The Facts: Nuclear Energy

Ordinarily, a facts post would be up by the second day of the debate at the latest. But in the case of nuclear power, I've found it quite difficult to find unbiased, non-governmental sources. This facts post has taken a bit longer because I was attempting to clarify the agenda of each source.

In the interests of time and clarity, I've decided that when the producer of the material has a pro-nuclear or anti-nuclear bias that could slant some of the facts, that information will be identified as such and included in other posts wherever it fits. Governmental sources might not be perfect in this area either, but since they're the ones making the policy, understanding the information they're working with -- nationally and internationally -- is key to the debate.

For research sources into this topic, read on.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is a good first stop -- especially useful are its fact sheets and reports, such as this one on smaller-sized reactors and this one on nuclear plant design options. One drawback? They tend to be written in very technical language, making for dense reading for those of us who aren't experts in the field.

The Nuclear Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization based in Paris, provides plenty of solid stats as well.

President Bush's announced that the United States will begin building new power plants by the end of the decade.

A research library is available from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is perhaps most famous for its work on nuclear bombs. At the lab in Idaho, they're working on "Generation IV" nuclear energy systems.

The Environmental Protection Agency discusses man-made radiation from nuclear power (and from medical uses), while over at the Department of Energy, they're launching the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership in the hopes of increasing the reliability of power supplies worldwide.

By Emily Messner |  April 19, 2006; 10:01 AM ET  | Category:  Facts
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Here is an article from Scientific American about nuclear energy and recycling. I remember reading it in december and found it interesting. As with all articles from Scientific American they provide additional resource for information.

http://www.nationalcenter.org/NuclearFastReactorsSA1205.pdf

Posted by: Hal | April 19, 2006 10:38 AM

I also like Bodansky, David Nuclear Energy Principles, Practices, and Prospects 2004

There's government and there's government. I find that the bureaucracy and national labs and universities usually produce reliable information.

However, if the president is really interested in the answer, eg, this president and the environment or previous presidents and China policy, the answers may not be as good.

There is not a good overlap between the answers being produced by government scientists today and the answers the current president is hoping for, however.

Posted by: Karen Street | April 19, 2006 10:40 AM

If you would like an entertaining, inside account of how nuclear plants are operated, what nuclear workers do, and how an accident might be responded to, see my novel "Rad Decision" at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com. It is available at no cost to readers - - who seem to like both the technical content and the story itslef, judging from the comments they are leaving at the homepage.

I have worked in the nuclear industry for over twenty years, but I fully recognize that this energy source has its bad points as well as its benefits. I've tried to discuss both within "Rad Decision". The book has been endorsed by Stewart Brand, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog, whose 2005 MIT Technology Review article "Enviromental Heresies" called for a re-examination of nuclear power in light of global warming.

Posted by: James Aach | April 19, 2006 01:36 PM

Energy sources - nuclear, coal, oil, wind, water, solar, wood, biomass - all have their + and - 's

thing is, with > 6 billion of us and growing, energy demand looks to soar

it isn't an either this or that - it has to be most of the above, plus dramatic improvements in efficient use of energy

we're not going to row-crop our way to energy efficiency - agricultural land is a relatively fixed fully used resource, and putting it more to energy use puts pressure on food production

we (the US and China) have a lot of coal, but it's nasty stuff - dangerous to extract, dirty to burn - but it doesn't pose a security risk if it is bombed

nuclear energy is awfully compelling in the long term, but it has real waste and security issues - can nuclear plants be hardened against military attack? terrorists?

can nuclear stocks be kept out of the hands of social deviates, given how much material is already unaccounted for between the US and the former Soviet Union?

can the stuff be transported without being a security target?

we can't count on oil and coal indefinitely - China has a mega pollution issue going on right now - and global warming from fossil fuel use is a real concern, if hard to quantify

i see dcentralized wind turbines, solar and moving water energy use blanketing our planet, sooner or later. every roof will be solar panel, with wind turbines on top - it won't be enough, but it'll be necessary anyway. it will be more expensive - more capital to capture each energy unit - but necessary -

decentralized energy sources are hard to destroy, crippling a modern state

moving water will be exploited even more, salmon be "dam"-ned unfortunately; trapping more water in higher elevations, run through more turbines on it's way down ..

and serious research on creating transportation and housing that uses less energy while offering the mobility and warm dry shelter we all crave ...

