Defining the Greens (Part 7)

GREENPEACE is a large global corporation broadly committed to ‘saving the environment’.   Greenpeace is currently focused on influencing the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December on the basis that this represents “the best chance we have of reversing current emissions trends in time to prevent the climate chaos that we are hurtling towards”.

Greenpeace has called on governments gathering in Copenhagen for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to agree to legally binding emissions reduction obligations for industrialised countries, as a group, of at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.  But Greenpeace demands that this be achieved with the exclusion of what it deems unsustainable technologies in particular nuclear energy.

Australia’s Labor government has what many claim to be a relatively modest target: a reduction in emission of between 5 and 15 percent.  But even these reductions would be impossible to meet without a switch to nuclear energy or the development of a new source of base load energy supply – see for example Energy Technology for Climate Change a report from the Australian Academy of Technical Sciences and Engineering.
So, if we just consider Australia, the Greenpeace proposal of a 40 percent reduction and the exclusion of nuclear energy, would have to be considered a completely unrealistic expectation. 

Is this a characteristic of the Greens: that they are generally unrealistic in their expectations?


Notes and Links

Copenhagen Climate Summit-Greenpeace Demands (Full Version)
see page 6.  

The image of the nuclear power plant is from .

Background report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), December 2008, Energy Technology for Climate Change: Accelerating the Technology Response.

Earlier posts in this series ‘Defining the Greens’ can be found here:

59 Responses to Defining the Greens (Part 7)

  1. Ann Novek May 3, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Jennifer has been focused on Greenpeace as her ” hate-object” . There is a Norwegian NGO , Bellona, that works for example with Russian nuclear problems in the neighbourhood ( very contaminated by nuclear waste from the military etc).

    Here are their main objections against nuclear power:

    ” While numerous methods of alternative energy production are being considered on an international level – like industrial retrofitting to capture and sequester harmful carbon, producing hybrid cars, developing hydrogen fuel cells for transport, and re-visiting solar, wind, and biomass energies – a preponderance of wealthy nations have also advanced ambitious plans to expand nuclear energy. ”

    ” These arguments, as recently put by Brice Smith, author of Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Climate Change (2006), and a senior consultant with the London-based Institute for Energy and Envrionmental Research, are as follows:

    1) The inevitable link between the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapons proliferation; 2) The issue of reactor accidents, which are unique in the energy system as they are low probability, but extremely catastrophic; 3) the disposal of nuclear waste, which is problematic because societies don’t yet understand what it means to have a waste product whose peak risks occur dozens to hundreds of thousands of years in the future.

    “When you put all of those things together,” said Smith in an interview in the Bulletin of Atomic Science, “it makes a very risky technology overall.”

    The fourth reason nuclear power offers a feeble protection against climate change is that there are numerous non-carbon producing energy sources currently available or within a decade of being within industrial scale use to make the much longer process and more costly process of ramping up the world’s stagnant nuclear power plan production facilities to build enough nuclear power plants to really make a cut in the amount of greenhouse gasses produced by current industry.”

    ” Nuclear power a wolf in sheep’s clothing
    Nuclear energy is a deceptively inviting alternative – nuclear power plants are expensive to build, but cheap to run, where the opposite is true for traditional coal fired plants. Nuclear power plant builders in merchant states are either branches of the government, like Russia’s Atomstroiproekt or France’s Areva, or have close government ties, like America’s Westinghouse, General Electric and Bechtel.

    It is in the interest of corporate and governmental elites to promote nuclear power for a short-term financial bonanza in as many markets as possible, while ignoring the widely acknowledged problems of nuclear proliferation and the unresolved issue of storing waste, and which no country has effectively addressed. ”

    ” Nowhere to store waste: Reprocessing?
    In countries that reprocess nuclear fuel, like Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Japan, the environmental stakes are even higher. Russia’s single operable reprocessing facility, the Mayak Chemical combine, runs at less than half of its 400 ton per year engineered capacity, leading to backlogs of spent nuclear fuel sitting at plants and naval shipyards awaiting transport. Yet, reprocessing at Mayak has turned its neighborhood into the most radioactively contaminated region in the world, as the plant for decades dumped waste into the local river system.

    In April 2005, Britain’s Thorp reprocessing plant experienced a leak of some 20 tons of plutonium and uranium dissolved in nitric acid. Though the leak was contained, it had progressed for eight months before detection”

    ” Money ill spent on nuclear energy better spent on alternatives
    It is clear that nuclear merchants have the money and the technical know-how to divert the incredible resources they are wiling to spend on nuclear power development into developing clean alternative energy that leaves no environmental footprint at all. Event the White House – whose electrical current is supplied by solar power – recognises this, even if the administration that inhabits it does not.

    Bellona therefore urges the merchants of nuclear power, and the governments and corporate interests that back them, to reconsider their planned investments in the nuclear renaissance, and spend that money on developing truly clean, renewable energy sources that have neither to be paid for by the health of future generations nor the security of the worlds citizens.

    Given that it will be possible to address climate change without relying on nuclear power, trading a large hard-to-predict, potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change for other large, hard-to-predict potentially catastrophic consequences of a large-scale expansion of nuclear power, Bellona does not see the sense in pursuing the nuclear grail. ”

    Full statement on nuclear power here:

  2. rossco May 3, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Sorry I haven’t been able to keep across this blog since I previously posted on this theme of “Defining the Greens”. I am sure I have missed out on many deep and meaningful contributions. However unlike some who seem to never leave their computer and in particular Jennifer’s blog I have other things to do with my life. When I do dip my toe into this blog from time to time it always seems to be the same old crew throwing rocks at other, achieving nothing while the world moves on. I doubt very much whether the key decision makers in Australia or the rest of the world give a toss about the learned contributions made on this blog. Still if it makes you feel better, carry on.

    Jennifer, you are wasting your time trying to define the Greens. It has already been done on Wikipedia. The Green movement is defined as the political Greens

    The non-political green movements are classified as ecology, conservation, and environmental movements.

