Saturday, February 18, 2006

Out With Oil, In With Nuclear?

This is an interesting coincidence. A few days after Kenneth Deffeyes' post that world oil production has peaked, President Bush calls for the construction of new nuclear power plants in his Feb. 18th radio address. Noting that we haven't had an order for a new plant since the 1970's, and that only about 20% of US electricity is derived from nuclear power--it appears that we have fallen way behind the curve here when we should have been on the leading edge. The President points out that, for example, France has 58 plants supplying that country with 78% of their electricity needs. The contrast and implications will be quite revealing as oil production begins to decline at the same time demand continues to increase: France, it seems will be much better off in that situation then we will in terms of basic energy needs.

I'm not sure how serious his intentions are on this matter however. Earmarking a paltry $250 million for such an important endeavor won't even get you out the door.

Finally, here are a few comments I left on the 17th in the Slashdot discussion on peak oil from the other day:
[museumpeace (735109) wrote:] I suppose I shouldn't gripe at what a bunch of retards my courtymen have been on energy conservation could be worse: yet another article on oil depletion could have been ignored.

Ok, given that this problem has been understood prior to the Slashdot post: how is conservation the answer? Alone, it is nothing but a delay tactic for the inevitable. The last twenty or so years should have been employed in a massive effort in developing alternative energy sources. Conservation + innovation + implementation...

It's basically too late now for that. There's no way we're going to convert trillion dollar economies to new energy sources in time to stave off the severely painful effects & shortages (not just energy shortages either!) that diminishing oil production will cause.

No flame here, just pointing out to everyone who's brought up conservation alone that it would have been part of the answer. Without a massive effort to move OFF of oil (well prior to hitting peak production) it isn't an answer at all really. Too bad everyone has been so against nuclear power plants in their proverbial back yards. They would've really come in quite handy in the next two decades...

I guess this is all quite moot at this point though. When supplies begin failing to meet demands and 'everyone' starts wondering why (and fuming that) their loaf of Wonder Bread costs $10, it's going to get really ugly...

"Sorry, all the oil is going to fuel to the war machine in the fight against terror. There's none left for domestic manufacturing & food production. Do your civic duty and quit whining about your hungry kids or we're going to send the local Reeducation Committee to your house..."

Not a very cheery prospect I'll admit, but I hope all the peak oil optimists are right and that we still have plenty of time to develop and move our massive economies to alternative energy sources. We have to try, even at this late date. How about we finish up (quickly) in Iraq now that they have a semblance of a government and divert those funds to the nuclear effort? Instead of $250 million, how about $250 billion?

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