Next Generation Nuclear Power: Hey Bill Nye, "Are You For or Against 2 days ago   34:54

Kaia Rose
Next Generation Nuclear Power: The Solution to Climate Change?
Columbia University, April 8th, 2015

Does nuclear energy have any role in stopping climate change? Kicking off the first of three days highlighting nuclear energy at Columbia University, CUCSD presents a screening of PANDORA’S PROMISE followed by a panel discussion with experts. Introduced by Nobuo Tanaka, President of Sasakawa Peace Foundation and former Executive Director of the IEA, a keynote by Bill Nye, The Science Guy, and author of Undeniable, who will also join our panel, Academy-Award®-nominated director Robert Stone, Gernot Wagner from Environmental Defense Fund and author of Climate Shock, and moderated by The New York Times’ Andrew Revkin. The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. PANDORA’S PROMISE asks whether the one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe.

Comments 247 Comments

Next Generation nuclear power starts at 31:45
I listened 15 minutes but he still hasn't said anything about nuclear power except "It has always been linked to nuclear weapons".
Richard Frans
Very disappointed in this talk. Nothing of value here at all!
Delphino Aleon
Completely lost all respect for this guy!
Oh look, Mechanical Engineer Bill "Gender is a Social Construct" Nye parroting greenie talking points and talking about a topic outside his field.
Corrine Tsang
China probe to the moon to mine Helium-3 for a 5th generation nuclear fusion.The US stopped building a 2nd generation nuclear reactors.China has trained 500 nuclear professor and 5,000 nuclear engineers for a 4th generation pebble bed ,helium cooled nuclear reactor.One is being build in Rongcheng,China.
Steven Curtis
Where do I start? The credibility of this talk is suspect and not worthy of the name "Bill Nye". What happened to you, Bill?

1. UF6 - Yes, this is a problem, but UF6 is not the most deadly stuff you can have.
2. The do not bury naval reactors forever in Idaho as you implied. In fact, they are going to recycle the material starting very soon because it makes so much sense not to waste all the material already made.
3. Three Mile Island - "Almost a big problem" (not explained what a "big problem" is, so scare them, right?)? Three Mile Island was an example of how reactor safety works. No injuries, no significant releases (the I-131 measurement at the boundary of TMI was more for Chernobyl (thousands of miles away) than it was for the TMI accident), and the core never threatened any other damage. Yes, it was an accident and humans make mistakes, but why don't you put that in perspective with the thousands of people killed in the coal industry compared to the nuclear industry? Just because it is hard and dangerous, we do not do it? OK, maybe we should just move to caves and give up all our luxuries? There is danger in gasoline transport, chlorine transport, and sodium cyanide transport, but that never makes the news even though it is orders of magnitude more dangerous than nuclear material transport (no environmental damage or injury in 50+ years)
4. Homer Simpson - This is pure and simple hyperbole and not remotely indicative of any objective scientist to mention. nuff said.
5. 432 nuclear plants in the world. Will there be another accident? Of course there will, but you forgot to mention the safety features implemented because of Fukushima (Gen III+), the incredible record of safety by the nuclear industry in general, and the passive safety of Gen IV reactors and the extremely low risk to benefit ratio of nuclear power.
6.Yucca Mountain - There is no stream (a dry stream bed, maybe) at Yucca Mountain. The proposed location if the spent nuclear fuel is 900 feet above the water table. The water table does not even flow through Las Vegas. Nobody in Nevada wants nuclear waste? Aside from a few paid pundits and the political delegation, the vast majority of Nevadans have supported the vast economic benefits that could be had. Do we want to bury it? Of course not. It is too valuable. Recycling it is the key to efficiency in light water reactor (and even more for fast reactor) fuel. It is easy to scare people who are ignorant of the science, but it is unethical to use your position to stretch the truth in a biased way to make yourself sound important, especially for someone of your stature. Isn't it?
7. Dangerous for 10,000 years? I have heard this figure, but neither you nor anyone else who uses this scare tactic has explained why 10,000 years? I would like to hear you try.
8.Paducah, Ky. Yes, centrifuge and gaseous diffusion uses UF6. Yes, the Government failed to turn the UF6 back to U3O8. It is sitting in large tanks in huge fenced-in areas. The question is why has the DOE not been funded to handle it further? Maybe the Congress is the culprit, but you do not mention that. Maybe your point is to try to encourage more responsibility from Congress, but you do not say that.
9. Dry Cask Storage at Nuclear Power Plants - Why would terrorists break in to a dry cask storage facility to get spent fuel? How would they use it? People like you never explain further. Again, taking advantage of nuclear science ignorant people for your own glory. This just does not suit your otherwise great reputation. The spent fuel ages in pools of water for at least 5 years before it is put in 30+ ton reinforced concrete containers for storage on site. Don't you think there are easier targets for terrorists that are more accessible and could cause more terror? Why has this not been tried at Connecticut Yankee which has has spent fuel stored behind a chain link fence with barbed wire for 2 decades with no guards and it has not been touched. Please try to think before you hype.
Break in, steal spent fuel, put it in a suitcase and "pick up the guy with his suitcase and cause trouble? Really? I guess some people believe this coming from you, but you are certainly smarter than to believe what you say here. It is scary that any scientist, let alone you, try this level of hype talk simply to look good to an audience.
10.You spent less than 10 minutes of your 34-minute talk about "Next Generation Reactors" with any reference at all to "Next Generation Reactors". You did not mention that the Plutonium actually fissions as well as the U235, so very little is left. The mechanical moving of fuel in the reactor is just one of at least 50 Next-Gen reactor designs and the market place will decide which ones are valid. Why did you pick this one to mention? You failed to mention that more than 50 start-up companies are capitalized with $1 Billion in investment money for next-generation reactor designs. This is not government work, not secret (beyond intellectual property), and certainly extremely regulated. Why the short shrift in a very biased and strangely stated narrative?
11. A minor point, but Seaborgium is element 106, not 168. Simply a slip of the lip, I am sure, but worth mentioning.
12. Pt could not have been used as the symbol for Plutonium, because it is the symbol for Platinum making your story about Glen Seaborg very suspect. Too bad you could not find a different story to tell about a great scientist who spent his life advancing the science of heavy element research. You made him sound petty and trite and he was anything but

