"Because you can't hug a tree if you can't find one."

3/10/2008

Presidential Candidates Backed by Nuclear Powerhouses

I have been wondering where the democratic candidates stand on nuclear energy, and found some interesting answers in this article from AlterNet.
Claiming the United States cannot meet its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions if nuclear power is not an option, Obama wants to spend $150 billion over the next 10 years to develop new "climate-friendly" energy sources. Clinton says the issue of nuclear waste storage can be overcome by American technological innovation.
Not surprisingly,
The nuclear industry has helped bankroll the presidential campaigns of both Senators Obama and Clinton.
Will zero-carbon-emission nuclear power plants save us from the devastation of climate change, only to poison the planet with radiation from uranium mining and nuclear waste? It is too bad solar and wind proponents don't have resources to buy candidates the way the nuclear industry does.

5 comments:

Red Craig said...

To get our arms around the problem of global warming, we first must stop engaging in comic-book science. The article you linked to is the kind of self-indulgent misinformation that causes the environmental paralysis we're in.

Instead of wallowing in self-congratulatory deception, try to find some valid information sources.

Rejin L said...

Red Craig, I linked to that article mainly to point out that the candidates are beholden to the nuclear industry. Do you have some valid sources that disprove that fact?.
While you are at it, maybe you can recommend some sound scientific articles, from unbiased sources, that prove that uranium mining is safe for surrounding communities, and that radioactive waste can be completely neutralized so that it will present no threat to present or future generations. I am sure we'll all breath a sigh of relief when you prove we don't have to worry about those issues.

Red Craig said...

Rejin, thanks for asking. It's not my job to prove anything. I merely am pointing out that the article isn't a reliable source of information, but rather a political whine. The facts it purports to offer are unsourced, and the quotations all come from political activists who subscribe to a narrow viewpoint and can't be trusted as sources.

Here's my answer to your questions: millions of people will die from coal pollution if nuclear energy isn't employed to the fullest extent possible, just as millions have died because of the world's failure to employ it. Communities around coal-mining operations will suffer many times more deaths and severe illnesses than communities around uranium-mining operations.

Coal wastes have ruined the health of people who drink the contaminated water. In contrast, you don't know of a single incident where nuclear-power waste has harmed any person or any thing. It is deeply troubling that you ignore real and devastating environmental effects and wring your hands over imaginary ones.

If you want a scientific reference, here's one. The link for the full report is on the same page. Beyond that, if you really are unaware of the harmful effects of coal mining and burning, then that would explain your poor choice of information sources.

Rejin L said...

Craig, if you want to argue the relative merits of nuclear vs. coal, you'll have to go elsewhere. I never said I was pro coal; why would you make such an assumption? Is it because the nuclear power option only makes sense if compared with coal? You are engaging in pure reductionist thinking here, comparing only two options instead of looking at all possible means of generating power.
A coal vs. nuclear argument also does not address the original point of my post, which is that the presidential candidates are beholden to the nuclear industry. Will the the next president be required to engage in reductionist thinking too, and not give solar, wind and other technologies a chance?

Red Craig said...

This question of coal vs. nuclear is the central issue over dealing with global warming. I've been studying this for some time and can assure you that, despite what you hear from unreliable political groups, we do have to choose between these two energy sources.

The fact is, renewables only work if there is something to back them up. I know this because I've been calling out all the people who pretend there is some magic way to generate electricity when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining. The people who take that position can't make it stick. The honest ones admit it. The others just recite anti-nuclear slogans, much like in the article you linked.

That kind tunnel vision is exactly what got us into this predicament. Anti-nukes told us it was okay to keep burning fossil fuels because they had all these terrific silver bullets that would meet all our energy needs. Not one of the silver bullets has come through and the consequence is that we have poisoned the planet. And they still haven't changed their tune.

What I've said so far in this comment is unadorned fact. The next part is opinion. I think anti-nukes practice the basest form of personal dishonesty. The safest position to take is the one that never will be tested. By holding to it they can hold themselves blameless for whatever happens. Oh, no, they say, we're against coal, too. It's not our fault that the climate has changed irreversibly. And you say the ground water is unsafe to drink? Well, aren't you glad we don't have vitrified, stainless-steel-encased logs of radioactive waste buried thousands of feet inside a desert mountain? Think how awful that would be!

As to the original point of your article, I pointed out that the linked article doesn't provide any basis for the contention that the candidates have sold out to the nuclear industry. Do you really believe wind and solar energy have been neglected? Check around: what you'll find is that both are subsidized so heavily that utilities pay producers more than they get from their customers; all the distribution costs are a loss. Do you think they're under-subsidized?