@strypey wrt. nuclear waste - IIRC we have reprocessing technology which allows separating spent fuel into two parts: one which can be reused, and the other whose radiactivity will fall below radioactivity of natural uranium ore in 80 years.

That would mean that we need a storage building that will survive 80 years, which IMO sounds well within reach, and there are such repositories being built right now.

@strypey I looked through the links in your blog post and haven't found anything relevant to your nuclear waste disposal claims, so I didn't feel compelled to look for citations either. But maybe I missed something.

@Wolf480pl come on. It's well known that radioactive waste is dangerous, that it remains so for thousands of years, and that managing waste has been a huge headache. So firstly, you are the one making the extraordinary claim here. Secondly, you are making the claim that fits nicely with industry PR, so that's another reason the burden of proof is on your here.

@strypey @Wolf480pl there is radioactive waste in coal ash.

We are talking about exponential reductions in quantity and linear increases in hazard.

That's why nuclear is safer than wind.

@RandomDamage
> there is radioactive waste in coal ash.

True, but that's far from the most important reason to stop burning coal *now*.

> nuclear is safer than wind

Stop it, you're killing me! :D Wait ... you're not serious are you?

@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl there is no perfectly safe power, and in lives/TwH, nuclear is damn safe.

I chased the body counts a few years ago, and it's amazing.

Not that wind and solar are *bad*, it's just that nuclear is *really good*.

@RandomDamage @strypey yeah, nuclear goes to great lengths to ensure safety. The only other industry I can think of that puts similar effort on it is aviation.

Plane accodents get a lot of publicity, because many people die at once. But does that mean travelling by plane is less safe than by car? Hell no.

@RandomDamage
Love to know how you ...
> chased the body counts

... for the people who are yet to be poisoned by decommissioned reactors and their waste for the next few hundreds (or thousands) of years. Or all the people whose cancer was caused by Fukishima spreading radioactive matter throughout the Pacific. If you'd done the same analysis on oil about 50 years into its use, you would probably have been singing it's praises as an eco-friendly alternative to coal ;)
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl 5 decades of baseline is a pretty strong indicator.

25 years since Chernobyl, which was worst case, and it hasn't even matched Bhopal.

At some point a lack of evidence becomes evidence of a lack.

@RandomDamage if radiation killed people instantly, on contact, sure. That's not how it works or why it's as dangerous as it is. There's also all the non-human life that sickens and dies as a result of radioactivate waste from nuclear plants. The waste that's already been produced will kill many more people than it already has, and producing more is avoidable, institutional murder.
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl yet the confirmed fatalities from radiation are vanishingly small. Even the suspected fatalities aren't that many.

Radiation is one of the lesser dangers to people, it's just scary because we can't see it.

@strypey @RandomDamage AFAIK most of the casualties there were caused by the evacuation, not by radiation itself.

Also, this is the same kind of argument that would work when trying to argue that more people die in plane crashes than in car accidents.

@strypey @Wolf480pl I will have to check with the former residents of Dresden first.

@RandomDamage you have drifted a long way from the topic. The biocidal nature of radioactive waste is well known. If you want to make the extraordinary claim that it isn't, let's see some evidence. Same with the absurd claim that wind power kills people.
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl you are ignoring the data. Nuclear waste is not more dangerous than chemical waste, and it has an expiration date.

Nuclear isn't hazard free, but it is way safer than chemical alternatives, and even somewhat safer than wind and solar.

You're arguments depend on context-free concerns about the hazard.

@RandomDamage
> you are ignoring the data

That would be quite a feat, since you haven't presented any :)
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl you are right, I haven't.

I am not the one making an exceptional claim.

@RandomDamage @strypey
At this point, I think this discussion is pretty much going in circles.
I'm muting the thread, just so I don't feel tempted to reply, and I recommend you guys do the same, unless you're actually enjoying it.

@strypey @Wolf480pl the extraordinary claim is that nuclear power is dangerous.

Totally unsupported claim.

@RandomDamage @strypey @Wolf480pl Hahaha, its safer than wind right. Please show me a wind turbine that's destroyed fisheries. Show me a wind turbine that continues to consume 10%+ of the entire US department of energy's budget every year in failed containment and cleanup costs DECADES after its been shut down AND continues to leak radiation despite the efforts, causing even the government to send warnings to residents.
Let me guess "That's not REAL nuclear, thats N-1 generation nuclear" yea yea I know by definition this new nuclear is inherently safe and cheap and its only those god damn omnipotent environmentalists that are suppressing it (despite somehow having no power when it comes to enacting any other environmental regulation or protection).
Nuclear is not safe, in fact it is the most pandora's box technology I've ever seen probably. The only reason its operated without accident is because of insanely huge amounts of efforts, one reason why this "super cheap and safe" technology has never made economic power despite millions of investment that dwarf every other potential energy technology including many that aren't inherently shit.

