Nuclear Energy a solution or a problem?
Oct 12, 2019Posted by on
This week on Facebook: Following last week’s post on Hinkley C, prompted me to ask if nuclear energy was a solution or a problem? What is nuclear energy? Is the energy sources of a State separated from its political system? The supply of nuclear energy has led to contentions between the State and its energy suppliers, particularly those involving the cost of nuclear energy. The State relies on electricity for much of its commercial energy and even more so for its supply of domestic energy. Electricity is now a source of global energy for any developed and developing State, both domestically and commercially. Nuclear energy supply¹ and the storage of nuclear waste², already electoral issues in the western world, are increasingly global political issues.
The supply of domestic and industrial energy has grown over the years, with me having to become a geriatric before I recognised the political consequences of the UK actions involving Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1951, or the miner’s strike of 1984. Two major and unrelated events, both of which involved the State’s energy supply and each having significant political support.
Global States are now funding nuclear energy in their competitive scramble for economic growth while waiting, apparently, for developed nations to offer solutions for the conversion to nuclear energy and, for the most part, ignoring the problem of nuclear waste. As someone who remembers gas lights in the street where I lived, with gas mantles in a house without electricity, makes me think that the use of electricity is now fundamental a State’s economic growth leading to the consideration of nuclear energy!
The gas-lighter whom Charles Dickens’ lamplighter railed against, could be heard evening and morning as he lit and unlit the street’s illumination.
… went about saying that gas was a death-blow to his native land, and that it was a plot of the radicals to ruin the country and destroy the oil and cotton trade for ever, and that the whales would go and kill themselves privately, out of sheer spite and vexation at not being caught. The Lamplighter (Dickens)
What part did British Petroleum play in the overthrow of Mosaddeq? Did the introduction of gas save the whale? Was it Thatcher or the coal miners that fuelled the rise in welfare spending? Has nuclear fission created the lack of growth in nuclear energy?
1. Is Nuclear Energy the solution? In this Our Changing Climate environmental video essay, I look at what role nuclear energy has to play in a renewable energy transition to combat climate change. Specifically, I figure out whether nuclear energy is emissions free or low carbon. I look at the problem of nuclear waste by weighing the differences between long term storage, on-site storage, and reprocessing of nuclear waste. I also look at the prohibitive cost and construction barriers to nuclear energy in order to understand whether it’s actually a feasible solution to climate change. Finally, I look at the issue of safety in relation to nuclear energy by comparing the death tolls of other energy outputs to that of nuclear energy.
2. How fear of nuclear power is hurting the environment: “We’re not in a clean energy revolution; we’re in a clean energy crisis,” says climate policy expert Michael Shellenberger. His surprising solution: nuclear. In this passionate talk, he explains why it’s time to overcome longstanding fears of the technology, and why he and other environmentalists believe it’s past time to embrace nuclear as a viable and desirable source of clean power.
3. How Nuclear Power Plants Work: This animation explains nuclear power plants in detail and how they work.
4. Demand for clean energy inspires new generation to innovate nuclear power: The next generation of nuclear power is coming, as concerns about climate change bring the industry out of hibernation. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on how new startups and young scientists are hoping to develop solutions for safely generating vast amounts of nuclear energy.
5. 88,000 tons of radioactive waste — and nowhere to put it: The United States produces 2,200 tons of nuclear waste each year…and no one knows what to do with it. The federal government has long promised, but never delivered, a safe place for nuclear power plants to store their spent fuel. This means that radioactive waste is piling up all over the country. We visited one of the worst places where the waste is stuck: a beachside power plant uncomfortably close to both San Diego and Los Angeles. And we asked the people in charge of the waste there: what happens now?
Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:
- A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
- Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
- A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
- The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
- A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
- Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
- JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.
¹Why Nuclear Power Must Be Part of the Energy Solution: Like all energy sources, nuclear power has advantages and disadvantages. What are nuclear power’s benefits? First and foremost, since it produces energy via nuclear fission rather than chemical burning, it generates baseload electricity with no output of carbon, the villainous element of global warming.
²Wasted — The 100,000 year nuclear hangover (url/videos): There is one thing Nukes do right– they make electricity without burning fuels that cause climate change. So…CAN we go back to the future? Only 3 meltdowns out of thousands of power plants might be considered a success. But when it comes to nuclear power, any mistake can lead to a catastrophe, poisoning the environment for generations. And there’s another problem: nuclear waste. Highly contaminated, very dangerous, waste.