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Chris Anderson: We're having a debate.
The debate is over the proposition
What the world needs now
is nuclear energy" -- true or false?
And before we have the debate,
I'd like to actually take a show of hands --
on balance, right now, are you for or against this?
So those who are "yes," raise your hand. "For."
Okay, hands down.
Those who are "against," raise your hands.
Okay, I'm reading that at about
75-25 in favor at the start.
Which means we're going to take a vote at the end
and see how that shifts, if at all.
So here's the format: They're going to have six minutes each,
and then after one little, quick exchange between them,
I want two people on each side of this debate in the audience
to have 30 seconds
to make one short, crisp, pungent, powerful point.
So, in favor of the proposition, possibly shockingly,
is one of, truly, the founders of the
environmental movement,
a long-standing TEDster, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog,
someone we all know and love, Stewart Brand.
Stewart Brand: Whoa.
The saying is that with climate, those who know the most
are the most worried.
With nuclear, those who know the most
are the least worried.
A classic example is James Hansen,
a NASA climatologist
pushing for 350 parts per million
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
He came out with a wonderful book recently
(Storms of My Grandchildren) called "Storms of My Grandchildren."
And Hansen is hard over for nuclear power,
as are most climatologists
who are engaging this issue seriously.
This is the design situation:
a planet that is facing climate change
and is now half urban.
Look at the client base for this.
Five out of six of us
live in the developing world.
We are moving to cities. We are moving up in the world.
And we are educating our kids,
having fewer kids,
basically good news all around.
But we move to cities, toward the bright lights,
and one of the things that is there that we want, besides jobs,
is electricity.
And if it isn't easily gotten, we'll go ahead and steal it.
This is one of the most desired things
by poor people all over the world,
in the cities and in the countryside.
Electricity for cities, at its best,
is what's called baseload electricity.
That's where it is on
all the time.
And so far there are only three major sources of that --
coal and gas, hydro-electric,
which in most places is maxed-out --
and nuclear.
I would love to have something in the fourth place here,
but in terms of constant, clean,
scalable energy,
solar and wind and the other renewables
aren't there yet because they're inconstant.
Nuclear is and has been for 40 years.
Now, from an environmental standpoint,
the main thing you want to look at
is what happens to the waste from nuclear and from coal,
the two major sources of electricity.
If all of your electricity in your lifetime came from nuclear,
the waste from that lifetime of electricity
would go in a Coke can --
a pretty heavy Coke can, about two pounds.
But one day of coal
adds up to one hell of a lot
of carbon dioxide
in a normal one-gigawatt coal-fired plant.
Then what happens to the waste?
The nuclear waste typically goes into
a dry cask storage
out back of the parking lot at the reactor site
because most places don't have underground storage yet.
It's just as well, because it can stay where it is.
While the carbon dioxide,
vast quantities of it, gigatons,
goes into the atmosphere
where we can't get it back, yet,
and where it is causing the problems that we're most concerned about.
So when you add up the greenhouse gases
in the lifetime of these various energy sources,
nuclear is down there with wind and hydro,
below solar and way below, obviously, all the fossil fuels.
Wind is wonderful; I love wind.
I love being around these
big wind generators.
But one of the things we're discovering is that
wind, like solar, is an actually relatively
dilute source of energy.
And so it takes a very large footprint on the land,
a very large footprint in terms of materials,
five to 10 times what you'd use for nuclear,
and typically to get one gigawatt of electricity
is on the order of 250 sq. mi.
of wind farm.
In places like Denmark and Germany,
they've maxed out on wind already.
They've run out of good sites.
The power lines are getting overloaded.
And you peak out.
Likewise, with solar,
especially here in California,
we're discovering that the 80 solar farm
schemes that are going forward
want to basically bulldoze
1,000 sq. mi. of southern California desert.
Well, as an environmentalist, we would rather that didn't happen.
It's okay on frapped-out agricultural land.
Solar's wonderful on rooftops.
But out in the landscape,
one gigawatt is on the order of 50 sq. mi.
of bulldozed desert.
When you add all these things up --
Saul Griffith did the numbers and figured out
what it would take
to get 13 clean
terawatts of energy
from wind, solar and biofuels,
and that area would be roughly the size the United States,
an area he refers to as "Renewistan."
A guy who's added all this up very well is David Mackay,
a physicist in England,
and in his wonderful book, "Sustainable Energy," among other things,
he says, "I'm not trying to be pro-nuclear. I'm just pro-arithmetic."
In terms of weapons,
the best disarmament tool so far is nuclear energy.
