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Fri Nov 27, 2015, 09:34 AM

A Welcome Endorsement for Nuclear Power

Friday, 27 November 2015
A Welcome Endorsement for Nuclear Power
Written by John F. McManus*

Joshua S. Goldstein is emeritus professor of international relations at American University and a research scholar at the University of Massachusetts. Steven Pinker is professor of psychology at Harvard University. These two recently teamed up to pen a lengthy column in the Boston Globe entitled “Inconvenient Truths for the Environmental Movement.”

The two men do believe climate change is caused by human action. They contend that burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity by humans — resulting in carbon dioxide being sent into the atmosphere — causes a rise in the earth’s temperature. There are growing numbers of scientists who disagree. But, unlike most of the would-be banners of fossil fuel, Goldstein and Pinker’s solution doesn’t target its use in generating electricity. They thereby separate themselves from environmental extremists who insist that the carbon dioxide byproduct of burning coal and oil to produce electricity is a hazard serious enough to ban the practice. Then they present a strong case for nuclear power.

Here’s how these two educators addressed this topic: “Nuclear power is the world’s most abundant and scalable [reachable] carbon-free energy source. In today’s world, every nuclear power plant that is not built is a fossil-fuel plant that does get built…. Yet the use of nuclear power has been stagnant or even contracting.” Their point, of course, is that by not relying on nuclear power, the need for burning coal and oil cannot be avoided if electricity is needed — which it surely is. They then make the point that solar and wind power amounts to a mere one percent of the need and cannot be counted on to meet the needs for electric power.

Aware of the fears surrounding nuclear power, Goldstein and Pinker point out that the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan killed no one. But, they note in sadness, it unnecessarily led Germany to shut down some of its nuclear plants. In France where nuclear power produces three-quarters of the nation’s electricity, environmentalists are forcing a shutdown. And the anti-nukes in America also wrongly claim that Japan’s nuclear accident is reason to abandon nuclear power here....

*John F. McManusis president of The John Birch Society and publisher of The New American. This column appeared originally at the insideJBS blog and is reprinted here with permission.

SPLC on JBS https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2013/bringing-back-birch

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 09:40 AM

1. Nuclear power still transfers massive quantities of heat into the atmosphere and water bodies. nt

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 09:47 AM

2. So a psych prof and an international relations guy team up to write a lengthy essay

on their 'beliefs' about a topic completely outside their respective fields of specialization, and the Birchers want to happily sign on to it.

Sounds about par for the course.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 10:54 AM

3. The John Birch Society is a racist radical right wing organization

co founded by the father of the KOCH Brothers. Nothing originating with this group can be trusted.

If nothing else, their assertion in this article that a growing number of scientists disagree that global warming is caused by burning fossil fuels should have been a clue.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 11:06 AM

4. You don't say?

BTW, what is SPLC?

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Response to kristopher (Reply #4)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 11:19 AM

5. Southern Poverty Law Center. I saw your link. The article can not be t trusted.

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 11:24 AM

6. Almost all rote objections addressed to nuclear energy rely on logical fallacies.

Anti-nukes on this website, with nearly 100%, as may be expected, being very bad thinkers use one particular fallacy a lot:

It's called ad hominem and any fool could google his or her way to thousands of websites describing this.

Here's a graphic from one of the 660,000 hits one gets for "logical fallacies," since I have noticed that many stupid people can only respond to graphics:

The Eleven Most Irritating Logical Fallacies

If I say that Ted Kaczynski "believes" in global warming - as if the verifiable fact of global warming is a "belief" - I have not proved that global warming is not occurring.

Support for nuclear power is found throughout the primary scientific literature in many places in peer reviewed articles with high impact factors. The one I cite most often Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power (Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013, 47 (9), pp 4889–4895).

Neither of the authors are well known as right wing nut cases.

The point of the paper, which I also make often, and which is in my view irrefutable, is that we now understand that the deaths from air pollution number in the millions per year, as recently reported in the highest impact scientific journal in the world, Nature in the following paper: The contribution of outdoor air pollution sources to premature mortality on a global scale (Nature 525, 367–371 (17 September 2015)). Since nuclear energy reduces by huge orders of magnitude the onus of this deadly air pollution, which kills every decade more people than died in World War II from all war related causes, nuclear energy saves lives.

