Nuclear power: pros and cons

By Reuters Staff
September 9, 2009

As part of the Reuters Summit on global climate and alternative energy, Reuters.com asked Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club and Ian Hore-Lacy, director of public communication for the World Nuclear Association to discuss the role of nuclear energy. Here are their responses.

(Carl Pope’s rebuttal was posted at 8:30 a.m. ET on September 10.)

30 comments

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Nuclear energy be it from fission or the hoped for fusion adds more heat-kinetic(H-K) energy to its overload already in the biosphere so it is not the future of energy. H-K energy is what is measured with thermometers, and reports indicate that unless thermometers of many types are lying, temperatures of air, water and soil are going up. A paper by Dr. E. Chaisson titled “Long-Term Global warming arising from Energy Usage” in EOS, Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, V. 89, no.28, pgs. 253-4 (2008) details how energy from buried sources of fossil fuels and atomic nuclei eventually becomes H-K energy that can not be stopped.
However, I have detailed in comments on a number of blogs including Green,Inc. of the NYTimes a plan to get some H-K energy recapture by pyrolyzing the massive ever-expanding messes of organic wastes and sewage soilds. Some recapturing can also be done by using windmills for electricity as that takes from some H-K energy in the winds blowing the biosphere. Dr. J. Singmaster

Posted by Dr. James Singmaster | Report as abusive

Dear Editor,
This article is very useful to all science lovers.
Yesterday, i wrote a very fully analytical views on this subject to this website.
But total links went off.I felt very sad.
On today!s splashes of thoughts, i am writing few merits and demerits of nuclear power.
On advantages counts, the following sentences are very worthy to be understood.
1.Because of nuclear power,many developed and developing nations, and upcoming nations are highly benefited on energy generations, power producing,power distributions and installing many nuclear power plants for meeting more demands from ordinary power consumption to high defense, and to big manufacturing levels.
Now a days,getting mineral resources like coal are very cumbersome,more labor power required ,more risky adventure to be adopted, and many mineral disasters had happened to many mineral fields.
In order to reduce costs,and removal of constraints on the above sectors,nuclear power came as a magical lamp.
It can be used for peaceful purposes.
Those who have nuclear powers,that nations will be branded as super powers.
Through available uranium,and other connected materials,good scientists break through to this applications ,and good knowledge know how are all in good shapes on merits on nuclear power-main energy producer.
Nuclear power can be given at moderate rates to their country people.
Major technical exchanges on account of nuclear power.
2.On demerits points,some nuclear nations got technical,scientific secrets by dubious means.
3.Chances of revealing safe,production ,supply,location secrets to enemies or pass on to wrong hands.
4.Some war,conflict nations may threaten, or create fear phobia, or creating unwanted tensions, or threats to neighboring non nuclear power nations.
5.Some countries may create a war situation or consolidating super ego position to democratic or to peace loving nations.
6.Lack of safe guarding or protecting the interests or spreading strong rumors to some nations.
This subject is very wide for coming to an end.
To sum up, if we see both sides of the coin,then it will be utilized properly.
Otherwise, one old story ticks on our minds for ever.
That story!s one sentence for proper introspection about nuclear power:-
A well prepared,beautifully made garland is in monkeys hands..
For the above problemati

We need nuclear power. We can have safe power plants and the technology for safe control systems has finally arrived. We also need solar and wind power for suppliments. The real need now is energy storage to provide for peak usage. Our trains and buses, cars and trucks, and even our aircraft will operate on electric power or as a hybrid. We also need to develop geothermal power plants as this is truly clean power.

Posted by f belz | Report as abusive

Why can’t we just accept that the french Nuclear program is a success and copy it ?

Posted by John Blundell | Report as abusive

The average overrun at nuclear plant construction projects has been over 200%. Now many will say every electric plant has overruns. I am not excusing the coal utilities for their overruns, but they averaged 50% during the same period.
Nukes are not economical. The best estimates for new nukes are running around 25-35 cents per kilowatt-hour, while energy efficiency has averaged 3 cents, and wind about 13 cents, and CHP gas about 10 cents.
A dollar toward nukes displaces at least 7 times the energy savings from that dollar taken away from energy efficiency would save.
We waste so much energy in the U.S. that could be captured through improved efficiency, and it is cheaper than nuclear and coal electricity, even cheaper than the cheapest renewable electricity.

