1945 Nagasaki  bomb. Image provided by George Erickson
1945 Nagasaki bomb. Image provided by George Erickson

They always tell us, “Don’t write when you’re angry;” but I’m going to give it a try.
I’m angry that the Reader, a publication that I largely respect and enjoy, continues to publish fright-meister John Laforge’s FOR PROFIT distortions and misrepresentations. 
I’m angry that the Reader has republished his columns without telling us that they were reruns. And I am angry that the carbon companies, aided by profiteer Laforge and his willfully ignorant allies, are damaging the environment and worsening climate change by opposing the expansion of modern, highly efficient, resource-conserving nuclear power, which is by far the safest way to produce electricity. (See the safety image.)

If you exclude Chernobyl, which was military, making plutonium for bombs, the death print for civilian nuclear power is ZERO. And according to the United Nations committee that investigates these issues, the deaths from Chernobyl total less than 70. 
John’s hysterical verbiage, “ferociously radioactive material,” is fine for creating fear, but it ignores the facts. Please note the photos of un-shielded Harold Agnew carrying the “six-pack” of plutonium that destroyed Nagasaki and the workers standing beside spent fuel storage casks without any need for protection. 

If Fear-Monger John is going to pontificate about things nuclear, he should read A Bright Future by Goldstein & Qvist or the last 35 pages of Richard Rhodes Energy, but he probably won’t. These books contain information that is also available in Unintended Consequences: the Lie That Killed Millions and Accelerated Climate Change, which anyone can download FREE from  www.tundracub.com or https://tinyurl.com/yas7x2ok. It is also on Amazon.
In his February 14 effort, John wrote, “Nuclear Reactor Fleet Cannot Float without Federal Handouts.”  Most energy sources receive subsidies, John, even the carbon sellers, but as the subsidy chart shows, grossly inefficient wind and solar farms have received far more tax dollars than 90% efficient nuclear power. 
If you want to know the facts, John, read (In Unintended Consequences), the testimony of Dr. James Hansen, former chief scientist at NASA, regarding the financial and regulatory advantages given to other energy sources, but not to nuclear power.  And if you really want to help the environment, check the Australian coal miners’ ad that correctly states “Nuclear power will kill the coal industry.” 

In another column, John ignored encouraging U N reports concerning a few Becquerels of Fukushima-related Cesium-137 in Pacific ocean,and predictably didn’t mention the fact that the normal radioactivity of seawater is 12,000 Bq per cubic meter. No one was injured by radiation at Fukushima, but more than 1,200 died by suicide and from forced removal from medical facilities due to the radiophobia promoted by anti-nuclear zealots like Mr. LaForge. (Radiation expert Malcolm Gladwell has called that overzealous evacuation as “stark raving mad.”)

Humans, even anti-nuclear humans like John, radiate about 4,400 beta/gamma decays per second throughout their bodies for life, largely from Potassium-40 in foods like bananas and potato chips. Our granite countertops also radiate as do those valuable smoke detectors.


Solar Pueto Rico 2017. Image provided by George Erickson
Solar Pueto Rico 2017. Image provided by George Erickson
Solar Pueto Rico 2017 Hail damage. Image provided by George Erickson
Solar Pueto Rico 2017 Hail damage. Image provided by George Erickson

Finally, the March 21 Reader published a brief piece from WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio?), about a doubling of Wisconsin’s solar farms which is not good news.  Here’s why:

Inefficient, environment-damaging, storm-fragile, land-consuming, supposedly green solar farms are displacing native species and blighting hundreds of square miles of former forest, desert and prairie. It’s all about money, and the planet, our home, is coming in last. 
During the search for alternatives to coal, which was guided by an anything-but-nuclear bias, our legislators, the Sierra Club and its clones took pains to define what was “renewable” by excluding nuclear power, the safest, most efficient way to make electricity, and they did so even though we have enough uranium and thorium to last 100,000 years. 

Because they said nothing about renewables’ huge carbon footprints, environmental damage, inefficiency, death prints, short lifespans, and huge subsidies, we went along. However, these “solutions” are making our planet sick. 
The death print of solar farms per unit of electricity created is 340 times greater than the death print for civilian nuclear power. 
Newsweek - April, 2015 - “As consumers, we pay for solar electricity twice: once through our monthly electricity bill and a second time through taxes that finance massive subsidies for inefficient wind [and solar] energy producers.” 
To create an equal amount of electricity as nuclear plants, solar farms consume 140 times more raw materials - and they must be replaced every 20 years, which consumes even more resources and creates more CO2.  Modern, super-safe nuclear plants that cannot melt down and can consume most of our stored waste as fuel can last at least 60 years. 

Solar panels, like windmills, produce their rated power only under ideal conditions. On average, they generate only 20% of their rated power, and they degrade at ½ to 1% per year. Nuclear plants continuously generate at least 90% of their capacities. 
Thus, a solar farm with a capacity of 10 megawatts, for example, will create only 2 MWs on average when new - and the missing 80% will be supplied by power plants that primarily burn carbon, usually natural gas, which is largely methane, which makes more CO2. 
Because of solar’s, low 20% capacity factor (which supporters don’t reveal), it is misleading for industry reps to claim that their facility can power 1,000 homes, because in practice, the number is about 200.  
There’s more: Methane, the major portion of natural gas, is initially 75 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and because our fracking wells and our natural gas distribution systems are leaking severely, this fugitive methane is offsetting any gains we have achieved by cutting back on coal. In addition, natural gas leaks in the U. S. are causing explosions that damage lives or property every other day. (CNN 9-13-18: “1 dead, 24 injured in 30 natural gas explosions in three Boston area towns.”)  
In 2015, our nuclear plants created 800 terawatt hours of CO2-free electricity, which is 21 times more than all carbon-dependent U.S. solar. 


George Erickson is a member of the National Center for Science Education and the Thorium Energy Alliance. For his  presentations on climate change and energy issues, contact him at tundracub@mediacombb.net or 218-744-2003. His website is www.tundracub.com.