@hushroom @RandomDamage @strypey

>Please show me a wind turbine

Comparing one wind turbine with one nuclear power plant is nowhere near fair.
You need an entire farm of wind turbines to generate half of the electric power of a single EPR reactor generates, and that's assuming maximum wind all the time.

@hushroom @RandomDamage @strypey

If you want to make a fair comparison, calculate everything per TWh. Emissions per TWh, accidents per TWh, deaths per TWh, etc.

@hushroom @RandomDamage @strypey
looks like Forbes calculated the numbers a few years ago, though I have no idea what data they're basing it on, whether that data is reliable, and whether Forbes itself is reliable.

forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/20

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@Wolf480pl @RandomDamage @strypey i don't have sources for those numbers, do you really question this?

to me, it seems beyond obvious from a first order approximation that a nuclear power plant is order of magnitude more complex, more susceptible to failure, and has far, far more destructive capability than a large rotor with 3 airfoils and a large mast made of inert materials and some lubricant.
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@Wolf480pl @RandomDamage @strypey Even if a field of wind turbines falls down, its not dangerous for the next 100 or 1000 years

and its not fair to compare a field of wind turbines, that require no operators and periodic maintenance with a nuclear reactor which requires specially trained operators, probably even more specific and scarce geography, and all kinds of other externalities

@Wolf480pl also natural uranium ore is also extremely toxic! That's why it's a good idea not to dig it up and cart it around in the first place, burning a shite-load of fossil fuels and emitting a decent chunk of carbon into a already stressed biosphere in the process.

@strypey I don't see why the energy required to dig up uranium can only be produced from fossil fuel. Is it different than the energy we use to run our computers or produce wind wind turbines?

@strypey also, the production of photovoltaic cells involves toxic materials, too.

@Wolf480pl not materials that are toxic enough in the tiniest quantities to kill people for thousands of years. Comparing radioactive waste to that is like comparing it to the arsenic in almonds.

@strypey @Wolf480pl
... I don't have the answer, but current coal consumption in the US alone is on the order of a trillion (with a 't') pounds per year and far, and pollution from that is far more toxic to the globe than all the spent nuclear fuel in the world.

I'm in favor of scaling up both nuclear and renewables to displace fossil fuels, then scaling renewables up further to displace nuclear.

@mike Replacing oil (particularly petrol/ deisel/ aviation fuel) is much more difficult than replacing coal. () already gets the vast majority of its electricity supply from hydro dams and large-scale wind plants. The few coal plants left are being sunsetted one by one, and coal mining for energy generation (and direct burning for space heating) has been winding down in for decades. (1/2)
@Wolf480pl

@mike I'll admit I don't know as much about the specifics of the US energy mix as my own country. But I do remember saying the solar industry already employs more US workers than the coal industry. Which suggests that renewables are making more progress there than most people realize, despite decades ofmassive subsidies to the fossil fuel industries (especially when you include ). (2/2)
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl
Coal use in the US is declining but it's still used for 27% of our electricity, and natural gas use is climbing and at 35%. (+20% nuclear, the rest renewables.) Displacing fossil fuels for transit is a whole different beast, but for electricity generation I think it's possible quickly if we spend enough.

@mike
> for electricity generation I think it's possible quickly if we spend enough.

... or reduce usage enough. Imagine a small datacentre in each apartment building where it gets cold in the winter, that redirects its waste heat into the central heating system. What about in the summer? Turn them off/ down and default to mirror servers in the opposite hemisphere. For that matter, imagine household space heaters that run power through a server instead of a resistor.
@Wolf480pl

@Wolf480pl renewables can be produced at or near the point of use. Nuclear fuels (as well as being a finite fossil fuel in themselves) cannot. An energy source that is also a major energy sink will necessarily long supply chains is inefficient and not particularly resilient.

@strypey @Wolf480pl

This is unfortunately not always true.

Take Germany for instance, most of the wind power is generated in the North and there is relatively little wind in the south, so they need to build high-voltage transmission lines to feed the south with wind power.

@jcbrand OK, but that's still a big improvement in both energy efficiency and safety than shipping uranium from Oz (not to mention the energy cost of handling the waste safely).
@Wolf480pl

@jcbrand @Wolf480pl if you take a myopic focus on a single segment of renewables in a single country, instead of the whole picture, you can make whatever distorted argument you like. This is what the PR companies working for the nuclear industry and other fossil fuels industries do. Southern Germany has a range of other renewables available, and in a cooperating Europe, their options also include renewable energy from northern France, Switzerland, Austria, and Czech.

