[MbrExchange] Re: [ RadSafe ] Scientific Consensus

RuthWeiner at aol.com RuthWeiner at aol.com
Fri Mar 16 11:25:39 CDT 2007

Professor Hank Jenkins-Smith (Texas A&M) gave a first-rate talk at Sandia a 
couple of weeks ago (I know Hank quite well and in my opinion he is the only 
social scientist who does it right when investigating attitudes toward nukes).  
Hank made several interesting points:
1.  His surveys (and he does them right) show that the public estimates of 
the risks of nuclear power have not changed significantly in the last 15 or so 
years, but the public assessment of the benefits of nukes is becoming 
increasingly favorable.  The reason seems to be not only global climate change but 
brownouts, oil and natural gas prices, and similar stresses.  People do a sort of 
intuitive cost benefit analysis and as the benefits (or perception of them) 
increases, attitudes change.
2.  For the hard core enviros.  being anti-nuke appears to be a core tenet of 
a semi-religion, and we are not going to change these folks.
I came away with three thoughts:
1.  We (including the NRC) are somewhat wasting our time tryng to convince 
people that the risks are insignificant and spend our time explaining (but not 
promoting!!) the benefits.
2.  The environmental leadership created the enviro religion, with all its 
"core beliefs" and I believe did it cynically, deliberately, and in full 
knowledge that it would become the "opiate of the masses."  I have little respect for 
Patrick Moore and Stewart Brand; had they been honest, they would have quit 
20 years ago when I did.  Instead they spent those decades (!) promoting the 
religion and now are jumping ship.
3. PLEASE let us not make a religion out of global climate change!  Once it 
is a belief system, there is no way to ask questions any more, and there are 
still plenty of questions.
As you all know, I believe that "nukes are good, coal is bad" is a sure 
loser.  I don't believe the deaths from coal burning any more than I believe the 
deaths from low-level radiation.  Coal plants are a whole lot cleaner than they 
were 30 years ago, and mine safety has hugely improved (it's still extremely 
dangerous, but then, so is working with very radioactive material if you aren't 
careful).  Moreover, let's face it, we are going to burn coal, or gasify it, 
or do solvent extraction and burn the products.  So let's manage the 
environmental effects. 
 Emissions trading doesn't reduce anything, but makes good money for the 
traders.  Forcing a state like New Mexico to get a fraction of electricity from 
"renewables" (including biomass which produces more CO2 per BTU, not less, than 
coal) does nothing except make electricity more expensive.  And so on.
End of rant
Ruth F. Weiner, Ph. D.
ruthweiner at aol.com
7336 Lew Wallace NE
Albquerque, NM 87109
505-284-8406 (o)
505-856-5011 (h)

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