MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Light Snow
Collapse Photo Bar

Global warming forecast ... from 1981

If it doesn't fit anywhere else, it fits here

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:07 pm

Marvell wrote:For an atheist, you have a pretty faith-based take on this
Damn right, I do.
I have faith in human ingenuity when it comes to problem-solving. How does that clash with my atheism?
Marvell wrote:...one that I'm not sure the historical record substantiates.
I disagree.
Civilizations come and go, but progress has never ceased, and in fact seems to be growing at an ever-more-rapid rate. And I mean that in the most general terms: Progress in science and technology, progress in human rights, progress in overall living conditions.
Marvell wrote:See, for instance, the retrograde motion of civilization / technology that accompanied the collapse of pretty much every society that ever existed.
Valuable lessons, indeed. But I'm not entirely sure that, say, the fall of the Roman Empire is particularly analogous to the inevitable fall of the United States of America. Countries and empires no longer exist as isolated pockets in a hard-to-traverse world. I have no faith that the U.S. can continue indefinitely (although I think predictions of its demise anytime soon are unlikely to come true), but I have great faith that human civilization will, far, far into the future. And as I said above, progress has continued unabated since the dawn of civilization. I cannot imagine a scenario where the collapse of a single country spells doom to worldwide progress.
Marvell wrote:And I both dispute and resent the implication that someone being skeptical about a plan based on 'future generations of clever engineers' is 'not looking at the big picture.'
Not sure what I can do about that.
What can I say? I'm an optimist when it comes to human ingenuity. And I base that optimism on my belief that in general, more people are better off today than at any other time in history.

Again: Our waste storage facilities are already overflowing. Some of them do pose potential threats to safety. Perhaps it was immoral and short-sighted to produce this waste in the first place, but it's kinda irrelevant now isn't it? I've already said I no longer advocate for more nuclear power until we figure this shit out, but I see no way around the idea that those who opposed Yucca Mountain were shortsighted. I can see fighting for a better solution once we've solved our short-term crisis (and yes, I think it's a crisis) -- and that's the big picture I'm talking about. Yucca Mountain may not have been safe enough forever and ever, but it sure-as-shit would have been safer than what we're currently doing, which is essentially nothing.
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 9047
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:18 pm

In 1966 I was a freshman nuclear engineering student. A UW prof told me that there were two main concerns about nuclear power technology, containment and waste disposal. They still are the two main concerns and little progress has been made in the 46 years since then.
Henry Vilas
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 20256
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Name sez it all

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:25 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:In 1966 I was a freshman nuclear engineering student. A UW prof told me that there were two main concerns about nuclear power technology, containment and waste disposal. They still are the two main concerns and little progress has been made in the 46 years since then.
Well, damn! You should walk over to Engineering Physics at UW and let the faculty know about this right away.

I'd say that the the reason for the non-progress of nuclear has mostly to do with politics and public perception, not technology. Yucca Mountain was a pretty solid proposal, scientifically speaking.
ArturoBandini
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2256
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:54 pm
Location: near west

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:29 pm

Do you just have that anecdote in a file so you can cut and paste it Henry? 'Cuz I could repeat it verbatim at this point.

And keeping in mind that my position has changed since the two of us last hashed out nuclear power issues -- I no longer advocate for more nuclear power -- would you care to weigh in on the topic at hand: What to do with the waste we already have? I seem to recall you were against Yucca Mountain based on longterm projections of leakage. Is that correct? And if it is, what do you propose we do about the known inadequacies of our current facilities?
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 9047
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:36 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Do you just have that anecdote in a file so you can cut and paste it Henry? 'Cuz I could repeat it verbatim at this point.
C'mon, we're talking about Henry here. His historical knowledge is broad, but shallow, inflexible, and uncritical. It's like a five-foot tall stack of eighth-grade-history factoid flashcards.
ArturoBandini
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2256
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:54 pm
Location: near west

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Marvell » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:48 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
Again: Our waste storage facilities are already overflowing. Some of them do pose potential threats to safety. Perhaps it was immoral and short-sighted to produce this waste in the first place, but it's kinda irrelevant now isn't it? I've already said I no longer advocate for more nuclear power until we figure this shit out, but I see no way around the idea that those who opposed Yucca Mountain were shortsighted. I can see fighting for a better solution once we've solved our short-term crisis (and yes, I think it's a crisis) -- and that's the big picture I'm talking about. Yucca Mountain may not have been safe enough forever and ever, but it sure-as-shit would have been safer than what we're currently doing, which is essentially nothing.


Fair enough. I don't really disagree with you about this.

