On Nuclear power

The Economist has a new debate in which they believe that the world would be better off without Nuclear power.

For philosophical and economical reasons, I have denounced their position as inhuman and irrational.  Here’s my comment and please share yours in this important debate.

Dear Sir,

“Ecology as a social principle… condemns cities, culture, industry, technology, the intellect, and advocates men’s return to “nature,” to the state of grunting subanimals digging the soil with their bare hands.” Ayn Rand

Nuclear energy, as a social principle, created the cleanest and most efficient source of energy that Humanity has ever seen. To deny the facts of reality is environmentalists’ first step to condemn Humanity to times of darkness and subanimal life.


7 comentarios

  1. Agree, Hydroelectric is not suitable for every geographical location . It requires certain special conditions, when Nuclear is easyer to place on demanded areas. But logistics was not the issue of discussion.
    I see you agree that, if any contamination is generated, is only douring construction, while nuclear is during all its active life (and beyond).
    You say that Hydro has more long term externalities. Disagree. Do you know how long does the nuclear waste material remains harmfull?
    You say water is scarce, disagree. One way to check it is to see its price (very cheap or free) and the water, once gone through the turbine, you can still use it again for electricity or for other purposes or it goes back to the river. Uranium, on the other hand is more scarce than gas, oil or coal, the waste has no other purpose and is non renewable.

    • uh, interesting points.

      But geography does matters. Places for generating hydroelectric enery in the US & industrial Europe are almost all taken. What to do there?

  2. I thought that your original comment was regarding only on the energy generation process, but since you take other factors into account…
    The ecological effect of the damm is not always negative. Yes, it alters the environment, but is not destructive, it generates new environments. The lake sustains other types of living organisms. And in many times, the cosntant flow of the river through the year is usualy positive for the river life(other fish) and human communities that need fresh water for irrigation on the dry season.
    Also you and your source aren’t taking in consideration the nuclear fuel cycle:
    The uranium mining(a destructive process), milling, enrichment, transportation, does have negative impact on the environment, consuming oil and coal for its processes.
    Nevertheless, yes, comparing Nuclear impact against coal energry generation’s impact, nuclear is quite clean. But I don’t agree that it is the cleanest.

  3. You say you are making a philosofical argument, you were also making a tecnical argument, which is mistaken:
    You are assuring that Nuclear energy is the cleanest and most efficient. I find it hard to beleive.
    1. Yes, it doesn’t generate CO2, NOx or SO2 while generating electicity, but it does has wastes that has to be geologically stored because they are highy hazardous.
    2. The nuclear efficiency is relatively low, below 40% efficiency, while a large hydroelectric power plant would be at around 90% efficiency.
    Did you compared the wastes of the nuclear Vs. the hydro?

    • Dear Luis,

      Nuclear energy is the cleanest and smallest producer of environmental footprint compared to the other sources of energy (oil, coal, hydroelectric, geotermic, eolic) and “Each year, a typical nuclear power plant generates 20 metric tons of used nuclear fuel. The nuclear industry as a whole generates roughly 2,000 metric tons per year.” SOURCE: NUCLEAR ENERGY INSTITUTE which is stored in safe deposits.

      These reports have interesting factsheets: http://www.nuclearinnovation.com/resources/factsheets.html

      In regard to Hydroelectric power, while it has a small contamination of the environment (CO2, NOx or SO2, that you mentioned) it does has a huge ecological effect by leading to loss of river life (e.g. salmon runs), environmental damage for areas flooded (backed up) and downstream. Which nuclear energy doesn’t causes.

      • Dear Tocayo

        You would be comaring 2,000 metric tons per year of nueclear waste against how many metric tons of which type of waste generated from a hydro power plant?

        • Hey Luis,

          Hydro Power works pretty good and the contamination it causes comes only from actually building it (all the materials need to build the dam, etc – like in the “I, Pencil” reading).

          Now, while a nuclear plant produces only nuclear waste that could be kept safely in reservoirs. the Hydro power is a more complex process that has long-term externalities like creating large environmental impacts by changing the environment and affecting land use, homes, and natural habitats in the dam area.

          As with Uranium (not that terrible to get) water is also a VERY scarce resource and you need lots of water to make hydro plants work. So, you need HUGE reservoirs that require lots of water and a lot of land. Plus, population and industrial production (that require more energy) keep on growing but Hydro plants and reservoirs almost stopped growing since the 80s because there is no more ideal places for dam building.

          In the last 20 years, hydroelectric facilities have been built in developing countries (china, brazil, Russia, India) and are costing millions of dollars and damaging entire ecosystems. Nuclear power facilities would have solved this issue with less costs, negative externalities and ecosystems destruction.

          I remember watching a cool video in Nat Geo regarding the building and effects of the Three Gorges Dam and I got completely impressed by the evidence they had shown.


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