I love to read. I can’t think of a way to better enjoy myself. Its a luxury for me and when I find a book I can sink my teeth into it is as close to being fulfilled as it gets.
Three of the latest books on my list which I have just finished devouring, the latest by James Lovelock, one by noted Canadian Climatologist Andrew Weaver and the last by Pulitzer prize winner Chris Hedges, have spurred me on to write another short missive on nuclear power. You see, all three books are about the changes coming from climate change (Chris Hedges is more about the fall of the American Empire, but climate change figures largely in his scenario) and how the media has given the public the impression there is a debate about whether it is human caused or not, when in fact there is an astounding unanimity amongst the scientists who study climatology and climate change. There have been none, zero, peer reviewed studies in the past decade that refutes anthropogenic climate change. That is thousands and thousands of articles and researchers. That is a FACT. End of story.
And it is happening fast. We have little time left to cut back on our emissions, from a tipping point, which many scientists think is 450 ppm of CO2. So what to do? How do we maintain our lifestyles, or technology, our livelihoods in the face of such a monumental fact? No fossil fuels. Zero. They are too dangerous. So, do we end driving, industry and manufacturing? What about heating and water and electricity? Pretty much everything we do involves CO2 and carbon based fuels.
What the three above writers suggest is to leave no stone unturned and do an assessment of all the options. Put each alternative, every non carbon energy source back on the table and take out the a priori biases and re-evaluate the plusses and misses. And see what happens. In other words, apply scientific method and facts to the problem and let that powerful, brute force of scientific method which has given rise to the marvelous technology we have around us, do it’s magic. Let it parse the pros and cons.
One of the energy sources that constantly gets a bad rap is nuclear power. Green Peace, the Green Party and others within the environmental movement see red and view nuclear power as the devil, and if anything, worse than fossil fuels. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and a host of other nuclear spectres make any discussion about the veracity of nuclear power, a trip into vitriol. However, France gets more than 80 per cent of its power from nuclear power plants, and we have, compared to fossil fuels a sterling record when the stats for each are compared. Coal and oil and natural gas kill many, many workers in their extraction each and every year. And the environmental cost is huge, almost beyond calculation. Compared to fossil fuels, nuclear power with third and fourth generation plants, is safe, reliable and clean. And it is a known technology and mature. Nothing to invent or solve, other than implement a true cost of using nuclear power and employing a true cradle to grave policy.
And it can be up and running and do the heavy lifting for the hydrogen economy, wave power, wind power and other clean sources that are yet unproven or have serious glitches, inconsistent and intermit power generation.
Its all about science, and using it properly. With this amazing tool, we can bypass superstition, opinion and hyperbole and solve some serious problems. Its time to rethink our prejudices and what they are based on.
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