Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Whether the nuclear age is sustainable

An Italian physicist writes:
The unsustainable legacy of the Nuclear Age

In the dispute on the beginning of the Anthropocene it has been proposed, among many, a precise date, July 16th 1945, when the Trinity Test exploded the first atomic bomb in the desert of Alamogordo2, which inaugurated the Nuclear Age. On the other hand, the almost contemporaneous Ecomodernist Manifesto proposed that, among other things, "nuclear fission today represents the only present-day zero-carbon technology with the demonstrated ability to meet most, if not all, of the energy demands of a modern economy."3

I do not agree with either of these thesis. The Atomic Age has undoubtedly been a tremendous acceleration of the impact of human activities on natural environment, but in my opinion it joined, however it exacerbated, the trend embarked upon since the First Industrial Revolution, when Capitalism adopted radically new (scientific) methods to exploit and "commodise" Nature and its resources. This breakthrough kicked off the development of industrial processes carried out in physical and chemical conditions further and further away from the conditions of the natural environment on Earth surface, so that they introduced products and procedures which are incompatible with such environment, and therefore produce a permanent and irreversible contamination.4 ...

It is seldom acknowledged the tremendous burden that the Nuclear Age leaves on future generations, and the environment, for an extremely long time. Nuclear processes, and products, are activated at energies millions of times higher than the energies of chemical processes, and consequently they cannot be eliminated by the natural environment on Earth.
He goes on to detail costs of nuclear power.

My problem with this is that there is no comparison to the costs of the alternatives. An article on the costs of coal power would be much worse.

While he has many gripes about nuclear power, he doesn't refute the thesis that nuclear fission is the only practical zero-carbon technology.

1 comment:

  1. If you are going to cite 'carbon dioxide' as being a determining climate driver in the present, you had better be able to demonstrate it in the past climate record. There is no such indication in past climatic record of changing levels of carbon dioxide leading temperature changes. There are times when carbon dioxide levels were much higher and lower than they are now in both warmer and glacial periods. If carbon dioxide goes below 150ppm, trees actually begin to starve to death.

    I dare anyone in the carbon dioxide based anthropogenic global climate change racket to be honest about the primary greenhouse gas that has many magnitudes more influence over climate than CO2, that being H2O...evil evil water everywhere. I dare them to try and regulate those gaseous emissions, it would be a good laugh to watch them try and regulate the sun and sequester the oceans.

    Controlling carbon dioxide is a feeble technocratic ruse to control humanity in the name of a virtue signaling 'ecotheology', which basically opens the door for a centralized control and taxation of everything relating to the human generation of electricity, and by extension, humanity itself.