Eight Dunces

I saw this clip and simply must share it with you.  It is a clip of Jon Stewart making fun of 8 US presidents. (Warning: Jon Stewart is irreverent and some words have to be bleeped.)

Here is the video clip

Eight DuncesCount them, 8 presidents, going back more than 40 years and all of them saying the exact same thing! And it was all rubbish.  I assume they simply read the speeches prepared for them and did not understand what they were saying. That’s why I called them dunces.  (My other choice was liars, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.)

Also, as I recently wrote in the previous post, energy independence is a dangerous distraction, What we need is innovation in energy production, particularly nuclear energy production.  And it doesn’t matter where that innovation comes from. I will embrace it, because it will benefit everyone on earth.

BTW, the 8 dunces (and more going back to Eisenhower and beyond) also said similar things about fixing education, the environment, and lots of other things.  Are we starting to see a pattern here?


Energy Independence?

The flourishing of human society that I envision and hope for will be fueled literally by nuclear power.  I am not interested in using less energy personally, as a family, as a nation, or as any other group that can be imagined.  Nor, do I ask others to use less energy.  I also do not support schemes that exclude large portions of humanity from access to clean, abundant energy.  I consider wind and solar power, in their actual, current embodiment, to be such schemes.

I want to use more energy.  I want a nuclear heated swimming pool and a nuclear cooled house.  I would greatly enjoy a nuclear powered car. (powered by wires in the roads, connected to nuclear reactors, with the appropriate electrical pick-ups in my car).

How can I consume more energy?  By making energy more abundant and therefore cheaper.  From economics it is known that when the price of something is lower, more is demanded by consumers, all things being equal.

Occasionally, a writer comes along that understands this.  Here is a quote from Dr. Gary North:

Anyone who uses the phrase “energy independence” does not understand the division of labor economy. In other words, he does not understand economics.

What we should be hoping for is not energy independence. What we should be hoping for is an energy breakthrough that dramatically increases our dependence on energy, both as individuals and as citizens of the nation. What we want is for all Americans to consume more energy, but in today’s prices or even lower prices. We should not pursue energy independence; we should pursue policies that will enable us, as individuals, to buy more energy than we do today.

Do not be misled by people who promise energy independence. They simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

I am not promising energy independence for the US through nuclear power.  I don’t care where the uranium, thorium, or plutonium comes from. (I lie a little. I hope the plutonium comes from previously fabricated bombs.)

What I am promising is more energy at lower prices. That is the only way that I or anyone else on the planet can use more of it.

Remember, a pound of uranium contains as much energy as 30 tanker trucks (1 million pounds) of petroleum.  A pound of uranium (slightly enriched light water reactor fuel) sells for about $30 dollars.  One million pounds of petroleum sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The hardware to burn nuclear fuel or fossil fuel, at the margin, without rent seeking incumbents interfering in the market, should be comparable in price.  This is the way to make energy more abundant and cheaper.  It also happens to be immensely clean.

Have I been clear enough?  I want to use more energy.  I want others to use more energy.


Words of Wisdom from Ted Rockwell

That tactic, of making problems out of advantages—making sow’s ears out of silk purses, I call it—permeates the whole nuclear enterprise. The advantage that radioactivity continually and automatically gets less and less toxic every day, is converted to, “it stays toxic for thousands of years.” And this is implied to pose an unprecedented problem that humanity is not equipped to deal with. And breakable light bulbs containing mercury are called “green,” and radioactivity is called uniquely hazardous.

Nuclear Power Is Inevitable

Nuclear Power is Inevitable

Recently, I woke up one morning with a profound confidence regarding nuclear power. I have no idea what triggered this, but I will accept the gift with appreciation and gratitude. Here are some things we have going for us:

  1. We have the truth about nuclear power. We don’t have to tell lies about fossil fuels.
  2. Nuclear power is millions of times denser than fossil fuels.
  3. Nuclear power is millions of times cleaner than fossil fuels.
  4. Nuclear power can provide for the needs (at Western living standards) for the entire world. (Yeah, I know that scares the beejeebers out of the green crowd.)
  5. There is enough uranium, plutonium, and thorium to power the entire world for millennia.
  6. The technology has been demonstrated again and again.
  7. Truth and charity are more powerful than lies and greed.
  8. The world needs what nuclear alone can provide.

What I am not saying about the new nuclear age:

  1. Incumbent energy providers are not going to resist the setting of their stars and the rise of everyone else’s.
  2. Incumbents won’t use their political allies to try and stop the new nuclear age.
  3. Incumbents won’t continue to fund greenies to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about nuclear power.
  4. There won’t be opposition in all things.
  5. It will happen overnight.
  6. It won’t take years.

The incumbents are going to resist, I expect them to. But nuclear power is a million times denser, a million times cleaner, more abundant, etc.

Can you imagine the whale oil folks resisting the coming of petroleum 150 years ago? I’m sure they did resist, but petroleum was so much better than whale oil. Think of fossil fuel as the whale oil of tomorrow.

The new nuclear age is still years away and I have my work cut out for me, but I am full of confidence, thanks to the gift!


