Death Rate per watt produced...

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mainebob's picture
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Death Rate per watt produced...

Seth Godin just posted this in his blog:

Do you have an opinion about nuclear power? About the relative safety of one form of power over another?
How did you come to this opinion?

Here are the stats, and here's the image. A non-exaggerated but simple version of his data:


For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the
same amount of power produced... You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for
one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart?
How does it resonate with you?

Vivid is not the same as true. It's far easier to amplify sudden and horrible outcomes than it is to
talk about the slow, grinding reality of day to day strife. That's just human nature. Not included
in this chart are deaths due to global political instability involving oil fields, deaths from coastal
flooding and deaths due to environmental impacts yet unmeasured, all of which skew it even
more if you think about it.

This chart unsettles a lot of people, because there must be something wrong with it.
Further proof of how easy it is to fear the unknown and accept what we've got.

I think that any time reality doesn't match your expectations, it means that marketing was involved.
Perhaps it was advertising, or perhaps deliberate story telling by an industry. Or perhaps it was just
the stories we tell one another in our daily lives. It's sort of amazing, even to me, how much marketing
colors the way we see the world--our reaction (either way) to this chart is proof of it.

end copy

So governments and corporations are doing marketing...  story telling...
What stories are we telling one another?     

I love the campfire stories that Chris is telling...  scary though they are,
'cause his stories ring so true.

-Bob O

plato1965's picture
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Frederick Soddy born a century too soon.

Let's hear from the discover of isotopes...


some pertinent paragraphs from:


 English chemist Frederick Soddy proposed in 1912 that the same elements exist in different forms, with nuclei having the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons. His theory of isotopes (a word he coined from the Greek, meaning "in the same place") explains that different elements can be chemically indistinguishable but have different atomic weights and characteristics. As an example, uranium 235 and uranium 238 are two different isotopes of the same element, uranium, one with 235 protons and neutrons in its nucleus, and the other with 238. In 1920 he showed the importance of isotopes in calculating geologic age, which led to development of carbon-14 dating. Soddy's theory of isotopes (now known to be true) was controversial among scientists until James Chadwick's discovery of the neutron in 1932.

His other work was also of importance in early 20th century chemistry. In collaboration with Ernest Rutherford in 1903 he showed how radioactive elements disintegrate, in a study that introduced the concept of "half-life" for radioactive decay. With Sir William Ramsay in the same year, he demonstrated that decaying radium produces helium. He is also credited for discovering the element protactinium in 1917.

Soddy gradually quit science in frustration after winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1921, and turned his attention to economics, arguing in papers and books that ethics and morality should be as fundamental as supply and demand in economics. He maintained that science had progressed enough to provide food and health care for all the world's inhabitants, but that the monetary system effectively prevents distribution of this abundance by peaceful means. In 1936 he retired, after the sudden death of his wife. They had no children, a factor Soddy attributed to exposure he had endured before the risk of radiation was fully understood.


 As regards energy, and therefore as regards every other commodity, the modern world is undoubtedly living far beyond its income. It has recently come into a legacy from the remote past and it is living on the capital. It cannot now be very long before it wakes up to the appreciation of this fact’. - Yet it still took more than sixty years before the ‘energy crisis’ made headlines and before nations began to grasp the full social and economic implications of energy as the basic commodity. Measured against these most recent events, Soddy’s comments of 1912 appear far less abstruse and of much greater portent than they did at the time. ‘These stores may last out a century or two longer’, Soddy continued, ‘but it is obvious that the more glorious the zenith attained the more swift and sure will be the decline’.


 aside:  the first peak oiler too ?


 The traumatic war period of 1914-1919 added a whole new dimension to the scientific problem of transmutation, and during this period Soddy sought to grasp the full meaning of the fundamental conflict and struggled in solitude to find a solution. As a scientist he recognized that the achievement of controlled atomic energy was both inevitable and a proper goal for science. Indeed it was the duty of science to forestall the otherwise inevitable ‘energy problem’ and to provide for the future of civilization. Yet it was becoming increasingly clear that, because of the ignorance and immaturity of society, this could prove to be a curse instead of a blessing. The chemical process recently discovered by Haber had provided at least a temporary solution to the ‘wheat problem’. But if the fixation of nitrogen could be used for armament as it was during the war, and if other chemical products could be misused for the destruction of human life, then who could guarantee that the release of atomic energy would not also be perverted for warfare? Both horns of the dilemma presented a peril for civilization. Soddy therefore turned his attention from the original scientific problem to even more urgent questions of economics and society. He fervently hoped that the control of atomic energy would be postponed until society had become sufficiently mature to take responsibility for this achievement of scientific investigation, yet not postponed indefinitely, for then there would be an inevitable energy crisis.


MarkM's picture
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Important words
plato1965 wrote:

 ‘These stores may last out a century or two longer’, Soddy continued, ‘but it is obvious that the more glorious the zenith attained the more swift and sure will be the decline’.



plato1965's picture
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  ..  and 80 years before


..  and 80 years before Chris read, "The Creature from Jekyll Island" ... and came to the same conclusion.

 "I thought that, as a scientific man, I ought to know something about economics. So I studied the money system for two years and could make nothing of it. Then, one day, the truth dawned on me. What I was studying was not a system, but a confidence trick" - Frederick Soddy


docmims's picture
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when a few of the 50 souls

when a few of the 50 souls bravely fighting the meltdown die, there will be great sorrow and headlines.  Probably there should be.  However as the thousands of poor souls expire this week due to hypothermia, exposure, dehydration and starvation there will be relative silence.

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