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Discussion Starter #1
Well honestly, there are drawbacks. Not the least of which is the limit of available fuel (believe it or not).

But I read an interesting article today in Monday's edition of Investor's Business Daily, about a company called Cameco. They mine uranium, pimarily in Canada. The article contained some tidbits about the world's use of uranium and nuclear power.

Places rich in uranium oxide (sometimes called "yellowcake") include Saskatchewan province in Canada, Inkai in Souch-central Kazakhstan, and Kurdistan, and possibly Australia, where Cameco is currently prospecting.

Apparently, the world has been using existing uranium stocks since the early 1990's when the Soviet Union broke up. But now stocks are running lower, so future emphasis will quickly trend toward more mining.

I found it interesting to learn that many natural gas power plants are sitting idle today, but I didn't understand the article's statement that this was due to the rise in oil prices. Nevertheless, natural gas makes up nearly 60% of utilitiees' total cost of producing electricity, whereas Uranium is less than 5% of the cost of producing electricity.

Purely from a cost-of-fuel standpoint, one can easily see the appeal of nuclear power.

There are over 100 nuclear power plants in the US. The move toward fuel cells will require a large and steady supply of hydrogen. Right now, the only way to "make" hydrogen is to use power; electricity. Burning fossil fuels is an inefficient way to produce hydrogen, and the article says that we'll eventually need more power plants.

If you're interested in reading the full article, the paper should be on sale through Monday, and the article is on page B-2.

Those of you who have studied "peak oil" already know that the Earth doesn't contain enough uranium to fully sustain the world's electricity needs for more than 25 to 50 years. But it is a temporary, stop-gap option that MUST be thoroughly examined.

Anyhow, file this one in your file-manager for future reference...

PS: I just found this forum area "Alternative Energy," but honestly, I don't know if anybody will read this post. The topic is too far down the list of topics. I have a huge 21" monitor running at 1600 X 1200, and even I had to SCROLL to find this. I think the forum topics should probably be limited to a number that can comfortably be displayed on average computer monitors.
 

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I regularly check the "less" active areas for interesting articles. I hope others do as well.


Several years ago I attended a conference where the speaker addressed her challenging job of attempting to create a database of engineering drawings, as-built drawings, lawyer briefs, court records, transportation documents, etc relative to the nuclear depository project.

Her problem was not the simple selection of a database program but the challenge of being able to access this information for the next 25-50,000 years.

Cost-to-fuel consideration can't be the major consideration when the life cycle of by-products is many generations of lifetimes.

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti nuclear, nor anti hydrogen, or anti other solutions. I would just like to spend our research dollars and mental capacity to arrive at an environmentally sustainable solution which does not put our national policy under foreign control. Any proposed solution that only has one-quarter to one-half lifetime run should be eliminated unless we want to continue to use the band aid approach to energy dependency.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
FarNorth said:
I regularly check the "less" active areas for interesting articles. I hope others do as well.


Several years ago I attended a conference where the speaker addressed her challenging job of attempting to create a database of engineering drawings, as-built drawings, lawyer briefs, court records, transportation documents, etc relative to the nuclear depository project.

Her problem was not the simple selection of a database program but the challenge of being able to access this information for the next 25-50,000 years.

Cost-to-fuel consideration can't be the major consideration when the life cycle of by-products is many generations of lifetimes.

Don't get me wrong, I am not anti nuclear, nor anti hydrogen, or anti other solutions. I would just like to spend our research dollars and mental capacity to arrive at an environmentally sustainable solution which does not put our national policy under foreign control. Any proposed solution that only has one-quarter to one-half lifetime run should be eliminated unless we want to continue to use the band aid approach to energy dependency.

First of all, "ow!" That cyan is hard to read. I have changed it to "darkblue" in my quote above.

As for the life-expectancy of nuclear waste. Yes, it will last 25,000 to 50,000 years or more. But I submit to you that it may not really matter in the big scheme of things.

No, I'm not mentally unhinged. You see, there's some speculation and even some evidence that it's not likely that human life on Earth will be able to last that long anyhow. There are a number of upcoming ..er.. "challenges" that all Earth life will be presented with. It's not looking too good. The most serious problems don't appear to have anything to do with human activity, either.

One is the reversal of the magnetic poles, which is arguably beginning to happen right now.

The most worrisome is that the Sun is growing hotter and larger. Eventually, thousands of years from now, Earth's orbit will pass through the Sun.

In either case, my driving a Prius won't have delayed the inevitable in the least.

If Earth's own existence is in fact bound to run out of time soon ("soon" in the context of the age of the galaxy and the universe), then I wonder: Does it really matter if we bury our nuclear waste deep in a mountain someplace?

