Skip to main content

Is Renewable Energy Wrecking the Environment?

Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University seems to think so:
Writ­ing in a schol­arly jour­nal, Jes­se Au­subel, di­rec­tor of the un­ivers­ity’s Pro­gram for the Hu­man En­vi­ron­ment, has now is­sued a scath­ing re­as­sess­ment of the “re­new­able” en­er­gy sources that are sup­posed to save hu­man­ity from pol­lu­tion and glob­al warm­ing.

The cli­mate change is be­lieved to be caused by emis­sions of heat-trapping gas­es from use of tra­di­tional en­er­gy sources.

Meet­ing glob­al en­er­gy de­mands through so-called re­new­able sources—build­ing enough wind farms, dam­ming enough riv­ers, and grow­ing enough bi­o­mass—will wreck the en­vi­ron­ment, Au­su­bel ar­gues. Bi­o­mass con­sists of plants and an­i­mal wastes used as fu­el.

The so­lu­tion? “If we want to min­i­mize new struc­tures and the rape of na­ture, nu­clear en­er­gy is the best op­tion,” Au­su­bel said.
I can hear the howls already.

This story has been impacting all over the Web in a big way all day long. There's a hot discussion over at reddit, and the piece has been picked up by both Instapundit and FuturePundit.

Here are some sources that demonstrate what Ausubel is talking about:

Land Needed by Wind or Solar Energy to Match Annual Nuclear Energy Production InfoGraphic (2006)
U.S. Capacity Factors by Fuel Type (2006)
U.S. Nuclear Industry Capacity Factors (1971 - 2006)
Cumulative Capacity Additions at U.S. Nuclear Facilities (1977 - 2011)
U.S. Nuclear Expected Power Uprates

One of the canards that anti-nuclear advocates like to trot out is to ask just how many nuclear reactors we would have to build in order to generate all of America's electricity. This study is their comeuppance.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Who paid for the research in this journal article?
Ian said…
http://www.inderscience.com/search/index.php?action=record&rec_id=14671&prevQuery=&ps=10&m=or

Has anyone "liberated" a PDF yet?
Luke said…
It doesn't matter one bit who supported the research, or what industry ties or whatever they may or may not have.

Scientific research either stands up to peer review, or it doesn't.
Johan Simu said…
a pdf can be found at Jesse H. Ausubel homepage where he lists his publications
http://phe.rockefeller.edu/biblio.php
Ian said…
thanks simu, I visited one of his publication pages on his personal site, but it had not been updated since 2004.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…