I am sure you made this talk because you have a personal aversion for nuclear energy. That is fine. But to lower yourself to scare tactics that are questionable at best in front of an audience obviously ignorant of nuclear physics is deplorable and not worthy of a scientist of your caliber. Shame on you.
29:57 when he talks about new reactors a full second. At least the other bill(gates) knows what up. Oh bill nye thing the TWR is meant to shuffle thorium WRONG! Bill nye hasn't the slightest clue.
does bill nye honestly expect me to believe that no one would notice if nuclear material went missing. On top of that you would need a shit ton of reactor grade fuel to make a nuclear bomb with it. However a dirty bomb(a bomb that disperses radioactive material not a nuclear bomb) is almost a terrorists bestfriend. You probably need spent fuel if you want that to pose even a little bit of extra damage which begs the question how is one meant to handle the same waste which is dangerously radioactive yet not be noticed at the same time. You also can't put it in a briefcase. it causes lots of terror but not really so much harm realistically about as harmful as a normal bomb. That's why bill doesn't want to tell you how to do it because it's horribly unrealistic and you can't do it. The worst a terrorist could do is try to create a melt down at a plant and good luck with even doing that.
tickle me and I'll kill you
Bill Nye is not even a nuclear scientist he's an engineer worked on airplanes at Boeing he doesn't Know Jack shit about nuclear power and much of anything else except wiring aircraft he is fake like Al Gore
Daniel Decker
I've been disappointed by Bill before, and I'm disappointing again. So little actual science in this, and some of the science mentioned is actually wrong, it is mostly conjecture and fear mongering with no facts to back it up. "Dude. Dude!" is not evidence or a convincing argument. Nuclear energy is safer than coal, solar, or wind energy, cheaper than all of those, and has ZERO carbon emissions. Just plain ignorant Bill.
I've lost respect for bill nye *smh
Glen Mccarthy
8000 cubic meters per second , is the current melt rate from the Greenland ice sheets.The collapse of the cyrosphere is unstoppable.Cheers
King Miura
This guy is one unfunny comedian. He once participated in an experiment that used a couple of large glass jars and 2 infrared heat lamps and thermometers and one jar was CO2 and the other just ordinary air. After about 1/2 an hour the CO2 jar supposedly showed 1 to 2 degrees hotter than in the air jar. Some people tried to duplicate this little display and he result was the air jar was a fraction of a degree hotter but cooled faster after the lamps were turned off. No scientist would consider the results of such a display as useful whatsoever....unless the objective was to present propaganda to an uneducated audience. Al Gore and Billy Nye are hucksters.
Les Price
What an amazing display of ignorance!
Piotr Dudała
Between Roman _Republic_ and end of Eastern Roman _Empire_ there were far more, than 800 years...
Derrick Smith
I don't like Nye, but I really wanted to hear his perspective on nuclear power because I thought he might have something useful to say.
Just one big downer with no critical pros vs. cons presented, just a bunch of old cons that are largely addressed if not solved by cutting-edge nuclear power research.

Without "stinky" Pu (Plutonium) powered thermoelectric generators, deep space research probes would NOT be possible because solar panels simply don't work that far away from our sun.

4th Generation Nuclear Powers promise to convert much of that 10,000+ year dangerous nuclear "waste" into hundreds of years of planet-wide electrical energy plus by-products that would only be radioactively dangerous for 800+ years.
That's a 92% reduction in dangerous radioactive "waste" that produces carbon-free energy for hundreds of years!

