Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Re-thinking Nuclear Power

Indeed, I have been thinking about ... re-thinking about the use of nuclear power. It could be a good stopgap for us, as we try to transition off of our near-total addiction to fossil fuels.

I've been a nay-sayer against nuclear power for awhile now. This recent "conversion" of mine is not due to Sarah Palin's
Op-Ed in the Washington Post. She gave nuclear power only a fragment of one sentence.

No, it is due to the reasoned arguments of
James Lovelock in his most recent "Gaia" books, "The Revenge of Gaia" and "The Vanishing Face of Gaia." And surely, at some point (hopefully soon), we're going to figure out how to implement nuclear fusion.

Increased use of nuclear power at this time of over-pollution with carbon would be a wise move.

Sure, we still have that nasty nuclear waste problem to deal with, but generation of nuclear power is practically emission-free energy, unlike power derived from coal, oil or natural gas. We are still a long way from "clean" coal, but research in that direction should continue, because we have so much coal in the U.S.

1500 megawatts output per nuclear plant is a lot of power, and you don't have to worry about the wind not blowing (as you do with wind turbines), and it doesn't matter if it's a cloudy day (as it does with solar photovoltaic), and it's not really taking land that might go for food production (like most biofuel crops currently in favor - and growing plants for biofuel could end up taking a LOT of land that could be better used for food, or left in its natural state), and you don't have to dam up any more rivers (as you do with hydro power).

Each type of energy usage has its risks. Comparatively speaking, when you look at the numbers, nuclear power generation has shown to be much safer than any other type of power we generate.

Still have that pesky waste issue, of course, and the astronomical cost of nuclear plant construction. And many people have a harsh, near-autonomic denunciation of the technology. I used to, until I gave Lovelock a fair reading.

Just how close are we to fusion, anyway?

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