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Joe Nyangon

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Why has "green consumption" of sustainable products (e.g. Whole Foods, Toyota Prius) not permeated electricity consumption?

While many consumers have embraced sustainable products (eg. Whole Foods, Toyota Prius), that ethos has not yet permeated electricity consumption. Why do you think this is the case? Will it always be like this? Will renewable energy consumption be driven only by government mandates? Why? Or do you think this will change? If the marketplace were fair and rational, there would be no need for subsidies and mandates for the renewables and a proper carbon tax would suffice—as is starting to happen in Europe through cap-and-trade system. What will drive the change to clean energy consumption?

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  • Mar 31 2012: I don't think a carbon tax is enough. What is needed is a reevaluation of what renewable means and an education of the public. People are terrified of nuclear energy for mostly irrational reasons. Education will help reduce the hysteria. If Japan and Germany do not wake up the way that China has they will be in serious economic trouble. China has over 25 reactors under construction. Nuclear is a renewable energy. The earth has an abundance of Thorium. The new designs for nuclear plants have passive safety. The technology is here. It is the only source with dense enough energy to keep up the demand for electricity while shutting down coal plants. Politicians won't back nuclear for many reasons. Two biggies are 1) the fossil fuel lobbyists keep spreading lies and misinformation and 2) politicans want the votes so they support what they think the people want.
    • Mar 31 2012: Although I share many of the opinions posted by Rick, I won't call nuclear energy renewable at all. Radioactive elements are only produced during the explosion of supernova stars, I cannot imagine something less renewable than that!
      • Mar 31 2012: The point you disagree on is my main point. It is renewable when you understand that new reactor designs can reuse nuclear waste. Thorium has a half life of 14 billion years yet you could keep a rock in your pocket without ever causing you any harm. Mammals evolved during a time when natural background radiation was much higher than it is now. That is why we are now able to deal with radiation. Our bodies became used to radiation long before any nuclear plants or bombs existed. The sun has frequent nuclear activity yet we call it renewable. You see how a prejudice has emerged towards nuclear as a result of the cold war and nuclear arms race.
        • Apr 12 2012: Rick M., "if Japan ... do not wake up" - where were you last year? Japan got woken up totally about the results of nuclear power in an earthquake zone. Not an option!
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        Apr 1 2012: Of course nuclear isn't renewable but the estimates of world wide supply of thorium would suggest enough for around a thousand years. That should be enough time for us to find something better.
        • Apr 2 2012: It's not renewable but who says the idea of renewable is perfect. We already know the term has become meaningless since the processes involved in using renewable energy is flawed in many ways. Who cares if nuclear is not renewable if it is a better solution it is a better solution. "Renewable" when it was first coined was supposed to imply there was no waste. We know one fact is that the space used is a waste of space for Solar and Wind. What is more sustainable? A compact plant that is reliable and a high output or hundreds of acres that don't work because the infrastructure is too unreliable. The smart grids are not here yet and distribution would need to stretch great distances to accommodate a semi-reliable steady source of wind or sunlight.
    • Mar 31 2012: I share the points and important qualification by Jose. First, there is no real solution to the nuclear waste problem... We ought to be able to do better than simply extracting a resource (and destroying the lovely beaches in Kerala, India) for Thorium or any other resource, and dumping the waste in a "safely engineered" facility somewhere when we know that the half-life of nuclear waste can be substantially more than any structure constructed by man. Second, there are alternatives for meeting energy needs, and it is better to work instead on the hysteria of generating more and more electricity without exploring even the low-hanging-fruit like energy efficiency to its fullest. That requires a desire to change behavior... so well stated by Justin. Finally, I am not sure that China represents a model of "green consumption" of anything... products or electricity.
      • Mar 31 2012: Nuclear energy is too good to pass over. Just because the current reactors don't burn up all of the "waste" does not mean we should give up. The new designs are on their way and reactors such as the LFTR and Thermal Reactors will burn up nuclear waste. Bill Gates is also pushing for this method of eliminating "waste" fuel. This link will give you some idea. http://energyfromthorium.com/essay3rs/
        • Apr 1 2012: By the same logic, oil is too good to pass over with all the developments there also. I guess we should wait for the research. Meantime finance the no-risk alternatives of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Why finance the risk? And, going back to the original question... it appears that green consumption is ignored in electricity production because investment continues to flow into tapping extractive fuel sources that do not have a green supply chain.
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          Apr 1 2012: Rick is correct about the LFTR design. In the thirty year lifetime of an industrial scale LFTR it produces about a tonne of waste and that is low level waste. If you replace the LFTR with a solar array the amount of environmental radiation would probably go up as the silicon wafers must be doped by neutron bombardment in a nuclear reactor for them to work. It intrigues me that people who are pro-solar are often anti-nuclear even though you can't have one without the other.
    • Apr 3 2012: Where does Carbon Tax figure in the argument??"

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