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[PA] Japan Quake Shakes the World

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I take for granted sometimes my former professor's wisdom regarding world politics and economics, so tonight I want to introduce you to John Boyer, i.e. the Plaid Avenger, and his Plaidcasts. John is a legendary Geography/History professor at Virginia Tech, respected textbook author, and superhero, surprisingly enough.

In this week's Plaidcast, he discusses the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster and it's real effects on the world. A nice holistic perspective on the disaster.

http://plaidavenger.com/plaidcasts/j...kes-the-world/

2:45 starts the learning. The whole cast is 20 minutes, so put it on in the background and listen.

Quote:
Due to the unfolding nuclear crisis being caused by 3 damaged nuclear reactors which may turn into an even bigger disaster than the quake, the world is likely to slow or perhaps even abandon the emerging nuclear power industries, which in turn will make for skyrocketing prices of fossil fuels (Note: the price of oil is currently dropping, as Japan’s demand for oil has evaporated in the short term but don’t look for that to last much longer.) In addition, this epic event in Japanese history is likely to be looked back upon as the time that Japan slipped from its economic/political leadership role as an Asian titan, to a more subsidiary player behind China and other rising Asian powers.

Edited by Xyxyll - 3/21/11 at 10:07pm
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post #2 of 20
He may be a brilliant Geography and History professor, but a savvy political analyst he does not appear to be. The world is in no way going to abandon nuclear. China for instance has made huge tungsten reactor progress and I expect the rest of the world to follow suit. This disaster won't end the use of nuclear any more than the BP oil disaster ended the use of oil.

I recommend you check out the NY times, some very smart people have written extensively on the subject (none of them have suggested that this spells death for nuclear in the long term).
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post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Varjo View Post
He may be a brilliant Geography and History professor, but a savvy political analyst he does not appear to be. The world is in no way going to abandon nuclear. China for instance has made huge tungsten reactor progress and I expect the rest of the world to follow suit. This disaster won't end the use of nuclear any more than the BP oil disaster ended the use of oil.

I recommend you check out the NY times, some very smart people have written extensively on the subject (none of them have suggested that this spells death for nuclear in the long term).
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post #4 of 20
I don't see Japan falling behind of anybody in Asia, with the obvious exception of china..
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post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Varjo View Post
He may be a brilliant Geography and History professor, but a savvy political analyst he does not appear to be. The world is in no way going to abandon nuclear. China for instance has made huge tungsten reactor progress and I expect the rest of the world to follow suit. This disaster won't end the use of nuclear any more than the BP oil disaster ended the use of oil.

I recommend you check out the NY times, some very smart people have written extensively on the subject (none of them have suggested that this spells death for nuclear in the long term).
I imagine you just read MrDeodorant's thread about China's emerging Thorium reactor technology. Yes, Thorium is a promising technology, but it is not going to catch wind as well as you may think, at least in the US.

I'm a mechanical engineer having a brief but legitimate background in nuclear engineering. My dad was also a nuclear technician in the Navy; My friend is a nuclear engineer, and my roommate's father spent 40 years with the DoE nuclear department. If I have learned anything, it's that the American populus is terrified of nuclear energy. Nuclear engineering in the United States was virtually stagnant for 30 years SOLELY because of public perception. One of America's best solutions for storing spent nuclear fuel (Yucca Mountain) was derailed by Obama when he campaigned in Nevada for the presidency (and I'm an Obama supporter).

We're already seeing some of the consequences of the disaster in Germany, where they're closing down older nuclear power facilities (as they should). This is not an isolated incident, and like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, this nuclear disaster will echo through history. Will the world abandon nuclear energy? Of course not. No one's arguing it will. However, convincing your neighbors that building a nuclear power plant 10 miles from their house is not going to be easy, especially if this situation gets worse (fortunately reports suggest the reactors are one by one reaching stability).

Nuclear energy as a viable replacement (in large % like France) for OIL in the next 50-70 years is not going to happen anymore. Sucks too because it's clean, green, lean, and mean.


As for referring me to the NY Times. The NY Times just a few days ago published an interactive forecast of a nuclear fallout from Japan as it heads to the US. This forecast has already been criticized beyond what I'm willing to recount in this post. If you're interested in reading it, look back in the Technology and Science News history for a closed thread.
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post #6 of 20
why would fossil fuels be the only alternative. other sources are rapidly advancing technologically. solar is actually the best source, once we hit 80% most people wont even need to be on the grid to have all their energy needs taken care of, even energy hogs.

they've talked about even setting up a solar farm in the sahara that could power all of europe.
    
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post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyxyll View Post
I imagine you just read MrDeodorant's thread about China's emerging Thorium reactor technology. Yes, Thorium is a promising technology, but it is not going to catch wind as well as you may think, at least in the US.

