Global Warming and Reefs

Craig Bingman cbingman at
Tue Nov 17 22:16:27 EST 1998

I wsn[t going to write anything further on this, but as it turns out, the 
fate of reefs may be linked to our decisions regarding energy production.

> We agree on the immense challenges posed by global warming and the
> dependence on fossil fuels, but I don't understand why you seem to think
> that the only solution is to go nuclear. 

I'm open to viable alternatives.  Hydro power has been saturated in the 
US for decades.  More power can be extracted, but only at increasing 
damage to freshwater ecosystems.  Generating power form wind is a toy 
technology, as nearly as I can make out, as are alternatives for 
estracting power from tidal energy.  Solar sounds nice, but from my seat, 
lag issues haven't been worked out, and the issues regarding the impact 
on ecosystems that have enormous solar power grids built over them 
haven't been seriously considered, let alone studied at the massive scale 
required to make much of a dent in CO2 production rates.

> And I think you're wrong to characterize the many who oppose such a 
< solution as "hysterical." 

That term was singled out for use on the leadership (anti-leadership?) of 
the United States for the past several decades.

However, I have had many conversations with people who I otherwise 
consider to be intellegent people, and in many cases, intellectuals in 
their own right, in their own fields, and yes, the reaction to nuclear 
power is often on the edge of hysteria.  

> Are the
> people of Chernobyl, and those in surrounding countries affected by that
> 1986 disaster, "cattle" because bitter experience has taught them to oppose
> nuclear energy?

Their energies would be better directed at opposing stupid, dangerous and 
pointless tests of poorly designed reactors.  Surely you are aware that 
the technology used at Cherbobyl was third-world technology.  These were 
poorly designed reactors, and one was driven to destruction by an 
extremely stupid series of commands.

> There are other solutions and they are well-known. In no particular order:
> using less fossil fuel, preserving forests, switching to sustainable (and
> non-polluting) energy resources.

Using less fossil fuels:  we both agree that is a good idea.  However, 
just saying "using less fossil fuels" and not coming up with altenatives 
that make economic sense is a bit disingenuous.

Preserving forests sounds nice, unfortunately we seem to be rather lousy 
at that as well.  In terms of reef health, I do wish we would conserve 
the forests of the world, and the grasslands, and take care that 
croplands don't bleed any more nutirints and sediments into the world 
oceans than necessary.

Switching to sustainable fuels means what... biomass conversion for cars, 
more hydroelectric damns, solar farm fields, windmills, etc.  Good luck.  
Those techniques have shown nil promise over the last 20 years that I've 
been following them.

The biggest effect on the amount of anthropogenic CO2 that we blow into 
the atmosphere would come from building more modern fission reactors.

> Trying not to froth,
> Osha

I certainly wasn't trying to upset anyone.  

Sometime in the next few days, I'll try to give a synopsis of all he 
reactor accidents in US history.  They doen't amount to much.  Certianly 
not recently.  People can read those narratives and make up heir own 
mind, and contrast that to the amoung of radiation blown into the 
environment from the operation of coal plants.

Until fusion comes along (and it may come along too late to be of major 
significnce in this realm) fission is the cleanest, most compact and most 
respoinsive way of gettting power into a power grid without large and 
unknown questions about effects on dessert sysems, river systems, etc.

I'm all for consrvation.  You might want to have a word with the sport 
utility vehicle owners in the world.

So we can be obsessed by a lot of little things, or we can ignore the one 
big thing that could make a major dent in CO2 emissions... fission power.

Many will disagree with me, and perhaps it is time for me to take this 
off-line and correspond with those people individually.  I'll be happy to 
do that.  Just send it to me by e-mail only., off the list, and maybe 
I'll summarize as to how the discussin is going.

Again, the fission discussion is offline now.  Send individual responses 
to me.  I will provide a summary and historical statments of risk as 
appropriate.  Perhaps occasionally checking back to the list.  If people 
don't want me to do that, send mail to me indicating that yu think it is 
inappopriate, and I'll do my best to meet various feelings.

Best wishes,


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