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This is quite possibly the most important book about energy in a generation. For over thirty years Americans have been fed a steady diet of half-truths, misinformation, urban legends and outright fabrications about energy. The small amount of accurate information that does reach us is often obscured by scientific terminology or one-sided political posturing.
When faced with a dramatic increase in energy demand, uncertain supplies and the potentially harmful effects of carbon emissions how are we to make informed choices?
Veteran journalist William Tucker has relied on years of research and investigation to help us make sense of America s energy predicament without the burdens of political pressures or predetermined outcomes.
It seems odd that nuclear energy has to be reintroduced to America. After all, today, thirty years after we began construction of our last new nuclear reactor, it still supplies nearly 20 percent of our electrical energy needs. And surprisingly, all this output is from plants that were once considered relics, but are now being run with an efficiency and safety record that was hard to envision a decade ago.
Perhaps the misgivings have always been with us. Since dawn of the Atomic era, nuclear power has been inextricably associated with nuclear weapons—each reactor a bomb waiting to go off. The accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and its amazing convergence of timing with the film, The China Syndrome reinforced the idea that a nuclear meltdown is a real, terrifying possibility that could kill thousands of people. The later, catastrophic disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine heightened these fears.
And so the use of atomic energy became controversial. Yet as Tucker makes absolutely clear, nuclear is the same process that heats the center of the earth to 7,000oF, hotter than the surface of the sun.
The concentration of power in the nucleus of the atom is incredible. The disintegration of a single uranium atom produces 2 million times more energy than the breaking of a carbon-hydrogen atom in coal, oil, or natural gas, all with zero carbon emissions and zero greenhouse gases.
In Terrestrial Energy, Tucker is not content to merely give an argument about why nuclear is the best choice for our energy future. Instead he meticulously surveys entire the energy scene that has frustrated Americans for the past 30 years. Is there such a thing as clean coal? Can we expect that onservation will ever reduce our energy consumption?
And what about the renewable energy sources (wind, solar energy, hydropower, and biofuels) and their promise of clean, plentiful power? Each has its place in America s energy mix but each of these sources also has serious problems. The limiting factor of all these technologies will not be the amount of energy radiating from the sun but the amount of land that will be required to capture and store it.
And what are the real dangers of an increase in the use of nuclear power? We have learned to become fearful of radiation at any dose, when in reality, we are regularly exposed to its effects, it is naturally occurring, often benign and in some cases even beneficial. Then there is the waste that supposedly makes nuclear technology unmanageable. It is much less alarming when you consider that the reason America has a nuclear waste problem is because we fail to recycle our spent fuel rods.
At the same time that world energy demand steadily increases, Americans are also being asked to be better stewards of the environment. Now is the perfect moment to renew our commitment to use the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century as the forward-thinking solution. Terrestrial energy is without doubt, the only realistic, practical answer to our energy dilemma.
Part 1 The Crisis
Chapter 1 Global Warming-Hype or Crisis? 9
Chapter 2 Terrestrial Energy 28
Chapter 3 Three Mile Island and Chernobyl 40
Part 2 The Fossil Fuels
Interlude: Zimmer Plant, Moscow, Ohio 55
Chapter 4 Coal: The Industrial Revolution 61
Chapter 5 Coal: The Environmental Era 72
Chapter 6 Oil: Reaching Hubbert's Peak 82
Chapter 7 The Energy Crisis and the World Peak 91
Chapter 8 Natural Gas 105
Part 3 Solar and Renewables
Interlude: Snowmass, Colorado 121
Chapter 9 Energy Conservation 128
Chapter 10 Hydro 139
Chapter 11 Wind 150
Chapter 12 Solar 163
Chapter 13 Geothermal, Waves, and Biofuels 179
Chapter 14 Hydrogen and Electric Cars 198
Chapter 15 The California Electrical Crisis 214
Chapter 16 The Solar Utopia 229
Part 4 Terrestrial Energy
Interlude: Brownville, Nebraska 241
Chapter 17 The Pioneers 245
Chapter 18 The Road to Los Alamos 248
Chapter 19 Atoms for Peace 269
Chapter 20 Three Mile Island and Its Aftermath 287
Chapter 21 The Revival 301
Interlude: Brattleboro, Vermont 312
Chapter 22 Radiation 315
Interlude: Boulder, Montana 338
Chapter 23 Waste and Proliferation 341
Interlude: Yucca Mountain, Nevada 360
Chapter 24 France and the Future 366
Posted May 9, 2009
This book is a thorough, detailed and fair approach to the study of energy, modern technology and politics. It should be read by every consumer of energy, taxpayer, college student, teacher and voter. Terrestrial Energy is a comprehensive survey of the advantages, safety, costs, availability, etc, of nuclear, wind, solar, natural gas, petroleum, geothermal and other forms of energy.
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Posted February 9, 2009
Posted January 5, 2009
You'll learn the following: the 4 things crucial to the success of nuclear power in America; the forms of energy that we use to power our country; that terrestrial energy is 2M times more concentrated than chemical energy, ie natural gas, coal, oil, biofuel; that, despite extraordinary energy conservation achievements, we have a serious energy need coming, always; that the nuclear industry has completely reinvented itself through deregulation and is now much more competitive than any form, and will only get better as we standardize and remove barriers; that Chernobyl, as heinous as it was, was really not that bad; that The China Syndrome is just fiction; statistics of death by nuclear fallout -the results will astound you; that there is NO SUCH THING as nuclear waste; that radiation makes you healthy and without it we would all die; that you CAN NOT get weapons grade Plutonium from reprocessing spent nuclear fuel; that France is wildly successful using nuclear power for 80% of their power; the two main arguments against nuclear and why they are farcical. There is just so much to this book. It is well written and thoroughly researched. Praise to this great American. We must move past our faulty assumptions and lies that bucolic leftists and their followers spread and see the Second Nuclear Era take hold. It really is going strong. All we need is the public to get behind it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.