Sunday, April 16, 2006

Considering Nuclear Energy

One problem I’ve had with discussions of nuclear energy is that it often seems that both sides already have their biases and then cherry pick the facts that support their argument. Achieving energy independence, and reducing emisions from coal based electric plants, are two important goals for this country. Evaluation of forms of energy, as well as global warming, must be done based upon the science and not political bias or the entire planet might become collateral damage in the Bush war on science .

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, writes in the New York Times that he has reevaluated nuclear eneregy:

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That’s the conviction that inspired Greenpeace’s first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

Look at it this way: More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions — or nearly 10 percent of global emissions — of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely.

Moore looks at both the advantages and the risks of nuclear energy. I don’t know if nuclear energy is the answer, but we are much more likely to reach a reasonable answer if more people like Moore concentrate on the science rather than pursuing a political goal.


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