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Old April 3rd, 2013 (06:39 PM).
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Using nuclear power in place of fossil-fuel energy sources, such as coal, has prevented some 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths globally and could save millions of more lives in coming decades, concludes a study. The researchers also find that nuclear energy prevents emissions of huge quantities of greenhouse gases. These estimates help make the case that policymakers should continue to rely on and expand nuclear power in place of fossil fuels to mitigate climate change, the authors say (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es3051197).

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, critics of nuclear power have questioned how heavily the world should rely on the energy source, due to possible risks it poses to the environment and human health.

“I was very disturbed by all the negative and in many cases unfounded hysteria regarding nuclear power after the Fukushima accident,” says report coauthor Pushker A. Kharecha, a climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York.

Working with Goddard’s James E. Hansen, Kharecha set out to explore the benefits of nuclear power. The pair specifically wanted to look at nuclear power’s advantages over fossil fuels in terms of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Kharecha was surprised to find no broad studies on preventable deaths that could be attributed to nuclear power’s pollution savings. But he did find data from a 2007 study on the average number of deaths per unit of energy generated with fossil fuels and nuclear power (Lancet, DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61253-7). These estimates include deaths related to all aspects of each energy source from mining the necessary natural resources to power generation. For example, the data took into account chronic bronchitis among coal miners and air pollution-related conditions among the public, including lung cancer.

The NASA researchers combined this information with historical energy generation data to estimate how many deaths would have been caused if fossil-fuel burning was used instead of nuclear power generation from 1971 to 2009. They similarly estimated that the use of nuclear power over that time caused 5,000 or so deaths, such as cancer deaths from radiation fallout and worker accidents. Comparing those two estimates, Kharecha and Hansen came up with the 1.8 million figure.

They next estimated the total number of deaths that could be prevented through nuclear power over the next four decades using available estimates of future nuclear use. Replacing all forecasted nuclear power use until 2050 with natural gas would cause an additional 420,000 deaths, whereas swapping it with coal, which produces significantly more pollution than gas, would mean about 7 million additional deaths. The study focused strictly on deaths, not long-term health issues that might shorten lives, and the authors did not attempt to estimate potential deaths tied to climate change.

Finally the pair compared carbon emissions from nuclear power to fossil fuel sources. They calculated that if coal or natural gas power had replaced nuclear energy from 1971 to 2009, the equivalent of an additional 64 gigatons of carbon would have reached the atmosphere. Looking forward, switching out nuclear for coal or natural gas power would lead to the release of 80 to 240 gigatons of additional carbon by 2050.

By comparison, previous climate studies suggest that the total allowable emissions between now and 2050 are about 500 gigatons of carbon. This level of emissions would keep atmospheric CO2 concentrations around 350 ppm, which would avoid detrimental warming.

Because large-scale implementation of renewable energy options, such as wind or solar, faces significant challenges, the researchers say their results strongly support the case for nuclear as a critical energy source to help stabilize or reduce greenhouse gas concentrations.

Bas van Ruijven, an environmental economist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo., says the estimates on prevented deaths seem reasonable. But he wonders if the conclusion that nuclear power saves hundreds of times more lives than it claims will convince ardent critics.
The nuclear power issue is “so polarized that people who oppose nuclear power will immediately dispute the numbers,” Van Ruijven says. Nonetheless, he agrees with the pair’s conclusions on the importance of nuclear power.
Pretty interesting and compelling argument here. Ideas?
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Old April 3rd, 2013 (06:57 PM).
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I'm all for nuclear energy. I think it's a good stepping stone between fossil fuels and renewables. It's a political minefield, but countries like France and China can get away with it and build up a thriving industry. For China, it's much better than coal plants. And newer tech becomes safer as innovations start creeping in. As for the US, it's politically impossible and there's shale gas. As for Canada, we have the oil sands XD
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Old April 3rd, 2013 (07:03 PM).
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I think nuclear power is great, with new tech. Kinda tired of hearing or reading "in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan". The technology for these reactors have come a long way since what was implemented there and elsewhere.

A lot of issues with how nuclear is handled currently can be addressed by new, up-to-code facilities.
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Old April 3rd, 2013 (07:31 PM).
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Most of the distrust is because of the issues earlier reactors had.

Reactor technology has improved a lot since Chernobel - Sadly a lot of people against reactors tend to disregard these improvements.

Now they can point at Fukushima as a reason to not use nuclear power - But those events weren't because the reactors malfunctioned. It was because the place got a one-two to the head and a kick to the balls in the form of a earthquake and tsunami, followed by no one wanting to flood the reactors with seawater because A) Reactors are expensive and B) Flooding them with seawater would have ruined them. The earthquake did some damage to the reactors, but it wasn't anything dangerous. The tsunami flooded the place, ruining the secondary generators that powered the cooling systems - And this was really, really, bad.

Reactor technology is stable - The Fukushima disaster wasn't because the technology was flawed. It was because in a battle of man and nature, nature will be victories, and because no one wanted to flood the reactors with seawater since it would ruin them. Eventually they were flooded, but by then it was to late to prevent meltdown.

The main concern though is the radioactive waste they produce. Thats the real danger - Actually, no. We can easily store it somewhere safe. The real danger is how long it remains radioactive.

Something interesting, but because of how long this material remains radioactive, there is a group trying to come up with more effective ways of telling people "Danger danger, stay the **** away from here". Sure, it's laughable because how can something so dangerous be forgotten? But when you think about just how long some of these materials can be radioactive for, 250k to a million years, you can see what they are worried about.
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Old April 3rd, 2013 (07:47 PM).
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But nuclear fuel is energy-dense and cheap. Landfill concerns take up far more space than spent waste. And breeder reactors can use waste to make more fuel. It's all Greenpeace's fault for scaring the crap out of people.
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Old April 3rd, 2013 (09:07 PM).
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Quote originally posted by Mr. X:
Most of the distrust is because of the issues earlier reactors had.

Reactor technology has improved a lot since Chernobel - Sadly a lot of people against reactors tend to disregard these improvements.

Now they can point at Fukushima as a reason to not use nuclear power - But those events weren't because the reactors malfunctioned. It was because the place got a one-two to the head and a kick to the balls in the form of a earthquake and tsunami, followed by no one wanting to flood the reactors with seawater because A) Reactors are expensive and B) Flooding them with seawater would have ruined them. The earthquake did some damage to the reactors, but it wasn't anything dangerous. The tsunami flooded the place, ruining the secondary generators that powered the cooling systems - And this was really, really, bad.

Reactor technology is stable - The Fukushima disaster wasn't because the technology was flawed. It was because in a battle of man and nature, nature will be victories, and because no one wanted to flood the reactors with seawater since it would ruin them. Eventually they were flooded, but by then it was to late to prevent meltdown.

The main concern though is the radioactive waste they produce. Thats the real danger - Actually, no. We can easily store it somewhere safe. The real danger is how long it remains radioactive.

Something interesting, but because of how long this material remains radioactive, there is a group trying to come up with more effective ways of telling people "Danger danger, stay the **** away from here". Sure, it's laughable because how can something so dangerous be forgotten? But when you think about just how long some of these materials can be radioactive for, 250k to a million years, you can see what they are worried about.
It's not just that, there was a persuasive essay, called Nuclear Is Not the Answer by Alyssa Woudstra, which I read from my English 101 textbook, The College Writer, explaining that nuclear power plants are vulnerable to terrorist attacks and used 9/11 as an example as to why there could be a terrorist working undercover in a nulcear power plant and purposely create a nulcear meltdown. This would be a legit concern about using nuclear energy rather than fossil fuels.
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Old April 3rd, 2013 (09:13 PM).
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Quote originally posted by Pinkie-Dawn:
It's not just that, there was a persuasive essay, called Nuclear Is Not the Answer by Alyssa Woudstra, which I read from my English 101 textbook, The College Writer, explaining that nuclear power plants are vulnerable to terrorist attacks and used 9/11 as an example as to why there could be a terrorist working undercover in a nulcear power plant and purposely create a nulcear meltdown. This would be a legit concern about using nuclear energy rather than fossil fuels.
That's not exactly a new scenario, though. Chances are that's something that would be addressed when hiring people to work at the plant, and something they'd think of in protecting it. I'm sure it's possible, but maybe not in in the U.S.. or the U.K., France, etc. Now a nuclear facility in the Middle East, say in Yemen, Syria, Iran even, would be another story entirely.
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Old April 4th, 2013 (09:41 AM).
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I think Nucleur Power is the answer for now, but i think for renewable energy, Tidal Power is the way forward
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Old April 4th, 2013 (10:22 AM).
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Nuclear power is only as good and useful as its safeguards against problems. That stuff needs to be regulated like nothing has ever been regulated before. I know big disasters are fairly rare, but when they strike they are bring new meaning to the word disaster. It's a kind of problem that may not cause as many deaths, but it's terrible in other ways.

Personally, I think the solution to our energy needs is simply to be more efficient with our energy use. I live in California where we're all taught to be good to the environment and hippie ideas like that but I still see people all over the place leave lights on and other simple things like that. We should also develop a range of technologies around other renewables like wind and so on.
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Old April 5th, 2013 (08:12 PM).
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Quote originally posted by Itstoppedatumbreon:
I think Nucleur Power is the answer for now, but i think for renewable energy, Tidal Power is the way forward
This, except replace "tidal power" with "thorium." Thorium is cheap, readily available, and extremely easy to make use of. The only reason we don't use it is because a few people with a bit of power would lose money if it became popular.

The only real problem with nuclear is when you try to cheap out and ignore the safety regulations to save a few bucks. Nearly every nuclear accident has happened in a plant that operated way past its recommended lifespan.
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Old April 5th, 2013 (08:18 PM).
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Quote originally posted by twocows:
This, except replace "tidal power" with "thorium." Thorium is cheap, readily available, and extremely easy to make use of. The only reason we don't use it is because a few people with a bit of power would lose money if it became popular.
I thought the point of thorium was to use it in combination with nuclear.


I think hydrogen fuel would be pretty cool for cars
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