An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Sunday, September 11, 2005  

The Future is Nuclear

I agree with David McWilliams. Nuclear is cleaner, more efficient, and isn't going to run out. Who knows, maybe by reducing our dependance on oil and willingness to fight over it, it might even save lives.

posted by Sarah | 15:55 8 comments
Oh Dear Sarah,

I just read David McWilliams article and it sounded like something straight out of a nuclear industry press release. While I suspect most physicists would support nuclear power (a major employer of physicists) you would be had pressed to find an Environmental Scientist who does. The major problem with nuclear (as with fossil fuels) is the waste. What do you do with it? Well all that can be done with is bury it, and hope that it doesn't leak during the 10,000 years it takes to decay into something less dangerous. The waste from fossil fuels causes climate change, but we can reverse that damage (if we have the will).

I am afraid you are going to hear a lot of propoganda in favour of nucleur power over the next few years. Why? Well because of the Hydrogen economy, it looks likely that hydrogen fuel cells (or maybe effecient batteries) will replace the internal combustion engine. In order to charge the batteries (or make the Hydrogen) you need electricity, lots of electricity. In fact so much electricity that the only possible way that the demand can be met is by building more nucleur power stations. The nucleur power industry is pushing this concept so well that it is even managed to itself regarded as an alternative energy source, just like wind and wave power. Don't believe me? Check the out the National Geographic article from earlier this year, the logic in it is strangely similar to David Mc Williams.


Hi Conor. Will you send me a link to that article? I guess I can't see how windmills (which everyone protests about), and cow manure are going to provide us with the energy we demand. I agree that waste is the issue but c'mon, isn't it true that if China starts burning as much coal as it needs then the ozone layer is totally screwed and then we're screwed anyway. On a risk assessment basis maybe nuclear has a lower risk? Anyway, send me the NG thing and let's compare it to McW. Perhaps there will be nothing strange about the similarity?
Nuclear is only a stopgap solution: apparently we run out of known reserves in rather less than fifty years if we try to generate a large portion of our energy needs with it.
Having said that, it's probably the best stopgap we have for the moment. It's not a long-term solution however.
The real energy solution is nuclear fusion (as opposed to conventional fission), clean and runs on sea water. I'm not joking:
I can't believe that the US pulled out of plans to build the first-ever large-scale fusion reactor (cost=6 billion) then spent 1 billion a day on the war in Iraq.
"I agree that waste is the issue but c'mon..."

Is that your argument 'c'mon'?

What about 'heyyy!'
Burning fossile fuels does does not damage the Ozone. Chlorine is the main culprit for that, and it's biggest carrier agent, CFCs are almost extinct now (well production of them has all but ceased).

One of the big problems with Nuclear that is not highlighted often, is the amount of energy required to build one of those beasts. The carbon emissions alone are massive, when you consider the amount of steel, concrete and machinery required to build one.

Of course, the Irish neighbours of Sellafield would have something to say on this topic I'm sure.
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