If only it were more accurate
Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy
Joel M. Kauffman @ 2008-05-02
For intentions, this impassioned plea for more nuclear power, so far as it was made to limit the USA dependence on petroleum, is excellent. With her background as a novelist, Cravens has written an easy-to-read, not-too-technical 373 pp of text with plenty of technical backup. Many descriptions are beautiful. There is a good index, a glossary, citations by page number (but these are few in number and mostly cite websites, newspapers and magazines).
Cravens interviewed several experts who should have given accurate information, including Theodore Rockwell, whose 2004 book "Creating the New World" seems to me much more accurate than "Power ...", but too many readers would consider it too technical and dry.
Cravens toured coal and nuclear electric power plants with expert guides, changing her mind about the relative merits of each. She found that the coal plant was the nightmare she expected the nuclear plant to be, but was not. She went to the Yucca Mountain Project in Nevada, which was supposed to become the USA's national nuclear waste repository, and reported its flaws in stability of its geology. She went to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, NM, and realized it was an ideal nuclear waste site, not just for the military waste that was supposed to be stored there. She visited the experimental reactors in Idaho. Overall, she became convinced that nuclear power is safe, and that long-term disposal can be accomplished at WIPP and similar locations. After all this, she had her body examined for excess radioactivity; none was found. She became convinced that low-level radioactivity was not harmful at all.
Her vision about one major use of nuclear power is the same as mine: use it as a major source of electricity to charge batteries for electric vehicles. She also found that reprocessing spent nuclear fuel for re-use cuts down the need for uranium by maybe 90%, and the amount of waste for disposal by about 90%. France does this. She also recognized that claims by enviros of uranium reserves in the USA of 40 or 65 years duration are based on refined uranium stocks only, not the millions of tons in the ground.
Had there not been problems affecting her credibility, this beautifully written and edited book would have been worth 5 stars. The first problem was promoting nuclear power as a way to limit global warming by stopping emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plants dependent on combustion. She failed to note that CO2 rises after a warming rather than causing it; that there was as much warming in the 19th century as in the 20th century with very little CO2 emission [...]; that CO2 was rising during the 1940-1978 and 1998-2008 global coolings; thus there is no "ongoing global warming" mentioned perhaps 100 times. [...] Cravens seemed unaware that the CO2 hypothesis of global warming is based on a fraudulent temperature vs. time graph made to look like a fraudulent CO2 vs. time graph. See: Kauffman JM (2007). Climate Change Reexamined. Journal of Scientific Exploration 21(4): 723-750. PDF on request to email@example.com.
Sooner or later the CO2 hypothesis of global warming will be recognized for the fraud that it is. People who supported nuclear power to lower CO2 emissions will feel tricked and might withdraw all support for nuclear electicity generation, which must succeed on cost and safety.
The second problem was not recognizing the phenomenon of radiation hormesis, the beneficial effects of xrays and gamma rays at doses up to 20 rads per year for adults (TD Luckey says 60 rads). This was mentioned as a "possibility" despite reams of evidence. See: Radiation Hormesis by TD Luckey, 1990; Joel M. Kauffman, "Radiation Hormesis: Demonstrated, Deconstructed, Denied, Dismissed, and Some Implications for Public Policy", J. Scientific Exploration , 17(3), 389-407 (2003);[...]. The main benefit is lower cancer rates from 2-20 rad of xrays, and this was the only benefit from the "dozens of mammograms" Cravens had (p353); see: Joel M. Kauffman, Charles T. McGee, Are the biopositive effects of Xrays the only benefits of repetitive mammograms? Medical Hypotheses, 62(5), 674-678 (2004). Furthermore, Cravens could not explain the disconnect that doses as low as 0.015 rad are to be avoided at any cost, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while 6000 rad of cobalt-60 gammas are perfectly OK to treat cancer. Cravens does recognize that excessive cost to meet ridiculously low radiation levels, often below natural ones, subtracts resources from all else. She did not see that claims of no hormesis were often based on dose ranges chosen to conceal the effect.
The third problem was no mention of the CANDU reactor type, which does not require "enrichment" to 3-5% of uranium-235, but operates on the natural 0.7%. All that regimes wanting nuclear power (not bombs) have to do is adopt this type of reactor.
The fourth problem was not verifying that France's nuclear waste has been safely dealt with. If it has, there is no reason for the USA to delay and waffle further on nuclear power. If not, WIPP-like stable dry sites may still be the answer.
Beyond these two big and two smaller issues, there were about 74 questionable statements. An example is given below. The rest may be obtained by request from me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is often said that a few errors made by an author will seriously damage the credibility of the whole work. And that is the problem here. True, Cravens was often misinformed, but an author is supposed to sort out the conflicts and be accurate. Has she been misled on nuclear power safety and disposal?
Error example #39. On p177: "Pure sodium isn't toxic, but if it combines with certain other elements it can be poisonous." My Merck Index 11th ed.,
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