I would think Nye would support an initiative that actually helps to reduce nuclear waster while saving the planet from carbon-based fuels.
Sure, there are security and environmental concerns with nuclear power, but they are manageable problems, especially when the latest technology is brought to bear.

Finally, his dismissive mention of Thorium, a globally abundant (relative to Uranium-235) element whose Thorium-to-Uranium-233 nuclear fuel cycle in MSRs (Molten Salt Reactors) could revolutionize nuclear power and bring that radioactive waste number down to 300+ years, was irresponsible.

If the planet is dying before our eyes due to carbon-base fuels, then nuclear power is the ONLY way to rapidly ramp up RELIABLE (solar and wind just can't promise reliability) base load energy we need for current and future global energy needs. Wind and solar can be part of the mix, but it is not the solution to our base load energy needs. Unless we are willing to significantly scale back our first-world lifestyles (an option, but not a realistic one without some form of global totalitarian government threat of force), responsible development (not the Model-T-like reactors from the 1950s but the cutting edge 4th Gen reactors and Thorium MSRs) of nuclear power is our best hope.
Shantay Madison
I can make it myself. Just got instructions from Avasva website and I'm ready for do it :D
A Human From Earth
That was a disappointingly 70s style diatribe against an energy technology that is going to be absolutely necessary in the immediate future.
Doug Zellers
Did he really say "Harrisonburg?"
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Hey Bill Nye, "Are You For or Against Next Generation Nuclear Power: 2 days ago   10:53

Fracking isn't a bad idea in theory, says Bill Nye, but it can't be allowed to go unregulated. The Science Guy runs through a personal anecdote about fracking before noting that new technological advances have opened the door to irresponsible practices with severe environmental and public health consequences.

While it would be great to replace things like fracking with renewable energy, we're, at the moment, hampered in several ways, the most notable being battery limitations. That said, it doesn't mean our potential green energy future isn't one to get excited about.


Follow Big Think here:

Hi Bill. My name is Susan, aka primordial soup, and I have a question about fracking. Are you for it or against it and why? And on the subject of energies what’s the holdup with the green energies? Is it that there’s not enough investment money, not enough profits, not enough public interest, other, all of the above? Thank you for answering my question.

Bill Nye: Are you primal or primordial? If it’s a primordial soup I love you. So let’s talk about fracking. I left Boeing because they wanted me to work on the 767 airplane, which wasn’t going to fly for 15 years. And when you’re a young guy that just seems like a really long time. So I took a job as an engineer in a shipyard at the place where they skim oil slicks. They made, at that time, the best or the most popular oil slick skimming boat. And then that led to a job for me in the oil field. I worked in the oil patch for a while where they frack. Now my uncle, my beloved mother’s younger brother really was this guy. He was a geologist, graduated from Johns Hopkins and he got a job with — then he was in the Army during the Korean War as an engineer. And then he worked for DuPont Dynamite going all over the world blowing stuff up. He loved to blow stuff up. It was big fun for him. He was — you’re not supposed to say your favorite but he was my beloved uncle. Anyway I have his books on this business and I have — he’s not living anymore. And I have a torpedo — and a torpedo is something that they used to use in the oil field and in mining. It’s a tube. In English units, it’s two and a half inches in diameter and four and a half feet long. And it has a crude funnel soldered on the top or brazed on the top. And according to him — now look I wasn’t there and the guy was a storyteller. He’s a raconteur.

They would usually stuff the torpedo with dynamite, but sometimes they would pour liquid nitroglycerine into this thing, this tube. I mean if it blew up that’s it. You wouldn’t even know it. You wouldn’t even know what happened. You’d just be powder or liquid powder, droplets. All right you’ve just got to keep it cold Bill. You just keep it cold, 54 degrees Fahrenheit. Just keep it cold. You’ll be able to — what? So anyway they would lower it into the oil well and then, apparently in his day, they would have wired electricity and they would set it off — boom — dynamite or nitroglycerine. But in the old, old days – I’ve seen his book — they had something like a shotgun shell and a rope and they would yank it — boom. So that would be fracturing or fracking right at the bottom of the well, straight down. That was the state of the art. But what’s happened now we can steer drill bits in just three meters, in just 10 feet from the floor to the ceiling in this room I’m sitting in. So now you can drill down like this and go sideways. And this has led to irresponsible fracturing or fracking. And this is where it’s not inherently a bad idea; it just can’t be unregulated. And apparently that’s been the problem where people — oil companies especially are not — or the foreman on the job, the tool push as he’s called, are able to get away with this irresponsible practice. And so the thing about it, you know, usually these gas-bearing shales, this rock real down deep is a layer formed from an ancient sea or what have you. So I like to describe it this way. I don’t’ know if you’ve ever been around an obnoxious kid at a sandwich shop. But he or she may take the straw — it’s usually a boy — take the straw and poke it into the sandwich and then suck sandwich out of the end of the straw. Now when you do that you’re going to get a little pastrami, but you’re going to get a lot of bread.

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