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Don’t Drink the Nuclear Kool-Aid
Posted on Jul 16, 2008
By Amy Goodman
While the presidential candidates trade barbs and accuse each other of flip-flopping, they agree with President Bush on their enthusiastic support for nuclear power.
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But nuclear power is not a solution to climate change—rather, it causes problems. Amory Lovins is the co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado. He makes simple, powerful points against nuclear: “The nuclear revival that we often hear about is not actually happening. It is a very carefully fabricated illusion ... there are no buyers. Wall Street is not putting a penny of private capital into the industry, despite 100-plus percent subsidies.” He adds: “Basically, we can have as many nuclear plants as Congress can force the taxpayers to pay for. But you won’t get any in a market economy.”
Even if nuclear power were economically viable, Lovins continues, “the first issue to come up for me would be the spread of nuclear weapons, which it greatly facilitates. If you look at places like Iran and North Korea ... how do you think they’re doing it? Iran claims to be making electricity vital to its development. ... The technology, materials, equipment, skills are applicable to both. ... The president is absolutely right in identifying the spread of nuclear weapons as the gravest threat to our security, so it’s really puzzling to me that he’s trying to accelerate that spread every way he can think of. ... It’s just an awful idea unless you’re really interested in making bombs. He’s really triggered a new Mideast arms race by trying to push nuclear power within the region.”
Along with proliferation, there are terrorist threats to existing nuclear reactors, like Entergy’s controversial Indian Point nuclear plant just 24 miles north of New York City. Lovins calls these “about as fat a terrorist target as you can imagine. It is not necessary to fly a plane into a nuclear plant or storm a plant and take over a control room in order to cause that material to be largely released. You can often do it from outside the site boundary with things the terrorists would have readily available.”
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The presidential candidates are wrong on nuclear power. Wind, solar and microgeneration (generating electricity and heat at the same time, in smaller plants), on the other hand, are taking off globally, gaining billions of dollars in private investments. Lovins summarizes: “One of the big reasons we have an oil problem and a climate problem today is we spent our money on the wrong stuff. If we had spent it on efficiency and renewables, those problems would’ve gone away, and we would’ve made trillions of dollars’ profit on the deal because it’s so much cheaper to save energy than to supply it.”
The answer is blowing in the wind.
Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 700 stations in North America.
© 2008 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate
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