Global warming puts nuclear power on the hot seat in climate-change struggle

Mon, 2007-07-16 10:08Bill Miller
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Global warming puts nuclear power on the hot seat in climate-change struggle

Nuclear power plants may not emit carbon dioxide but they do produce radioactive waste, with a long lifespan and no permanent storage facility anywhere in the world. Scientists at the government-funded Idaho National Laboratory are working on next-generation nuclear power plant designs, new ways to more safely reprocess spent nuclear fuel, and future uses for nuclear power.

Even if nuclear power does not see a renaissance in the U.S. that does not diminish the role of the research at the Idaho lab since the U.S. wants to maintain a leadership role in nuclear research, even if it benefits other nations first.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has estimated at least 1,000 new nuclear plants would be needed worldwide in the next 50 years to make a dent in global warming and some question whether this would even be possible.

Comments

The clearest arguments on nuclear have been made by Amory Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute(http://www.rmi.org/sitepages/pid185.php and http://www.smallisprofitable.org/).

If the market wouldn’t build it, why are our supposedly market-oriented governments so keen on it? Especially since the marketplace is going in a better direction. Governments around the world are foolishly spending tens of billions to intervene and distort the marketplace in order to build a small number of massive dinosaurs while the marketplace is assuming that a large number of tiny mammals will win the day.

Free-up your electricity markets, then price emissions (emission trading, taxes, carbon budgets, etc.) and then watch the market choose winning technologies. It won’t pick nuclear.

Having worked in the energy sector over twenty years, I think we’ll make better decisions about our energy future if we first understand our energy present. I’m afraid few offering public commentary have a good fix on how hard and costly it is to generate lots of electricity - whether via fossil fuels, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar, or squirrels on treadmills. Without that perspective, our decisions on future energy supplies may well be flawed. (It also points out why conservation should be the number one priority in any energy plan.)

To help with the discussion, I’ve written a thriller novel looking at my own area of expertise, nuclear power - its people, its politics, its technology. “Rad Decision” is free online at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com - and readers seem to like it judging from their comments on the homepage. It’s also available in paperback at online retailers, and has been endorsed by Stewart Brand, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog, internet pioneer, and noted futurist.

Cool. Thanks.

Thanks indeed, I’ll check it out.

Too bad that the green weenies keep blocking efforts to enhance energy production. Word has it that there is a fully functional new nuke on Long Island that the crybabies prevented from coming on line. Old Ted Kennedy has put his big mush in the way of wind generation off shore. The same with the big beak Streisand, no off shore drilling, others have gotten legislation to block research deep in the Gulf of Mexico. They block new refineries, saying we have to have alternative energy sources, but they have not a clue what those could be or how long it will take to “bring them on line”. Keep on bashing America, it will not take much longer to bring the trade deficit in line, in fact, not just in line but zero it out as our economy goes belly up. Kent

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