Two astounding pieces of news related to the nuclear industry crossed my desk this week.
First, a rundown by Harvey Wasserman, who’s been fighting nukes all the way back to the 1970s (at least two of his many books are on energy issues), on the current very sorry state of the nuclear power industry, worldwide. And only China and Russia have an aggressive construction program at the moment.
Wasserman notes that this is an industry on its knees.
In Wasserman’s article, he notes that:
- None of Japan’s reactors are currently operating
- France just elected President Francois Hollande, who campaigned as a pro-safe-energy, anti-nuclear candidate
- In the US, the few nukes currently under construction are saddled with costs that make them completely uncompetitive, even without all the other negative factors, and with a loan guarantee program (a/k/a “bailout”) that looks increasingly tenuous—and meanwhile, the safe energy/no nukes movement, largely quiet since our victories 30+ years ago, is waking up (I even went to a safe energy demonstration recently whose speakers included Vermont’s governor, one of its senators, and its attorney general)
- Even China, a country not known to pay much attention to the safety and well-being of its citizens—and one that has been expanding its energy capacity through every technology it can harness—is reevaluating its nuclear program, and may halt construction or shut down some or all of its reactors
And Wasserman didn’t even discuss the several countries (among them Germany and Italy) that have pledged to phase out or shut down their nukes.
The second story is a reminder of one more reason why we should never have harnessed this technology: it’s a genie that won’t stay in the bottle. Every nuclear power generation or fuel processing plant increases the chances of global terrorism, and of rogue governments getting their hands on nuclear weapons.
It turns out that Kodak had its own mini-nuclear reactor and a store of weapons-grade uranium, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As the reporter, Matt Pearce, wryly noted, “Good thing Kodak isn’t in Iran; that’s the kind of thing Israel’s been threatening to go to war over.”
But rest assured that we are out of danger from Kodak’s uranium, he notes:
Lest this story conjure up memories of the anxiety over “loose nukes” after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kodak ditched the uranium in 2007 with the coordination of the U.S. government, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Safety, cost, and atomic proliferation are just three of many reasons to oppose nuclear power. Here’s a PDF you can download (from Germany) called “100 Good Reasons Against Nuclear Power.”
The good news: we totally don’t need it. Amory Lovins and others have shown how the most energy-hogging of societies, such as the US (which uses about twice as much energy per capita as Germany, with about the same standard of living) can cut energy use by 60 or 80 percent, and even the more conservation-minded societies still can find plenty of savings. Combine that with the rapid advances in clean energy technology (solar, wind, small hydro, tidal, magnetic, etc.) and you have a recipe for safe, clean living, high quality of life, and reduced threat of catastrophic climate change.
You might want to send a link to this post to your elected representatives, with a letter about why you favor clean-energy alternatives to nukes and fossil fuels.