The anti-nuke crowd at DU can always be counted on for a laugh as they try and try to tie safe, reliable nuclear power with terrible, terrible weapons... Iran has no nuclear power plants yet they are said to be working on a bomb. How could this be if your premise is correct?"

Contrary to your assertions Iran's nuclear drive is centered around their civilian nuclear power plant and it demonstrates precisely the proliferation threat associated with the spread of nuclear fission technology for energy. The reason Iran is "said to be working on a bomb" is because they claim the right to energy self sufficiency - a right which includes, for them, the ability to process and enrich their own fuel for their civilian Bushehr nuclear power plant. The ability to enrich fuel puts the technology for nuclear weapons in their hands.

The pronuclear comprehensive review of the state of nuclear energy technology by MIT found 4 critical problems with deploying nuclear as a solution to energy problems; cost, safety, wastes, and proliferation.

So when you say
"The anti-nuke crowd at DU can always be counted on for a laugh as they try and try to tie safe, reliable nuclear power with terrible, terrible weapons.
...Iran has no nuclear power plants yet they are said to be working on a bomb. How could this be if your premise is correct?"
...it is very, very clear you haven't got a clue.

One part of being "environmentally conscious" is having enough interest in the environment to actually invest some time in learning about the nature of harm associated with the technologies you endorse.

Your state of knowledge makes you little more than a cheerleader for an industry trying to greenwash itself.
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txlibdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-27-10 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Your premise has no foundation in fact, Iran proves it
Bushehr plant soon to be operational
Mon 27 December 2010 07:54 GMT | 1:54 Local Time
Text size:

Bushehr nuclear power plant
Iran is considering to construct other power plants.
Bushehr nuclear power plant with the capacity of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity will come on stream soon, Energy Minister Majid Namju said on Sunday.

http://www.news.az/articles/iran/28989


So what you say is that Iran is enriching uranium for their nuclear power plant... the one that isn't even operating yet! Our intelligence on Iran's nuclear program is spotty at best. They may already have a nuclear bomb. Yet there is not yet a nuclear power plant operating to MAKE that bomb. It's not a chicken or egg problem for you, it's your religion.

The truth is that the technologies that make a bomb possible can be operated without ever having a nuclear power plant in operation. There is no connection between the two except in your mind. All it takes is enough money and the intent.

And I love how you assiduously failed to answer my comments about peaceful technologies being used for warfare. Dynamite, gasoline, the airplane, heck even gunpowder was used only for fireworks and celebrations until the Europeans got it from China. Face it, your argument is so full of holes it couldn't hold a teaspoon of water.

Guns don't kill people -- People Kill People!
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-28-10 10:01 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Ah - you don't understand dual-use technology
Dual-use technology is carefully evaluated, and managed in various ways, depending on the nature of the technology.
It might simply be monitored, or it might be regulated, banned, classified, or suppressed in other ways.
Some reading for you:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual-use_technology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITAR
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Bull
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txlibdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-28-10 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. That does not support your premise
Tell me how lumping nukes and peaceful nuclear power together is any different than:

airplanes vs warplanes
dynamite for peaceful purposes vs for war
driving a gasoline powered vehicle vs napalm
radio technology used to help save lives (cops, paramedics) vs radio technology used to call in a bomb strike
lasers in your dvd player or medical devices vs lasers to tag a building, vehicle or person for a missile strike
refer to:

Laser gunship hits moving ground target
by Jonathan E. Skillings
October 13, 2009 2:28 PM PDT
Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-10374345-76.html


I understand you believe it in your heart that nuclear power is inseparable from nuclear bombs. The truth, however, is much more complicated. No matter what we do we cannot stop a madman from making a bomb or weapon out of something.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-29-10 02:51 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. Now we're getting somewhere - those are important questions to ask.
Are nuclear weapons really that more destructive than guns? (Yes)
Are nuclear weapons really that more destructive than dynamite? (Yes)
Are nuclear weapons really that more destructive than napalm? (Yes)

Nuclear weapons are more destructive by orders of magnitude than guns, dynamite, and napalm.

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joshcryer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-29-10 04:17 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Bombs and bullets have killed far more people than nuclear weapons ever thought about.
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-29-10 01:18 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. Nope - Nuclear war would kill billions of people
Martin Hellman (inventor of public key encryption) estimates a deterrence failure rate of 1% per year.
That will only go up with an expansion of dirty dangerous nuclear energy.
Tick tick tick ...
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/84469.php

Doctors Warn Of Climate Havoc Resulting In Global Disease Epidemics And Famine
Article Date: 03 Oct 2007 - 12:00 PDT

Even a limited, regional nuclear war, such as an exchange between India and Pakistan, would cause world wide climate disruption and lead to global famine, according to papers being presented at an international conference at the Royal Society of Medicine this week.

