Greenpeace Founders for Nukes

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It's a tiny club so far, but the environmental organization's co-founder, Patrick Moore, makes the case in the Washington Post.

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  1. In my opinion, this article does a very good job defining the reasons that converted me to a pro-nuclear position. It’s good to see cooler heads prevail on this issue. There are still concerns about nuclear waste, but these are being addressed even as I write this.

  2. Human Non-Sarifice! Greenies and Libertarians Living Together! Mass Hysteria! [/Ackroyd]

    I am a subscriber now!

  3. As a non-green, non-libertarian, I have always seen the two groups as having a lot of common ground in their thinking (despite the fringe wingnut elements in each group).

    Check out http://www.rmi.org/
    for a more extensive demonstration of how the smart greens have a lot to teach/share with the libertatians.

  4. I think it is pretty ironic that the founder of Green Peace is now pushing nuclear power. Read his editorial in the Washington Post. He says that when he founded Green Peace he saw nuclear energy as “synonymous with nuclear holocaust”. How much more fucking stupid could he possibly be?

  5. For an alternative look at other alternatives.

    http://www.rmi.org/images/other/Energy/E05-15_MightyMice.pdf

  6. No Sale Mainstream.
    The Green movement has always been primarily anti-civilization, even to the detriment of the environment, as this nuclear issue clearly demonstrates. Greens have always been devoutly anti-nuke, and have a long (and sometimes violent) history opposing nuclear energy. But as the Moore’s article establishes, nuclear energy is the most environmentally friendly of all the alternatives. My question is: Where the fuck have you been for the past thirty years Patrick? It’s not like any of this was just discovered last year. But it doesn’t matter because now that he’s come out as pro-nuke, he will be excommunicated from the green (i.e. neo-pink) movement. Happy little trees are just a pretext for bashing “corporations”, “globalization”, and everything else that creates wealth and improves the human condition.

    I took twenty minutes to surf around the RMI site. They don’t seem too scary. They think making everything more efficient will make things better. That is a fundamentally flawed hypothesis. Making things more efficient yields reduced cost and always results in a net increase of use. But from what I read, they just want to “educate” people and companies on how to run things better, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, RMI does not put boots on the ground like Greeneace, PeTA, and Earth First!

    And if you still aren’t convinced the Greens would happily sacrifices ten thousand trees to put five thousand people out of work, then just take a look at this

  7. Nuclear power is promising. But it isn’t going to necessarily prevent climate change.

  8. Climate Change isn’t preventable right now; we will be seeing upwards of one meter of sealevel increase in about 100 years. But the problem is how much can be prevented. Dropping coal for nukes now, will prevent seeing at the worst case scenario of 7 meters of sealevel rise in 100 years. (

  9. …also,
    improved efficiencies will allow the poor of the world to be better able to adapt to whatever climate change results.

    (all of the above does not take into any ‘technology indistinguishable from Magic’ stuff, nor any successful prophesies by Ray “The Singularity is Nigh!!!” Kurzweil.)

  10. Nuclear power is promising. But it isn’t going to necessarily prevent climate change.

    If anthropogenic global warming is real (and I’m leaning heavily toward it these days) then you’re right. Even if we had the capability of switching from coal to nukes overnight, we wouldn’t stop the temperature change. It would take time for the hydrocarbons to work their way out of the ecosystem.

    HOWEVER, a nuclear economy would certainly help in the long run, and not just for sake of the environment.

  11. Wayne and Warren: Patrick Moore was actually excommunicated from the Green movement a while ago for saying things very much like this. He actually quit Greenpeace in the mid-eighties because he got sick of the anti-science, overly politicized and confrontational atmosphere. You should check him out; the “Environmentalism for the 21st Century” piece is very much worth reading.

  12. Plus fission energy is at best a stop-gap–there is similarly a finite amount of fissible stuff accessible to any reasonable mining technique.

    It’s a stop-gap of which I approve heartily, but a stop-gap. The final answer has to be some form of efficient solar/fusion/matter-antimatter somethingorother *waves hand*. Fission will at least help us get there with a reasonable living standard intact.

