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)
Fossil fuels vs. nukes is a false choice. And one made at the expense of environmentally friendly energy alternatives.
You can say this, you can believe this, but the people who build base-load power stations don't see it that way. And they're the ones who emit all the CO2.
I love solar power systems. I spend much more time working on developing distributed solar power systems than I do on thorium. But I'm an engineer and I run the numbers, and unfortunately they don't add up for solar. It's makes a great distributed source if you're far from the grid, in a sunny place, and grid power is expensive. But it can't replace baseload power in big cities.
(and the solar power concept I'm working on should be 10 times cheaper than solar today, and includes energy storage...)
October 19, 2006 at 17:51
Yes, I am suggesting that Greenpeace compromise. Choose to be pragmatic. Choose to try to make things better now and next year. Coal power is 40% of the world's energy production now. It is 50% of the US power production now. Coal power is not a little worse than nuclear power. It is over a hundred times worse. So far the cleaner energy choices are not even the majority of the new power that is being added. There is no plan to displace the existing nearly 2 terawatts of production from coal power.
I like solar and wind power. From my website, advanced nanotechnology, I track advanced solar technology and wind power.
Solar power needs to get below $1 per watt installed before it starts making any kind of meaningful gains in the marketplace. Even then it has to scale up.
Global photovoltaic production is 1.73 GW in 2005 Even at 50% annual growth it would be 2017-2019 before the annual growth in electricity demand is met. 200-500GW/year. Solar power is not growing that fast. Plus there will be problems ramping up silicon production. Plus getting the cost down depends upon multiple uncertain scientific and technological breakthroughs. I am a technology optimist and I think a lot of stuff has to go right.
US wind power is at 10GW. Global wind power is at 60GW and grew 25% in 2005. Combined wind and solar will not be able to handle the yearly increase in added global demand until 2016-2025 at the earliest barring the develop of molecular nanotechnology. that would be the earliest date you can start replacing the coal already being used at that time it will be about 8 billion tons per year.
Until solar and wind are the only new power sources added and old dirty sources are started to be replaced then by not adding a nuclear plant you are adding a coal plant.
A dollar not spent on nuclear or thorium nuclear is not a dollar spent on solar or wind. Research only proceeds so fast. New and better ideas and processes sometimes just take time to figure out.
Why doesn't Greenpeace put 100 times the effort into the bigger problem of coal? Why not try to lobby to get them to stop allowing the radioactive material to be spewed out by the thousands of tons? Why not try to stop a problem that is actually killing tens of thousands of people every year? Why not actually push for plans that would address the actual problems you claim to care about.
Wait and see. Wait and watch tens of thousands of people die this year and next year and the year after. Asthma, lung cancer, mining accidents etc... Also, watch global warming get worse.
Time magazine talks about coals bright future 4.6 billion tons used this year.
By 2020, China will be using 2.8 billion tons of coal
What can help this year is supporting increased power generation from existing nuclear plants. Also, push to stop coal plants from emitting radioactive material. Get out of the way of more nuclear plant building permits. Support the research, development and deployment of Thorium reactors. You can still push for solar and wind. For wind, maybe the Kitegen system will work. We would the research to pan out and need to build and deploy a few thousand of the large version.
October 20, 2006 at 7:43
Brian, again, interesting points. I don't we're about to end a 35 year-old anti-nuclear stance - a stance we don't take lightly. If you keep an eye on the Greenpeace sites, you'll see we've been quite busy on the coal issue too.
You ask a question that we get different versions of all the time - "Why doesn't Greenpeace put 100 times the effort into the bigger problem of coal?"
We also get
"Why doesn't Greenpeace put 100 times the effort into saving whales?"
There's only so many of us working on these things, and we've only got so much resources. Which is why we're always asking for more support!
October 20, 2006 at 12:10
I repeat my previous question--if nuclear reactors can be built that address the issues of concern that Greenpeace has with today's nuclear technologies, would they reconsider their opposition?
October 20, 2006 at 16:08
Kirk - that's a pretty bizarre question that sort of cancels itself out.
It's a bit like asking "if Greenpeace didn't have a reason to question nuclear power, would Greenpeace still question nuclear power?"
Surely its self-evident that if Greenpeace was 100% happy with a source of energy, then it follows that we wouldn't have an issue with it.
I'm not going to say that what Greenpeace would or would not do about Thorium, because as far as I can see, it's all, for now, hypothetical. So far, the Thorium discussion seems reminiscent of the promises made bye prophets of the nuclear age, half a century ago.
