[Marxism] Re: Nuclear Issues

dwalters at marxists.org dwalters at marxists.org
Tue Jul 11 15:26:19 MDT 2006


Before I charge in here, I wanted to note that like others I haven't  thought
much about this issue in decades. It has only been since the 2001 California
Energy Crisis, and, more recently, noting the change of position of the old US
SWP on this issue that has forced me to deal with it.

Also, like a few others, I'm far less opposed to nuclear as I once was, say I'm
'betwix-and-between'.

I wanted to answer or respond to c.courtenayquirk comments here:

"As for nuclear reactors, we should shut them down and take them off-line asap."

Talk about "unreality". "ASAP", realistically, would mean the massive building
of fossil plants to replace the 20% of nuclear power we use now (and in US
states like Illinois and Indian, where nuclear accounts for about 50% of their
power!). This is what we want to do, shut them down now, black out whole
regions??? This is called political "unreality".

C. continue:
"They're far too dangerous and poisonous to allow to continue to function."

What do you mean? Little if any actual stray radiation escapes these plants
les
than nuclear fuel-to-weapons facilities for sure. Additionally, and more
importantly, since Three Mile Island, now 30 year ago, there hasn't been one
nuclear accident approaching this scale since, in the US, Japan or Western
Europe. Back during the Labor Conference for Safe Energy and Full Employment in
1978 we stated the same thing: "it's too dangerous, this could happen again
anytime!". We were wrong, it didn't happen and that's because the fear of god
was put into the industry to shape up or be put out of business. The fact is
that industry, the * capitalist * nuclear industry is far safer than it ever
has been. We have to see that as a 'reality'
it's not 1977 again.

Continuing along these lines:
"As for the real-world practical energy needs, we could vastly reduce our energy
consumption with simple urban planning; building large sky-scraper residential
buildings and connecting them to train lines that are powered by a combination
of traditional fossil-fuel power-plants and solar-power cells along the train
lines is something that could be begun in a few months. And as scientists
concentrate on increasing solar-power cell and power transmission efficiency,
the fossil-fuel plants can be taken off-line as well."

I agree sort of/kind of
fossil will be around as long as there is fossil fuel to
use. We could use cleaner fossil like gas, while orientation toward conservation
and alternatives. But I want to remind folks that the crisis in California 5
years ago had nothing to do with 'peak oil' or constrained supplies of natural
gas, rather they had everything to do with manipulation of the market by the
energy pirates like Enron, et al (I know, I work for one!). That crisis was
manifested in one word "Price". The crisis was a *crisis of price*, and it went
up and up from $30/megawatt hour to $750/megawatt hour. THAT was the crisis.
Which means that politically, most Americans, right now, will simply not accept
that high a price for solar energy, because solar, now, is very, very expensive,
and if prices are *forced* to go up, you'll lose support for solar. Solar is
long term, not short term, and anyone who thinks different doesn't understand
US politics. It's good that we invest in it, but only so it doesn't drive the
overall cost up beyond fossil (and nuclear) prices.

New Nuke Technologies.

Rod Holt went over some of these technology, including the use of Thorium
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium], which weapons can't be made of and is
more plentiful and cheaper. Additionally, generation III and IV nuclear power
plants are way cheaper to build, modular, smaller and all around more efficient
to run. Currently only the South Africans and Chinese have invested in these new
PBMR (Pebble Bed Modular Reactors). There are BIG issues with these as well (the
fuel is surrounded by graphite, for example, which was one of the culprits in 
Chernobyl).

I think we have to at least examine these technologies, even under capitalism
(the Iranians, after all, will be using Russian * capitalist * technology to
build their nuke).

David




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