Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey Hardcover – Sep 2008
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Love it or hate it, the serious citizen should be aware of the often obscure and confusing intricacies of nuclear power not the weaponry and Tucker s new book makes this task easy and interesting. -- Ted Rockwell ," former technical director of Admiral Hyman Rickover's nuclear navy, and author of The Rickover Effect and Creating the New World"
Nuclear power can cure energy dependence, pollution, high fuel bills and...BOOM! Just kidding. William Tucker takes the boom out of the atom and chases away the cancer, the giant mutant insects and the Three Mile Island residents who claim to glow in the dark. Read Terrestrial Energy and help high-binders, hacks and eggheads take a hike. -- P.J. O'Rourke "author of Peace Kills and On the Wealth of Nations: Books That Changed the World"
William Tucker is one of those rare contrarians who exists on a plateau far above politics. One can take the time to absorb his thoughts now, at leisure as in the case of this book about Neo-nuclear Energy or wait a long time and try to find them in a whadud he say panic. -- Tom Wolfe "author of The Right Stuff and The Bonfire of the Vanities" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
William Tucker is a long-time author and journalist who has written on a wide variety of subjects for many national publications. He has written about environmentalism, crime, energy, housing, the schools, the tort system, the welfare crisis, and the family. His articles have appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Reader's Digest, National Review, The Weekly Standard, The American Spectator, The New Republic, Insight, Reason, and many others. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
That said, treats nuclear science with an entirely different approach. He is able to clearly see through the misinformation that riddles this field and presents a great deal of well presented history.
As a follower and supporter of the late Petr Beckmann, I remember his advice, and paraphrasing, "Taping the atom for energy is both the safest and the least costly means of supplying energy for our society but trying to scare people with the false claims of danger from other sources will backfire."
In all, a frustrating book but I will probably read it again to pick out and retain some of the pearls of wisdom it does contain.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Another startler in Tucker's book is the revelation that after the end of the Cold War, two American Senators - a democrat, Sam Nunn, and a republican, Pete Domenici, made a deal with the Russian government to purchase enriched uramium from their disassembled weapons and recycle it through American power plants. Since 20% of our electricity comes from nuclear, and half of our fuel comes from recycled missiles, one in every ten light bulbs in America is now lit thanks to a former Soviet weapon!
The chapter on the creation of the atomic bomb reads like a Le Carre thriller.
Tucker painstaking explores the advantages and disadvantages of biofuels, hydro, wind, and geothermal. The book is clear, concise, credible and well written.
When I first heard about this book, which unabashedly promotes nuclear energy as the only reasonable option we have, I had a negative reaction. The reason had nothing to do with embracing nuclear. That part was easy since it brought me back to my childhood in the 60's when nuclear was widely heralded as the energy source of the future.
Rather, it was his embracing of the theory (yes, it's still only a theory) of man-made global warming as a basis for promoting nuclear energy solutions that gave me pause.
After reading the book, however, I have to say he's done a commendable job of fleshing out the science and the arguments on both sides of the global warming debate better than any treatment I've read to date.
Tucker then analyzes every possible energy option currently available to mankind, including coal, natural gas, geothermal, hydro, solar, wind, biofuels, coal gassification, etc. He cuts through much of the rhetoric that swirls around each of these energy options and lays out the history and all the facts, both the good and the bad, for each option.
Tucker does an excellent job of making things understandable for the layperson, despite being someone with a much more technical understanding of the science underlying these energy alternatives.
This book is informative and very engaging, and I would highly recommend it to anyone serious about understanding the reality of our energy choices.
Now comes a new book on terrestrial energy that is full of data. I am an engineer and welcome the data and I know from past experience I can trust Tucker's research. So I could read this book with little or no fact checking on my own. This made the reading go ever so smoothly when numerical data was presented.
I thought the choice of the subject matter for chapter one was perfect.Lets talk about global warming. If he had not opened that dialog early , it would have put lots of readers on the defensive. But he handled the subject in a balanced way and even if readers disagree with his conclusion, most will agree it was handled fairly.
The first one third of the book includes a review of past energy sources that are now in their old age stage of development. This included hydro,coal and petroleum. His analysis of where we have been and where we have left to go was on target based on my own understanding of the technical arguments involved.
Later chapters discuss alternative energy sources such as solar and renewables. You have got to admire a writer that will use the First and Second Laws of thermodynamics in a popular book to advance arguments for and against renewables.
Finally in the last 140 pages the big bear sitting silently in the background is introduced.Nuclear energy. Be prepared to read a really comprehensive and technically muscular discussion of this subject. The French solution presented in detail is really uplifting, particularly the issue of nuclear waste reprocessing.
When I read the book I made a few notes. I am going to re-read it and make lots of notes because I plan to use it as my data base in discussions with my friends.
"Terrestrial Energy" is outstanding...this is a book that I would recommend without reservation to all of my friends and colleagues who are concerned about the severe energy crisis that is only beginning. I promise you, no matter how much you know about energy and energy policy (and I don't consider myself a novice in the field) you will learn more, or at the very least have a greater insight into these issues after reading Mr. Tucker's book.
I plan to buy many copies of this book (hope there's a bulk discount!) and distribute them to friends, family, church and work colleagues to help them understand more about how we can actually solve our energy crisis (for thousands of years) using the basic power that has been locked in the nuclei of thorium and uranium for the last five billion years.
Our current generation assets effectively meet specific needs and energy consumption patterns. Nuclear, coal and hydro sources meet our base load electricity demand that exists day and night. Natural gas plants, as well as some coal plants, are fired up during the day as electric demand spikes.
Since electricity generally cannot be stored for later use, grid operators must feed electricity onto the grid as it is demanded - all within a five percent variance. The challenge to wind power, as Mr. Tucker outlines, is that it is highly unpredictable and would be a disaster if it were to replace the current role of natural gas peaking plants. In fact, the Danes have refused adding anymore wind to their mix for this exact reason.
Solar, on the other hand, could act as a peaking source since its production spikes at the same time as demand on hot summer afternoons. But the challenge with solar, as with wind, is that both sources are highly dilute (and expensive!).
We would need an inordinate amount of land to replace a traditional nuclear, coal or gas power plant with solar or wind. If we covered, as Mr. Tucker explains, every rooftop in the country with solar panels, we would be able to provide the equivalent of our daytime indoor lighting needs. (This is less than 5 percent of our total electricity demand).
Terrestrial energy (nuclear), by contrast, is far more concentrated than solar energy - by a factor of about two million. Much of the rest of Mr. Tucker's book is spent explaining how nuclear energy works and how nuclear plants are, despite some public sentiment, very safe and environmentally compatible.
As ratepayers we need to understand that utilities merely pass through their costs of purchasing power and that federal and state mandates for renewable energy come with a price tag. If our national priority is clean, safe and inexpensive power then policymakers owe us a long overdue discussion on nuclear energy.
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