We have been taking down
the Russian warheads,
turning it into electricity.
10 percent of American electricity
comes from decommissioned warheads.
We haven't even started the American stockpile.
I think of most interest to a TED audience
would be the new generation of reactors
that are very small,
down around 10
to 125 megawatts.
This is one from Toshiba.
Here's one that the Russians are already building that floats on a barge.
And that would be very interesting in the developing world.
Typically, these things are put in the ground.
They're referred to as nuclear batteries.
They're incredibly safe,
weapons proliferation-proof and all the rest of it.
Here is a commercial version from New Mexico
called the Hyperion,
and another one from Oregon called NuScale.
Babcock & Wilcox that make nuclear reactors ...
here's an integral fast reactor.
Thorium reactor that Nathan Myhrvold's involved in.
The governments of the world are going to have to decide
that coal needs to be made expensive, and these will go ahead.
And here's the future.
CA: Okay. Okay.
So arguing against,
a man who's been at the nitty-gritty heart
of the energy debate and the climate change debate for years.
In 2000, he discovered that soot
was probably the second leading cause of global warming, after CO2.
His team have been making detailed calculations
of the relative impacts
of different energy sources.
His first time at TED, possibly a disadvantage -- we shall see --
from Stanford,
Professor Mark Jacobson. Good luck.
Mark Jacobson: Thank you.
So my premise here is that nuclear energy
puts out more carbon dioxide,
puts out more air pollutants,
enhances mortality more and takes longer to put up
than real renewable energy systems,
namely wind, solar,
geothermal power, hydro-tidal wave power.
And it also enhances nuclear weapons proliferation.
So let's just start by looking at the
CO2 emissions from the life cycle.
CO2e emissions are equivalent emissions
of all the greenhouse gases and particles
that cause warming,
and converted to CO2.
And if you look, wind and concentrated solar
have the lowest CO2 emissions, if you look at the graph.
Nuclear -- there are two bars here.
One is a low estimate, and one is a high estimate.
The low estimate is the nuclear energy industry
estimate of nuclear.
The high is the average of 103
scientific, peer-reviewed studies.
And this is just the
CO2 from the life cycle.
If we look at the delays,
it takes between 10 and 19 years
to put up a nuclear power plant
from planning to operation.
This includes about three and a half to six years
for a site permit.
and another two and a half to four years
for a construction permit and issue,
and then four to nine years for actual construction.
And in China, right now,
they're putting up five gigawatts of nuclear.
And the average, just for the construction time of these,
is 7.1 years
on top of any planning times.
While you're waiting around for your nuclear,
you have to run the regular electric power grid,
which is mostly coal in the United States and around the world.
And the chart here shows the difference between
the emissions from the regular grid,
resulting if you use nuclear, or anything else,
versus wind, CSP or photovoltaics.
Wind takes about two to five years on average,
same as concentrated solar and photovoltaics.
So the difference is the opportunity cost
of using nuclear versus wind, or something else.
So if you add these two together, alone,
you can see a separation
that nuclear puts out at least nine to 17 times
more CO2 equivalent emissions than wind energy.
And this doesn't even account
for the footprint on the ground.
If you look at the air pollution health effects,
this is the number of deaths per year in 2020
just from vehicle exhaust.
Let's say we converted all the vehicles in the United States
to battery electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
or flex fuel vehicles run on E85.
Well, right now in the United States,
50 to 100,000 people die per year from air pollution,
and vehicles are about 25,000 of those.
In 2020, the number will go down to 15,000
due to improvements.
And so, on the right, you see gasoline emissions,
the death rates of 2020.
If you go to corn or cellulosic ethanol,
you'd actually increase the death rate slightly.
If you go to nuclear,
you do get a big reduction,
but it's not as much as with wind and/or concentrated solar.
Now if you consider the fact
that nuclear weapons proliferation
is associated with nuclear energy proliferation,
because we know for example,
India and Pakistan developed nuclear weapons secretly
by enriching uranium
in nuclear energy facilities.
North Korea did that to some extent.
Iran is doing that right now.
And Venezuela would be doing it
if they started with their nuclear energy facilities.
If you do a large scale expansion
of nuclear energy across the world,
and as a result there was just one
nuclear bomb created
that was used to destroy a city
such as Mumbai or some other big city, megacity,
the additional death rates due to this
averaged over 30 years and scaled to the population of the U.S.
would be this.
So, do we need this?
The next thing is: What about the footprint? Stewart mentioned the footprint.
Actually, the footprint on the ground for wind
is by far the smallest of any energy source in the world.
