Saul Singer at PostGlobal

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer, a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post, is co-author of the forthcoming book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, Moment, the New Leader, and bitterlemons.org (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine). Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. He is also on Twitter. Close.

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post. more »

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Raise Gas Taxes & Go Nuclear

Nuclear power, despite its reputation, is cleaner and safer than its carbon-based alternatives, even once the problem of waste storage is factored in.

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All Comments (31)

Claudio:

Nuclear Energy? Why Not? It provides 11% of the worlds energy already and should be more.Its' cost is similar to that of coal-fired power stations and is just as relaible, except that it does not emit carbon dioxide. its the better option!!!!!!!!!

it has no contribution to the greenhouse effect!!!!!

Dave!:

C Meyer
"The decrease following 1940 was due to the masking effect of aerosol pollutants in our atmosphere, specifically (if I recall correctly) nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide (NOX and SOX in air quality parlance)."

So I guess that answer to global warming is to start using these areosols again. True, we would have to stock up on sunscreen (since they were the ones destroying the ozone layer) but that is cheaper than any of these other ideas.

Dave!:

Nuclear power - got two items of research for you:
- Three Mile Island
- Chernobyl

Tarik:

I often wonder why should a man of Jewish faith call himself SAUL!
? Lack of knowledge of history, or apathy or both.What would his opinion be worth?

Tirade:

Quite frankly, I am amazed that Mr. Singer finally managed to write a column that did not include boderline racist comments and Muslim-bashing.

MARTIN:

Well, the estimate given by Caroll is accurate, but it is the wrong one to use. That number is the TOTAL energy consumption rate. Since we are talking about using nuclear power to satisfy ELECTRICITY demands (that is, to replace all the coal and fuel-fired power plants), let's look at the electricity energy consumption only. According to the International Energy Outlook generated by the Department of Energy (http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/index.html), the anual global electricity consumption is between 20,000 and 30,000 TWh (or about 30,000 Billion kWh). Now, divide by the 8760 hours in a year, and the average energy consumption rate (or power consumption) for the year is about 3 TW. Assuming 1 GW each, 3000 plants worldwide will do the trick. That is absolutely doable! Considering that fuel reprocessing and proliferation-resistant technologies are advancing rapidly, the waste and weapons problems are greatly reduced.

Buzz:

Posts of G.R.L. Cowen are quite interesting and informative. Thanks.

As for yellow cake production, we can always send Cheney to Langley so that he can pressure them into writing false reports about yellow cake in Niger....follow the trial of his former chief of staff in the news and you will understand how they do things in DC.

The world is choking on CO2 and now is the time to act, not next year!

G. R. L. Cowan, boron combustion fan:

Actually it is the coal we're really hoping you won't use. Although if you do we can clean up after you, at least insofar as CO2 is concerned:
http://www.lanl.gov/news/releases/archive/02-028.shtml

captainjohann, BANGALORE, INDIA:

Sir,
The global warming debate is a ploy by the western nations to conserve the oil wealth of earth for themselves.They donot want china/india and other developping nations to use the crudeoil.

Billy (Dubai):

The total cost of gasoline at American pumps is above $10 a gallon. Americans pay about $1.7 billion a day for defence and security budget (about $450 bil. a year) plus $1.5 billion a week for Iraq and Afghanistan.....one-fourth of the entire defence budget is slated for the Middle East and security of oil supply routes, and some say to keep Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Kuwait and the Gulf Emirates "sweet" and to keep the price of oil low!

Bell, Istanbul:

Glad to see that Mr. Singer has renewed his perscription medicine and the medicine is taking its effect! Pop those pills Saul and stay away from Starbucks.

Fritz:

GO SOLAR

oh yeah?
Cutting CO2 emissions will not work. Because of the fact that that almost all of our power sources depend on CO2 producing fuel. Say, Gasoline for vehicles, Coal for Coal Plants, and a hierarchy of other fuels.