i'm an optimist on energy development, so long as big oil, big coal, big anti-nuke groups don't distort the development picture, which i think is our current situation

sad that we have 2 execs from the oil patch calling the federal energy shots

and Congress still stuffs tax goodies into law for the impressively profitable oil industry .. tsk

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | April 19, 2006 03:31 PM

I used to work for an engineering firm called Los Alamos Technical Associates. I had the opportunity to work and chat with many folks in my office who had worked for Department of Energy in various capacities and have been involved throughout the entire history nuclear technology in weapons and energy developement. One of my former colleagues shared with me a thick document that he compiled for the DOE illustrating the pros and cons of utilizing the vast amounts of uranium and plutonium we have already enriched in the US.

It outlined the costs associated with having to store, guard and maintain the existing enriched fissionable materials. He determined in the report that we have already processed enough fissionable material to supply our country and most likely the rest of North America with a constant supply of electricity for at least 200 years. Not including what other countries, like Canada, China, Russia and other European countries have processed as well.

Furthermore he compared the lifespan of the eriched fissionable material(Plutonium and Uranium) to the lifespan of the daughter products (leftovers) of the reactions. Currently the Uranium and Plutonium are in highly fissionable, highly dangerous states that have half-lives over 4 billion years and will need to be guarded and maintained for longer than humans will be around on the planet. Where as the by-products of usng the Uranium and Plutonium for energy production have half-lives of a few seconds to a few hundred years and are orders of magnitutde less dangerous.

The only drawback is the potential for Three Mile Island type accidents and thermal pollution of nearby rivers and lakes used to cool the reactors.

I think we should make our lives safer and easier by utilizing what we already have processed. It's not going to go away in the lifespan of humanity in the present form and it will greatly reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and other countries that have those fossile fuels.

I hope we can all make sense of this and find the best solution. I feel like I have, but convincing others is not going to be an easy job.

Posted by: Jon Adam | April 19, 2006 03:35 PM

The 500 or so reactors in the world will need to be mostly all replaced by 2025. It takes years to get plants up and running. They are a major investment. They require considerable expertise to run. This is just not a current option in most of the world. Even in Canada, we have problems with worker shortages in key fields.

It is far easier in the short term to erect plants that generate electricity using fossil fuels, and cheaper.

So, by the time enough nuclear plants can be built over and above the ones we have to repalce, CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere will be far higher than they are now.

Nuclear power cannot abate climate change for several generations.

Tidal, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, biomass and, most importantly, conservation can.

Whatever you do, don't listen to Patrick Moore.

http://section15.blogspot.com/2006/04/patrick-moore-is-not-environmentalist.html

Posted by: Mark Francis | April 19, 2006 03:56 PM

Nuclear FUSION can be easily accomplished and maintained if we only had a readily available supply of the Isotope He3 (Helium 3)

Unfortunately the Earth has little to non of the He3 isotope as it requires what are called spallation reactions of other He isotopes from cosmic radiation. Cosmic radiation is emmited in vast amounts from the sun. However, the Earth's atmosphere has shielded cosmic radition for most of the Earth's history, thus limiting the theoretical existence of He3 to the Earth's core where it has been stored since the Earth's formation 4.56 billion years ago.

HOWEVER, and this is the big problem. Celestial bodies that have little or no atmoshere that shields cosmic radiation are highly enriched in He3. Places like the Moon and large asteroids have enormous quantities of He3. The problem is being able to get it back to the Earth in a cost effective manner.

Something to ponder.

Posted by: Jon Adam | April 19, 2006 04:27 PM

The opposite of people wanting the facts is activists like those in the environmental, feminist, and Religious Right movements to want the facts concealed in a tide of bogus information intended to fear-monger.

And that is just what has happened with nuke power. Even now, with Chernobyl approaching it's 20th anniversary, we have not what the Greenies said would be the deaths - 15,000 immediate deaths, 4 times that afterwords - we have the real numbers of 51 deaths including several of non-nuclear causes like heart attacks while working cleanup. The IAEA reports that cancer deaths are only 1/2 of 1% in excess of the normal rates.

The real carnage of Chernobyl happened in abortion clinics of East and West Europe as fearful, ill-advised women sought medically unecessary abortions on fears -absent of merit - that they would have the mutant, deformed, retarded babies the anti-nuke activists warned were certain to happen on a wide scale. Morris Rosen notes the IAEA estimates between 100,000 and 200,000 babies were needlessly aborted between 1987 and 1988 on Chernobyl fears in Western Europe alone. And in heaviliy affected Ukraine, Belarussia, and Russia - abortion rates tripled, accounting for the loss of some 600,000 future citizens - bad enough that today all 3 countries are using high priority programs designed to encourage women to have babies.

Unecessary, pure panic abortions? Yes. The IAEA/WHO drew on countries like Hungary, which had significant Chernobyl fallout - but blocked women seeking Chernobyl abortions on advice of the doctors regulating what sort of abortions had state approval, and the result was that the effects of Chernobyl showed ZERO effect on child mortality or retardation. Sweden, Denmark, and Ukraine did similar studies.

Patrick Moore has commented on the Green Party activists who have vehemently denounced people like Moore for perfidy - in encouraging 2nd looks at Green Dogma - in matters like GM food, nuclear power, "organic clothing", and animal rights ethics. Moore called Green activists "anti-science", with lots of them unfortunately displaying "too many of the hallmarks associated with the Hitler Youth or the Religious Right".

(I'm convinced all societies have a certain number of people compelled to go in this direction because of their psychology. They may be obsessive compulsives, complete "follower" sorts...In Europe they become Greenies or skinheads, in America they flock to DU or Save Terri Schiavo rallies, in S Korea they live in video game parlors, and in the Islamic World, they flock to become radical Islamoids)

The 2006 IAEA/BEIR report on the effects of low level ionizing radiation with updated Chernobyl radiation.

nap.edu/books/030909156X/html/15.html

So it appears that Chernobyl has 51 direct deaths and some 2200 associated with the increase of cancers, with some more cancer deaths coming. The Greenies hate that and publish stats traced back to their spokespersons and claim the "actual amount" is 10X higher, but concealed by a cover-up...or hysterically drolly...would have been higher if more children had been born..

On the flip side, irrational nuclear fear caused the killing of some 700,000 fetuses. And within Russia and Belarussia, fear is thought to have caused significant mortality in terms of stress and increase alchohol abuse associated with overreaction to perceived Chernobyl dangers.

The Russians Center for Strategic Decision Research notes Nuclear Terrorism is not just practiced by combatants, but by ideologues who intend to terrorize segments of the population about the exagerated effects of radiation and exagerated dangers of nuclear power. The study's authors at the premiere Kurchatov Institute and Russian Academy of Sciences note that much work must be done to better prepare and educate the population of the adverse social effects generated by ungrounded terror of radiation. They review the adverse social effects seen in the Chernobyl aftermath, and note that the terror and social effects caused by another nuclear accident or "dirty bomb" used by actual terrorists - are certain to well exceed the actual threat and harm caused by the accident or dirty bomb..

http://www.csdr.org/moscow03/velikhov.htm

The IAEA has posted the full BEIR reports and various Cherobyl updates on their website www.iaea.org.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 19, 2006 05:50 PM

and is trying to infect the world with his anti logick...


all hail satan.

.

Posted by: apparntly the antichrist has infiltrated the bloodstream of chris ford... | April 19, 2006 05:59 PM

I've noticed....


spin.


straight shooter you're not.


you are useless as a citizen.


being honest isn't part of your spin cycle...

direction is always part of your intent, leading, positing


corporal

Posted by: and you're including birth deformations | April 19, 2006 06:03 PM

what ever he wants to happen will come to a screeching halt...

speaking against "organic."

hey, that's real smart...

I guess that would make being veegan a felony right?

thoughtfulness is a commodity that Americans can't afford right?

we've got to attack now,

whatever the problem is.

I would suggest the problem is in your pants, and it's too small to worry about...


let go of it so you can think.

.

Posted by: personally if you're Patrick Moores spokesperson... | April 19, 2006 07:04 PM

congrats, hope you're enjoying the fall of Rome.

I'm not.

Posted by: Hello Tomster... | April 19, 2006 07:19 PM

Many people, in particular the Greens would have you believe that renewable energy sources: wind, solar and biomass can be used to solve the world's energy problems, and there would be no CO2 emission.
( See www,amcips.org about the limits on wind energy)
Briefly, I would like to point out the fallacy of this argument, based on the technological, economic and practical aspects and in particular the intermittent nature of wind.