That, because the footprint, as you can see,
is just the pole touching the ground.
And you can power the entire U.S. vehicle fleet
with 73,000 to 145,000
five-megawatt wind turbines.
That would take between one and three sq. km.
of footprint on the ground, entirely.
The spacing is something else.
That's the footprint that's always being confused.
People confuse footprint with spacing.
As you can see from these pictures,
the spacing between can be used for multiple purposes
including agricultural land,
range land or open space.
Over the ocean, it's not even land.
Now if we look at nuclear -- (Laughter)
With nuclear, what do we have?
We have facilities around there. You also have a buffer zone
that's 17 sq. km.
And you have the uranium mining
that you have to deal with.
Now if we go to the area,
lots is worse than nuclear or wind.
For example, cellulosic ethanol, to power the entire U.S. vehicle fleet,
this is how much land you would need.
That's cellulosic, second generation
biofuels from prairie grass.
Here's corn ethanol. It's smaller.
This is based on ranges from data,
but if you look at nuclear,
it would be the size of Rhode Island to power the U.S. vehicle fleet.
For wind, there's a larger area,
but much smaller footprint.
And of course, with wind,
you could put it all over the east coast,
offshore theoretically, or you can split it up.
And now, if you go back to
looking at geothermal, it's even smaller than both,
and solar is slightly larger than the nuclear spacing,
but it's still pretty small.
And this is to power the entire U.S. vehicle fleet.
To power the entire world with 50 percent wind,
you would need about one percent of world land.
Matching the reliability, base load is actually irrelevant.
We want to match the hour-by-hour power supply.
You can do that by combining renewables.
This is from real data in California,
looking at wind data and solar data.
And it considers just using existing hydro
to match the hour-by-hour power demand.
Here are the world wind resources.
There's 5 to 10 times more wind available worldwide
than we need for all the world.
So then the finally ranking.
And one last slide I just want to show: this is the choice.
You can either have wind or nuclear.
If you use wind,
you guarantee ice will last.
Nuclear, the time lag alone
will allow the Arctic to melt and other places to melt more.
And we can guarantee a clean, blue sky
or an uncertain future with nuclear power.
CA: All right.
So while they're having their comebacks on each other --
and yours is slightly short because you slightly overran --
I need two people from either side.
So if you're for this,
if you're for nuclear power, put up two hands.
If you're against, put up one.
And I want two of each for the mics.
Now then, you guys have --
you have a minute comeback on him
to pick up a point he said, challenge it,
SB: I think a point of difference we're having, Mark,
has to do with weapons
and energy.
These diagrams that show that nuclear is somehow
putting out a lot of greenhouse gases --
a lot of those studies will include, "Well of course war will be inevitable
and therefore we'll have cities burning and stuff like that,"
which is kind of finessing it
a little bit, I think.
The reality is that there's, what,
21 nations that have nuclear power?
Of those, seven have nuclear weapons.
In every case, they got the weapons
before they got the nuclear power.
There are two nations, North Korea and Israel,
that have nuclear weapons
and don't have nuclear power at all.
The places that we would most like to have
really clean energy occur
are China, India, Europe, North America,
all of which have sorted out their situation
in relation to nuclear weapons.
So that leaves a couple of places like Iran,
maybe Venezuela,
that you would like to have very close
surveillance of anything
that goes on with fissile stuff.
Pushing ahead with nuclear power will mean we
really know where all of the fissile material is,
and we can move toward
zero weapons left, once we know all that.
CA: Mark,
30 seconds, either on that or on anything Stewart said.
MJ: Well we know India and Pakistan had nuclear energy first,
and then they developed nuclear weapons secretly in the factories.
So the other thing is, we don't need nuclear energy.
There's plenty of solar and wind.
You can make it reliable, as I showed with that diagram.
That's from real data.
And this is an ongoing research. This is not rocket science.
Solving the world's problems can be done,
if you're really put your mind to it and use clean, renewable energy.
There's absolutely no need for nuclear power.
CA: We need someone for.
Rod Beckstrom: Thank you Chris. I'm Rod Beckstrom, CEO of ICANN.
I've been involved in global warming policy
since 1994,
when I joined the board of Environmental Defense Fund
that was one of the crafters of the Kyoto Protocol.
And I want to support Stewart Brand's position.
I've come around in the last 10 years.
I used to be against nuclear power.
I'm now supporting Stewart's position,
softly, from a risk-management standpoint,
agreeing that
the risks of overheating the planet
outweigh the risk of nuclear incident,
which certainly is possible and is a very real problem.
