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Creator of the Gaia Hypothesis Urges Nuclear Power

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the making-those-splitting-decisions dept.

Biotech 1185

SteamyMobile writes "Professor James Lovelock, creator the Gaia Hypothesis and long-time intellectual leader of the Green movement, says that global warming is a dire threat, more urgent than was previously realized. He compares the threat of global warming with the threat of the Nazis in 1938, and says that in both cases, the Left was not able to grasp the urgency of the situation and see the necessary solution. What is the necessary solution to stop the global warming problem? He says it's nuclear power. Needless to say, the Greens don't agree with him, and he chides them as having irrational phobias of a safer, cleaner energy sources. Even if the "Left" isn't fully aware of the urgency of the world's energy problems, it seems like Slashdot is."

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Great (2, Insightful)

Peden (753161) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236032)

Does this guy know how much energy that goes into mining the Uranium? (Clue: Quite alot) We have to forget all the nonsense in mining our energy from the ground, and start putting some research into renewable stuff like plant-oils, wave and wind energy.

Re:Great (4, Insightful)

Gorny (622040) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236039)

We just don't have the time to develop those techniques into really usefull ones. Before we can apply them on a large scale and before we are able to get all our energy supplies from such sources we need to have a temporary solutation.

What about using the most obvious Nuclear Energy.. (4, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236063)

The sun? We've been harnesting the sun for thousands of years for our energy, why not keep going? We know we can grow things with the sun, we know the sun's rays can be converted into heat to turn a turbine, we know that the sun's radiation can be converted directly into electrical energy. From that alone, we have enough to power ourselves for quite a while.. Question is, when will everyone be convenced there is a problem, and when they are convenced, how willing will they be to give up their SUV's?

Re:What about using the most obvious Nuclear Energ (2, Insightful)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236104)

Question is, when will everyone be convenced there is a problem, and when they are convenced, how willing will they be to give up their SUV's?

This is a good question, but unfortunately it appears that the answer to this question is that people just will not do it (take their fat asses out of their SUV's) unless there is some catastrophic reason to do so...

The SUV syndrome is mob mentality at its utter finest. "If no-body else is going to stop driving SUV's, why should I stop" is really one of the biggest problems with this issue, a typical Consumerican viewpoint, derived directly from the callous mob mentality currently perpetuated by "consumerist" ideals ...

You don't have to give up SUV's (4, Informative)

Trurl's Machine (651488) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236162)

Please don't replicate the "every SUV must have bad fuel economy" meme. It's just not true. I drive a SUV and it's fuel economy [fueleconomy.gov] is better than that of many ordinary 2WD vehicles (22-27 mpg). This meme is dangerous, because many Americans believe that and therefore American companies see no reason to improve the fuel efficency of their horribly heavy, clunky and obsolete 4x4 behemoths. Japanese car companies do not have this luxury and it shows - Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander, Honda CR-V or Nissan X-Trail are great family machines and they are as environment-friendly as regular (non-SUV) vehicles. So you don't have to give up anything, if it's really that important for you to have American company badge on your car, buy a Subaru rebadged [geocities.com] as Chevrolet.

Re:What about using the most obvious Nuclear Energ (5, Insightful)

Whitecloud (649593) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236194)

current situation:

we use oil for energy. Problem, oil is a finite resource, it WILL [peakoil.net] run out. Alternatives are needed. Okay, we agree so far.

What about using the most obvious Nuclear Energy..The Sun?

No viable alternatives exist [hubbertpeak.com] yet. To quote verbatim:

Direct conversion of sunlight to electricity by solar cells is a promising technology, and already locally useful, but the amount of electricity which can be generated by that method is not great compared with demand. Because it is a low grade energy, with a low conversion efficiency (about 15%) capturing solar energy in quantity requires huge installations--many square miles. About 8 percent of the cells must be replaced each year. But the big problem is how to store significant amounts of electricity when the Sun is not available to produce it (Trainer, 1995), for example, at night. The problem remains unsolved. Because of this, solar energy cannot be used as a dependable base load. And, the immediate end product is electricity, a very limited replacement for oil. Also, adding in all the energy costs of the production and maintenance of PV (photovoltaic) installations, the net energy recovery is low (Trainer, 1995).

If you can think of a way to store this energy, fantastic, please share. Otherwise, back to the drawing board.

Re:Great (4, Informative)

Peden (753161) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236066)

They are there now! They just need a little more focus from the various governments. Half of my country's (Denmark) power in 2012 is supposed to be coming from winds, and we are close to getting there. Check out www.vestas.com, the world's biggest supplier og windmills. Let's harness the nature's powers instead of raping it's resources.

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236088)

Except, nuclear energy is not a temporary solution, more like an eternal problem and a very high short term risk. As long as people drive around in 10+ l/100km (25miles/gallon) cars, there's absolutely no rational reason for nuclear energy. You can buy less wasteful cars _right_now_. You can build homes with excellent efficiency _right_now_.

Re:Great (2, Interesting)

AgentSmit (764269) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236135)

How about not living in areas that are so warm, you need airconditioning to keep yourself functioning? California! Man, those airconditioners really consume (uhh, convert) too much energy. The fact about global warming is that society denies there is a problem, but worse, there is a solution too. Or perhaps the solution is the reason why we don't want to see the problem. Anyways, I am going to enjoy my peanut butter sandwich now.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236167)

You can stop spreading false facts _right_now_ too. Give me a break with the nuclear paranoia, it's as safe as anything, unless if implemented by a communist country who thinks they know better than funding their plants for safety.

Re:Great (2, Informative)

jlar (584848) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236143)

Wind energy is already useful. In Denmark (which is a world leader in wind energy) we have the capacity to cover 20% of our electricity consumption by wind energy in a normal wind year.

