Techno-Optimist & Nuke Flack views

SUBHEAD: It's not the shiney future of alternatives to coal, oil and gas but the rosy glow of an nuclear meltdown aftermath.

By Juan  Wilson on 26 July 2013 for Island Breath -

Image above: Rosey sunset framing nuclear powerplant cooling towers. From (

Two recent  comments on the this site have set me to looking again at the ongoing threats of Fukushima Daiichi. See the following article for more.

First up a shining energy future of solar, wind, nuclear and fusion power.

TheOldTechnician said 3:27 PM, July 25, 2013
Hello again;

You are relying on the Bible for your technical and science arguments? Yes modern farming requires modern tools. A technological society will always require materials, but so did ancient societies. But the point is technology can and will be sustainable. Nor does technology require coal mines or never ending pollution (which ancient societies also produced, every time they lit a fire).

If you don't think camp and cooking fires don't cause significant amounts of pollution, then you ought to visit Nairobi, Kenya and other densely populated areas that still rely on charcoal cooking. The smog can get quite thick at times. We use coal/oil/gas mostly for energy.

That can be filled in with solar, wind, nuclear, fusion (yes fusion! it's coming!) and a smattering of other technologies. We can make our own hydrocarbons straight from water and CO2. Google "Joule Unlimited" to see how. With 5% and 8% of the Earth's crust comprised of iron and aluminum respectively, we'll never, ever run out of those. But we're not making much more land.

That is why Efficiency is paramount and a necessary condition for sufficiency. You want to talk about sustaining life for all time? Then we need technology to spread Earth life to the stars because, sooner or later, there is an asteroid coming with our names on it.

And if that doesn't wipe out life, the sun's evolution of the next few hundred million years will. Geologically speaking, Earth life only has so much time to get moving.


Juan Wilson said at 4:02 PM, July 25, 2013
Aloha Mitch TheOldTechnicion,
Fusion? You gotta be kidding.
That was the stuff of dreams for adolescents in the 60's. back in 2005 when we were getting our heads wrapped around the consequences of peak oil a friend assured us our computers would be running on desktop cold fusion in a couple of years, but it had to be kept secret. God forbid a species as dull witted and self destructive as our current set of techno-optimists don't have unlimited access to "free" energy. Things are bad enough at $100 a barrel for crude oil.
Worse yet would be spreading ourselves to the stars. We are still incapable of not shitting in our own nest. Who on what star would welcome us with our track record - or would we just kill whoever we might find on an Earth-like planet.
The hubris is truly tragic.
Let's see first if we can save this planet and the other megafauna on the journey with us. P.S. as a techno-optimist perhaps you have a plan for solving the tritium problem emerging a Fukushima Daiichi.
It appears the melted cores are getting further out of control. Perhaps it could be the site of a fusion power station? Seems a shame to let all that good energy go to waste. Juan

Secondly a rosy picture of our present nuclear industry by one of its flacks.

Scott Peterson said at 4:05 AM, July 26, 2013
Your readers should not be fooled by one person's conjecture about the viability of America's nuclear energy facilities. Judgments about the viability of any given nuclear plant are business decisions made by energy companies based on economic factors unique to their market and facilities. 
Prior to this year, not a single one of the nation's 104 reactors had closed for any reason since 1998. More to the point, nuclear energy facilities showed their worth during the recent oppressive heat wave that baked the eastern states. Nuclear power plants are by far the most efficient and reliable generators of electricity. 
Throughout the heat wave, all but a handful of reactors in 31 states operated at full power around the clock. That is the strongest possible viability statement. The fundamentals in the electricity sector continue to present a strong case for the value of nuclear energy. Natural gas prices are low today, but already are rising. 
Historically, rapid increases in the use of natural gas for electricity production or other industries have resulted in major price volatility. That is why diversity of fuel supply for electricity generation is one of the most important aspects of a secure energy supply portfolio. 
That is particularly true given the Energy Information Administration's projected need for a 28-percent increase in electricity demand by 2040, or the equivalent of about 340 large-scale power plants. 
Scott Peterson
Senior Vice President-Communications
Nuclear Energy Institute 

Juan Wilson said at 10:05 AM, July 26, 2013
Aloha Scott,
You are obviously paid flak for the nuclear power industry. You may believe the hype yourself, but I doubt that any readers of this blog will take your comment seriously. But I'll try. 
You really ought to take a second look at the big picture. It will not be possible in the near future to replace, maintain, or even safely dispose of the nuclear reactors that exist today. Global warming is in the mix and there is nothing that will stop climate change and other negative consequences. 
One highly negative by product of climate change, besides the increased storms and ocean surges and rising seas that will challenge many nuclear power sites is the simple problem of cooling water. There simply won't be enough. 
Moreover, despite the rosy picture painted by the oil and gas fracking industry, the short lived boost in fossil fuel production will be offset by the technology's lightning fast depletion. 
Bottom line, Peak Oil is still real and threatens our high-tech industrial capacity. The manufacturing, transportation, operations, and maintenance regimens required of nuclear plant safety will be insufficient. Hell we can hardly keep our roads and bridges intact. 
As it stands now, there is hardly sufficient capability to safely decommission our existing aging nuke plants... there certainly is not the will. We need to live within sustainable means on this planet - nuclear power has no part in that future. It's time to power-down. Juan Wilson Architect-Planner Publisher of

Lastly, besides the professional flacks and the amateur techno-optimists...
There are intelligent people espousing nuclear power to keep civilization running. That includes people who should know better, like James Lovelock (Gaia Principle), Stewart Brand (Whole Earth Catalog) and Stephan Hawking (Blackhole Physics).

They are right in one sense, there is no easy alternative energy way to keep the status quo going.  So let's not.


1 comment :

  1. Hello Juan;

    Yes, fusion Juan. It's interesting to see that on one hand, you imply how easy it is to get a large tritium deuterium reaction in the obsurdly low temperatures and pressures (for fusion reactions that is) in the Fukashima. And then, you so handedly dismiss it as a practical possibility.

    Yes we've been working on it for a relatively long time. (not nearly as long as human flight and look at where we are today. We have literally reached the moon!). That doesn't mean it is impractical in principle. It just means that the supporting technology isn't quite here yet. Like human flight, tried and researched for thousands of years, didn't take off until a supporting technology developed: motors and engines. We know fusion is possible and prodigious in energy production and we know what is necessary to achieve it. Every year, new materials are developed, new theories are explored and new techniques come to the fore. One or a combination of those will be the key. It really is only a matter of time and effort.