However, I think there may be a win-win solution here
where both parties can win this debate,
and that is, we face a situation
where it's carbon caps on this planet
or die.
And in the United States Senate,
we need bipartisan support --
only one or two votes are needed --
to move global warming through the Senate,
and this room can help.
So if we get that through, then Mark will solve these problems. Thanks Chris.
CA: Thank you Rod Beckstrom. Against.
David Fanton: Hi, I'm David Fanton. I just want to say a couple quick things.
The first is: be aware of the propaganda.
The propaganda from the industry
has been very, very strong.
And we have not had
the other side of the argument fully aired
so that people can draw their own conclusions.
Be very aware of the propaganda.
Secondly, think about this.
If we build all these nuclear power plants,
all that waste
is going to be on hundreds, if not thousands,
of trucks and trains,
moving through this country every day.
Tell me they're not going to have accidents.
Tell me that those accidents aren't going to
put material into the environment
that is poisonous for hundreds of thousands of years
And then tell me that each and every one of those trucks and trains
isn't a potential terrorist target.
CA: Thank you.
Anyone else for? Go.
Alex: Hi, I'm Alex. I just wanted to say,
I'm, first of all, renewable energy's biggest fan.
I've got solar PV on my roof.
I've got a hydro conversion
at a watermill that I own.
And I'm, you know, very much "pro" that kind of stuff.
However, there's a basic arithmetic problem here.
The capability of
the sun shining, the wind blowing and the rain falling,
simply isn't enough to add up.
So if we want to keep the lights on,
we actually need a solution
which is going to keep generating all of the time.
I campaigned against nuclear weapons in the 80s,
and I continue to do so now.
But we've got an opportunity
to recycle them into something more useful
that enables us to get energy all of the time.
And, ultimately, the arithmetic problem isn't going to go away.
We're not going to get enough energy from renewables alone.
We need a solution that generates all of the time.
If we're going to keep the lights on,
nuclear is that solution.
CA: Thank you.
Anyone else against?
Man: The last person who was in favor made the premise
that we don't have enough
alternative renewable resources.
And our "against" proponent up here
made it clear that we actually do.
And so the fallacy
that we need this resource
and we can actually make it in a time frame
that is meaningful is not possible.
I will also add one other thing.
Ray Kurzweil and all the other talks --
we know that the stick is going up exponentially.
So you can't look at state-of-the-art technologies in renewables
and say, "That's all we have."
Because five years from now, it will blow you away
what we'll actually have as alternatives
to this horrible, disastrous nuclear power.
CA: Point well made. Thank you.
So each of you has really just a couple sentences --
30 seconds each
to sum up.
Your final pitch, Stewart.
SB: I loved your "It all balances out" chart
that you had there.
It was a sunny day and a windy night.
And just now in England
they had a cold spell.
All of the wind in the entire country
shut down for a week.
None of those things were stirring.
And as usual, they had to buy nuclear power from France.
Two gigawatts comes through the Chunnel.
This keeps happening.
I used to worry about the 10,000 year factor.
And the fact is, we're going to use the nuclear waste we have for fuel
in the fourth generation of reactors that are coming along.
And especially the small reactors need to go forward.
I heard from Nathan Myhrvold -- and I think here's the action point --
it'll take an act of Congress
to make the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
start moving quickly on these small reactors,
which we need very much, here and in the world.
MJ: So we've analyzed the hour-by-hour
power demand and supply,
looking at solar, wind, using data for California.
And you can match that demand, hour-by-hour,
for the whole year almost.
Now, with regard to the resources,
we've developed the first wind map of the world,
from data alone, at 80 meters.
We know what the resources are. You can cover 15 percent.
15 percent of the entire U.S.
has wind at fast-enough speeds to be cost-competitive.
And there's much more solar than there is wind.
There's plenty of resource. You can make it reliable.
CA: Okay. So, thank you, Mark.
So if you were in Palm Springs ...
Shameless. Shameless. Shameless.
So, people of the TED community,
I put it to you that what the world needs now
is nuclear energy.
All those in favor, raise your hands.
And all those against.
Now that is -- my take on that ...
Just put up ... Hands up, people who changed their minds during the debate,
who voted differently.
Those of you who changed your mind
in favor of "for"
put your hands up.
Okay. So here's the read on it.
Both people won supporters,
but on my count,
the mood of the TED community shifted
from about 75-25
to about 65-35
in favor, in favor.
You both won. I congratulate both of you.
Thank you for that.
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TED 2000 Debate: Does the world need nuclear energy?

43161 Folder Collection
VoiceTube published on March 1, 2013
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