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Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

A Few Thoughts On Nuclear Power After The Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami & Nuclear Disasters

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The quickest way I can say this is the following: I’m not a proponent of nuclear power, for almost any problem because it carries too many problems in itself that other power sources do not.

Some climate activists have been pushing for more nuclear power as one tool of many to address global warming.  Citing no carbon or methane emissions, the power is claimed to be “clean”.   While the power might be cleaner than fossil fuels (no mercury or nitrous oxides, etc.), the fuel is most certainly not clean.  In fact, nuclear fuel is the most toxic substances to any living thing that you can find.  Radiation is not good for animals.  Period.  It doesn’t make sense to me to use the most toxic substances we can find and/or manufacture and use them to boil water to generate power.

Especially when cleaner forms of energy are available via solar, wind, geothermal and biomass sources.  Nuclear fuel requires mining, as does solar PV components – so that’s more or less a wash in my mind.  Talk about solar thermal and I think a distinct advantage appears for the renewable energy source.  I’ve heard some pundits whine about all the lost birds due to wind arrays.  Isn’t it interesting those same pundits don’t ever propose destroying skyscrapers or killing every domestic cat – those two bird killers currently and for decades have killed millions of birds annually.  It’s a nonsensical argument.  Combine wind and solar on nearly any measurable stretch of land where people reside and the potential to generate many times today’s current, extravagantly wasteful energy usage is there for the taking.  Add in geothermal to heat and cool buildings and biomass to help power transportation and there is absolutely no need for nuclear power.

After all, how many solar cells have exploded or melted down in the past 50 years?  How many wind farm mining accidents have taken workers lives?  How many biomass spills have ruined entire ecosystems for decades?  How many geothermal systems have increased mortality rates, respiratory problem rates, etc.?  How many trillions of dollars will we have to spend protecting solar or wind power lines?  How many corrupt, totalitarian regimes will we keep propped up to ensure a steady flow of biomass and geothermal energy to our shores?  How many greedy, overpaid dirty energy corporate bosses will we funnel our hard-earned money to instead of producing energy where it’s needed and producing even more in places nobody wants to live or work?

Nobody should have to struggle through one of the strongest earthquakes on record, followed by a tsunami that has wiped entire towns off the earth, that followed by an escalating nuclear disaster.  The Japanese people are enduring hardships I wouldn’t wish on people I loathe.  Of all the things I truly do hope come out of this triple disaster, I hope the Japanese take a hard, fact-based look at where they get their power from and how they use it.  Nuclear disasters last longer than earthquakes and tsunamis.  Is that risk worth being able to boil some water?


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