Civilization requires a tremendous amount of energy. The Romans got it from slaves; the Victorians got it from coal (steam); and during the last century the U.S. got it from oil and coal.
How much energy? According to Ford, to produce, drive, and recycle an average Taurus class family sedan in the 1,500 kg weight range (similar to a pickup truck) takes a total lifecycle energy consumption of 961 Gigajoules, 21,000 kb of hydrocarbons are consumed, and 60,000 kg of carbon dioxide are emitted. http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=433981.
U.S. residents along with the rest of the world, aren’t about to give up energy use and we are now approaching a major energy debate in this country. As a trained scientist I try to look at the numbers without all the fog of ideology. Before deciding if I support an idea I like to know if it makes any sense or is even possible.
Is global warming real? Well, the planet is getting warmer, that is not under dispute, even the FDA plant growth zones have moved north by hundreds of miles in the U.S.
Is it due to carbon emissions? Probably, but so what if it isn’t? It the warming is happening and will have dire consequences for the world. Even if global warming is NOT due to burning carbon fuel, we know that reducing carbon emissions WILL help fight the trend no matter what the “cause.” Placing blame isn’t necessary or productive.
And why are so many politicians and energy company executives so enthusiastic about funding middle-East despots by buying more and more of their oil?
Clean coal? Great, there is no such thing, it isn’t happening even in the test stage.
Solar and wind power? Fine! Two small problems! Alternate energy sources cost a fortune and are only PROJECTED to possibly produce about 20% of the current U.S. power consumption at the most. You might argue that. The second problem is not open to debate – you need something called rare earths to build all those generators and electric cars. Guess who owns virtually ALL the productive rare earth mineral deposits in the entire WORLD.
Sorry, it’s not the U.S., Canada, or Australia, it is China and they are using virtually all their current production for their own electric generators, magnets, and electric cars.
The only PROVEN majorzero carbon energy source is nuclear.
Sure, I recall Three Mile Island. I had relatives living there – now how many people were even injured at TMI? Any?
How about how many serious nuclear accidents have occurred in France over the past 20 years? Any? France gets most of its energy from nuclear power.
Nuclear waste? Yea, sure, a horrible problem. In fact, you could almost fill an Olympic size swimming pool every year with all the nuclear waste France produces. I even know where to store it – right down in the uranium mines it came out of! It really doesn’t matter how safe they are, because they are already radioactive!
Also, until President Carter stopped it, we were simply reprocessing most nuclear waste into more fuel, leaving virtually no significant amount of waste. One place I’m certain terrorists won’t steal plutonium from is INSIDE an operating reactor.
Any idea how much dangerous waste a coal-fired power plant produces? Tons every minute! Coal power plants even release radioactive material into the atmosphere – look it up.
Then there is the danger of mining and transporting coal. If you have never worked in a coal mine (I have) then don’t tell me coal is clean and safe. Thousands of coal miners die every year around the world.
Small nuclear power plants have run in U.S. Navy ships for years and, surprise, surprise! It would cost less to build a hundred or so of them to a standard design and put them fairly near cities where they wouldn’t require major new power lines than to build just the power line infrastructure required to get wind and solar energy to those same cities! NOT the wind and solar energy systems, just the power lines!
France relies on nuclear power. China and India are building nuclear power plants as fast as they can. Even solar-giant Germany is rethinking the nuclear question and many environmentalists who aren’t making a living protesting against nuclear or investing in “alternate” energy, are now pro-nuclear.
Just one example is Stewart Brand (founder of The Whole Earth Catalog) who wrote in May, 2005,
“Over the next ten years, I predict, the mainstream of the environmental movement will reverse its opinion and activism in four major areas: population growth, urbanization, genetically engineered organisms, and nuclear power.”
And, if you need just one powerful piece of evidence that nuclear power is THE best option for the U.S. and the world, just look at what the U.S. government has done.
Everyone too old to believe in Santa Claus knows by now that we can look to Washington to always endorse the WRONG choice – Washington has strongly favored coal, oil, and now is turning to solar and wind power.
Unless you actually believe that every politician in Washington is right on this one single issue, despite the powerful evidence of many decades that they can’t find their rear ends with both hands behind their backs, then you must view the fact that the U.S. Government is selling off all the nuclear fuel it has, as fast as it can, while China and India are buying uranium and uranium mines as fast as they can.
After all, the Feds sold off all our silver reserve at less than $1/oz. and currently prices the gold in Ft. Knox around $42/oz. They also gave us the current banking crisis. The list goes on and on.
Personally, I never believed that Clinton was just looking for a handy humidor and didn’t notice there was a young woman attached; that Spitzer was interviewing secretaries in hotel rooms; or that Gov. Mark Sanford was REALLY just hiking through the foothills of South Carolina.
What’s the matter that he has to go all the way to South America. Can’t he even find a mistress or prostitute in the Carolinas? Whatever happened to “Buy America!” Couldn’t Gov. Sanford even find a truck stop?
To me, even without all the solid science and math behind the technology and ecological aspects, not to mention actual experience in France, the mere fact that Washington has abandoned nuclear power is virtually all the proof I need that we would have been far, FAR better off buying Canadian uranium than Saudi oil.
Yea, I feel so much better giving them all that money instead of those sneaky Canadians.
OK, as for the Saudi’s, it is their way of life – fine, that’s their business, but I just wish I didn’t have to support it at the gas station.
I’m also not big on burning food (corn) for energy when children go hungry even in the U.S.