Some Wednesday Night Science…
I’ve been looking at statistics which relate death rates to the type of power that is used (got into this without thinking while reading information on the 4 damaged nuclear reactors in Japan… and the knowledge that there are two more reactors, 5 & 6, which could be next).
To begin, however, we have to go over a unit of measurement. I’m not a science guy and am probably prone to mistakes… you real scientists and math wizards can correct me in the comments or by e-mail… so bear with me. Most of us are aware of the Kilowatt Hour (KWh). which is the basic unit of measure in our electric bills. To deal with the power/death ratio, however, we are going to need a bigger unit – power put out for a whole society is massive – and that unit is the Terawatt Hour (TWh), which equals 1,000,000,000 Kilowatt Hours.
Ok… if you’ve digested that, here’s a chart I picked up at NextBigFuture.com:
As you can see, death rates per TWh are much, much higher annually in world figures in the burn and smoke power sources. Look at solar, wind, hydro and, unfortunately, nuclear are quite low … the figure of deaths relating to “banqiao” under Hydro are quite high, but this relates to a one time occurance:
- 1975 failure (in Typhoon Nina–Banqiao dam failure (Chinese history))
The Banqiao Dam had been built on the Ru River in the early 1950s as part of a flood-prevention and electricity-production program aimed at controlling the Huang He (Yellow River). At a height of 387 feet (118 metres) and with a storage capacity of some 17.4 billion cubic feet (492 million cubic metres), it was designed to withstand a “1,000-year” flood (i.e., a flood level expected…
As to the danger of nuclear promoting a lower death rate, it should be noted that the Japanese tragedy is not considered a “nuclear accident”, but the result of earthquake and tsunami damage.
Every day when I walk out in the sun and the breeze, I think that I am experiencing the great power supplies that are with us all and that, for the most part, we ignore. After all the years we have known about the problems with coal and oil…and beside pollution we are also involved in wars in the middle east which we probably wouldn’t be were it not for oil… and have known what could be done with sun and wind, I cringe. People are so stupid.
- Lowering Deaths per Terawatt Hour for Civilization (nextbigfuture.com)
- Letters: Nuclear risks and the renewable alternatives (guardian.co.uk)
- Japan’s Nuclear Headache : Timeline and Reactor Status at Fukushima (themoderatevoice.com)
- Nuclear Apologists: Margaret Harding writes: ‘Everyone involved in nuclear science and technology is committed to a culture of safety’ (yukaazabu.wordpress.com)
- Green: Questions on the Nuclear Crisis in Japan (green.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Why The Situation In Japan Could Be Extremely Bullish For Oil (businessinsider.com)
- India will generate 25.5 TWH in the 12 months ending Mar 31, 2011 (nextbigfuture.com)
- Radiation exposure: How big is the threat in Japan? – Christian Science Monitor (news.google.com)
- Chu: Japan crisis could end up more serious than Three Mile Island (cnn.com)
Posted on March 16, 2011, in blogs, Business, Climate Change, Economics, Education, Finance, government, history, Internet, Opinion, quote, Technology, Weather, Word from Bill, World News and tagged Banqiao Dam, History of China, Japan, Kilowatt hour, Mortality rate, Nuclear, Nuclear power, Nuclear reactor technology, Typhoon Nina, Yellow River. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.