April 11, 2008

Nuclear Energy in a Warming World

Turkana has a great post about why nuclear energy is such a brain-dead solution to our need for clean energy.

Here's the comment I left.

Another great post, Turkana. I wrote about this here and linked Amory Lovins' piece on why it was deader than dead. (Why does he conclude that? Because the free market believes it's a loser and refuses to put money into it.)

Another problem that you didn't mention which might be even more important is the problem of water and cooling. As I noted here:

Furthermore, nuclear power stations are particularly dependent on water for cooling. In summer 2003, Europe was struck with the worst heat wave in its recorded history. A number of nuclear power stations had to be shut down because river levels fell so much they could no longer cool the plants. But that was precisely when the need for energy was greatest. We know that global warming will only make this problem worse.

Last summmer, Alabama experienced the same type of failure.

Today, people are focused on the link (and trade-off) between energy and food (see biofuel boondoogle), but one challenge that is absolutely insurmountable is how we will effectively use water in our warming world. In many parts of the world, it will be scarcer and more precious than oil or gold.

So why are so many politicians looking to nuclear power and carbon sequestration and biofuels as the solution? Eric Janszen probably put it best: these massive, expensive and complex projects are the next way for the plutocrats (and the pollute-ocrats) to get rich off the pain of the world.

More valuable than campaign rhetoric, however, is legislation. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, a massive bill known to morning commuters for extending daylight savings time, contained provisions guaranteeing loans for alternative-energy businesses, including nuclear-power technology. The bill authorizes $200 million annually for clean-coal initiatives, repeals the current 160-acre cap on coal leases, offers subsidies for wind energy and other alternative-energy producers, and promises $50 million annually, over the life of the bill, for a biomass grant program.

Loan guarantees for “innovative technologies” such as advanced nuclear-reactor designs are also at hand; a kindler, gentler nuclear industry appears to be imminent. The Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act has been extended through 2025; the secretary of energy was ordered to implement the 2001 nuclear power “roadmap,” and $1.25 billion was set aside by the Department of Energy to develop a nuclear reactor that will generate both electricity and hydrogen. The future of transportation may be neither solar- nor ethanol-powered but instead rely on numerous small nuclear power plants generating electricity and, for local transportation, hydrogen. At the state and local levels, related bills have been passed or are under consideration.

Who cares if the world is destroyed in this race to be masters of the universe? As long as someone is getting rich, it seems that nuclear power, "clean coal" and "biofuels" are wonderful things in which our scarce tax dollars should be invested even when they are guaranteed to make things worse. It is enough to make one sick.

Posted by Mary at April 11, 2008 08:58 PM | Energy | Technorati links |

fewer humans needed.

Posted by: joel hanes at April 12, 2008 05:12 PM