This rate is climbing quickly and by 2030 we will cover 50% of our electricity usage by wind energy.
It is probably not possible to go much higher due to the fluctuating nature of wind energy - but the technology to produce cheap wind energy is already here. If we combine wind energy with other clean energy sources (like nuclear power for example) it is thus not that hard to imagine a future with clean electricity.

Of course we will also have to use clean energy sources for heating and transportation. In my opinion the most obvious savings come from reductions in energy usage in these areas for example by imposing mandatory isolation in building regulations (but I might be wrong).

Re:Great (2, Informative)

deragon (112986) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236206)

There is alot of talk about wind energy in the province of Quebec, Canada. However, I often heard by experts that power from wind cannot be more than 20% or else the fluctuations become problematic. You state 50%. I am curious to know more and if you have any links/info about it (in english, or french please. ;) ), please feel free to post.

Re:Great (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236200)

Time? Of course we have bloody time. What you really mean 'we don't have the will'. And why not? Because it would mean having to change your habits of energy consumption. A very significant part of the produced energy and other resources is spent (wasted, if you ask me) on inessential things like entertainment, toy cars (like SUVs) and 'consumer items' we would be healthier without.

Another - possibly more important reason for the lack of will is, that the established chain of companies involved in energy production don't want to change. They haven't finished making shameless profits on fossil fuel, and having to change would cost money, plus, they would have a lot of equipment for oil- and coal production that would be of no use anymore.

We already know what to do, essentially:

1. Sustainable techniques for producing are already well known, and we would very quickly develop better methods once we relied solely one them. IOW: Just do it.

2. Cut seriously back on what we spend energy on. Does an average household really need several TVs, computers, electronic games, microwave ovens, electric can openers etc etc - or are these things just stupid luxuries? If you want to know about what is essential and what isn't, try going on a holiday with a tent (and no car!) or something. It's not a lot of hardship living without a large part of all those things.

The tent holiday example shows how little we actually need to survive - comfortably, even. So stop consuming so much unnecessary crap - the most blindingly stupid example I know of is the way our society produces 'instant rubbish': the wrappers, mostly plastic (ie. made from oil), that comes with so many things. Can you think of anything more extreme?

Solar power is ready now: Just ask us aussies. (5, Interesting)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236208)

I'm a west australian, and I'll tell you this. Solar is ready to go NOW.

Up in the north of WA, we have a fair amount of mining, and reeeeeeealy remote towns (like towns with 500k spacings between each one and just desert in between) , and many many aboriginal communities with perhaps 20 members and the like.

Through necesity, alot of these places are using solar energy, simply because it isnt feasible to stick all that copper around the place. This includes mining btw which is verry energy intensive.

There are folks up there also using 'bio diesel', which is basically canola oil + ethanol + an agent to 'crack' the oil (dont ask me what that means, cos I dont know either!) since its cheaper to make diesel then to drive it there.

You can get a handfull of large solar panels , chuck it on the roof, stick it thru a 240w inverter and blammo. You dont have to pay power bills again (factor in 10 batteries every 5 years tho).

It can be done, we just need to get off our ass and do it. In some parts of the north west of australia, solar is the rule, not the exception.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236055)

As opposed to the huge energy we can get out of Uranium?

Some ranting. (4, Insightful)

DoctorNathaniel (459436) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236073)

Not a great deal more energy than mining fossil fuels.

I tend to agree that nuclear fission is a pretty good interrim solution, particularly when coupled with aggressive conservation measures.

The problem is, it's got a lot of problems that we are simply deferring. Two big ones: risk of disaster, and what to do with the dead fuel rods. The first is controllable, the second is a pain in the ass. Both are suffer from the 'not in my backyard' mentality.

But nuclear power is NOT a long-term solution. There probably isn't even a long-term magic bullet. Some of the things that can save us: high-temperature superconductors (for zero-loss transmission lines), nuclear fusion, alternative energy sources, and reduction of power use.

The latter needs to be taken seriously with the others. If it's too hot to live where you are in the summer, the right answer might be 'don't live there' rather than 'turn up the A/C'. This is easy to manage: simply let the price of power rise to match how much it actually costs to make.. INCLUDING the environmental cleanup costs of the technology you use.


There is some hope (2, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236124)

Nuclear fusion is getting there [bbc.co.uk] slowly but surely.

Re:Some ranting. (1)

oiper (575250) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236152)

If we just had that dang space elevator working we could launch the dead rods into space! =P

Re:Some ranting. (5, Informative)

sexecutioner (597887) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236186)

Synroc [uic.com.au] solves the second "Pain in The Arse" problem.

But you're right about the "not in my backyard" syndrome. I've studied Synroc and it really is the perfect solution (btw I work upstairs from where it was developed) but who in the world will listen to reason about it?

Re:Some ranting. (1)

rediguana (104664) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236209)

Both are suffer from the 'not in my backyard' mentality... for zero-loss transmission lines...

You forgot the fact that more distribution needs to occur closer to where it is used. Large cities will need their generation nearby to reduce transmission loss. Of course this brings up NIMBY again as no-one wants solar panels, or wind farms in their own back yard. But I feel that is the price that people are going to have to pay in the future.

Re:Great (2, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236085)

Do you know how much energy goes into *name an energy collection technique* (Clue: Quite a lot).

The question isn't how much energy goes in, it's HOW MUCH COMES OUT. The three technologies you name can't produce the kinds of power we need. Wind, maybe, waves, no, plant-oils, only in combination with other hydrocarbons with current technology.

Nuclear energy is the right avenue to take.. but the question is can we do it safely, and will we not just create more nuclear waste? Seems like we could create nuclear devices that never needed to be repowered, since radioactive material stays radioactive for a long long time. But I'm not in the mood to work that out..

Maybe we should look into the big nuclear orb in the sky that has powered life on earth since long before our existance: the sun?

