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[SF Chronicle]: Nuclear Energy Can’t Solve Global Warming
Mark Hertsgaard offers the cogent response I’ve been looking for to the small but growing chrous of ‘enviros’ (James Lovelock, Patrick Moore, Hugh Montefiore, Stewart Brand, and now Jared Diamond) who see nuclear power as an attractive response to concerns over global warming.
‘Environmentalists center their critique on safety concerns’, he observes. ‘[But] in an atmosphere of desperation over how to keep our TVs, computers and refrigerators humming in a glboally warmed world, economic considerations will dominate. This is especially so when dissident greens like Diamond and Brand say nuclear safety is a solvable problem.’
Hertsgaard steps out of the all too common trap of binary thinking (which characterizes so much of the public debate – about so many things) to hammer the economic argument:
The upshot is that nuclear power is seven times less effective is displacing carbon than the cheapest, fastest alternative — energy efficiency, according to studies by the Rocky Mountain Institute.
And a dubious investment:
As Amory Lovins points out, ‘Nowhere [in the world] domarket-driven utiities buy, or private investors finance, new nuclear power plants. Only large government intervention keeps the nuclear option alive.
Large government intervention, I might add, by committed advocates of ‘small government.’
The challenge: How to turn ‘efficiency’ into the sort of consolidated economic/political block that can take on the political muscle of the nuclear industry and its allies. Until that happens, rational arguments alone — even economic ones — won’t be enough to win the day.