Only if you think in terms of electricity. We should have been building
all houses with at least some passive solar capability for the last 30
years. It ain't rocket science or gee-whiz tech- the sunnier,
less-electrified parts of the world have been taking advantage of the
sun for thousands of years. Electric and gas have simply been so damn
cheap since central HVAC for the masses came along, that nobody bothered
to think about it. Build the house right, and you can reduce your need
for electric and gas a bunch.
The reprocessing of our nuclear fuel sources is equally inexhaustible in
that context as well.
As for the game being over when the sun runs out of juice, that is very
much dependent on how far we progress in space travel and colonization
in the millenias until the sun does go kaput.
For those who think the country can run on sunbeams, it's reality-check
The amount of solar radiation that falls on the earth's surface is about 745
watts/sq meter. At the equator. At noon. With no clouds.
Assuming you could conjure up a solar convertor (electric, steam, etc.)
that's 40% efficient, and adjusting for latitude, 12 hours of darkness,
clouds, dust, etc., it would take a solar collector facility the size of the
Los Angeles basin (~1200 sq miles) to provide power for the state of
California (~50 Gw).
The entire Interstate Highway system is 50,000 miles. Assuming 60' of
roadway, that's 568 square miles of concrete, less than half our required
solar collector. Imagine the cost to construct such a monster and the
expense to maintains something that massive!
On the plus side, everybody in Los Angeles would be in the dark.
on 12/6/2008 12:12 PM Ed Pawlowski said the following:
Any life on Mars, or any other planets in our solar system? We are at
the optimum distance from the Sun to sustain life as we know it. The
less - or more - solar energy, the less life. As the Sun burns out over
the course of gigennia, it will become a 'Red Giant" star and all the
planets will gradually vaporize. Nothing on Earth will experience this
I don't believe in invisible entities, nor any afterlife.
Mars has a different composition and we don't know that it ever had any life
to evolve to another form. Right now we have penguins and polar bears.
They may run rampant over the rest of the earth if it cools down some.
Plant life ma take some other forms that is cold resistant. Life as we know
it, I agree, but it can change. How did we get here? What existed before,
during, and after the ice age? I just don't think that any of us can make
a definite statement about the future. Could be space ships on the way here
from a distant galaxy a million years away.
This is straw-man argument.
No decision has been made on the disposal of nuclear waste because a
decision is not yet necessary!
There are several seemingly-excellent disposal techniques: Imbedding the
waste in molten glass and sinking the ingots in the Marinaras Trench,
shooting the waste into the sun, pumping the stuff into abandonded salt
mines, yak-yak-yak. There is almost no end to possible fixes.
Until we HAVE to make a decision, it is best to DELAY the decision on the
chance a better solution will present itself.
Suppose, for example, the glass-ingot method were put into play. Then, ten
years from now, somebody discovers you can turn radioactive material into
burgers and feed the world. Can you imagine the effort and treasure
necessary to retrieve all those ingots from five miles under water? If, on
the other hand, we had shot the waste into the sun, we'd NEVER be able to
get it back (unless we went at night).
I believe there are safe ways to dispose of it but until a valid plan
is in place to do so, we have no damn business creating yet more
waste. Right now, there is nothing but stockpiling the stuff in
holding areas that are an ever increasing hazard to everyone. Find a
solution, prove it, implement it and then lets talk about building new
facilities. Until then, NO!
We HAVE a plan!
The plan is to NOT dispose of the stuff until we HAVE to dispose of the
stuff. At the moment we can no longer safely store the waste, we'll pick
from competing alternatives. Until then, it is prudent and responsible to
wait for any alternative methods that haven't yet made it to the party.
NOT disposing of nuclear waste is far preferable to disposing of it the
That's not a plan, its a disaster just waiting to happen. It just
plain stupid and anyone with half a brain would recognize that. What
you have just said is that you don't have a valid alternative for
disposal so you just ignore the problem in the hope that some way will
eventually be found BEFORE a disaster occurs.
There are MANY valid alternatives - some I've mentioned here. It is
incorrect to say there are no alternatives in the disposal matrix and it is
likewise incorrect to say there is no plan. The plan is to wait until it is
time to make a decision.
Fortunately, with the new administration, the official plan becomes "Hope."
The strategy to achieve the goals of this plan is "Belive," and the
principle tactic to implement this strategy is "Yes, we can!"
Unfortunately, we need the power now and the problem to be solved is
primarily political, not technical.
As noted upthread, Reid has been using Yucca Mountain as his own
personal populist whipping boy to his personal advantage for nearly 30
years. Once it does finally open and we can move stuff from the spent
fuel pools, there really is no crisis as far as ultimate disposal by
whatever means is finally allowed. Again, that will primarily be a
political, not technical decision.
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