Watch the music video - then see the documentary!
Talk about edgy! London rapper Example's new video is shot in the radioactively contaminated post-nuclear zone at Chernobyl. While he there, Example also filmed an 18-minute documentary in the post-apocalyptic ghost towns and their deserted schools, hotels and funfairs - places frozen in time for twenty years.
Read More about Example's trip to Chernoybl here »
You can download the documentary here (you'll need Quicktime, Windows Media Player or Realplayer to watch it):
The making of "What We Made" (mov, 57mb)
The making of "What We Made" (wmv, 59mb)
Chernobyl was bad and not a good thing. But not making improved nuclear plants is a mistake. The alternative for the past 30 years has been to make more coal plants and use more oil.
Hundreds die every year in coal mining accidents. The volume of material mined for nuclear plants is far less.
Tens of thousands die each year from increased pollution. (Those with asthma and other lung problems).
Thousands of tons of radioactive material is released from the burning of coal. There is radioactive material mixed in the with coal.
The global warming problem has been made worse by not making more nuclear plants.
We should make new Thorium based nuclear plants. Thorium can make plants that do not have proliferation of weapons issues. See one of your blogroll sites Treehugger for an endorsement of Norways consideration of Thorium. Thorium plants also handles nuclear waste.
Hundreds of thousands die in the fight over oil.
Consider the big picture and all of the risks involved. There are plenty of risks in the status quo. The status quo is coal and oil. What are the real risks of a new generation of nuclear power ? What are the risks of using more coal?
Solar and wind are great but they are not ramping up fast enough. The world will need 4 terawatts more power generation in the next 10 years. Will the US, China, India and Europe go into a recession so because of a power shortage? Will those who could profit in the billions by making that power not choose to do so?
Get real. To feed the machines of commerce we all drive cars every year. Every year 1.2 million people die worldwide in car accidents. Almost 50,000 per year in the USA. The real costs of keeping the world economy rolling barely register. Millions die every year and we do not blink.
Let us make practical and pragmatic choices. Since the economy will keep rolling and the new power generation will be made. We will keep moving around in some kind of vehicles. There will be 8 billion + people and they will want not just a current US lifestyle but one that is even better. Let us make the best of it.
October 17, 2006 at 2:40
Interesting comment, Brian.
I suspect that treehugger.com may not actually be endorsing the use of Thorium. I refer you to this article: Th Solves Global Energy Shortage?. The're entertaining it as a possibility, which is a very different thing. And if they were endorsing it, the fact that Making Waves links to Treehugger doesn't automatically suggest that we should agree with Treehugger's findings.
The findings on Thorium are certainly interesting - but so far, it appears to be the opinion of one man, Mr. Egil Lillestol, professor at the Institute of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen. I don't dispute his research, but I think we need to be a little cautious before embracing this new magical panacea without some serious field testing. Also, bear in mind that it's reckoned it will take 15 years to build one of these nuclear plants. Not a magic bullet by any means.
Nuclear isn't the answer to global warming - for instance, in the UK, it's been calculated that at the "most optimistic build rate, a programme of 10 new nuclear reactors would only deliver a 4% cut in CO2 emissions by 2024".
Plus, perhaps we need to examine how and why we feed "the machine of commerce" - instead of blindly staggering on, and perhaps we need to examine whether or the "current US lifestyle" is sustainable in terms of its energy demands. I don't think it's impossible to combine a high quality of life with a low environmental impact.
Lastly, I'm not sure how you see nuclear fuel has being "clean" - at least in it current state. I refer you to:
Nuclear power: wrong answer.
End the nuclear age »
The Energy Revolution
October 17, 2006 at 22:12
Perhaps once-through uranium nuclear energy isn't the answer, but efficiently utilized thorium nuclear energy may very well be.
The opinions regarding the use of thorium are not confined to one person. On the contrary, in the 50s and 60s the United States had an active and robust effort to develop thorium nuclear energy. But that effort was not favored by the Atomic Energy Commission for a number of reasons--one of them being that the thorium reactors could not produce the weapons-grade plutonium that military planners craved. Indeed, the fissile fuel produced from thorium (uranium-233) is relatively worthless for weapons because it is inevitably contaminated by U-232, which decays to daughter products that are very difficult to shield sensitive weapons components from.
That's the basic reason that 60 years after its creation from thorium, U-233 has never been used in a production weapon.
By building thorium reactors, we open the door to thousands of years of clean safe energy. Kyoto won't stop global warming, but thorium might--if we get serious and soon.
October 18, 2006 at 17:16
Here are the figures from the Energy Information administration for the global picture Notice that the forecast is for hundreds of new coal plants to be built. President Bush has coal as a central part of his energy policy.
The british anti-nuke site says that 10 new plants will take at least until 2024. Perhaps those are for UK plants with UK building regulations. The projected global case is for over 43 gigawatts of nuclear capacity to be added from non-OECD countries. It is only going to take China 4 years to build each new plant. Building the plants can be a lot faster with less bureaucracy.