    This is essentially the argument I was making in my previous post although I hadn’t referred to wikipedia at that stage.

    I have no doubt many of the regulars on this blog will roll their eyes at the mention of Wikipedia. However, the reality is that Wikipedia is regarded as an authoritative reference for millions of people around the world. Whatever definition Jennifer comes up with, if indeed that is really her intention, will be seen by a handful of people and carry no weight.

    If you don’t like the Wikipedia approach you can always seek to amend it. Very democratic it is.

  3. Johnathan Wilkes May 3, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    “Wikipedia is regarded as an authoritative reference for millions of people around the world.”

    same consensus as with AGW then, but is it correct?

    “If you don’t like the Wikipedia approach you can always seek to amend it. Very democratic it is.”

    Shot yourself in the foot there, if you don’t like what you read change it! that will make it correct! not

  4. Squidly May 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm #


    You are so misguided about Wikipedia. This certainly tells me a lot about yourself. I suggest you do just a little bit of homework on the subject and come back when you actually know something.

  5. Squidly May 3, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    Jennifer, it seems, at least on this subject, your posters are failing at even the most elementary of education before posting outlandish statements. Is this typical for your blog? I mean no disrespect by this, but I have not ventured over here very often and I am rather astounded by the two posts to this topic that I have read. Perhaps I just have a little different view of nuclear energy, having grown up outside of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington, and growing up with a father who is an MIT Engineer and who worked for the DOE for over 35 years. I guess I am just used to hanging out with too many PhD’s and nuclear physicists during my childhood.

    I think a lot of people simply don’t understand environmentalism and the “green movement”. All one has to do is watch the “Green” channel for a few hours and it becomes quite clear that their idea of energy is synonymous to Gilligan’s peddle generator. To consider Bird Beaters and Bio Fuel as “sustainable” energy, is to consider everyone living in the dark and starving to death, which is precisely what most of the environmentalists would like to see. One doesn’t need Wikipedia to figure this out.

  6. Squidly May 3, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    A little OT, but here is a good article about a cheap potential for at least 20 years of world oil, something the “peak oil” morons don’t want to see ..

  7. Gordon Robertson May 3, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    rossco “Still if it makes you feel better, carry on”.

    Yeah…like we really need your blessing, you arrogant twit. You’re the type I’d expect to quote Wikipedia. It’s global warming articles are closely monitored by William Connolley of realclimate, a computer programmer who thinks nothing of talking down to an accomplished scientist like Fred Singer.

  8. Gordon Robertson May 3, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Squidly “Is this typical for your blog”?

    No, but Jennifer allows people a lot of license to express their views, unlike most AGW-based blogs.

    I have a hunch the problems encountered with nuclear energy so far were due to cheap and uninspected construction. In the airline industry, it used to require 4 motors on a jet to cross the oceans. The powers that be talked the safety authority into allowing 2 motor jets to cross based on the theory that the motors were a lot better and less likely to fail.

    Small comfort. If you build large enough vaults for nuclear material you could seal it off in a disaster. I’d be willing to bet that current building techniques for nuclear power is based on a barely adequate standard. I know one thing, I have no interest whatsoever in what those idiots at Greenpeace think about anything. They lost their credibility long ago.

  9. Larry May 3, 2009 at 3:37 pm #

    rossco wrote:
    “Jennifer, you are wasting your time trying to define the Greens. It has already been done on Wikipedia. The Green movement is defined as the political Greens

    My understanding is that Jennifer has two purposes in doing the DTG series. The obvious one is to get info on the popular green movements out there. The other one is to learn about the environmental philosophies of the various blog participants. A short title seldom does justice to an article. As General Semantics buffs say:
    The map is not the same as the territory.

    BTW, I also like Wikipedia. I realize that perfect information is a scarce resource, and that serious reading must usually be done with a jaundiced eye.

  10. Ann Novek May 3, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    I think it is a little snobbish to dislike Wiki….Methinks ther’s so much information out today for the public, so if you’re just curious about something superficially , Wiki is a good source…if you’re a professional other sources will do….

  11. Squidly May 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    Ann: “I think it is a little snobbish to dislike Wiki… ”

    It’s not being snobbish, its a matter for factual, non-biased information. Wikipedia has become such a poor source, especially concerning any controversial subject. Wikipedia is clearly biased in the AGW camp, and generally quite left leaning in any political topic. Further, in my own personal experience, I have found several inaccuracies that they refused to accept correction, and on topics of absolutely no controversy. My experience with Wikipedia thus far has been poor to put it mildly. I do not accept them as a credible source of any information, neither do any schools or universities.

  12. cohenite May 3, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    “Climate chaos” is a reasonant term used by Greenpeace; there is no other type of climate other than a chaotic one; the trouble with the greens is that they believe if they were in charge and the human footprint was lessened then we would have a nice, orderly and well-mannered climate; the more I see and read about the greens the more I realise their mentality is infantile, womb-envious and misanthropic.

  13. Thomas Fuller May 3, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    The ‘inside baseball’ dirty secret is that both sides in the global warming debate officially ignore each other, but react aggressively and axiously to any major media coverage the other side receives. It’s a ping pong match without end. The skeptics have behaved better, by and large, but only by placing fairly rigid limits on the scientific range of discussion. They are most probably correct in saying that a simple doubling of CO2 will not cause catastrophe, but are intentionally ignoring that another re-doubling and perhaps yet a further re-doubling of CO2, and the effluent that would accompany it, would, as the conventional environmental wisdom has it, carry costs we do not want to bear–or sometimes even contemplate.

    And while they bat the ball back and forth–‘Denier!’ ‘Alarmist!’–what we breathe out has been officially classed as pollutant and poison, and the power to regulate how much of it we can produce has been delegated to the most faceless of bureaucracies. The Environmental Protection Agency, created by Richard Nixon, will have… power… that may be difficult to constrain in the future.

