This Thursday, Earth Day, politicians and activists will shout more about “the climate crisis.”
I don’t think it’s a crisis. COVID-19, malaria, exploding debt, millions of poor children dying from diarrhea — those are genuine crises.
But global warming may become a real problem, so it’s particularly absurd that Earth Day’s activists rarely mention the form of energy that could most quickly reduce greenhouse gases: nuclear power.
When France converted to nuclear, it created the world’s fastest reduction in carbon emissions.
But in America, nuclear growth came to a near halt 40 years ago, after an accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania.
The partial meltdown killed no one. It would probably have been forgotten had Hollywood not released a nuclear scare movie, “The China Syndrome,” days before.
“People saw that and freaked out,” complains Joshua Goldstein, author of “A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change (with nuclear power).”
One of the people still freaking out is solar activist Harvey Wasserman. “I live in terror of the next accident,” he says in my latest video.
His anti-nuclear argument has basically won in most of the world. Nuclear plants are being shut down.
Why? I ask Wasserman. No one was hurt at Three Mile Island.
Wasserman replies that after the accident, he went to nearby homes and people showed him “their tumors, their hair loss, their lesions.”
“It’s bunk,” I tell him. “It’s been studied. People lose hair and get cancer and they attribute it to Three Mile Island, but it’s not true.”
“Having been there,” Wasserman responds, “It’s my clear assertion that people were killed.”
Actual scientists don’t agree. In fact, they find less cancer near Three Mile Island than in other parts of Pennsylvania.
But what about Fukushima? That was more serious. Today, clueless media quote Greenpeace claiming, Fukushima’s radiation could “change our DNA!”
Also bunk. “There was heightened radiation, but it was all at this low level below what we consider to be safe,” explains Goldstein.
The low level of radiation released at Fukushima was hardly a threat. What killed people was the panicked response.
“Everyone freaked out and ordered a massive sudden evacuation. That caused suicide, depression… Fear of radioactivity really did kill people.”
One nuclear accident, Chernobyl, did kill, and its radiation may still kill thousands more.
But Chernobyl was built by socialists cutting corners to please dictators. No Chernobyl-like plant will ever be built again. And even with Chernobyl’s deaths, nuclear power’s safety record is better than that of coal, oil, and natural gas.
“But what about the nuclear waste!” shout the activists.
“It’s a small problem,” says Goldstein. “All the nuclear waste from all America’s reactors for 60 years would fit into a Walmart.”
While the anti-nuclear movement has stopped nuclear construction in most of the West, “other places are building them like crazy,” says Goldstein. “China puts a nuclear reactor on the grid every two to three months.”
America may soon finish… one. It took Georgia Power Company six years just to get permission to build a plant. Regulation is so heavy that, 15 years later, it still isn’t operating.
Wasserman is proud he played a role in that. “If you want to accuse us of having raised the cost of building new nuclear plants by demanding more regulation, I plead guilty.”
He claims countries can power themselves with rooftop solar panels and wind. Technology improvements did lower their prices, but what happens when the wind doesn’t blow? Or the sun doesn’t shine?
Store energy in batteries! replies Wasserman. “We are having a major technological and industrial revolution in battery capacity.”
Goldstein scoffs in response, “The idea that a miracle battery is going to come along and save us is completely untested.”
By contrast, nuclear energy has been tested. It could reduce greenhouse gasses, and provide reliable energy, if only we didn’t fear it so much.
“The whole regulatory system is crazy,” Goldstein concludes. “We’re regulating this energy source as though it were the most dangerous thing out there, and it’s actually the safest thing!”
Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay
8 thoughts on “Go Green, Go Nuclear”
If you Google “A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction PDF Book by Terry Pratchett (2014)” there are several websites where you can download this work. Go to “STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART, VIA THE GROIN, his speech given at Noreascon 2004, WorldCon,” starting on PDF page 42. The speech includes some incidents while Sir Pratchett was a news officer for a nuclear plant in England. They showcase the perspective of those who work with nuclear energy all the time vs those that don’t. Made me laugh and helped sealed my support for nuclear power, along with Robert Bryce’s “A Question of Power.” I’ve lived within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant for the past 39 years without qualms, incidents or issues.