Re:Great (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236155)

Actually given the amount of energy that is spent just to transport energy, I think distributed generation is the thing to look in to...

Re:Great (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236097)

> Does this guy know how much energy that goes into mining the Uranium? (Clue: Quite alot)

How is this energy obtained? If it's in the form of petrol used by mining machinery, I see your point, but if it can just be pulled from the power grid then it doesn't stop nuclear power from being greenhouse-gas-neutral. Assuming that the power grid is being supplied by nuclear plants.

Re:Great (5, Interesting)

dotwaffle (610149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236164)

You forget, you Americans (by that, I do of course mean the Government, and not the quite palatable denizens) use hardly any of the energy available in that Uranium. 98% of the mass put in comes out as waste. Look at Sellafield in the UK, only 2% comes out as waste, as a hell of a lot of reprocessing goes on, I in fact believe that they are the most efficient in the world! If everyone reprocessed their waste a lot, then Yucca mountain would not be necessary to store all the waste, you could in fact use a place at least 20 times smaller, and somewhere a little safer too I might add!

Re:Great (1)

Mr Europe (657225) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236165)

Does this guy know how much energy that goes into mining the Uranium? (Clue: Quite alot)
I completely disagree. All the costs from purchasing the mining area to the final positioning of the waste have been calculated already into the nuclear energy price ! Who do you think that has paid all that if not the energy users ?

Wind Energy Won't Work. (1)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236174)

The amount of energy produced from wind is proportion to the speed of the wind cubed. Power companies run on tight margins of error and cannot afford going from 100% power to 12.5% power simply because the wind blows at half speed that day.

Power storages, even some of the more creative solutions involving them, are stopgap solutions at best. In most areas of the US the wind isn't overly reliable.

Wind makes a great backup, but I wouldn't want to depend on it as a primary source.

Get a Clue (3, Insightful)

Lancebert (450767) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236187)

Get a Clue: Building and running a nuclear plant requires LESS energy than it takes to build and maintain a solar or wind farm of the same capacity. The energy payback time for building a nuclear plant is less than a month. The energy payback time for building a wind farm is 2 months to 2 years and 2 to 7 years for solar.

Also, what is not frequently mentioned is the difference between baseload and peaking power plants. Nuclear, coal, hydro are baseload power stations that provide constant energy throughout the day. Natural gas and renewables are peaking plants that cover periods of peak demand - though renewables are less reliable even here. Therefore, renewables are not an attractive option for a large fraction of our energy use since they cannot compete for the baseload market.

Re:Great (1)

platypus (18156) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236197)

Does this guy know how much energy that goes into mining the Uranium? (Clue: Quite alot)

I don't one can successful argue against nuclear energy with scientific or economical reasons.
I think nuclear power _is_ the best option we have if everything goes like it should. I am even willing to accept that the economical and safety and deposit issues are solved.
But I think one has to include a "politic" or "social" component.
Fact is, there are many interfering factors which you can't eliminate. For instance, there are criminals, and there's a lot of money to be made if you are a criminal in the nuclear industry. Not only weapons stuff, but also not caring for security as you should, or illegally deposing nuclear waste (there's a lot of contaminated stuff to be deposed).

With nuclear power, in my opinion, the cost of a "failure" like described above in the whole system (which is bound to happen, make no mistake) is just too expensive.

wow (-1, Redundant)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236033)

not much else to say than that.
seems like a pretty bleak future is ahead if we cant figure this out.... maybe even if we can

Re:wow (4, Funny)

SlashdotLemming (640272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236169)

not much else to say than that. seems like a pretty bleak future is ahead if we cant figure this out.... maybe even if we can

This is Slashdot, where all futures are bleak. Kill yourself now (but give me your boxes first)

Go Go Godwin!! (1, Funny)

wfberg (24378) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236036)

Totally off-topic Nazi comparison made. Thread closed.

Re:Go Go Godwin!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236119)

WTF? Wake up, mods, that was +5 Funny, not -1 Troll! The comparison to the Nazis was made in the frickin' article which is kinda like a thread self-destruct. Hilarious! Comedy mutha-frickin' Gold!

Wow (5, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236042)

If a guy like him advocates nuclear power as a way to avoid global warming, the risks must be enormous indeed.

Even if global warming is not as bad as predicted, the about face is certainly interesting.

Re:Wow (5, Interesting)

replicant108 (690832) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236179)

Lovelock has been advocating nuclear energy for a while now.

From a September 2000 article in the Guardian:

"And then they say: what shall we do with nuclear waste?" Lovelock has an answer for that, too. Stick it in some precious wilderness, he says. If you wanted to preserve the biodiversity of rainforest, drop pockets of nuclear waste into it to keep the developers out. The lifespans of the wild things might be shortened a bit, but the animals wouldn't know, or care. Natural selection would take care of the mutations. Life would go on."

Guardian article here [guardian.co.uk]

Aren't they brilliant... (-1, Troll)

Woy (606550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236048)

'Only nuclear power can now halt global warming'

If these damm environmentalists hadn't been whinning about nuclear for so long, we WOULDN'T HAVE THE PROBLEM TO BEGIN WITH! Yeah, such an original solution, i knew these ppl would solve it for the rest of us!

Why yes, i hate demagogy...

Re:Aren't they brilliant... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236079)

While there have been some probelms with nuclear power and the accidents were the fault of humans, not the technology, a properly regulated and safeguarded plant is safe. It's always been a pity that the Greens, as per usual, allow idealogy to get in the way of the facts.

Something like the vi vs Emacs debate, but lets not go there :)

The issue now is that the Greens have been scaremongering for so long, the preception of nuke power being totally evil along the lines of say a Michale Jackson slumber party is so engrained into Joe Public, nuclear power has a real unjustified image problem.

Listen you hippies, grow up. It's time to realise that your facist ways are preventing real solutions now. Bring on nuclear power....