If ever the government tries to resort to eliminating CO2 producing/emitting culprits, that would be declaring war against oil corporations.

Ponder this:
Have we reached the technological level of mass producing electric cars? That emits only water instead of the dreaded greenhouse gas.

Never go nuclear fission. Cold fusion could work this out but not until its project completion, say, another century?

Let's go solar instead and not make anymore fuss about this subject. Shall we?

Carroll:

The current global annual energy requirement is estimated at 84TW = 84,000GW. Nuclear power plants will generate 1-1.5GW each,, (use 1GW each to allow for maintenance, etc.) Therefore, there would need to be 84,000 nuclear plants to satisfy current global energy requirements. If one new plant were constructed every day of the year, it would take more than 230 years to be fully nuclear. The mining and processing of Uranium and the requirements for water at the nuclear facilities would make the existing coal and oil industries look environmentally friendly.

Conserve first, then convert to the truly clean and sustainable sources,, solar, wind, tidal,geothermal. Greater than 20% saving can be achieved within weeks of raising taxes at the pump $1.00 per gallon. Now if we could only trust our corporate sponsored governments to invest efficiently in the solutions.

It is notable that California has maintained a level "energy per capita" figure of merit by raising standards that improve efficiencies,,, Title 20 for "energy star" appliances and Title 24 for building codes. CARB has set automotive standards for emissions and mileage for years!

Every community, state and country should be measuring and improving the "energy per capita" figure of merit.

And the root of the problem,,,, exponential growth of the world population! From 1.5 B at year 1900 to 6.5 B now, 7 B by 2012, ,, the planet may only support 3 B without massive pollution and habitat destruction. The human species is out of control! Oh well, at least the planet will survive.

Shayna Letter, Jerusalem Israel:

A tax hike has a disproportionately negative impact on those that can afford it the least.

America is a vast country and while some big cities have very good public transportation systems, the smaller cities, towns and suburbs have little if any at all. For the more affluent a tax on fuel will mean a few more bucks when they fill up their Hummer. For so many millions more it will mean tough choices.

It makes more sense to change our habits and reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

For instance, neighborhood schools for neighborhood children. That reduces bussing and unclogs the roads during rush hour and helps our cars run more efficiently. Everyone saves money on transportation. Money can be redirected towards education. Smaller schools with a teacher to student ratio that maximizes the potential of both teacher and student. That can make a big difference.

If you want to impose a tax that will impact those people who conspicuously consume more energy, then tax the gas guzzling vehicles when they register their cars and get their license tags. Have a slide rule based on mileage to give vehicle owners that extra incentive to leave their vehicle parked in the driveway.

There are many things that we can do to effect a positive change. We members of the human race need to harness our own energy.

MARTIN:

Definitely, nuclear power needs to be developed further. No other source of power could provide the energy demands of the modern-day mega cities, not wind, not solar (which are good alternatives for smaller comunities, but not for New York or Chicago). Besides, the step to move towards a mobile hydrogen economy (that is, to power our cars and our airplanes) will require cheap electricity from non-fossil origin, and only the nuclear option can deliver that to make water electrolysis a feasible option.

Regarding fusion power, it is a program that requires a government commitment similar to that of the Apollo program on its day. Unfortunately, there is no longer a menacing competing power to establish a "fusion race" similar to the "space race" of the 60s. But without the motivation of winning a race, the political will to make a serious investment in a purely scientific program such as the quest for fusion is not there.

Michael Michalski:

Take a look at the ITER website. Pay particular attention to the cost of the project over its life to get a working fusion power plant.

Currently the United States has spent somewhere around 350 billion dollars. Its estimated that the war will eventually cost over 1 trillion dollars. This is claimed to be part of "The war on terror". If we took this money,and put it all to use for alternative energy research,not only could we develop alternative,non oil based power sources,but also completely eliminate our dependence on the middle eastern oil that is financing terrorism.

