It has threatened to start wars and it has (arguably) finished them; its effects and influences can be found throughout our world today; it has nearly limitless power for creation and destruction; and according to some people it may be our only hope. This week (and the last one too) we are digging deep into the controversial world of nuclear power generation. Over the course of two episodes we'll explore the basics of this technology (which is coincidentally where most other podcasts and videos seem to stop) and go from there to really truly explore the pros and the cons - including plenty that you've probably never considered. Is this technology our best hope for a carbon free future? Or is it another example of too many promises and technological optimism clouding out the realities of our situation?

All this and more in a special two part series on everything nuclear power.

full transcript available

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Chapters

  • 12:16 Unexamined Costs
  • 17:25 Megatons to Megawatts
  • 24:16 Thoughts from former chairman of US NRC
  • 30:01 Construction costs
  • 34:24 Waste
  • 36:24 Church Rock
  • 41:17 Waste disposal plans
  • 44:45 Uranium-235 reserves
  • 46:14 How do you communicate with the future?
  • 56:47 What choice do we have?

(This is an automated transcript and we'll clean it up manually soon!)


David Torcivia:

[0:00] Daniel here we are on week 2 of this new clear series and I'm excited for the second part of this.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:08] Me as well David we really rambled on in that part 1 about all things nuclear-related but the fun doesn't stop there we've got a part 2 coming right at you.

David Torcivia:

[0:18] Yeah and even better this is on July 4th the American holiday celebrating the endless years of imperialism.

Daniel Forkner:

[0:26] Yeah I realized our timing on this wasn't that great no real connection between July 4th American independence celebration and nuclear power but here we are.

David Torcivia:

[0:35] I think a lot of Americans like to think that there is something related to, like American might and splitting the atom in the nuclear capabilities that we have maybe not domestically in terms of energy generation button but potentially in terms of the threat that we hold over the rest of the world. I mean the reality of it and we sort of establish system part 1 but we go into part 2 as well is that in terms of energy dominance in the new Clearfield America, is really not the driving force and in fact much of. The research is currently ongoing is being conducted by China to the United States and in fact much of the United States own nuclear program is dependent upon foreign sources of uranium. And listen. True for not just United States but a number of countries and it is something that's what I want to dress and we're going to take the chance here at the beginning of this episode of listeners remember women since the end of last week that we actually recorded the first part and the second part both is like one single, entire episode but we've extended it actually to break it up into two weeks and now we're recording a separate introduction for the second because we want to address a couple of issues that listeners have brought up thoughts once a clarification that have been mentioned to us via our Reddit comments in our Discord chat and via email.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:54] To be honest with a topic as nuanced and complicated as nuclear power generation I was surprised at how few comments we got because I was actually expecting a lot more.

David Torcivia:

[2:04] Take me to the major thing was with turns out we've been pronouncing nuclear wrong the whole time. It's actually a nuclear nuclear power it's pronounced nucular.

Daniel Forkner:

[2:11] Yes noot noot nuclear power or is it nuclear nuclear nuclear.

David Torcivia:

[2:20] We're just trying to do the model of Watership I just alluded to one right now at least one or two things I want to bring up the first point was brought to us. Buy a user named espresso patronum and espresso patronum brought up a couple of really great research papers that came from Oak Ridge National Laboratory here in the United States down in Tennessee. About some of the alloy investigations that were done when this laboratory was operating molten salt reactors or liquid fuel thorium reactors either MSR or lifter reactors that we talked about in part 1. I'm looking for types of Alloys that would be able to be used and not in riddle or I'll be degraded by the corrosive nature of these fuels and they brought to our attention to research papers that will add to the website Source page which you can check out suggesting that Oak Ridge had come across or had devised when their metallurgical science has the ability to create some his I've always said it's all very little degradation in the order of, listen one meal per year and some of these have been commercialized there's a product called hastelloy that you can actually buy passed away in it's a highly resistant both in terms of corrosion and in nuclear embrittlement our that's available that seems promising for the construction of some of these types of reactors and then we had mentioned the big problem with lifter reactors with molten salt reactors was that Material Sciences haven't quite caught up.

[3:40] Turn that we didn't did quite deep enough and so I appreciate this press obit rolling for bringing this to our attention they also mentioned, China's lifter program has come across their own metallurgical breakthroughs in particular things that are utilizing a nickel molybdenum silicon carbide Alloys that seem to be similar League both Frozen resist, as well as a resistance to the enrollment process that we mentioned so we might actually honestly see some of these reactors come forward not just from the experimental stage but starts to try and be commercialized in the next few years and decades because of this material science someone which happened decades ago the Oakridge breakthroughs happened in the 70s in 7778 so thanks for bringing it to our attention will add these papers to the website where you check him out if your interest in this type of. And if we see anything that disregards this information ignored because this is the correct latest up-to-date info.

Daniel Forkner:

[4:30] Alright glad you got one of the easy ones out of the way let me talk on one of your hard comments we got others came from our friend stop fossil fuels.

[4:39] Who wrote to us to say at the 49 minute and 15 second Mark you say that nuclear provides 10% of global energy. But I believe it's actually only 10% of electricity a critical distinction yes that is true we we say that a lot in part one and we'll say it again and part 2. That nuclear power generation that provides 10% of the world's power.

[5:00] You're right it's actually electrical power generation the distinction of course being think of liquid fuel like the gasoline you put into your car technically that is power generation. But it doesn't go into the grid so most of the figures we're using our talking about baseload power generation 4, our power grid which ultimately is in the form of electricity also as an aside David you kept mentioning Oakridge a little family history my grandfather I was actually a captain in the US Army during World War II he was stationed in quite a few different places in the United States but one of his details was as a security officer within the Manhattan Project and and he's in there some interesting stories from that time but one of them is that he was in charge of a convoy delivered and his words the atomic bomb from Oak Ridge to Los Alamos I don't think he was actually delivering the atomic bomb but probably some radioactive material maybe some bomb components that eventually went into one of those and his instructions were here the Convoy here's a bunch of machine guns, You better drive straight from Oak Ridge Los Alamos and if anything gets in your way you make it not so.

David Torcivia:

[6:11] Heavy orders. But let me bring up another Point completely unrelated to your very interesting a family history they have right there another user on Reddit that brought to our attention, this is Australian user and they wanted to point out and I never mentioned this throughout the two episodes, I wanted to but it felt nitpicky but I'm going to bring it up briefly right now anyway there are various ways of refining radioactive material to bring it to.

[6:41] A process that prepares it for this enrichment or as part of the enrichment process there's one call. Switch is the original system from taking your anymore to something that can be utilized for preparing nuclear fuel and very looting energy-intensive process but there has been a lot of research put into this new process called Silex which is very exciting uses laser Isotopes to separate all the stuff and it's going to very much radicalize the energy needs for the entire new a process from beginning to end starting you some places but it needs to be greatly expanded which brings me to the second point that this poster brought up which is the fact that nuclear material we we sort of alluded to this is not evenly distributed around the world some places have more access to uranium than others this allows uranium wealthy countries place like Russia. To exploit the fact that they have material that other countries need so I can do as we mentioned has very little in terms of uranium reserves but they have large thorium Reserves that makes them dependent upon countries that are uranium-rich so countries like Russia can hold us over them can use it as a political bargaining tool can use it for sanctions or whatever threats MIP up there and guarantee the stream of Revenue if countries like India countries like the United States who actually gather a large amount of arms radioactive material from Russia even beyond the megatons to megawatts program which will talk about and gives them a political hold over these nations in something as fundamental as their energy generation.