    President Obama, pragmatic and practical, almost certainly wants to use the EPA’s newly minted power as a bully stick to threaten the Republicans, forcing them to the legislative bargaining table. But, in the same way that Republicans should have reflected while pursuing the expansion of presidential powers that they would not govern forever, so too should President Obama remember that the powers given to the EPA may not always be exercised in strict accordance with presidential wishes.

    The most extreme environmentalists have as an ultimate goal the reduction of the human population to such a level as they believe concords with the ‘carrying capacity’ of this planet, and feel that their morality is on a higher plane than those who do not share this desire. And with the help of environmental organisations, they have worked hard at getting to the top of committees, organisations and, yes, governmental bureaucracies. Should President Obama ever feel the need to tell the EPA to back off, he may be surprised at the answer he receives.

    Evidence is beginning to accumulate suggesting that this particular doubling of CO2 will not imperil us. Arctic ice is recovering, the lack of sunspots calls to memory the cold periods that accompanied previous minimums of sunspot activity, temperatures are declining of late. But even if this trend persists, environmentalists will rightly bear in mind that the energy consumption and resultant pollution of 6 billion now, 9 billion in the future, will certainly have effects that include upward pressure on temperatures, and much else besides. They would be fools to abandon their case even if they are made to look like fools in the short term.

    So if you think the debate has been mean-spirited and ugly to date, I can tell you now that it may only have been the prelude. The skeptics, if proven right in the first battle, will use their victory to diminish the value of climatology, possibly at just the time climatology matures to such an extent that it would be of service going forward. Those who sounded an alarm that looks now to have been arguably false will have a choice–to either admit error and engage with those they have fought, or to regroup and become even more bitter and accusatory than they are at present.

    The tactics to date of the alarmists have been stupid–graceless to the point of thuggishness. But worse than stupid, their tactics have been wrong. Most skeptics have only wanted their objections acknowledged and incorporated into ongoing study of climate and its changes.

    But, as someone who is proud to be a liberal, I can hope that other participants in this debate remember the essential utility of liberalism–the tolerance that allows consensus and yes, compromise. President Obama’s energy plan is a good start for this country, and I say that as one who is skeptical about the current range of catastrophic outcomes predicted by alarmists. Let’s use it as a starting point for Round Two of debate on climate change.

  14. wes george May 3, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    Greenpeace is a propaganda organization that is anti-humanist at the most fundamental level of its philosophy. Not that they haven’t done some good things. It’s just the deceit, both intentional, or in Anne’s case clearly less than self aware, out weight the positive, IMHO.

    As Global Warming is finally exposed to the public as a socio-political power grab by the Left. (I know, grandmum called the other day to say: “Wezley, I heard on the news the other day that your crazy ideas about the weather is right, there ain’t been no warming a ‘tal, the news man said. Thank God, I was so worried about them polar bears.”) It’s time to move on to the next great Orwellian appropriate of language to control the debate while seizing the moral high ground…

    Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus

    Published: May 1, 2009

    WASHINGTON — The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is “global warming.”

    The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.

    Instead of grim warnings about global warming, the firm advises, talk about “our deteriorating atmosphere.” Drop discussions of carbon dioxide and bring up “moving away from the dirty fuels of the past.” Don’t confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like “cap and cash back” or “pollution reduction refund.”

    EcoAmerica has been conducting research for the last several years to find new ways to frame environmental issues and so build public support for climate change legislation and other initiatives. A summary of the group’s latest findings and recommendations was accidentally sent by e-mail to a number of news organizations by someone who sat in this week on a briefing intended for government officials and environmental leaders.

  15. Graeme Bird May 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm #

    No Ann there are no arguments against nuclear. You are bullshitting us. You don’t need a nuclear reactor to get a nuclear weapon. Little Boy, the test nuclear in the desert and the other one they dropped on the Japanese were made in total ignorance of nuclear electricity. The Chinese turned their first nuclear weapon on a hand lathe because Mao had taken them to primitivism beyond what Papua was at the time. Mao didn’t have nuclear electricity when he had that weapon turned on a hand lathe. Nuclear electricity IS A SUPERIOR TECHNOLOGY to nuclear weapons. Making nuclear weapons that are big and fat is actually pretty crude technology. You need centrifuges and precision timing with explosives and thats about the alpha and omega of it.

    We don’t have a future without nuclear weapons proliferation. That tiny window probably closed after Reagan left Washington. Thats all old news. We cannot stop nuclear proliferation unless we are willing to invade all the time. And we are a debtor nation. So we cannot invade all the time. And we are not willing to so there.

    So we have to get used to nuclear proliferation. We don’t have to encourage it and we can work against it to some small extent. But we are going to have to be happy with it and not feel threatened by it.

    I’m sorry this news had to come from me but there will be no sensible denying what I am saying.

  16. Graeme Bird May 3, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    “1) The inevitable link between the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapons proliferation; 2) The issue of reactor accidents, which are unique in the energy system as they are low probability, but extremely catastrophic”

    The likelihood is ZERO.

    Because if they DO happen they are contained. Its only neutrons Ann. Its only neutrons for the most part. And they can be contained supposing two or three other levels of safety are breached before that.

    You cannot be scared of neutrons sister. They make up the majority of your own figure. Cellulite and all.

  17. Graeme Bird May 3, 2009 at 6:22 pm #

    Well when I’m wrong I admit it. I now form the tentative conclusion that PROTONS and not neutrons forms a slim majority of the mass of Ann. This is a pretty touch and go case. I haven’t tried to consider the relative preponderance of nitrogen yet. But all in all we have to be happy with neutrons. To a very great degree we ARE neutrons.

  18. Ann Novek May 3, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    Bird, I’m right now checking the anti cellulite sites and products, some say that you can get slimmer just after a bathe with their products:))))!

  19. spangled drongo May 3, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    The new Gen 4 reactors will mop up all the scrap, weapons grade uranium that is a ticking time-bomb around the world, process it CO2 free for centuries into cheap clean energy untill it is almost harmless and presents much less of a problem storage wise.
    How eco-friendly is that?
    If Greenpeace were genuine they would embrace it.

