SocraticGadfly: Nuclear isn't part of the climate answer and don't try to make it

October 03, 2022

Nuclear isn't part of the climate answer and don't try to make it

The nuclear industry will keep trying to tell you that, after that nuke plant is built, nuclear power is carbon-neutral. Not.Even.Wrong., as Counterpunch explains in high detail. They don't count the carbon costs of long-term waste disposal, for one thing (setting aside all its other issues), nor do they count the high carbon cost of mining uranium ore, which is generally very low grade (setting aside all its other issues).

Ahh, the other issues.

I grew up in Gallup, New Mexico, during the tail end of the original uranium boom. I moved to St. Louis with my dad, during the summer of, and just after the date of, the Church Rock mine's infamous tailings dam failure. Or damn failure. Counterpunch described that in detail. What I didn't realize at the time, but do more now, is the government's and uranium industry's exploitative treatment of miners. The same is true in placed like Congo where ore is mined today.

Joshua Frank then goes on to discuss lies and secrecy about nuke accidents. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are but the tip of the iceberg.


The other reason not to try to make it part of the equation? Farhad Manjoo has that in an NYT column. The shorter version of it has three main points.

One is that nuke plants have too long of a build time, even as wind and solar both increase their efficiency.

Two is related and is that every dollar on nuke plants is a dollar not available for wind and solar.

Three? Many enviros mention the intermittency of wind and solar. Manjoo notes the expansion, and ever-higher efficiency, of various forms of battery storage of excess wind and solar.


If you're a real environmentalist, ask yourself this. Is a Nordhaus or Schellenberger promoting it, as with nukes, or a Noah Smith, as with hydrogen? Run away as fast as you can.


Yet another reason to oppose trying to make nuclear part of the solution? It's being pushed by neoliberals, like Nordhaus and Schellenberger, who have helped lead us to this situation in the first place.

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