The Dark Side of Nuclear Energy - Is Nuclear Power Worth the Risk?

| 3/15/2011 7:42:12 PM

Tags: Living better on less energy, Melt down in Japan, electric vehicles, Vetter, Craig Vetter,

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As I write, March 14, 2011, three nuclear reactors in Japan have been destroyed by a 9.0 earthquake.  Radiation levels are on the rise.  The world watches helplessly, wondering if escaping radiation will eventually find its way to them.  

This may turn out be one of the more significant events of my lifetime.

The story of Japan and its recovery after WW2 has been one of fantastic success. Their industry brought us the world’s greatest bicycles, the modern camera, video, motorcycles, and cars.   Where would we be without Shimano, Nikon, Sony, and Honda?  The amazing thing is that Japan did this with little energy and resources of their own. Somehow, they managed to pay the premium required to import the resources they don’t have and still produce the worlds’ greatest products. Unfortunately, they decided they needed nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, the horrible dark downside of nuclear energy is unfolding. 

Nuclear fission contributes about 1/4 of Japan’s energy. For reference, 1/5 of US energy is nuclear. Cheap and available energy has made both our countries very productive. But is nuclear power really cheap? As I write, elevated levels of radiation are being measured in Tokyo, 100 miles to the south.  Think about it… how would you feel if you were experiencing this right now? Could you afford to clean this mess up? Is there enough money in the world to clean this nuclear mess up? Is the risk really worth the chance?

I have a personal experience with a nuclear power plant that forever altered my life and that of my family. Let me tell you my story:

Sean Wenger
6/18/2011 12:51:15 AM

Hello everyone, 3 years to develop, so I’m not as far behind as I thought. Good to hear that these contests are slated for 2012 as well. A good R&D run on a test bed for the summer could lead to a finalization of design. Build it over the winter in time for California or Ohio in 2012. Plausible… Dialogue to get ideas out of obscurity is a good start. Testing, verification, and proof of concept are what we need to back up our dialogue. This is like energy conservation Myth Busters here. So what design will be the most efficient? Recently the verdict was that diesel is the dominating force. Is direct drive the best way to power a vehicle? Time will tell. Until concepts can be given their due time and evaluation we have theories and educated guesses. These we can use as a guide line to decide what systems we want to explore and develop. At the end of the day verifiable experience will tell us what we need to know. Japan just has a verifiable experience.

Craig Vetter
6/15/2011 9:16:32 AM

Frank: The concept of "Living Better... On Less Energy" does not compute for most people. We have been told we need more. Always more. More horsepower. More speed. A few of us are willing to Race for the Right Reasons. Of course, I plan to continue the Fuel Economy Challenges. I understand that it takes time to construct the kind of vehicles that are needed. I have over three years invested in mine. This is a good time to begin work on your Challenger for 2012. Craig

frank lee
6/11/2011 2:40:39 AM

You stopped in! I don't think any one can solve the world's problems. We have to somehow get sensible options out of obscurity and into mainstream public consciousness. To do that there must be dialogue. I was sure hoping the traffic here would be greater- it deserves to be! Regarding The Challenge: I want to be there in the worst way but it isn't going to come together by 7/22/11. I know, I know: Put up or shut up, right? That's fair enough. I simply haven't had my projects to date come together that fast. Will there be a Challenge 2012???

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