Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why do environmental pressure groups lie?

One of my obsessions is truth, or rather untruth. It may be hard to know what the truth is, but you jolly well know when you're telling a lie.

I particularly dislike causes I support resorting to lies to support their arguments - it damages them so much in the long term.

Take this from the linked post from Greenpeace:

"Known uranium reserves will last for roughly 50 years at present consumption rates, but the 438 plants operating world-wide produce only 16% of global requirements. If the world's entire electricity needs were to be met by nuclear power, then reserves of high-grade uranium ore would be used up within three to four years..... So as a serious long-term energy source, nuclear power is a non-starter. "

Total and obvious rubbish. No-one has been looking for uranium for a while, and there'll be more easily found. Plus there's thorium to find too - approximately 3 times as abundant. So multiply reserves by ten. Then, of course, we'd move to a breeder fuel cycle which if 50 to 100 times as efficient in its use of ore as current reactor systems - and the truth is, we've got enough around to last us for at least a thousands years. is a useful link.

The real dangers of relying on nuclear power, on which I suspect I and Greenpeace agree, are accidents, radioactive waste and the spread of nuclear weapons. But to be found out in such a silly lie devalues all their arguments, the good with the bad. Why do they do it?

Anonymous has pointed out the counter-arguments to my concerns - The Nuclear Option by Bernard Cohen, online at Have not yet had time to try to pick holes in it.


Blogger Kirk Sorensen said...

Hello Lord Lucas!

Excellent post--it is poorly understood and barely appreciated just how vast the world's resources of nuclear energy can be, if the right types of reactors are utilized.

Thank you for mentioning thorium--as you know, thorium has a profound advantage over uranium in that it can be fully consumed in thermal-spectrum reactors rather than requiring fast-spectrum reactors (which have some additional weapons and proliferation concerns).

I don't know if you saw this chart on the thorium blog, but it shows the comparison in resources required to generate 1000 MW of power for a year between a typical light-water reactor and a liquid-fluoride thorium reactor. The thorium reactor is very frugal with its fuel!

Best wishes!

Kirk Sorensen

3:45 pm  
Blogger energybalance said...

Dear Lord Lucas,

you make an excellent point here about transparency in the facts of nuclear power. Might I suggest that this also applies to other issues, particularly "renewables". Often people have said to me on the subject of "what will we do when the oil begins to run out?"... "we'll use hydrogen"... or "biofuels". However, I think that often those holding these laudable views are not fully aware of the gargantuan quantities of energy/fuel we do in fact use currently, and the sheer scale of what is being tacitly asked of "renewable sources". I have done some sums in my energybalance blog which are intended to make the point that without strategies involving energy efficiency, first and foremost, the cause is lost. (I have also written about the nuclear issue). The address is:

You may find some of these items of interest.

All best wishes,

Chris Rhodes.

10:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do they do it?

Because truth doesn't mean a thing to them, and neither does the environment. The only thing that matters to these boneheaded pseudo-religious fanatics is recruiting more followers, by any means necessary.

If you want "truth", listen to scientists. Do this also on the question of the perceived dangers of radwaste, accidents and proliferation. For a good start, read "The Nuclear Option" by Bernard Cohen (Google will find it for you).

9:59 am  
Blogger GRLCowan said...

It should frequently be noted, also, how vast the world's resources, not just of nuclear energy, but of 235-U fission energy are. As Kirk Sorensen says, for nuclear energy to be abundant on a many-centuries-to-many millennia timescale, it is helpful "if the right types of reactors are utilized" -- by which he means breeders-plus-reprocessors, preferably thorium breeders with integral reprocessing plant.

But it's not necessary. Once-through use of just the 235-U in natural uranium, plus that little of the 238-U that burns along with, is enough to make thousands of cubic miles of, for instance, uraniferous black marine shale thermally equivalent to more than its own volume of petroleum.

--- G. R. L. Cowan, former hydrogen fan
Burn boron in pure oxygen for vehicle power

5:43 pm  
Blogger GRLCowan said...

And as for why environmental pressure groups lie in re nuclear energy: my answer is that they do it to get civil servants' uncharitable donations.

(There are relatively impoverished, genuine environmental groups that do not lie in re nuclear energy; that's why they're relatively poor.)

Civil servants, and the tax-funded in general are privileged to derive a few hundred billion a year from the rest of us as the taxes we pay on fuels derived from petroleum and natural gas. They are keenly aware that this cash flow can be stopped and is being stopped as uranium replaces fossil fuels at pennies on the dollar.

That is to say, the oil interests are behind it -- but not the oil companies. Rather, the real oil interests: the people who take the lion's share of the profits, and when there are no profits, they still take, because their cut is taken as tax, and tax is always due.

5:55 pm  
Blogger Randal Leavitt said...

Greenpeace is a corporation. It has to pull in enough money each year to stay in business. Their money seeking activities include statements that cause the donations to roll in. The nuclear scare story is one of their most lucrative publicity campaigns. They will stop telling lies about nuclear power when people stop sending in the cash in response to them. I used to send money to them but I had to quit due to their misrepresentation of the nuclear issue. Tell everyone to stop sending in the cash. That is the only way to get their attention.

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