Poor Abused Nuclear

Dai Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan.    (credit: DigitalGlobe) http://www.digitalglobe.com

In a recent email campaign, We need your help to end the discrimination against nuclear, Michael Shellenberger, the overreaching leader of Eco(sic)modernism and its acolytes, cried out in mock agony: “Together, we can end discrimination against nuclear energy”

Apparently, the nuclear power industry is feeling put upon by cruel environmentalists, who are discriminating against their ability to continue to profit from electricity supplied by aging nuclear reactors through the world. As many as a dozen pro-nuclear supporters (incorrectly identified by Shellenberger as “environmentalists”) have stepped forward as volunteers, so we’re told.

California even has its own Save Diablo Canyon campaign, touting the misleading and meaningless aphorism: “For our families and our future, a win-win: CLEAN ENERGY & CONSERVATION FOR CALIFORNIA.

Shellenberger and the California nuclear industry activists repeatedly describe nuclear energy as “clean” and “carbon free,” which is not just mistaken, it is an outright lie designed to compare nuclear energy favorably with wind and solar energy sources.

The truth is that no source of energy is “carbon free.” All energy sources produce CO2 in their full lifecycle, since all energy sources require mining, transportation, manufacture, construction, maintenance, dismantling and recycling or storage of waste products. Nuclear has the added disadvantage of producing vast quantities of radioactive waste and construction materials that must be segregated from all life for thousands of years.

But of course, none of this is considered in evaluating nuclear as a “clean energy” source.

Nuclear energy promoters are growing a last ditch campaign to save nuclear power plants before they reach the end of their usable life cycle. A Big Push for Small Nuclear Reactors tells the tale of efforts in Europe to develop “small” reactors to be used in urban areas, under the premise that smaller reactors are “safer” than large ones. This claim ignores the fact that small reactors produce less energy than large reactors, so more “small” reactors would be required to meet the same energy demands. Plus, the push assumes that reactor safety is the primary concern holding back their development, when in fact it is storage of radioactive wastes and spend reactor components that is the primary concern.

The truth is that nuclear energy is an attempt to throw a technological fix at the inevitable impossibility of providing energy to maintain societies based on unlimited growth. The truth is that no energy source is “clean,” “carbon-free” or “waste-free.” All energy production consumes resources, produces waste and is subject to the inescapable demands of entropy.

If the nuclear power industry is truly being discriminated against, it deserves it!


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