The Nuclear Regulatory Comission – Defund!, Not Capture

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – Defund!, Not Capture

What I am working toward is more than a nuclear renaissance. I am working for a nuclear age, one that is particularly marked by an abundance of clean nuclear energy for the entire world. What it will ultimately take to achieve this is unknown at this point, but like the proverb says, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

I believe that there are a number of things wrong with the way that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates commercial nuclear power in the US, which has hamstrung the innovation and deployment of nuclear power since it was created in 1974. Compare the work of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) under the real scientist, Glenn Seaborg and the work of the NRC under Gregory Jackzo, a political hack from the offices of Senator Harry Reid. During the AEC, many reactors were licensed.  Mr. Jackzo voted against licensing 2 reactors while he was at the NRC

I could lament about how long it takes the NRC to license reactors or even re-license research reactors. I could explain to you, the reader, about how the NRC really only knows light water reactors and is at a total loss to license new types of reactors, which we desperately need. And how the NRC enables the abuse of the federal judiciary to delay, delay, delay the licensing of new reactors until the investors cry uncle. Furthermore, I could relate the illogical way that power plants are charged for their license, which has distorted the size and siting of reactors. But, I am not going to do this.

What I am going to do is this – I call for the complete defunding of the NRC, lock, stock and barrel. May I quote from Dr. Gary North,

“You don’t need a revolution to escape the system. You need secession. You need a withdrawal of support for the existing systems. You need to revoke the legitimacy which you extended to these organizations. You need to do it, and everybody else needs to do it. Nobody organizes this. People just learn, scandal by scandal, bureaucratic snafu by bureaucratic snafu, that the system is irreparable. It cannot be reformed. It must not be captured. It must be defunded. The secret of liberty is not revolution; the secret of liberty is to defund the existing centralized order.”

Let the states regulate nuclear power and let there be many flavors and many levels. One size does not fit all. I suppose that California will always hate and reject nuclear power. So what! Let the entrepreneurs in Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, and Baja California Norte (that’s part of Mexico) build nuclear plants in their states/countries and sell electricity to California.

The nuclear age that I envision isn’t going to happen by doing things the same way they have been done for 4 decades. What we need is a new vision and this is my vision. Bye, Bye NRC!

Selling Refrigerators to Floridians

There is an old saw about the skills of a salesman who is so persuasive that he was able to sell refrigerators to Eskimos. The whole idea is that Eskimos do not need refrigerators because they live in the frozen Arctic, but they buy the refrigerators against their better judgement because of the salesman.

Well, this post is about the refrigerator that no one bought, not even Floridians, who along with the rest of us really need refrigerators.

Below are the specifications for a reactor that was designed to produce 50 Megawatts thermal power and 20 Megawatts electrical power and it just happens to be the size of a modest sized refrigerator (19.6 cubic feet). You can read the whole paper here.19 point 7 cubic foot refrigerator

Here are the specifications:

Refrigerator sized reactor specsThis reactor is powered by uranium not thorium, but so what.  The thing I found interesting is that it was designed in 1955 by H. A. Ohlgren of the Engineering Research Institute at the University of Michigan. 1955! More than half a century ago!

I keep coming back to the fact that these amazing machines could have powered our civilization for the benefit of all, but for reasons that were both banal and nefarious we are still burning fossil fuels. (See Rod Adam’s Smoking Gun Archives.)

I live in Brigham City, Utah, a community of 18,000, whose peak electrical usage is ~30 megawatts and we pay premium rates if we exceed 30 MW. I like to imagine this refrigerator-sized reactor providing 20 MW of base load day and night. We could put it almost anywhere.

Who says geeks can’t be dreamers?


M & M’s or Skittles?

M & M’s or Skittles?  Which do you prefer?  A single M & M or skittle weighs about a gram. And did you know that a gram of thorium would provide all the energy an average American uses in one year?skittles 081That one gram of thorium burned in a molten salt reactor would provide the energy equivalent of 16.5 tons of coal. Isn’t this superior to all other sources of energy on a mass basis alone? What about the ash from 16.5 tons of coal as compared to the nuclear ash from 1 M & M or skittle? There would be about one million times less nuclear ash than coal ash and flue gases.

I prefer M & M’s and skittles to coal.

Hey Hey Ho Ho, LNT Has Got To Go

Hey Hey Ho Ho, LNT has got to go

Hey Hey Ho Ho, LNT has got to go

LNT, the Linear No-Threshold theory of radiation exposure, is the hypothesis that there is no safe level of radiation that a person can be exposed to, with creating additional risk of health consequences, such as cancer. LNT is the basis for all the current radiation protection regulations in the US and elsewhere. These standards date from the late 1940’s and 1950’s and were developed based on data from atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also from studies done by Herman Muller, the Noble Prize winner.

However, there is just one little problem, LNT is wrong. Not just a little wrong or just wrong here or there, it is completely wrong. There is a threshold to radiation exposure below which there are no effects on the human body. Thus, to base radiation protection regulations on a wrong theory is to waste scarce resources for no benefit.

Let me use car seat belts as an example of the cost to benefit ratio. It costs time and money to design and build seat belts into cars. Resources are used to incorporate the design into the car and to manufacture and maintain seat belts.

These costs are passed on to the buyer of the car. I pay these costs because seat belts have been shown to protect the occupants of the car in case of an accident. As a car owner, I know that the cost to benefit ratio for the seat belts is low, because the seat belts can be mass produced and I highly value my life and the lives of my family members

Contrast this with the cost to benefit ratio of radiation protection regulations. Some of the regulations impose costs that reach into the billions or tens of billions of dollars per estimated or theoretical live saved. These are the regulations that have increased the cost of nuclear power to the point where nuclear opponents have claimed that nuclear is not economic. I am saying that the regulations driving these costs are based on a theory that has been disproven. LNT is wrong. Let’s work together to make radiation protection regulations rational and science based.