[8:05] Or electrical energy generation I guess I should say Daniel and I think that's the last note that I have dear Daniel it adds a lot to.

[8:16] To play in in terms of international sanctions it's a big major geopolitical pain that's used for a lot of this conversation I'm really not going to go into it in this episode because it is a long complicated thing it's involved in the Iran stuff you're seeing right now it's involved in North Korea that there's a lot of conversation that is going to that is well beyond the scope of this simple thing saying you know is nuclear energy and I've also, full confession Daniel start a recording this after several shots of tequila and a few beers so the fact that I made it through these couple of points, I think pretty well is is impressive so.

Daniel Forkner:

[8:50] Is okay it was all right but I was going to say once again you've chosen the easy and simple comment to address leaving. The very difficult ones so final comment that the we need to address comes from our friend dr. Tim biology Professor extraordinaire. And he writes to us quote one thing I wish you had touched on is the difference between radiation itself. Something that is irradiated and something that is contaminated.

[9:17] In short while radiation is dangerous to us things that have been irradiated are not dangerous at all rocks do not care about radiation, because their structure is too simple to be meaningfully affected but biological systems are super complex and the damage can causes problems. However we irradiate our food and it doesn't affect us the radiation passes through does it's damage and moves on. Contamination is the most dangerous because it's a continuous source of radiation. And because of the long half-lives of many radioisotopes even a tiny amount of contamination is incredibly dangerous and so what what dr. Tim is talking about of course is that we talked about radioactive material and that's. An isotope that is emitting some kind of particle a beta particle or something that is harmful to us as humans because. When it comes in contact with our cells that disrupts our DNA are our nucleus that the cell function or whatever and that's harmful to us.

[10:15] But once that radiation hits us and then we have been irradiated so to speak if we leave that area we're fine. Into what he's talking about you mentioned them in part 1 David going to the shoe doctor and being hit by an x-ray when your foot is hit by that x-rays being irradiated is being blasted with a radiation some Isotopes are committing some kind of harmful radiation but once you leave that x-ray or are you shut it off the harm stops, it has already interact with your cells and some way maybe it's damage the DNA broken down some cell function and that will continue to harm you but in terms of the radiation it's no longer going on but what contamination is is Windows isotopes that are themselves radiating something harmful a beta particle or something when those get intermixed with the environment they are themselves that source of radiation and we can no longer Escape it once it's in our environment or in our body or something like that so in an important concept there if you want to learn more just Google it.

David Torcivia:

[11:11] Google radiation this entire show is built off Google nuclear power engine, summarize the first thing that we found I think that's that covers everything we wanted to talk about here Daniel in terms of Corrections - sorry like the fact that neither of us can pronounce anything correctly or spell.

Daniel Forkner:

[11:31] So with that let's get part 2 turning and burning let's go nuclear.

David Torcivia:

[11:35] Some pop your iodine pills and let's get into this.

[11:47] I'm David torcivia.

Daniel Forkner:

[11:49] I'm Daniel forkner.

David Torcivia:

[11:50] And this is ashes ashes it's your about to stomach issues cracks in civilization collapse in the environment and if we're unlucky the end of the world.

Daniel Forkner:

[12:02] But if we learn from all of this maybe we can stop that the world might be broken but it doesn't have to be.

[12:17] You mentioned cost of the technology and it being one of the most expensive forms of energy generation, we can talk about the cost of constructing when he's power plants which of course is enormous were talking about 20 30 billion dollars per plant which is just astronomical and of course they're never meant to be that expensive but because of the time it takes to construct them the inevitable setbacks that occur these construction cost can really get out of control but I think there are some cost though that do not get discussed and enter into this equation which is number one the cost of mistakes, or accidents so the Fukushima daiichi nuclear meltdown that occurred in 2011.

[13:00] That cost a Japanese government some estimated 180 billion dollars by their count independent Consultants suggested that cost is actually three times higher, and as well talk about there's been a lot of cover up in terms of the Fallout of this terrible disaster which you know you could argue is saving the government cost in terms of taking care of the victims of this so you know there's no telling how astronomical that figure actually is, but then a more indirect cost of that is that just like the Three Mile Island accident in New York in 1979 caused many countries around the world to Halt or, to question their own nuclear Industries in and in some cases resulted in the cancellation of several nuclear power plants the Fukushima accident had the same effect.

[13:47] The very next month Germany made the announcement that it was going to completely decommission every single one of its nuclear power plants and this was a time when Germany was a generating what some 20% of its entire electricity from nuclear power plants, that is a cost when public opposition to the technology become so overwhelming, the countries have to scrap their nuclear programs or decommission plant that is a cost. And these mistakes these accidents inevitably will happen and I think this is a cost that should be included in this is the waste of time and energy we spent, planning designing and constructing these plant only to Halt all of that when something goes wrong. But there's another aspect of this which I think just kind of gets at the heart the fundamental problem with our economies so. We mentioned decommissioning and that's something that every one of these plants must undergo you construct it but eventually you're going to have to take it down and. Dismantling a nuclear power plant is extremely complicated and it takes a very long time. In fact to take some 20 to 60 years the nuclear reactors themselves have to be cooled over a couple of decades, all the parts have to be separated and repurpose it it must be overseen so that no radioactive material seeps into the environment.

[15:09] And where does that money come from who's going to pay for that because you're talkin about a plant that is no longer producing energy is not making any money. In the United States we have regulation that requires nuclear power plant owners and operators to set aside money into a trust fund and generally they set aside money as the plant operates as its selling energy they redirect a portion of that Revenue into these trust funds that will then be used once the plant needs to be decommissioned and some 70% of our nuclear power plants in the United States do not have fully funded trust funds for this.

David Torcivia:

[15:48] This is going to make the pension crisis Daniel.

Daniel Forkner:

[15:50] Yes exactly I mean going back to episode you know one of the very first ones we did end of the road on infrastructure. We had this dependence on growth in our economies that doesn't really make any rational sense which is we like to invest in things would like to build things that generate money for today, and in terms of maintaining these things in terms of the cost that we will eventually incur to either replace it or expand on it, we just assumed that the growth of our Connie will take care of that and that's exactly what a trust fund is for decommissioning a plant that's going to cost in the range of 250 to 650 million dollars is that.

David Torcivia:

[16:33] Four reactor I feel like that's worth saying most plants have multiple reactors not just a single one. So if you're saying 650 million dollars total for the plant. What a bargain no but most plants have two to four. For example here Indian Point who is is planning to be decommissioned has a 1.7 billion dollar decommissioning trust one at this point and that is just to cover two reactors.

Daniel Forkner:

[16:58] It's a we're banking on the fact that whatever these decommission funds are put into you know stock funds or whatever assets, we're assuming that that's going to generate enough for turn to handle the cost of this decommissioning, right I mean it's going to be inflation we're assuming that the value of this money will not depreciate, and we're putting all of this into the hands of the private companies that oversee these power plants. And there's an interesting tidbit of history that I want to insert into this which is, what are the cons of nuclear power generation that we didn't go to and death in his nuclear proliferation that's the fear that, all this technology in the cumulation of enriched uranium will enable countries to develop nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

David Torcivia:

[17:45] That's because it's a pro Daniel. I have a plan for for us to all get nuclear material and the startup like a nuclear weapons Co-op that creates community-owned Dukes. And then we loan them to countries in need to defend themselves from the global economy in the United States Maki Nations so like right now I'd be like you, Ron you need some you need a nuke to protect yourself so you can be like North Korea and then I would loan them one of our community nukes until they were better and now we go around loading Dukes of people Palestine Venezuela, you know I'm definitely going to get shipped off in the van for saying this.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:20] So it's a nuclear proliferation is not a threat in your opinion David because because we're going to somehow.

