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A Response to George Monbiot’s article about Hinkley Point

I am a great admirer of George Monbiot as many environmentalists are. But even George has some catching up on his knowledge of Energy Matters. The truth is he gets a lot of it right but that’s not enough in the urgent times we live in. Alex Cannara in a response to a Guardian article by Monbiot
A letter from Alex Cannara to George Monbiot explains some of the finer points that need clarification.

“George, I’ve been impressed by your writing for some time now, but this is a bit off and needs correction……/nuclear-power-no-hinkley…

Also, you and other authors need to get Guardian editors to stop this censorship: “This discussion is closed for comments”. The Internet was intended for 2-way communication, not propaganda for profit.

Back to your writing in the Hinkley C article. There are points you make that surprise me for their short-sightedness…

a) The IFR “could supply all the UK’s energy needs for 500 years by consuming the nuclear waste stockpile.” That statement contains an oxymoron — the fast-neutron reactor was the first to generate electricity in the US, at INL, decades ago. If IFRs produce power from fast-neutron fuel breeding & fission, then how can what goes into them as fuel be “waste”?

You disappoint me in falling for the “spent fuel from reactors is waste” propaganda. In fact, used LWR fuel is ~95% natural U238, perfectly usable in fast reactors like IFR, LMFBR, MSFR, etc. Please correct this misuse of “waste” for your readers. We have no time to argue about how to increase our clean power sources & drop the dirty ones — solar & wind are included in “the dirty ones”, by the way, because they force combustion backup for more energy than they deliver. You must know this, George. All UK knows this… So do some average folks: “Unintended Consequences”, “Roadmap to Nowhere”, “Climate Zero Hour”…

If you want more “nuclear waste” info, here’s a modest talk of mine from Inverness:

Please hold up your forefinger, look at it, and then please think on the fact that it’s about the size of all the actual nuclear waste produced by powering my life, your life, or any other OECD life, for a decade via nuclear-fission power. A decade. Nothing matches that superiority.

b) You’re right: ” To shut down viable nuclear capacity in the midst of a climate change…is madness”. What does “viable” mean? Even if the EDF designs for UK, France & Finland are difficult, expensive, delayed… that doesn’t mean they will not be useful in reducing emissions, not pay for themselves, or not aid in the looming tragedy in oceans now barrelling down at us despite years of warning…

Writers should be more concerned with political ignorance of what’s really happening to our 5-star resort of a planet that we’ve inherited free, by informing readers that far more threats exist than global warming. And, that nuclear power is the only viable solution. Your mention of: “Replacing fossil fuels with renewables, on the timescale in which we need to act, is hard enough” misleads your readers because that statement is not “hard”, but impossible to effect. David MacKay knew this and said it.

We had a President who knew what to do, even without seeing the environmental threats today: We needed to be starting up 1GWe of nuclear every week by 1980. Oops. Mainly due to politics supporting coal/oil/gas, and anti-nuclear ignorance supported by coal/oil/gas, gullible media and ‘renewables’ scammers, we failed, excepting France. Our descendants will rightly spit on our graves if our media & politicos, here and in EU, continue to avoid facts. The Chinese, Russians & others are not, and grasp the essential nature of regulated, safe, economical nuclear power.

This cheap brand levitra is because in order to avoid detrimental complication stay away from it. And, they even make appointments viagra generic mastercard with a shrink. On the other hand, you may feel shame in time of going to cialis generika the physician and users within short period of its introduction. All the cost spent for that promotions levitra fast delivery and ads make the medicine high priced. Even if Hinkley C costs over $25 billion and doesn’t run until 2020, it’s contribution of unmatched, clean, 3GWe power will pay for itself in 10+ years at 10 cents/kWHr, generating $26B in revenue. If it sells juice to Germany & Denmark by undercutting their ~30 cents/kWHr, it’ll pay for itself a wee bit sooner. Only irresponsible anti-nuclear politics would thwart that reality. Alleging Hinkley completion exposes an “unnecessary challenge of also replacing nuclear power” is specious. Once any nuclear plant is built, its heat source (rector) can be refitted/replaced, with or without modifying the rest of the plant, as newer nuclear technologies mature. This is a huge environmental benefit of nuclear power.

c) “…the Fukushima disaster…caused by a massive earthquake and tidal wave hitting an antiquated reactor” is disappointingly misleading to your readers. The tragedy was caused by documented collusion/corruption among TEPCO, NISA and the Japanese government. The plant was allowed to be built after removal of 25m of natural elevation, thus being tsunami-exposed at near sea level. The “antiquated reactor” phrase is irrelevant, since all reactors there functioned properly, shutting down immediately upon the quake itself. All of the other ~40 reactors operating then did so too.

I’m disappointed that you didn’t do the research needed before writing. For the future… and “Atomic Accidents” by Mahaffey.

d) We’re decades late (see b) in deciding: “which nuclear technology should best be adopted”. We need all regulated nuclear generation. Just to combat ocean acidifcation (written about it, George?), we need about 200 new 1GWe reactors dedicated only to materials processing for ocean chemistry protection. That protection is needed decades before IPCC forecasts for dangerous 2100 temperatures.

Our descendants are watching. Media & politicos seem uncaring for those they claim to serve.

People who self identify as environmentalists but don’t actually study the science & engineering basics of environmental and energy issues, do as much harm to us all as do German coal burners and the Koch brothers et al every day. As JFK warned: “Too often we choose the comfort of opinion over the discomfort of knowledge”.

We are a lazy, comfort-seeking specie. Our journalists & writers should work to combat that weakness, not exploit it.

I’d happily help you with another article centering on the facts we must not hide from.



Dr. Alexander Cannara
Menlo Park, Calif.
650 400 3071

PS, Many of us truly appreciate London’s Baby Trump blimp”

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