So there was no leakage at Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl and Fukishima were the only two accidents, but isn’t that enough? I haven’t fully gotten my arms around the nuclear issue yet. I think a special on Thorium and why it hasn’t been used would be informative to many.
I have to agree with 2. Paul Hoffman. How can it be said to be “safer” than other forms of energy generation? When there is an accident, it is catastrophic. There have been many leaks of cooling ponds that poison ground water and land. There is still the problem of what to do with spent radiation cylinders that has a half life of thousands of years. We bury them in Nevada where they degrade. What we need to do is develop ways to use these ticking time bombs. I’m not a climate change fanatic. I would like answers to these questions.
It is safer. Nuclear “waste” is contained and not belched out to the environment constantly as with fossil fuels. Solar and Wind have there own waste issues. Ever seen a solar panel dump or a wind turbine dump? Lots of toxic chemicals in those dumps, but nuclear keeps its waste and inventories its waste and can be responsibly stored, or even better, reused to make more nuclear fuel. They are not time bombs and this issues you raise are not technological issues; they are political issues for those that want more dependency on government “renewable” solutions. Conservation and renewables are the single biggest loser philosophies ever, dreamed up by ideologues that don’t have a clue, don’t have the desire to learn more, or are just plain obstructionists. Nuclear plants can make electricity, clean water, make hydrogen for “clean” battery uses. To not include nuclear is like saying if we were meant to fly we would have wings. Nuclear power offers great multi-generational, well paying jobs and it performs a vital and essential function of providing clean electric power for the good or our society.
You wish answers? Would you believe them if I told you? Here is a tidbit for you….99.99 percent of the ‘radioactive waste’ with the half life of ‘thousands of years’ is the unburned nuclear fuel (Uranium 235 and 238) that we dug out of the ground to make the fuel from to begin with. Thanks to the stupidity of Pres. Carter, this nation has mandated we cannot recycle that still-usable nuclear fuel but instead must put it back into the ground. Consider this….we are returning to the ground no more (in fact less) long-lived radioactivity than we removed from it to begin with. Before we dug it out, nature provided absolutely zero, zilch, nada in the way of barriers between it and us. Gaia put it in the soils we build our houses on, in the rocks we build our structures from, and even in the water we drink. When we stupidly throw away fissile material as ‘waste,’ it has multiple, highly effective barriers between it and you. You should be thanking the nuclear industry for removing that long-lived radioactivity from where Gaia carelessly strew it about to poison us and relocated it to a much safer place. As far as catastrophic….the Fukushima meltdown is insignificant in comparison to the havoc caused by the Tsunami that precipitated it. And the failure of just a single hydroelectric dam has, on many historic occasions, killed more human beings at one time than have died from the entire commercial nuclear industry in the 70 years it has existed, much less Chrenobyl. You want more ‘safer?’ Actuarial statistics from 1960 estimated 10,000 early deaths per year in New York City from air pollution caused by burning coal from fuel. And maybe you should look up the death rates during the London black fog episodes.
U.S. Navy has operated nuclear powered ships for 70 years with no accidents. The secret us well trained personnel.
Would like to see a follow up on breeder reactors. Political hot potato. Breeders produce plutonium which makes them unpopular. But, they use spent uranium to produce plutonium that can be ‘diluted’ as more fuel that can be use in conventional reactors. There is enough nuclear waste to power breeders and conventional reactors for decades. And the half life of the spent fuel is only about 500 years. Far shorter that the uranium waste.
What most people don’t realize is that a dual unit nuclear power plant creates approximately 1500 six figure jobs. It becomes an economic engine where it is built. Salem County NJ would be a drain on the state economy with the three units there.
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