Au Lecteur

Cocktail Party Guide to Burying Your Head in the Sand

Posted in Uncategorized by aulecteur on March 26, 2012

That's a windmill stir stick in case you can't tell.

I saw this book in the Physics section of Chapters. It was the only book in the section on energy, never mind alternative energy, which makes me think the four or five copies were misplaced. I picked it up curious to see if it included nuclear. The index indicated it was mentioned on pages 18-19 and 196.

I flipped to the first section. It’s evident the authors have no interest in discussing nuclear as an alternative to fossil fuels. They immediately discount nuclear because it requires the mining of uranium – a non-renewable earthly resource. They also introduce the Fukushima accident as an example of significant risk. Both points are true but neither are good enough reasons to thrown the baby out with the flood waters.

We have a lot of uranium and only burn like 10% of it before it’s taken out of the reactor. It’s a really efficient fuel and new technologies are being developed to make that used-fuel even more efficient. Regarding Japan and Fukushima, yeah, major disaster. A huge earthquake and tsunami wiped out miles of Japan and killed 20,000 people. And yes, the effects of the damage to the reactors at Fukushima caused more problems for people in the region that is now a large long-term exclusion zone.

“For this reason, and the risks it poses nuclear energy is not discussed in this book.”

You want to talk about risks? Back it up to the earthquake and tsunami, and the floods in the US and the UK, the heat wave in Europe, droughts, and all the other examples of extreme weather due to climate change. I don’t know the numbers but I bet climate change refugees outnumber nuclear accident refugees. Burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change. Nuclear does not. Nuclear provides base load power so we can heat and cool our homes and don’t have to worry about rolling brown outs in the scorching summer, things like that. We use nuclear so we don’t have to burn coal. But we still do burn coal, a lot of coal and increasingly more natural gas. Which contributes to climate change and causes extreme weather that kills more people that nuclear ever has.

CBC.ca article: Climate change linked to recent weather extremes

Environmentalists that refuse to see the benefits of nuclear and responsibly weigh the risks really bother me. It just seems so stubborn and misinformed. I know nuclear isn’t perfect but neither are any of the renewable energy sources they do talk about in this book and green energy circles in general.

I think there are a lot of reasons to go with nuclear – a first defense against climate change in my lifetime is just one of them.

Good luck to us all.

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