The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Monday, May 30, 2011

You go, Angela Merkel!

Bowing to what should have been the laughably obvious for decades, Germany says, "No more nukes." Wonder how long that'll last?

Commercial fission power is one of those horrible binds that we seem to get ourselves into. Day to day, it's greener than coal -- you don't see smoke and smog and slag heaps and decapitated mountains as evidence of it. But most of our plants were designed with the climatic and geological knowledge of 50 years ago, and it's turning out to have been all wrong. And if you can think of a way to solve the spent fuel problem, technically and pollitically, you're smarter than everybody else who's been trying. (Germany already has a 2.3 billion Euro tax on spent fuel rods, so if you're thinking, "raise taxes" as a solution, it's been tried. And of course it'd be easy to raise taxes, over here, wouldn't it?)

I said all this in a letter to some publication, back in the mid-seventies -- that nuclear power was not a viable long term option. A fairly well-thought-of expert (and I have no idea who, at this remove of time,) said he "... didn't agree with my analysis." Guess he disagrees with me and Germany now, too.

Of course this leaves a lot of other countries banking on nukes for electricity. According to Wikipedia, the top ten are:
  • France
  • Slovakia
  • Belgium
  • Ukraine
  • Armenia
  • Hungary
  • Switzerland
  • Slovenia and Croatia
  • Sweden
  • Bulgaria
We're 18th, in terms of our total electrical energy produced by fission, right after Romania, but we still have the most operating commercial reactors, 104, with 9 planned and 22 proposed. I wonder what those numbers will look like in, say, 24 months, when (I hope) the full scope of Fukushima I will be known. But on the other hand: carbon emissions are "worst ever."
What's a man to do?

1 comment:

  1. Not much to argue here. There is some hope in thorium reactors and new designs that do a better job of recycling nuclear waste. There are no free market solutions that include nuclear. The barrier to entry is too high between federal and local governments. That said, there are two horns of this dilemma, independence from foreign oil and green energy production. You can argue that nuclear isn't as green as other choices, but if you want to maximize energy independence, the fastest way is nuclear.