One does not have to show support for Donald Trump in order to enter the nuclear engineering program at MIT or at UC Berkeley or Georgia Tech. One does, however, need to be an excellent student in high school and score well on high stakes exams. One needs, in order to complete a degree, to pass a rigorous program involving high level mathematics, physics, materials science and engineering course. For example here is the undergraduate requirements for an undergraduate degree from MIT in any of a number of nuclear engineering program: MIT Nuclear Engineering Undergraduate Degree Options

Nowhere in the curriculum for these degress, available only to highest levels of successful students emerging from high schools around the world, is there listed any courses in "right wing politics."

In my opinion having seen the quality of anti-nukes on this website, I doubt that there is one person among them who could pass any of the courses in the Freshman year.

Now, if I assert that 100% of the anti-nukes I have had the misfortune of confronting on this web site are ignorant, scientifically illiterate, poor thinkers, one may argue that I am engaging in an ad hominem attack. However if I point to elements of their thinking (see the Ted Kaczynski billboard above) and refute their terrible, disastrous, and frankly (since nuclear energy saves lives) deadly thinking by appeals to supportable arguments, I claim that the argument is not, in fact, ad hominem. It is merely a reasoned assertion.

Enjoy the remainder of the long holiday weekend, should one have a good enough job to have such a weekend, and not be working at say, Walmart, where even your holiday pay - if there is holiday pay - will not allow you to dream of a stupid and toxic electric car for billionaires and millionaires powered by solar cells on obscene McMansions.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 02:46 PM

7. Except in this case it isn't a logical fallacy

Coal supporters align closely with nuclear supporters as do authoritarians.

this is drawn from published, peer reviewed research on the beliefs of the public and how those beliefs flow from values held.
1) Attitudes toward nuclear power are a result of perceived risk

2) Attitudes and risk perceptions are determined by previously held values and beliefs that serve to determine the level of trust in the nuclear industry.

3) Increased trust in the nuclear industry reduces perceived risk of nuclear power

4) Therefore, higher trust in the nuclear industry and the consequent lower risk perceptions predict positive attitudes toward nuclear power.

5) Traditional values are defined here as assigning priority to family, patriotism, and stability

6) Altruism is defined as a concern with the welfare of other humans and other species.

7) Neither trust in environmental institutions nor perceived risks from global environmental problems predict a person’s attitudes toward nuclear power.

8) Those with traditional values tend to embrace nuclear power; while those with altruistic values more often reject nuclear power.

9) Altruism is recognized as a dependable predictor of various categories of environmental concern.

10) Traditional values are associated with less concern for the environment and are unlikely to lead to pro-environmental behavioral intentions.

From this 2009 study commissioned by the nuclear industry: Risk Analysis, Vol. 29, No. 3, 2009
The Future of Nuclear Power: Value Orientations and Risk Perception
Stephen C. Whitfield,1 Eugene A. Rosa,2 Amy Dan,3 and Thomas Dietz3∗

Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been a revival of interest in nuclear power. Two decades ago, the expansion of nuclear power in the United States was halted by widespread public opposition as well as rising costs and less than projected increases in demand for elec- tricity. Can the renewed enthusiasm for nuclear power overcome its history of public resis- tance that has persisted for decades? We propose that attitudes toward nuclear power are a function of perceived risk, and that both attitudes and risk perceptions are a function of values, beliefs, and trust in the institutions that influence nuclear policy. Applying structural equation models to data from a U.S. national survey, we find that increased trust in the nu- clear governance institutions reduces perceived risk of nuclear power and together higher trust and lower risk perceptions predict positive attitudes toward nuclear power. Trust in en- vironmental institutions and perceived risks from global environmental problems do not predict attitudes toward nuclear power. Values do predict attitudes: individuals with traditional values have greater support for, while those with altruistic values have greater opposition to, nuclear power. Nuclear attitudes do not vary by gender, age, education, income, or political orientation, though nonwhites are more supportive than whites. These findings are consistent with, and provide an explanation for, a long series of public opinion polls showing public am- bivalence toward nuclear power that persists even in the face of renewed interest for nuclear power in policy circles.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #7)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 05:05 PM

8. I would suggest you READ the paper you cite, not that it is either a well constructed paper...

Last edited Fri Nov 27, 2015, 09:00 PM - Edit history (7)

...nor is of any real value. It certainly doesn't imply what you think it implies.

In my own case, point five that you quote is partially true: I am unashamed to be in favor of stability; I have no desire to live in Syria or Iraq, countries that were destabilized by dependence on oil, something that vast expenditure on so called "renewable energy" is a spectacular failure at addressing. If the author's point is that one needs to be in favor of instability to be ethical, they are, quite frankly, insane. But I doubt that this is in fact, their point, and a claim to the contrary is a function of low reading comprehension ability, something is certainly characteristic of the weak minds of anti-nukes. I also value my family, but I recognize nevertheless that decisions in my family have impact in other families, like say the families of those poor Chinese cadmium miners who dig cadmium to service the stupid fantasies of bourgeois American solar advocates.