Let us take as an example the current proposed project by Cape Wind
(www.capewind.org) to build a wind farm in Nantucket Sound. For an installation cost of $800 million, it will provide electricity needs for half the population of Cape Cod, in the wind The capital cost for generating wind energy is between $4700 to $7500/ Kilowatt. Let us estimate the wind power needed for providing total electricity demands for USA and EU-16 with a combined population of 700 million, this comes to $ 2.1 trillion, So where is the money? The capital cost for wind installations are prohibitively expensive, about 3 times as much as for nuclear reactors

For renewables, the most troublesome aspect is the fact of nature - wind does not blow nor does the sun shine all the time. To rely solely on wind and solar power means there has to be a standby source of power which fills in the gap when the wind is down. If one were to eliminate all the fossil fuel because of their emission of CO2, then the only other alternative is nuclear energy.

The saddest fact is - there are no crash programs in USA or GB to install a large number of wind farms or nuclear reactors. Instead we just plod on, 'business as usual', producing ever more CO2 as our energy requirements increase from year to year.

Our civilization is doomed if we do not come out with solutions to reduce CO2 emission within the next 5-10 years.

Posted by: gioietta kuo | April 19, 2006 07:31 PM

From a guy

Who can't put a sentence together

Past cortical damage?

Ah, damage..excess drugs? Lithium?

Ha, Ha. Heh!

Unreadable though.

Wonder if

he

speaks

hallll-ting...lyy. As w-w-well.

People pat his head.

Say he is a
poet" with distangled but stylized gibberish.

Points for style,,not.........inco...incoherence.

Lefty traitor.

Signs his name?

No, too afraid.

Perhaps embarassed?

That too. Poor thing is not just a Stalinist, but stupid.

Heh! Ha. Haha!

Be like Che. Can't express? Paste a better traitor's thoughts...

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 19, 2006 07:47 PM

lying punk?

Posted by: pardon me sweetheart? | April 19, 2006 08:11 PM

move a little closer...

...

Posted by: c'mon... | April 19, 2006 08:13 PM

remember how you misrepresented on that one...

care to cover it?

I'll take you apart like old cheese.

.

Posted by: how about ethanol? | April 19, 2006 08:15 PM

spare parts?

Posted by: got some ego that needs kicked around the bathroom | April 19, 2006 08:16 PM

chris today...

let me smell you friday...

.

Posted by: oh, so you're the asian sitting in for | April 19, 2006 08:18 PM

.

Posted by: oh, a korean... | April 19, 2006 08:19 PM

to push water up a mountain, store in a state change device or simply put into the grid and sell the excess, to someone...

.

right?

Posted by: even a slow burner like you knows that you can use _any_ power.. | April 19, 2006 08:22 PM

obviously he helped people to feel comfortable reading what they

feel uncomfortable seeking out, what with their every action being watched by the stylish _new_ NSA....


internet/darpanet/dodnet/arpanet...BBN,

right?

only people with access before '95 were students or dod related people

Advanced Research Projects ...black stored in schools..

problem is that corruption occurs in any agency...and needs to be burnt out.

.

Posted by: I admire che in a way, | April 19, 2006 08:28 PM

and liars, like eating fritoes...

crispy and a little rank tasting but hey..

they still scream when I eat 'em.

...

hee hee hee...

.

Posted by: I love destroying bullies... | April 19, 2006 08:30 PM

glad to see that you're still a gutless coward, even if you're not the same person...you still squeak...I'll see you later...bug

Posted by: well, gotta go, | April 19, 2006 08:32 PM

Is it possible to have one WaPo forum that isn't diluted to near incoherence by the pseudo-poet's repetitive and meaningless posts?

Please stop. Some people actually like to read these threads. Please construct your phony Crit identity elsewhere.

Posted by: Random reader | April 19, 2006 10:23 PM

about 43 year old korean, cia...

ho o oooooooooooo

whose side you on slant eyes?

.

Posted by: oh, yeah... | April 19, 2006 11:15 PM

perhaps philadelphia.

Posted by: random, right.. | April 19, 2006 11:18 PM

Jon Adam - Liked your 3He post. I think you're fairly realistic that while it may work, for now 3He fusion as an energy source is what engineers and scientists call "unobtainium" - the magic substance that if only they had it when they don't - they could (1)Make a design work; (2) Get rich off it.

But in the real world, we have to forge ahead unless we have all sorts of top financiers, scientists, and top gov't and business folks getting together and saying they are dead nuts convinced the transatlantic cable, making of plutonium, integrated microchip will work...and even then part of any "new" thing on a matter of supreme importance to business or society will implement contingencies along the way to assure catastrophic failure of the quest for "obtainium" back to "unobtainium" doesn't wreck things for everyone.

