ANOTHER VIEW OF 'FOSSIL' FUELS
& WHY NUCLEAR* ENERGY IS UNCONSCIONABLE
April 28, 2020
[Also related and very important: "An Egalitarian View of Physical Reality"]
So-called “fossil fuels” are not actually known with even confidence, never mind certainty, to derive from pre-historic animal/plant remains. Some scientists say “fossil fuels” are merely contaminated by biological matter in the course of being brought to the surface but are created by natural processes in the earth and are still being created that way. [ https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/on-energy/2011/09/14/abiotic-oil-a-theory-worth-exploring]. This would mean that so-called “fossil fuels” are in fact renewable fuels.
I don’t know but I’ve been told that there is no evidence of lots of animals or plants having lived on Saturn's moon, Titan. And yet there's lots of "fossil fuel" on Titan. [ https://www.space.com/4968-titan-oil-earth.html?fbclid=IwAR0zm6lLfHWxsIHtqNcnSEmqBnSvOhX6vbYQ1tUJY1hg7LftB9wxwjFLbRQ ]
Read more about "fossil fuel" being formed in space at https://www.fzu.cz/en/novinky/a-new-theory-explaining-the-origin-of-hydrocarbon-molecules-in-interstellar-space .
Even a big name--George Monbiot--who opposes using oil (because he thinks it causes catastrophic global warming) came to admit that there is no foreseeable shortage of oil on earth [ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/jul/02/peak-oil-we-we-wrong ]. (Also see this report: https://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/USGS-Releases-Global-Estimate-for-Undiscovered-Technically-Recoverable-Conventional-Oil-and-Gas-Resources?fbclid=IwAR3yOvInoay-VED-faDE-hATPJ2SIkQvYtSunA9stDv-pV9MA_iY-wxDrqs .)
I don't think using fossil fuels causes catastrophic global warming, and I explain why at http://newdemocracyworld.org/CoR/rock.html with many sources in its footnote #1 for you to explore and think about.
If I am right, and if fossil fuel is actually a renewable fuel (or at least virtually limitless on earth and even more so in space) then we can use fossil fuels instead of nuclear energy. This would be wonderful, because nuclear energy--as discussed below--is absolutely unconscionable because of how it destroys our planet for future generations.
Nuclear power generation creates extremely dangerous radioactive waste (such as plutonium) and releases it during inevitable accidents (not to mention deliberate or reckless bombing during a war, as in Ukraine and described here), and THERE IS NO SOLUTION TO THE LONG TERM SAFE STORAGE OF THIS TOXIC STUFF THAT WILL HARM FUTURE GENERATIONS HORRIBLY. FURTHERMORE, ROUTINE MINING OF URANIUM IS TURNING MORE AND MORE OUR PLANET INTO UNINHABITABLE "SACRIFICE ZONES."
This doesn't mean we should use fossil fuels in a manner that poisons or pollutes our environment (as fracking seems to poison our water, or as British Petroleum Co. polluted the Gulf of Mexico)! If, in order to avoid defiling the environment, we need to use fossil fuels LESS, then so be it; we can learn to make do with less energy and no doubt a bit more creativity. There are alternative sources of energy besides solar and wind (such as geothermal energy) that should be used instead of nuclear power.
To those who, unlike myself, believe that using fossil fuels causes catastrophic global warning, I say: "In that case, instead of advocating using nuclear energy--which is unconscionable for the reasons discussed below--you should advocate using neither nuclear energy nor fossil fuels. If you think this would require a fundamental change in how humans live on our planet then advocate for that fundamental change."
WHY NUCLEAR ENERGY IS ABSOLUTELY UNCONSCIONABLE BECAUSE IT DESTROYS OUR PLANET FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
PLUTONIUM (NOT TO MENTION OTHER TOXIC WASTE PRODUCTS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY PLANTS) ENDANGERS FUTURE GENERATIONS, AND THERE IS NO KNOWN SOLUTION
The CDC says, "Most plutonium in the environment is in the form of microscopic particles that are the remnants of nuclear weapons testing and nuclear reactor accidents. Because it emits alpha particles, plutonium is most dangerous when inhaled. When plutonium particles are inhaled, they lodge in the lung tissue. The alpha particles can kill lung cells, which causes scarring of the lungs, leading to further lung disease and cancer."
A book published by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research concludes (pg. 148):
"Plutonium is one of the deadliest substances known. Plutonium is an alpha-emitting transuranic element. Of the possible routes of entry into the body, the most common and most dangerous is through inhalation. In addition to irradiating lung tissue, plutonium is gradually transported to other organs, in particular, liver and bone. Once an alpha-emitter is inside the body, its radiation can cause genetic mutations and cancer with greater potency than gamma or beta radiation of the same energy. Recent research on transmitted chromosomal instabilities in mouse hematopoietic stem cells and sister chromatid exchanges in hamster ovary cells suggests that alpha radiation may be even more dangerous than previously thought. Experiments with beagle dogs suggest that about 27 millionths of a gram of insoluble plutonium would be sufficient to cause lung cancer in an adult human being with virtual certainty, with significant risks probably associated with far lower doses."
