Pro Nuke people always ignore the long chain that leads up to the first Nuclear reaction, including mining the dangerous ore and the tremendous construction costs. This chain may negate at least several years of their contention that Nuclear Power is “carbon free”. They also never discuss the after chain. Which includes both the disposal of the waste from the reactor but eventually the cost of decommissioning the reactors themselves. I think that Yucca Mountain was a perfect response to that, but I am alone on that one. This piece also mentions the distructive economic system that these reactors would perpetuate, which is disgusting. BUT the larger picture is that nuclear reactors are totally unnecessary. I have included here only the Monthly Review’s preface.
On Nuclear Power
Response to John W. Farley’s ‘Our Last Chance to Save Humanity’
Southern California Federation of Scientists and John W. Farley
Monthly Review has long been on record as opposed to the expansion of nuclear energy.1 Most recently, some of the dangers of nuclear power, both in its present form and with continuing new technological developments, were spelled out by Robert D. Furber, James C. Warf, and Sheldon C. Plotkin of the Southern California Federation of Scientists, in their article on “The Future of Nuclear Power” (MR, February 2008).
Nevertheless, we recognize that many scientists, including climatologist James Hansen and our friend, physicist John W. Farley, now see a place for nuclear energy as a kind of last resort, given the dire planetary threat raised by the burning of fossil fuels—made even more dire by the current shift toward even dirtier, more carbon-emitting fossil fuels, such as lower grades of coal, oil from tar sands, and shale oil. If nuclear power presents great dangers to the human population and the earth, it also cannot be denied that the continuation of “business as usual” with respect to carbon emissions will lead to eventual social, economic, and ecological collapse, threatening civilization and most species, including our own. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that some are looking at nuclear energy as a lesser, or more remote, evil. Moreover, the prospect, though still at the theoretical/experimental stage, of revolutionary developments in nuclear power technology, namely Generation IV plants, which could greatly increase the efficiency of nuclear fuel use, reducing the nuclear waste generated, is also changing the nature of the controversy for some.
Yet, in our view, none of this alters the essential nature of the problem: the crossing of planetary boundaries by an economic system that, as long as it exists, must continually produce more and more goods, and thus degrade the environment. In this context, a turn to nuclear energy as a solution is both myopic and a Faustian bargain. The development of alternative energy sources coupled with conservation, in the context of radical transformations in social relations, constitutes the only real, long-term solution.
Go there and read. More tomorrow.