While I have used fusion as a example,there are other possible energy sources as well,such as geothermal,and solar. It should be noted that ALL energy is essentially nuclear in nature. Solar energy is nuclear energy from the sun,wind energy is created from solar energy falling on the earth,and geothermal energy is nuclear energy from fission in the earths core.

In any event it should be recognized that the vast sums of money we are spending on the war,could be used to much greater effect. We claim we are trying to fight terrorism in Iraq (of course thats just the excuse we use now,because the weapons we claimed we were looking for turned out not to be there). Some claim we are there for the oil. In any event,using that vast amount of money to find alternative energy sources would do more for the terrorism problems (which didn't exist in Iraq until AFTER we got there) by removing their funding, do more for our energy problems (our control of oil is directly related to our need for energy of course) and combat the environmental impact of using fossil fuels.

CB:

It will be interesting to watch environmentalists as they struggle with the choice between CO2 and nuclear power. Solar, wind, and other friendly power sources will not come close to replacing all the coal, oil, and natural gas the world uses.

Gary:

All I know is that I am grateful that I will not be around to see what this old world is going to look like in even 50 years! It would take hard solutions to solve these problems. Which equates to "americans sacrificing". Not going to happen!
"When the going gets tough, Americans get going, the other way!" All our leaders from both parties enjoy doing is, "Lets have more discussions on this subject" and then pass a few meaningless laws that contribute nothing to the solution, but they sure do sound good! And our leaders also know and understand how fickle we are. Next week we will all be upset about something else.

G. R. L. Cowan, boron combustion fan:

Recent wind turbine fatalities have occurred at a much higher rate per electrical gigawatt-year of production than in the nuclear industry.

Nuclear is preferred on safety and environmental grounds; trying to frame the question in terms of NEEDING it an oil money trick. Indeed, the same people who try this typically are eager for more oil money to be forcibly collected.

jeberly:

Tax? Sure.
Nuclear? Hell No!

Solar on all the roofs would be worth our need for power, throw in some wind and hydo, geothermal, etc. where's the need for nuclear?

Mike, Chemist:

Indeed G.R.L.!

It is time to look into this source in a serious light. In the meantime, by electrifying as much industry and transportation as possible, we can make our economies more efficient, cut emmisions, and ensure a smooth transition to the eventual nuclear economies.

G. R. L. Cowan, boron combustion fan:

For a rebuttal to Cavaretti from someone in the business, see http://tinyurl.com/aa99e .

In oil-equivalent terms, I get 1998 nuclear energy production working out as 9.96 million barrels per day; in 2005, 11.4 million barrels per day.

So in the eight years between and including those two, ~30 billion barrels' worth.

What's interesting, in light of that, is that the IAEA "Red Book" estimate of worldwide uranium resources available for US$1.3 a barrel or less increased from 330 billion to 470 billion barrels over approximately the same time.

Not all the uranium in the earth is worth extracting by current methods at current prices. If it were, the Red Book would say not 4,700,000 tonnes but maybe 35,000,000,000,000 tonnes; see http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-ph/pdf/0501/0501111.pdf

That uranium production is at historic highs may be true; the belief that it will not increase further is wrong. Without breeder reactors, without reprocessing, fission energy is available on a very large scale for a great number of future generations.

Mike, Chemist:

Rick, could you please show a link for that information? I have read that uranium prices were rising, but that it was due to a lack of mining as a result of recovery from decommisioned warheads.

More research towards nuclear energy is certainly warranted. Policymakers and the curious should google fast breeders and thorium fission.

Rick Cavaretti:

Nuclear? Ponder this: It's not a very advertised fact, but yellow cake (raw material later refined for reactor or weapons use) production is starting to fall. Just like oil, it's production has peaked. We've mined all the easy to find stuff. I believe the quoted time period until we run out of material to power all existing plants was something like 120 years. Another short term idea.

John:

Saul, what gives, I expected a typical kneejerk extremist response!

