THIS past summer, the Group of 7 nations promised “urgent and concrete action” to limit climate change. What actions exactly? Activists hope for answers from the coming United Nations climate conference in Paris, which begins Monday. They should look instead to Washington today.
The single most important action we can take is thawing a nuclear energy policy that keeps our technology frozen in time. If we are serious about replacing fossil fuels, we are going to need nuclear power, so the choice is stark: We can keep on merely talking about a carbon-free world, or we can go ahead and create one.
We already know that today’s energy sources cannot sustain a future we want to live in. This is most obvious in poor countries, where billions dream of living like Americans. The easiest way to satisfy this demand for a better life has been to burn more coal: In the past decade alone, China added more coal-burning capacity than America has ever had. But even though average Indians and Chinese use less than 30 percent as much electricity as Americans, the air they breathe is far worse. They deserve a third option besides dire poverty or dirty skies.
In America, the left worries more about our five billion metric tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions and what it might do to Earth’s climate. On the right, even those who discount the environmental effects of fossil fuels can’t deny their contribution to economic volatility. We saw this in 2008 when a historic high oil price coincided with a historic financial crisis.
The need for energy alternatives was already clear to investors a decade ago, which is why they poured funding into clean technology during the early 2000s. But while the money was there, the technology wasn’t: The result was a series of bankruptcies and the scandal of Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer in California that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving a federal guarantee of hundreds of millions of dollars. Wind and solar together provide less than 2 percent of the world’s energy, and they aren’t growing anywhere near fast enough to replace fossil fuels.
What’s especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie “The China Syndrome,” about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled. If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago.
Read more: The New Atomic Age We Need
The Latest on: Nuclear power
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The Latest on: Nuclear power
- Germany criticizes Russian role in French nuclear fuel planton March 30, 2023 at 7:38 am
Naturally we want to push back against that influence.” Rosatom has been accused of involvement in Russia's occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, which is Europe’s largest.
- Japan Lower House begins debate on extending nuclear power plant operationson March 30, 2023 at 7:37 am
The Lower House of Japan's Diet has begun deliberating on legislation that would allow nuclear power plants to operate beyond their current 60-year limit.
- Browns Ferry nuclear reactor back in service with a new main generatoron March 30, 2023 at 6:22 am
Also in March, TVA’s Sequoyah Nuclear Plant Unit 2 began its scheduled refueling ... employee safety concerns and a drop in projected power demand. TVA determined it would be too costly to replace the ...
- Climate Options are Available Now, Nuclear Power Isn’t One of Themon March 29, 2023 at 11:00 pm
None of those options includes nuclear power, according to the IPCC scientists, which never mentions ‘nuclear’ once in the report narrative. It appears only in a single graph (below) to illustrate its ...
- UN nuclear watchdog says fighting near Ukraine power plant is ‘intensifying’on March 29, 2023 at 9:45 am
IAEA director general Rafael Grossi warns that hostilities around Zaporizhzhia risk ‘major nuclear accident which will spare no one’ ...
- World’s arsenal of nuclear weapons now has power of 135,000 Hiroshima bombs, report sayson March 29, 2023 at 8:00 am
Fear of nuclear war has also increased and is now at its highest level since the Cold War, according to the report.
- Nuclear Power Plant and Equipment Market size to hit USD 55.16 Bn by 2029 at a CAGR of 4.31 percent – says Maximize Market Researchon March 29, 2023 at 5:51 am
Nuclear Power Plant and Equipment Market is segmented into Reactor and Equipment for the analysis of the market. The increasing energy demand and the production of clean electricity are the factors ...
- UN nuclear boss heads to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power planton March 29, 2023 at 1:38 am
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog set off on Wednesday for Russian-occupied southeastern Ukraine to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station for the second time since Moscow's forces invaded ...
- Temporary shutdown of Monticello nuclear power plant causes fish killon March 28, 2023 at 3:09 pm
The Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant sits close to the Mississippi River. The utility company started powering it down on Friday, which cooled the surrounding water. The Pollution ...
- Minnesota nuclear power plant leak repaired, will return to service next weekon March 28, 2023 at 10:42 am
A broken pipe that caused a leak at a Minnesota nuclear power plant has been repaired and the plant is set to return to service next week.
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