Okay, I'll be labled "evil" for sure. But I say we need to go for it. We need to drill everywhere. For oil, for natural gas. We need to mine for coal and uranium oxide. We're going to probably have to use it all up sooner or later.

Most importantly, we need to really get busy working on the truly MAJOR problem we are confronted with: Homelessness. Or more accurately, "planetlessness."

Given that, I believe we need to be working on spaceflight. Not just space shuttles and satellite booster rockets, either. We need to be working on finding an alternate world to live on. To do that, we have to FIND the world. We need to figure out how to get there. And to get there alive and while the travellers are still in childbearing years.

Yet we waste time watching old Star Trek reruns and Star Wars movies. I don't get that. We're falling behind! What little we are actually doing includes this "playing house" with the international space station. It's long past time to start focussing on the real problem; Earth's life-expectancy. And the real need; faster-than-light deep space travel to perpetuate the human race. Or else this will all end, and there will never be a record of it. The earth is just a big iron ball, mostly still molten. Surely if it passes into the Sun one day thousands of years from now, the crust will again melt, and so will any and all evidence of humanity.

Do I sound a bit alarmist? Maybe. But somebody has to light a fire under our butts. Otherwise, our subsequent generations will still be watching "Fear Factor" when it's too hot to go outside. Or above ground. Or wherever. And it will be too late; they won't be able to get off the planet.

Maybe I'm coming from a different place than a lot of people. But that's what I think. The Earth is NOT "eternal." It is here for only a limited time. A long time, yes...but a limited time, nonetheless. We need to use that time wisely. If we're too cautious and too scared to use all of the wonderful resources on this giant rock, then our offspring will perish with the Earth.

And it won't matter that I saved a tree or drove a Prius or decided not to carefully consider any and all potential sources of energy.
 

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BIF,

That was very well said, and I wouldn't call you evil... However, while I think we deserve to die out as a species, I don't think your opinion, or mine will matter in the long run. Technologicly, the human race isn't advanced enough to tackle those problems yet.

However, for your side, there is still hope...Look at the changes in technology in just the last 200 years. Even if there are only 5,000 years left before external forces make the earth uninhabitable, that's an awful lot of time for new developments.

We can't tackle planetary colonization today, but by running out of oil we will be forced to take the next step towards that goal... that being a clean, renewable energy source.

Cheers
 

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BIF said:
No, I'm not mentally unhinged. You see, there's some speculation and even some evidence that it's not likely that human life on Earth will be able to last that long anyhow. There are a number of upcoming ..er.. "challenges" that all Earth life will be presented with. It's not looking too good. The most serious problems don't appear to have anything to do with human activity, either.

One is the reversal of the magnetic poles, which is arguably beginning to happen right now.
It's really hard to imagine that wiping out all human life. Possibly not even all that large a chunk of it. We can easily shield ourselves from the additional radiation, so it's more a matter of maintaining food supplies. And humans are pretty varied in their diets, so we can adapt fairly well to whatever's left.

BIF said:
The most worrisome is that the Sun is growing hotter and larger. Eventually, thousands of years from now, Earth's orbit will pass through the Sun.
Last I heard, this was scheduled for about 500 million years from now. Who moved up the timetable???

Anyway, in a few thousand years, the dominant lifeform will probably be mostly prosthetic/augmented by "intelligent" hardware (or just be said intelligent hardware). Unadorned humans won't be able to compete.

That's of course, assuming we don't bomb ourselves back into the stone age during BIF's upcoming oil peak.

Still, the human race is highly adaptable and highly dispersed. It's hard to imagine anything wiping it out completely. And pretty close to impossible to imagine anything wiping out all life on earth (short of the aforementioned solar expansion, and even that's not a sure thing).
 

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RSnyder said:
Last I heard, this was scheduled for about 500 million years from now. Who moved up the timetable???
George W. Bush :roll:
 

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BIF said:
The most worrisome is that the Sun is growing hotter and larger. Eventually, thousands of years from now, Earth's orbit will pass through the Sun.
You are off by a couple of orders of magnitude. Solar expansion is a few million years off.

We do need to look into expanding into the universe. Any society that does not grow, dies.
 

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BIF

I agree that finding "new" homes for the human race is the only way to ensure the ultimate continuation of the species. However, I see that this can be accomplished by an heroic planetary goal over our remaining time.

What I am concerned is the drill anywhere, slash and burn everything, and mine now solution which seems to only hasten our need to arrive at a new home sooner.

Establishing a new colony of humanity on new worlds is going to take centuries even with modern technological growth. Shouldn't we start conserving some of the non-renewable resources which we use now to have them last a little longer in case we haven't come up with the solution as soon as we plan.

