Monday, May 07, 2012

No nukes.

So the Japanese powered down the last reactor in their country, and the whole grid is humming along without a single volt originated by splitting a uranium atom.

Environmentalists are probably decorating their cupcakes over this; a major economy forswearing that icky nuclear energy and moving forward into a greener future of unicorns farting luminescent rainbows across solar panels and through wind turbines.

Not so fast, Alex Steffen; we're talking about powering one of the Earth's largest industrial economies, not the Vegan Women's Flax Weaving Cooperative:
Prior to the Fukushima disaster, Japan relied on nuclear for approximately 30% of its energy. As reactors have come off-line, the country has increased its imports of fossil fuels.

Japan's government predicts it won't be able to keep up that pace, and the void will result in an energy crunch this summer, possibly leading to rolling blackouts.
All those Priuses and Leafs aren't hand-crafted using organic materials by elves in trees, you know.


og said...

Is "decorating their cupcakes" code for something? Sounds particularly weird.

Anonymous said...

Well, let's see: More oil imported into a country which has been in recession for twenty years oughta make things better, as they contribute more CO2 to the atmosphere. Last I heard, more demand for oil runs the price up, which increases the cost of Lycra, plastic bicycle helmets, ripstop nylon and extruded aluminum tubing for backpacks and tent frames for the Sierra Clubbers.

Runs up the cost of transportation fuel, as well, which increases the cost of food.

But, hey, no nukes is good nukes, right?

Bram said...

Wait - I wasn't paying attention. The Japanese shutdown every reactor in the country because of an accident caused by a giant tsunami and a design flaw which resulted in no deaths?

Seriously? What will happen when (not an if) a worker is killed in a coal or oil electrical plant? (other than the media ignoring the whole thing)

JD(not the one with the picture) said...

Maybe they could "engineer a hostile takeover" of all the oilfields from the Spatly Islands down to Indonesia. It worked so well last time.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

@ Bram: Yeah, it really does make that much sense.

Just remember, nukes are evil and uncontrollably dangerous, and anyone who claims differently is lying. Ignore all evidence of the rather excellent safety record, it's all fabrication by evil anti-Gaia environment destroying corporate shills.

bmayer said...

My reading of the environmentalists literature over the last few years is that some of the more vocal ones are for nuclear power. What they say is that of all the things we can reasonably do to generate electricity nuclear is the least bad. Especially given that anthropogenic global warming is #1 on their list of bad things.

Here is a NPR interview from 2006:

Brad K. said...

The Vegan Women's Flax Weaving Cooperative. Where do they meet, and do they have an 'auxiliary' for those of us that aren't vegan? I have been thinking of planting flax this year, but the whole retting and scutching thing has me puzzled.

Then there is the spinning part.

Jeff said...

Looking forward to those rolling blackouts...

I'll bet the media ignores the reactors coming back online in 6 months.

Maybe they are shutting down for refueling and they are trying to make a story out of it for some weird Japanese reason.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Not to Worry! The Japanese have already lined up a Green, Renewable Energy Source that Mother Gaia has provided for millions of years.

It's called Whale Oil.

Anonymous said...

Pictureless JD touched on it -
- - Anyone remember the last time
Nippons oil reserves dropped to six months or so?
Maybe their government can cryptically mention finding energy
by 'climbing Mount Tanaka' or
applying 'the Three Alls'...

Anonymous said...

Okay, correction on last -
- I meant Mount

Pygmy Rattler said...

I'm very interested in the Vegan Women's Flax Weaving Cooperative.
The only thing better than a vegan woman in linen is...

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think the "no nukes" people are shills for the coal industry. How can you simultaneously believe in CO2-driven global warning and the idea that nuclear energy is evil?

wolfwalker said...

Les: My money's on a captive (and very well cared for) Gojira. How could you get more 'green' than a living nuclear reactor?

Anon: Many environmentalists believe nuclear power is evil for three reasons:

1) in their minds "nuclear power" = "nuclear weapons" and there is no difference in concept between a Trident MIRV and a nuclear power plant.

2) the older styles of nuclear reactor really are not very well engineered, and a major accident has the potential to kill thousands, cost billions of dollars in damages and recovery costs, and contaminate large areas of land for a long period of time.

3) hard-core environmentalists are fiercely devoted to the idea that our modern, industrialized, high-resource society is inherently wrong - lock, stock, and barrel. Anything that generates enough power to sustain this society is therefore also inherently wrong.

JJ said...

They have shifted a lot of manufacturing out of the country. Japanese auto companies are moving production to the market countries where their product is sold.

They have also shifted work weeks around to do a lot of power hungry processes on weekends.

In a country that is very homogeneous and still has a large part of the population with the mentality of subjects rather than citizens you can get big portions of the population to rearrange their lives.

Foundries, heat treatment processes and others that use a lot of power are moving their operations to times of lower power consumption. They could not have made this work when their economy was running strong. Now that the yen is too strong they can't export as much.

Aging population, youth not having kids, jobs getting exported, limitations on future power capacity.

They are managing the decline of a dying economy.

Brad K. said...

"How can you simultaneously believe in CO2-driven global warning and the idea that nuclear energy is evil? "

Part of the rationale has to do with how much fossil fuel is required to operate a nuclear plant -- it takes enormous amounts of electricity to start up a reactor (start the circulating pumps and turbines spinning before you ever start generating heat from the core). Just like you cannot field and operate a wind farm without burning tons and tons of coal and oil, or build and maintain solar panels, or batteries, or home controllers. And you cannot produce ethanol without scads of fossil fuels, let alone the carbon foot print of government spending.

Then some environmentalists worry about those holding ponds and transport and other storage issues to do with "spent" fuel rods. The energy to keep the water there to boil off is mostly measured in coal and oil. Then there is that annoying tendency of spent fuel rods to remain radioactive, and a danger to be near for man and beast and flowers of the field. (If they still produce that much heat and radiation, why can't we bury a few outside the city limits, duct storm water to the site, collect the boiled off water and either condense it to hot water or use as steam to heat City Hall and schools, businesses, jails, and to steam clean fire and sanitation trucks? Anyway.)

I do like wolfwalker's point #2, about older designs, since the US hasn't put one into production for what, 20 years, meaning the design is at least 10 years older? Where are "modern" designs to use for comparison?

Tam said...

Brad K.,

"I do like wolfwalker's point #2, about older designs, since the US hasn't put one into production for what, 20 years..."

It's been less than 20 months, actually.

Brad K. said...

@ Tam,

Sorry. I rode one of the Navy reactors (USS South Carolina, CGN-37). I note that the decommissioned the ship rather than re-fuel the reactors. Seems fairly, um, impressive utilization of resources. Of course, retiring the ship keeps up the union roles building new ships.

I was thinking more about commercial nuclear power generation plants. Maybe civilian nuclear program regulators are where Obama got the strategy to suppress offshore oil drilling without actually making a policy.