I recently read and reviewed a book I…

I recently read and reviewed a book I highly recommend.
See http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/727872194

Superfuel tells us the sad story of how uranium was chosen over thorium to fuel our nuclear power plants.
Thorium can provide an abundant, safe, and clean energy solution.

An energy solution is one prerequisite to creating the wise world we want.

I recommend this book and I ask you to join me in advocating thorium as part of a wise energy solution

4 thoughts on “I recently read and reviewed a book I…

  1. Hi Lee. Thanks for this post. I wasn’t aware that Thorium could be so useful, and I probably haven’t heard the name ‘Thorium’ since my days in chemistry classes at Berkeley long, long ago.

    I agree with you, of course, that addressing our climate change and energy problems is a crucial matter.

    That said, your post also causes me to consider and realize something about the task ahead for the Global Circle and its participants, and other philosophers, and all of us. On some issues these days — such as the pros and cons of Thorium and Uranium and etc., and indeed the pros and cons of these versus solar and wind energy, and etc., — it becomes almost impossible for most people to take a credible and passionate stand one way or another on some (not all) of these issues, without doing lots of homework (which requires taking a special interest in a particular issue) or without being an expert in the relevant fields. Put another way, I agree with the problem you’re trying to solve, and with your aim, and with the idea that people DO need to take stands (with respect to issues they understand), but I’d find it hard to put a lawn-sign on my lawn in favor of (for example) Thorium without knowing a whole lot more about it, from multiple sources, if you know what I mean. I don’t know the solution, other than that we have to identify and understand the big problems (climate change and energy and etc.), aim ourselves and philosophy and relevant disciplines at addressing them wisely, find and rely on the best possible relevant experts regarding the super-technical comparisons and details, cross-check as we go, and so forth. But what am I to do — presently — if I don’t quite have the time to understand Thorium to the level that I would want to understand it, personally, before putting a lawn-sign (yard-sign) up in my yard? I’m sure you recognize the issue. (It applies differently to different people on different issues based on the types of expertise and interests they have.)

    Thanks for the helpful and thought-provoking post, and the review.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

    • Jeff,
      Your comments bring us directly to the intersection of knowledge and wisdom. We need in depth knowledge of thorium, including its benefits and risks, before we can make a wise decision regarding its use. As you point out this becomes difficult the more complex the issue is. In addition it is difficult to find experts who are objective with regard to the issue. Most nuclear engineers learned in the context of uranium fueled systems. Their jobs may well depend on sustaining a uranium based nuclear power system. They are inherently biased, even if they intend to be objective.

      I sympathize with the many sincere parents of autistic children who were mislead into opposing vaccination because of inaccurate knowedge of a connection between vaccination and autism.

      I am tentativly advocating thorium because I was able to follow most of the arguments in the book, and the examples of increasing interest, overseas and in commercial ventures, seems persuasive. I have also browsed other sources. But I am not a nuclear engineer and I am not expert on the topic. I will certainly watch this space. Pity the poor congressional representatives who may be asked to vote on funding or supportive legislation. How can they understand the technical arguments and then weigh that against popular opinion (informed or misinformed) and other political considerations. (Until recently we were represented by congressman Rush Holt. He is a PhD physicist and ran the energy lab at Princeton university before running for congress. I wonder if his collegues defer to his expertise on such an issue or just play politics.)

      Would it be wise to partner with Iran to develop a thorium-fueled reactor? We would gain valuable experience and Iran would get the power systems they claim to need. In return they could dismantle their uranium-based nuclear program and remone any threat of developing nuclear weapons. Try selling that win win scenario!

      No one said this would be easy!

      Thanks,

      Lee

      • Lee, thanks for the great comment.

        Yes, finding “experts who are objective” is a huge challenge on many issues, and we may need some changes in some of our economic/societal/academic paradigms and practices in order to generate and protect such experts. Then, there is the other issue: can society identify and “trust” experts who are objective even when and where they exist? Right now, we have a society that pretty much rejects facts when facts get in the way of one’s short-term self-interest.

        The only other thing I’d say: You write that you are “tentatively advocating thorium”, but consider: It is hard or awkward or questionable to “tentatively advocate” something if, if it is adopted and built, the facilities and systems must last for decades, and cost $billions. It might be more accurate to say that you are advocating that people/society consider thorium carefully as a possibly-better alternative to uranium or etc. etc. My point is not to be picky and “split hairs” regarding writing and ways to put things. I’m not a big fan of that sort of thing. Instead, my point actually has to do with the substance of the matter and, indeed, with some of the dynamics of that intersection between knowledge and wisdom that we’re discussing. In our society, it seems, we do often feel that we have to “take a stand” on something, even if we only partly understand it. Instead, in some cases, the “stand” we should take, as non-experts, might often be that we want the experts, society, and the politicians to carefully consider the path we think might be best, explain to us why it is or isn’t, and then implement it if it is indeed the best. The reason I say this is that I watch a lot of cable news (don’t ask me why), and on cable news, people are constantly taking strong stands on matters about which, in many cases, they actually understand very, very little. (I’m comfortable that this is very likely not the case in your views about thorium.) But this is a problem in society: read one book; then “take a stand”.

        Thanks for the great conversation, Lee, and for your point and the link.

        Cheers, Jeff

  2. Hear hear.

    I’ve been banging on about Gen-IV nuclear reactors, since being involved in two particular new technology projects (in China and Russia) in the last decade or so …..
    http://www.gen-4.org/index.html

    Only yesterday, I posted this all over facebook and twitter and my own blog:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/business/energy-environment/atomic-goal-800-years-of-power-from-waste.html
    (Lots of other links blogged over the years too.)

    I think this is a good “case study” for what me mean by wisdom in action – nuclear power as part of sustainable humanity is full of science vs political ideology wars – How would The Global Circle address this debate?

    Thanks for the book link.

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