A team of Australian researchers has published a paper showing that mining uranium produces greenhouse gases. Yes, I know, it's a stop-the-presses moment:
The case for nuclear power as a low carbon energy source to replace fossil fuels has been challenged in a new report by Australian academics.
It suggests greenhouse emissions from the mining of uranium - on which nuclear power relies - are on the rise.
Consider what we might call the principle of net negatives: if getting from point A (greenhouse gas emitting plants) to point C (non-greenhouse gas emitting plants) takes you through point B (greenhouse gas emitting uranium mining), then see if the good outweighs the bad enough to accommodate it.
This sounds an awful lot like "the ends justifies the means" but no: our current reality just doesn't provide alternatives. How do you create greenhouse-free energy generators without producing greenhouse gasses? You have to use the tools you've got. (Al Gore got dinged for the energy suck of his big, electricity-guzzling house. Even though he found ways to mitigate the complaint, what did one expect: candles in the windows?)
Is the increased production of greenhouse gasses via uranium mining worth taking on if the end result replaces greenhouse producing energy sources with non-greenhouse producing energy sources? Luckily, the article, or at least one of its sources, answers this question for us:
"Even in the worst case scenario for CO2 emissions, the impact of nuclear on greenhouse emissions is still very small compared with fossil fuels," he explained.
"He" in this case is Thierry Dujardin, deputy director for science and development at the Nuclear Energy Agency. This is part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris; and France, more than any other country, finds nuclear energy incroyable. (The OECD is intergovernmental, though, not French per se. We cannot even conclude that Monsieur Dujardin is French.)
So there you have it: a net positive. Let's ask Australian researchers to turn their minds elsewhere for awhile; on this subject, I'm just a little suspicious of their motives.