And yes, I'll live next to it. Hell, my wife's parents live near one. Big deal.

Re:Aren't they brilliant... (1)

Woy (606550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236113)

The problem with environmentalists is that they should be the ones defending the right choice! I mean, ppl are used to the current situation, but it is akin to having medical doctors poison and try to kill you when you check in sick at an hospital. We have a problem, some ppl devote their lifes to studying it, some ppl interest themselves in the subject and keep informed, and then all that ppl advocates the wrong choice! Who in hell is going to save us?

Environmentalism is a failure on all levels as it exists today. It is THEIR fault that we are in the current situation, not some industrial company who does what it is supposed to do: profit! It's the environmentalists that failed us.

Re:Aren't they brilliant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236144)

Nope, I've read this three times and I still can't see your point. How are environmentalists to blame for high gas prices and pollution?

Re:Aren't they brilliant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236166)

Its the environmentalists fault?

Jesus fucking christ you're an idiot. You're a Bush voter right? More polution = clear skies, all that bullshit?

Sure the environmentalists can be criticized for some things, but "its all their faulr?"

Are you really this stupid? Is anyone?

Re:Aren't they brilliant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236201)

What are vi and Emacs? I use Microsoft Word meself.

Re:Aren't they brilliant... (1)

jonastullus (530101) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236158)

oh, now things become a lot clearer!!!

i thought that global warming (if really induced by humanity) was a cause of combusting fossile fuels and thus releasing previously bound CO2. not to forget our (european and american) incredible waste of energy and ressources!

how exactly do we have the problem of global warming due to nuclear energy?? the environmentalists haven't really proposed going back to fossile fuels but instead have campaigned for regenerative energy sources like wind, water, sun, ...

disclaimer: blaming global warming on the environmentalists is the most stupid thing i've ever heard!

Nuclear power isn't all that bad (4, Interesting)

drizst 'n drat (725458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236050)

FOr the most part nuclear engery is not a bad solution to the ever growing problem of increased fossil fuel prices and declining stocks of oil reserves. Burning coal -- no way. Sure, nuclear power got a bad deal when 3 Mile Island and Chernoybal had their problems, but then those designs were old to begin with. There are reactor designs that are safer and more efficient. I think it's time to start bringing back nuclear power plants again. You need energy to power your computers ... what's the problem.

Re:Nuclear power isn't all that bad (0, Flamebait)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236099)

Why not coal? [nathanielenergy.com] . It [nathanielenergy.com] could work out very well for us, you know. Better than it has in the past anyway.

Reactor safety (5, Insightful)

lachlan76 (770870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236120)

I don't know very much about three mile island, but as I recall, the Soviet reactor designs were all quite unreliable. At the time, I guess what the Soviet Government really cared about was the electricity plutonium that the reactor produced. I think Chernobyl melted down around 82? In the 80s I think. I'm only 14, so I don't remember the Soviets, but being towards the end of the Cold War, the Soviet economic situation would have been quite poor, and they could not have afforded maintenence, etc. as well as we can now.
Since technology has improved, I would have thought that today's reactors would be safer and more efficient than designs from 20 years ago. I'm from Australia where we don't have nuclear rectors (except for Lucas Heights, near Sydney, but that is used for research, producing isotopes for radio-medicine, and producing more pure silicon (neutron bombardment doping, i think) by using neutrons to turn 1 in a billon silicon atoms into phosphorus, producing N-Type silicon. Lucas Heights has 15% of the world market, and I would like to see how well a processor made of this would overclock).
Nuclear power will be the way of the future, but Australia will take time to adopt it, with a supply of coal to last hundreds of years.

Re:Nuclear power isn't all that bad (4, Interesting)

Epistax (544591) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236128)

I am a full supporter of nuclear power. To start off with there is no doubt that it's the best thing we have--when nothing goes wrong. When things *do* go wrong, we need to be ready. Meltdowns can be made physically impossible at nearer plants and miniaturization allows us to have quadruple redundancy (or more) on all vital control systems.

To me there are only two real threats caused by nuclear power. The first is gradual degradation of components at a plant may not be properly noticed. There is a very good chance of this happening but as long as we activity examine all potential radioactivity releasers we won't have a problem. The second is waste disposal. Our current technique is to truck across the country. The public belief is when you do this often enough, eventually something has to go wrong. I would wonder if it's possible to build the disposal system into the plant. The actual size of the waste increases by at least one order of magnitude when we prepare it for cross-country freight.

What happens if we find out fusion cannot make a sustainable energy source? Oil won't last a hundred years and coal might be extremely destructive to our planet. Our technology isn't good in solar power yet but there is hope there. As far as I can tell, the only real world solution is nuclear power.

Damn Straight (3, Insightful)

mphase (644838) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236053)

I really like it when people involved in saving the planet and all that are still able to think rationally use see things like nuclear power as useful. And it is useful, even if only for a few generations nuclear power is one of the best options available. That said I want an array of satellites collecting solar energy and sending it down to earth via microwave as soon as is feasible. And then after that I want feasible fusion damnit.

Re:Damn Straight (1)

tannable75 (781684) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236094)

It will be hard to ever overcome the "not in my backyard" problem. Even if everyone agrees that nuke power is a good stopgap to the energy problem, who will have them in their backyard? I love the satellite idea. A very high orbit sattelite could harness a tremendous amount of energy that is otherwise absorbed by the earth's magnetic field.

Re:Damn Straight (1, Interesting)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236142)

Beamed power is a great concept, and with the advances in quantum technology, it could be become even more viable than originally thought. Many physics labs have teleported electrons, and a lab in Australia managed to teleport an entire laser beam. Imagine if we could teleport energy from those solar-orbit satellites down to earth. No loss of energy in the atmosphere, and if the teleports off, the energy just gets earthed straight away, no searing blaze of microwaves torching a town a la SimCity.

Re:Damn Straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236182)

Build a space elevator first. Use the space elevator to hoist the materials for the massive solar array. Then, beam the energy from space to collectors at the top of the space elevator, not directly to earth. Then transmit the power on high-voltage lines down the space elevator.

Gets past the problems of: 1. Getting the solar arrays into orbit. 2. Beaming energy through an atmosphere that's never really transparent. 3. Accidentally frying some town if the ground-based targeting fails.

The 'Day After Tommorrow' (4, Interesting)

osewa77 (603622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236056)

The recent movie The Day After Tommorrow [afriguru.com] makes global warning seem like a more imminent threat than it probably is. Could it be that those more concerned about the risks have taken its release as a good opportunity for sounding their views (since people will be more receptive?)

Re:The 'Day After Tommorrow' (4, Insightful)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236071)

Could very well be.

Its not like all the missile and space-radar scientists weren't getting all white-paper'y about meteorite attacks when that WhatsItsName Bruce Willis movie was in the theatres ... ... or the SMART initiative guys getting all festery when the "Day After" movies were made (about nuclear war) ... or all the DNA-priests getting all aglow after "GATTACA" ...

Hollywood. Its propaganda, done right.

Re:The 'Day After Tommorrow' (0)

miketang16 (585602) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236080)

Maybe it's just that this guy saw that movie, and that's why he's complaining.

Re:The 'Day After Tommorrow' (1)

SlashdotLemming (640272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236183)

Maybe it's just that this guy saw that movie, and that's why he's complaining.

I didn't see the movie, but the global warming link is plastered all over the media. This guy just sees a good opportunity to push his agenda.

Re: The 'Day After Tommorrow' (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236102)

> The recent movie The Day After Tommorrow makes global warning seem like a more imminent threat than it probably is. Could it be that those more concerned about the risks have taken its release as a good opportunity for sounding their views (since people will be more receptive?)

Some people are concerned that the comic-book misportrayal of GW in the movie will make people less likely to take it seriously.

Re:The 'Day After Tommorrow' (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236114)

This was just the start, they are already planning to do a big push once the movie is released.
Expect to see alot of them on talk shows, and "news" channels like MSNSC/CNN talking about how the movie was factual.
They are also planning to do a big push of thier religions into schools during to go along with the movie release.

Re:The 'Day After Tommorrow' (4, Informative)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236121)

Could it be that those more concerned about the risks have taken its release as a good opportunity for sounding their views (since people will be more receptive?)

YES: This is the movie's website, with the banner "The day after tomorrow, where will you be?": www.thedayaftertomorrow.com [thedayaftertomorrow.com] , while this site is setup by Greenpeace, and highlights current issues and politics, under the banner "The day is today, what will you do?": www.thedayaftertomorrow.org [thedayaftertomorrow.org] .

Smart marketing.

Re:The 'Day After Tommorrow' (1)

illuminata (668963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236203)

All of the hopes that The Day After Tommorow will strike a mainstream debate pretty much depends on how big of an impact it will make in the box office. I'm not even speaking of whether or not it'll go #1, but whether or not it'll go #1 in a big way. So far, there doesn't seem to be that much hype behind it. They are airing a lot of commercials but the only thing I've noticed a station doing for it is giving the basic pre-release interviews and a Weather Channel special.

It probably wouldn't hurt that this movie doesn't suck either. But, this is coming from Roland Emmerich, the guy who gave us such junk as the 1998 Godzilla (directed and wrote the screenplay) and Independence Day (directed and wrote). In fact, The Day After Tomorrow is marketed as being done by the man who brought us Independence Day. We all might have thought it was nifty back then because of all the special effects, but those who try to give it another look find it to be a total cheese fest.

But hey, why can't a bad movie still strike a debate? I mean, a lot of people thought The Passion of the Christ was a steaming pile. However, it did get rave reviews from the Christian community. Let's face it, global warming isn't the contentious issue Jesus is. It might have a lot of heat behind it, but it's no Jesus. So, you're less likely such a strong debate no matter what.

Also, any smart Green supporter would keep out of any debate that might arise from this movie anyway. This movie is not based on science at all; meaning that any Green in a debate would have to make the concession that "this movie isn't really based in science, but something like this really could happen if we let things get out of hand!" That does nothing but make the supporter look like an uneducated jackass; which is part of the debate anyways. Remember, Christians weren't really asked to cough up proof of the Biblical stories when The Passion was a center of debate. Most of the talk was around potential anti-Semitism. Besides, all they have to do is believe to keep alive in a debate since they're not really dealing with science most of the time. However, it's going to take a little more than a belief to push Green solutions and ideals.

oblig simpsons quote: (5, Funny)

trs9000 (73898) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236057)

overheard in springfield, ??:


What about solar towers? (4, Interesting)

Rolo Tomasi (538414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236059)

What about solar towers, like this one [nsw.gov.au] . What keeps us from plastering earth's deserts with these things?

Re:What about solar towers? (1)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236082)

Call me naive but I hardly think plastering a desert with towers that, by design, pump hot air out into the atmosphere will reduce global warming.

That said I used to live near there and I think its a wicked cool idea

Re:What about solar towers? (3, Informative)

Des Herriott (6508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236191)

This tower doesn't heat air; it causes hot air at ground level to rise through the tower, driving turbines inside the tower.

Now, there may be unforeseen climatic consequences of heating the air 1km up (but the energy "stolen" by driving the turbines should result in the air being fairly cool when it exits the tower), but it's not pumping hot air "out into the atmosphere" - where do you think the hot air came from in the first place?

Re:What about solar towers? (3, Informative)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236207)

"Call me naive but I hardly think plastering a desert with towers that, by design, pump hot air out into the atmosphere will reduce global warming."

what else was that solar energy going to do if it wasn't intercepted??? it was going to heat the sand up anyway and eventually the air as well... those solar towers are going to cool the desert, not heat it up...

