Thursday, May 12, 2005

 

Going Green With Nukes

I am often amazed in political debates how stubborn and one-sided different political groups can be, especially on the topic of energy and the environment. It is my observation that for the most part:

  1. Rebublicans refuse to admit that environmental impact is the prime consequence of our energy consumption, and
  2. Democrats refuse to admit that cheap energy is the prime mover of our economy.

Will Republicans ever face up to the environmental realities of our energy consumption? It's not clear. But, the good news is that Democrats in recent years have began to realize the importance of access to affordable energy as a part of the broader progressive agenda (e.g. if you're concerned about human rights in developing countries, then cheap energy is a key component because it enables road construction, schools, hospitals, etc.), and have consequently softened their stance by demanding both cheap and clean energy.

But despite this shift by environmentalists towards accomodating the importance of energy, one barrier still exists: accepting nuclear power as a viable source of clean, cheap power.

As an engineer, the benefits of nuclear power are obvious to me, some of which I list here:

  1. Nuclear power emits no air pollution
  2. Nuclear power requires very little raw material, and therefore less mining
  3. Nuclear power frees us from the iron-grip of MidEast dictators who hate us and use the money we send them to attack us
  4. The greatest deposits of nuclear raw materials in the world are in Australia, which is an ally and a freedom-loving Democracy

Air pollution is our top environmental problem because of its role in causing global climate change and human health problems such as lung disease, asthma, etc., and so it is very thrilling to have a solution (e.g. nuclear power) ready to implement. But, amazingly enough, the same activists who should love nuclear energy because of its relatively small environmental footprint have instead done everything they can to prevent its widspread implementation in the U.S.

Meanwhile, France, Japan and the UK have developed a reliance on nuclear power for a great portion of their electicity, all without environmental incident or loss of valuable radioactive materials to terrorists. So it can be done.

If we really care about the environment and promoting human rights worldwide, then it's time to go green with nukes and say goodbye to the hydrocarbon economy and all the poisons it brings in terms of environmental damage and compromised national security.

Oh, and I'm not the only environmentalist who thinks this way: Stewart Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and a long-time environmental leader says the same thing in this article.


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