Can Nukes Save the Planet? Not So Fast
Posted on Jul 16, 2007
You may have seen the bumper stickers: “Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Power.” With oil prices high and the planet cooking, some prominent green voices want us to reconsider nuke plants. Long before Monday’s earthquake in Japan started a nuke plant fire (causing a radioactive water leak), writer Rebecca Solnit was trying to stop this line of thinking in its tracks, calling it defeatist and naive.
“Sure, you can say nuclear power is somewhat less carbon-intensive than burning fossil fuels for energy; beating your children to death with a club will prevent them from getting hit by a car,” she concludes. “Ravaging the Earth by one irreparable means is not a sensible way to prevent it from being destroyed by another. There are alternatives. We should choose them and use them.”
Reasons Not to Glow
On not jumping out of the frying pan into the eternal fires
by Rebecca Solnit
Chances are good, gentle reader, that you are going to have to sit next to someone in the coming year who will assert that nuclear power is the solution to climate change. What will you tell them? There’s so much to say. You could be sitting next to someone who hasn’t really considered the evidence yet. Or you could be sitting next to scientist and Gaia theorist James Lovelock, a supporter of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy(tm), which quotes him saying, “We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear—the one safe, available, energy source—now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet.”
If you sit next to Lovelock, you might start by mentioning that half the farms in this country had windmills before Marie Curie figured out anything about radiation or Lise Meitner surmised that atoms could be split. Wind power is not visionary in the sense of experimental. Neither is solar, which is already widely used. Nor are nukes safe, and they take far too long to build to be considered readily available. Yet Stewart Brand, of Whole Earth Catalog fame, has jumped on the nuclear bandwagon, and so has Greenpeace founding member turned PR flack Patrick Moore. So you must be prepared.