Skip to main content

Asking the Expert

chinook Dr. David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University offers interesting comments at the New York Times today. It’s a meta story about a expert who has been asked by various media outlets to share his views.

“People are very worried, which is not surprising,” he said. “We want people to be able to make some kind of realistic assessment.”

In the week or so after the earthquake, he did about 30 interviews with reporters, he said, “some good, some dreadful.”

Some interviewers tried to push him to say the danger was much greater than he believed it to be. He resisted, and canceled one appearance when he realized that the host group had a strong anti-nuclear agenda.

Can’t say that’s a big surprise. As for Dr. Brenner:

Asked whether he was for or against nuclear power, he paused, then said, “I think there is a role for safe nuclear power.”

Worth a read. Dr. Brenner engages in speculation about outcomes – it seems to me to early for that, but in all, the story justifies its title: Countering Radiation Fears With Just the Facts.


I wrote earlier I would keep my eyes open for some dire nuclear energy editorials. Most we’ve seen have taken a positive though measured view; none have suggested just shutting everything down. So this editorial from the Chinook (Wash.) Observer should do the trick:

Lobbyists for the American atomic-energy industry might just as well resign en masse now and seek work with better prospects — perhaps inventing a perpetual-motion machine or bringing peace to the Middle East.

The rest of it gets a little muddled. Lines like this - “In fact, the latest nuclear equipment is quite safe.” – don’t help the cause, nor does this somewhat muted appreciation of natural gas:

Natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel, will be part of the answer. This does not mean we should blithely go along with a liquefied natural gas terminal at Skipanon. It is not sensible to situate giant tanks of a highly explosive substance on a nearby waterfront subject to 9.0 quakes and tsunamis.

But you take what you can get.

Chinook Bay. Nope, no place for anything that can explode.


Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.


The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.

What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…