  20. cinders May 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    I think the most common characteristic of a self claimed green group is that the best page on their web site is DONATE NOW, usually with the advice similar to

    Greenpeace Australia Pacific is endorsed as a recipient of tax deductible gifts under Subdivision 30-BA of the ITAA97. Donations of $2 and over are tax deductable and will be placed in the Greenpeace Trust Fund.

    In 2007, the total gross income from fundraising for Greenpeace worldwide was EUR 205 million. On a national level WWF Australia spent $21 million in 2008, the Wilderness Society $12 million as two of the hundreds of Environmental groups receiving tax deductible gift status.

    So perhaps another characteristic of being green is to be very well funded and resourced and heavily subsidised by lost taxation revenue that should be funding schools, hospitals etc.

  21. sod May 3, 2009 at 10:43 pm #

    Is this a characteristic of the Greens: that they are generally unrealistic in their expectations?


    for a start, greenpeace it a NGO. as such, they are free and also should look at options, that are beyond what other groups think is currently “do-able”.

    actually looking at their history, you will find multiple examples of the “unrealistic” actually coming true.

    The likelihood is ZERO.

    Graeme Bird, is this your proposal to do some voluntary work around chernobyl? because the likelyhood that there was an accident in chernobyl is ZERO?

    So perhaps another characteristic of being green is to be very well funded and resourced and heavily subsidised by lost taxation revenue that should be funding schools, hospitals etc.

    utter nonsense.

    i stumbled over this after a recent discussion on WuWt:

    According to the Los Angeles Times (December 7, 1997) the GCC spent $13 million on its 1997 anti-Kyoto ad campaign, an amount roughly equivalent to Greenpeace’s entire annual budget.

    the GCC (global climate coalition) is just ONE industry funded interest group, that was able to outspend greenpeace in a SINGLE campaign…

    if you are in it for the money, greenpeace definitely is the last thing you want to join with..

  22. Ann Novek May 3, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    I think you all should read this Wiki ( cough, cough) article on Russian reprocessing plant Mayak.

    The second worst nuclear accident happened at Mayak in 1957. After that several incidents have happened .Radiation exposure has in some cases been 20 times higher than in the Chernobyl accident.

    The US and the CIA held quite of this accident for a long time , afraid that it would hurt the US nuclear programme.

    To SD

    Your comment seems very nice , but in this stage maybe just wishful thinking?

  23. Ann Novek May 3, 2009 at 11:06 pm #

    As English is not my first language , apologies, I ment that the US and the CIA were silent about Mayak….

  24. mondo May 4, 2009 at 8:16 am #

    It is instructive to ask the young people coming to your door collecting $$ for Greenpeace three questions as follows:

    “You are obviously seriously interested in environmental issues, otherwise you wouldn’t be doing what you are doing. You will have thought about the environmental issues facing the world and Australia. Given that:

    !. Give me your ranking of the ten most serious environmental problems facing the world?

    2. Give me your ranking of the ten most serious environmental problems facing Australia?

    3. If I were to give you $100, how much do you personally get to keep?”

    I have done this on several occasions now. It has been quite apparent that the collectors HAVEN’T thought at all about the issues for themselves. Their attempts to list the environmental problems are without exception, pathetic. I then go on to ask them, well how do Baffiin Island Fur Seals rank do you think?

    To their credit though, they do invariably tell me that they get $30 of every $100 that they raise.

    Given that they have engaged with me, and have been honest, and actually because I appreciate the benefits that conservationists have brought us over the past 30 years (clean air, clean water particularly) I do give them some money.

  25. Thin king man May 4, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Greenpeace, with its worldwide membership of well over 5 million, is the largest and wealthiest environmental group on our imperiled planet, which Greenpeace (God bless them) is trying very hard to save. Thus, the Greenpeace empire spends globally about $350 million a year on its propaganda alone.

    In America, where I live, they only spend about $10 million annually.

    Greenpeace was founded by a group of thirteen or so American draft-dodgers, who fled to Canada in 1969. These men were sustained initially by a Quaker organization which had fallen into the dubious enterprise of blocking — by force — American nuclear tests. Of Greenpeace’s cofounder Dave McTaggart, fellow cofounder Paul Watson said this:

    “The secret to David McTaggart’s success is the secret to Greenpeace’s success: It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true. You are what the media define you to be. Greenpeace became a myth, and a myth-generating machine.”

    True enough, Paul, true enough.

    Greenpeace defector and cofounder Patrick Moore not so long ago described his quondam colleagues as “scientifically illiterate.”

    Patrick Moore also accurately classified the whole environmental movement as “repackaged Marxism.” And indeed, Greenpeace cofounder Rod Marining said early on in his long and undistinguished career as environmental propagandist: “I’m not a Red, I’m a Green.” In fact, though, some people, myself among them, consider people like Rod Marining as neither entirely red nor entirely green but more watermelon-colored — which is to say, green on the outside, but red on the inside.

    Of course, as I’ve also always said: “It’s all pink on the inside.” You may quote me wildly on that.

    The following comes from one Peter Bahouth, the United States Executive Director of Greenpeace:

    “I don’t believe in the market approach…. It results in treating toxics [sic] or pollution as a commodity… When companies have a bottom line of profit you won’t have them thinking about the environment.”

    Here’s another fun factoid about Greenpeace:

    In their tireless campaign against “Frakenfood” (i.e. biotech food — “Frakenfood” is a word coined by Greenpeace campaign director Charles Margulisto, who hates technology), the Third World has steadily perished from malnutrition and famine, as a direct result thereof.

    Quoting Tanzania’s Doctor Michael Mbwille (of the non-profit Food Security Network):

    “Greenpeace prints and circulates lies faster than the Code Red virus infected the world’s computers. If we were to apply Greenpeace’s scientifically illiterate standards [for soybeans] universally, there would be nothing left on our tables.”