David Torcivia:

[18:26] Everyone should have a new I would wish a pocket nukes like I should be able to be on the street and some guy pisses me off and I'll be like don't make me fucking nucu I'll nuke this whole street and the guys like, pulls out his new kids that go yeah. If I nuke you first and like that's had just confrontation are you going to fight with somebody you know they can nuke you Daniel. Mutually assured destruction accepted everywhere every person has their own nuke.

Daniel Forkner:

[18:52] So to stop a bad guy with a new Q we just need a bunch of good guys with nukes.

David Torcivia:

[18:57] Yeah and like don't stop with people like giving looks to the animals the honeybees they definitely need nukes they should be nuking Monsanto like right now, they should be nor I guess it. Monsanto this bitch nuking Bayer now give the tools to beer at the defend itself it already has nuclear Powers not nuclear proliferation every figure this out return the nukes back to Mother Earth so they can nuke us.

[19:21] Speechless.

Daniel Forkner:

[19:24] UF from like a professor nuclear textbook over there to Pirates Zeppelin crew in the sky that was an impressive shift David.

David Torcivia:

[19:33] It's fair and balanced and.

Daniel Forkner:

[19:35] But we're pretty neutral over here on ashes ashes so with with that aside and send resumes to contact at ashes ashes. Org. If you like to be a part of the organizing efforts with that aside. Nuclear proliferation is a risk in the eyes of our various World governments because they don't want nuclear weapons in the hands of the wrong people now how does this relate to this discussion of decommissioning of the economics of all this. After the Soviet Union collapsed and in the early 90s they had a large cache of nuclear weapon stockpiles or more specifically enriched uranium fuel that could be used for the construction of nuclear weapons. And at the time you know Russia was extremely cash-strapped they didn't have a lot of money to maintain this large Arsenal and of course it was invulnerable for rogue cells to be siphoned off, independent government officials of course might have been incentivize to do some under-the-table arms Trading, write this type of risk were there because the economics broke down.

[20:49] Rapid buildup of nuclear weapons, now it just so happened that there was a solution in the form of a program called megatons to megawatts this was heavily pushed by an MIT engineer, really badgered US government and some Russian officials to do a trade, he actually travel to Russia walked into the office of the Russian official who oversaw the stockpiling of all the nuclear material inside look.

[21:20] Sell the United States that highly-enriched uranium the United States can then D & Rich. Down to three to 5% concentrated uranium-235 for the use of nuclear power generation, a long story short that's exactly what we did we pay the Russia some 17 or 19 billion dollars to take their highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons off their hands. After they D enriched it for us and we used it to power our economy our energy it made up 10% of our total energy production for 20 years, just from the stockpile that Russia had accumulated and it's estimated that this trade alone resulted in, some 10 to 20 thousand potential nuclear weapons not being produced, which is a massive disarmament of nuclear weapons so a big win for nuclear proliferation but I think this story is the exception because the United States was able to take advantage, of a limited window in which the the Russian Federation was economically weak and could not afford to maintain all this cash on nuclear material.

[22:35] What would happen if our economy were to break down we have all these nuclear power plant and if we do need to decommission and who's going to pay for that. You know this is a larger discussion about the economics of securing safety of this technology if we have to spend X number of billions of dollars to store this material safely once it's become Radioactive in the form of waste and we have to spend billions of dollars to decommission these plants safely if we're looking at a future where it let's say our economy is in Decline and we're trying to, balance the cost of a rising pensions were trying to balance the cost of infrastructure that we can't maintain we're trying to balance the cost of these huge social problems that were wrestling with this for instance like the refugees at our border. Is it possible is it for seeable that whatever companies are in charge of this or even our government itself would decide that the. Short-term allocation of resources is worth giving up the long-term benefit of safety for some future generation if it means that I can divert These funds to some immediate crisis. And as we've seen our government especially United States government government loves to manufacture crises especially in these times so that it can get around such things as passkey regulation.

[23:58] And so I'm trying to say that I questioned our responsibility and this is something I want to expand more on butt. To employ this technology in mass and that scale we're placing our trust in our government and in our companies that oversee this that they are responsible to us to our safety into the environment. And I want to read an excerpt from an article written by the former chairman of the nuclear Regulatory Commission in the United States Gregory jasko who oversaw nuclear policy here in the US, but based on what he saw in terms of the industry influence on our policy he actually decided that you know what nuclear technology is not the way to go. And here's what he wrote as a certainty of climate change group clearer. Nuclear power presented a dilemma for environmentalists. Was the risk of accidents or further spread of nuclear weapons greater than the hazard of climate change.

[24:57] In the late 2000 be arguments in support of nuclear power we're gaining traction with Congress Academia and even some environmentalists as a Chernobyl accident faded into the past and the effects of climate change became harder to ignore. No new plants have been proposed in decade because of the industry's Dismal record of construction oversight and cost controls, but now utilities were beginning to pitch new reactors, as many as Thirty around the country but the fukushima-daiichi crisis reversed that momentum a massive release of radiation from the plant as it's for reactors failed lasted for months. The world watched as hydrogen explosions sent huge chunks of concrete into the air a reminder that radiation was streaming unseen from the reactor core, more than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes and their communities. Agency staffers soon produce a reasonable set of plant improvements that would reduce the chance of a similar accident here in the United States, yet after the disaster my fellow Commissioners as well as many in Congress and the nuclear industry, credit that the proposed new US reactors might never be built because Fukushima would focus too much attention on the potential downsides, Westinghouse and the new plant owners worried the acknowledging the need for reformed would raise even more concern about the safety of reactors.

[26:25] The industry wanted the NRC to say that everything was fine and nothing needed to change. So my colleagues on the commission and supporters of the industry pushed to license the first of these projects without delay, and stonewalled implementation of the safety reforms my colleagues objected to making the staff report public. I ultimately prevailed but then the lobbying intensified, the industry almost immediately started pushing back on the staff report they Lobby the commission and enlisted allies and Congress to disapprove water down or defer many of the recommendation. Within a year of the accident at Fukushima, and over my objections the NRC implemented just a few of the modest safety reforms that the agencies employees had proposed, and then approve the first four new reactor licenses in decades in Georgia and South Carolina.

[27:22] You're in the United States those four new reactors the Vanguard of the so-called nuclear Renaissance still have not opened. The South Carolina companies building two of the reactors canceled the project in 2017 after spending nine billion dollars of their customers money without producing a single electron of power.

[27:44] The construction company behind the utilities Westinghouse went bankrupt almost destroying its parent company the global conglomerate Toshiba. The other two reactors licensed while I chair the NRC are still under construction in Georgia and years behind schedule. Their cost has ballooned from 14 billion dollars to 28 billion dollars and continues to grow. History shows that the expense involved in nuclear power will never change. Past Construction in the United States exhibited similar cost increases throughout the design engineering and construction process, the technology and the safety needs are just too complex and demanding to translate into a facility that is simple to design and build, no matter your views on nuclear power in principle no one can afford to pay this much for two electricity plants.

[28:38] New nuclear is simply off the table in the United States for years by concerns about nuclear energy cost and safety were always tempered by a growing fear of climate catastrophe. But to Kashima provided a good test of just how important nuclear power was too slow in climate change in the months after the accident. All nuclear reactors in Japan were shuttered indefinitely. Eliminating production of almost all of the countries carbon-free electricity and about 30% of its total electricity production. Naturally carbon emissions Rose and future emission reduction targets were slashed with shutting down plants all over the world lead to similar results.

