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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Union of Concerned Scientists on Nuclear Power to Fight Global Warming

I've written before of my opinion about building nuclear power plants to meet the crisis of climate change. I received the most comments from that post - all against my position. But, I am not against listening to the other side and am always open to changing my mind.

The Union of Concerned Scientists website has some great information about how to stop climate change (though in my mind the goal really should be minimizing the impact of climate change...), including a position paper on the use of nuclear power. They are not against it, but feel we should start with other technologies first.

Their five conclusions are:

"1. Prudence dictates that we develop as many options to reduce global warming emissions as possible, and begin by deploying those that achieve the largest reductions most quickly and with the lowest costs and risk. Nuclear power today does not meet these criteria.

"2. Nuclear power is not the silver bullet for 'solving' the global warming problem. Many other technologies will be needed to address global warming even if a major expansion of nuclear power were to occur.

"3. A major expansion of nuclear power in the United States is not feasible in the near term. Even under an ambitious deployment scenario, new plants could not make a substantial contribution to reducing U.S. global warming emissions for at least two decades.

"4. Until long-standing problems regarding the security of nuclear plants—from accidents and acts of terrorism—are fixed, the potential of nuclear power to play a significant role in addressing global warming will be held hostage to the industry's worst performers.

5. An expansion of nuclear power under effective regulations and an appropriate level of oversight should be considered as a longer-term option if other climate-neutral means for producing electricity prove inadequate. Nuclear energy research and development (R&D) should therefore continue, with a focus on enhancing safety, security, and waste disposal."

(click here to go to the UCS website)

This seems like a reasonable response to the issue of nuclear power. There some concerns that if addressed might make it a better option, but in the meantime there are better options available for us to start with.

I am sure that we will see some sort of reemergence of the nuclear power industry in the near future. I just hope that we can find other ways to address the climate crisis.

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