Sunday, May 15, 2005

The Rebirth of Nuclear Power

Somewhat reluctantly, I have to agree with several environmental leaders that we need to consider seriously using nuclear power as an antidote to climate change. Not surprisingly this has caused much consternation in among environmental activists who have fought against the use of nuclear power for 30 years now. I'm not a big fan of nuclear power for reasons that ought to be obvious, there's no really safe way to store the stuff and the potential for a disastrous and deadly radiation release is always there. Another oft-used criticism, that we shouldn't use nuclear power in a society where we are trying to stop nuclear proliferation, doesn't hold a lot of water for me because a)we're not really stopping nuclear proliferation and b) it's not like we're exporting our nuclear rods anyway.

These are legitimate criticisms. The problem is that the use of carbon-based fuels is far more dangerous for the survival of humanity than nuclear energy. This is a lesser of two evils kind of situation. And widespread use of nuclear power would cause less problems, both in the short and long term than the widespread use of coal, natural gas, and oil. There could be the occasional localized disaster that would be horrible. But ultimately I think that is less damaging to the world than the kind of long-term disasters that we are setting ourselves up for through global warming/climate change.