[29:21] 8 years after Fukushima that question has been answered. Fewer than 10 of Japan's 50 reactors have resumed operations yet. The country's carbon emissions have dropped below their levels before the accident how. Japan has made significant gains in Energy Efficiency and solar power it turns out that relying on nuclear energy is actually a bad strategy for combating climate change one accident wiped out Japan's carbon games. Only a turn to Renewables and conservation brought the country back on target.

David Torcivia:

[30:02] There's a point there at the end I know about the conservation and what really it means to be fighting for the climate in this case that I want to expand upon. There's something other than one or two things I want to mention before I get to this cuz it feels like I'm closing out sort of thought. And there's a little bit I want to talk about here still with waste and with the plant construction and some of the really the cost. Recycle bag and I really hate leaving this because I think that that piece is really interesting especially coming from somebody who was such a big nucleotide the kid was fighting for this and now is totally reversed on this process, I think he hits on the point that I finally took away after doing all this research and even I mean even over the course of recording the show at my ideas have Dances With Wolves.

[30:46] The jump back very quickly to some cost related stuff there are new plants that were being built in the United States they had new regulatory approvals they had two designs approved and to actually went to the construction one of which was in South Carolina and one of which is in Georgia, and unfortunately these projects have been disasters, B South Carolina plant was cancelled in 2017 which was a huge blow for the US nuclear industry and in large part this was because the planet just gotten so far over budget, the entire thing was supposed to cost just 11 and 1/2 billion dollars to construct and I say just but 11 and 1/2 billion dollars to construct and, at the time of cancellation it was already at 9 billion dollars in construction costs set aside for this and they were like 40% of way done constructing this plant, if it's going to cost at least 25 billion if not more. And so the utility just gave up at this point they said we can't afford to keep building this it doesn't make any sense and so that's 14 billion dollars.

[31:47] Thrown away to build the shell of a couple reactors the cooling towers suicide with this and this plan is just nothing there's nothing there they gave up natural gas prices fell so they they started constructing those new, plants which are almost as carbon efficient as nuclear plants as well as a large amount of Renewables would have just really devastated the price argument for nuclear. My mother's planted were constructing in Georgia that production is still going forward but everything is up in sort of limbo at the moment Westinghouse manufacturer the reactor they were using this Advanced reactor called the ap1000, file for bankruptcy and that put everything at risk they are so continuing it that working something out so that it will be going forward, but this is also billions and billions of dollars over budget that 14 billion dollars is expected to cost more than 25 billion dollars on something that initially they estimated at.

[32:36] 11 or 12, all these projects are hugely expensive they're not worth it in terms of market cost and and that's not even looking at all the other concerns that we talked about here. The unfortunate realities just that building reactors at least Modern Day in the United States is a disaster and these processes take 20 plus years. When the first get approval to win the construction starts to when it eventually will start its first vision.

[33:02] This stuff is a mess and there's no wonder that would that we abandon this so much that we have so much negative press around it, is this point it's no longer even making cost since much less anything else and of course argument against that is well when we talk about environmental concerns what is the terms of a couple billion dollars here there if we're trying to save the world from climate change and that is the kind of question that we need to be asking what if we shown throughout this episode, that doesn't necessarily make sense as Daniel mentioned when Japan was forced to power down a large portion of their reactors, because of safety concerns initially there was a increase in, fossil fuel-burning in order to make up for the difference but that quickly went back down and Renewables have taken over and they are now using both less energy overall to those more efficient energy than they were before, because they're no longer running the new plants this ties into that jevons Paradox things that we talked about several times of the show at this point, we're just because you can make things more efficient doesn't mean you're going to decrease the use of that thing maybe we shouldn't be talking about how can we create more energy generation.

[34:06] Maybe you're replacing the energy generation we have and slowly starting to totally reduce the amount of energy that we are creating the first place. Forcing ourselves to sort of wean off this electrical power that was done so used to.

[34:21] Which is before we jump into that. Now I know you're you're champing at the bit for it we do need to talk about nuclear waste. That's the other big equation here in probably the biggest mess of this conversation at least here in the United States also worldwide. When you're running Commission on nuclear reactors like we have these light water reactors, you generate a lot of waste and it's a variety of different types of waste from the fuel rods themselves when dealing with decommissioning to things like water that is radioactive from the waist pools where you put these these rods in the cool, the regular rides all the stuff that eventually becomes Radioactive in this process what do you do with that.

[34:59] You know these things can have reactivity at the CL of of thousands of years a tens of thousands if not more in some cases, that is potent enough to impact human life and other biological life how do you responsibly get rid of this without causing just massive environmental destruction, and we don't have a lot of great answers for that and in fact a lot of cases it seems to be pretend that it's not a problem, and when these things do leak or crack and do cause look like by mental distraction covered up and ignore it and pretend it never happened, which has been sort of the de facto standard response for a while which which goes back to that point then know that how can we trust these these companies these governmental bodies in order to keep us safe when their record is so abysmal not every single nuclear disaster is something like. Fukushima is like Chernobyl and I'm really proud of us for Harley using the c word throughout this episode but there are lots of little things. That not even necessarily are meltdowns but there are leaks there are contamination and her at a variety of places along the nuclear a supply chain from mining to eventual decommissioning at the disposal of this waste. What is it with the one said that never gets talked about that is considered one of the largest radioactive disasters in the United States you've probably never heard of this most Americans only hurt at Three Mile Island is something called a Church Rock uranium Mill spill.

Daniel Forkner:

[36:25] Yeah the Church Rock uranium Mill spill was to me this is a great example of re responsibility because this was and remains to this day the greatest contamination of our environment in terms of radioactive material that has ever occurred in the United States yet how many people have heard of this we've all heard of The Three Mile Island accident, we've all heard of Fukushima and Chernobyl but in fact this occurred just four months after that Three Mile Island accident in New York and this occurred in New Mexico, near Arizona what it was is they were mining uranium at the site there was some leftover radioactive material the tailings of this mining.

[37:08] That when a local Dam burst, got picked up tons of uranium float into a river that went straight through a Navajo Nation town, MIT eventually contaminated the groundwater sources there and to this day, this groundwater is contaminated in the people living in this town the closest place for them to get drinking water is a hundred miles away and everyone in this town is used to going to water sources to bottle their water bring it back to their town this was the biggest radioactive contamination in the history of the United State which is still impacting the lies of these Navajo people and has anybody ever heard of this, how can we call ourselves responsible to this technology to secure the health and the well-being of future Generations when those that we have actively harmed today and continue to harm are swept under the rug and we do nothing for these victims I can we trust ourselves when we can't even wear that we're still not even helping these people.

David Torcivia:

[38:11] I mean every single nuclear accident that occurs. And there are a lot Mozart meltdowns but even in the big meltdowns what is the one single unifying theme that happens in every single wanted denial by the government that it's a problem, denial that the Fallout from it is a problem denial all along the way that these things are problematic or bad people are exaggerating how terrible it is in the end of course into like decades and years later, it comes out that like oh yeah you know almost everybody died or like all these people are poison they would just lied about it for years, and eventually we turn into a mini-series on HBO and deeper like oh my God I'm so glad that didn't happen here and then it's happening really is Three Mile Island, Church Rock Fukushima all these things will it someday, be the same kind of stories of this drama these lines of this cover ups and it it's it's just the single unifying thing of the stuff and nucleic first will tell you that plants are designed for things like a 10,000 year error, so that only know one in 10,000 your thing is is expected to damage a plant, but actual studies found that it's much much much much more likely than that there's a great paper that came out recently that found that it is probably likely that a major meltdown happens every 10 to 20 years.