Improvements to the fuel (hollow cylinders instead of solid rods) and the heat removal liquid will allow current nuclear plants to generate 50% more power. In the USA that is 160GW. This can be done over a few years.
Nuclear waste is a problem. However, nuclear waste is not killing anyone or very few people now. Coal and oil pollution and CO2 are costing lives now. Thorium reactors can process the current waste. So we will not be storing it for 10,000 years but converting it to a more manageable form in decades if we make the right choices.
Nuclear alone is not the only answer, but it is part of a better and realistic solution. Along with carbon sequestering, conservation, efficiency improvements, solar and wind.
Thorium reactors can be brought online faster if we use the liquid-fluoride (molten-salt) reactors. The Norwegians are looking at accelerator based versions. How long things take depend upon choices and how well we plan and execute.
Here are links to my thorium articles
A lot of the information is from Kirk Sorensons excellent Thorium energy blog
Accelerating Futures has an interesting proposal for mass produced Thorium reactors
October 18, 2006 at 18:29
The other interesting thing is that more Uranium and Thorium are released in to the air by coal plants in normal operation than nuclear plants.
Another interesting point is that more radiation and radioactive material is released from coal plants than from nuclear plants
For the year 1982, assuming coal contains uranium and thorium concentrations of 1.3 ppm and 3.2 ppm, respectively, each typical plant released 5.2 tons of uranium (containing 74 pounds of uranium-235) and 12.8 tons of thorium that year. Total U.S. releases in 1982 (from 154 typical plants) amounted to 801 tons of uranium (containing 11,371 pounds of uranium-235) and 1971 tons of thorium. These figures account for only 74% of releases from combustion of coal from all sources. Releases in 1982 from worldwide combustion of 2800 million tons of coal totaled 3640 tons of uranium (containing 51,700 pounds of uranium-235) and 8960 tons of thorium. The population gets 100 times more radiation from a coal plant than from a nuclear plant.
The nuclear material that gets spewed into the air from coal plants has more energy content than the coal that was burned. Coal plants are not regulated for the nuclear waste they toss out.
What would happen if a nuclear site was reported to be freely exhausting ~27 metric tons (~60 Curies) of radiological material into the biosphere annually? Meanwhile, a strong case can be made that every 1000 MWe coal-fired steam plant does it year after year, and no one cares.
October 19, 2006 at 8:04
Umm, Brian - Greenpeace doesn't support the burning of coal - at least not in its current guise. Actually, Greenpeace doesn't support nuclear power or fossil fuel power - so there's no need to make this argument to us!
October 19, 2006 at 12:40
I think what Brian is trying to say (and I agree with him) is that a vote against nuclear is a vote for coal. I know you don't want to believe that, but it's simply the truth.
I know you guys have taken a position that nuclear energy is "bad". Well, examine that position for a moment and consider why you have it. Safety? Radiation? Waste? What's the real nub of the issue? And if thorium nuclear reactors can alleviate the concerns you have, maybe you should consider whether they're worth supporting.
Because if global warming is as real as you say, we have to replace our current energy supplies and quickly. Right now China and India are gearing up to build massive coal plants. We could turn out all the lights in the United States and our CO2 reduction would still be swamped by their new CO2 production. The only hope is to act quickly and massively to get non-CO2 emitting power in their hands. And if you say it's wind and solar, fine. You'll replace about 1% of what they plan to build and the other 99% that's coal will make global warming worse.
October 19, 2006 at 16:27
The reason I was making the case is that nuclear and other power sources are needed and will be built. I think Greenpeace should choose to back the less bad choices. Delaying nuclear means more coal. Coal is worse. The goal of trying to get rid of fossil fuel and nuclear leave 20% of the power. The power needs are going in the opposite direction. They are increasing. Greenpeace should pick its battles and strategize. The blanket attack is less effective and is resulting in making things worse. Things are worse now because we did not make nuclear plants for the last 30 years. Things will be worse if we do not make nuclear plants. Because we end up with more coal and oil usage. It is linked.
October 19, 2006 at 16:44
Hi guys - I appreciate your posting your thoughts here and giving your time to commenting.
Hmm, personally, I see your "least bad" option as being something of a compromise - trusting what *might* be the lesser of two evils. Given the history of the nuclear industry thus far, we have no real hope that that it will conduct itself any better than in the future than it has thus far.
As for Greenpeace's stance on the nuclear issue - it's pretty well spelled out here on the main website. We *do* pick our battles!
As for Thorium - I'm personally unconvinced by its apparently magical properties - but, we'll have to wait and see, eh?
October 19, 2006 at 17:09
Fossil fuels vs. nukes is a false choice. And one made at the expense of environmentally friendly energy alternatives. There's only so much money available to build new energy sources and increase energy efficiency.
That investment cash should be spent on proven renewable energy sources (like wind and solar), as well as energy efficiency.
October 19, 2006 at 17:14
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