The book notes about accidental leaks of radioactive waste to the environment (pg. 72):
"In the U.S., despite early claims that the underground storage tanks at Hanford would be serviceable for "decades" and public assertions in the late 1950s that "none has ever leaked," tens of thousands of gallons of high-level waste had already leaked at the time such claims were made, and by the late 1980s an estimated 750,000 gallons containing significantly more than half a million curies had leaked out. 50. In the U.K., also, there have been a number of problems with leaking tanks. A cladding silo sprang a leak in 1972, which was not detected until 1976. By 1980, it was leaking an estimated 185 gallons per day and had given out 50,000 curies of mostly strontium-90 and cesium-137. 51A leak of a HAST tank was discovered in 1979, amounting to 100,000 curies. The radiation field beneath the building was as high as 600 rads per hour, an extraordinarily intense field.52 "
Regarding the longevity of nuclear energy plant waste, the book notes [pg. 112-13]:
"Radioactive waste presents a range of hazards and problems which vary depending on the time frame under consideration. Of course, it is most hazardous soon after it is first generated, when there has been little time for the radioactivity to decay. As time passes, the radioactive hazard decreases, but significant hazard levels nonetheless persist for very long periods of time (from tens of thousands to millions of years). ... The extreme longevity of some of the radionuclides in high-level waste means that it is impossible to guarantee that this waste will remain completely isolated from the environment. "Isolation" then becomes a relative term in which it is assumed that some radioactivity will be released into the environment over time. In fact, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, "[e]ssentially all of the iodine-129 [half-life: 15.7 million years] in the unreprocessed spent fuel in wet-rock repositories will eventually reach the biosphere."6 And as the U.S. EPA has remarked, any environmental standards regulating "acceptable" releases of radioactivity from nuclear waste repositories must therefore "address a time frame without precedent in environmental regulations."7 Standards for radioactive waste disposal are thus usually based on the assumption that some radioactivity from a repository will reach the human environment."
Plutonium remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years; plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years and "At this time there are no facilities for permanent disposal of high-level waste." Eventually plutonium eats through whatever it is stored in; it cannot thus be truly stored safely for future generations. Nuclear power plant accidents--which are virtually inevitable in the long run of time we're talking about due to not only human error but also things such as earthquakes and tsunamis!--contaminate our environment with plutonium. How does the NRC (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission) solve this problem? Here's how, as recounted by Charles Perrow in his book, Normal Accidents: Living With High Risk Technologies-Updated Edition (pg. 70):
"Some influential scientists and academics, at the workshop that tried to formulate safety goals for the NRC, argued that the present generation is more important than future ones--for we need nuclear power to prevent economic and political crises--and who knows, there may be a technological fix that would mitigate the burden for the future generations of an accident in the present one."
"Who knows?" indeed!
If you're curious how the nuclear energy industry puts its spin on the fact (not disputed by the inustry!) that there is no known solution to safely storing its hazardous radioactive waste, read this pro-nuclear-power article in Chemical & Engineeering News.
The Guardian newspaper is totally in the camp of those who say we should stop burning fossil fuel to prevent catastrophic global warming, so it would for that reason be inclined to look upon nuclear energy favorably (given that wind and solar cannot, by themselves, provide peak energy needs). Yet even The Guardian (in this article) reports on the very substantial danger to humans due to radioactive waste and accidental emissions from nuclear energy production and nuclear weapons testing.
URANIUM MINING MEANS TURNING MORE AND MORE OF OUR PLANET INTO UNINHABITALBE 'SACRIFICE ZONES'
Advocating the use of nuclear power plants entails a willingness to declare more and more large areas of our planet to be "sacrifice zones" in which human habitation is prohibited due to the radioactivity from mining uranium. A Western Oregon University paper titled "Uranium Mining on Navajo Lands" describes one example of this (pg. 11) :
"National Sacrifice Areas
After an extensive study of the difficulties and expense of rehabilitating land and water contaminated by uranium mining and milling by Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories, the premier U.S. nuclear research center, its scientists concluded in its 1978 Mini-Report that perhaps the solution to the problem is to zone uranium mining and milling districts so as to forbid human habitation. This finding coincided neatly with an earlier recommendation by the National Academy of Science whose suggestion that locales such as the Four Corners area be designated “National Sacrifice Areas” in the interest of U.S. economic stability and energy consumption. This was incorporated into the Federal Energy Department’s Project Independence in 1974. "
Read more about this problem in an article titled: "“America's Secret Chernobyl” Uranium Mining and Nuclear Pollution in the Upper Midwest."
An article titled, "Hanford’s Endless Assault on the Columbia River" reports on the Department of Energy's plan for the Columbia River in Eastern Washington near the Hanford nuclear site:
""The effect," says Gerald Pollet of the watchdog group Heart of America Northwest, "would be to turn the Hanford Reach National Monument and Columbia River into a national nuclear waste sacrifice zone."
THIS IS NOT TO MENTION THE UNINHABITABLE ZONES THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN CREATED BY ACCIDENTS SUCH AS CHERNOBYL AND FUKUSHIMA, AND FUTURE ACCIDENTS THAT ARE INEVITABLE!
Japan to release 1m tonnes of contaminated Fukushima water into the sea – reports. Local media say release could begin in 2022 and would take decades to complete, but local fishermen say move will destroy their industry
* By "nuclear" I mean by fission, not fusion, in this article.