The Upsides Of Nuclear Energy

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Know what that’s a picture of? If you guessed Three Mile Island, you’d be right. Not a very good way to start out a post about the upsides of nuclear energy, eh? Well, just wait.

Sure, we’ve seen a few examples of nuclear plants going wrong over the years, but what about the good? Well, if you’re like me, you already know that the good FAR outweighs the bad. Nuclear energy is safe, inexpensive and a very clean source of energy that could replace coal and help lessens our own impact on the environment. But those aren’t my words… that’sthe founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore. He’s come out with today with a very common sense editorial about the pluses of nuclear energy.

And about Three Mile Island, for those who don’t know the whole story, it really wasn’t THAT big a deal. Moore explains further:

In 1979, Jane Fonda and Jack Lemmon produced a frisson of fear with their starring roles in “The China Syndrome,” a fictional evocation of nuclear disaster in which a reactor meltdown threatens a city’s survival. Less than two weeks after the blockbuster film opened, a reactor core meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear power plant sent shivers of very real anguish throughout the country.

What nobody noticed at the time, though, was that Three Mile Island was in fact a success story: The concrete containment structure did just what it was designed to do — prevent radiation from escaping into the environment. And although the reactor itself was crippled, there was no injury or death among nuclear workers or nearby residents. Three Mile Island was the only serious accident in the history of nuclear energy generation in the United States, but it was enough to scare us away from further developing the technology: There hasn’t been a nuclear plant ordered up since then.

Yes, ever since I read a recent article called “Nuclear Now!” in Wired magazine, I’ve started to seriously consider the potential nuclear energy could have for our environment and society. It’s good to see Moore has come out of the woodwork and is championing these ideas. This makes my common sense heart smile.

Moore even goes so far as to debunk or explain why the concerns against nuclear energy are fairly misguided. Especially when you compare nuclear energy to coal energy:

The 600-plus coal-fired plants emit nearly 2 billion tons of CO2annually — the equivalent of the exhaust from about 300 million automobiles. In addition, the Clean Air Council reports that coal plants are responsible for 64 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 26 percent of nitrous oxides and 33 percent of mercury emissions. These pollutants are eroding the health of our environment, producing acid rain, smog, respiratory illness and mercury contamination.

Meanwhile, the 103 nuclear plants operating in the United States effectively avoid the release of 700 million tons of CO2emissions annually — the equivalent of the exhaust from more than 100 million automobiles. Imagine if the ratio of coal to nuclear were reversed so that only 20 percent of our electricity was generated from coal and 60 percent from nuclear. This would go a long way toward cleaning the air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Every responsible environmentalist should support a move in that direction.

Let’s read that again, “Every responsible environmentalist should support a move in that direction.”

Well, I’m already there Patrick. Who else will join us?

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