    Ann Novek, quoting the notorious Bellona, wrote: > Here are the main objections against nuclear … The inevitable link between the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapons proliferation

    Inevitable? Not exactly. The plutonium that comes out of a commercial reactor — i.e. plutonium separated from the fuel rod — cannot be used for “nuclear proliferation.” As a matter of fact, only Pu239 can sustain a chain reaction. The other three isotopes — Pu240, Pu241, Pu242 — are contaminants. You can, however, use all plutonium isotopes to sustain fission in a MOX reactor, and that’s a good thing, as you know.

    Quite apart from that, as one commenter recently put it:

    “It’s laughable that in the year 2009 anyone in the United States should think that by building proliferation-resistant reactors you are somehow saving the world from nuclear weapons. Look around you: is Iran purloining uranium from American enrichment facilities? Is North Korea plotting to steal plutonium from American reactors in order to build a bomb? Did Pakistan raid French reprocessing plants for plutonium?”

    To ask the question is to answer it.

    Ann Novek, still quoting the notorious Baloney, wrote: > [Here are the main objections against nuclear] 2) The issue of reactor accidents, which are unique in the energy system as they are low probability, but extremely catastrophic.

    I’m afraid this is also inaccurate, my dear. I mean no offense, but in fact uranium is abundant, clean, and safe – in technological societies: as I’ve written before, the meltdown of the uranium core in 1979 at Three Mile Island was so overblown by anti-nuclear groups that it went virtually unnoticed how the containment vessel at Three Mile Island had done its job and prevented any significant release of radioactivity. Containment vessels work well and easily, and they’re not that hard to build. The catastrophe at Chernobyl, which once again sent greens groups worldwide scurrying to their soapboxes, only happened because that state-run reactor was astonishingly unsafe: in the words of energy expert Peter Huber: “You couldn’t have operated a toaster oven out of it.” Let us not forget either that the United States Navy has been using nuclear energy for over 50 years, and there hasn’t been a single accident.

    Ann Novek, still quoting the notorious Bellona, wrote: > [Here are the main objections against nuclear] 3) the disposal of nuclear waste, which is problematic because societies don’t yet understand what it means to have a waste product whose peak risks occur dozens to hundreds of thousands of years in the future.

    As I’ve also written before, and as I touched upon above, 95 percent of a spent nuclear fuel rod is Uranium-238, a garden-variety non-fissionable that you find in, for example, granite buildings. U-238 can thus be put back into the ground, as it was found.

    The remaining 5 percent of a rod (so to speak) contains 1/5 Uranium-235, which is fissionable, and which (therefore) can be and is recycled as fuel, as is the 1/5 plutonium.

    “Much of the remaining three-fifths has important uses as medical and industrial isotopes. Forty percent of all medical diagnostic procedures in this country now involve some form of radioactive isotope, and nuclear medicine is a $4 billion business…. What remains after all this material has been extracted from spent fuel rods are some isotopes for which no important uses have yet been found, but which can be stored for future retrieval. France, which completely reprocesses its recyclable material, stores all the unused remains — from 30 years of generating 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy — beneath the floor of a single room at La Hague” (source).

    Concerning Greenpeace and nuclear energy, as the March 13, 2009, Wall Street Journal put it:

    Mr. Chu told a Senate hearing, the Obama administration will cut all but the most rudimentary funding to Yucca Mountain [in Nevada] and be content to allow spent fuel rods to sit in storage pools and dry casks at reactor sites “while the administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal.”

    Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, a longtime opponent of the repository, was overjoyed. Environmental groups were equally gratified, since they have long seen Yucca Mountain as a choke point for asphyxiating nuclear energy. Greenpeace immediately called for an end to new construction of nuclear power plants, and for all existing reactors to be closed down.

    Finally, since the ineluctable subject of so-called sustainable energy has come up, it’s worth noting that the most efficient solar panels currently in use (on the space station) are costly, and their conversion efficiency is about 20 percent, which is not very much. Also, twelve miles of solar reflectors generate about 300 megawatts, a miniscule amount. Furthermore, those reflectors must be kept squeaky clean, maintained to the hilt, or they won’t work.

    At our current level of technology, no conceivable mix of solar, wind, or wave can meet even half the demand for energy.

    If, however, wind, wave, and solar are to become more efficient, it is only science and technology – as opposed to environmentalism’s plan of blasting us back into the Dark Ages – that will get them there.

  26. spangled drongo May 4, 2009 at 10:11 am #

    It’s not wishfull thinking.
    Your nuclear philosopy is mired in the past when you equate it with Chernoble and those old Russian reactors.
    One thing is certain, we have a ticking time-bomb with discarded nuclear fuel from the cold war and the solution is so good that anyone who calls herself green should be shouting that it be adopted.
    The smart greens already are.
    Google Tom Blees and his IFR and/or check Barry Brook at

  27. toby May 4, 2009 at 10:47 am #

    The only way we can cut co2 output in the forseeable future without curtailing our quality of life in a huge way, is to use nuclear power. The fact greenpeace will not even consider its use means they obviously do not really think AGW is a problem?

  28. Noelene May 4, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    It would be interesting to to see how much of the economic crisis could be traced to environmental policies.How many businesses have not opened because of environmental laws?How many cars were not sold because of environmental laws?I read what’s happening in America,and I can’t believe what I’m reading.Windmills spread across miles of what was once scenery for a gain of 2 percent power supply.Ethanol causing food shortages in 2008 now being banned because growing corn adds to co2 emissions,so no gain.Oil and coal is life,it’s as simple as that.I am so glad Howard was in when the Kyoto agreement was signed,after seeing what damage has been done to Europe.We could have windmills everywhere supplying 5 percent power by now.I cannot find one good news story that relates to the measures taken to avert global warming.Thank goodness China did not buy into it,their people’s lives are improving,ours is worsening.

