Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fukushima Again

But this time with a science fiction connecton swiped directly from The Next Big Future, which is an excellent site. Here is part of Jerry Pournelle’s take on the Fukushima thing:

The radiation plume of 400 milliseiverts is from a small area of certainly no more than 100 square meters. If we assume that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors collectively manage a plume the size of a square kilometer, then to get comparable numbers we need to multiply the 400/hour by (24 x 365) to get a year's worth. Assume uniform distribution and divide by 500 million (global distribution). That comes out to .007 milliseiverts / year. I know of no scenario in which the Japanese reactors could sustain an emission rate of 400 milliseiverts per hour for a week, much less for a year, nor how there could they generate radioactive fallout uniformly over a square kilometer.

I am told that I am off in my calculations above, but off in the correct direction, which is to say the levels are too large. That's unfortunate in that I don't like to be wrong, but it also emphasizes my point, which is that the absolute worst case has no more global effect than did an event that many weren't even aware of, and which didn't have any great global effect.

The important lesson from Japan is that we took obsolete reactors with old designs and safety features, and subjected them to a 9.0 quake and a very large tsunami, and the damage to the planet is an unfortunate but hardly decisive event.

Go read the whole thing.

Then we have this:

Energy Source Death Rate (deaths per TWh)
Coal – world average 161 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal – China 278
Coal – USA 15
Oil 36 (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas 4 (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass 12
Peat 12
Solar (rooftop) 0.44 (less than 0.1% of world energy)
Wind 0.15 (less than 1% of world energy)
Hydro 0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao) 1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear 0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

And more here at The Register.

I really think there should a ‘cry wolf’ award for TV reporters.


Neal Asher said...

And a take on shale gas vs nuclear energy:

Neal Asher said...


vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

death from above:

these 'trees', once they get them rotating to follow the sun, will spin out of control and go on a carport, bird and hand cutting frenzy not seen on earth since..Skellor and Jain. beware solar anything. Michael
Bey should be on this science mayhem factoid soon enough.

billd said...

Shale gas - isn't that kind of dangerous in the presence of a spark if you mix it with air? And you can't see it either - people will panic! I'm just trying to imagine what the Prador would make of all this nuclear stuff - "humans - they're still boiling water to make steam to get their energy by the most bizarre means". I was thinking about the nuke power plants they put in the Pioneer and Voyager probes - heat direct to electric but they only give a few hundred watts at most. Came on this wikipedia article on radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) - I never realised they used these on the Apollo vehicles - "Because Apollo 13 was aborted, its RTG now rests in the South Pacific ocean, in the vicinity of the Tonga Trench". Imagine if Toyota was secretly putting one of these in the back of every Prius...

Nerdlord said...

The irony is a hydro-electric dam actually burst in the earthquake and wiped out a village, but in all the coverage I've watched and read, I've only seen it mentioned once.

Purple library guy said...

Mind you, the estimates for just how much death has been caused by nuclear vary incredibly widely. Chernobyl, for instance, has been claimed by apparently highly respectable scientists to have caused anything from 4,000 to 985,000 deaths.
The figures of advocates and detractors would thus lead to very different death rates . . .
Personally, I think nuclear just requires too blasted many subsidies to stay afloat for me to support it. I ought to be surprised that a firm free marketeer such as Jerry Pournelle advocates a technology so utterly dependent on government support for viability.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

cancer will be determined at a later point for these folks.

tough to build a nuke plant NOT on a fault area.