The Ten Deceptions Part IV

The Ten Deceptions Part IV

(4) The Fourth Deception: Nuclear energy does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will not help with the global warming problem.

Since almost every anti nuclear activist is also a crusader against greenhouse gasses and global warming, it only stands to reason that they would search for some reason to not even acknowledge that nuclear energy is completely clean as far as greenhouse gasses are concerned.

The radioactive rods heat water and this heat is converted into electricity with no CO2 emissions or any other air pollutants at all.

Some scientists will argue that in ancient days when we had much more CO2 in the atmosphere than we do today that the earth was like a Garden of Eden and releasing more into the atmosphere is a good thing. But that is another interesting argument to examine.

In the mean time people have been scared out of their wits about CO2 emissions and you would think that the use of a clean source of power would be viewed as a good thing. It is an especially good thing when you realize that coal fired plants emit many tons of pollutants much more dangerous than CO2.

When I heard that activists were preaching that nuclear power does not reduce greenhouses emissions I became quite curious as to what kind of spin they could possibly come up with to support this argument so I explored.

It took quite a bit of researching to find any explanation at all. A lot of anti nuclear writers just make the statement that nuclear power is not the answer to greenhouse gasses or air pollution and leave it at that. I guess these individuals just want us to accept the beast of authority.

I thought that surely they must have some basis for the argument and continued my investigation. Finally I found something.

Several cite a study bearing the strange name of “Keepin and Kats” which claims that every dollar spent on energy conservation saves seven times as much CO2 as a dollar spent on nuclear energy.

Now even if this were a true statement this does not nullify the fact that a nuclear power plant gives off virtually zero air pollutants and no matter what the cost is, no pollution is no pollution.

And considering cost, nuclear is cheaper than solar or wind and comparable to coal, hydro and gas worldwide.

One could use this same argument with solar power by making a similarly ridiculous statement such as:

“Solar power does not reduce greenhouse gasses because it is very expensive and if we took the money invested in solar and invested it in conservation we would save twenty times the greenhouse gasses per dollar spent.”

This is a silly argument because each kilowatt generated by solar is virtually pollution free no matter how you look at it or how much you conserve by other methods on the side.

I couldn’t find any usable details of this study, but common sense tells you that it has great limitations.

The reason?

Because you can conserve so much and then you can conserve no more. That which is spent on conservation may be wise and more productive than money spent on any energy source, but money thus spent cannot progress in linear fashion.

For instance I just replaced some of my incandescent bulbs around the house with new florescent ones which give the same amount of light for about 23% of the electricity. Even though these bulbs cost ten times the price I figured it was worth it to help conserve and ultimately the power saved would pay the extra cost.

This, I believe, was a wise investment, but there is a problem. I can’t get up in the morning and say: “I want to conserve some again by investing more money in energy saving bulbs.” The bulbs have already been replaced and no more investment is even possible.

I could order better insulation for my house, but once that is done there is no more to do in this area.

Conservation is admirable, but there is a limit to it. Meanwhile, even with superhuman efforts at conservation the demand for energy will go up and we must provide for those needs or the nation and the world will get caught with its pants down as did California recently. The state which has taken the greatest measures to conserve discovered quite painfully that the demand for power will go up no matter how much we try to conserve.

Unfortunately, they are attempting to solve the problem with coal burning plants rather than clean nuclear.

Do the activists have any other arguments to support the ideas that nuclear power does not reduce greenhouse emissions?

I did find one other one. Here it is:

“The building of nuclear power plants, the mining for uranium, transportation involved and the uranium enrichment process demands energy which is delivered through fossil fuels which give out greenhouse gasses.”

This is a pretty lame argument for it can be made against any source of power including wind and solar. All their ingredients take a certain amount of fossil fuel to create and transport, BUT – this is the case only because we are so dependent on fossil fuels. If the fossil fuel plants were all replaced by nuclear plants then we would be using clean nuclear power for manufacturing and greenhouse emissions for the production of electricity would be reduced to near the zero point.

France offers great proof that nuclear power does reduce greenhouse gasses. After the oil embargo in the seventies they made the decision to switch to nuclear as much as possible. They now receive (in 2001) 77% of their electricity by this method and the quality of their air has greatly improved. The reductions in air pollution per kilowatt hour produced nationally has been reduced about 73% in a 20 year period.

It is difficult to deny proof that stares you in the face.

Nuclear power is the only clean source of electricity (concerning air pollutants) that we have available that can supply us with the increasing demand for power. We examined the other clean alternatives and they are just not feasible. The only other choice is to hope for a miracle or risk economic devastation.

I prefer abundance, myself. In times of economic prosperity the chance of breakthroughs in alternative energy are much more possible than in times of financial hardship – which also tends to amplify the possibility of war and terror.

Copyright by J J Dewey

Nov 1, 2001

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