Thanks for the comments. We're currently doing an edit of the thermal
problem, adding a lot more sources, clarifying some arguments, and
stylistic improvements. So please don't hesitate to point out any
Your definitely right that "not only the trillions in subsidies over
the years" as it is it could be viewed as hyperbole, and that
definitely it needs to be changed or backed up.
I've done a bit of thinking, napkin calculations and research and I
think trillions of subsidies can still be defended.
Though direct subsidies to build the plants may not be that high, when
we count military R&D, government insurance and the waste problem,
which are all subsidized by society, either today or in future, I
think it quickly adds up to trillions.
For military R&D, it's difficult to know how much has actually been
spent, and how much of that we could say benefits civilian power, but
it's definitely not pocket change.
For insurance, Chernobyl is said to have cost 250 billion already and
Fukushima is estimated at 200 billion. And this is only the cost of
disaster management and clean up to the government, if the government
had to pay people damages for now off-limits property and exposure
above (previous) government set safety limits, the cost of irradiated
food that can't be sold etc. it would be a lot more; I'm sure some
economists have made some estimates that would be interesting to dig
up. Also of note, neither the 250 or 200 billion represent a final
resolution to those disasters, so it's still anyone's guess how much
it costs in the end. But it could be that these two accidents alone
will cost more than a trillion dollars, if all costs to society are
included. I seem to remember a estimate that a major nuclear accident
in Germany would cost something like 2 trillion. So if the insurance
to such catastrophes was no subsidized by society, I think the cost
would be significantly more than the cost of the plants.
Then there's the waste problem which no one has any solution for
except to bury it. But, if we bury it (even assuming we do a perfect
job) we have to be sure no one will dig it up, which is impossible to
guarantee. In the future even if people know we put something down
there because "we thought" it was dangerous, they may dig it up
anyways (just as we dug up ancient tombs despite the warnings on them
and flipped over a norse rock that had "don't move this rock" written
over it). Or, even if they understand that it really is dangerous not
just old "anthropocene superstition", people may dig it up precisely
because it is dangerous to use as weapons. Either situation, primary
containment is breached and people may spread the valuable metals all
over the place before it's realized the danger doesn't go away.
Because of this problem, some have suggested it would be better to
"forget about it" and rely on the low probability of someone
"accidentally" digging in the wrong place, but this brings up the
epistemological quandary of "forcing society to forget something". All
this is well presented well in the film "Into Eternity". So again,
considering we have no long term solution and so eventually the cat
will get out of the bag, this future cost to society should also be
The alternative at the moment is to send the 200 000 tons of high
level waste into space, which at even the lowest rate 10 000 USD per
kilo (into low earth orbit, more would be needed to escape earth's
pull ... but let's assume such a massive program would bring down
costs somehow) would cost 2 trillion. And this doesn't take into
account the weight of the presumably sturdy containers we put the
waste in, nor the mid and low level waste of which there's is a lot
more. So I think 2 trillion is a conservative estimate of the cost of
a permanent solution using today's technically feasible technology.
Of course we could always prefer to imagine future technology will
radically bring down costs of a permanent solution (as we've been
imagining since the start of the nuclear industry) but it could also
be argued that costs can only go up since no matter what technology is
used it will take a lot of energy, which is going up in price with the
decline in oil production. Another point is that the 200 000 tons of
high level nuclear waste is a conservative estimate for existing
waste, we're still producing more!
So I think considering all this the subsidy to nuclear fission is
indeed trillions of dollars.
What are your thoughts?
On May 2, 7:34 pm, root <alve...@gmail.com> wrote: