Sticking with nuclear power will make climate change worse

New A-Z anti-nuclear handbook chapter lays out all the arguments against nuclear power as a climate change “solution”

Nuclear power as a climate change “solution” is probably the most frequently made pitch by the pro-nuclear lobby. And now we hear that the nuclear industry is about to make another major push on both sides of the Atlantic — on Capitol Hill and in the British Parliament at Westminster — to convince lawmakers not to abandon nuclear power and that it is essential to curb climate change.

Politicians listen to this facile rhetoric and believe it. And yet the nuclear-for-climate-change argument should never really get out of the starting gate for one simple reason: Time. We are out of it.

Climate change has arrived and it is an existential crisis. A nuclear power plant can take a decade (or more) from start to finish. We cannot wait a decade for nuclear power plants to arrive and we would need scores or more of them to come on line every year to make even a dent in global carbon emissions.  Countries with new build such as the US, France, Finland, China, are struggling to complete even one, and when they do, they can years to arrive.

The time argument is such an obvious showstopper when it comes to arguing the case for nuclear power that proponents simply avoid it altogether. James Hansen, the “guru” of the pro-nuclear movement, uses his NASA credentials and unarguable knowledge about the perils of climate change, to push for nuclear while bridging quickly to phantoms like “new” reactor designs when confronted with the question of time. So on the one hand, Hansen sounds the alarm about the terrible and rapid  countdown we are on to address climate change. On the other, he claims nuclear energy is the answer. Baffling.

Consequently, we are forced continually to confront the “nuclear is the answer to climate change” nonsense, even though it is patently not true. And when doing so, we must summon all sorts of facts and figures to rebut claims that the “wind doesn’t blow” and the “sun doesn’t shine” all of time, which are, incredibly, still being bandied about by nuclear lobbyists even though these apparent challenges are already solved.

Nuclear power and climate change cover

Heatwaves and droughts will be more prevalent as climate change worsens. Nuclear plants use massive quantities of water and must shut down under extreme weather conditions.

For all of these reasons, and many more, Beyond Nuclear decided to create its new handbook — The Case Against Nuclear Power: Facts and Arguments from A-Z. Our newest chapter — Climate change and why nuclear power can’t fix it — is now complete and is published on the Handbook page of the Beyond Nuclear International website.

As with other booklet chapters, this one on climate change was assembled by pouring through a good deal of the most important research on this issue and paring it down to digestible paragraphs that are easy to understand and articulate.

Much of that research comes from a an indispensable source — Dr. Benjamin Sovacool — who has been looking at this issue for a number of years now. His papers yield some valuable insights. Although the issue of carbon footprint is perhaps not the strongest anti-nuclear argument, Sovacool shows that, as he put it, “Every dollar that you spend on nuclear, you could have saved five or six times as much carbon with efficiency, or wind farms.”

The Climate Change booklet also looks at issues such as the growing obsolescence of baseload energy and big grids; water consumption; unreliability during heatwaves or extreme weather; sea-level rise; and the false argument that closing nuclear plants will lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions.

This booklet does not get into the nuclear vs. renewable energy arguments. These will be found in a later chapter that addresses this very debate. Here we simply lay out all the reasons why nuclear power, specifically, cannot change the climate chaos path we have set ourselves on. In fact, continued reliance on nuclear power could make climate change even worse as it impedes progress on, and rapid implementation of, renewables.

One need only look at the current White House policy which is to offer lif-saving subsidies to the dying nuclear and coal industries while imposing tariffs on solar that may kill the solar installation business in the US.

We have arrived at a critical juncture. We can (hopefully) vote actual climate deniers out of office. But the problem doesn’t end there. We must act fast to educate even ostensibly progressive politicians that nuclear is not the answer to climate change. We need to get Climate change and why nuclear power can’t fix it into their hands. You can help us. Please feel free to print your own copies. But please also help us raise the money to print these booklets by making a donation today. Please go to our donate page, then choose Handbook from the pulldown menu. And thank you!

Headline photo: WikiCommons.

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