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Your thoughts on climate change

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Jungle Japes, Feb 22, 2014.

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  1. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    Right now, people working on nuclear fission as a source of energy have switched to thorium salts - they're reusable, and when they finally are depleted, they're dangerous for about 300 years as opposed to thousands. The only problem is how little research has been done on molten salt reactors as opposed to solid cores, but right now it looks promising.

    In all honesty I'm glad solar energy has become more viable in the past few years. A new solar cell with a focusing lens has been developed that takes in about 35% more power from light than standard photoelectric cells - provided manufacturing the whole package doesn't have a net detriment to the environment, it should eventually become a way to power people's homes that's safer and cheaper than using coal, gas, or oil.
     
  2. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    The real solution would be to seriously rethink our consumation. We need to cut down on pretty much everything to conserve resources.
     
  3. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    I bet serious change on this topic will be somewhat straggling until people stop voting asshats who consider wind a finite resource into office.
     
  4. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    Dat.
     
  5. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    I believe I've mentioned my opinion on the most divisive aspect of this thread so far, which is the use of "This" or "That".. I mean, ahem... "Dat" in response to a statement you agree with and that you wish to quote admiringly as a consequence. I move that we are all civilized people, and so the proper response should be "I concur."

    Onto more genuinely important matters, I don't have a valuable opinion (and I normally wouldn't have said as much, if it wasn't for my most completely hilarious dissection of commonplace forum antics). As a sort-of-currently biochemist, I don't really care to learn much about more macroscopic details (or, you know, microscopic details in regards to cold fusion/regular fusion).

    I don't even vote in political elections, because living in a politically stable country I don't have the willpower to educate myself about the seemingly infinitesimally (probably the most dickish word I've ever used) small differences between the policies of different parties. I care about the perceivable difference that I can make on the world; in terms of being a pleasant, polite and contentious person in my dealings with others - obviously it's great if you can care about both aspects but I think mustering feeling over larger policy making is largely futile.

    I don't believe my vote can enact a substantial societal change, I believe most parties cater to middleman politics so Britain having a (barely) three party system isn't superior to any two party system; and not a single one of them is going to go "look at all these world-saving measures we're doing, of course the taxpayer is going to suffer for it." No average person cares for any sort of national integrity if it comes at an expense to them.

    I think a commendation goes to Smuel, in terms of his sheer ability to defend his point well. The whole:

    argument is great because - whether or not it's a valid argument - it's deflected the issue onto something else to enhance Smuel's point. It just so happens he's readily backed up his analogy by something fact-based (air travel is safer than road travel), so unsarcastically I think he's very good at getting his points across; whether or not the smokescreen got you to buy it is by the by.
     
  6. Jungle Japes

    Jungle Japes Well-Known Member

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    I don't think it's necessary to counter his argument. Regardless of what any of us think about the safety or viability of nuclear energy, it's an industry in decline. The nuclear heyday has passed, at least until substantial technological advancements are made that make it safer, cheaper, and less likely to result in fissile materials landing in the wrong hands.
     
  7. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    Re:

    Dis.
     
  8. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    A commendation must go to Jojobobo for his brilliantly underhanded debating technique. While ostensibly praising my post, he suggests that it's all a rhetorical flourish, and that my argument itself is insubstantial. In particular, with this:
    So air travel is safer than road travel. This is now a fact according to Jojobobo, and he assumes that his readers will agree. The implication is that my own assertion - nuclear power is safer than coal - is not a fact, and that I'm being disingenuous by drawing the analogy. Of course, the detail of the matter is that Jojobobo's fact represents a hard-won battle by the airline industry to convince us of a counter-intuitive truth. Years ago, everyone knew that flying was obviously more dangerous because when a plane crashes everyone dies. Right? Yet the statistics showed otherwise, and was only after many years of repeating "the safest way to travel" that we now believe them.

    In the case of nuclear vs coal power, I invite you to type "deaths per watt" into Google and see what comes up. This is one of those areas where something has already been accepted by the experts in the field, but public opinion still clings to the intuitive fallback that nuclear must be more dangerous, because, you know, meltdowns.
     
  9. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    It's almost like you plan these statements so if someone did call you out on it, you already have your counter-point, you sneaky Pete.

    I can't help but feel you're using another rhetorical flourish though - undermining your own analogy by saying that air travel may not be safer just to demonstrate that I seemingly swallowed the point that air travel was safer without doubt; however all I said was that it was fact-based, in that there are statistical arguments to back it up, not that it is ironclad beyond-reproach truth.

    I was going off the idea that it's a readily perceived truth, one of those pop culture truisms that is so often bandied about that people usually don't question it. Therefore your argument was propped up by an analogy to something most people think to be correct, and as such it makes the original subject matter (nuclear power being less dangerous coal power) seem true by extension.

    I'm not saying there isn't any case for nuclear power being safer than coal, what I am saying is that it was compared to something largely irrelevant for the purpose of strengthening your argument; which with your decent writing style does make it seem arbitrarily more convincing.
     
  10. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Hah! I wasn't sure whether you were actually paying me a genuine compliment before, but now I know you really do want to argue about this.

    Well sir, I shall deny you the satisfaction.

    There, that'll teach you to try to be nice. My hope now is that you take out your frustration on the people around you. Look out Steve, Uncle Jojo's been on that forum again!
     
  11. Jojobobo

    Jojobobo Well-Known Member

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    It was part compliment, part argument, which really is the best kind of compliment (makes perfect sense) - or at least a very HoL way of complimenting people. I wasn't trying to vent frustration, more just trying to amuse myself - and amuse myself I did.
     
  12. Jungle Japes

    Jungle Japes Well-Known Member

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    I just heard on a radio program that Japan is planning to reactivate many of its nuclear reactors, albeit with tighter safety standards.
     
  13. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Presumably they need the electricity, badly.

    The main thing that holds nuclear energy back is the cost. As fossil fuel reserves become more expensive to extract, nuclear options will become cheaper by comparison. And when faced with the possibility of losing their electricity supply, I expect public opinion will turn around pretty quickly.
     
  14. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    Re:

    Nuclear energy as produced with u-235 cores, anyway. The problem with it is that "substantial technological advancements" to "make it safer, cheaper, and less likely to result in fissile materials landing in the wrong hands," can be directly remedied by the general public knowing more about nuclear power in general. If this happens, there won't be an outcry of how dangerous nuclear power is, with call-backs to Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima used as examples.

    I already mentioned an alternative to standard nuclear power earlier in the thread, and the bonus of it is that it's very difficult to weaponize radioactive salts. It also can't melt down, because it's already a liquid, but here we are again at the fear of the masses.

    I said this in reference to how the southern states deal with heavy snowfall in the US a few days ago. "Planning for a worst-case scenario ends up as cheaper than being unprepared." There's a piss-poor trend in manufacturing where items are being engineered for current climactic events and disasters (or not at all, as Seattle's architectural strength implies), rather than over-engineering to prepare for a catastrophe.

    I understand that making things to cost is rather important to a company's bottom line, but there's something to be said of being prepared for a disaster.

    Japan's in a unique situation in that they've been keeping Nuclear energy as a priority for the past 40 years. They've done this either because fossil fuels have been more difficult/costly to transport to Japan for at least that long, or they just want to be different. Right now there's a push for more renewable energy in Japan, but it's probably more simple for them to keep with fission power than do an entire systems overhaul for solar power/wind power.
     
  15. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    There are two questions to be considered when weighing risks.

    1. How likely is it that the worst will happen?
    2. How bad will it be if the worst that could happen actually happens?

    In the cases of anthropogenic climate change and nuclear fission, the risks seem small, but the worst case scenarios are catastrophic.

    You shouldn't gamble unless you're prepared to lose, regardless of the odds.
     
  16. Grossenschwamm

    Grossenschwamm Well-Known Member

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    True on both counts, but there's a way to lessen the impact of both - Smuel had mentioned a brilliant way to handle the nuclear fission problem, which was to build more reactors. The obvious reason is that a design can be perfect on paper, but it's impossible to determine the effectiveness of any structure until it's been tested in the field.

    The reactors that were built in Fukushima were based on designs drawn up in the 70's by General Electric employees, called the Mark 1. The design is pretty bad, and the people who made it knew it was a glowing accident waiting to happen. However, it's fairly easy to produce and pretty cheap, which explains why there are nearly two dozen of them in the US.

    The problem is the anthropogenic factor in both - We're selfish, and we're cheap.
    We, as a species, tend to not make changes until something awful happens. And even then, it might take more than one.
    GE knew about the flaws of the Mark 1 reactors they put out, but they took a wait and see approach. So did Jim Henson, and look how alive he's not right now.

    After looking at all of it, it almost seems like a push to keep nuclear power on the wayside so something easier to use (and more profitable) stays in the spotlight.
     
  17. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    Re:

    The problem is that we're in a situation where we have to choose between those two things.

    Well, okay, we don't have to, but realistically our options are the following:

    1. Carry on burning fossil fuels, and nuts to the environment.
    2. Switch to nuclear power.
    3. Switch to some other form of renewable power.
    4. Re-engineer society and go back to living as hunter-gatherers.

    Now, I know ytzk would prefer option 4, but the above are listed in order of easiness. It's easiest to carry on how we are, but that also brings the most risks, and is unsustainable. The next easiest is switching to nuclear power. Sure, the worst thing that could happen is that every reactor in the world fails at the same time, and that would be catastrophic, but that is far less likely than running into bad effects of climate change. As I said previously, option 3, i.e. solar or fusion, would be the best solution, but the technological hurdles of those are more difficult to overcome than the social hurdles of nuclear. I think we will eventually get to number 3, but in the meantime, nuclear is the least bad option.
     
  18. Wolfsbane

    Wolfsbane Well-Known Member

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    Saying we would have to become hunter-gatherers is hogwash and you know it. We would have to give up a great deal of luxury, but we'd still be able to live modern lives with electricity.
     
  19. Smuel

    Smuel Well-Known Member

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    To most people, they're the same thing. Sure, technically, we would only have to eliminate 80% of global consumption, but I doubt the majority would meekly accept such a complete overhaul of their lifestyles. That's why it's the hardest option.

    You have to work within the system, man.
     
  20. ytzk

    ytzk Well-Known Member

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    It's cute how we're debating global industrial policy as though it makes a difference.

    I can't speak for what most people would be prepared to do, but I suspect it would be an emotional, selfish decision.

    Meanwhile, the laws of physics will do their thing, and that's the system you need to work with.

    My money is on viruses, but who knows? Maybe superstorms, conflict and starvation will solve the problem first.
     
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