Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nuclear Energy, Global Warming and You

Its always fascinating to me the instinctive knee-jerk opposition nuclear energy receives from the most ardent environmentalists. Especially when the same people, in practically the same breath demand that government do something, anything to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions.

If you want to really reduce your carbon emissions, you need to build nuclear power plants. There's no two ways about it. I've blogged about this numerous times, citing sources as varied as the Danish government to the Obama administration. I've pointed out the flaws associated with solar and wind energy and why they, as they exist now, are not true 'alternatives' to coal since they cannot provide constant, on demand electricity. At best, they can reduce our base electricity demands by 10-20% under ideal circumstances. Not a terrible thing, but they cannot replace other sources of electricity.

Hydroelectric dams are probably ideal, but you cannot build them whenever, wherever you want and they can carry huge environmental impacts (think about the Three Gorges Dam).

So for the time being we're left with nuclear power plants as being the only real 'carbon-free' electricity source that can be employed on a large scale, in a cost efficient manner to produce a constant (or nearly so) supply of electricity.

So when governments institute ridiculous taxes on nuclear energy simply for the pleasure of producing electricity in a safe and carbon-free manner it makes me laugh and cry. It also makes me laugh and cry when governments decide against building nuclear power plants for 'environmental reasons' preferring instead to continue using coal fired power plants. (I'm looking at you Germany, Saskatchewan and Alberta).

5 comments:

Powell lucas said...

Stop trying to equate the environmental movement with anything remotely connected with rational thought...it will make your head hurt.

Eric said...

The problem with many members of the environmental movement is their inability to have their cake and eat it too, I think.

There are rational environmental reasons to oppose nuclear energy (long term storage problems), solar photovoltaic power (mining practices for components), fluorescent light bulbs (uses mercury), electric cars (mining practices for components in batteries), hydroelectric dams (ecological disruptions), etc...

Practically everything has an environmental 'con' associated with it. There needs to be however, an assessment of which 'cons' we are willing to live with in order to sustain our lives.

Spin Assassin said...

Taxes on Nuclear are stupid.

I don't buy the AGW emergency nor am I afraid fo Nuclear power. Nuclear power and fossil fuels are 2 sides of the same coin. They are both non renewable, very abundant, and extreamly reliable. They differ in that the threat from radiation is very real, while AGW is mostly a mistake. CO2 will be re-absorbed by the environment, while nuclear material should be prevented from doing so for all eternity.

Martin said...

Ontario Liberals McGuinty and Smitherman are the latest politicos to decide nuclear bad, wind,solar energy good. Any rational cost/benefit analysis would come down on the side of nuclear generated electricity over wind or solar. Still they have neglected to plan for additional nuclear development and have opted for other Green sources. A string of wind turbines on prime agriculture land from Windsor to the Quebec border, could not match the consistent output of a single nuclear station. So far, Ontarians either believe them, or are too disengaged to care.

Eric said...

Spin Assassin:

The difference in terms of 'radiation' is actually opposite of what you'd expect.

Coal fired power plants produce large amounts of radiation because coal generally contains radioactive particles like uranium and thorium. This radiation is unregulated whereas the radiation in a nuclear power plant is measured, monitored and controlled.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste

I should write a blog entry about that.

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