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searching for secular humanist fact-based truth
04:12 PM on 03/18/2011
Forty of the existing 104 nuclear power plants in operation in this country were built before 1985 utilizing the same technology as Daiichi. The NRC has too cozy a relationship with the for-profit industry it is charged with regulating. This MUST change if we are to move ahead with building new facilities. How about mandating ALL nuclear facilities adopt new technology and mandates that make it safer to operate? Nuclear power will NEVER be completely safe, but can control collateral damage with unintended consequences.
04:10 PM on 03/18/2011
The economics of nuclear power.  Lovins is a voice of sanity when it comes to energy policy.
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Justin Dickson
Liberal atheist in a foxhole
04:20 PM on 03/18/2011
Nuclear power can be done safely, and nuclear power can be done profitably. I'm just not convinced it can be done safely and profitably. The US Navy has a good safety record, but their model would not be profitable in a civilian setting. Safety costs money, which hurts profits. Its the classic recall problem. If it costs more to recall a product then the lawsuits caused by the products failure then don't recall the product.
Barely Left of Pobedonostsev
05:21 PM on 03/18/2011
No, he is not. His use of numbers in this article includes too many examples of the fallacy of fake precision (, such as his figure for the time for Cesium137 to decay "a millionfold".

Who CARES how long it takes to get down to one millionth? That is a completely irrelevant number. But no doubt he chose it because that gave him the 'right' to produce a scary figure -- it takes a much longer time to reach such a small portion. Clearly Lovins couldn't come up with a scary-enough figure by sticking to the gold standard for comparison -- the half-life -- since that is a mere 30 years.
06:05 PM on 03/18/2011
humorous post.  fake precision? LMAO. So the halftime of radioactive particles which pose a serious healthrisk is not relative to the conversation?

Here's your answer to who cares: I do, as do millions of others who might breathe or digest these particles. 

Perhaps you should study up on the radiological effects of Cesium 137 and Strontium 90  on health.  Barring that, just visit those reactors in Japan and go play in the rain downwind of the reactors.  thanks.
Greenback Revolutionist
06:18 PM on 03/18/2011
You may be right, but I think the whole reality presented is both accurate and powerful.
I see his wording in this para either typo-ed or nonsensical.

" If that already-damaged fuel keeps overheating, it may melt or burn, releasing into the air things like cesium-137 and strontium-90, which take several centuries to decay a millionfold. Unit 3's fuel is spiked with plutonium, which takes 482,000 years."

If you take out the "a millionfold", then it explains that both Cesium137 and Strontium-90 need to be managed for several centuries and Pu-239 for a half-million years, which all makes sense.

It seems a good question as to whether one-millionth of the released radionuclide is still dangerous, but it hardly consumes the wealth of Lovins' argument.
04:08 PM on 03/18/2011
Odd how the same crowd that tends to despise socialized healthcare fully embraces socialized and centralized energy production.  One sign of intelligence is learning lesson's from other people's mistakes.  I hope that is the case in the US, though I have my doubts.
The atmosphere is Toxic
04:04 PM on 03/18/2011
We really need the GOP to get in there and ban Acts of God. Honestly, why has it taken them this long?
Jeff Rosenbury
I love all people -- in the abstract
03:54 PM on 03/18/2011
I can tell you truly believe God can be stopped.

So what happens when an asteroid filled with uranium crashes into a city? Low odds you might claim. Yet no acts of God can be permitted.
03:49 PM on 03/18/2011
Over the last 30 years in the United States, how many people have died because of nuclear energy?
The answer is none. Zero. Zip.
Guess which energy industry has experienced 35 deaths over the last 30 years?
The answer is : Wind.
The wind turbine industry is responsible for more deaths in the United States over the last 30 years than nuclear energy.
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Independent voter, Independent thinker!
04:01 PM on 03/18/2011
One death a year is an acceptable risk for any energy. 30,000 dead in one felled swoop from a nuclear accident is not acceptable in any way, shape or form! No country, not even the United States, can afford another Chernobyl!
04:04 PM on 03/18/2011
I believe the biggest problem is fear amongst people that nuclear plants will explode like Hiroshima. I mean what about the oil leaks that destroy chunks of ocean life? Also, the carcinogen that are produced by smoking or toxics produced by gasoline which kill millions a year, no one seems to be scared of those things.
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Daughter of Pan
12:16 AM on 03/19/2011
Go back and read the article. The amount of radiation that would be released if one of those reactors blew would make the Hiroshima nuke look like a pipe bomb.
03:45 PM on 03/18/2011
Since you are a physicist, I believe you must know the fact that very few people are going into physics or high energy physics nowadays. I am a physics and math major and I have had to change my career aspirations of becoming a research physicist who wanted to work on finding newer sources of energy and improve the existing ones to thinking of a career somewhere else because all the money in the field of physics is in weapons development.

There really is no funding left for nuclear or particle physicists, therefore, the innovations in the field is slow or stagnant. I have always wondered, why not make the plant underground? After all, there are nuclear submarines which are underwater, using a nuclear reactor.

Again, from a physicist to a physicist, the weak nuclear force (fission process) yields much more power than the combustion of hydrocarbons. Not only is nuclear power exponentially stronger than anything we are using today, it must also be the incremental step between unlocking strong nuclear force (fusion process). The Not in My Backyard policy of American society has essentially stopped the development in the area of nuclear physics.
06:47 PM on 03/18/2011
Why should fission be a stepping stone on the way to fusion? Maybe in H-bombs, but we can't exactly use those for power generation. Fission is fairly well understood, most of the money just goes into fusion research.

Any new developments in fission safety are going to be engineering advances, not improvements to the Standard Model. Building a nuclear plant underground isn't exactly string theory.
07:04 PM on 03/18/2011
Unfortunately the size of the "backyard"  in regards to nuclear power is quite large.
03:28 PM on 03/18/2011
Amory Lovins should be energy secretary. He has provided one of the most constructive and informed voices on energy issues for decades.
03:19 PM on 03/18/2011
"A durable myth claims Three Mile Island halted U.S. nuclear orders. Actually they stopped over a year before--dead of an incurable attack of market forces."

The market actually did something right. So why all the hype in the last few years for more nuclear plants?
06:49 PM on 03/18/2011
It's another great spigot of public subsidies. Nothing's better than a private company with massive public funding and support.
07:07 PM on 03/18/2011
Actually in his TED speech Lovins points out that it was the market forces resulting in coal gasification and natural gas which brought an end to the use of whaling for oil.  So market forces can and do work.  Of course it helps when the true costs and savings are calculated.