My Views On Nuclear Power

Last night we learned that Cory Booker feels that nuclear power will be important in our response to global warning.

So let me give a short summary of my feelings about nuclear power. They haven’t changed since I wrote this in August 2017.

We need nuclear power. I think that we can make it work. But there are a lot of reasons we might not. The fear of radioactivity is a big one. It’s irrational, it comes from a lack of education, the media fan it, and it seems impervious to any sort of persuasion.

The belief that there is no way to deal with the wastes is related, but separate. The repository at Yucca Mountain would be just fine except for politics. Nevada has decided that it won’t take other states’ radioactive garbage. So there. I can sorta sympathize, but not really. We do have a lot of empty space out here in the west, and not many people.

The time it takes to build a new reactor and the cost overruns, as they exist now, are disqualifying. This seems to be a problem in all sorts of areas, though. The solution may have more to do with contracting practices and bad incentives than anything else.

The new, smaller reactors that are being developed may be part of the solution. But it will take time to have them ready to go. Older reactors should not be shut down simply because natural gas is now cheap. Booker is right about that.

Overall, don’t give up on nuclear power. Learn about what radioactivity is. The nuclear industry and its proponents at DOE have to do a better job.

A Small Step


I just wanted to pass on a tip that may cost you a bit more money but will reduce your carbon footprint. I mean most of us here know this and care about these issues, but that doesn’t always result in action or change, now does it?

So last Friday I spent 30 minutes researching and then changing my electricity provider from the standard (dirty) mix of sources to 100% renewable. It literally took a few minutes to setup and configure my new source which is still delivered by my local power company.

When I first went to sign up, it offered me at no extra charge on top of my normal power bill, a 50-50 mix of wind/renewable and normal. So just by signing up for free and with no premium, I could be 50% renewable. I figured, “Well, they’ve already given me half, might as well make it 100%” and clicked the slider, Apply, and I was done. Of course that’s the sales pitch, and it worked. On top of things, I get a $50 Best Buy card in the mail soon which will come in handy as I shop.

I am now using 100% renewable power, and since this house is all-electric, I can sleep a bit better knowing that I’m helping in a small way every minute. My power bill will increase a bit as the renewable is more expensive, but that’s a small investment in a slightly better future – in this case, value today means outsize effects in the future and I’d rather pay that bill now if possible, before it gets bigger.

In the back of my mind, I knew that I could do this, but didn’t get around to actually doing it until I read about the Federal Government report on Friday and made my small step. In this case, my provider was/is running a Black Friday promotion with the before-mentioned gift card. The physical hookup, etc. remain as they are, so really this just means that they feed my local power company X kilowatts of power each period to cover my usage.

It’s contract, installation-fee, and investment -free, so I can change my mix or mind whenever I choose, though I expect I’ll stick with them as long as the price remains acceptable. I’m not funding some investment jackass’s new furniture to feel pure, so I plan to keep an eye on the rates and how it all goes down.

I’m not looking for accolades, but wanted to prompt as many of you as possible to check your local electricity providers to see if they offer an option for renewable energy, or if you are in an area where you can choose your supplier, see if you can find a renewable provider that you’re comfortable with. In my case, knowing that my local power company still delivers and services the lines means that I should see no difference except less carbon usage and a slightly higher bill.


Open Thread!


Global Warming Topics Suggested By Readers

Y’all gave me quite an earful on global warming issues. In this post, I’m collecting them into larger categories. I won’t try to identify every contributor, and some suggestions came from more than one. If I missed your suggestion, let me know in the comments.

I am not an expert on all these topics, although I can put together creditably surveys of many of them. I am more than happy to hear from anyone who has expertise in an area and is willing to write a guest post. So far, Martin has volunteered on actions in California, Dan B on communication, and Boussinesque on ocean-related issues.

And yes, I know that the classification can be cut in different ways. I’m just trying to put things together in a way to provoke discussion and eventually start to choose topics for posts. Read more

Walking The Walk

I have spouted off any number of times on Twitter about global warming (yes, that’s what I’m calling it now unless I see a good reason to change to something else), less frequently here at Balloon Juice. The latest IPCC report says we have ten years to do something about it, before the really, really bad effects start to kick in. So we have to start today.

There’s a lot to understand about global warming, although the essentials are

  1. We must start now on a serious program.
  2. The goal is to end combustion of fossil fuels that puts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

There are many things that need to be done: develop technologies, replace the idiots in government that are making things worse, educate people on how the changes that are coming will affect them. We need to be looking at ways to make our social and physical environment robust to likely changes, like the rising oceans.

To contribute to what needs to be done, I plan to post more frequently on global warming. I want to know what you want to hear about, and what you want to do. In the interests of no surprises, let me tell you up front that what individuals do is a drop in the ocean. The big targets are electricity generation and transportation, particularly international transportation.

I will also be relatively intolerant of whining to no purpose. Defining problems in order to develop solutions is good; whining that this is too big and we can’t understand and everything is terrible doesn’t do us any good. This can be solved, and we can do it. We cut our teeth on controlling emissions that cause the ozone hole. China is cheating on that now, but we’ll handle that.

I would particularly like your thoughts in the comments so that I know what things will be of the greatest interest and use for future posts.

Graphic from here.

Mid To Late Evening Open Thread: The Crossdressing Attorneys Of Arendelle To The Rescue!

(Sort of) Queen Elsa to the rescue!

You’d expect to see this type of thing in Florida, not Boston, if Florida had blizzards.

Also, Crossdressing Attorneys would be the name of my neo-punk cover band if I had any musical aptitude whatsoever.


Stay frosty!

Open thread.