  29. Ann Novek May 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    As a Swede , we have followed the nuclear debate quite closely ( Sweden is powered for 50 % of nuclear energy) , bu I am quite neutral on the issue and open minded. Sweden and Germany have voted to phase out nuclear ( don’t know exactly what the politicians think now).

    I think you guys on Jen’s site would call Nobel Prize phycisist Steven Chu as a Green! However he states ( in National Geographics latests issue) :

    QUESTION: Would you rather see nuclear reactors constructed than more coal-fired power plants?

    STEVEN CHU : Yes. I think nuclear power has its problems. We haven’t solved the long termed storage problems, and we have to be cognizant of the profileration problem. But the safety is better , and nuclear power is far better for the climate than coal.

  30. davidc May 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm #


    Wiki is still citing the paper by Naomi Oreskes (linked under Further Reading).

    “That hypothesis [that there is consensus] was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts,
    published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed
    in the ISI database with the keywords “climate change”…” “Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.”

    Note the date 2003 and the keywords. So not “global warming” which was the term being used until it was clear that warming had stopped (beginning to be clear around 2003). Clearly Wiki is being manipulated as a propaganda tool.

  31. davidc May 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm #


    Do you have any evidence that we actually need to cut CO2?

  32. rossco May 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    Just the response I expected about Wikipedia.

    Jennifer, I wouldn’t have a problem about this series of posts if they weren’t called “Defining the Greens” when they have nothing to with defining any group. Be honest and call them “Why I hate the Greens, Greenpeace, etc” and vent your spleen at your heart’s content. Carry on, as none of the green groups you attack will give a moment’s attention to your comments. Your attacks have as much impact as my dog baying at the moon. I am sure my dog gets something out of it but the moon just ignores it. In the big picture you are just irrelevant.

    in the mean time those of us who care will do what we can to save the world.

  33. toby May 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm #


  34. toby May 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    Sorry David, that wasnt supposed to be so brief! No I dont, and i am very sceptical of the need to do anything about co2. BUT if we do really need to cut co2, then the only way is nuclear….and since so few “warmers” seem to advocate the use of nuclear energy…it seems that they really are more politically motivated than “environmentally”. QED there is no problem!

    Rosco- “in the mean time those of us who care will do what we can to save the world.” yes the “left” and greenies are the only ones who care about the world!!!
    GET REAL….

  35. toby May 4, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    Rossco, by all means save the world…just don t tell me how i should live while you do it…and worse yet don t force me to live a lower standard of living in your search for “salvation”.

  36. Ayrdale May 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

    Why so coy about the extreme left wing greens ?

    They are guided by statements such as this…

    “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsiblity to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme.

    Forget Wikipedia, Google leading individuals within the green movement. Let them speak for themselves.

  37. WJP May 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    Hey, Noelene, there’s a Brake God out there, looking out for you!

    And Ann Novek, ” Sweden and Germany have voted to phase out nuclear…..” err, what gives in little old Sweden, bearing in mind the recent decision to overturn the 30 year ban on nuclear power.

    Nothing like the possibility of cold showers and frozen stew to clear the collective minds of the majority of voters, eh?

  38. Barry Moore May 4, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    Ann I can understand your concern re the mishandling of nuclear materials and operating facilities. There have been a small number considering the number of operating reactors in the world. Unfortunately a perfect world is proving very difficult to create and although the result of a nuclear incident is dramatic and painful they are contained and when you consider the number of innocent people killed and disabled in car accidents world wide if the nuclear industry produced 1% of that many casualties per yer year we would shut down every nuclear plant in the world. Cherry picking just the incidents is like cherry picking isolated weather incidents and blaming them on AGW.
    The vague generalities used to describe the alternative energy proposals do not truthfully present the entire picture and detail the true cost per unit of energy from A to Z. there are a number of serious problems facing cost effective alternative energy which have not been addressed but that does not mean we should stop researching however we can not abandon our present energy resources without a proven cost effective replacement.
    The goal of reducing CO2 emissions is 100% political and has absolutely zero scientific validation. The IPCC documentation consists of 1000 pages of, for the most part, an accurate history of the world’s climate and changes which have taken place. There are a very large number of statements to the effect that recent changes are due to AGW but there is absolutely no validation for these statements, repeating the same lie over and over again with no proof does not validate it.
    Your opening sentence includes the term “hate object” this sort of terminology is totally uncalled for and is untrue. Jennifer has strong opinions on many subjects and she presents reasonable and validated arguments for her opinions.
    I could respond to your lengthy submission having done a extensive engineering study on alternative energy sources but there is one statistic you should be aware of when pontificating about radioactive waste. The earths biosphere contains 300 million curies of carbon 14 which has a half life of 5730 years and this isotope is being generated continuously in our atmosphere by cosmic rays.
    We eat it, breath it and drink it all the time and it dwarfs by orders of magnitude the radionuclides generated by nuclear waste.

  39. davidc May 4, 2009 at 3:20 pm #


    The problem in “defining” “the Greens” is that the term applies to such a diverse range of views and positions. As you’ve commented on the UK court case it can be a religion. Nothing new there. Frazer’s The Golden Bough has hundreds of examples (and that’s the abridged edition). Another extreme is ecology understood as a scientific discipline, which becomes political because of the need for funding (although I hear that this is developing into a branch of computer science, which is relatively cheap). Then there are the old-fashioned Conservationists who want to see natural areas set aside for enjoyment and the related group who want natural areas set aside but also want to prevent human access. I think the Conservationists of both types are local in their focus, while the Environmentalists have gone global, sort of (with “think global act local”, or the reverse, to ease the pain of the transition). Then there are those who dislike modern industrial society for various reasons and are “Green” because it’s the opposite. And the outright politician who chooses Green for purely tactical reasons. That is, they are interested in Power of some sort and see Green as a way to achieve it.

    I’m sure there are more, and in various combinations. But at least the term covers people who believe there is a sprite in every dell that needs their protection, through to the would-be emperor of the world.