Re:What about solar towers? (2, Insightful)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236087)

A) Special Interests, and:
B) Special Interests.

Until Solar Towers are proven effective - i.e. have been online, operational, and generating power for at least 2 years, maybe 5, nobody is going to invest in them.

Its far too easy for power brokers to keep their capital tied up in fluid, moving markets, such as those offered by petroleum industries, than to invest heavily in something which currently has no market, and no 'capital strengths' other than "it will make everyone happier" ...

Special Interests are cold, vicious animals of our own creating. The corporate view isn't always the holiest one ... but give us (yay Aussies!) enough time to bring solar towers into the collective consciousness, and these SI's may turn yet ...

Re:What about solar towers? (3, Interesting)

jadel (746203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236168)

according to this page [solarmissi...logies.com] a 50KW prototype was tested in spain over a period of several years. Of course that is 1/4000th of the planned installations size, but at least it isn't totally theoretical.

Re:What about solar towers? (1)

jadel (746203) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236109)

"Fragile Desert Ecosystem"
Personally I would wilingly trade a big chunk of the sahara - or Lake Eyre for that matter, it only fills up every ten years or so anyway ;)
This design also gets around the problem of power generation outside of peak periods by storing heat under the greenhouse area.

Re:What about solar towers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236133)

Sounds like a lot of resources to build those things.

Re:What about solar towers? (1)

dotwaffle (610149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236173)

George Bush Jr, OPEC, Need for portable fuel... The list goes on... And how exactly are you going to transport all this energy?

Re:What about solar towers? (3, Interesting)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236189)

"And how exactly are you going to transport all this energy? "

split water to make hydrogen and oxygen... duh...

Re:What about solar towers? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236199)

I don't think you'd need that, just put solar panels over all the parking lots.
Reduce the heat load on populated areas and generate power where its needed.
Also, states/counties could require a certain percent of the parking lots being covered by solar panels, just like they can require other stuff - donations on land, set-asides for low-income housing, etc...

At last one of the tree huggers gets it right (-1, Troll)

hairykrishna (740240) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236062)

Kind of anyway...
Soon it's going to be a choice between nuclear and sitting in the dark.

Re:At last one of the tree huggers gets it right (1)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236159)

Hey - If we go nuclear we can all get irradiated and end the curse of sitting in the dark forever, having become our own personal light sources...

Seriously, I think that there is far too much FUD about nuclear energy. Yes, the consequences of an accident are horrible, yes the spent fuel is very nasty to deal with, but is it really any worse than the current fossil-fuel systems that we rely on now?

I'm always amazed (1)

LOL WTF OMG!!!!!!!!! (768357) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236064)

At how those against nuclear power like to cite the Chernobyl accident, as apparently they feel it is proper to equate a plant that was a zillion miles from a water source to the San Onofre plant which is cooled by the Pacific Ocean.

Burning coal in the midwest has caused horrible acid rain in Canada. People really need to rethink how "unclean" nuclear byproducts are.

Well.. (3, Interesting)

manavendra (688020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236065)

While the analogy of threat of global warming to threat of Hitler can be argued, if nothing else, non-conventional means of energy shall soon be required since there aren't that many natural resources available anymore.

Maybe it is urban legend, but we all keep hearing about the number of years after which gasoline would be unavailable. No matter how inaccurate that claim is, the current gas prices do seem an indicator of that :-

Nuclear energy has always been safe and a lot less polluting than the conventional means. Coupled with the almost limitless harvestation of it and the relative safefy with which it can be produced, I think it is time the world woke up to it.

Next thing you know... (2, Funny)

SeaDour (704727) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236067)

...he'll be telling us we have to collect eight "spirits" to "heal" Gaia, while the military will be advocating the use of a giant orbital laser. Pffffftt.

This just for saving humans... (5, Insightful)

ScottGant (642590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236069)

These green people are ultimatly interested in saving the human race...not the planet.

Do we really think that we, with a few fossil fuels and other environmental crap we throw into the air and water over the past 150 year, can really change the Earth?

The Earth will shuck us off like a bad case of fleas. 1 million years from now...which is but an eyeblink to the Earth...we'll be long gone. A footnote as it were. The Earth will heal itself.

So please, stop with the "Save the planet" high-horse. The planet isn't going anywhere...WE ARE! So say what you really mean...save the humans.

(paraphrased quite a bit from George Carlin btw)

Re:This just for saving humans... (1)

VdG (633317) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236138)

I agree. When people look ahead a few hundred years they're hailed as long-term visionaries. But "long term" as far as the Earth is concerned is a few hundred MILLION years. Short of the cold-wars worst thermonuclear nightmares it's hard to imagine we can have a truly lasting effect on our planet.
In a million years we'll be long gone; in a billion we'll have been replaced by a new intellignet life-form evolved from a Chihuahua.

Re:This just for saving humans... (2, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236172)

These green people are ultimatly interested in saving the human race...not the planet.

And this is a bad thing... why?

Renewables are better in the long term (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236077)

While it's true that nuclear power is one of the best int the short term but I think in the long term renewables are preferable.

With renewables:

- You don't have to mine

- You don't have to pay except initial investment and maintainance

- You don't have to take care of waste.

- It's distributable. Everybody can have it in their houses.

- Recent breaktrhoughts in solar cells will make them efficient and cheap.

But is it a real problem ? (5, Insightful)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236081)

Ok, we all know that the sea levels will rise, the weather will be come (even more) unpredictable, etc,etc. But every documentary I have seen on this subject, seems to use 2 different sources for its data. At first, they use data gained from antarctic ice cores that show that this has happened ("global warming") time and again over a considerable amount of time. Then suddenly, the doomsday scenario is based on the fact that the changes in the global climate have happened in the 400 or so years since records began.