I think we should be looking at the Fed Gov't, top energy companies, top physics people, top financial bean counters and announce scrapping Bush's stupid "Man to Mars" program in favor of a crash Lunar/3He program - where each phase from physics research to Lunar surveys of 3He deposits, making and transporting mining, collection, storage infastructure there, and getting it home and testing larger apps is evaluated step by step for project viability and completion times. (Leaving the enviroweenies and cause people outside to play hackeysack with one another)

At any stage of a 3He Project, it could come to a dead stop for decades, even centuries as obstacles come up...or it might succeed. We may have to build a few new fission reactors to make 3He in usable quantities on Earth for ramped up physics and containment testing. We may have to put nuke fission reactors in space or on the moon to have the power to move a project that has to move a million tons of rock and soil (if 3He is there after seeing survey data), heat all of that to 1470 Deg F, in separation membranes that might have to work in a lunar temp range of -220 to 240 Degs, compressing and cooling a gas that only becomes liquid a few degrees above absolute zero in the presence of what we found was incredibly abrasive dust - to get a few thousand pounds of liquid 3He to put on rockets which themselves cost 14,000 16,000 a pound in transport costs just to get to the moon. (Along with the hundreds of tons of equipment for mining and manufacture). Then getting it back through Earths atmosphere and fighting off the Gaboonians, French, Egyptians trying to claim "their share of the moonfuel".


We're still not sure we can do a sustained fusion with the stuff because while we did D-T fusion in the lab back in the 60s, all the whacky plasma physics and confinement problems un-noticed came out when we tried making a sustained, energy breakeven reaction happen...and d-3He reactions require 10X the temperature as D-T.

Adam - "Nuclear FUSION can be easily accomplished and maintained if we only had a readily available supply of the Isotope He3 (Helium 3)"

We don't know for sure. We have only fused on a microscopic scale and have not tried containment yet.

Adam - "Unfortunately the Earth has little to non of the He3 isotope ---The problem is being able to get it back to the Earth in a cost effective manner.

Something to ponder."

Indeed. While we go ahead full bore but with the assumption it won't work or won't be available for a long, long time and we have to use other energy sources to address our energy needs. Better we spend our time and money on a promising Lunar project than a trillion so we can see Bush's "Astronaut Hero Folks" standing around a flag and bringing back rocks the Mars Rovers looked at.

Wonder how the hackeysack players would react if the adults came out and said that nuke physicists would get the biggest share of funds, huge machines would be analyzed for strip-mining the surface, and design on 3He fission reactors, space reactors, and lunar power reactors would start soon??? Maybe they will say a machine that has to mine and process a thousand tons a month, heating and cooling the rock and dust over a 2000Deg temperature range should run on "organically grown corn to ethanol" or "solar wings"??

It would be a fun, defining national program!!

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 19, 2006 11:49 PM

sources fool...

you are a despicable, pandering, shill for this government......

mulitple sources, in conjunction with a systemic addressment of the infrastructure changes that need to go in place to sustain us,


all of us,

not just your airy-anne friends peanut.

.

Posted by: any economist knows that you don't limit your | April 19, 2006 11:55 PM

they make me feel so smart by comparison...

I'm a random reader and I care about cris...he's damaged and needs help...

call 911...

.

Posted by: I really like chris fords posts... | April 19, 2006 11:56 PM

Mr. Kuo -

We can do nukes fast if they become a national priority. Especially modular built, factory quality control, computer operated 6-8pack facilities that can be swiftly built if siting is cut to months by laws stopping delays. With national law overriding local opposition lawsuits to nuke sites or storage and reprocessing plants.

Watch China. And India. They will move fast. As the S Koreans and French have done. We can do a crash nuke construction program if we have to, and even slap up some windmills and token ethanol programs the Greenie activists can coo and cluck over.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 19, 2006 11:59 PM

in Korea for manufacturing lithium chris...

.

Posted by: tell us about the offshore facilities | April 20, 2006 12:02 AM

used for?

Posted by: what's niobium | April 20, 2006 12:03 AM

Emy, what do you want to know? There's a novel by Rob't Heinlein - The Gods Themselves - that gives a prescient view of the sudden awareness most Americans are now getting regarding our delicate world energy situation. You know, I actually tried to teach that book in a freshman community college class in Roxbury, MA in 1974. Maybe I'm one of those visionaries, yeh?

Among the most difficult aspects of nuclear energy (aside from the kind of catastrophic results of plant failure - see Chernobyl) is the issue of storage. For creatures that have difficulty seeing ten years ahead, how can we conceptualize a half life of uranium or 760 million years? We have no effective technology for storing deadly radioactive by-product of nuclear energy production. Increasing the number of plants in an increasing number of nations only raises the problem by logarithmic proportions. So we're embarking on a path for which we have few end answers.

Not to mention that these "waste products" are hot; thermally hot. That means that volumes of space will be required to store this waste for the millions of years necessary. We can't build a building to last 300 years without maintenance.

Anyhow, I'm having a kind of negative moment and I apologize to you all for bringing this downer to you. On the other hand, it's great, however belated it seems to me (I read "The Nuclear Submarine" in 1958 at age 11) that we're at last starting to have the discussion leading to "what are we going to do?" Keep up your good work. It all helps, you do know that, right?

Posted by: Jazzman | April 20, 2006 12:38 AM

Jazzman - so if all that natural uranium in the Earth's crust has billions of years to decay off, what do you think? Is it a problem?

What about all the Potassium-40 and those darn cosmic rays?

radwaste - We only use 5% of it's energy now in America in "once-through" fuel sticks, thanks to the idiot Carter. Breeders and reprocessing will get us to where the French, Japanese, Koreans, and Russians are now. And we can get to 99% use of the fissile and non-fissile uranium and transuranics, or down to 95% depending on model Gen IV, V reactor and reprocessing technology.

A renewable, recyclable form of energy that emits no CO2 and is adequate for billions of peoples needs for several hundred years, thousands if we add thorium and polonium stocks. The waste product for all the electrical needs of a family of 4, including heating and cooling, for 40 years....

..is about one pound of fission products...

Which must be stored for about 300 years before rads are at levels of natural rock.

Sounds good.

If reactors are safe, and generates that little radwaste per family...then anyone left objecting would be an ideologue impervious to reason.

If that is a concern, consider the arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, and radon in coal for the same families energy needs amasses several tons, and is toxic for over 1,000 billion years. Plus ash, sulpher, and mining debris..Oh, and you don't want to know the tonnage of CO2 released.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 20, 2006 02:18 AM

How about those di-lithium crystals? They have tons and tons of energy per gram. If we could build a ship worthy of inter-stellar journeys, we could trade with the Klingons, maybe some of our women would do. How about blowing up the moon and letting the H3 fall down to us. Think out of the box guys!

Posted by: Captain Kirk | April 20, 2006 03:20 AM

Totally OT, but I can't find any place where this would fit, sry:

Why isn't there any blog covering issues that readers have with WaPo in general? I remember posting at the wapo.com editors' blog several times about the Domenech affair, but this blog isn't linked at the opinions&blogs page right now. And even if it were linked, probably my posting would be OT there, too.

'Real' blog regularly do open threads, where readers can write whatever issues may be on their mind, thus providing ideas to the blogger on topics that may be worth to be covered. This would be a great thing here, too! Didn't Jim Brady and his team always tell us the online edition shall provide a place for communication with the readers? Then why is the only way for a reader to address a special problem to email about it?

Sorry, I've send some email to WaPo over the years, but today I suspect that you dump most of the incoming mails in the digital wastebasket. The reader simply never gets anything other than an automated response. At the blogs, you get feedback from other readers and if you're lucky, somebody has a solution for your problem. Or at least you find some support from others that share your view.

OK, what I really wanted to ask is why there isn't some indicator on the 'blogs' page when a writer is on vacation. You know, a simple sentence like 'Mr.(or. Ms.) is on vacation until...'. That's SOP at many newspaper opinion sites. Would the Post pls add this as a convenience for their readers, too? It's so 20th century that you have to look for Froomkin's latest column, open it, scroll down to the end to get the info that he hasn't fallen victim to an internal conspiracy at WaPo, but is enjoying his vacation until April 20th!

Posted by: Gray (Andy Ludwig) | April 20, 2006 06:31 AM

Chris Ford, I'm not sure what you're getting at. Do you understand the ratio of uranium element in uranium ore? Do you understand of the that uranium element what proportion is fisionable U235? Do you understand "critical mass"? Chain reaction as pertains to "peaceful" applications of nuclear energy?

