Go Nuclear


Go Nuclear


Co-founder of Green Peace makes a compelling case for nuclear energy. Whether one believes in global warming or not coal causes pollution and smog. We can switch from coal to nuclear and breathe a lot easier. Other technologies such as wind, geothermal and solar will have their place but none of these can replace coal. The cost of natural gas will only go up and so will our electric bills. Nuclear energy might have seemed expensive in the past but now it is reasonable in comparison to our other options. Power from nuclear plants isn’t going to spike each time there is a hurricane or another war in the middle east. I think the medium term choice is very clear. We have to get over our hang ups with nuclear energy.

  1. #1 by becky on April 17, 2006 - 6:57 am

    It’s not as rosy as you’d think — check out this article on Patrick Moore’s motivations behind this support. (The motivations behind being a co-founder of Greenpeace has long since been replaced. Nowadays he’s a paid consultant for the mining, logging, biotech and energy industries.)

  2. #2 by Leighton Tebay on April 17, 2006 - 7:50 am

    Becky:

    The first time I heard this guy it was on CBC radio and they talked about his current employment. It doesn’t make any difference to me because his argument is sound. Nuclear energy isn’t the most ideal solution, but it is better than every other viable technology we have.

  3. #3 by becky on April 17, 2006 - 8:15 am

    I disagree. The waste that is produced by nuclear energy is a HIGH cost to pay. There are other, more viable methods — but they will take research and money to fund.

    And I think it does make a difference, knowing the background (and vested interests) of the speaker.

  4. #4 by Rev. Mike on April 17, 2006 - 9:38 am

    Becky, as someone who works in the nuclear industry, I can tell you that the unhelpful answer invariably offered by those in opposition to nuclear power is always that we need to pursue other alternatives. These alternatives are never defined, and they always require more research and more funding. The solution to high level radwaste disposal has been and remains opening the Yucca Mountain Repository. The only thing preventing this is political resistance, not valid technical issues.

  5. #5 by becky on April 17, 2006 - 12:59 pm

    Reverend Mike, I have an uncle who currently works in the nuclear energy industry, and my aunt was the first woman engineer to work at the Savannah River nuclear plant.

    But, since you are in the industry, maybe you can answer some nagging questions of mine. Is nuclear energy a renewable resource? I’ve read sources online that describe the dwindling supply of mineable uranium in the world. What about the high CO2 (or other inert gas) emmissions from nuclear plants? Isn’t Yucca mountain (the favored depository) surrounded by earthquake fault lines? Oh, and I’ve also read that Yucca is made of pumice, which is permeable — is that a problem? Where ELSE will we store the radioactive waste, when Yucca is no longer an option? How long does it take for nuclear waste to decompose?

    There are other options, with less devastating consequences. Solar, hydrogen, wind, bio-diesel — to name a few.

  6. #6 by becky on April 17, 2006 - 1:03 pm

    And before I’m discounted as a no-good liberal (small L) idealist, I wasn’t looking to pick a fight concerning nuclear energy. I know I don’t know nearly enough to engage in meaningful debate, beyond some knowledge of the lasting negative effects of its waste.

    My main point in responding to this post was to question the motivations behind Patrick Moore’s inital statement in support of the industry. It’s like Cheney saying he supported the war in Iraq purely for “freedom” purposes — and not for the gains Halliburton received in all the contracts, post-invasion.

    I just think that should be considered, before it’s wholeheartedly endorsed.

  7. #7 by Leighton Tebay on April 17, 2006 - 2:30 pm

    Becky:

    You are painting yourself as a victim when it is totally unwarranted.

    Nuclear power plants don’t emit significant amounts of CO2.

    Solar and Wind are more expensive than nuclear power and don’t produce enough power to fix the problem. Even in optimal environments the power generation fluctuates.

    Hydrogen is an alternative for gasoline in cars not for power generation. We will likely switch to hydrogen for vehicles but that will require massive amounts of clean power to get hydrogen out of water.