Sandor Marai teaches us:
“135. Plenty of courage is required for the intelligence
You have to know that men for a reason sticks to the meager, murky and woo-doo, to the illusions and to the clean half-truths, to the unintelligent. The reason is that the intelligence is the discovery and patient toleration of the truth – knowledge of all the things in depth. And to tolerate the truth is always very hard. For the intelligence, for the knowledge of reality and of the truth you need exceptional courage. The man learns the truth with whole of his hearth, with his entire wisdom, with his essential whole-self. One can gain intelligence only wholeheartedly. The men always accepted much easier a cover-up explanation for an uncomfortable truth, therefore the unintelligence, then seek the raw, simple, uncomplicated truth, what is the intelligence. The men secretly know that every truth and human, therefore everything which is real is born in blood and perspiration and begotten in exaltation. But they choose to spread rumors like the babies are from cabbages. That is more likable and more comfortable. But the intelligence is not born out of cabbages.”

The 170 pages of rumors and half-truths in the drafts could be replaced with a one page resolution.
First the Russian Federation shall give a timetable to shut down the 11 still operating RBMK (Chernobyl type) nuclear power plant units and the UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE shall define the following roadmap for a goal of reaching that the atmospheric carbon dioxide level dropped below 300 ppm (where historic record indicates to be for over 800 thousand years):

 New electric power generating capacity can come online only nuclear after 2013
 The existing railroads to be converted to electricity before 2013
 The transportation of merchandize and goods to be done by train on the distances over 25 km from 2014
 Short distance transport of goods and merchandize to be done by electricity driven trucks from 2014
 The coal burning power plant units to be replaced by nuclear starting from 2014 and completely phased out before 2030
 New coal burning power plant unit could be put in service in the future only after the atmospheric carbon dioxide level dropped below 300 ppm
 The public transport is turned to electric before 2015
 The private transportation is supplied with replaceable rechargeable electrical batteries and on the highways replacement batteries are available in new refueling station system for long distance travel from 2014
 Only electric cars are sold from 2015

The following recommendations also shall be issued for the (fossil) energy sector:

 The oil and gas industry shall follow the shift in the energy source and invest in power plants of the nuclear type instead of their traditional fields
 The oil and gas industry is responsible for developing the “drop & pick” refueling station systems for on the highway long distance use of electric cars including the inventory of replacement batteries
 The oil and gas industry shall accept that no permits will be issued for oil and gas exploration and new field development after 2012 until the atmospheric carbon dioxide level drops below 310 ppm
 The coal mining industry shall invest in nuclear power plants and electrical grids and accept that no new mine will be opened and the coal mining will be scaled down until the goal of 300 ppm atmospheric carbon dioxide level is reached

The following recommendations shall be issued for governments of states possessing nuclear weapons:

 90% of the weapons grade materials shall be converted to nuclear power plant fuel before 2015
 90% of nuclear weapons related resources shall be turned over to the nuclear fuel cycle industry before 2015

I believe that the Laser particle accelerator will revolutionize the way we produce abundant energy, focusing Highly concentrated beams of electrons at an atom like Hydrogen is alot more stable then operating several Nuclear radiating facilities, Nuclear was viable in the 1900′s it’s not in the 21st century.

Posted by Cameron | Report as abusive

There can be no pro’s to nuclear energy, what to do with the waste ? Our main problem is the ‘dead patches’ in oceans and other water masses.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

‘The future is not only here, but positively glowing!’ – with nuclear power this is guaranteed, especially in the dark. I live in a city on top of and in the vicinity of defunct gold, uranium and platinum mines, I glow in the dark, a human torch.

Let’s step back and assess where all this originates:

1. Water, air and earth mixes, it has no boundaries – we are chasing our tails to try and create an impossible ‘accounting system’;

2. Carbon credit derivatives – if I recall correctly, designed by some crazed Japanese trader – what is the debit ?

3. Alternative energy – I would love to see the net present values of those projects – we will most probably pay that off by the year 2500.

4. Whatever the motive or reason for the high populations, China and India should carry some penalty ?

5. Countries with dead patches in their water masses should limit the spreading thereof, even if it is only banning trawling.

Even the energy companies propagate in their very slick TV ads that we will have to use all forms of energy, my point being that we start with the cheapest.

On an esoteric level, the Sun has gone quiet when it should be very active – maybe this is the breather that Mother Earth needs. Maybe the time to de-urbanise ? Unfortunately there is no ‘bright lights’ incentive.

Then again, a volcano can erupt in Yellow Stone and really mess things up quickly.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

i think that the nuclear power plants are bad, because they give people cancer )):

Posted by Kara | Report as abusive