Some Nuclear and Renewable Energy Facts
It is not a clean solution to the climate crisis, but instead diverts scarce resources from the green techologies that really work: renewables, conservation, and efficiency technologies that can really can solve the climate crisis while also generating wealth, jobs and economic stability.
The nuclear power industry has gone to Congress demanding loan guarantees for one basic reason: atomic reactors are not economically sound. Nobody will finance new ones without the taxpayer being forced to take the ultimate risk. Nuclear power is not a new technology. What Forbes Magazine has called “the largest managerial disaster in business history” is a proven economic failure.
Terror and Error
The terror attacks of September 11, 2001, made it clear that every atomic reactor is a pre-deployed potential weapon of radioactive mass destruction.
The first jet that flew into the World Trade Center passed one minute earlier over the Indian Point reactor complex, 45 miles to the north. There are three reactors there—two active and one inactive—plus thousands of tons of high level radioactive fuel.
Thankfully, humankind has never experienced the horrifying event of a jet plane flying into the containment dome of an active atomic reactor. The industry likes to claim that there would be no penetration. But that’s wishful thinking. It has no hard data—and let’s hope it never does.
Despite the nuclear energy industry’s well-funded efforts to convince the public otherwise, uranium fuel for atomic power plants is in limited supply. Like coal, oil and gas, it will soon run out, leaving scores of giant reactors useless and abandoned.
Waste Storage and Transport
Fifty years ago, the nuclear power industry promised there would be a solution to the problem of high level radioactive waste. Today, we are no closer to managing these uniquely lethal materials than we were in 1957, when the first reactor opened.
A Green Revolution
Renewable energy and increased efficiency comprise the true solution to global warming.
Wind, solar, bio-fuels and other forms of renewables form a proven, immensely profitable multi-billion-dollar industry, with rapid growth on the horizon. In concert with increased efficiency, currently available green power technology can power our entire planet, while solving the global warming problem and guaranteeing our future prosperity.
Indeed, what was in 1979 viewed by many as “marginal” and “impractical,” renewables are now America’s leading source of cheap, new energy supply.
Commercial-scale wind farms, now a $15 billion/year industry, have jumped forward as the world’s cheapest and fastest-growing new energy producer.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight directly to electricity, can make buildings energy self-sufficient. New breakthroughs are allowing solar features to be integrated into roofing shingles, windows and even paint. Big desert-based power towers and trough-mirror arrays are proving increasingly profitable.
Soy diesel and corn-based ethanol can profitably supplant fossil fuels. Advances using easily grown perennials like switchgrass, hemp, kudzu, algae and a wide range of trees and weeds will make biofuels even cheaper and cleaner.
The Great Biofuels Debate
Skyrocketing demand for energy has carried over to bio-fuels, most importantly corn-based ethanol and soy diesel. Serious environmental objections have been raised against both of them, including the increased pressure on food prices. But is this a function of bad agricultural practices? And what sense does it make to use annual food crops for bio-fuels, when inedible perennials such as switchgrass, hemp and algae could be far cheaper and more ecologically sound? This huge debate will help define the human future.
Geothermal technology uses superheated steam from the Earth’s core to create energy in more than 20 countries worldwide. The steady 55-degree heat of the Earth’s crust also works the building of homes and offices, including large urban skyscrapers. This nature-based technology provides valuable supplemental heat in winter and base-line cooling in summer.
Power from the Waters
The ceaseless power of the oceans’ waves, tides and currents is being harvested with extremely simple new technology whose profitability is advancing quickly.
Closing the Loop on Waste
Conservation and efficiency can save ten times as much energy per dollar invested as nuclear power can produce. When we tighten up our system and cut down on waste, we open the door to a green-powered Earth.