Skip to main content

The Nuclear Vision Takes the Prize

Of course, it’s always been really easy for the nuclear energy industry to assert that a climate change plan must include nuclear – aside from hydro energy, no other source can produce baseload energy. Even if that changed – let’s say through a major breakthrough in battery technology – nuclear energy still has a leg up because it can produce so much electricity economically. It doesn’t just scale, it scales big.

But the industry is also, shall we say, self-interested. That doesn’t mean that it’s willing to lie – you always get caught despite maximal sneakiness and the result is a severe loss of credibility – but it is always on the lookout for disinterested parties that study issues where nuclear energy could play a role. A lot of astroturfing depends on independent seeming polls and studies funded by self-interested parties – politics depends on it so much that the roots of the grassroots invariably show. Always sniff out the money when reviewing studies and surveys. Frankly, though, nuclear doesn’t need astroturfing. What is self-evident is also, in the eyes of credible groups, evident. Let’s look at an example.

If you were the scientific advisor to a $200-billion venture capital fund that aims to limit global warming over the next 20 years, what investment would you recommend as having the single biggest impact? A survey of climate experts found that a majority listed the retirement of coal power—or the sequestering of their emissions—as the top priority for investment.

Well, that’s for the coal gang to explore. This is from a survey conducted by the Vision Prize, a nonpartisan research platform that uses charity prize incentives to carry out online surveys of climate experts. The survey based its questions on an open letter written by Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel, James Hansen, and Tom Wigley published two years ago. It called for an increase in nuclear energy facilities to combat climate change. We wrote about this letter then and predicted it would have an impact. That still seems the case.

At the same time, 67 percent agreed with the letter's opinion that renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and biomass would not scale up fast enough to meet the world's expected power requirements.

And that one would be for the renewable mob. Oh, here we go:

A strong majority of our expert participants (71%) agree that nuclear power is a critical component of any realistic plan to achieve climate stabilization.

And since we made such a big deal about astroturfing, who funds these folks?

Vision Prize® captures meta-knowledge on climate risks and solutions by polling expert scientific opinion. The nonprofit research program operates in collaboration with IOP Publishing’s scientific community website, environmentalresearchweb, and is affiliated with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. Vision Prize is strictly nonpartisan — we are not an advocacy organization.

Read through the whole poll and by all means explore what Vision Prize is up to – the fact that it’s an environmentally oriented group and didn’t squash a poll with these results weighs strikingly in its favor, I think. I’m not sure I’d trust Greenpeace to run with it.


Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

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 Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.

Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …