building a nuclear bomb

This weekend I got into a debate with my girlfriend’s family members about the potential use of nuclear energy. Being a so called “tree-hugger”, although a very bad one, I was opposed to the proliferation of nuclear energy. I have two reasons for my position:

1) Use what we already have – I personally feel that we could create a sustainable world to live in, if everyone on this earth could learn to live in a sustainable manner. In other words: cut back on waste, choose environmentally friendly alternatives, and stop reproducing like bunnies.

2) Nuclear energy is a treatment for the symptoms, not a cure for the disease – Yes, nuclear energy could provide us with enough energy to last us many lifetimes, but then what? When will our obsessive need for “more” stop? I think its a better idea for us to just cure the human “disease” of always wanting “more”.

Anyways, I pretty much loss the argument because my knowledge of nuclear power is very limited. So what does a naturally curious person like myself do? I Wikipedia “nuclear power” and began reading. It was a pretty interesting article and I got a pretty comprehensive summary of the nuclear process. But what made me raised an eyebrow and eventually led me to write this blog entry was this one line:

“Today we stock containers of waste because currently scientists don’t know how to reduce or eliminate the toxicity, but maybe in 100 years perhaps scientists will”

Ok… I am a gambler at heart, but even I would be afraid to make this bet. But no worries, there are plenty of “nuclear scientists” out there who have already made this bet for all of us :). So scream out loud with me, “I see your 100 and raise you ALL IN!!!”.

Anyways, I guess my point is. I see why nuclear power is necessary because fossil fuel is ruining our environment, highly unsustainable, and is controlled my loonies :) (come on, you know its true, its not like oil fields are controlled by nuns or the Dalai Lama). But I think that instead of seeing nuclear energy as a magic bullet, we should approach it as more of a last alternative, or a temporary solution. The real solution is to change the way we think and live our lives.

Btw, sorry, no one is building a nuclear bomb here. Just a provocative title to attract your attention. ;)

  • RobC

    I have a lot of respect for Wikipedia, but you have to take it on its own terms. It’s written by people like you and I who put down what we think is right or at least will convince people that we’re right.

    We, speaking collectively of the advanced world, do know how to deal with the wastes. Reprocessing, which is currently being done elsewhere and soon will be done in the US, removes the extremely-valuable leftover uranium and transuranic actinides from the spent fuel. The remaining 3% remains dangerous for a much shorter period of time and could be deposited safely in many ways, for example by putting it in old mine shafts; as long as the mines don’t fill with water the wastes would be perfectly safe. Moreover, there exists now a technology for transmuting the residual wastes into substances with even shorter lifetimes or even have no toxicity. All it takes to make it happen is political will.

    I see from your resume that you graduated in Evolution and Ecology from UC Davis. You’re uniquely well qualified to address the issues of global warming and how to deal with it. What you said here is clear enough, but there’s the practical problem of getting people to lower their standards of living. Also, do you really think we could run a modern civilization on part-time energy sources?

    <A HREF="">Global Warming: A Guide for the Perplexed</A>