  13. Sandy,
    There is only a finite abmout of solar/fusion/matter-antimatter somethingorother *waves hand* as well. So all forms of energy are “stop-gap”. The final answer is when it’s all gone and everything freezes in the vast empty black (or possibly collapses in the ‘Big Crunch’).

  14. I agree with a couple of points above. First, global warming is almost certainly happening, and is in all likelyhood being caused by us. Preventing all of it is now impossible but slowing it significantly (and drastically reducing the chances of catastrophe, which are already small) is not. Nuclear power is the best stop-gap that we have at the moment. If we replaced the majority of our coal plants with nuclear in the next twenty years, we would significantly reduce not only the CO2 problem but also a number of other pollutants (SOx NOx particulates). We should really be doing this.

    By the time those plants were maturing, fusion will probably have saved the day. If not, most renewables will have likely undercut petro anyway.

    There will be a huge shift in our energy supply in the next thirty years. It is best to be at the forefront and driving the innovation. The best thing the government can do is QUIT SUBSIDIZING PETRO!!!!

  15. “First, global warming is almost certainly happening, and is in all likelyhood being caused by us.”

    Global warming has actually been observed in the temperature record. There have been several ice-ages and smaller cooler/warmer periods including the last mini ice-age and the Medieval Climate Optimum before that.

    What has not been determined is the anthropogenic signature. We may suppose it is there, but it is difficult to tell from all the natural signatures.

    The irony is, if the lefty anti-nukes hadn’t promoted so much anti-nuclear hysteria, we probably would have built many more nuclear power plants already thus would have avoided much past CO2 output. They are poised for similar accomplishments in the near future.

  16. When the first Iranian, Pakistani, North Korean or Al Queda nuclear bomb hits a major western city, I’ll be very curious to see how much support “peaceful nuclear power” has politically. Keep dreaming guys. You can’t have one without the other.

  17. Warren,

    So, you’re one of the wingnuts. Nice to meet you.

    Your sweeping statements show little understanding of the diversity of opinion in the evironmental community. Your pronouncements on efficiency are silly. And your unwillingness to look further into the argument made by the RMI show a lack of curiosity. They posit that a distributed power grid is a better solution than a centralized one. Very libertarian in that it gives individuals power over their own power, rather than reliance on large government supported utilities. Many ex-communists went with the greens due to the concept of the greater good that the two groups share, however, Greens are far more likely to support distributed, locally controlled solutions to government intervention as they tend to view things in terms of systems.

    Read a book.

  18. Yeah, one of those books by Paul Ehrlich would be a good start.

  19. When will Greenpeace begin hiring nearly nude female models to make their point… like PETA does?
    I’m just axing. (Hoping)

  20. Nuclear fission may only be a stopgap measure while we work toward better use of solar, and/or nuclear fusion, but it’s a cleaner stopgap than coal.

  21. Warren: Look up “orders of magnitude” and get back to me.

    Thoreau: hence, my approval thereof. But some think it’s the final answer, hence my interjection.

  22. Whatever the market decides is what will be fair, and very probably the best deal for consumers. So if fission can make it sans subsidization, including insurance subsidization, it deserves to be the choice to the degree it is chosen.

    Also, this non-believer wants to wish a Happy Easter to all of the Christians in our H&R community and to EVERYONE else as well.

  23. I know that fission is subsidized, but I also know that fission is heavily regulated. And I don’t know if coal is subsidized, but I do know that a lot of it is in Robert Byrd’s home state so I naturally assume that the coal companies are getting some sort of favors. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Put all of that together, add it up, and it is not entirely clear to me which technology would prevail in the free market. Maybe somebody can fill me in?

  24. Rick Barton,
    For the species, homo sapiens, happy estrus is redundant.

  25. In 1977, Peter Beckmann made a cogent case for fission in this volume:

    The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear

    http://tinyurl.com/k45od

    As part of his argument, he contrasts fission to coal.

  26. Ruthless,

    Yeah baby! Yeah!

    (please read in Austin Powers accent)

  27. An historical note:

    The Port Huron Statement, a manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), written primarily by Tom Hayden and completed on June 15, 1962 favored nuclear power.

    http://www.ku.edu/carrie/docs/texts/porthuron.html

  28. There will be a greater diversity of fuels in the future – certainly nukes are a proven (if expensive) commodity.

    Bio fuels, such as biodiesel and ethanol, may start to encroach on petroleum’s territory, especially with cars, trucks, buses, et al. These fuels do currently pose a problem of power efficiency – there is controversy whether these fuels return more power than they consume. This will not be an issue when the source materials for these fuels are re-cycled waste from other processes (e.g., biodiesel from waste vegetable oil, ethanol produced from chaff, orange peels, etc.)

    Wind and solar are both currently on the fringes; however, if current petro prices remain where they are, the impetus for increased efficiency should make them more viable as long term investments.

  29. Warren is exactly right and of course is dismissed as a wingnut by the wingnuts on here. People make descisions based on the marginal cost of a good not the overall cost. To put in simple terms, if you can get to drive 40 miles for putting a gallon of gas in your car, you are likely to drive more and purchase more gallons of gas because you get a lot of good out of each gallon. In contrast, if you only get to 10 miles out of a gallon of gas, you will use less gas and avoid driving because you get so little good out of the expense. Another example is electricity, if electricity is cheap and my house is very efficient, I am more likely to have something electricity consuming luxury like a swimming pool than I am if my house isn’t very effience and electricity is explensive. Efficiency still a wonderful thing becuase it means we get to have luxuries like swimming pools, but efficiency does not reduce overall consumption. For all of you people telling Warren to read a book, I have one rejoined, take a micro-economics class!!!

    Also, Warren is exactly right that the greens are more interested in ending capitalism than they are in protecting the environment. The worst polluters on earth in the 70s and 80s were the USSR and its satilliates, yet the greens had nothing but praise for them and had not a word to say about the environmental damage done by communism. They haven’t changed on bit and have if anything gotten worse since the fall of communism.

  30. Mainstream,
    Read this book

    Sandy,
    So just how long do you our fissionable material will hold out?

  31. The Greens have had episodes of their advocates being less than forthright, to say the least. For example, global warming activist and media spokesperson for the movement, Stanford University Associate Professor Steven Schneider, shamefully advocated dishonesty! He advised global warming activists that: “We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”

    http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/science.htm

  32. The best thing the government can do is QUIT SUBSIDIZING PETRO!!!!

    Not. Given all the taxes on petroleum products, they subsidize government. Which is one reason we heavily depend on them.

  33. John, I think a better claim is that it’s unclear whether increased efficiency leads to increased or decreased consumption. If the marginal benefit of consumption falls off sharply after a certain point, the efficiency increase may just get you to that point with less consumption. In other words, if you’re really using all of the oil you’d want to use, increased efficiency will reduce consumption. A good example is food: if I discovered tomorrow a technology that would make food half as expensive, we wouldn’t all start eating 4000 calorie diets; there’s no cause. But I seriously doubt that oil falls into this category, so in this case I suspect you’re right.

  34. “Not. Given all the taxes on petroleum products, they subsidize government. Which is one reason we heavily depend on them.”

    Now this is an odd thing to say on a board full of libertarians. Ending all subsidies, especially for fossils, freeing up (but not wholly eliminating) regulations of Nuclear power…and electrical utilities in general, making our government(s) pay to clean up the Co2 waste they produce. (www.carbonfund.org) These are things a conscientious libertarian should be fighting for.

  35. Jadagul, John is basically correct. In General, the more efficient we become, the ‘more’ we use. Specific things can reach a peak of desire, but in general our desires for more grow. And this would be a good thing as it naturally forces the price of fuels (especially fossil fuels) to rise, forcing more efficiency…which is applicaple to non-fossil uses; and fossil fuel usage (nevermind natual untapped supply) go away quicker.

  36. Larry A: The entire gasoline tax is spent on roads. It is a poor proxy for a road user fee.

    There is no pollution tax on gasoline use, even though it creates a terrible mess. Even rather radical libertarians should agree that polluters should pay, and by all means, that opinion should not change when the polluter is you and me.