October 20, 2006 at 16:24
Kirk - that's a pretty bizarre question that sort of cancels itself out.
Let me ask it in a different way. Right now, Greenpeace seems to approach "Nuclear" like it's this big, monolithic, single-expression technology. It's not. There are hundreds of different kinds of reactors. For a variety of reasons, some good, some bad, the world is currently dominated by one kind of reactor: the light-water reactor, using low-enrichment nuclear fuel that is typically thrown away after being irradiated.
Liquid-fluoride thorium reactors can address many of the issues that that I see levied against "Nuclear" power (i.e. light-water uranium reactors). They are not hypothetical reactors. Two were built and operated, very successfully. They will still require more development before being fielded, but they are not hypothetical.
So far, the Thorium discussion seems reminiscent of the promises made bye prophets of the nuclear age, half a century ago.
That's an interesting point you bring up. You know what? When I studied the history of nuclear energy I began to realize that the folks who were making grand predictions about nuclear energy back in the 1950s weren't thinking about the kind of reactors that we have today (light-water uranium reactors). They were thinking about fast-spectrum uranium reactors or thermal-spectrum thorium reactors...reactors that can utilize all of the nuclear fuel that they are loaded with. The light-water reactor was not even considered advanced enough in the 1950s for the main AEC labs to work on it. It was considered a stop-gap reactor, derived from a submarine, that would get nuclear energy going for a few decades but would need to be replaced as soon as possible by a more efficient reactor. That is why the AEC poured money into fast-breeders in the 1960s, and why when the liquid-fluoride reactor threatened that investment, it was squashed by the AEC.
Alvin Weinberg, one of the great pioneers of nuclear energy, passed away Wednesday night at the age of 91. He wrote about how the AEC squashed the fluoride reactor in his book "The First Nuclear Era" and how it was a short-sighted decision then and now.
I bring this history up because Greenpeace needs to start looking at the features of reactors, and considering whether they are worthy of consideration, rather than this simplistic "No Nukes" stance. The coal burners just love it.
October 20, 2006 at 17:45
For some reason, I'm put in mind of this exchange from V For Vendetta.
V is in Delia Surridge's house, in order to deliver his vendetta upon her...
Oppeinheimer was able to change more than the course of a war. He changed the entire course of human history. Is it wrong to hold on to that kind of hope?
V: I've not come for what you hoped to do. I've come for what you did.
October 20, 2006 at 19:23
Sorry dude...not following you...
If you're implying that there needs to be some vendetta exercised against nuclear power for all the energy it's generated over the last forty years (carbon-free) then we'll just have to disagree.
October 20, 2006 at 20:55
The reason getting rid of or lowering the impact of coal use matters more than whales and other issues.
Coal is the primary cause of global warming. Global warming is killing thousands of species. Therefore fixing coal addresses the other issues down the line. Trying to save the whales instead of root causes is like giving body armor to your favorite children during a global war.
Coal plants are like dirty nuclear and pollution bombs that go off every month by the thousands. 10,000 mining deaths per year (over 5000 each year in China alone) That is more than 3 times the 9-11 casualties and 200 times the Chernobyl casualties. 22,000 pollution deaths in the US and over a milllion world wide. Again 30 times more than the 4000 who are sick and dieing from Chernobyl. Global warming is making the weather worse and causing more Katrina's. How much oil does it take to dig up and move 4.6 billion tons of coal every year by rail and trucks? How many traffic accidents occur when moving billions of loads of coal? How much of a strain and cost is there on infrastructure to move the coal? Money into more frequent repairs of roads and rail. Plants, animals, fish and people are killed by the pollution.
On the thorium and better nuclear reactors. Really look at the real details and facts. Have an open mind. Otherwise you will never find the specific different source where you could be 100% happy. But consider being 99% happy, so we can start accelerating the saving of millions of lives every year and animals, plants and environment.
Also, consider that if the west, china, India built thousands of the new thorium reactors and we had new biofuels and went full speed with nuclear and the other good tech. In 20 years maybe we would not need to import Middle east oil. No more oil causing more wars there. There probably will still be fighting but there would be less if oil was not a factor.
Details and facts matter.
October 20, 2006 at 20:57
Kirk - "V for Vendetta" was the name of a movie that came our recently. At no point did I suggest that anyone should launch a vendetta - please don't put words in my mouth.
My quote referred to how the road to a messed-up environment can be paved with good intentions - I'm sure that in the past there have been plenty of people involved in the nuclear industry who believed in a future of safe, clean energy.
The reality, however, has turned out somewhat differently to what they envisioned.
October 21, 2006 at 13:07
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