[39:22] Which is 200 times more frequently, then the nuclear Regulatory Commission is estimating and that's based on the calculations of how many hours a plan operation there are so as we expand the number of plants that are operating, especially some of these old Gen 2 plants seized is Gen 3 plants are in a safe start getting into the tail ends of their years we start seeing cracks in the Reactor Core which is a very common thing that we see all over the place, when they refuse to do the upgrades to their plants in order to make them safer because that wasn't calculated into the larger cost of It lifetime cost of the plant then these things will get more often, Indian Point this reaction that they're shutting down here turns out it was actually built it on a major fault line, and in that fault line is likely to generate 92627 earthquake and I mean literally like within a hundred feet of the fault line, and nobody nobody realized it for years this plant isn't built for that kind of earthquake and we just been lucky that it didn't happen.

[40:21] There was an earthquake recently a magnitude to and it damaged some of the reactor walls and that was just a fraction of the magnitude 6 or 7 quake, the many geologists think not only is possible but is likely and and should have happened over the course of a lifetime of this plant, when you start looking into individual plants and her about the stories of all them you see over and over again these repeated examples of O you know the Wastewater Plant has been leaking or the the fuel cells are problematic or the cracks in the middle have tons of problems. A little tiny notes and footnotes in these massive NRC papers that come out every now and then letting people know if they wanted to dig into it but people aren't interested in reporting, and most of these don't end up in any sort of loss of life, but they are contaminating the environment and there are dangers of things can spiral out of control and and then we have to wonder if you know how much damage is just down the road that we don't, because a lot of nuclear damage can take decades before cancer or something starts showing up in these areas.

[41:17] Which brings me to my point that I would I region was trying to make and that's we don't have waste disposal plan, United States has been trying to figure out a plan for how to dispose the nuclear waste generated from these many plants for 37 years now since 1982. And we've never come up with a plan you probably heard of Yucca Mountain which was supposed to be the nuclear disposal site.

[41:41] Through a variety back and forth It's been built lots of research supports put into it but they won't move stuff into it if it's not totally finished. He was totally cancel the stop funding it in a couple years ago now it's back they try to introduce bills again Trump has expressed interest in reopening it. Nobody obviously wants to have been Duke storage place in their backyard which is why this conflict is still going on 30 years later.

[42:05] So what are we doing with these these nuclear materials in the meantime you might ask like where they going. Well there is one sort facility the US is using it's called the waste isolation pilot plant but that facility suffered an explosion of one of these casks, I'm storing there at impacted 10 to 20 employees, I got some of this nuclear material inside of them and they're facing health effects from that and made the plant as a whole seem like it's not going to be something that works for United States are the reason why we're looking back at you come out on this because of this. In the meantime plants are just taking all their waste material putting them in these giant steel and lead and concrete, cylinders that we call casks that are designed to be extremely strong I was standing missile assault just like if you know very dependable to basically, and other Staffing. I just literally stacked on property if you've looked at pictures of nuclear plants you probably could see these just these concrete cylinders and they are filled with nuclear material and that's currently our disposal plant will just put it in a tube. And I stack it up and hope it's not an issue that's the plan and worldwide really that that seems to be the same plan except Mulberry underground somewhere.

Daniel Forkner:

[43:15] Yeah waste disposal is itself a highly controversial debate I mean it seems like one of the best solutions would be some kind of, International centralized geological repository there we can identify you know much like the natural nuclear reactor we talks about the beginning of this episode in Gabon I'll the waste from that is still in the ground to billion years later if we could identify a site like that where we as an International Community could come together and say we're all going to store our nuclear waste in this very secure facility underground that, could potentially be a good way around just like leaving everyone out to just figure it out for themselves. Of course the problem with that is that there's no International agreement you know a lot of people are afraid of what if we start pulling all these this waste together that leaves us open for the risk of nuclear proliferation of someone gets into the stockpile steals the plutonium or whatever it is that makes nuclear bombs another interesting controversy about this is the economics where you know the safest thing would probably be again a geological repository that within permanently sealed in some way but a lot of governments actually do not want to permit or license the underground storage of nuclear waste if it's not reversible meaning if we cannot ultimately retrieve it because a lot of governments see this as an economic fuel source for future Technologies so they do not want to give up the possibility did they could make money off this nuclear waste by sealing it forever.

David Torcivia:

[44:45] And the reason that the case is because there's actually a fairly limited amount of uranium that is readily available, and then again of that uranium there is only a small percentage that can be used for this fishing Prada. So we don't have a ton of reserves they think will buy preserves and I've done the math on this myself if we covered it all energy production to nuclear power and we snap their fingers and do them we'd have about a hundred years 250 years of, power generation available to us before they'll be no more uranium anymore which is why they really want to preserve the uranium we have, of course the way around that is switching the type of technology that were using to generate it to something thorium base or one of these fast reactor breeder types we can generate fuel for other reactors and extend that. The amount of uranium available for us invisible material to something like 5 billion years I think is a number I've heard thrown out, so in that case if we were able to do something like that we would maybe see this as a renewable energy and put these other problems persist and of course there's always enough feel like I'm just talking to sitting here cuz I do want to say it. Seawater is a huge amount of uranium in it so we can you can extract uranium from seawater, it's just not cost effective to do so I couldn't uranium prices because it's easy to mine on the ground but if we were ever at a point where we were was really hurting for a nuclear material then we could mind the seat for basically I'm going to see mine is he I mean literally suck it out of the water, you just would be even less economically viable than it already is to do that.

[46:15] To touch on one maybe just fun point with this waste disposal stuff as we get to the tail end of this episode I want to talk about this like a larger philosophical question of how do you warn people, that you're burying a bunch of nuclear material that's dangerous for thousands of years. Potentially 10000 + years when human civilization has really been around for it you know honestly not that much longer than that and modern knowledge of nuclear power has only been around y'all two decades, and it's something that could easily be lost that may very well be lost if human civilization collapses and we go back to the Dark Age, or maybe we get the extinct in some other intelligent life form of wolves and I saw capuchin monkeys are using stone tools so maybe there is there going to be our Legacy.

Daniel Forkner:

[47:02] Oh that's a good question I mean we see those signs you know the yellow signs with the three arrows indicating radioactivity but how would someone 500 300 years in the future even know what that means.

David Torcivia:

[47:15] Yeah exactly and so you have this question of how can you persist this knowledge of danger of the fact that nuclear energy is dangerous and that these locations were stored as dangerous without.

[47:27] Purse being able to assume that somebody can read your writing assume that somebody even understands what you're talkin about. And so they put together when they were designing Yucca Mountain a team of all sorts of different people philosophers science fiction writers a linguist. Architects engineers, a wide variety of some of the best and brightest of humanity to say what would you do in this situation if it came up with all sorts of crazy ideas. Let me pull somebody's out cuz they're just this is so interesting and I know we've been roundly for forever but I just I got to share this so this group of people. One of the collections was called the human interference task force they created this field of research called nuclear symbiotics. And they were trying to figure out these ways of how do we continue sharing this information into the future without any knowledge of what civilization culture maybe even just a hundred two hundred years down the line and potentially they wanted to keep it legible for. 10000 years. So they sit down at 3 points really needed to be done in one is that this is actually a message what you're saying and that's a maybe something that we would assume, would be obvious but maybe isn't, two people in the future that dangerous material is stored in this location and that there are some information about what is specifically dangerous about these materials. So you ready for the Santa Cruz some of the ideas that they came up with.

