John Oliver on Nuclear Weapons

July 29, 2014

Nuclear promoters get real touchy when you talk about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

Let’s assume that the US has the most professional stewardship of these deadly devices.

I am not reassured.

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66 Responses to “John Oliver on Nuclear Weapons”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Respons to jimbills 8/1 @12:46

    That’s it—-my patience is exhausted. You have either lost it and are in a dissociative state, or you are playing games with me and trying to see how long I will chase you on this thread. Either way, I’m pretty much done with this discussion. Life is too short to waste on game-players or delusional people.

    I have spent “this whole time” making numerous and lengthy comments on this thread that DO explain and expand on my initial “reasoning”. There is nothing “extraordinary” about the two statements you reference. They (and all that followed regarding your delusional wanderings) are the considered opinions of someone with good reading skills, a couple of degrees in science, training in psychology and communication, and 50 years of study in the areas of history, nuclear power, and nuclear weapons that relate to this thread.

    You want extraordinary PROOF? And you believe what I’ve said is wrong? That’s just your opinion, and you have failed to support it in any substantial way—-you have been full of unsubstantiated opinions here, and your few links to sources have not been the source of any proof and have been misused by you.

    And a “hodge-podge” of “rejection and minimization”. Guess what? That far better describes what YOUR contribution and response to me has been—-print it all out and get out your highlighters and mark it up—-see which of us has made the more substantial comments and arguments—-match up point and counterpoint. I did this kind of stuff for a living and I’m not so senile that I still can’t do it now. I will say for the last time, there is nothing personal in my attacks—-they have been attacks on your faulty logic, cherry picking of sources, and failure to respond directly to very much of what I have said. Just as you haven’t really responded to what I said in this comment either. You liked my numbers about weapons and dates, which are the basis for some of my contentions about your errors in hyping worries about proliferation, yet you again simply ignore my conclusions and go back to beating your old dead horses and speechifying.

    Yes, I am getting rather exaperated with your Omnologos-ish commentary. You ARE ‘deluded’ and blinded by cognitive bias, and the proof of that is that you can’t see that my exasperation is honest and open, while you have subconsciously convinced yourself that YOU are the one who is reasonable, rational, calm, and factually correct in all you say. Reread that as many times as needed until you grasp the meaning.

    I’ve made up my mind on this issue? You don’t even really know or understand what the issues are here—-the first is Peter’s posting of this clip and his brief comments. The second is the question of proliferation and how it relates to nuclear power plants. I’ve beaten the horses to death talking about what we know from history and what we can reasonably extrapolate from that—-you keep insisting that nuclear proliferation because of nuclear power will be a huge FUTURE problem and just keep insisting that I agree with you rather than address any of my many comments in detail.

    You “genuinely want to know how/why I came those conclusions”. Self-deluding BS!—-you are subconsciously playing a game that is driven by your cognitive dissonance, and my resistance to your foolishness has probably triggered the backfire effect and reinforced your motivated reasoning. You want “outside sources and confirmation”? Yes, you and Arcus DO like those “precise, accurate, peer-reviewed” links that are often meaningless, and which you often don’t understand and misinterpret as your ‘truth”.

    You want “sources that explicitly agree with the two above quotes you initially made to Peter”?. I’ve not “studiously avoided doing” this because THEY’RE NOT QUOTES!—-they are freakin’ OPINIONS, they’re MINE, and formed from decades of study. Just like you are offering opinions that you so proudly “support”—but you do it only with a link that is full of “if”s” and “depending on” that you REFUSE to see, and you rely only what you think supports your view rather than digest the author’s whole “truth”.

    Your last paragraph actually proves my point. More opinionated blah-blah-blah and reference to a “source” and a bunch of “ifs” and “if they chose” And I’ll repeat that you are apparently unable to understand the psychological underpinnings of why you say “I’d like to see how/why I’m wrong” and “I’d really like to see sources confirming your position”.

    As I said, I am likely done talking about this. I won’t play in your one-note band unless the music changes. I will conclude with the thought that, yes nuclear proliferation IS a concern, but it is NOT anywhere near as big a concern as you make it, you have not produced any proof that it is, and it pales in comparison to what we face from AGW.

    • jimbills Says:

      I’ve lost it?

      You want to end this discussion, and we probably should. You have your opinion, and I have mine. You see this discussion from your perspective, and I from mine. Third-party observers can draw their own conclusions.

      I still maintain that there is a significant and concerning link between nuclear power and nuclear weaponry in today’s world, that proliferation and human error remains a worrisome element with nuclear and will continue to be so, and that it is worthwhile (not irrelevant) to discuss these issues when weighing the pro and cons of energy sources.

