...Also, since it takes burning much more coal to produce the same amount of power, your analogy may be better stated as you producing 3 bags of mildly toxic poison, and your neighbour producing 1 gram of incredibly poisonous waste.
You are quite correct. I noticed that flaw after I posted it. Nonetheless, the closets are all full.
Your right again that coal is far from an ideal fuel; between the danger of global warming, the toxic emissions burning it spews into the atmosphere, the ghastly environmental damage that accompanies ripping open the earth to extract it - ever see a strip mine? - and the finitude of the world's supplies.
I don't share the common knee-jerk objection to nuclear power, which I suspect is more informed by visions of Hiroshima than of Chernobyl anyway. If scientists and engineers can come up with a reasonably likely technological solution to the long-term storage of nuclear power plant wastes (a solution, which, however, isn't even on the horizon yet), and if anyone could come up with a way so that nuclear power plant construction doesn't translate into nuclear weapons proliferation, and if the engineers building and running those power reactors engineers can be induced to focus on safety rather than cost-cutting - which, I'll admit, they've been reasonably successful in doing in the U.S.A., Japan, and Western Europe, though obviously not in the former Soviet Union - then I would not object all that strenuously to seeing new nuclear power plants going up.
But those are some pretty big "ifs." To focus on the nuclear waste aspect alone, the fact remains that during the more than five decades since the construction of the first production reactors, no one anywhere has ever managed to safely and permanently dispose of even a kilogram of high-level nuclear waste. Even if no one ever builds another nuclear plant, the human race still has vastly multiplied the amount of radioactivity in the biosphere - or rather, either out in the biosphere or separated from the biosphere by the thin, corroding walls of storage tanks - and that's a problem which I feel we need to solve.
Here's a suggestion, which - alas, the Duh-Byuh administration not only wipe their asses with my ballot but also perversely ignore my sagest advice - I launch into the air like a child loosing a helium balloon, to be lost and ignored. Instead of squandering tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars on a "Strategic Defense Initiative," whose sole purpose is to be able to threaten Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union with a nuclear first strike - a bit of a waste of effort, dontcha think, inasmuch as our one-time ally Stalin is long dead and the Soviet Union has been shattered and bankrupted - instead of flushing all that wealth down the toilet like that, why don't we throw a few tens of billions at the nuclear waste problem? Sometimes you can unravel enormous, seemingly insoluble technical problems by simply throwing tax cash at them with both hands. Hey, that's how we built the first atom bomb, and that's how we sent tourists to walk around on the surface of the moon, and nobody beforehand thought we could achieve either. Surely the dream of completing the nuclear power cycle, so the world's billions can enjoy clean, cheap power, is at least as appealing as massacre or tourism.
I wonder why I care. Recorded history is a mere five or so millennia old. It seems to me that as things are going, there's a good chance that not just the filthy, guilty, damned human race but all the mammals on the face of the earth might go extinct within the next five thousand years. Why I care at all about the fortune of people and animals thousands of years after my own death is a bit of a mystery to me. But I do.
Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net
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