[48:52] One of these linguist proposed creating a cult I guess would be going to put it call the atomic priesthood.

Daniel Forkner:

[49:01] Brilliant save it.

David Torcivia:

[49:02] And his theory was that well you know religion is really good at keeping stories going and keeping them fairly unchanged as time goes on because if there's like a Divine word to it so it's Blasphemous to try and change it, and so if you could carry that same idea to a conversation about, are the dangers of atomic energy and the locations where these dangers were stored then you could allow us to persist for thousands of years just like say Christianity has done. So he's like so we should start a cult called the atomic priesthood and they would have the knowledge of this radioactive sites and they would persisted with like rituals and myths and sacred texts and part of their religion would be built around these off-limit areas and the consequences and what would happen if you broke into it.

Daniel Forkner:

[49:45] So so basically what you're saying David is we're going to create a call, hopefully that will evolve into a religion maybe we'll call it instead of Atoms for Peace will call it Adam's for death and, you'll be Atomic priest number to all the atomic priests number one will create all these our traditions and stories and Parables about how you know if you go into this particular region or if you see this particular sign don't go in there because the atomic spirit that. Inhabits the universe will smite thee and send you to a very dark place and, hopefully this called that we create will persist for several generations and out-compete other forms of religion and traditions such that these traditions and stories persist through all cultures in, and for all time.

David Torcivia:

[50:37] Yeah I mean that was the idea of course there were problems with the people suggested that hope you have this religion formed then you going to have the same problems religion has you going to make a privileged class you're going to have hierarchies form of this information could be used for evil could be used for political purposes, and so they like you know what this is not a not the best idea we've ever come up with so we came up with some other ones there was a science fiction writer called stanislaw Lem, who proposed adding these artificial satellites basically moons but human once you know what we will call satellite. And put them in orbit and fix places and they would just broadcast for thousands of years information about these locations the dangers of them as a permanent sign that couldn't be affected by geological processes of weathering stuff like that.

Daniel Forkner:

[51:23] Yeah because you know all the post civilization hunter-gatherer societies that will form will you know make sure they maintain their radio receivers and of course, if our species is superseded by another primate will probably just independently generate additional radio receiver Technologies and.

David Torcivia:

[51:42] Well if you're feeling out the problem and his stuff ideas like riding into the DNA of plants do you plant around this, warnings and stuff but then somebody pointed out like well you know if a species has the technology to gather information from radio waves or to read the DNA of genetically engineered creatures around here. Well then you know maybe they would know what nuclear energy or radiation was as well.

Daniel Forkner:

[52:08] Will you not David when I was in college and dye allergy 1010 we worked with some E.coli samples I did a little bit of DNA engineering myself I don't want to brag but I did splice a jellyfish Gene, that encodes for glow in the darkness and I put that into an E coli bacterium.

David Torcivia:

[52:29] I think it's called the bioluminescence glow in the Darkness.

Daniel Forkner:

[52:35] I don't know where you learned biology David but he's going to talk you call either I engineered had to trade at this jellyfish and I wonder if we could do the same thing with plants you know when they come in contact with radioactive material. Glow in the Darkness.

David Torcivia:

[52:52] Now you're thinking like the best and brightest because that is more less one of the ideas that was suggested here in plant stem cells of a grow special colors when they got close to this radiation but also more notably with cats.

Daniel Forkner:

[53:06] Cats David we're going to have glow-in-the-dark cats.

David Torcivia:

[53:11] Well they they realize that man kind loves cats I mean I love cats I have a cat. And we have a long history of cats living with us for thousands of years at this point and I thought what if we could bioengineer cats. Hey when they got close to radiation they would change color. And then what if we included into culture myth. Fairy tales about the dangers that you're about to encounter when you see a cat change color so a little crazy.

Daniel Forkner:

[53:45] Interesting.

David Torcivia:

[53:45] Right off the bat but we do have a lot of myths and fairy tales or Baldwin cats already we're sort of spooked out, buy black cats are there's a lot of superstition and culture around that and it's not in fusible to say that we couldn't create a new myth about these Ray cats if they called them when they would approach a nuclear material are we and I wouldn't being in this the story they change color and so the cultural story would be if you see a cat change color they're trying to save your life get out of there, before it's something bad happens to you you know any grab your can you run.

Daniel Forkner:

[54:18] But I still feel like it's too vague because we're assuming that humans are just like walking around and just avoiding areas as opposed to like settling down and I feel like a lot of these ideas would backfire. I've seen other ideas if you know architectural spikes to come out of the ground to give people a kind of spooky eerie feeling but. Humans are exploratory and nature where risk-takers we're not just going to ignore something like a a color changing cat in the environment, we're going to explore that we're going to want to know what's going on we're going to dig deeper figuratively and literally.

David Torcivia:

[54:54] Well I mean that was what is the studies eventually found out that they felt humans were too curious for their own good and so they just decided to rely on an idea that I guess you could almost call it Rose Dennis Dillon.

Daniel Forkner:

[55:06] Also curiosity killed the cat so I feel like this is a double backfire.

David Torcivia:

[55:11] Yeah I guess that's true to the eventual. Was they were they were going to build all sorts of signs all over the place. Them in the ground stick them out of the ground. Protecting them ways that the signs were designed to last 10000 years and they're going to coat it in lots of different languages, and the final text they decided on isn't super exciting it says you know this is a radioactive place, I don't build here don't come here if you see the sign it supposed to last 10000 years if it's fading fix it translated into your modern language blah blah blah blah. What are the earlier ideas for this text is much cooler and I'll let you read this Dunya.

Daniel Forkner:

[55:48] This place is a message and part of a system of messages pay attention to it. Sending this message was important to us we considered ourselves to be a powerful culture this place is not a place of honor no highly esteemed deed is commemorated here nothing valued is here. What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us this message is a warning about Danger. The danger is in a particular location it increases toward a center the center of danger is here of a particular size and shape and below us. The danger is still present in your time as it was an hour's the danger is to the body and it can kill. The form of the danger is an emanation of energy the danger is Unleashed only if you substantially Disturbed this place physically this place is best shunned and left uninhabited.

David Torcivia:

[56:48] Every words I really love this because I think it's sums up some of the interesting. Hypocritical cognitive dissonance nature of nuclear energy where we have this just amazing boundless potential of nuclear power in and how it can generate energy in a way that is relatively responsible and turn ignition, but also has the potential for so much destruction, and the people riding this thing right into the danger is still present that it is dangerous and repulsive to us and on and on with the same people pushing this nuclear technology fully aware of the risks, and it may have if it is misused and of the products that occur it's ultimately and deciding to seal it off for the future and trying to warn people up. But still willy nilly going forward to produce it because what choice do we have I think this is what the new clear conversation always comes down to it's like yes nuclear power is problematic. It's not as problematic as you think because you know like you're stuck on sirnoble but that's not reality.

[57:50] What choice do we have if we want to be climate change if we want to go for generating power in a way that is not put in this earth we have to be. Building out nuclear power and this is sumption that we just have to continue doing this thing that we have to further the status quo that we can't change our Behavior. I think it is just as this maddening hubris related to the spread of this stuff where, why do we have to keep building out on Industrial capacity like this when we saw we saw Japan shut down 20% of the electrical generation, and it turned out fine Germany shut down their nuclear plants and of course I guess they're burning coal so maybe they're not a great example France after the Fukushima stuff which was 80% power, find nuclear energy at that point is reducing down to 50% nuclear Generation by shutting down plants because they don't feel like they can be made adequately safe anymore.