How can you accept both points of view ? It is misleading to suggest that humans are the cause of global warming. I fully agree that we as a race should seek some non-polluting energy source over one that has shown to be bad for us, let alone the planet, but to use misleading information to achieve social indignation is wrong.

Global warming is a catch-phrase, being used to describe potential doom. Even if we all stopped using electricity and cars etc, then the planet would still go through immense environmental changes, as it has done since the beginning. News flash, the sahara used to be green and pleasant, and before that it was under water. Are we as humans responsible for that too ?

Re:But is it a real problem ? (1)

skyhawker (234308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236125)

Are we as humans responsible for that too?
How long have you been reading /.? The person responsible is George Bush!

Einstein (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236089)

> He compares the threat of global warming with
> the threat of the Nazis in 1938

He makes the same mistake Einstein made: choosing the lesser evil in the face of a greater one (Einstein wrote a letter to the US President urging the development of the atomic bomb to stop the Nazis...a step he later regretted as the greatest error of his life).

Nuclear power is not clean by any means or even resource-smart. It's not even the possibility of an accident that's the main issue: the amount of radioactive waste *before* and *after* the power generation is simply staggering. We don't have the luxury anymore of "solutions" that aren't. There is no magic wand in any case, nuclear power included. Any resolution will have to be a combined framework of multiple approaches, aforemost all of them is energy conservation which alone could slash current energy demand by a third if not half if thoroughly addressed on all levels.

Godwin's law (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236092)

Wow, the OP compared global warming to nazis, thus invoking Godwin's law [catb.org] before the discussion even started.
I have no choice but to declare this thread officially closed...

It's About Time (3, Interesting)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236101)

I'm glad that he's come out and said this (and it's amazing that it wasn't treated in a more negative way by the Independent - a notoriously hysterically anti-nuclear newspaper).

The Environmental Movement needs to be kicked into reality, and this sort of announcement might get things moving.

Unfortunately for us in the UK, the "environmentalists" coupled with weak-willed and short-sighted politicians have squandered away our nuclear exeprtise and brought about the decline of the civillian nuclear industry, much to my personal dismay and that of former colleagues and friends.

As with many things, the UK once lead the world in nuclear power technology. Now we mearly run our stations into the ground, defuel them, and tidy up. We're burning gas hell for leather, and peppering the countryside with ugly, intusive and pretty feeble wind turbines.

I made the decision to leave the nuclear industry 5 years ago, and I'm glad I did. They were talking of building new capacity maybe in 50 years' time. What good is that?

Re:It's About Time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236204)

"Unfortunately for us in the UK, the "environmentalists" coupled with weak-willed and short-sighted politicians have squandered away our nuclear exeprtise and brought about the decline of the civillian nuclear industry, much to my personal dismay and that of former colleagues and friends."

That and the fact that our nuclear industry is a bankrupt money pit despite the high subsidies it receieves, never having made a profit or even having faced its running costs, let alone the cost of spent fuel disposal.

Bogeyman (3, Insightful)

mariox19 (632969) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236105)

[Lovelock] compares the threat of global warming with the threat of the Nazis in 1938...

Don't get me wrong -- the Nazis were bad, bad men. But raising the "Nazi bogeyman" at every turn is really the sign of intellectual laziness.

and the Nuclear waste goes where ? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236106)

we can barely cope with it now resorting to hiding it in caves (Yucca mountains in USA) which is the equivalent of sweeping it under the carpet, a potential timebomb for 10,000 years

so if we suddenly convert everything to nuke power we really are going to have to think of something better than hiding it while we create massive quantities of radioactive sludge

I am in joking mood, sorry... (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236108)

Even if the "Left" isn't fully aware of the urgency of the world's energy problems, it seems like Slashdot is."

In other news:
By the "Right" means of total information awareness on all it's readers, Slashdot makes urgently an evolution advance to self-consciousness.

Been there, done that. (4, Informative)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236117)

Come on, we're already up to 75% of our electricity from nukes.

Oh, you're not in France.

Get with the act you luddites.

This message submitted with the help of the friendly atom.

Re:Been there, done that. (1)

dotwaffle (610149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236180)

Are you serious? Just out of interest, where does the other power come from? And what happens with French waste?

Global Warming - Dead Reefs (4, Insightful)

Talisman (39902) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236122)

For those who doubt the effects of global warming, I recommend taking up SCUBA. Not only is it a great sport, you'll get to see first-hand the effects of global warming, and it WILL scare you.

The Seychelles reefs [disasterrelief.org] are just about gone. What was once arguably the best reef to dive in the world outside the Great Barrier is now a graveyard.

And this knowledge isn't from reading an alarmist's evaluation of the situation, it is from seeing it with my own eyes on dives I did last year on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. A conservative estimate would be that 90% of the reefs are dead. Probably closer to 95%, but as I didn't dive every square inch, I can't say there aren't some pristine patches somewhere. There very well may be, I just didn't see them.

As for the Florida and Great Barrier reefs, I can also attest to their ailing health. I live just above the Keys and dive them regularly, and I dove the GB Reef about 10 weeks ago. The destruction is real.

Don't take anyone's word for it. Go strap on a set of tanks and see it for yourself. It's a wake-up call.


Re:Global Warming - Dead Reefs (4, Insightful)

Llywelyn (531070) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236184)

There is no question that global warming is happening. There is a question of whether humans have anything to do with it and whether humans can do anything to stop it.

Stop caricaturizing people please (2, Insightful)

beforewisdom (729725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236136)

Who is "the left"?

I have been very impressed with the diverse range of opinions many people have.

The only place where I haven't seen this is in people who buy their ideas wholesale in a package deal from talk radio dj/cranks like the author of this thread has.

Who is "the left"?

If you eat tofu are you "the left", and are you against atomic energy?

