Forum, Dec. 2: Fission power promises a check on climate change

Published: 12/1/2020 10:00:10 PM
Modified: 12/1/2020 10:00:03 PM
Fission power promises a check on climate change

Republican control of the Senate would mean we won’t spend $2 trillion on President-elect Joe Biden’s climate plan, which would stop oil pipelines and offshore oil, among other things, and relies on a questionable 90% reduction in battery costs to store electricity from subsidized and unreliable wind and solar sources. It would divert more cropland to biofuels for airplanes. The plan’s half-million EV charging stations could be helpful, except for the pointless shuttering of reliable fission power plants like Diablo Canyon and Indian Point, which alone could provide 20 million cars with clean electricity.

Alternatively, there is a bipartisan opportunity to use market capitalism to check climate change by unleashing a much-maligned source of ample, emission-free, 24/7 electricity — atomic fission. Fission power is intrinsically cheap, but U.S. regulators tripled costs compared with those of our international competitors. New fission ventures promise reliable electricity at even lower costs.

An electrifying plan should inspire things: letting private enterprise use atomic fission to create really cheap heat and electricity as the feedstock for a new clean economy; using derived hydrogen and synfuels for transportation and manufacturing; enabling new industries such as electrolytic steel production and CO2-free ammonia fertilizer for agriculture and marine engines.

Startlingly, this can be done at low cost, if politicians direct the Environmental Protection Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to follow the science and drop “ALARA” rules (meaning: “as low as reasonably achievable”) which are designed to appease people who have been misled into fearing all radiation creates cancer. These rules provided no benefit, but ratcheted regulations and costs up. When fracking cut the cost of electricity generated by natural gas, the ratchet stuck, and U.S. fission power plants are closing. Repudiating the rules will enable fission ventures to compete globally with burning fossil fuels.

Electrifying everything with ample, cheap fission power will help check climate change and let U.S. businesses profit and export clean fission technology to the world.

ROBERT HARGRAVES

Hanover

The writer is co-founder of ThorCon International, which develops liquid fission power plants, and is author of Thorium: Energy Cheaper Than Coal.

Climate change is a fact, not a ‘political agenda’

In his recent Forum letter (“Violence is done to the natural order,” Nov. 28), William A. Wittik asserts that the devastating forest fires on our West Coast are due to “perverse sexual proclivities,” sex trafficking of children and the LGBTQ+ movement. Citing the Biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah as evidence, he claims that nature is protesting “violence being done to the natural order,” and writes, “That makes at least as much sense” as the “political agenda” of climate change.

No, it does not make as much sense — or any, if “sense” is referring to the natural gift of human reason.

Climate change is not a political agenda. It is established fact, based on more than 100 years of data, and supported by the near-unanimous consensus of international scientists analyzing it. How we respond to this reality — whether we accept science or deny it in favor of mythology, Biblical or otherwise — is a political agenda. Incidentally, there are plenty of Christians who embrace science and do not confuse a Bible story with historical or scientific fact.

The denial of climate science is a political agenda, as is the equation of sex trafficking in children — perversion indeed — with the very natural condition of being born gay or lesbian and wanting the same human rights that everyone else enjoys. Scientists have found homosexual and bisexual behavior in every animal species that is sexual. Is the argument that homosexual penguins, dragonflies, lizards, dolphins, sheep, bats, bonobos, lions, giraffes and elephants — just to name a few — are responsible for the forest fires in California, as well as Sodom and Gomorrah?

JANICE PRINDLE

South Woodstock

No bankruptcy fear from debt

In response to Roger Small’s Forum letter (“Debt will cause US bankruptcy,” Nov 27): Ever since Richard Nixon ended dollar convertibility into gold, the U.S. has had a pure fiat currency. The Federal Reserve can (and does) create money when it needs it. Barring gross incompetence by the government, the Federal Reserve can create the money needed to pay any federal debts that are denominated in U.S. dollars. So long as the U.S. avoids debts denominated in gold or euros or bitcoin or some other currency, the debt can be paid. Bankruptcy is not a concern.

Economist Stephanie Kelton, a professor at SUNY Stony Brook, has written a book, The Deficit Myth, that dispels many of the misconceptions that people (and politicians) have about the deficit and U.S. debt.

LLOYD KVAM

Lebanon

Thankful for our veterans

My family and I would like to thank all of the veterans, past and present, both here and abroad, as well as their families, for their service.

My dad, an only child not far out of his teens, enlisted in the Army during World War II. He was stationed in the Pacific Theater for the duration of the war. My mom, a farm girl from a large family, went to work at a Pratt & Whitney aircraft factory until the war’s end. Also, my husband’s father enlisted in the Navy. He left his young family, including three young children, to teach Navy enlistees to be clerks, as they were in short supply during wartime. His mother worked at various jobs in Windsor to support the family. My parents married after the war, saved to buy a small farm with war bonds. They raised 12 children, of whom I am the eldest.

I am grateful to be the proud daughter, sister, cousin, niece, aunt, daughter-in-law and friend of veterans — on Veterans Day, and every day.

JAN SCHOFIELD COXON

Windsor

Craft Bazaar canceled, but you can still contact crafters

The Thetford Academy Alumni Association regrets the necessary decision to cancel the Craft Bazaar, which had been scheduled for Nov. 21. We will miss seeing one and all this year at this popular community event.

If anyone would like to be connected to a crafter who was expected to be at the bazaar, please call me at 802-333-9491. Even if you can’t remember the crafter’s name, a description of the craft and the location on the floor is usually enough for identification. All the crafters will welcome your patronage as we head into the holiday season.

We look forward to the 2021 Alumni Association Craft Bazaar (always the Saturday before Thanksgiving).

JESSICA EATON

Thetford




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