Go Nuclear to Avert Climate Change
2 Nov, 2009 02:58 pm
It is proposed by the U.K. government's chief scientific advisor that we should go for nuclear to avert climate change but time and uranium supplies are running short. It is best a short-term solution for fission reactors.
I'm not immediately scared of nuclear power since for the most part nuclear power stations have run quite safely for years, there being only three really bad accidents that come to mind: Three Mile Island, Windscale and Chernobyl. Apart from the nuclear waste, it is a pretty clean technology too, especially in terms of carbon emissions, so I take his point. That said, we need to import uranium, which is enriched somewhere?, and there are issues over potential terrorism, so I am not convinced by the usual "security of supply" argument for nuclear.
It is reckoned too that there is around 40 years worth of uranium in known reserves and so if we are going to go for nuclear, we need to get hold of a lot more of the stuff. Obviously, if we all go four-fold in our adoption of fission-based reactors, that divides into 10 years worth and since it takes about 10 years to get a nuclear power plant up and running from scratch, we may have left it a bit too late.
I agree with Professor Mackay too that renewables are unlikely to provide more than a small fraction of our energy at least in the short term, and yet in the rounder and longer view they are all we have. At the risk of repetition, this reminds that we have to cut our energy use - transportation is an issue in its own right and will begin to decline in the wake of the most precious and vulnerable of fossil resources, namely oil - by a wholesale relocalisation of society. However, if this is not done in a structured way, and no government wants to point out the severity and proximity of the situation for fear of scaring the living daylights out of its electorate and augering-in anarchy, then it is exactly the latter that is likely to prevail upon us.
"Professor David Mackay: Britain 'must go nuclear' to control climate." By Jonathan Leake: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6860181.ece