"An Assessment of the Extent of Projected Global Famine Resulting from Limited, Regional Nuclear War" by Dr Ira Helfand, an emergency medicine specialist from Massachusetts, projects "a total global death toll in the range of one billion from starvation alone."

Dr Helfand and Professor Alan Robock and Dr Owen Toon, (who will also be present at the briefing), will demonstrate that debris ejected into the atmosphere from the nuclear explosions and subsequent fires would cause sudden global cooling and decreased precipitation for up to 10 years. Shorter growing seasons with significantly lower production would result in harvest failure in many grain producing areas.

"We are ill-prepared to deal with a major fall in world food supply," says Dr Helfand. "Global grain stocks stand at 49 days, lower than at any point in the past five decades. These stocks would not provide any significant reserve in the event of a sharp decline in production. We would see hoarding on a global scale."

<snip>


http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/41923

How many people have been killed worldwide as a result of war during the 20th century?

Answers. 1 helpful answer below.

This is a figure that would be impossible to calculate. Conservative estimates place the number of soldiers and civilians killed during wartime activity in the 20th century at approximately 140 million. The highest estimate that I've found, places the death toll at approximately 270 million. As with most estimates of this nature, I would imagine that the actual figure would be closer to the middle. (205 million)


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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-29-10 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. I'll see your B83's and raise you Four Horsemen
The crucial issue I see is the complexity of our civilization. The efficiencies we have developed to support our growing population has resulted in a set of physical and cultural systems that are brittle and fragile, and a civilization that is very vulnerable to single points of failure.

A nuclear war would be a nice dramatic "single point of failure", but it's not the only thing that could cause global havoc. The right strain of wheat rust, a decade-long monsoon failure, a rapid depletion of the world's oil supply following Peak Oil, or a disruption of the Thermohaline Circulation would each do the job just as well. Personally I think that any of those "natural" causes are at least as probable as a nuclear war of any sort. and frankly, if two or more of those natural events were to coincide, the resulting chaos would not reduce the world's population by a billion people, but rather to a billion people.

It perplexes me why people freak out over the thought of a limited nuclear war while these other more serious possibilities merit little more than yawns.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Dec-30-10 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. I hope you never learn just how wrong that statement is...
Edited on Thu Dec-30-10 02:42 PM by kristopher
And since you *claim* to be motivated by concern over climate change we can assume you will be as diligent in counting the costs for nuclear as you are for renewables:

4d. Effects of nuclear energy on nuclear war and terrorism damage

Because the production of nuclear weapons material is occurring only in countries that have developed civilian nuclear energy programs, the risk of a limited nuclear exchange between countries or the detonation of a nuclear device by terrorists has increased due to the dissemination of nuclear energy facilities worldwide. As such, it is a valid exercise to estimate the potential number of immediate deaths and carbon emissions due to the burning of buildings and infrastructure associated with the proliferation of nuclear energy facilities and the resulting proliferation of nuclear weapons. The number of deaths and carbon emissions, though, must be multiplied by a probability range of an exchange or explosion occurring to estimate the overall risk of nuclear energy proliferation. Although concern at the time of an explosion will be the deaths and not carbon emissions, policy makers today must weigh all the potential future risks of mortality and carbon emissions when comparing energy sources.

Here, we detail the link between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons and estimate the emissions of nuclear explosions attributable to nuclear energy. The primary limitation to building a nuclear weapon is the availability of purified fissionable fuel (highly-enriched uranium or plutonium).68 Worldwide, nine countries have known nuclear weapons stockpiles (US, Russia, UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea). In addition, Iran is pursuing uranium enrichment, and 32 other countries have sufficient fissionable material to produce weapons. Among the 42 countries with fissionable material, 22 have facilities as part of their civilian nuclear energy program, either to produce highly-enriched uranium or to separate plutonium, and facilities in 13 countries are active.68 Thus, the ability of states to produce nuclear weapons today follows directly from their ability to produce nuclear power. In fact, producing material for a weapon requires merely operating a civilian nuclear power plant together with a sophisticated plutonium separation facility. The Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has been signed by 190 countries. However, international treaties safeguard only about 1% of the worlds highly-enriched uranium and 35% of the worlds plutonium.68 Currently, about 30 000 nuclear warheads exist worldwide, with 95% in the US and Russia, but enough refined and unrefined material to produce another 100 000 weapons.69

The explosion of fifty 15 kt nuclear devices (a total of 1.5 MT, or 0.1% of the yields proposed for a full-scale nuclear war) during a limited nuclear exchange in megacities could burn 63313 Tg of fuel, adding 15 Tg of soot to the atmosphere, much of it to the stratosphere, and killing 2.616.7 million people.68 The soot emissions would cause significant short- and medium-term regional cooling.70 Despite short-term cooling, the CO2 emissions would cause long-term warming, as they do with biomass burning.62 The CO2 emissions from such a conflict are estimated here from the fuel burn rate and the carbon content of fuels. Materials have the following carbon contents: plastics, 3892%; tires and other rubbers, 5991%; synthetic fibers, 6386%;71 woody biomass, 4145%; charcoal, 71%;72 asphalt, 80%; steel, 0.052%. We approximate roughly the carbon content of all combustible material in a city as 4060%.

