Skip to main content

No Hope, All Is Lost: A New Argument Against Nuclear Energy

MV5BNTE3MjI2NjM2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNzUxNjY2._V1._CR96,0,221,221_SS100_Glenn Compton, chairman of ManaSota-88, a regional environmental  group (the region being Florida), writes in the Sarasota Herald Tribune about the utter terribleness of nuclear energy. Now, it's not really fun or enlightening to find these little screeds and promote them to you, because the arguments are mostly identical, have long been discredited and, we should note, are fading: a fair number of environmental activists are finding a place at their tables for nuclear energy.

However, a couple of Glenn's angles struck us as different enough, if a little grim, to highlight:

In the United States, electricity generation emits less than half of the carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is a major contributing greenhouse gas and comes mainly from burning fossil fuels.

Demand for gasoline and coal is expected to increase greatly with the predicted growth of global economies. Even if the United States were to construct as many nuclear power plants as quickly as possible, carbon dioxide emissions are projected to double worldwide by 2025. The greenhouse effect is likely to become far worse before it ever gets better.

His solution? He offers none. Things are going to get worse, nothing can stop or mitigate it, and cats will be living with dogs.

Well, here's a stab at a solution:

The choice is not between the continued use of fossil fuels or building additional nuclear power plants. Another option, cheaper than any new energy supply and causing no increase in greenhouse gas emissions, is energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency and conservation save money, reduce the need for coal mining and oil and natural gas drilling, reduce power plant emissions and make America less dependent on foreign oil interests.

Actually, this kind of thinking makes us happy we live in a society - and really a world - where corporate citizens, for all their manifest flaws, act in concert with human citizens, for all their manifest flaws, to think up ways to improve a situation in which they are essentially partners. This hands-off-the-corporate-world argument is very unusual from someone running an environmental group and one we turn a fishy eye to.

(To be fair, Glenn does tout solar energy a bit - Florida seems the place for it sunshine-wise, though perhaps solar is a bit problematic because the parts of the state that aren't built up are protected wetlands and such.)

And finally:

Proponents of nuclear power are exploiting public concern about global warming to justify nuclear power expansion, but nuclear energy is not the answer to global warming.

No, no, not the answer, an answer. Really, it's not an all-or-nothing proposition.

And hey, let's not use "exploit" like it's a dirty word - the public concern is real, nuclear energy is part of the solution and what else are proponents to do but exploit (to make productive use of) that reality. After all, Compton is propounding some fatalist notions and exploiting fears that all will end in grief - oops, that's actually the other definition of exploit (to make use of meanly or unfairly).

Well, read the whole thing. We really do hope that the environmental movement isn't entering an end-of-days period - there's more hope than not on this issue. You don't have to trust us on this - just look around you.

Picture from The Day After Tomorrow. Silly movie, but good special effects.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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?

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…