I'm a mechanical engineer having a brief but legitimate background in nuclear engineering. My dad was also a nuclear technician in the Navy; My friend is a nuclear engineer, and my roommate's father spent 40 years with the DoE nuclear department. If I have learned anything, it's that the American populus is terrified of nuclear energy. Nuclear engineering in the United States was virtually stagnant for 30 years SOLELY because of public perception. One of America's best solutions for storing spent nuclear fuel (Yucca Mountain) was derailed by Obama when he campaigned in Nevada for the presidency (and I'm an Obama supporter).

We're already seeing some of the consequences of the disaster in Germany, where they're closing down older nuclear power facilities (as they should). This is not an isolated incident, and like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, this nuclear disaster will echo through history. Will the world abandon nuclear energy? Of course not. No one's arguing it will. However, convincing your neighbors that building a nuclear power plant 10 miles from their house is not going to be easy, especially if this situation gets worse (fortunately reports suggest the reactors are one by one reaching stability).

Nuclear energy as a viable replacement (in large % like France) for OIL in the next 50-70 years is not going to happen anymore. Sucks too because it's clean, green, lean, and mean.


As for referring me to the NY Times. The NY Times just a few days ago published an interactive forecast of a nuclear fallout from Japan as it heads to the US. This forecast has already been criticized beyond what I'm willing to recount in this post. If you're interested in reading it, look back in the Technology and Science News history for a closed thread.

You sound like a smart guy, and I'm sure you have a lot of nuclear expertise (compared to me ). That being said, I disagree very strongly with your forecast of this affecting anyone 50-70 years down the road. Public opinion just isn't that long lasting. As you obviously know, the science is there to make nuclear quite safe, getting the public to catch up is frustrating and quite political, but honestly won't be that affected by this disaster. The more educated people already tend to support nuclear and I don't see that changing much with this even. On the other hand, "joe the plumber" (to quote a distasteful past event) may not like nuclear, but events in Japan are unlikely to leave a lasting (more than several year) impression. It's just too far away and too abstract to have a really visceral impact on the general population outside of japan.

As for the NY times, fair point, I should have been more clear that I was referring to some rather convincing outside opinion pieces, the actual NY Times coverage hasn't had that much in the way of long term analysis (interesting about the pollution map controversy, I was not aware of it).
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post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pale_neon View Post
why would fossil fuels be the only alternative. other sources are rapidly advancing technologically. solar is actually the best source, once we hit 80% most people wont even need to be on the grid to have all their energy needs taken care of, even energy hogs.

they've talked about even setting up a solar farm in the sahara that could power all of europe.
I like where you're headed, but unfortunately solar will be the last green energy to really hit it big. Why? Active solar energy is too expensive (both collecting and storing), and there's no substantial government subsidizing for making it more accessible. Ultimately most of earth's energy comes from the sun, but it's just more cost-effective to consume existing resources. Oh greed...

Sadly, wind energy is the most widely-accepted green energy source, but each wind generator only produces a fraction of the energy a coal/gas/nuclear plant produces. That being said, I like wind energy for picking up a portion of our energy demand. Very regenerative energy source.
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post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Varjo View Post
You sound like a smart guy, and I'm sure you have a lot of nuclear expertise (compared to me ). That being said, I disagree very strongly with your forecast of this affecting anyone 50-70 years down the road. Public opinion just isn't that long lasting. As you obviously know, the science is there to make nuclear quite safe, getting the public to catch up is frustrating and quite political, but honestly won't be that affected by this disaster. The more educated people already tend to support nuclear and I don't see that changing much with this even. On the other hand, "joe the plumber" (to quote a distasteful past event) may not like nuclear, but events in Japan are unlikely to leave a lasting (more than several year) impression. It's just too far away and too abstract to have a really visceral impact on the general population outside of japan.

As for the NY times, fair point, I should have been more clear that I was referring to some rather convincing outside opinion pieces, the actual NY Times coverage hasn't had that much in the way of long term analysis (interesting about the pollution map controversy, I was not aware of it).
You're absolutely right that educated people are generally accepting of nuclear energy. I can only hope that the US continues to become more educated and accepting. Nuclear energy has such tremendous potential in power generation and more (think space travel). That being said, not every contingency can be planned for, and I fully support the nuclear plant audits taking place all across the world.

Regarding Japan, I am concerned how this will affect world issues (especially the energy industry), and I do think the quake/tsunami will play a role in the coming months/years. Even if nuclear energy long-term is not affected, it's only logical that Japan will quickly shift to a more imported energy production role over the next few months, thus increasing demand for an already low-supply commodity.
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post #10 of 20
I'm not one to speculate things as unpredictable or as far down the road as this, but I did want to almost thank who's posted so far for having a model "argument" as opposed to the typical uneducated flame wars that often go on here.

I wish every thread I opened here was like this.
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