Note to John McCain: Uncommitted Ohio voters just aren’t into nuclear power

If you don’t watch the debates on CNN, you are really missing something. CNN has set up a dial group of uncommitted Ohio voters. At the bottom of the screen CNN then shows the graph of the reaction by men and women as they rate statements they like or don’t like.

McCain seems to think his strong support of nuclear power is a big political winner for him, since he has brough it up three times in the first hour. But every time he talks about nuclear, he flatlines with both men and women. They simply are unethused about nuclear power, which is no surprise.

At best, people consider nuclear power as castor oil, something your parents made you take that is supposed to be good for you. At worst, people think it’s a source of radioactivity they’d like to stay far away from.

Frankly, McCain has been flatlining for most of the debate, which I suspect post-debate audience polls will reflect, though he seems to be doing better this debate than the first one.

21 Responses to Note to John McCain: Uncommitted Ohio voters just aren’t into nuclear power

  1. My hat is off to McCain for stating clearly that nuclear energy is the answer to the problem of energy dependence and global warming.

  2. paulm says:

    I did notice that the line went up when either of the candidates mentioned alternate fuel, especially green alternatives. (it also went down when Obama mention nuclear)

  3. llewelly says:

    I don’t find the dial-group thing convincing. My BS-meter says it’s a new kind of polygraph.

  4. Ronald says:

    Some networks bring those watcher meters after the debate. On the first debate CBS had one that showed the meter drop everytime McCain would talk and up when Obama would talk.

    But they need more catagories. How about Man-made Global Warming deniers vs acceptors, 70 year olds males vs 40 year old males, those invested in the stock market, those invested in real estate to those without any investments at all. The meter needle will plug up for those in the stock market, but drop for those who think they are paying to bail others out. Could get quite detailed.

  5. The flat response to nuclear power is not surprising. Despite all the hype, nukes are not the answer to anything except to fill the coffers of those pushing a technology that has failed for fifty years. To sink untold billions more into reactors that are vulnerable to terror and error, that can’t come on line for at least a decade, that create unmanageable waste and that DO contribute to global warming makes no sense whatsoever.
    Increased efficiency is the way to go for starters. But solar, wind, tidal, geo-thermal and the other green technologies are the only route to a sound economy and sustainable ecology.

  6. I’d take the time to rebut Wasserman’s points one by one, but as he proved a few months ago on Mother Jones, he just cuts and runs. But to call nuclear technology a fifty year failure despite delivering 20% of all American electrical energy cleanly and safely shows a denial level that is truly staggering, even for Wasserman.

  7. strasmangelo jones says:

    “Cleanly and safely.” Right, Kirk.

    Even if you put aside environmental concerns about storing nuclear waste, the fact remains that nuclear energy is enormously inefficient. Nuclear plants are incredibly expensive to set up, are enormous water hogs at a time of increasing water scarcity, and require incredibly costly security and safety measures. Every dollar we put into nuclear can be more profitably put into renewables – which is precisely why nuclear enthusiasts keep demanding bigger and bigger subsidies for nuclear power. Nuclear simply isn’t competitive with solar, wind, wave power, or pretty much anything else unless it comes with billions of dollars in corporate welfare. And for all that, we get saddled with a massive environmental and national security hazard for the next several thousand years.

  8. vakibs says:

    Really strasmangelo jones, take a pencil and notepad, and calculate from the basics. Use a calculator if you feel like. Just don’t go to NIRS or some other website to repeat talking points.

    I have some clear questions for you.

    1) Per 1 GW of power generation capacity (including capacity factors, intermittency etc.) , how much land would nuclear power need ? What is the corresponding requirements for wind/ solar/ or any other power source ?

    2) For that nuclear plant in question, how much water would be needed for operations ? What are the corresponding requirements for concentrated solar power ?

    3) For that nuclear plant in question, how much construction material is needed (concrete/steel) ? What are the corresponding requirements for wind/ solar ?

    4) What is the ratio of operation+maintanance (fuel+staff) for nuclear power in the total costs ? What are the corresponding numbers for wind/ solar ? (don’t just talk about “free” fuel, include all operation costs).

    The truth of the matter is that nuclear power has lower construction costs + lower operational costs than renewable power. This is due to its extremely high power density.

    Consequently, the environmental impact of nuclear power is also lower than that of any renewable source.

    You are free to oppose nuclear power, but don’t oppose it out of stupidity. Your points should be valid.

    About nuclear waste, please visit the website of Kirk. The kind of nuclear reactors that he proposes don’t produce waste. In fact, they eat existing piles of nuclear waste to produce power. How cool is that ? :)

  9. strasmangelo jones says:

    Nice fact-free comment there, vakibs.

  10. strasmangelo jones says:

    I also like how you tell me “don’t go to NIRS or some other website to repeat talking points” at the same time that you tell me to go to Kirk Sorenson’s site… to go read his talking points.

  11. I think of NIRS as a group that lies professionally for the benefit of oil and gas interests, including government. Sorensen is an amateur truth-teller.

  12. David B. Benson says:

    strasmangelo jones — Nukes better for the environment than coal; life-cycle less pollution, including radioactives.

  13. Lynn says:

    Andrew Revkin in The New York Times has a good discussion of the role of various forms of energy, including nuclear.

    The analysis indicates that even if we took on the risk of building 880 plants, the best t that would do is to help avoid no more than 10% of the increased emissions by 2050.

  14. ““Cleanly and safely.” Right, Kirk.”

    Mmm-kay, please point me to another US energy industry that can point to an operational record of zero deaths and whose wastes are entirely contained.

    Hydro? No.
    Coal? Hell no.
    Oil? Gas? Solar? Wind? Geothermal?

    No, no, no, no, and … no.

    [JR: Cost, cost, cost, cost + an industry that wouldn’t exist without the taxpayer taking a liability for a major accident and the taxpayer taking 80% of the financial risk.]

  15. Finrod says:

    [JR: Cost, cost, cost, cost + an industry that wouldn’t exist without the taxpayer taking a liability for a major accident and the taxpayer taking 80% of the financial risk.]

    As opposed to what? The subsidies given to solar and wind which cannot ever forseeably pay their own way? Nuclear is already competative with coal, and that’s before the environmental damge of coal is factored into its cost… and after nuclear has already paid for its full lifecycle treatment. the continued opposition of environmentalists (self-styled) to nuclear power is worse than insane.

    [JR: Gimme a break Once there is a price for carbon dioxide that reflects its actual damage to humanity, wind and solar will do just fine, thank you. Right now, new nuclear plants get all of the subsidies that wind gets, plus this absurd 80% loan guarantee, full liability protection, and expedited licensing.

    Why the heck do you obsess over the “continued opposition” of a group that doesn’t have the political power to do anything? What has killed nuclear power is its price. All of the environmentalists are I know would be happy to have a real carbon price, utility regulations that treated all forms of power equally (including efficiency) and no government subsidies whatsoever for any power source. Nuclear power would instantly wither on the vine.]

  16. David B. Benson says:

    Cost of sequestering CO2 is about $38 per tonne, using either biochar buriel or olivine mineralization. The later is prefered (by me) as the more permanent and with costs likely to fall.

  17. Rachel Findley says:

    Thanks, Dave Benson, for the note on biochar and olivine mineralization. I’d like to learn more about these, especially olivine which is new to me. Can you send a link or a hard copy title?

  18. Finrod says:

    “Right now, new nuclear plants get all of the subsidies that wind gets, plus this absurd 80% loan guarantee, full liability protection, and expedited licensing.”

    That’s fascinating, Joe. Can you detail the full extent of the subsidies recieved by wind, solar and nuclear power so we can see once and for all that what you say is indeed so?

    I also imagine that because nuclear power is so heavily subsidised, there’s no possible way that the US government could have collected more from the industry in taxes than it ever paid to it in the first place. A detailed breakdown of the flow of money back and forth between the nuclear industry and the government will surely further strengthen your case. Go right ahead.

  19. Cyril R. says:

    I agree that price is killing (or at least strongly breaking) nuclear power in the US right now. The opposition doesn’t appear stronger right now than it was a few decades ago. Nuclear plants did get built massively back then, because they were cheap. Economics and more importantly, financing are the principal variables. It is no longer an interesting investment, although it does have quite some long term economics value. But investors don’t care about that.

    I do think we need Kirk’s crash program to develop a liquid fluoride thorium reactor and see how that works.

  20. mike says:

    Fortunately for the planet, but unfortunately for the U.S. and Canada, the French are firmly committed to developing Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors.

    They are coming up with many new designs and we can be sure that they are patenting the ideas.

    Once we were world leaders in technology , but soon we will have to buy our technology from foreign countries.

    Come on America!! You were the first on the moon! sigh…..

  21. Cyril R. says:

    @mike: the French want to start building LFTRs (or TMSR as they call them) somewhere in 2030-2040. That’s too far out.

    The US should have a more ambitious programme, with several GW at least, no later than 2020.