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Exit ArchiveArchive for February 9th, 2005

I just read a magazine article at lunch (it’s online here). I had to rush back to the office to record my anger.

The authors have an enthusiastic outlook for the power of nuclear energy to fix all of our pollution and global-warming issues. Yet they conveniently ignore several points in favor of what I consider to be a quick fix for the problem of energy’s future.

Nuclear energy is clean compared to fossil fuels, says the article. We can no longer allow the bad, bad coal and gas and oil industries to pollute our planet. The dangers of nuclear energy are less dangerous to the earth than us continuing on our current road.

While I’m sure this argument is currently true, considering quantities of scale, it lacks foresight. I imagine people back during the rise of fossil fuels never thought that we’d be using enough carbon-emitting energy sources to change the planet’s climate. So who now is paying attention to what will happen when we shift to using mostly nuclear power? Our options for storing the waste will dwindle, even considering waste recycling. (Recycling the waste merely prolongs the inevitable necessity of its disposal.) The bright, gleaming new nuclear plants will eventually begin to fail when they get old and governments or greedy corporations cease to provide enough capital for their upkeep. And the article’s authors don’t seem to see that, while coal mining will eventually go away when we switch to nuclear energy, uranium mining will pick up substantially.

I have so much more to say about this, but I have no time! As I was reading, I was countering every point, shaking my head while eating my lunch. Why anyone would think it’s okay to proliferate a highly radioactive energy source across the globe is beyond me. Only under the very best of circumstances would nothing go wrong with these plants, or with the shipping of the fuel, or of the handling of the waste.

The article states that it’d be best to implement a vast network of nuclear plants to supplant coal plants, all as an effort to clean up the pollution and eventually get to another zero-emission solution. (Though, really the authors never say that nuclear has pretty frightful emissions of its own.) But who are we kidding here? Once the network is in place, I think we’d get stuck just like we are now. We’ll get used to nuclear, get used to it being fairly cheap, very convenient, and only in the future as we start getting poisoned with radiation instead of CO2 will we scramble yet again to find a new energy source.

Didn’t I say I had no time to say any more? Well, I’m cutting myself off. Read the article if you’d like. I’d love to hear comments. From all 2 of you.