As many of my readers have probably already surmised, I don't confine my writing and commenting on nuclear issues just to NEI Nuclear Notes. I try to keep an eye on what folks are saying on other blogs, and it's not out of the ordinary for me to shoot an email off to another blogger, or leave a comment where I think it might help.
That also means talking with anti-nukes pretty regularly. Granted, there are plenty of people on the other side of the fence who will never be convinced of the benefits of nuclear energy. Instead, I try to hop into conversation where we might be able to reach folks who either are willing to be persuaded or just haven't made up their minds. And sometimes I just like to clear up some misperceptions, like this comment that I found over at Anthropik:
Nuclear Energy doesn't even provide what civilization will need in the short run (next decade)--FOOD. Modern Agrobusiness, uses massive amounts of petrochemicals to allow depleted soil to produce foodproducts. Having Nuclear powered tractors wouldn't cut it, food production would decrease. No point in having the lights on, computer working, fridge on if you don't have food in the fridge. As it stands much of the food products in the US require Oil even if the energy for equipment could be replaced in short-order with 'alternate' energy sources.We've dealt with the cost question before, but what I was really concerned with was the statements about food and water.
Building Nuclear power plants are Billion dollar ventures, and take a fair amount of time. When it comes down to it, potable water & food in the belly will not come from Nuclear. So if anyone wants to be a techno-optimist, you are again left with 'praying for NanoBots' to turn the world into a Nano-Digital playground where whoever controls the technology can turn carbon monoxide into clean water etc. etc.
In terms of direct effects, irradiation is a proven and safe method of retarding spoilage and killing bacteria that causes food borne diseases. And if it takes longer for produce to rot, you don't need to grow as much food. As for drinking water, there are already plenty of plans around the world to leverage nuclear energy to desalinate water. Further, because nuclear energy doesn't emit pollution like Mercury, NOx and SOx, it also contributes to keeping our air and water clean too.
But there's another non-obvious benefit, and that's in the area of natural gas supply. As we've said many times, because the U.S. overbuilt natural gas fired electric generating capacity in the 1990s, we've put incredible strain on natural gas supply. And one sector of the American economy that has gotten battered because of this is agriculture:
Testifying before a House Small Business subcommittee, Kruse, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau and a member of the AFBF [American Farm Bureau Federation] Board of Directors, said the United States' failed energy policy cost U.S. agriculture more than $6 billion in added expenses during the 2003 and 2004 growing seasons.And if we build more nuclear generating capacity, we can take some of that pressure off of the natural gas supply, and give some relief to the agricultural sector. And we haven't really even begun to discuss the use of hydrogen or plug-in hybrids in agricultural applications.
Natural gas is especially important to agriculture, Kruse explained, because it is used to produce nitrogen fertilizers and farm chemicals, as well as electricity for lighting, heating, irrigation, and grain drying. Natural gas can account for nearly 95 percent of the cost of nitrogen fertilizer.
"Between 2000 and 2003, the average retail cost of nitrogen fertilizer skyrocketed from $100 per ton to more than $350 per ton," Kruse said.
According to Kruse and Farm Bureau, domestic exploration and recovery of energy resources using sensible, environmentally sound methods must begin immediately. Greater use of renewable energy sources including ethanol and biodiesel also will go a long way toward solving our nation's energy woes, Kruse said.
Farm Bureau also supports incentives for the use of clean coal technology in electric power generation and the use of nuclear energy.
Like I said, there's more here than meets the eye.
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