In our increasingly power-hungry world, nuclear power is seen by many energy consumers, energy producers and even scientists to be a logical solution.
But, watch out, it isn’t.
According to a recent article in The Economist, nuclear power plants are extraordinarily expensive to build. I suggest that it would take money away from simpler solutions that are kinder to the natural environment. It seems to me that we should deal with all the problems and complexities of climate change instead of trying to cut corners by developing nuclear power plants.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a stark appraisal of the latest climate science: “Humanity has only three decades to completely reinvent the global economy in order to hold the climate to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”
Not only would transitioning to clean energy sources cut the emissions responsible for climate change, but it would also cut the air pollution that can cause asthma and heart disease.
According to the Center for American Progress, clean energy industries are also some of America’s fastest-growing economic sectors, employing approximately 3.3 million American workers.
Green America is active by transitioning the U.S. electricity mix away from its heavy emphasis on coal-fired and natural gas power. But all of that work will be wasted if we transition from fossil fuels to an equally dangerous source — nuclear power.
Nuclear power is not a climate solution. It may produce lower-carbon energy, but this energy comes with a great deal of risk.
Solar power, wind power, geothermal power, hybrid and electric cars, and aggressive energy efficiency are climate solutions that are safer, cheaper, faster, more secure and less wasteful than nuclear power. We need a massive investment in these solutions if we are to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, enjoy energy security, protect our economy, create jobs and work to be a world leader in the development of clean energy.
According to Green America, currently there are 444 nuclear power plants in 30 countries worldwide, with another 63 plants potentially under construction. Green America says that those plants should not be built for the following reasons:
- Nuclear waste: There’s no safe storage.
- Nuclear proliferation: The danger of producing more nuclear weapons.
- National security: Nuclear power plants are a potential target for terrorist operations.
- Accidents: Think about human error and natural disasters; e.g. Chernobyl and Fukushima.
- Cancer risk: Studies show increased risk for those who reside or work near a nuclear power plant.
- Energy production: The 444 nuclear power plants currently in existence would have to scale up to 14,500 plants. Impossible.
- Not enough sites: Every nuclear plant would need to be near water, safe from droughts, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes.
- Cost: Unlike renewables, nuclear costs are on the rise.
- Competition with renewables: Investment in nuclear power plants draws funding away from investment in cleaner sources such as wind, solar and geothermal.
- Energy dependence of poor countries: Let’s lead by example and encourage investment in safe energy technology.