    Maybe the best practical definition is “Member of the Green Party”

  40. davidc May 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm #


    How many curies in the world’s nuclear reactors?

  41. Jeremy C May 4, 2009 at 10:57 pm #


    I’m trying to understand why you are continuing to run these pieces supposedly about defining the greens. You let slip in the first one of these that you analyse things from an ideological perspective (what happened to science and logic???!?). Now in this the latest one you are ignoring previous evidence of greenies who are debating nuclear power and instead continuing to present the idea that all greenies are against nuclear power>


    Is this a breakdown in the boundaries for your worldview/ideology because greenies are debating nuclear power and some are accepting it, some embracing it and some continue to reject it. Are you trying to rescue those boundaries by continuing to push this barrow about greenies rather than change your thinking?

    Look at it this way. If greenies reach a working relationship with nuclear then where does that leave you? If IFR works as it is forecast and is taken up and mines like Ranger can be scaled right back where does that leave you? If that small part of Australian GNP, coal, gradually loses its size because nuclear takes off shaped by the input from green groups then that leaves you a bit out in the cold. Isn’t this defining the greenies just staving off the inevitable for you to change your thinking. But then I have always found my fellow Australians very resistant to accepting change and new ideas unless it comes out of catelogue for gadgets.

  42. Haldun Abdullah May 4, 2009 at 11:12 pm #

    Yes Jennifer you have done the world (and to an extent to the Greens themselves) a great favor by trying to expose the greens and the green movement which has neither done nor shown the world how to get out from the big poverty mess that is now felt by the so called “rich” countries too.
    I can feel from the comments that this series has hit at least one “home run” where the ball has landed in place. The migration movement from overpopulated poor countries to the so called developed world is at a historical peak. What are the greens going to do about it? Things are reversed now from a few centuries ago when overpopulation in Europe deposited so many people on the shores of almost every ocean.
    Please Greens, stop spending so much money trying to get on the “news” and start tackling real world issues. It is expected from you by default.

  43. Barry Moore May 5, 2009 at 2:33 am #

    David the number of curies actually in an operating reactor is considerable but I do not think it has ever been calculated. The important point is how much residual long half radionuclied remains after say 30 years in a fuel bundle which has been removed. Since the vast majority of radionuclides have half lives in the seconds, hours or days the activity of the bundle drops very quickly after removal and there are a series of holding facilities where the fuel is allowed to cool down and can be sequestered for 100 years with complete security. To the best of my knowledge no fuel bundles from commercial reactors have ever gone missing or created any type of release during the storage process. The principle radioactive waste of concern is
    Cesium 137 which has a half life of 30 years and an activity level at the start of 88 Curies per gram so after 30 years that is 44 Curies per gram of the original quantity. An atom of Cesium 137 is produced every 500 fissions of U235. In a natural uranium reactor the fuel bundle contains 0.711% U235 so if you take 0.00711 times the weight of the fuel in a reactor (this assumes 100% burnup) divide it by 500 then multiply by 44 this is the number of Curies from cesium 137 you have after 30 years and this number is cut in half every 30 years. So in order to replicate the 300 million Curies of Carbon 14 which is considered a negligable health hazard one would need 60 000 nuclear reactors.

  44. davidc May 5, 2009 at 8:53 am #


    Thanks for your reply. Is the fuel bundle that is not U235 mainly U238? And what happens to that (or whatever else is there) at the end of the process? Also, can you easily put an approximate number of curies to the long half-life products in nuclear waste? I understand that this should be very small and that one of the common misrepresentations of the nuclear waste disposal issue is that extremely hazardous material has to be stored for thousands of year, whereas it is the relatively short half-life products that are the most hazardous. Still, at say 3xhalf-life storage cesium 137 still looks a problem. An alternative, if a terrorist dirty bomb is the problem, is to drop it in lead containers (lots) in a subduction zone in the deep ocean. Any idea of the radiation levels down there?

  45. Barry Moore May 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    David it is rather difficult to put a complete radiation physics course into a blog. However in summary there are 2 main types of reactors natural and enriched. Natural is preferred because it is inherently stable and will shut down on you very quickly, the enriched can get away i.e. china syndrom but this was overdramatised of course. Yes the bulk of the fuel is U 238 but this can be converted to Pu 239 by adding a neutron and emitting an electron and plutonium is a fuel and the stuff atom bombs are made of. In the end once the fuel is burned up basically only U 238 a little U 235 and fission products are left of which Cesium 137 is probably the most dangerous. There are longer half life isotopes e.g. U 238 has a 4.47 billion year half life and Iodine 129, 15.7 million years. This is where the statements about hundreds of thousands of years of radioactivity come from but it must be remembered that the longer the half life the lower the activity level per gram. The very short half life materials are incredibly active for a short time then die quickly. The medium half lives which are few like Cesium 137 are active enough i.e. 88 Curies per gram to be dangerous and they hang around for a reasonable time. The Iodine 129 would have an activity level of 30/15.7e6 x 88 curies per gram or 0.17 milicuries per gram which is less than normal background radiation.
    The life cycle of a spent fuel bundle is as follows, the fueling machine deposits it in what we call the swimming pool. the fresh bundles glow a very bright sky blue. The bundles are shuffled up along the pool floor and they very quickly loose their blue glow, after a sufficient period of time they are transferred and sealed into to a water filled lead lined concrete vault I think we have a better chance of being hit by an large asteroid than a terrorist would have of breaking into that vault. Over the years many studies have been done on the permenant sequestering, frankly dropping them into a trench in the ocean is a perfectly reasonable solution but public opinion will not allow this to happen so there are politically acceptable solutions but then we get into the transportation alarmists so there they sit quite safe and no hazard to anyone until we can educate the public which will probably be never.

  46. davidc May 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm #


    Thanks again.

  47. MattB May 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm #

    Here is a new Definition:

    The Greens – the only political party basing climate policy on climate science.

  48. Louis Hissink May 5, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    Wikipedia? I just ignore it – saves time and effort. It is a consensus thing after all, which isn’s science.