Applying these percentages to the fuel burn gives CO2 emissions during an exchange as 92690 Tg CO2...Here, we bound the probability of the event occurring over 30 yr as between 0 and 1 to give the range of possible emissions for one such event as 0 to 4.1 g CO2/kWh...


http://pubs.rsc.org/services/images/RSCpubs.ePlatform.Service.FreeContent.ImageService.svc/ImageService/image/GA?id=B809990C

Energy Environ. Sci., 2009, 2, 148 - 173, DOI: 10.1039/b809990c
Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security
Mark Z. Jacobson
http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/revsolglobwarmairpol.htm


Also see post #9 below
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-28-10 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Deploying nuclear power is the path to nuclear weapons proliferation
Edited on Tue Dec-28-10 12:31 PM by kristopher
You can deny it as much as you want but your claims have no credibility.
Assessing Environmental Risks of Energy
PETER H. GLEICK, MS, AND JOHN P. HOLDREN, PHD
AJPH September 1981, Vol. 71, No. 9

<snip>

The most important environmental liability of nuclear fission is neither the routine nor accidental emissions of radioactivity, but the deliberate misuse of nuclear facilities and materials for acts of terrorism and war.


Or more recently:
The nuclear option: size of the challenges

If world electricity demand grows 2% /year until 2050 and nuclear share of electricity supply is to rise from 1/6 to 1/3...
nuclear capacity would have to grow from 350 GWe in 2000 to 1700 GWe in 2050;
this means 1,700 reactors of 1,000 MWe each.

If these were light-water reactors on the once-through fuel cycle...
---enrichment of their fuel will require ~250 million Separative Work Units (SWU);
---diversion of 0.1% of this enrichment to production of HEU from natural uranium would make ~20 gun-type or ~80 implosion-type bombs.

If half the reactors were recycling their plutonium...
---the associated flow of separated, directly weapon - usable plutonium would be 170,000 kg per year;
---diversion of 0.1% of this quantity would make ~30 implosion-type bombs.

Spent-fuel production in the once-through case would be...
---34,000 tonnes/yr, a Yucca Mountain every two years.

Expanding nuclear enough to take a modest bite out of the climate problem is conceivable, but doing so will depend on greatly increased seriousness in addressing the waste-management & proliferation challenges.
Mitigation of Human-Caused Climate Change
John P. Holdren


Repeating that conclusion: Expanding nuclear enough to take a modest bite out of the climate problem is conceivable, *but* doing so will depend on greatly increased seriousness in addressing the waste-management & proliferation challenges.

What does he say about renewables?

The renewable option: Is it real?

SUNLIGHT: 100,000 TW reaches Earths surface (100,000 TWy/year = 3.15 million EJ/yr), 30% on land.
Thus 1% of the land area receives 300 TWy/yr, so converting this to usable forms at 10% efficiency would yield 30 TWy/yr, about twice civilizations rate of energy use in 2004.

WIND: Solar energy flowing into the wind is ~2,000 TW.
Wind power estimated to be harvestable from windy sites covering 2% of Earths land surface is about twice world electricity generation in 2004.

BIOMASS: Solar energy is stored by photosynthesis on land at a rate of about 60 TW.
Energy crops at twice the average terrestrial photosynthetic yield would give 12 TW from 10% of land area (equal to whats now used for agriculture).
Converted to liquid biofuels at 50% efficiency, this would be 6 TWy/yr, more than world oil use in 2004.

Renewable energy potential is immense. Questions are what it will cost & how much society wants to pay for environmental & security advantages.

Mitigation of Human-Caused Climate Change
John P. Holdren

John P. Holdren is advisor to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology,
Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and
Co-Chair of the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology...

Holdren was previously the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University,
director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and
Director of the Woods Hole Research Center.<2>

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


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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-27-10 04:56 PM
Response to Original message
5. The only way anyone could accept this assessment
Edited on Mon Dec-27-10 04:56 PM by GliderGuider
is if they believe that nuclear weapons are a greater threat to the planet than atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Anyone who believes that either:

a) hasn't done the sums; or
b) suffers from a bad case of recto-cranial inversion.
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