Skip to main content

“Years of Unchallenged Mythology”

Mark-Lynas_1753419c Four weeks after the earthquake in Japan and this is the editorial view in Wisconsin:

Gov. Scott Walker is going to unveil sometime in the next several months a statewide energy plan. Included in the plan will be a proposal to lift the state's moratorium on building new nuclear plants. It should be.

That does not mean that someone will start building new nuclear plants tomorrow. Nor does it mean that the tragedy in Japan doesn't have lessons for Wisconsin. It just means that discussion and proposals for eventually building new plants will no longer be off the table.

Walker has become a controversial figure, but this wouldn’t be one of the things that makes him so.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel goes through several other energy sources and notes their shortcomings then proceeds:

Those alternatives should receive more encouragement and support from Walker's administration - and he said last week he is open to them - but right now they can't meet the full need.

Nuclear power can provide base load generation. And although there are some environmental issues in production of the fuel, the plants themselves generate zero carbon emissions. That continues to make nuclear a viable option if the state and country are serious about reducing carbon emissions.

We’ll stop there. It’s a long editorial and deserves a fuller reading – we await Gov. Walker’s energy plan with great interest.

---

Mark Lynas is a British journalist with a focus on climate change issues – something The Los Angeles Times fails to note about him. But still, he’s contributed an interesting op-ed:

The irony of Fukushima is that in forcing us all to confront our deepest fears about the dangers of nuclear power, we find many of them to be wildly irrational — based on scare stories propagated through years of unchallenged mythology and the repeated exaggerations of self-proclaimed "experts" in the anti-nuclear movement.

Boy, do I agree with this. Lynas’ larger point is that Fukushima, instead of uniting environmentalists against nuclear energy, has further divided them on the atom.

Again, it’s a long article and worth attending to. Here’s a bit that seems to extend a theme we’ve seen from many writers:

What is needed is perspective. Nuclear energy is not entirely safe, as Fukushima clearly shows, even if the current radiation-related death toll is zero and will likely remain so. But coal and other fossil fuels are far, far worse.

To be honest, all this needs to be put into perspective – an overview of risk assessment would be a good thing – but nuclear energy, at least, is being seen whole by many and not to its disadvantage.

Mark Lynas. If you’re going to have a career as an environmental writer, this is the way to be photographed.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…