I guess I compare conservation of our existing resources just like I perceive my retirement nestegg- I don't know how long I am going to live, so I need to keep some resources protected and not squandered just because I have access to them now.

And I think me driving a Prius does help. It shows again that a vehicle is for transportation of people and goods and should do that in the most efficient manner possible. Vehicles are tools, not sex symbols or macho enhancers or status symbols.

"Lighting one candle in a darkened room DOES bring light to the world"
 

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It's all pointless anyway, since in 500 godzillian years the universe will collapse back upon itself...

And for those that don't know number theory, a godzillian year is (obviously) the amount of time godzilla has between birthdays
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, folks...your posts made me smile when I needed it most!

As for "drill everywhere/slash and burn," I never said that!

I believe we need to conserve first and foremost. But beyond that, we also need to examine ALL alternatives, one of which is to tap existing reserves of "old-fashioned" sources. I don't think conservation alone will solve our problems. There's not enough time. We need to be open-minded.

Open-mindedness means investigating new sources, but it also means finding better, cleaner, and more efficient ways of using old sources. Prematurely making old sources "off limits" may be the kiss of death, figuratively and literally speaking.

As far as that sun-expansion thing? You guys sure about that? If so, maybe I can remove it from my MS-Outlook calendar. Man, that would be a big relief! :)

Thanks for the smiles.
 

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You should go read Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question". It's about the end of the universe & extinction of humanity in about... oh, 50 billion years.

It's obvious we have to find SOME alternative. The millions of years of stored solar energy that we've been burning (oil) won't last beyond this century.
 

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BIF said:
Those of you who have studied "peak oil" already know that the Earth doesn't contain enough uranium to fully sustain the world's electricity needs for more than 25 to 50 years.
Dr. M. King Hubbert's seminal paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels, addressed this question in 1956. The conventional thermal reactor used in the United States extracts only 5% of the energy in uranium. Hubbert's answer was to use breeder reactors, which are capable of not only using more than 99% of the energy from uranium but which could also use thorium as a fuel.

I do not propose that fission nuclear power is the ultimate answer to our energy needs. Nuclear fusion in the sun (solar power) is our longest lasting source. We should research practical nuclear fusion power here on earth but not count on it until it is a reality. The chief benefits of using fission nuclear power are a) to provide a stop gap energy solution when fossil fuels run out and b) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The root problem we face is overpopulation. The historically recent explosion of our population was made possible by exploitation of fossil fuels. In the long term, our population will shrink to what the planet can sustain. To prevent anarchy and the loss of civilization, some short term alternative energy solutions must be found for this transition. Otherwise, we face the four horsemen of the apocalypse: famine, war, disease (a weakened population is more susceptible) and death. In desperation, we will promote global warming (as we switch to coal), destroy renewable resources (over-fish the oceans and cut down forests) and cause one of the largest extinctions of species this planet has experienced.

Could we have made the transition without nuclear power? Yes, if we had started soon enough. Unfortunately, it is human nature to ignore warnings of this type because they would inconvenience our lifestyles. Eventually, the consequences can no longer be ignored and we panic.

FarNorth said:
Several years ago I attended a conference where the speaker addressed her challenging job of attempting to create a database of engineering drawings, as-built drawings, lawyer briefs, court records, transportation documents, etc relative to the nuclear depository project.

Her problem was not the simple selection of a database program but the challenge of being able to access this information for the next 25-50,000 years.
Read the December 2005 Scientific American article, Smarter Use of Nuclear Waste. The long term waste is consumed in advanced fast-neutron reactors. The short term waste only needs to be protected for less than 500 years. No uranium enrichment is needed.
 

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and possibly Australia, where Cameco is currently prospecting.
Fnar, fnar, fnar, snort mumble. That's a good one. I understand Australia has the greatest uranium reserves around. Our production being only limited by government restriction (4 mines policy) and no local nuclear industry.
 

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Well you put your limited fuel someplace central like maybe a power plant or something then you run your car on I don't know electricty that you'd get from A plug of somekind then you wouldn't have to worry about driveing around with plutonim under the hood
 

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Re:

ElectricTroy said:
You should go read Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question". It's about the end of the universe & extinction of humanity in about... oh, 50 billion years.

It's obvious we have to find SOME alternative. The millions of years of stored solar energy that we've been burning (oil) won't last beyond this century.
"the last Question" is on my web site in clear text (slight copyright violation) at:

http://doctord.webhop.net

You can also read a related story, "The Dwindling Sphere" by Hawkins there.

JeffD
 
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