[58:46] But they're replacing this with more responsible Technologies or just not adding the increase back to the larger group as a whole. Deer in New York when we shut down Indian Point we're going to build a dam to take up half of the generation and the rest is going to be just trying to be energy-savings and we'll be fine, this is what we need to be doing nothing and how can we increase capacity how can we build more plant but how come was just start shutting stuff down permanently, how can we did grow our electrical use and generation and the consumption, overconsumption that goes along with that and not try and push things forward to always consume more and to do so and maybe a more efficient way but always burning more creating more but how can we do so with, and maybe that is going to require dramatic shifting of the way that we approach our economy of the way that we approach everything in our lives but that is ultimately what we have to do if you actually want to make a difference in the climate if you want to be good stewards of the Earth, because all these technology of trade-offs every single one even things that are relatively green like when power like solar power these still have problems they're still Environmental, at and building them is worse than the alternative in this case coal or natural gas but it's never going to be better than building nothing. And if we can reduce our use and we can reduce our needs for generation and then the world would be much much much better off, then we will end in building any sort of new additional capacity.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:00:13] This is really the heart of the issue for me. The pro-nuclear argument is always that we need nuclear energy if we're going to combat climate change and that's pretty compelling because for whatever risk nuclear energy presents us climate change is existential. As terrible as the Meltdown of a nuclear power plant is.

[1:00:35] It kind of pales in comparison to biodiversity lost mass extinction ocean acidification Rising. The total annihilation of Life as we know it from climate change.

[1:00:48] These are two vastly different problems but to say that nuclear power is going to solve that existential threat, makes the assumption that our current economic demands are necessary in the first place, it makes the mistake of putting too much emphasis on greenhouse gas emissions from energy that we produce as opposed to the greenhouse gas effect of our underlying societal structure. To put it in perspective the world nuclear Association projects that we will see a 25% increase in nuclear capacity between 2016 and 2040. And if 10% of global energy production is nuclear today we would probably expect at this new share of energy. From nuclear power would be a much greater share of global energy production in 2040 right, but in fact they predict that by 2040 nuclear will still Supply just 10% of global energy despite the increase capacity, which means that we haven't solved anything all we've done is increase our supply of energy all we've done is expand the impact of our economy without really changing anything fundamental about that economy. Replacing one energy source for another does not help us if we do not change the fundamental reason that were using energy in the first place.

[1:02:06] We talked in episode 79 death dealers and episode 43 Fubar about the impact of military operations, and arms deals around the world how are we solving climate change if we replace coal plants with nuclear power plants but still use that energy to fuel an international arms Marketplace forearms the drys persistent violence and conflict, order for using that energy to bomb every island in the Pacific Ocean in to obliteration, are we solving the climate crisis and the massive loss of life if all we do it is replaced greenhouse gas limiting chainsaws with nuclear powered tractor size chain saws that can clear swap the rainforest and half the time.

[1:02:50] The entire risk of nuclear technology is that we might inadvertently harm the environment for future Generations or directly cause harm to human life. But as we discussed we do not currently respect the health and well-being of humans in the present. We talked about the Navajo from that Church Rock radioactive spill that we continue to neglect those victims. And since Fukushima gets all the attention these days I want to read from a essay titled rages of Fukushima in grief in a no future present by Marie Matsumoto. She writes quote during the past three months we have come to realize that we can no longer rely on our government. Which has totally neglected to take adequate safety measures for the people. And we can no longer trust the safety myths spread by the nuclear industry. In April a Grassroots organization took samples of breast milk from nursing mothers in Tokyo and radioactive particles were detected and some of their milk even from mothers in Tokyo.

[1:04:02] Basically the nuclear industry and state of Japan even after the Fukushima disaster have not given up their intention to stay with nuclear energy and continue exporting the nuclear reactors overseas, for this purpose they are Desperately Seeking to deny the fact that the lives of people in tohoku in tohoku and Kanto area are in danger. Accordingly they have not had children and mothers evacuated but instead raised the maximum allowance of radioactive intake up to 20 times higher than the international standard. They also continue to spread propaganda like there are no immediate health effects and wearing about radiation is worse for your health. This is the situation where the patriarchal State far from protecting children and mothers as in actuality abandoned them.

[1:04:57] In the later part of this essay she writes about, I just how many people have had to evacuate their homes you know a hundred thousand people officially but in fact that is much higher and these are basically internal refugees these are people without a home within their own country.

[1:05:14] Murray writes in the first place the government refuses to count the number of if I may use this term the refugees it has to do with its intention not to Define who are the refugees, the problem is that the category of those who are desperately migrating in fact and the legal category of refugees are not in synchronicity, this is because the Japanese government if it grasp the actual number would not be able to deal with the enormity unless it gave up business as usual, therefore you would rather underestimate the number by refusing to accept the reality. By paying attention only to the forced evacuees it chooses to ignore the voluntary evacuation from Fukushima not to mention those from Tokyo and even treats them. Illegal immigrants are we going to continue to refuse to accept the reality. That is the victims of our industrial economy you know we are like a child who ask their parent for a new puppy. And their mother says well you know I don't know if you're responsible enough for a new puppy are you going to be able to refill its food every day take it for a walk scoop its poop everyday.

[1:06:32] And the channels like yes I promise I will but meanwhile the child refuses to do their homework or clean their room or wash the dishes. We are like that child, if we can't be trusted with the basics in the here and now if we can't even admit the reality of the victims of our industry, if we can't even go on record and say yes we harmed the Navajo at Church Rock yes we've created internal refugees in Fukushima and Tokyo. Then. How can we be trusted with a much more complex process in the far away future how can we be trusted with the safeguarding of generations thousands of years to come. Our problem is not energy generation our problem is that we are not responsible to each other we are not responsible to this earth. Another way to look at it is we went into detail and episode 63 busy work about how half the economy is likely made up of useless and pointless jobs that should not even exist, and that's before we even examined the need for a consumer-based economy in the first place much of the work we do is meaningless. Yet every one of these jobs still requires energy every person who works at a pointless job has to turn on a light.

[1:07:52] If we were truly committing to a more sustainable and climate friendly World start with eliminating other waste in our economies why not commit to scaling back or energy demand search for ways to meet frivolous demand. Maybe if we came together and said that we were going to commit to a scaling back of our energy consumption our energy to mad if we were willing to scale back our consumption to scale back our supply chains rely more on domestic sources of renewable energy and agriculture, if we came together and committed to an economy that was not based on the impossible standard of infinite profit accumulation but one that was fundamentally committed to providing people with the basic necessities through which to live on this Earth and in the boundaries of natural systems, then maybe we would be ready to balance our energy generation with long-term sources like nuclear power, but until that day I have to believe that we are not ready.

David Torcivia:

[1:08:57] What is speak for a second about the future and looking forward with this coming into the show I didn't know my own my own perspectives on nuclear power, I'm excited about the technology I'm interested in the science of it but in terms of the actual methodology in the ways that is put into practice, and be just right that I see in the world around me I've always been suspicious and for other reasons you mentioned Daniel and then throughout the show if we could trust ourselves to do the right thing, then yes nuclear power would be a great and incredible tool, but with such a terrible track record really think that we'll get any better maybe the technology improves maybe we'll have more resistant reactors to the catastrophes that we seem to create time and time again. I don't know if I want to trust us to do that and even if we did I mean we're still have learned nothing from the lessons of the past. We poison to Navajo land but still to this day we're violating native land in Yucca Mountain, they write about this is a secret space in their culture and here we are still mining it still building it out still planning to fill this place with nuclear on one of material that it just has nowhere else to go with nothing in this process.

[1:10:10] There are promising Technologies in the future there's lots of research being done into nuclear fusion which has few of the downsides of nuclear energy does today, what is still decades maybe half a century off until we see any sort of practical commercialization of that process and then at what what cost, nuclear fusion is always been advertises Limitless free energy without any downsides what will we do with that excess capacity. What violence is will it enable us to Recon to the Earth at that point when we don't have to worry about the side effects or the cost of saying we'll should we add more capacity should we use this or is this going to further damage things, if we don't have to ask ourselves that question add that to the equation then who knows what we're going to do with all this extra capability of violence of new energy generation gives us. And I'm not saying we should stop research on these Generation 3 plus on these generation for reactors I'm not saying we shouldn't build them anymore but we should be conscious that they are not the answer that why we are constructing them out while they are better than building new coal plants Maybe. This is not going to end necessarily the way that we want to imagine that they will and if we were to put everything into nuclear power right now.

[1:11:24] It's still too little too late by 2050 were supposed to be Net Zero in terms of carbon emissions. It takes 20 to 30 years to design build out and eventually turn on a plant. That means the plants that we have going up today are the ones that will take us to this net-zero place and it's not nearly enough. So we're already going to miss these targets if we're already Building Technology that is arguably not as clean as these other ones. I'm a solar as wind as geothermal and what are we doing we're not taking any of this seriously and we're not taking this very existential threat seriously, I absolutely can't in my heart believe that the company's the private Industries and the governments responsible, for our safety through the regulation and the proper maintenance and operation of these plants are going to do just that because this show me time and time again that that is not the case. Even places where people look to as that go Japan there will managed there an honest non-corrupt place look at the disaster that's been there, corruption in both the government as well as the private Industries in tepco that is something that plays out time and time again around the world every nuclear disaster seems to have the same, suspect things, somebody cut Corners nobody got in trouble and we all have to deal with the consequences and I don't think it's worth that price when the alternative can just be living with less.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:12:50] Living with less David that's the lot to think about.

David Torcivia:

[1:12:54] And I think at this point people will have developed their own ideas about whether nuclear power is good. Bad something that we could feasibly introduce or something that's too late too little. And that we'd love to hear your thoughts on this week at something wrong do with leaves stuff out you know messages send as iMessages on our Reddit. I go post on the show notes there, find acenar Discord what you can find a link to honor website to go to the community section is a LinkedIn invites you to that right there we have a great community and we love to hear you say Hey you idiots got all the stuff wrong nuclear power the Great War hey dumbasses nuclear power is going to destroy the world and here's why.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:13:33] Although please don't use those words I'm sensitive.

David Torcivia:

[1:13:35] Just just just for me say hey David the dumbass. And if you want to affirm any of the things that we talked about on here we have a enormous list of sources for this episode and the one previous, on our website you can find all that in a beautiful big text format as well as a full transcript of this episode so you can double-check what we say add a website ashes ashes. Org.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:13:57] As always a lot of time and research goes into making these episodes possible and we will never use ads to support the show. So if you like it and would like us to keep going you our listener can support us by giving us a review recommending us to a friend. Checking us out on patreon.com ashes ashes cast in Saint Augustine financial support there, we really do appreciate it it helps us in so many ways and of course we'd like to thank our associate producer John Fitzgerald and Chad Peterson also we have an email address it's contact at ashes ashes. Org. And we encourage you to send us your thoughts let us know what we got wrong we read it and we appreciate it.

David Torcivia:

[1:14:39] And sometimes you don't even reply when were being good in and if you don't want to write emails because let's be honest Daniel writing emails fucking sucks then you can actually.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:14:52] Click clack on the computer you know you're out and about your commuting you're on the subway you don't have a computer.

David Torcivia:

[1:14:59] You know what you do have right there like you can plug the desktop computer which is the only way to write an email on to the subway but you can bring your phone.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:15:06] Even if ya will you bring your cell phone but your cell phone doesn't come with a keyboard does it.

David Torcivia:

[1:15:11] No there's no the Billy but it does have a numpad and if you just have a phone with a numpad or like one of those old timey phones that you dial with the like the circle thing then you can actually call us now this is awesome new feature we have a phone number, you can also use to leave this message isn't going to turn all these messages into an awesome calling show whenever we get enough of them so please call in guys we want to talk to you.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:15:34] What will maybe David you would like to let them know what that number is.

David Torcivia:

[1:15:38] That's a good point if you want to be a part of this project you can do so at this number it's 31399 ashes or 313-992-7437. Call that number you'll hear an awesome little computer-generated voice talking to you and then leave a message make it as long as you want we will get it we have a recording of it and we can add it to the show and answer all your questions. Maybe complete some of your dreams.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:16:05] And I would like to point out we have received several of these voicemails we have listened to all of them and we just haven't and we're saving them for the right time.

David Torcivia:

[1:16:16] Can't don't worry we hear you out there you're definitely being listened to you are being loved and we will build a show out of the time that you given us. So thank you for that and if none of this for Chabot you want to be a passive consumer of the amazing ashutosh is Contin you can do so in our many social media accounts, are the first and foremost I recommend you check out our Instagram but our Twitter and Facebook always a great you can find them all at ashes ashes cast.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:16:41] Join the Discord Community we have a vibrant diversity of people discussing these ideas talking about their lives we have a gardening and farming Channel where people share photo by the way David I have an update for you.

David Torcivia:

[1:16:55] Tucking it update at the very end of the show that's that's sneaky only what is it 60% of our listeners ever going to hear this but but share with those who have hung in this long.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:17:04] Well I'm trying to give people more of a reason to stick to any way with the show has gone on long enough looks like I will be moving to Massachusetts somewhere in the Central Mass, region if you will I'll be working with an organization doing a little bit of community gardening developing food distribution models working with communities to build food security and I'm excited about it little bit nervous it's a new direction for me, as you know, a direction I've been trying to to go into for a long time after starting the showing and yeah.

David Torcivia:

[1:17:38] Congratulations Daniel everybody you should call in Dubai this email send this tweets direct messages Instagram to celebrate the fact that Daniel has a new job and also I hate to break it to all of y'all out there but Daniels going to make basically no money so beautiful Porta some patriots so that we can pass all that money to Daniel so he has enough food to eat.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:17:58] My salary David is the wealth of knowledge and joy and experience I will get working with farmers and community health networks which is priceless.

David Torcivia:

[1:18:07] That is the highest payment that you could possibly receive in something that is so generous.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:18:12] Price was a little higher.

David Torcivia:

[1:18:13] For all of us well hopefully get some sweet fresh produce out of it and until you do we will be here recording other episode every week and we hope. You all will turn into that because we have another great episode coming next week and something that you definitely won't want to miss.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:18:30] Speaking of priceless.

David Torcivia:

[1:18:31] That's a little sneak peek you can turn in next week to figure out exactly what Dad was alluding to but until then.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:18:39] Play Why Don't We gamify ashes ashes David anybody who can guess based on my. Foreshadowing what the topic of next week show is going to be it will send you a sticker that's right if you guess the topic and you're correct send me your address I'll send you an ashes ashes stick.

David Torcivia:

[1:18:56] Tails is trying to harvest your your emails and the addresses for his direct marketing I don't even have this is a sweet deal you also definitely write him if you want this stuff.

Daniel Forkner:

[1:19:10] This is a bold New Direction.

David Torcivia:

[1:19:11] Until then let me finish this this is ashes ashes we hope to hear from you soon.