Frankly, I don't think you know much what you're talking about. The answers to the earth's energy needs, properly addressed, will encompass numerous technologies, production and usage adaptations, and a serious look at human population with respect to what we can know about the earth's "carrying capacity." This will have to be done with coordination of all the world's peoples and representatives. It's a big order, something that for the last 2 centuries it seems we have been unwilling to do. It's time to grow up and forget enmities and recognize that we are all living creatures with a unique chance to thrive and prosper in the window which universal chance has bestowed us. But it's fragile and I don't think most humans have given it much thought.

Posted by: Jazzman | April 20, 2006 10:27 AM

I don 't have to understand the issues, Jazzman. You see, to me these blogs are nothing but receptacles for my verbal masturbation.

Not unlike to that incoherent if somewhat poetic person above.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 20, 2006 11:36 AM

Just noting that this thread has a vandal that posts false messages using other poster's names. Suspect most other regular posters know who that individual is despite their lack of coherence and never signing their posts with a regular identity.

********************

Jazzman - The discussion is not about U-235 and 60s era technology (which is where your familiarity appears to be), but future energy mixes that use hydrogen, breeder reactors, 3He, new coal technology, the feasibility and economics of alternative sources. And using 95-99% of nuke fuel potential through renewal and recycling that uses all the transuranics and leaves a fast-decaying residue that does not take 10,000 years to decay off, but 300 years.

"This will have to be done with coordination of all the world's peoples and representatives."

If we have to wait for the "global community" of Gaia to get together and agree...does that mean we have to wait for the Gaboonians, Moldavans, Yemenis, and Indonesians to form a consenus about the ethics of selling their votes in Oil for Food, deciding what a defintion of terrorism "is"?? I have no confidence whatsoever in turning over our nation's future to the Collective Supreme Wisdom of the UN. Neither do Russia, China, France, India, or Japan plus the rest of the modern nations appear to want their energy future to be decided by Yemeni and Gaboonian votes...

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 20, 2006 01:41 PM

See? I just can't help it.

Posted by: Chris Ford | April 20, 2006 03:00 PM

The one thing I haven't seen much chat about yet among the more informed pro-nuclear power posters ...(I'm pro-nuke, but uninformed) .... is attention to the security issues attendent to concentrated power generation via nukes -

how safe can a nuclear power plant be made from a serious military strike? how easy would it be to sabotage a plant into a melt-down?

how safe will it be to transport nuclear materials?

and are those zany Californians going to build in places on or near major active earthquake fault lines again? how about the folks near the Missouri fault?

fossil fuels poison us slowly, incrementally through pollution - blowing up a fossil fuel plant isn't going to have a Chernobyl effect though

can the 'safety from terrorism' issue be dealt with successfully?

Posted by: Mill_of_Mn | April 20, 2006 03:31 PM

Been quiet on this topic because I'm outscienced. But I have found it fascinating and informative.

Mill-

"fossil fuels poison us slowly, incrementally through pollution - blowing up a fossil fuel plant isn't going to have a Chernobyl effect though"

We would do ourselves a service if we discussed the "effect" Chernobyl had. Nothing I've read has indicated, definitively, how serious this effect really was. I'm inclined to say that the effects weren't nearly as serious as many people presume.

Thoughts?

Posted by: Will | April 20, 2006 04:05 PM

perhaps you could paricipate in understanding what it's like to actually see the effect of what I write on other people as I write it...


but since your own state of being is somewhat on the reptile level, well.

you'll have to wait until I take you to the next level...when I eat your handlers in about 3 weeks, until then...

ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

urp...

.

oh me.

.

Posted by: well if your IQ were above your 134 current state... | April 20, 2006 05:22 PM

Here's the thing. There may be exciting new developments in nuclear technology on and over the horizon. However, the prevailing available technology for the near future (the important one, a span of maybe 10 years starting today) that might make a difference in the fossil fuel "crisis" is uranium fed heavy water systems that have a proven performance and safety record but also the downsides of construction cost and waste disposal. While there is promise in nuclear power future, there must be considerable other changes to put a dent in the demand for fossil fuels and generation of greenhouse gasses.

There's a lot of stuff to read on the subject from non-biased sources. You might be interested in this report:
http://web.mit.edu/nuclearpower/

Posted by: Jazzman | April 20, 2006 08:33 PM

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