What makes me nervous is the notion that Yucca Mountain is really a solution at all, as opposed to a short-term mitigation strategy until a better solution can be found. And to put the onus on finding a better solution on 'future clever engineers' is, to my thinking, no less fatuous than thinking future Jesus will be coming along any minute now to kick everyone into shape.

I realize we disagree on this, and I know you've already admitted that your view on this is based on a 'belief.'

I will concede that I have a much less sanguine view of human nature and the arc of 'progress' than you do.

I'm also right, and you're wrong. But we don't have to fight over that.
Marvell
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 6989
Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2001 11:28 pm
Location: At one with time and space

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:49 pm

The problem with containment is just a political one? Tell that to the people who live near the Fukushima reactors.
Henry Vilas
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 20256
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Name sez it all

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:52 pm

Marvell wrote:And to put the onus on finding a better solution on 'future clever engineers' is, to my thinking, no less fatuous than thinking future Jesus will be coming along any minute now to kick everyone into shape.

It's pretty silly to compare an imaginary mythological being with real people we can assume with a high degree of certainty will be born in the near future. Or are you seriously staking out the position that the world will never see another Archimedes, Galileo, or Einstein, and science is grinding to a halt?

Marvell wrote:I'm also right, and you're wrong. But we don't have to fight over that.
Oh, I think we do have to fight about it. Preferably over a beer at Mr. Roberts tonight.

Henry Vilas wrote:The problem with containment is just a political one?
Did you read the article I posted earlier?
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 9047
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:59 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
Henry Vilas wrote:The problem with containment is just a political one?
Did you read the article I posted earlier?
Yup.

I might add that, in addition to political and public perception issues, economics is a big reason why nuke plants aren't everywhere and aren't updated with the absolute latest safety advances and redundancies. Those safety advances and redundancies likely exist, but they aren't affordable, either fiscally or politically speaking. The economics of nuclear power, especially under a strict regulatory environment, are not attractive. I'm OK with contesting the affordability of nuclear power.
ArturoBandini
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2256
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:54 pm
Location: near west

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:04 pm

Nuclear power has gone from being "too cheap to meter" to being too expensive to build with adequate safety measures. Those containment suggestions from the CS Monitor article were well know decades ago. It wasn't politics that prevented their implementation. It was economics.
Henry Vilas
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 20256
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Name sez it all

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:21 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Those containment suggestions from the CS Monitor article were well know decades ago. It wasn't politics that prevented their implementation. It was economics.

It certainly wasn't economics that prevented the opening of Yucca Mountain, it was NIMBY politics, plain and simple.

Is there a particular reason you don't want to address the issue of what to do with our current crop of waste? It's all well and good to take a stand against nuclear power, but is it wise to do so in the face of the reality of it?

Did I remember correctly that you opposed Yucca Mountain? And if so, how is our present situation preferable?
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 9047
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:25 pm

Without adequate containment the nuclear waste issue is secondary. Even if Yucca Mountain was open, the safety of the plant itself is still paramount.
Henry Vilas
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 20256
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Name sez it all

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:35 pm

Hank, a secondary issue is still an issue.
Even if we closed down all the nuclear plants today, we'd still have the waste we've already accumulated.
It's also worth noting that there's a lot more nuclear waste out there than just from nuclear power plants. Wouldn't the general population be better off if all such waste was stored at one or several central locations like Yucca Mountain instead of onsite at universities, research facilities, and hospitals? Or are you also opposed to nuclear medicine in principle?

So basically, you refuse to even address the issue of waste until every nuclear plant has proper containment or is shut down? That's like ignoring drug trafficking until all underlying social problems which lead to drug use have been addressed and solved. In other words, it's ridiculously foolish.
Prof. Wagstaff
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 9047
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2002 6:35 pm

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:50 pm

I agree that a more permanent solution to the huge amount of nuclear waste (that continues to accumulate) is needed. Storing them in pools of water around the country is not ideal. That itself is a disaster waiting to happen. But the safety of the plants themselves presents a much, much greater danger.

Do you disagree?
Henry Vilas
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 20256
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Name sez it all

Re: Global warming forecast ... from 1981

Postby kurt_w » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:01 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:C'mon, we're talking about Henry here. His historical knowledge is broad, but shallow, inflexible, and uncritical. It's like a five-foot tall stack of eighth-grade-history factoid flashcards.


Ouch.

I don't agree. I often enjoy reading HV's historical anecdotes.
kurt_w
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 5389
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 3:11 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Catch All

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater


commentsViewedForum
  ISTHMUS FLICKR
Created with flickr badge.

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar