Thursday, January 24, 2008

On Nuclear Energy and Drought

Yesterday, the Drudge Report fronted an AP story by Mitch Weiss entitled, "Drought Could Force Nuke-Plant Shutdowns". To say the least, we're just a little exasperated around here, especially since we've gone to the trouble over and over again of letting folks know that water use isn't solely an issue for nuclear plants, it's an issue for any kind of electrical generating station that uses the steam cycle. Further, despite the claims of anti-nuclear activists, we don't believe this is a major issue.

The best short answer to this comes from Dr. Michael Ivanco, who wrote the following in a letter to the editor that was published by the Hamilton Spectator back in August 2006:

The impact of drought in Europe on electricity supply is not a "nuclear" problem, as the writer suggests, rather it affects all electricity generating stations that use a steam cycle: nuclear, coal, gas and oil.

These account for over 80 per cent of all electricity generated on our planet. While water shortages have caused some thermo-electric plants to scale back production, it is important to note that they have not been required to shut down.

During the heat wave that hit Europe in the summer of 2003, by contrast, the contribution of wind-generated electricity to the electrical grids was virtually zero, since the wind did not blow.

While the overall output of nuclear plants may vary slightly due to other weather conditions, it will not drop to zero as some renewable sources do.

The single largest nuclear facility in North America is in the middle of the desert in Arizona and it does not suffer from any drought-related setbacks, simply because water conservation was built into its design.

There is no technical reason preventing future plants from being built to minimize water usage.
Ok? Yet over and over again, packs of reporters continue to revel in their scientific illiteracy, by reporting the same talking points from anti-nuclear activists over and over again. Here is a list of all the posts we've done over the past few years concerning this issue:

NPR, the Steam Cycle and Nuclear Energy
On Nuclear Energy, Cooling and the Steam Cycle
Nuclear Energy, Increased Temperatures and the Truth About the Steam Cycle
The Truth About Nuclear Power and Increased Water Temperatures
Countering More Propaganda

Are these reporters lazy? Are they stupid? Is it a little bit of both? Who knows?

More on this momentarily. Stay tuned, you don't want to miss this.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that must be it. Reporters are lazy and stupid. Be sure to mention that to them often.

No wonder this industry isn't getting better press.

Instead of killing the messenger on a blog page almost no one outside the industry reads, why not focus on getting your message around?

bryfry said...

Lazy? Stupid? I vote for a lot of both.

Apparently, they're stubborn and persistent as well.

Anonymous said...

Still declining to post comments that disagree with you, I see.

David Bradish said...

"Instead of killing the messenger on a blog page almost no one outside the industry reads, why not focus on getting your message around?"

So we can't criticize the reporters but you can belittle our blog. Double standard?

Part of getting our message out is by posting blogs. That way it will get picked up by Google and other search engines for people who really want to know about the issue.

Randal Leavitt said...

I dont think that "lazy" or "stupid" applies, but "commissioned" might.

Starvid said...

Or plain "anti-nuclear".

Anonymous said...

"So we can't criticize the reporters but you can belittle our blog. Double standard?"

"Lazy" and "stupid" is not criticism. It's ad hominem.

You can say whatever you want, it's a free country and (at least for now) internet. But you can't have it both ways, i.e., whining about the poor treatment the nuclear industry gets in the press while at the same time calling them lazy and stupid. How does that help our industry with the media?

Eric McErlain said...

With all due respect, we've been dealing with this issue over and over again with the media over the last 18 months. As you can see from the above post, we've stressed over and over again that this is not a situation that is unique to nuclear power plants. Yet time after time, our comments are completely ignored and the same exact charge, without any significant adjustments, is leveled repeatedly. This even after we communicate this point directly to reporters without fail.

In short, we have been focusing on getting our message out. And on this issue at least, plenty of reporters seem to be focusing on parroting anti-nuclear talking points without vetting them at all.