- Shoot the messenger.
- The Ostrich response: Put your head in the sand and say, What Problem??
- Meet it and defeat it.
The Republicans have tried #1. It did not work too well. It never does. Pat Toomey suggests #2. It also never works very well. In door #3 we have Joe Sestak who will work to meet and defeat the problem.
In case you are uncertain, there really, absolutely, is a problem. Between day and night, winter and summer, tropics and arctic it is hard to use a thermometer to tell the planet’s temperature, but nature has provided a foolproof way. The planet averages near zero degrees Celsius. It has lots and lots of water, and lots of ice. When it gets colder, the ice grows. If it gets really cold, the ice comes down the center of the USA from Canada in the form of glaciers. If it gets warmer the ice melts. Warmer yet and lots of ice melts, and there is a lot of ice. So we use the Ice Thermometer. Unfortunately, as the ice melts, the waters of Earth rise.
The real problem is melting ice, not because of the polar bears, but because we built most of the large cities on Earth right on the water. For example, Manhattan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, Tokyo, Detroit, Cleveland, New Orleans, Sidney, London, and hundreds of others. This was convenient for shipping both goods and people, provided a dump for sewage, and if the water is fresh it served for drinking and irrigation. That is, Until melting ice raises the water level. The people in New Orleans can explain this problem: ‘Drowned City Problem’.
In fact we created this melting problem. We did it by burning one trillion barrels of oil, about twice that of coal, a bunch of natural gas (basically methane), and a few forests in about 50-100 years, The fact that there are lots of us and we raise lots of food animals did not help. But, if you want to believe the Sun got hotter, okay, do so. It makes little difference. Same ice is still melting. Same water is still rising. Same drowned city problem is still there. Same solution is still needed.
The cure is not to shut down our civilization, or drastically change our life style. First we need better efficiency and better recycling for everything. Efficiency is its own reward, and at present use, in about 37 years we will run out of oil. Things you do not need to use, you do not need to buy. Less oil use is green and is economic and increases our economic and political power on the planet. Next is a shift from oil, coal, and gas to more solar, wind, geo-thermal, water, and nuclear, but much better nuclear. You see, first we built the bombs. Then we has all this enriched Uranium and equipment and techniques for working it, so we said to Enrico Fermi, the physicist in charge of the first reactor (under the west stands, at Stagg Field, University of Chicago) make a reactor for commercial power generation, and he did. No one ever studied other nuclear reactions or other designs!! (Part of this is from personal knowledge. I was registered at the University of Chicago, studying physics, the same time Fermi was there and I knew Dr. Fermi.) We need improvements in safety, reduction of long life radioactives, better use of short life radiation, efficient breeding, and effective non-proliferation. None of these objectives are scientifically impossible.
All new things need time to mature. For example, CFL’s (Compact Florescent Lamps) began as cranky, flickery beasts, suffered early burnout, cost more. Now, a few years downstream, I just bought a six pack of Feit 75 watt (Incandescent equivalent) daylight CFL’s for $7.65, a price of $1.28 each for a bulb that lasts 5 to 10 times longer than an incandescent, is daylight balanced unlike an incandescent, and uses only one-quarter of the electricity as a 75 watt incandescent. What’s not to love??
Tune out the Republican nonsense here. They are wrong on every point. They are wrong on the tax impact, the jobs impact, the overall societal impact, etc. On Tuesday, remember that stupidity is already vastly over-represented in congress. Bring intelligence, integrity, military knowledge, and Sestak’s commitment-to-all-of-us, to the Senate. Elect Joe Sestak Senator from Pennsylvania.
ADDITION OCTOBER 5, 2011
This was written before the Japanese Nuclear Disaster. There were a number of things very wrong with this reactor site, and some of those may apply to USA sites. Congress should charge a committee with investigating. One of the Japanese problems was storing spent nuclear waste in the containment buildings. Another totally critical error was not being able to generate electricity independent of the reactors.
I thought that this problem of NO ELECTRICITY had been highlighted by the infamous USA east coast blackout, but apparently the vaccine didn’t take. New York City found itself unable to start its generators without damaging them because their was no electricity to run the oil pump motors to lube the generator bearings. They finally sacrificed one generator by running it without oil, thus destroying its bearings, to get electricity to start the other generators safely. No electric generating plant should ever assume that it will always have electricity from its own generation or from outside sources.
One needs sufficient backup generation to run the control systems, to shut down all reactors, and to cool until safe from meltdown. There should be redundant generation, redundant wiring (circle feeds), and redundant fuel storage. There should be a helicopter pad in case additional fuel or generation is needed. The military can be charged with maintaining fuel and generators which they can copter to any reactor.
Reactors need to be equipped with gravity activated scram rods, and maybe with cadmium sulfate quench solution as a last ditch shutdown.
As problematic as nuclear may be, it is the only feasible near term energy solution. We need to make it safe, but then we can say this about any of our technological systems. In any emergency, electricity is the first thing to go. Once electricity is gone, everything else is gone. We need to correct this.