These days, the “climate change” movement is constantly looking for ways to justify taking fossil fuel power plants offline, via any means necessary. Whether it’s over-regulation or the ubiquitous “carbon tax,” the global warming team has deemed that fossil fuels are a plague that must be eliminated from the planet (but really just western nations) at any cost.
While they might not ultimately be entirely wrong, they sure are blind to the people harmed the most – those who are local to fossil fuel generated power, NOT the global scale of “carbon pollution” that is constantly mentioned. For instance, China’s smog is as bad as it is not just because of transportation-fueled pollution, but because of how prolific coal-fired power is in China. As MishTalk points out, the Paris Accord was ultimately useless and irrelevant:
2. Nonetheless, let’s presume the scientists are correct, and I am wrong. The idea that government will do anything sensible about it is silly.
If Florida goes underwater, there is not a single change we could have made today, or 20 years ago, to save it. If global warming is happening, as described by the warm-ongers, it will still be happening 50 years from now, just at reduced rates of increases.
Al Gore floated an amazing plan to save the world at a World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland: Spend $90 Trillion Redesigning All The Cities So They Don’t Need Cars.
You cannot make this kind of stuff up, but it is typical bureaucratic madness in action. Lest you think this was only former US vice president Al Gore, the former president of Mexico Felipe Calderon, also backed this preposterous idea.
For the record, I agree almost 100% with MishTalk: if carbon is the end-all problem (which I don’t think it is), the proposed solutions are completely useless, and harm the poorest people on the planet the most. However, all power generation has its benefits and drawbacks (nearly all of which are manifest locally), and fossil fuel fired power plants, in particular coal, are indeed smog-producing and can be quite damaging to local populations, especially in excess.
The global warming crowd will point to power generation as the principal source of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, and they indeed have a point, with approximately 31% of carbon coming from power plants:
But the thought that “solar” or “wind” could all of a sudden make up for coal-fired power (by far the most popular and biggest emitter of CO2) is quite laughable, as electricaleasy points out:
Approximately 2/3rds of the planet’s power plants are fossil fuel fired. Solar JUST hit the 1% mark, and only after receiving massive government subsidies, with wind below 1%. That “other” category just isn’t scalable, largely due to the fact that guaranteed energy generation is variable all the way down to zero. Put more simply, the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow, and some other power source will always be needed to pick up the slack for “renewable” energy. And, while hydroelectric energy is proven, and water does indeed flow 24/7, there are only so many waterfalls that can be dammed and hydroelectric power plants that can be built on this planet.
So, what can actually replace fossil fuels? It should have already been obvious where I was going with this – nuclear power is basically the only proven source we have available that can actually provide enough power to make up a meaningful percentage of electricity generation. France is a perfect example of nuclear success, with over 76% of its power station energy coming from nuclear power.
But, nuclear is not a silver bullet. While the variable “per-unit” cost of nuclear is FAR below fossil fuels, the fixed costs of nuclear plants are very high:
Increased development and economies of scale can ultimately bring down the fixed costs, if nuclear power were to really pick up steam globally. However, power cost data omits one big fact: some areas of a spent nuclear power plant will often become inhospitable land for 10,000 years or longer after “decommissioning,” and spent nuclear waste can remain radioactive for 250,000 years.
Of course, this is also before the risk of an accident is factored in. While the risk is indeed far lower in modern plants due to modern engineering, and accidents like Chernobyl are extremely unlikely, the Fukushima-Daiichi incident proves that even the newer plants are ultimately at the risk of mother nature and/or external factors beyond human control.
And though the environmental dangers associated with nuclear plants are well known, the timeframe of cleanup is not. In November, over 30 years after the disaster, a massive “dome” was “wheeled” into place (at the massive price tag of €2.15 billion (US$2.3 billion)) to permanently seal the power plant, which is still leaking radioactive waste:
And as of this morning, Fukushima’s reactor no.2 made news again, as it is leaking “unimaginable” amounts of radiation, most of which will wind up in the ocean, irradiating marine life for generations, as Trueactivist.com’s Whitney Webb points out:
If that weren’t bad enough, Fukushima continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean every day. It will continue do so indefinitely as the source of the leak cannot be sealed as it is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Fukushima has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years. This could easily be the worst environmental disaster in human history and it is almost never talked about by politicians, establishment scientists, or the news. It is interesting to note that TEPCO is a subsidiary partner with General Electric (also known as GE), one of the largest companies in the world, which has considerable control over numerous news corporations and politicians alike. Could this possibly explain the lack of news coverage Fukushima has received in the last five years? There is also evidence that GE knew about the poor condition of the Fukushima reactors for decades and did nothing. This led 1,400 Japanese citizens to sue GE for their role in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
So, is the risk of nuclear power worth the reward? It depends on who you ask. Certainly, the residents of Pripyat and Fukushima don’t think so. The costs to contain disasters are astronomical, and that doesn’t even bring into account the related spent fuel storage, decommissioning, and (nearly permanent) impact to local environments.
But, if things go seamlessly, there is perhaps no better alternative to fossil fuels. Though the local residents may fear the long-term impact of a plant, notwithstanding the fear of a disaster, the low unit cost of power is almost too good to pass up. Power stations only take up a limited land area, they can be run for an extremely low cost once they are built, and if nuclear waste can be properly disposed of (possibly in outer space?), there is perhaps no better replacement for fossil fuels than nuclear.
It seems foolish not to at least entertain the idea across a limited number of power plants – even the biggest global warm-ongers agree, nuclear is the only cost-effective alternative to coal/oil/gas power plants. Given the hundreds of plants currently both operating and shut down, it certainly seems the risk of adding additional nuclear capacity is worth the reward. A few more nuclear stations can only add so much risk to the existing stable of power plants, many of which don’t have the modern safeguards and advances built into newer reactors.
However, this planet has a habit of showing its inhabitants just how small, helpless and insignificant we really are, and at any given time. And I’ll be the first to admit that I could end up eating my words if a major hurricane/earthquake/tsunami/any other disaster strikes a nuclear power station. Ultimately, it’ll be up to the local residents to decide if the reward of a nuclear plant in their backyard is worth the risk of turning nearby cities into ghost towns that can only be inhabited by mother nature.