  49. shane May 6, 2009 at 5:12 am #

    Re the

    Comment from: Thomas Fuller May 3rd, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I think this the most sense posted on this debate in a long long time.


  50. Graeme Bird May 6, 2009 at 4:44 pm #

    Nuclear is the safest of all energy sources. And probably one of the safest heavy industries around. Chernobyl doesn’t count since that was a Soviet government catastrophe. We are talking about private industry when we are talking about having nuclear power. Or at least we ought to be. The Chernobyl plant didn’t have the same fail-safe measures as a modern free-enterprise power plant. Three Mile Island is more indicative. This rarest of occurrences happened and the barrier contained the problem. So the chances of any serious problem in peace-time are zero.

    People claim that its an expensive fuel. But when they do so they never explain why. It appears that they are factoring costs into nuclear that are leftist-derived. For example it ought to take 3-4 years to put up a plant. But if leftist obstruction means that there is a sellers market for the land, that there is untold regulation and that it takes ten years minimum, well all this will add up in the cost of production. Also they make these claims but its not clear that they aren’t claiming this on the basis of us only being allowed to use 0.7% of the fuel and not continually reprocess the fuel. If you are going to use less then 1% of the fuel and throw the rest away then is it any mystery that it might be a costly exercise?

    So people claiming that nuclear is unsafe and expensive have to be considered to be passing on a dumb-left mantra until they clarify what they are talking about. This goes for Ziggy as well. Who claimed that nuclear needs a carbon tax to be competitive. I don’t expect he’s justified such an outrageous claim. But if he’s locking in leftist obstruction as a norm then its not a valid estimate.

    In fact the leftists, being in favour of human-eradication, have a sort of two-step dance going. They say that nuclear needs a carbon-tax to be viable. Hence why on earth would we have nuclear. Then they lie that CO2 is bad for the environment. The opposite of the truth. So of course we cannot have coal energy. Which means with their two-step lying dance that we have to put up with simply dying and our entire technological society collapsing in a heap. So its pretty important that any claims as to nuclear being expensive have to be considered lies unless all details are accounted for.

  51. sod May 7, 2009 at 2:34 am #

    Chernobyl doesn’t count since that was a Soviet government catastrophe. We are talking about private industry when we are talking about having nuclear power.


    Between 1950 and 2000 there have been 21 serious incidents or accidents involving some off-site radiological releases that merited a rating on the International Nuclear Event Scale, one at level 5, five at level 4 and fifteen at level 3. Additionally during the 1950s and 1960s there were protracted periods of known, deliberate, discharges to the atmosphere of plutonium and irradiated uranium oxide particulates.[31] These frequent incidents, together with the large 2005 Thorp plant leak which was not detected for nine months, have led some to doubt the effectiveness of the managerial processes and safety culture on the site over the years.

    or japan:

    Another accident at the uranium processing plant at Tokaimura, Japan, plant exposed fifty-five workers to radiation. More than 300,000 people living near the plant were ordered to stay indoors. Workers had been mixing uranium with nitric acid to make nuclear fuel, but had used too much uranium and set off the accidental uncontrolled reaction.

  52. Jabba the Cat May 7, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    @ sod

    This wiki entry is nothing more than a left wing anti nuclear rant. Granted we do serve three eyed fish with the chips in Sellafield and some of the local children can be discerned glowing on a really dark night, but the rest of the accusations are in reality trivial in the overall nuclear scheme of things.

  53. sod May 7, 2009 at 8:17 am #

    This wiki entry is nothing more than a left wing anti nuclear rant. Granted we do serve three eyed fish with the chips in Sellafield and some of the local children can be discerned glowing on a really dark night, but the rest of the accusations are in reality trivial in the overall nuclear scheme of things.

    that is interesting. so which of those accidents described in the wikipedia article didn t really happen in reality, but is just a “left wing rant”???

    so you think that radioactive leaks are “trivial” in the “nuclear scheme of things”? and you wonder why some people oppose nuclear power?

  54. Jabba the Cat May 7, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    @ sod

    “that is interesting. so which of those accidents described in the wikipedia article didn t really happen in reality, but is just a “left wing rant”???”

    ermm…where did I say the accidents did not happen?

    “so you think that radioactive leaks are “trivial” in the “nuclear scheme of things”? and you wonder why some people oppose nuclear power?”

    The kind of leaks, most of which happened years ago in the early part of the nuclear industry learning curve, refered to are trivial and were dealt with accordingly.

  55. sod May 7, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    ermm…where did I say the accidents did not happen?

    you made wild claims about the wikipedia article being a leftish rant. now you agree that the facts are right?

    so you just wanted to make a false wild claim?

    The kind of leaks, most of which happened years ago in the early part of the nuclear industry learning curve, refered to are trivial and were dealt with accordingly.

    1999 accident in Japan was not “in the early part” of nuclear industry.

    the real problem aren t even the accidents, but how they are handled. no truth, no fast reaction, no attempt of a deep analysis. instead denial and misleading statements.

    ps: i actually support nuclear energy. i think mankind will need it in the middle/far future. just not the way it is handled at the moment.

  56. Jabba the Cat May 8, 2009 at 6:10 am #

    @ sod

    “you made wild claims about the wikipedia article being a leftish rant. now you agree that the facts are right?”

    I have not made any “wild” claims. The presence of facts about accidents does not detract from the fact that they are presented in a leftie rant that is at it’s core anti-nuclear power.

    “1999 accident in Japan was not “in the early part” of nuclear industry.”

    Wtf has that to do with Sellafield?

    “i actually support nuclear energy. i think mankind will need it in the middle/far future. just not the way it is handled at the moment.”

    Your support of nuclear power indicates a modicum of common sense though I suspect the future implementation of this technology might result in disappointment as commercial reality will fall short of your idealistic expectations.

  57. Princey43 June 7, 2009 at 7:56 pm #

    Thanks Jennifer for your summery in describing the Greens & their Actions…


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