Point six is simply out of a dictionary; most people would not need a dictionary to define it, so the point is superfluous. It has nothing to do with nuclear energy per se, but the evocation certainly points to an issue that I confront whenever I fact the inherent stupidity of anti-nukes. As pointed out in my previous post, millions of people die each year from air pollution. Many advocates of nuclear energy are in fact clearly and unambiguously concerned with human welfare and specifically about these millions of people. I know I am. By contrast, the anti-nukes I encounter here couldn't give a rat's ass about these people. I would argue that a shit for brains person writing endlessly about battery factories in China for stupid electric cars for rich people are either ethically challenged or badly informed. There is no excuse for the latter, since information is available detailing these risks to human beings.

Solving spent lithium-ion battery problems in China: Opportunities and challenges (Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews Volume 52, December 2015, Pages 1759–1767)

Point 7 is meaningless since it contains no data whatsover; but it is unsurprising to an anti-nuke highlighting it as a result of bad thinking and poor reading skills, if the point is to construe that all people who support nuclear power are evil, and all people who hate nuclear energy are noble and worthy. This is nonsense. The nuclear opponents here are all bourgeois consumer brats who can't be bothered to open an environmental paper in the primary scientific literature to find out about reality.

I could go on about the bad thinking connected with the current citation, but why bother?

The high impact journal, Science recently published a review on risk analysis, utilizing the example of nuclear power's role in development of the science of risk analysis by discussing the historical document WASH-1400, published in 1975.

The realities of risk-cost-benefit analysis ( Science 30 October 2015: Vol. 350 no. 6260 aaa6516-3)

It is regrettable that anti-nukes are incompetent to read this paper, just as they are incompetent to understand risk analysis, and thus understand, for example, that nuclear power need not be perfect to be vastly superior to everything else.

The Science makes nuanced, if hardly definitive, statements about ethical concepts, but does not attempt to make an insipid attachment of ethical worth to any particular held opinion.

Experimentally, after more than half a century of nuclear operations, the risk of nuclear energy is trivial compared to the risk of dangerous fossil fuels, including those burned to back up useless, expensive and toxic so called "renewable energy" facilities.

Now, the scientific literature - if one knows how to read it, and clearly anti-nukes are not competent to do so - contains many scientific and, arguably, ethical controversies in it. Most of these are resolved by consensus over a long period of time, although some are not. (There are also, regrettably, issues of fraud in the scientific literature.) It is a rare paper that asserts it represents an ethical certainty, at least in science (as opposed to so called "social science" and undoubtedly such papers are generally garbage. In my opinion, anyone citing such a paper to prove a point of ethical certainty is probably not very bright nor very well educated.

My experience of anti-nukes here and elsewhere offers no impetus to regard anti-nukes as anything but a class of moral and intellectual simpletons; I particularly like, and often use, the word "Lilliputians" to describe the intellectual and moral standing of this class of pernicious human beings.

My main objection to anti-nukes is their general scientific ignorance, since I believe that ignorance kills people. This belief of mine is very much an ethical judgement and is entirely consistent with my entire world view. I am indifferent to having my ethics judged or addressed by anyone with whom I wouldn't be caught dead in association, particularly one who attempts to twist a junk paper by sociologists to support highly questionable ethics, the questionable nature residing in the irrefutable fact that nuclear energy saves lives that would otherwise be lost to the vast tragedy of air pollution, including, but not limited to climate change.

I refuse to apologize for my views to anyone clearly morally incompetent, or to buy into their garbage thinking about ethics.

Have a nice weekend.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #8)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 09:15 PM

9. Poor feller, still running around with hair-on-fire rants and name calling....

I don't think I've ever met anyone who so consistently fails to engage in discussion on the actual merits or deficiencies of an argument. Your posts are nothing more than nonsense bordering on gibberish; intended to offend and turn people away from participation.

The study is valid. Not only is it is based on sound and proven research methods and statistical analysis, it is research requested to inform the nuclear industry on how to better manipulate public opinion.

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Response to kristopher (Reply #9)

Sat Nov 28, 2015, 04:30 AM

12. Um...um...um...

...I think this exchange makes it pretty clear who is clueless and who is not, and rather than engage in further discourse on our very clear and unambiguous opinions of one another, I leave it the intelligent reader, if in fact many intelligent people show up to read this insipid foray into the logical fallacy, to adjudge the intellectual, moral merits of each of us.

