But first . . .

Stephen Gilbert (less than enthusiastic about yesterday’s hot-water saving gadget): ‘Do you do something stupid and wasteful? No problem, we’ve invented a useless product that will slightly mitigate the waste. No need for you to change your habits. It’s like the hybrid SUV. Tired of getting ten miles per gallon on your gas hog? No problem; buy our new hybrid gas hog; it gets twelve. In California, where we are in the midst of a serious, years-long drought, people still routinely use garden hoses to wash their driveways and sidewalks. My suggestion is that someone invent a waterless product that could be used to dry sweep the sidewalks. You know, like a broom.’

NEW POLL RESULTS

Guess what? A new ABC News poll shows that slightly more Americans now favor marriage equality than oppose it – and that 53% believe the union of a same-sex couple married in another state should be recognized in their own.

(Interesting results, also, on guns, marijuana, torture, and some other stuff. Oh, and here’s a different poll showing that churchgoers favor torture more heavily than nonchurchgoers.)

NEW RULES

Peter Kaczowka: ‘Once again Bill Maher hits it right.’

. . . And, finally, New Rule: You can’t win any converts to your side when nobody knows what you’re talking about. The conservative base these days is absolutely apoplectic because…well, nobody knows. But, the big issues for normal people are the economy, the war, the environment, mending fences with our allies and enemies, and the rule of law.

And here’s the list of Republican obsessions since Obama took office: his birth certificate is fake; he uses a teleprompter too much; he bowed to a Saudi guy; Europeans like him; he gives inappropriate gifts; and his wife shamefully flaunts her upper arms. Oh, and he shook hands with Hugo Chavez and even accepted a book from him! Rubbing conservative noses in the fact that our new president can read! . . .

☞ It only gets tougher from there (this is Bill Maher, after all), so I will spare you. But it won’t surprise you to know I think he’s on to something here.

NEW NUKES

Start from the premise that I – obviously – have zero credentials to do any more here than grope in the dark.

Even so, on the overarching theme – that technological advances will be 32 times as fast and dramatic over the next 50 years as over the previous 50 (Ray Kurzweil) – I’m a believer. And even if it turned out to be ‘just’ 16 times as fast and dramatic, or even just 8 times – well, that would still leave an awful lot of room for improvement.

And especially with regard to cheap clean energy, a lot of improvement is what we need.

Will anything come of the hoped for cold fusion breakthrough suggested on ’60 Minutes’? I don’t know.

I don’t know about this one, either – but I love it: a safe nuclear power plant that disposes of all its own fuel and can even burn existing nuclear waste. To wit:

Richard Reiss: ‘Steve Kirsch (founder of Infoseek, inventor of optical mouse) describes the Integral Fast Reactor project, which apparently has fans including Bill Gates and James Hansen – but which has a low profile with the public at large (and politicians), because of the negative associations with nuclear reactors. Kirsch links also to a letter from Hansen, which spells out Hansen’s thoughts in stark terms.’

☞ Hansen’s very lengthy letter might be summarized: Without radical change, we’re cooked. But the Integral Fast Reactor could be that change.

Steve Kirsch’s essay includes this list of the hoped for advantages of the IFR:

1. It can be fueled entirely with material recovered from today’s used nuclear fuel.

2. It consumes virtually all the long-lived radioactive isotopes that worry people who are concerned about the “nuclear waste problem,” reducing the needed isolation time to less than 500 years.

3. It could provide all the energy needed for centuries (perhaps as many as 50,000 years), feeding only on the uranium that has already been mined

4. It uses uranium resources with 100 to 300 times the efficiency of today’s reactors.

5. It does not require enrichment of uranium.

6. It has less proliferation potential than the reprocessing method now used in several countries.

7. It’s 24×7 baseline power.

8. It can be built anywhere there is water.

9. The power is very inexpensive (some estimates are as low as 2 cents/kWh to produce).

10. Safe from melt down because if something goes wrong, the reactor naturally shuts down rather than blows up.

11. And, of course, it emits no greenhouse gases.

☞ Wikipedia’s brief history of the Integral Fast Reactor lists some cons to go with the pros that led to its being defunded in 1994. But that was then; this is now.

Have a great weekend. Plant a tree.

 

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