RI-Man:

The Iranian government is trying to make nukes. Only a moron would believe them when they say they only want nuclear power..They want to be a nuclear power (weapons).

Those people are crazy. The only way a government will be successfully is with separation of state and church.

GERMAN VELASQUEZ:

MY OPINION IS THAT WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR AN ELEMENT THAT WILL COMBINE WITH CARBON DIOXIDE IN THE ATMOPHERE AN WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM.(GAS)AND TO CHANGE THE ENERGY THAT WE ARE USING.LIKE SOUND ENERGY,LIGHT,OR NUCLEAR SOUND,HYDROGEN.MAGNETIC ENERGY.
PLANTS CHANGE CARBON TO OXIGEN,WE HAVE TO INVEST TO CREATE A JUNGLE IN THE DESERTS, TO DEVELOP A PLANT TO GENERATED THE MOST OXIGEN.THAT WILL GROW IN THE DESERT BIOGICAL CREATED,IF THERE IS NO NOW.
ALSO WE NEED TO PROMOTE GROWNING MORE TREES BY THE GOVERMANT AND THE OIL COMPANYS O FROM THE TAXES THAT THEY LAID ON GAS.ALSO PURCHASE MORE LAND TO DEDICATED TO PARKS OR SANTUARYS.ALSO LET THE WORLD KNOW HOW IMPORTANT HOW SERIOUS THE WARMING OF THE PLANET IS. THANK YOU.

?:

This Douche bag is calling for nuclear power, yet he is against Iran having any? What a crock.

C Meyer:

Regarding the statement "Some climate scientists argue that recent warming trends started in 1850, rose sharply until 1940, then decreased for 35 years. This is not what you would expect if warming was caused mainly by carbon emissions":

The decrease following 1940 was due to the masking effect of aerosol pollutants in our atmosphere, specifically (if I recall correctly) nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide (NOX and SOX in air quality parlance). These two were specifically targeted by the Clean Air Act in the early '70s (and corresponding regulation worldwide), hence the resumed rise in global temperatures.

Unfortunately, Singer falls for one of the factoids commonly taken out of context and misrepresented for intellectually dishonest ends in the whole global warming debate. If anything, the 35 year temperature decline from 1940 to 1975 merely demonstrates that humankind can profoundly affect our planet's climate--and that it is imperative we act more thoughtfully and sustainably as a result.

Salamon:

While I agree with the notion that Nuclear power generation should replace coal/oil/gas as the primary source of electricity, I disagree with major tax increase in the price of gas/dieasel for transportation needs in the short run.

In this vein the sequestering and burying of industrial CO2 should be encouraged, such as by ENCANA [a major gas/oil producer] in Wayneburn Saskatchewan [this effort also aims to recover oil from wells, which are past their present capability - for only 30% of an oil field is recoverable with the most modern technology].


In the long run tax increase can be enacted after the public transportation has been greatly increased. In North America [Canada/USA] the major urban centers were built with commuting in mind. The poorer segment of population can not afford the new cars [with or without tax-break for they pay very minimal taxes related to car costs] nor can they afford higher gasoline taxes, for their income is at the poverty line.

Major tax increases for gas guzzlers [Dodge Viper, Hummie, Motorhomes, 4x4 status symbols etc] with allowance for those who need to operate pickup trucks and vans [such as construction tradesmen, delivery organizations, workers in the bush etc]

The whole philosophy behind the the spread of suburbia/exurbia has to be revisited, with great emphasis on high rise construction at an affordable price. Such move cuts the need of cummuting, encroachement on the environment [less paving, more grass] and also helps in keeping the power requirement for heating/cooling at a better ratio than that of multiple single houses.

The transportation segment has to be so rearranged that need for trucking is replaced by rail as much as possible, for rail is far more efficient in cost and ecological sense than trucking.

Thom:

So, Everyone should use nuclear power. . . except Iran? Please explain that to me Singer.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.