      As for the value judgment of risking these drawbacks to mitigate AGW, I do know you’re not alone in that opinion, and I do agree that it is something that should be seriously considered.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Yes, you’ve lost it, but I won’t hold that against you. As I’ve said before, you are a guy with whom I agree on most things, and as long as you don’t spread too much FUD I will let your cognitive dissonance slide.

        Which cognitive dissonance you show yet again by feeling compelled to beat the dead horse of the proliferation boogeyman one more time with “I STILL maintain….”.

        You wanted some PROOF? Can’t give you that definitively, but can point you towards some sources that offer data that an OPEN MIND will find significant. These are from the World Nuclear Association website—-the WNA is a nuclear profession organization but is quite unbiased and doesn’t hide the warts. You need to get educated and their website can help.

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Nuclear-Power-in-the-Worl

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Facts-and-Figures/World-Nuclear-Power-Reactors-and-U

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Plans-For-New-Reactors-

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Others/Emerging-Nuclear-Energy-Countries/

        An excerpt from the last link:
        Over 45 countries are actively considering embarking upon nuclear power programs. These range from sophisticated economies to developing nations.
        The front runners after Iran are UAE, Turkey, Vietnam, Belarus, Poland and possibly Jordan.

        Nuclear power is under serious consideration in over 45 countries which do not currently have it (in a few, consideration is not necessarily at government level). For countries listed immediately below in bold, nuclear power prospects are more fully dealt with in specific country papers:

        In Europe: Italy, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Ireland, Turkey.
        In the Middle East and North Africa: Iran (reactor now operating), Gulf states including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Kuwait, Yemen, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan.
        In west, central and southern Africa: Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia.
        In South America: Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru.
        In central and southern Asia: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka
        In SE Asia: Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand.
        In east Asia: North Korea.

        Note that two of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons do NOT YET have nuclear power plants. All the others developed their weapons long before they had power plants with a couple of exceptions—-I’ll address that in my response to E-Pot’s latest remark.

        Also look at the list and tell us which countries are serious threats to develop a weapons program AFTER they start generating electricity from nuclear power plants. Ireland? Peru? Read the full link to see exactly where the various countries are in their nuclear power programs—-many are a LONG way off, and the way things are going, most will not get far.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Got an “awaiting moderation”—tried to include four links—-let’s see if it goes with just the one.

        Yes, you’ve lost it, but I won’t hold that against you. As I’ve said before, you are a guy with whom I agree on most things, and as long as you don’t spread too much FUD I will let your cognitive dissonance slide.

        Which cognitive dissonance you show yet again by feeling compelled to beat the dead horse of the proliferation boogeyman one more time with “I STILL maintain….”.

        You wanted some PROOF? Can’t give you that definitively, but can point you towards some sources that offer data that an OPEN MIND will find significant. These are from the World Nuclear Association website—-the WNA is a nuclear profession organization but is quite unbiased and doesn’t hide the warts. You need to get educated and their website can help.

        http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Others/Emerging-Nuclear-Energy-Countries/

        An excerpt from the last link:
        Over 45 countries are actively considering embarking upon nuclear power programs. These range from sophisticated economies to developing nations.
        The front runners after Iran are UAE, Turkey, Vietnam, Belarus, Poland and possibly Jordan.

        Nuclear power is under serious consideration in over 45 countries which do not currently have it (in a few, consideration is not necessarily at government level). For countries listed immediately below in bold, nuclear power prospects are more fully dealt with in specific country papers:

        In Europe: Italy, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Ireland, Turkey.
        In the Middle East and North Africa: Iran (reactor now operating), Gulf states including UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Kuwait, Yemen, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan.
        In west, central and southern Africa: Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia.
        In South America: Chile, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru.
        In central and southern Asia: Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka
        In SE Asia: Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand.
        In east Asia: North Korea.

        Note that two of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons do NOT YET have nuclear power plants. All the others developed their weapons long before they had power plants with a couple of exceptions—-I’ll address that in my response to E-Pot’s latest remark.

        Also look at the list and tell us which countries are serious threats to develop a weapons program AFTER they start generating electricity from nuclear power plants. Ireland? Peru? Read the full link to see exactly where the various countries are in their nuclear power programs—-many are a LONG way off, and the way things are going, most will not get far.


  2. Replying to JimBills (comment-page-1/#comment-62219) at a sensible indent level:

    Several of the Hanford reactors used to create plutonium for U.S. weapons, like N Reactor, were dual purpose, however. It created both weapons grade plutonium and commercial power. Britain did the same thing – dual purpose reactors.

