Yesterday Newt Gingrich and John Kerry pretended to debate Global Warming issues, in a bipartisan love-fest which spun around the following issue:
Can free-market incentives produce a reduction in carbon poisoning in the atmosphere, or must we resort to government regulations and all the bureaucratic hoopla THAT entails?
Gingrich argued that a few million-dollar prizes for innovative ideas will cause the markets to move forward by themselves. Kerry argued that government needs to do something, but not much. He supports “carbon credits.”
Yesterday, a New Zealand research lab announced a breakthrough that may reduce the cost of solar panels by 90%, says Newt. It may get as cheap as coal or hydro, he adds.
We need “cleaner, safer nuclear power, like they are developing in France” says Newt, acknowledging an earlier and very brief pro-nuclear comment by his “friend” John.
The fact of the matter is, a carbon tax credit is yet another way to give an enormous new income stream to nuclear power. Oh sure, it also might give a small incentive to an outgunned small-scale renewable energy industry, which right now produces about 1% of the electricity produced by the nuclear power industry and which has about 0.01% of the political power of the Nuclear Mafia.
When a lady in the audience asked directly: “What about nuclear? France is over 70% nuclear! Why can’t WE do this?” a small portion of the audience applauded vigorously.
“In the near-term, [nuclear] is GOING TO BE PART OF THE MIX” emphasized Kerry in response, despite the three problems he sees: Cost, waste stream, proliferation. (He didn’t mention safety, security, nukes as weapons for the enemy, etc. etc..)
Gingrich was ready for this planted pro-nuclear question, and responded with a long list of numbers he had on hand for the moment, such as that the U. S. Navy operates 82 reactors, and has operated over 500 reactors overall, with almost 6,000 cumulative operating years of experience, and has “never had a fatality.”
So obviously, for Newt, fatal brain cancers among ex-submariners don’t count. Their children’s leukemias don’t count. Hundreds of sailors lost in sub accidents where the reactors (and the subs) were also lost — and the cause NEVER definitively determined — don’t count. Harrumph!
It’s interesting to note, although Newt didn’t mention it, that, based on these statistics, the average naval reactor operates for only about 10 years. It should also be noted that naval reactors don’t burn nuclear fuel efficiently, when one takes into account the energy used to make the fuel in the first place — or the lives lost in the process. Naval reactors are “compact and robust” — they are considered unlikely to fail despite “battle conditions.” In reality, a lost reactor at sea is an environmental catastrophe, regardless of whether the reactor itself is the cause of the loss or merely a victim of some other failure. And, ANY nuclear navy reactor (at least when it’s surfaced) can get “sunburned” (hit by a Sunburn missile) just like anything else.
This author has only informal, anecdotal information to go on, but having met scores of ex-submariners and their family members (I do live in a navy town!), he is CERTAIN that cancer IS an epidemic among them — and not just among the U.S. Navy’s submariners, but also among nuclear submariners from Russia and other countries too. Of course, NO navy will study this.
While debating a carbon tax to save the planet, neither John Kerry nor Newt Gingrich can envision a RADIATION TAX to save our DNA. For the first hour this morning, nuclear power went nearly unmentioned — John Kerry’s early use of the phrase “half-life” referred to how long global-warming gasses stay in the atmosphere — a wholly inappropriate reference.
John Kerry is not an environmentalist, and neither is his friend Newt Gingrich.
This meeting was a sham to promote nuclear power and denigrate ANYONE who would who would question that policy — Mr. Kerry called such people “leftists” and “extremists.” Undoubtedly, some are.
Off to the side, after the meeting had ended, you could hear some young engineers — clearly the people who had cheered the lady’s pro-nuclear softball question — upbraiding Kerry for not being more adamantly pro-nuclear. “What about France’s fusion torch, which reduces nuclear waste?” asked one. “All these things are important and America needs to do more research too” was Kerry’s limp response.
RUSSELL D. HOFFMAN, a computer programmer in Carlsbad, California, has written extensively about nuclear power. His essays have been translated into several different languages and published in more than a dozen countries. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org