Yesterday, the NY Times had an article about US funding for 2 new nuclear plants in Georgia (the state, not the country). I am cautiously optimistic about this project, while at the same time dreading it. I have long been a supporter of nuclear energy, since the science behind radiation is much more well understood than the interactions related to climate change. However, I believe that supporters need to be clear in what nuclear energy is, and is not.
In so much as it is used to replace or prevent construction of coal burning (or probably natural gas as well) power plants, this is a good idea. However, nuclear energy is not emissions free. Concrete is associated with large quantities of CO2 emissions, and uranium mining has its own environmental drawbacks based on how it is performed. More importantly, there is no federal repository for nuclear waste. Instead it is collecting at the individual nuclear power plant sites across the US.
Regarding overall CO2 emissions, I am a fan of nuclear because it can provide low emissions baseload power. That is, they can run essentially 24/7. They are highly reliable as well, and are not intermittent (nor do they have the associated problems with intermittent). Perhaps one day, in a few decades, other alternatives might be cost effective and reliable, such as storage, but until then, we need something that can reduce baseload emissions in a (fairly) clean manner. And, I believe, that nuclear power is the best way forward…. for now.
Posted in Energy, Environment, Security
Tagged climate change, coal, economics, Energy, Environment, independence, nuclear, oil, oil revenues, Politics, Security, US
For the first time in a while, it looks like we (Russia & US) might be making solid strides in nuclear weapons reductions. While this is not yet the solid work I would like to see, it is a crucial step forward, hopefully with hard eliminations targets at the end.
Hard eliminations targets means the physical destruction and reduction of warheads, both active and reserve. The SORT agreement, under Presidents Bush and Putin, reduced the deployed warheads but did not necessarily provide for their elimination. This is a key difference, for a stored warhead can be relatively easily returned to active status. They are essentially mothballed but not destroyed.
Another interesting point with the agreement between Presidents Obama and Medvedev is reducing the number of delivery systems for long-range purposes. It will be interesting to see what comes out in hard terms at the final conference and treaty.
* The newer agreement lists “long range” without strictly defining, so this number might ultimately vary by comparison to older agreements, once the new agreement is finalized.
There has also been a general warming of relations between the US and Russia, even if things remain a bit chilly. Hopefully the continuing talks on nuclear issues and areas of common interest, such as Afghanistan, and climate change will help further the warming of relations between the US and Russia.