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great diary...

finance does have an uncanny resemblance to nuclear energy:

it's ROI is illusory, the capacity to poison huge swathes of society through no fault of their own, and the clean up after disasters is lengthy, painful and expensive, both
industries' too big to fail, and un-insurable, what could possibly... (cont. p.92)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Nov 2nd, 2012 at 06:23:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
.. You are yourself demonstrating a version of conventional wisdom in that very post. You have - in very strong terms possible - denied the possibility that any form of nuclear energy can be beneficial, despite extant examples of nuclear electricity being both cheap, low carbon and reliable.
You do this because doing so marks you out as.. Serious. About the environment, and questioning the orthodoxy carries social costs.

..Hmm. How to demonstrate. Ah. Right.
Answer me this: What would you consider sufficient empirical evidence to change your view on nuclear?

I can tell you exactly what would cause me to dismiss it as unnecessary: Germany getting its carbon emissions per capita below France.

by Thomas on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 07:52:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:

What would you consider sufficient empirical evidence to change your view on nuclear?

as opposed to unempirical evidence, you mean?

Thomas:

You do this because doing so marks you out as.. Serious.

serious? moi? unsurely you jest.

nuclear power is seriously screwed up, in my distinctly unserious opinion.

Thomas:

Germany getting its carbon emissions per capita below France.

me too, it's so encouraging to see the progress, isn't it?

saving the planet is serious. the nuclear era is come and is going away, like the blunderbuss it is. it had decades to get it right, and still fails the test for security that wind/solar have in spades, as well as the epic, entirely predictable-as-a-swiss-clock cost over-runs.

yes we will learn to do with less watt wastage, and we'll be happy we did. present utility companies are the main polluters, along with the infernal combustion engine, we have the science to do much better, what's throttling renewables is lobbying from dinosaurs capturing the political process, allowing at best one country in the whole of europe to do more than just a symbolic move into a wiser, cleaner future for our families.

the yoyo-ing of incentives and tariffs is a deliberate ploy to undermine, sabotage and brake this transition. coal is bad enough, but it doesn't leave fuel rods that need to be babysat for centuries, needing lots of fresh water we hope we'll still have on a drying planet.

either one is a deal with the devil. gas too for that matter, but even with fracking that's orders of magnitude less malign, and seems to have become the fuel of choice till we finish pulling our heads out of our collective fundament.

at least we could produce some of that at home for pennies, at a pinch, compared to presently enriching  the putinocracy and raving about LPG terminals.

wind and sun? got any? how many wars are those energy sources going to get us into? how many dictators will we have to prop up for them?

look, if nukes were good for us, we'd have got that message by now, on their merit. they had their moment pretending to be the sun-in-a-box, now the real one has come out, no more need for superannuated hack-jobbing energy from the environment, when elegant solutions exist, and could abound with enough support.

instead we have the industry with the worst track record on truth and lies of any, and they can't find insurance from the precious free market can they? the government/taxpayers have to clean up after a whoops, right?

no need for that with renewables... it's common sense not to go backwards technologically if we can help it, deriving energy from near-infinite sources without political fallout or antipodean resource rape.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Nov 3rd, 2012 at 01:36:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
What would you consider sufficient empirical evidence to change your view on nuclear?
as opposed to unempirical evidence, you mean?
Evidence? moi?

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 05:34:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
touche!

self-evident ever?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 07:12:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Katrin on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 08:15:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I specified. Germany succeeding in decarbonizing. More generally, I will stop shilling for more nukes once the coal plants are all scheduled for demolition and and the loadfactor for the NG burners either very low, or their fuel synthetic rather than natural.

It is an urgency thing, more than anything. The potential kill count from global warming is in the billions, and people have been preaching the gospel that renewables will do the job and thus we do not need to resort to fission for over 40 years. 40 years of failure.

... Question. If 2054 comes around and Germany still burns coal, will that make you reconsider your standpoint?

by Thomas on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:17:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The coal plants are a result of corrupt structures and they will go before 2054. Renewable is the real enemy of nuclear, not coal.

Either you didn't finish your reading list or you didn't take my point of the danger of nuclear plus its cost. Sixty years and they still need subsidies!

by Katrin on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:46:33 PM EST
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The status quo is both vastly more costly, and vastly more deadly. Every nation that elected to burn coal instead of Uranium in 1970, elected to kill many thousands of people. If the nasty climate change projections turn out to be the correct ones, make that millions to billions.
 Nuclear is not harmless. Nothing is harmless. But you do not die extra permanently because you happened to die from radiation. Cancers from coal plant pollution are not somehow fluffy and cute. Birth defects from mercury poisoning are not less heartbreaking to parents than those induced by xenon isotope leakage.
by Thomas on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 05:24:15 PM EST
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Damn. Hit the button by mistake.

You are downplaying the danger from nuclear. Well, unsurprisingly. Additionally you make the mistake of claiming coal was the competitor of nukes. Rubbish. Nuclear is the direct antagonist of renewables. You can't switch to wind and solar and have nukes at the same time. You've got to decide now if you want nuclear or renewables. Killing coal is the next step.

by Katrin on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 05:45:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What would you consider sufficient empirical evidence to change your view on nuclear?

How about: a commercial entity building a plant on time, on budget, without subsidy, and without the State providing unlimited liability insurance? And then operating it safely, and disposing of all the waste successfully, and no weapons proliferation.

What, no takers, anywhere in the world?  Hmmm.

Doesn't that make the economist in you just a little bit suspicious - that there is no such thing as a market price for nuclear? That nuclear is a loser that only governments can pick?

by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 03:51:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In a word, no. The private sector never built a modern rail infrastructure either, and it never will.

What makes me suspicious of nuclear power is the fact that we keep getting leaks revealing an appalling lack of safety culture and safety inspection agencies who are in bed with the plant operators.

Usually, those leaks take the form of documents, but every so often one of them takes the form of fallout.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 04:43:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The private sector never built a modern rail infrastructure either, and it never will.

Not without massive subsidies and subsequent banruptcies, most likely. But the US transcontinental railroads WERE built by the private sector WITH such subsidies and subsequent bankruptcies. Amazingly, those who built the railroads got away with keeping the alternating square mile checkerboard of land grants through the process. Ah! the glory of spin-offs, even in the 19th century. It was the existence of that real estate that made George's single tax anathema to the Robber Barrons.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Nov 4th, 2012 at 09:12:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, George's direct attacks on these land grants (much more extensive in the West) and his proposal that it would be better for the state to directly fund railway construction might already have been enough to make him anathema to them.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 01:29:22 AM EST
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I think a compelling case can be made that the transcontinental railroad is neither modern nor built by the private sector.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 5th, 2012 at 01:41:52 AM EST
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What makes me suspicious of nuclear power is the fact that we keep getting leaks revealing an appalling lack of safety culture

From Penn Energy, two days after JakeS posted the above comment:

South Korea's nuclear power watchdog has extended an investigation into forged safety certificates for thousands of reactor components in use at several nuclear facilities.
by LondonAnalytics (Andrew Smith) on Wed Nov 7th, 2012 at 10:44:34 AM EST
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