    In the US, only the N reactor both generated power and weapons materials; it has been shut down for 27 years.  Britain’s dual-use Magnox reactors are also due to be shut down and replaced with LWRs; however, even their normal fuel cycles were far too long to make weapons materials.  The RMBK was also designed to allow dual use, but isn’t normally used that way.

    Is there some reason to believe that nations today couldn’t do the same thing?

    Yes, absolutely.  If a nation buys a light-water reactor it’s not possible to re-fuel it in operation, and it’s simply not economical to try to operate it for a few weeks then shut it down for a fuel change.  The country would have to have its own entire fuel cycle to make new fuel elements all the time (which is why Iran is concerning).  Besides, everyone would notice as the plant kept going off-line and back on, and the release of things like Kr-85 when the fuel was reprocessed for Pu recovery would tell the story to the whole world just from atmospheric sampling.  All you need to do is be a reliable provider, lease the fuel cheap and take it back after use; if someone gets sticky about those details, you can cut them off before they actually get anything useful for a weapons program.

    There are reactor designs like David LeBlanc’s DMSR (Denatured Molten Salt Reactor) where nothing is removed from the fuel for a multi-decade run.  Whatever Pu was in the fuel salt would be such a messy isotope mix that nobody would even bother trying to use it for military purposes.  The make-up fuel added could be kept under safeguards until it was thoroughly mixed into the existing brew and put forever beyond weapons purposes.

    I’ve also read that breeder reactors pose a possible proliferation risk

    Could be an issue… IF FBRs and fuel reprocessing were sold openly.  Solution:  don’t sell them to non-weapons states.  Let them have cheap electricity from other technologies, like TransAtomic Power’s epithermal-spectrum reactor.  Sell them make-up fuel that can’t be refined for weapons (like a mix of DU and a Pu-240 heavy transuranic fraction) and make it cheap enough that nobody with legitimate aims will buy elsewhere… and if anyone does, cut them off.  That way nobody has an excuse to go around your controls on proliferation materials, even to get 24/7 GHG-free power.

    We’re already relying on treaties to prevent weapons proliferation.  We might as well make them compatible with saving ourselves from climactic disaster.


  3. As a footnote to all this unbridled optimism, it should be noted that many of the worlds nuclear reactors are old, particularly in the US, with an average age over 32 years. In the next 20 years, a large fraction of the 100 or so US reactors will need to be decommissioned at considerable expense. At the present rate of shutdowns vs. new builds, it appears likely that the US fleet will dwindle. This is the trend. Even in China, where there is an all out effort to build new ones, building has lagged plans. Taken in toto, nuclear is nowhere near the grand dream of lowering GHG emissions, and in fact, when taking into account the full life cycle including waste storage, it does not appear very helpful.

    http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1040&context=wmelpr

    Some thoughts to consider:

    1) Nuclear energy production has been falling since 2005
    2) There are 388 nuclear reactors in operation — down from 438 a decade ago
    3) Only 31 countries are operating nuclear power plants
    4) There were 67 reactors “under construction” in 2014 — but delays are a problem
    49 OF THE 67 REACTORS UNDER CONSTRUCTION HAVE FACED DELAYS
    5) Just 14 countries have plans to build new nuclear reactors
    6) Without further action, nuclear power could vanish in 50 years
    WE’D NEED TO BUILD 400 REACTORS BETWEEN NOW AND 2059 JUST TO MAINTAIN EXISTING CAPACITY

    http://www.vox.com/2014/8/1/5958943/nuclear-power-rise-fall-six-charts

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Still beating dead horses? And still cherry picking, misreading, and misinterpreting those “sources” that you’re so fond of? And I don’t know whose “unbridled optimism” you refer to—-certainly not E-Pot’s or mine, since we haven’t expressed any. In fact, the only “unbridled optimism”, I see is yours, in that you think you;re actually proving any points with your “evidence”.

      The piece by Sovocool is unpersuasive and says little. By the way, are you aware that Sovocool has his detractors and gets into lengthy debates defending himself against them? Somewhat like some we know on Crock. Perhaps the nastiest comment I saw was “Sovocool has produced another typical example of his work. His research is weak, his research methods are suspect, and his conclusions will not withstand critical examination”.

      And there are 50 (FIFTY!) fewer reactors operating today than in 2004? WOW!!!

      If you ever bothered to read your own sources, you would realize that Japan alone has shut down 48 reactors because of Fukushima. Another meaningless number you have thrown out there, just as all the figures about “delays” and “plans” and “maintaining capacity” are lacking context and are full of “ifs” and “coulds”. Your need to bash nuclear power has blinded you to the reality of what we have been talking about.


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