Wednesday, July 24, 2013

“The humanitarian imperative to using nuclear power”

What can be happening in editorials these days? Is nuclear energy going pear shaped under the weight of – economics? natural gas? gastric distress? No, none of these. Actually, the views of different news outlets and their op-ed writers is not so bad.

Take this from NJ dot com, a website shared by several state papers (the op-ed comes from the Times of Trenton):

There is good reason to give nuclear power a fresh look. It can replace fossil-fuel-burning power plants for generating electricity 24/7, avoiding air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions that could contribute to global warming.

This is nothing new to readers here, but we certainly purr when we hear it in the mainstream press anyway.

Now, this is interesting, an argument that really does tend to dwell among the nuclear friendly only:

There is a humanitarian imperative to using nuclear power. More than 2 billion people still lack access to electricity for basic needs such as clean water, cooking, sanitation and light. Nuclear power has the most potential to close the gap in energy availability between the world’s rich and its disadvantaged people.

Writer James McGovern really picks up points for promulgating what we might call the existential argument for nuclear energy. Electricity can transform a hell scape of underdevelopment into a (relative) garden of progress. We’re well past the point where people must have electricity and at the point where they will have it, one way or another. And McGovern, an energy consultant, sees that clearly.

The bottom line is that nuclear power is not the problem, but part of the solution. Together with further improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, it can have a major positive impact in the battle against climate change.

Yup. He’s right every step of the way.

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From the International Business Times:

South Africa is the only sub-Saharan African country with active nuclear power plants. But research-oriented nuclear reactors have been tested in a few other countries -- including Kenya, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- and it is clear that there is widespread interest in a nuclear-powered future all across the continent. Uganda, Nigeria, Senegal, Niger and others have expressed interest in building up nuclear expertise within their borders.

Exactly what McGovern is talking about. The whole article is worth a read.

See, the thing is, many countries are struggling toward a late industrial revolution – a late information revolution – and the developed world has lately decided that carbon emissions are bad. But how do we keep the developing world from using fossil fuels if that is the easiest way to make electricity? Can we, morally? No, but we can suggest an alternative that keeps both goals in sight.

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From The Australian:

The inclusion of nuclear power in Australia's electricity generation mix could reduce power prices by 20 per cent and save about $150 billion from now until 2050 in greenhouse gas abatement costs and the health costs of burning fossil fuels, an analysis of future energy options has found.

This will never, ever happen, no matter what – I mean, the Australians accepting nuclear energy (you can throw New Zealand in there, too). It’s like a national blood pact, signed at birth. Love to see it happen, doubt it ever will. But that’s okay – tougher nuts are sweeter to crack.

3 comments:

SteveK9 said...

Professor Brook keeps fighting the good fight in Australia -- 'Brave New Climate', but you are probably right.

John ONeill said...

New Zealand had plans for a reactor in the seventies, till they found a big gas field. That's nearly all been burnt now; are the seventies back in fashion yet?

jimwg said...

To me, it's it's immoral as hell when Greens try to scare Africa not to go nuclear with wildly-exaggerated perils and groundless FUD hawking their irresponsible philosophical propaganda which isn't going supply Africans with a wilt of low-environment impact/footprint clean ample power and fresh water like nukes would -- who are currently dying and starving by millions per year without -- with zero media mention. But does Greenpeace and FOE & Co. care? Nonooo! Must stamp out evil nuclear energy for scary WWIII nightmares and the bad things done in Hiroshoima and raze mountains and savannahs for bogus "renewables." In a word, the "humanity" of the Greens is the opus of bold-faced hypocrisy bordering defacto mass murder by actively frustrating and denying the development of life-saving energy to millions of Africans.

James Greenidge
Queens NY