@strypey @Wolf480pl

> you can make whatever distorted argument you like

Don't put words in my mouth. I wasn't making any distorted arguments, I simply stated a fact.

> Southern Germany has a range of other renewables available

Then why make all the effort to transmit wind energy from the north? Because they're too stupid to recognize the local renewable resources available to them?

@strypey @Wolf480pl

In any case, I'm not necessarily pro nuclear. I don't know what the solution is.

It would be great if we could switch to 100% renewables tomorrow, but they're diffuse and intermittent and AFAIK we can't run a modern industrial economy with smelters, factories etc. on renewables alone.

It seems to me we'll continue to make a deal with the devil (coal, nuclear) for the foreseeable future. The alternative is a future with less energy and economic activity and more poverty

@jcbrand
> I don't know what the solution is.

Same. But I suggest having a browse of the renewables info on:
* journeytoforever.org/
* appropedia.org

> we can't run a modern industrial economy ... on renewables alone.

Good. That economy is destroying the biosphere. It's incredibly wasteful. It does a terrible job of distributing resources, eg some estimates say that 1/3 to 1/2 of al the food it grows is never eaten (by humans). The sooner we're rid of it the better.

@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl

Careful what you wish for. You might just end up in a world of mass famine and starvation.

Europe went backwards technologically, culturally and socially for almost a thousand years after the fall of the Roman empire.

We risk doing the same if we simply dismantle what we've built up without having proper replacements put in place.

@jcbrand
> Europe went backwards technologically, culturally and socially for almost a thousand years after the fall of the Roman empire.

Really? From what I've skimmed in historical and anthropological literature, the Roman Empire (in contrast with pre-Empire Roman society) was inherently unsustainable and resulted in massive inequality, and most societies ruled by the Romans were better off within a generation or two after the collapse than they were before it.
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl

Concerning inequality, I'd rather live in an unequal society where my absolute standard of living (and that of the poorest) is high, than an equal society where my absolute standard of living is much lower.

@jcbrand that might seem true in theory, but the evidence in The Spirit Level suggests that it's actually not, and that inequality produces social misery regardless of absolute standards of living.
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl

I don't understand this line of reasoning.

What would equality be as opposed to inequality? Where is the end destination?

I'm 100% pro equality before the law. What else?

People clearly aren't equal in their abilities, interests or output and never will be.

So there will always be inequality between people. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

@strypey @Wolf480pl

I don't understand this line of reasoning.

What would equality be as opposed to inequality? Where is the end destination?

I'm 100% pro equality before the law. What else?

People clearly aren't equal in their abilities, interests or output and never will be.

So there will always be inequality between people. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

@jcbrand @strypey
maybe instead of equality, we should consider envy-freeness?

@Wolf480pl what if it's not about "envy" (which is a totally subject value judgement) so much as a) compassion, b) collatoral damage inequality causes to groups at every level of the hierarchy in extremely unequal societies, c) corrosive effects inequality has on democracy, public health, social infrastructure etc etc etc? I suggest at least skim the book and its references before you dismiss its thesis out of hand.
@jcbrand

@jcbrand actually you're right. Talking about "inequality" is like talking about slavery as "unfreedom". We need a more specific word to describe the systemic way wealth is concentrated, forcing most people into servitude and any increasing number into poverty. The word "capitalism" was coined to serve that function, but it's meaning has been muddied over the last century or so.
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl

> forcing most people into servitude and any increasing number into poverty.

What do you base these pronouncements on?

According to the UN: "the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from 36 percent in 1990 to 15 percent in 2011".

Much of the reduction in poverty comes from China and in large part due to them implementing market-based reforms.

politifact.com/global-news/sta

@jcbrand that's a convenient cherry to pick. Among industrialized country's "market-based reforms" have produced massive increases in poverty, especially homelessness. The Chinese government has been very selective about when and how it allowed "market-based reforms". For example, limiting permanent urban migration to the rate at which housing can be built, to limit urban homelessness.
@Wolf480pl

@strypey @Wolf480pl

Fact is that worldwide extreme poverty has gone down by ~60%, not up.

I'm not going to say everything is hunky dory with the current system. Obviously not.
There is a lot that can and should be improved.

But this idea that it's all just the evil, exploitative capitalists and that we should just destroy the whole industrial system to save ourselves is a very dangerous meme.

Ideas like that have led to 10s of millions of people dying of starvation in the 20th century

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