    Bio-diesel is another option for gasoline (not for power generation) but it has a downside as well. It takes a significant amount of energy to produce and process the crops to create bio-diesel or ethanol.

    In Saskatchewan we have the world’s largest repositories of uranium and we still have lots we can pull out of the ground.

    I’m not sure how relevant Patrick Moore’s motives are. He might have once been a committed environmentalist and later on sold out. Regardless his argument should be weighed based on the facts.

    For me the issue is how we are going to reduce our dependancy on coal and natural gas for power generation. We have to find a place for nuclear waste but it isn’t like we don’t have space for it. There is the potential for an accident to cause a problem. Still I will take the potential for a problem over a very real immediate problem any day.

    There is no other medium term (20-30 years) solution that could come close to replacing the power we get from natural gas/coal. I’d say conservation is the only short term option we have. Wind, Solar and Geothermal can be used where it suits but they aren’t feasible in all areas.

  8. #8 by becky on April 17, 2006 - 3:49 pm

    Um, I don’t think I was “painting myself as a victim.”

    I’ve got sources that back up some of the claims I’ve made above, but I don’t think we’re in discussion mode any longer.

  9. #9 by Leighton Tebay on April 17, 2006 - 4:18 pm

    Becky:

    When you wrote “And before I’m discounted as a no-good liberal (small L) idealist” you implied that regardless of the strength of your arguments you will be discounted and considered a ‘no good liberal’.

    What point were you trying to make? What use does it have in a discussion? It looks like you are expecting to be victimized, even though there is no hint of it in the thread.

  10. #10 by becky on April 17, 2006 - 7:40 pm

    LT — I made that disclaimer (of being a no-good liberal) not to victimize myself, as you claim. I realized, as soon as I posted my preceding comment, I was coming across as pretty extreme in my views. True, I am an idealist, but my concern with nuclear energy is mainly pragmatic — I’m worried about the waste it produces, and the long-term effects of its production on the Earth.

    That is all I was saying. I disagree with the assertion that nuclear energy is the best viable solution to our energy woes, and was looking for a discussion (in addition to voicing my dissent).

    When you accused me of making myself the victim, it appears (to me) as an attempt to squelch what I had to say, and not discuss the different ideas I was putting forth. You misread me. I’m sorry for the confusion, as I wasn’t trying to challenge you personally — but the concept of nuclear energy.

  11. #11 by becky on April 17, 2006 - 7:41 pm

    As I’m now monopolzing this particular public discussion, if you’d like to continue this conversation, please feel free to email me.

  12. #12 by becky on April 19, 2006 - 12:08 am

    Fuel for the fire: read me

  13. #13 by Leighton Tebay on April 19, 2006 - 9:07 am

    I think the post you linked to has two good points.

    The capital cost of building nukes is high. However it isn’t out of reach. If the cost of replacing coal power with nuclear is 300 billion in the US it is probably around 30 billion for Canada. It sounds like a lot of money but Canada averages about a 8-10 billion dollar surplus each year. Space that out over the 10-15 years it takes to build these things it is really very affordable.

    Conservation is our most economical choice.

    This is probably true to a point. Over the past year we’ve made some steps towards energy conservation. We have a programmable thermostat. We bought a more expensive front load washer. Our landlord bought us a energy efficient fridge. Our main vehicle is a Toyota Echo. I fill up with ethanol blended gasoline. We have flourescent light bulbs. These are easy steps with relatively easy gains.

    The next level would include replacing our furnace, reinsulating the walls, replace the windows, buy another more fuel efficient car, install a more efficient water heater and dishwasher. These are less affordable but possible.

    After the basic steps conservation becomes a much more expensive and involved affair. At one point it becomes a community effort that requires everyone to dramatically change their lifestyle. We start using our cars less. We restructure our cities and stop the suburban sprawl. We start recycling almost everything. Spending a couple hundred billion dollars in some ways is easier to get most society to change their lifestyle.

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