    The fact that the government allows petro wastes to be dumped freely is a tremendous subsidy. Also, the taxes generated by gasoline fees come nowhere near paying for the roads. Hence, car use is again tremendously subsidized.

    At the electric generation level, SOx and NOx regulations have gotten better, but particulates, CO2, and all sorts of radioactive fallout are still freebies for the polluters. Again, this amounts to a tremendous subsidy.

    Make the polluters pay, and then let the market sort it out.

  37. I don’t think this point gets made enough:

    Thank God we had Jimmy Carter as President when the TMI accident happened. Think the panic and hysteria were bad? Imagine if we hadn’t had President Nuclear Technician visit the area and make educated announcements that things were under control.

  38. …when behind the scenes they were still figuring out whether they really were under control.

  39. “There is only a finite amout of solar/fusion/matter-antimatter somethingorother *waves hand* as well. So all forms of energy are “stop-gap”. The final answer is when it’s all gone and everything freezes in the vast empty black (or possibly collapses in the ‘Big Crunch’).”

    I’m pretty sure I can beat Mother Earth to the finish line.

    CHORUS (refrain): “But what about the CHILLL- DRIN?

    ——

    I met a guy last summer who was a retired NASA engineer; he also had worked at General Dynamics, as I recall. The question I ought to have asked him, but didn’t think of until it was too late, was: “Couldn’t we (leaving aside the political obstacles) use the same basic reactor/ generator technology that powers nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers to power small-to-medium sized cities? I don’t even know for certain if the electric boat technology is a steam turbine generator, or something else.

    Anybody out there sufficiently knowledgeable to comment?

  40. oops- close quotes after “…cities?” and “…CHILLL- DRIN?”

    stupid keyboard

  41. If there is any doubt about energy efficiency not reducing consumption, consider the U.S. economy as a whole. Today the U.S. economy gets much more GDP per barrel of oil consumed than it did in 1970. Yet, the economy uses much more oil and energy overall today than it did in 1970. Why? The U.S. economy is much much larger now that it was in 1970. Efficiency is still an unqualified good. It certainly played a role in the gorwth since 1970. Moreover, the oil price shocks in the 1970s produced terrible recessions. In contrast, the economy is booming with low inflation, growth over 3% and unemployment below 5% despite the recent price shock in oil. Increased energy is the main reason the price shock hasn’t caused a recession.

  42. P Brooks: I’m not knowledgeable (for those who were unaware of that), but I did find this link which lists the power generated as ~ 200 MegaWatts from two generators. What this would correlate to as far as civilian power generation, I don’t know.

  43. Maybe a shirt with pictures of Friedrich and Salma, with the tag “Hayeks rock!”

  44. Dangit, wrong thread!

  45. Actually, this isn’t about nuclear power. Greenpeace wants the bomb. We’ll see what happens to France the next time they take out a Greenpeace ship.

  46. With regard to increasing levels of efficiency resulting in increased use of enery, Warren and John are correct.

    I look at it this way:

    The engine in a Subaru WRX is very efficient, generating around 230 HP from a 2.5 liter engine.

    On the other hand, the V8 Tbird that I drive now puts out roughly 190 HP with a 4.5 liter engine.

    If I had a WRX, it’s unlikely that I’d realize significant fuel savings because even though the vehicle is more efficient, those advantages are put into making the vehicle faster.

    I’ve noticed this same phenomenon all over the place, and as a result am completely convinced that increased efficiency results in increased power use. It’s counterintuitive until you actually think about it.

  47. To be clear,

    Warren was “dismissed as a wingnut” due to statements like this

    “Happy little trees are just a pretext for bashing “corporations”, “globalization”, and everything else that creates wealth and improves the human condition.”

    Not due to arguments like this

    “Making things more efficient yields reduced cost and always results in a net increase of use. ”

    Making things more efficient yields reduced cost and MIGHT result in a net increase in use, UP TO A POINT, in certain situations.

