Tag Archives: nuclear

Map of all nuclear test sites – 2000 tests in all

Between 1945 and 2008 more than 2000 nuclear test detonations were conducted.

Amazing. More than 2000 nuclear weapons have been detonated on Earth!

This map (click through for the map) shows the locations of all the test sites. Click on each icon to read more about the site and how many tests were conducted there.

The four test sites related to Africa and South Africa interested me.

  • Seems like South Africa collaborated with Israel in testing a nuclear weapon in 1979 south-east of our coast.
  • The Americans conducted secret test detonations just 1800km from Cape Town in 1958 as part of Operation Argus
  • The French conducted 14 nuclear tests in Algeria during the early 60′s

African nuclear test sites

Wind power: not the solution

wind-millsThe Economist has a long article on the history and details of wind power over the years. Using the wind to generate electricity is beloved of greens because it produces little or no pollution. However, I have never had a good feeling about wind power as a solution.

Here are some of the reasons that I feel wind isn’t the way to go.

1. Not the final solution
Wind energy on Earth is vast, but not unlimited. According to a study quoted in the article wind-energy potential is only 5 times global energy demand. So even if all wind energy was captured (wind turbines all over Earth) we wouldn’t have a solution to meet substantial energy demand growth.

2. I don’t like wind turbines
Wind turbines are massive, expensive, noisy, and damaging to birds (okay that is a little tenuous). In order to make significant inroads into our energy requirements enormous numbers of the beasts would be required. It doesn’t seem like an elegant solution. They are also too expensive to be economical.

3. Winds are irregular and in the wrong places
Not only do you need to find a location for the turbines, but they need to be where the winds are. That is often not where (and when) the winds are so you need to build huge transmission networks to the middle of nowhere.

Conclusion – wind power isn’t the way to go
I just don’t believe that wind power is going to solve our problems. I really like the idea of personal turbines (especially in windy Vredehoek) but wind power is not the solution to the energy crisis!

I believe that solar power is the ultimate solution, but until then nuclear energy is definitely the way to go. Proven technology, not too dangerous, green, economical. Nuclear is the way to go.

Nuclear power is good – it has an unfair reputation

Humans need a lot of energy. We consume energy for light, heat, transport, food… Basically everything we do requires energy. The problem is that using energy in it’s popular forms is doing some serious damage to our environment.

Currently most of the energy we use comes from fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) which we burn to create energy. Unfortunately burning those fossil fuels also pollutes the air and drives global warming. Global warming = bad.

So we need to change our habits (waste less energy) and we could change our energy sources (to those less damaging). There are renewable sources like solar and wind power which basically make use of the copious amounts of energy the sun beams down to earth every day. However, these sources are expensive, inconsistent, and chew up large amounts of space.

Nothing is ideal, but you should be rational and not emotional in your decisions.

There is another great option, also not ideal, but the best (in my opinion) currently available. Nuclear power has an unfairly bad reputation. When used properly it is an excellent energy source – and it produces no air pollution! As the Economist says:

  • Nuclear power offers the possibility of large quantities of electricity that is cleaner than coal, more secure than gas and more reliable than wind. And if cars switch from oil to electricity, the demand for power generated from carbon-free sources will increase still further. The industry’s image is thus turning from black to green.

The Economist has articles here, here, here and here describing that:

  • Nuclear power is very clean as the graph below shows.
  • Nuclear power can be safely generated. Even taking into account Chernobyl (4,000 dead) and Three Mile Island (0 dead) nuclear power is extremely safe – and getting safer.
  • Nuclear power can be generated cheaply. Initial costs are extremely high, but over time it makes economic sense. This would be especially true were the negative environmental costs of fossil fuels built into their already high cost.
  • There are pretty good ways of storing the radioactive waste generated.
  • Many previous nuclear protesters and “greens” are changing their minds and advocating nuclear power.