Now that this person supports atomic energy does that mean he is a republican?



Nuclear fusion is the answer (1)

photonic (584757) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236137)

I recently saw the 'fusion roadshow' by our national plasma research institute. Although it was actually targetted at highschools it was great fun to watch with a whole audience of physicists. Their predictions were however a little bit negative: almost all of the fossil fuels will be used up in the next century when we achieve a maximum population of around 10 billion. Renewable energy sources such as wind power and hydraulics will be used more, but they will never be able to supply more than 25% of total demand. Their obvious answer was to invest in nuclear fusion now, all the other types cannot be scaled up enough.

Apparently the current best fusion reactor, JET [efda.org] , is close to break even point (energy in versus energy out). The future project ITER [iter.org] , to be built in France/Japan/Spain (depending on politics), will be the first to actually be a net energy producer. This will still only be a research plant. Production type plants are expected around 100 years from now, mightbe just in time to save us when the oil dries up.

You Mfail it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236139)

at This 4oint [goat.cx]

Finally someone on the Left making sense.... (0, Flamebait)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236147)

Enviro-nuts scream about this problem... from every side! We have blackouts in California and NYC that made world news over the last couple years, yet the local energy companies can't build new power producing plants to keep up with demand... whether it be coal, gas or nuclear. Why? Enviro-nuts!

It seems these groups have campaigned against ANY type of energy plants in the last few years, and in fact, are responsible for our high gas prices right now. The main factor in the $2.07 national average for unleaded gas is that we do not have enough refineries to turn crude into usable fuel. Our refineries are at 95% capacity.... all attempts to build additional plants in the last few years have been destroyed by these Enviro-nuts.

I know this is a rant, and will probably get modded down... but hey, life is all about risks. My point is that these people on the left, these Enviro-nuts, have hindered Americas ability to recover from the Clinton-Gore recession by limiting oil refinement and limiting the building of new power generation stations (of all kinds, including Nuclear) forcing the U.S. to take huge hits to the economy when the price of gas goes high or when we have blackouts that take out our nation's largest business sectors.

And the worse part about it, these same nuts will be the first people to complain when they couldn't have their morning latte's or moca's because there was no electricity to heat or cool up their drinks!

Let us improve ourselves from this thread (1)

beforewisdom (729725) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236154)

My guess is that many of us need to update ( or get ) an education in energy issues.

I would like to call on people in this thread to recommend books :

- that discuss the pros of nucelar energy

- the case against nucelar energy

- the pros and cons of various forms of energy

The books should be written by experts and when possible relatively recent.

Let use our geekness to learn.

Public opinion changes in part from the public......people talking to other people.


alas, did icarus die for nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236181)

While Lovelock is correct about life on the planet being in great danger due to global warming, his solution is foolish.

As Icarus found out the hard way, the sun -- yes, THE SUN -- provides quite a bit of energy to the blue planet.

It would be great to see mankind embrace clean and safe energy vs. yet another form of highly toxic pollution. Nuclear power is a foolish short-term band-aid. There is no cure for radiation poisoning and producing gigantic amounts of nuclear waste absurdly stupid.

I do hope Icarus did not die in vain.

Some facts, please... (1)

orzetto (545509) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236188)

I have experienced that debates on nuclear tend to go over to irrationality quite fast. According to Godwin's law [astrian.net] Lovelock has already lost the argument, but whatever.

First, oil use produces waste that causes moderate, gradual modification of the environment. Nuclear can cause much worse effects. Ok, I know, this side of the world we have super-duper-safer reactors; but the main consumer of energy will sometime soon be China. I personally don't trust anyone with nuclear power anyway.
However bad an accident is in a refinery, there's no way a city can be obliterated by it, or a continent poisoned. The damage is intrinsecally limited. A nuclear reactor (maybe supercritical?) can do much worse, and these things do happen at some point--No matter how good security can be, there is no such thing as 100% safety.

Right now only a fraction of world energy is being produced by nuclear, and thus you hear people boasting about "hundreds of years" before depletion of the sources. Of course what many forget is that, if all energy were to be produced by nuclear, this time would shorten to a few decades. This also means that less economical fissile fuel sources would have to be used, driving up the already high prices of nuclear power.

Many nuclear plants means more people working on nuclear tech. Many planes in the air means also more people training to become pilots, and some might get by unobserved studying only how to fly, and not how to land. See where it's going?

Please go to a university library and look up this article: Paine, Jeffrey R., "Will nuclear power pay for itself?", The social science journal, vol. 33, n. 4, pages 459-473, 1996, JAI press. Paine analysed the real (as opposed to speculated) data about nuclear power production, to conclude that nuclear power may at best be economically marginal, paying back for itself only after large times and only in the most optimistic conditions. RTFA before saying it's crap; it's also available on ScienceDirect [sciencedirect.com] if you have access to it. I have heard often, in the academic environment, that nuclear in some cases is not even producing enough energy to pay for its cycle: what you get out at the power plant can be less than what you put in extraction, purification, enrichment, transport and security.

And, after this [repubblica.it] happened (Fish [altavista.com] for non-Italian speakers, but there are surely plenty of English articles, I'm only being lazy), the very last thing we need is more fissile material going around.

IMHO, until someone cracks fusion, nuclear is a very interesting technology that had however better not be applied. It's immature, expensive, easily misused. Maybe the positive attitude towards nuclear power by many Americans is due never being hit by something like the Chernobyl cloud. Yet, I read somewhere that new reactors have not been built in the US since 79.

Short term: natural gas.
Mid term: solar, wind, tide, hydro, other renewables.
Long term: fusion.
That's how I see it at least. All these sources can be converted to hydrogen.

Nuclear Powered SUV's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236196)

WhooHoo! I mean totally rad. Literally.

More Politics?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9236198)

Say it ain't so...
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