    I think Jad covered it. The effect of efficiency is not monotonic. Particularly when you talk about energy used to produce a product. If I can produce for less, I will be able to produce more, or cheaper or some combination of both. The demand for my cheaper product, however, can only grow to the point that everyone who wants one has one. (I don’t care how cheap it is, for instance, I will never own an air purifier, or a hello kitty backpack).Efficiency of production isn’t tied directly to the market for your product, particularly when you talk about huge increases in efficiency. Some of the RMI design concepts lead to increases on the order of 10 or 100 to one. It is unlikely that your increased usage would keep pace.

    Mediageek. You’d be able to both go faster and do it with less fuel (and use less materials to build the car also). The efficiency is great enough to offset the increased speed (your WRX doesn’t end up being THAT much faster, and you will probably only drive at top speed occasionally). Hybrid vehicles are an even better example… you get increased efficiency from 0-x mph, the point in the curve where the gas engine is least efficient. You get increased accelaration without increase fuel usage. Think about it harder.

  48. mainstream man,

    See my post about the U.S. economy. It is much more effience now that it ever has been, yet uses much more energy than it ever has. Increased efficency generally does not lead to lower consumption. Warren is absolutely right about that. As far as Warren’s statements about the Greens, he is absolutely right. Again I ask you, if the Greens are so interested in the environment why did they not say a word in the 1970s and 80s when the USSR and its sattillites were committing environmental degredation on an unimaginable scale? They never had a bad thing to say about the USSR or communism. The reason is that Warren is right, they are more interested in bashing capitalism than they are in saving the environement. There are million examples from forest management to endangered species habitat where the Greens fight sound environmental sollutions in the name of protecting the environement but really for the purpose of bashing corporations and captialism.

  49. John,

    I saw your post on the US economy. It does not contain enough detail to support or refute. The US economy (and its energy usage) is certainly significantly larger than it was in the 70’s. To tie that to increased energy efficiency is dubious at best given all the other factors that should be considered.

    Again, I am not arguing that there is no truth to what you say, the flaw in reasoning comes when you apply it monotonically, across the board. The RMI model also is more radical than you are giving it credit for. They propose a change in the way material capital is utilized within the system that mitigates some of the issues you raise…devil’s in the details, as you know. Like I said… I think these people could learn you something about thinking outside the box.

    As for the link between the Soviets and the Greens… gimme a break. Paint with a broad enough brush and you can make any claim you like…most of the Green party was not born until the late 70’s so, granted, their positions on the Soviets were probably pretty immature. I certainly heard plenty about how the Soviets and China were the main environmental offenders during their existence (maybe I am just older than you), and hear even more now how China (and other communist countries) are a concern for the future.

    Environmentalism and communism are orthogonal in their concerns…to dismiss one due to opposition to the other requires an overly dogmatic world view…that’s where the label wingnut comes from.

    If, on the other hand, you want to make political headway from a minority position, you will need to find positions where you overlap with other minority position holders. Most of the smart environmentalists these days are very much into distributed solutions that use the power of the market. If you use the greens as a bridge to the moderate democrats and libertarians as a bridge to the republicans you end up with a pretty large group that might all agree on something. But dismiss at will. Your choice.

  50. ” You get increased accelaration without increase fuel usage. Think about it harder.”

    Honda Prius Hybrid: 0-60 in about 10 seconds.

    Subaru WRX STi: 0-60 in 4.7 secods.

    Hybrids have increased acceleration.

    Sure, whatever dude.

  51. Sam, while I can’t fundamentally support your call to de-regulate the governmental support of the fossil fuel infrastructure (and I’m fully aware that this makes me a hypocrite) I do see where you’re coming from, and I do agree that alt energy is, at this point, inevitable.

  52. MainStreet, I think the tenuous link between the greens and the communists has to do with the notionof the commune…long an American pioneer tradition, unsung for good reason. The commune format gave early green minded people a place and social situation to experiment with green ideas as their focus; naturally it was similar enough to communism to attract, initially, a similar crowd. Then they got bored and said “ah well lets just run a co-op”, now it’s, “ah well lets just buy organic food, drive a Toyota Pious, and be all smug about it.” 😉

  53. this:
    http://raddecision.blogspot.com/
    is a well liked novelization of a nuclear powerplant.

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