Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald
rfmcdpei

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[BRIEF NOTE] What (Some) Environmentalists Don't Get About Nuclear Power

This morning on CBC Radio, an environmentalist was asked what Canada should do with its nuclear-plant waste. She said that the first thing we should do is close down the nuclear plants.

Idiot. As James Lovelock, environmental research and developer of the Gaia theory, concluded, if we want to sustain a technological civilization in the 21st century and let the Third World develop economically and avoid melting Antarctica, nuclear power is our only choice.

[W]e can not continue drawing energy from fossil fuels and there is no chance that the renewables, wind, tide and water power can provide enough energy and in time. If we had 50 years or more we might make these our main sources. But we do not have 50 years; the Earth is already so disabled by the insidious poison of greenhouse gases that even if we stop all fossil fuel burning immediately, the consequences of what we have already done will last for 1,000 years. Every year that we continue burning carbon makes it worse for our descendants and for civilisation.

Worse still, if we burn crops grown for fuel this could hasten our decline. Agriculture already uses too much of the land needed by the Earth to regulate its climate and chemistry. A car consumes 10 to 30 times as much carbon as its driver; imagine the extra farmland required to feed the appetite of cars.

By all means, let us use the small input from renewables sensibly, but only one immediately available source does not cause global warming and that is nuclear energy. True, burning natural gas instead of coal or oil releases only half as much carbon dioxide, but unburnt gas is 25 times as potent a greenhouse agent as is carbon dioxide. Even a small leakage would neutralise the advantage of gas.

[. . .]

Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen. If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from overheating in Europe last summer.


I'm amused to read the Indymedia UK reaction. The comments manage to miss the point entirely. Yes, nuclear waste is quite concentrated. That's the beauty of it: Unlike oil or natural gas, which produce classes of byproducts which quickly permeate the entire biosphere, nuclear waste is compact, delimited, much more controllable. If the 21st century is to be an environmentalist century, it will have to be a nuclear century.
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