Friday, September 15, 2006

Nuclear, Or Not? You Decide

Hey, there's an interesting bit of debate about nuclear energy at Popular Mechanics, between Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the co- founders of Greenpeace, and Anna Aurilio, the Legislative Director of the US Public Interest Research Group. I've known for a while, but was surprised at the time I learned, that the co-founder of Greenpeace has actually come around to being a nuclear energy advocate. He takes the pro-nuclear position in this discussion, while Ms. Aurilio takes the con. The debate points between them are interesting, covering cost, waste, safety, alternatives and the prevention of spent fuel finding its way into nuclear weapons. Dr. Moore even very briefly addresses water shortage issues which could be eased with nuclear technology.

I recognize that it was the intent of the editors of Popular Mechanics to present a fair opportunity for both sides to give their arguments, and it was not their aim to declare a winner in this debate. I'm sure they weren't setting out to support the concept of nuclear power. However, I think they could have, had they so chosen, using the same elements the article already contains. PM could have framed this into a pro-nuclear point-counterpoint, by placing Ms. Aurilio's portion of the debate at the beginning. Dr. Moore answers many of her objections in his portion of the article, especially as regards safety, which both of them address. Neither of them go into their arguments in great depth, but he holds his ground better than she does, in my "non-scientistic" opinion.

Dr. Moore makes the argument that nuclear energy should be developed in tandem to other alternative fuels. I agree. We ought to be exploiting every option that we can possibly implement feasibly and safely. I think some of Ms. Aurilio's points are weakened by putting nuclear energy in competition with other environmentally-friendly energy options, such as wind and solar. She seems to want to replace existing nuclear power, which, according to Dr. Moore produces 20 percent of our nation's electricity, with what she thinks are greener alternative choices, rather than replacing the greenhouse-gas-producing, terrorist- supporting fossil fuel options with solar, wind, and nuclear. Not to mention all the other energy options we can possibly explore that don't involve sending money to terrorist supporting states, and adding to potential greenhouse gas issues. The co-founder of Greenpeace thinks of nuclear energy as clean and safe, for Pete's sake. The more relevant comparison to be made at this point is nuclear versus oil and coal, since these are the predominant sources of power in the U.S. today. On the safety front, Ms. Aurilio is also less than persuasive. She limits her discussion of security and accident prevention to current safeguards, i.e. those safeguards which were put into nuclear facilities currently operating in America, but built over thirty years ago. Nuclear technology has come a long way since Three Mile Island. I'm with Dr. Moore.

Hat tip: Instapundit