Scientific American’s John Horgan relates how Gwyneth Cravens and her book Power to Save the World (now in paperback) brought him to realize that nuclear energy has much to offer and not as many pitfalls as he thought. A fair amount of what he writes will be familiar to readers of nuclear energy blogs and other sites, but it is sometimes nice to find some factoids nicely summarized, even if you kind of know them.
Nuclear power in the U.S. has grown steadily more efficient and cheaper. Plants now operate at 90 percent of peak capacity (up from about 50 percent a few decades ago) compared with 73 percent for coal, 29 percent for hydroelectric, 16 to 38 percent for natural gas, 27 percent for wind and 19 percent for solar. In 2005 nuclear power was cheaper per kilowatt than any alternative.
I knew some of those percentages but not all.
If you, as an average American, got all your electricity from nuclear plants, you'd generate one kilogram of nuclear waste during your lifetime, enough to fit in a soda can. If you got all your electricity from coal, you'd generate almost 70 tons of waste.
I didn’t know that one at all – well, the coal part of it – but it makes sense. The article is well worth a read as is Cravens’ terrific book.
Where does not passing a climate change bill get you? The jury’s not fully in on that question, but here’s what Kevin Parker, a Deutsche Bank official thinks.
"You just throw your hands up and say ... we're going to take our money elsewhere."
And what does Parker do?
Parker, who is global head of the Frankfurt-based bank's Deutsche Asset Management Division, oversees nearly $700 billion in funds that devote $6 billion to $7 billion to climate change products.
And what will he do with his hands thrown up?
Amid so much political uncertainty in the United States, Parker said Deutsche Bank will focus its "green" investment dollars more and more on opportunities in China and Western Europe, where it sees governments providing a more positive environment.
Now, Parker and Deutsche Bank have a set agenda with the bank’s investment funds and a reason to tweak a very big market – there’s plenty of projects for Deutsche Bank to invest in here if it has the will to do so – plus, the problems of an election cycle will clear next year and that will likely put the climate change bills back in play. A fair number of elements remain unsettled, in other words, and not necessarily in Deutsche Bank’s disfavor. So there’s all that on one side.
But on the other side, this is what happens when you don’t pass a climate bill.
But maybe it really doesn’t matter. Here’s Ron Johnson, running against Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) this year:
"I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change," Johnson said. "It's not proven by any stretch of the imagination."
Johnson, in an interview last month, described believers in manmade causes of climate change as "crazy" and the theory as "lunacy."
"It's far more likely that it's just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time," he said.
Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere "gets sucked down by trees and helps the trees grow," said Johnson.
So there you go.
Ron Johnson on the campaign trail. Here’s his campaign site. (He has a primary challenger named Dave Westlake; they will face each other September 14.) And here’s Russ Feingold’s site, if you want to compare and contrast.