Thanks though for leading me to the perfect graphic for the next regular stupid announcement that "nuclear scientists are evil" and "dumb guys who hate nuclear scientists are noble," post.

I love it!!!

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Response to NNadir (Reply #12)

Sun Nov 29, 2015, 09:53 AM

13. World at tipping point for renewable energy

World at tipping point for renewable energy
Adnan Z. Amin is director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. Fatih Birol is executive director of the International Energy Agency. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the authors.

The world has reached a tipping point: Energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies are now the solutions of choice, with other options taking second place.

At least 164 countries have set renewable energy targets. And countries representing more than 90% of the global economy have taken the remarkable step of submitting pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ahead of the COP21 climate summit in Paris next week.

Since the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009, renewable electricity generation has increased more than 40%. Renewables contributed almost half of the world's new power generation capacity in 2014 and have already become the second-largest source of electricity.

Deployment also continues to shift toward energy-hungry emerging markets. China and India have upped their renewable ambitions significantly.

Much of this has to do with cost...


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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Fri Nov 27, 2015, 09:20 PM

10. Dr. Raul A. Deju

It's helps to look at insider talk about the messaging strategy for nuclear power; these ideas are always more credible when they are delivered in the words of the individuals doing the planning.
The part of the presentation (delivered at a nuclear industry conference) quoted below comes after a dismal assessment of public support for nuclear power. It is a given that by "sensible energy policy" the author is referring to one that includes the nuclear power to produce the waste by which his company can profit. However he feels justified and honest because, in accordance with the study in post #7, his values and beliefs guide his perceptions.

From the presentation:
"Understanding Public Opinion: A Key to the Nuclear Renaissance" by Dr. Raul A. Deju
Sept. 2009
Chief Operating Officer, EnergySolutions, Inc

...how do we use the results of public opinion to develop a sensible energy policy
• Leadership and unity of message need to be the top priority.
• Acceptable messages need to cover the diversity of group thinking.
• Developing confidence on having a solution to nuclear waste issues and non-proliferation requires leadership messages and social support more than scientific support.

And what are those "acceptable messages"? Continuing Dr. Raul A. Deju's presentation:
Energy Messages:
• Nuclear and renewable energy need to be tied into a combined offering. • Concerns regarding energy security and energy independence can only be solved through the combination of energy efficiency, renewable standards, and nuclear energy.

In fact, if we build nuclear power it *actively* discourages BOTH renewable energy policies and development AND energy efficiency policies and efforts because they undermine of the economics of nuclear power.
The data tells us there is a simple clear economic choice folks - if you advocate for nuclear power you are undercutting the efforts to build our renewables, if you support renewable energy and energy efficiency, you are denying nuclear power the market share they MUST have to be viable.

A quick review of the UK's conservative government disastrous die-hard push for nuclear over the past 5 years provides a clear-cut, real world case study confirming the conflict. They have dismantled their extremely effective energy efficiency program and turned away from any serious support for renewables in order to supposedly focus on building a new fleet of nuclear reactors. Never mind that the electricity from those far-future plants would be 3X the price of providing the same services with renewable/efficiency, never mind that no one wants to finance the nuclear rebirth, never mind that the conservative government is trying to break-up the EU over the issue of state support for nuclear - it is something the war-mongers and agents of fear absolutely MUST have.


See post #7.

Those pushing the all-nuclear or we-have-to-include-nuclear are talking through their hat - and it is advisable to look into the motives.
EnergySolutions is one of the world’s largest processors of low level waste (LLW), and is the largest nuclear waste company in the United States... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EnergySolutions

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Response to kristopher (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2015, 12:18 AM


After running as a champion of coal in 2008, Clinton now calls for protecting health benefits for coal miners and their families and helping retrain them for new jobs. She would use a combination of tax incentives and government grants to help coal-dependent communities repurpose old mine sites and attract new economic investment.

Republicans all support coal production and enthusiastically back nuclear energy; Clinton offers cautious support for nuclear power. Sanders has called for a moratorium on nuclear-plant license renewals and cheered the closure of the aging Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Sanders' record wins plaudits from environmental organizations, but the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund has endorsed Clinton, the group's earliest endorsement since 1984.

"When it comes to fighting the climate crisis, the stakes couldn't be higher, and we are confident that Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job," LCV president Gene Karpinski said.

Snipped from comprehensive NYT piece at: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/27/us/politics/ap-us-campaign-2016-energy.html

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