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Al Gore on nuclear power: "I doubt that they will play a significant role"

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-19-06 05:13 PM
Original message
Al Gore on nuclear power: "I doubt that they will play a significant role"
From his speech yesterday:

Many believe that a responsible approach to sharply reducing global warming pollution would involve a significant increase in the use of nuclear power plants as a substitute for coal-fired generators. While I am not opposed to nuclear power and expect to see some modest increased use of nuclear reactors, I doubt that they will play a significant role in most countries as a new source of electricity. The main reason for my skepticism about nuclear power playing a much larger role in the worlds energy future is not the problem of waste disposal or the danger of reactor operator error, or the vulnerability to terrorist attack. Lets assume for the moment that all three of these problems can be solved. That still leaves two serious issues that are more difficult constraints. The first is economics; the current generation of reactors is expensive, take a long time to build, and only come in one size - extra large. In a time of great uncertainty over energy prices, utilities must count on great uncertainty in electricity demand - and that uncertainty causes them to strongly prefer smaller incremental additions to their generating capacity that are each less expensive and quicker to build than are large 1000 megawatt light water reactors. Newer, more scalable and affordable reactor designs may eventually become available, but not soon. Secondly, if the world as a whole chose nuclear power as the option of choice to replace coal-fired generating plants, we would face a dramatic increase in the likelihood of nuclear weapons proliferation. During my 8 years in the White House, every nuclear weapons proliferation issue we dealt with was connected to a nuclear reactor program. Today, the dangerous weapons programs in both Iran and North Korea are linked to their civilian reactor programs. Moreover, proposals to separate the ownership of reactors from the ownership of the fuel supply process have met with stiff resistance from developing countries who want reactors. As a result of all these problems, I believe that nuclear reactors will only play a limited role.
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Dover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-20-06 03:01 AM
Response to Original message
1. Boy, I hope he's right for ALL those reasons. But I wonder what he
thinks WILL be the electricity generator of the future? The sun? The wind? Recycled waste? Some new technology? All of these together and more; a diversified approach?
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4dsc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-20-06 08:50 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Why not power down??
Why do you believe a future must or will have to rely upon more electricity?? Given the future will be one of less oil, alot less oil, then one perhaps should at powering down their collective energy use and thus reduce the need to electricity.. I believe this country as a whole could save more energy on a grand scale and thus eliminate the need to construct more power plants..
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-20-06 10:55 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. Agriculture
Ten calories in, one calorie out. And don't forget, when the ethanol industry gets going, there will be stiff competition for agricultural resources, even if ethanol production can break the EROEI=1.0 barrier in the long run.

Neither vegetarianism nor whipping those bad American fatties into shape will make much of a difference. Feeding six -- then seven -- then eight billion people takes a LOT of energy, and Green Revolution plants demand great pampering.

More efficient use of energy, getting away from current automotive technology, and re-urbanization would be very helpful. They may even be vital. But the "800-pound gorilla" is agriculture.

The 700-pound gorilla, by the way, is sustaining our economic system, which depends on energy input growth to drive prosperity. If we default on that, we won't be sitting around the fireplace getting to know our family members in the absence of TV. We'll be huddling around campfires fighting for scraps of food in the massive relocation camps we'll be hustled off to when society crashes, worldwide. Remember Year Zero in the Glorious People's Republic of Kampuchea? Such will be our world.

The way we handle a crash would be up to us. If the world falls into "Kampucheanism," we will have no one to blame but ourselves. And enlightened leadership (formal and informal) could turn the situation around.

So we could manage through a crash without much pain at all, but then NBL kicks in -- "Not Bloody Likely". But it is impossible to bargain with famine.

We need lots of energy for non-trivial reasons.

On the other hand, we're neither building many power plants (nuclear AND otherwise) nor rebuilding infrastructure to be more energy-efficient. We're setting ourselves up for disaster.

But there is a simple solution to all of this. Simply kill 90-98% of the population. That would be all of Asia, Africa, most of South America, and all the poor people in the "developed" world. We could do it with a world war, a series of pandemics, or a world-wide agricultural disaster (see John Christopher's novel The Death of Grass).

"Gee whillikers! I'll take 'All Of The Above'!"

Then, we could have over a century of what James Kunstler calls "easy motoring" -- and easy livin'.

I seriously think that this is the scenario our masters have chosen for the world. So we will not get many more nukes. Nor will we get many windmills, nor new oil rigs, nor better infrastructure or planning, nor anything else that might change our course. We will instead get a decade of misery and mass death and horror, followed by the most efficient cover-up ever executed in the long saga of civilization.

I yearn to be proven wrong by history.

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amandabeech Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-17-06 10:43 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. I'd like to see much more use of renewables,
but I have yet to see a good plan for dealing with daily intermittency, seasonality, and electrical energy storage and transport.

It seems that most supporters don't address these problems in detail.

Has anyone seen detailed discussing these problems?
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Dogmudgeon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-20-06 10:23 AM
Response to Original message
"... I am not opposed to nuclear power ..."

Or, in the style that has become customary in this forum,

"... I am not opposed to nuclear power ..."

Never mind.


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