Erudite but easy-to-read pro-nuclear piece

Someone is looking for reading material, suggested length 10 pages, but let us know any suggestions. Target audience: non-technical. Any ideas out there?

10 Responses to “Erudite but easy-to-read pro-nuclear piece”

  1. Matt says:

    A quick google search found this. It’s short, gets most information out there in a non-technical way, and does some name-dropping (written by a founder of Greenpeace, no less).

    The only real misleading part of it was bringing up natural gas in a list of low carbon alternatives. Although natural gas produces 45% less CO2 per BTU than coal, he should have mentioned this is still a lot of carbon.

    Other than that very minor oversight, I think it’s a good starter article.

  2. Matt says:

    And here‘s a great one on Wired. It’s longer and more in depth, but that’s a good thing. It’s still only 5 pages (probably closer to 10 when printed out), but goes into detail for most issues.

  3. JMG says:

    The book “Out of Gas” by Prof. David Goodstein of Cal Tech is good on many levels–it is VERY down-to-earth, easy to read, and it hits peak oil and climate change together, talking about why we can’t simply turn to coal to replace the peaking oil. There’s a small paperback edition that’s quite good.

  4. Karen Street says:

    Thanks for your recommendations!

  5. Carl says:

    Dear all, I decided to do a quick read of one of the recommended articles. I’m afraid it isn’t very good.

    The article:

    Issue 13.02 – February 2005
    Nuclear Now!
    How clean, green atomic energy can stop global warming
    By Peter Schwartz and Spencer Reiss

    Some quotes:
    PS, SR> “the notion that wind, water, solar, or biomass will save the day is at least as fanciful as the once-popular idea that nuclear energy would be too cheap to meter.”
    CA> On this point, PS & SR are quite right.

    PS, SR> “Kicking carbon cold turkey won’t be easy, but it can be done.”
    CA> – Well, maybe, but it will be *very* hard, and I don’t think nuclear can do it alone. As Karen points out, we will need every approach out there. There will certainly be locations where coal will continue to be a better answer than nuclear, eg in countries that don’t have a rule of law.

    PS, SR> “We don’t need a million-year solution. A hundred years will do just fine – long enough to let the stuff cool down and allow us to decide what to do with it.”
    CA> I agree with PS & SR that nuclear waste doesn’t need a million-year solution, but 100 years isn’t right, either. The fission products will still be *very* serious at 100 years; for example, cesium-137 and strontium-90 are really bad actors and they will be present in large amounts at 100 years. And “allow us to decide”? Please. That’s the attitude that led to the Hanford mass leak, with a radioactive plume that goes for miles and miles.

    PS, SR> “used nuclear fuel can be recycled as a source for the production of more energy”
    CA> Oops! This is a really bad idea. The recycling would not eliminate the fission products. Even worse, the recycling worsens the problem of bomb-usable plutonium. And everything I’ve seen indicates that this “recycling” would be *much* more expensive than a nuclear fuel system based on once-through flows.

    PS, SR> ” In France, Japan, and Britain, nuclear engineers do the sensible thing: recycle.”
    CA> AFAIK, neither France, Japan, nor Britain has found a safe repository for the fission products.

    PS, SR> ” Recycling spent fuel – the technical word is reprocessing – is one way to make the key ingredient of a nuclear bomb, enriched uranium.”
    CA> Oops again! PS and SR can’t even tell uranium and plutonium apart.

    PS, SR> ” advanced breeder reactors … could well be the economically competitive choice – and renewable as well”
    CA> Oops again. Breeder reactors are much more difficult than non-breeder reactors, and AFAIK no one, anywhere in the world, has succeeded in making one operate successfully on a sustained basis.

    PS, SR> ” America’s voracious energy appetite doesn’t have to be a bug – it can be a feature. ”
    CA> No, it’s a bug. Anyone who thinks that efficiency in usage doesn’t have to be dramatically improved isn’t serious. I think we will *also* need to reduce some types of usage, eg, cooling below about 78 to 80 deg F in most cases.

    Overall, this is not an article I can recommend.

    — Carl

  6. Carl says:

    I also took a look at Patrick Moore’s article, Washington Post, 4/16/2006:

    This one is better than Schwartz & Reiss (Wired), but still it isn’t good enough for me to recommend. Moore also is a big fan of reprocessing.

  7. I’ve also wondered about where such a thing might be found, and this was the best I could find then:

    It still ignores the retarding effect of fuel and moderator temperature increases and commercial reactors’ consequent self-levelling trait; it says power levelling is done by fast automatic adjustments of control rods. OK, that’s not ignoring, that’s making up something plausible and not correcting it when someone who knew a little better — me — requested it.

    But he did acknowledge that some commercial reactors can and do run on natural uranium, again at my request, pleading emeritus never-in-the-business status. (But that’s what’s wanted, I think. An agendaless, competent outsider’s point of view.) So I didn’t persist in the second request.

  8. Karen Street says:

    Thanks again for the updated comments, all.

    I checked out the last recommendation — it covers a lot of material pretty simply: what is nuclear power, beginning with the physics. If you are new to the field, this is an excellent orientation.

  9. Joffan says:

    You might also like Camco’s page,

  10. Not particularly. Despite being from an outfit that does a lot of mining in Canada, it says, under the heading “How does uranium become nuclear fuel”, that it undergoes enrichment, with no mention that this is optional. Basic mistake.