Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 7, 2009
I have to admit I’m starting to understand why some people like nuclear power. I have been against nuclear power for most of my life, but I’m starting to warm up to it a bit as I’m forced to realize it does offer a means to seriously cut back on CO2 emissions in a medium term time frame.
My objections to nuclear power are mostly because of the waste. By using it you are basically creating a end product that will be hazardous for thousands of years, which strikes me a huge problem. Yet in the last year I was given presentations by a few experts in the field and I have to confess we do know how to store the waste without it being noticed in background radiation at the surface. Now weather the public is willing to accept that is an entirely different issue.
My recent warming to the technology is really about buying us time to nail down more efficient ways to generate power from renewables and convert society over to less power usage per person. Right now power is generally cheap across Canada, should that suddenly change (ie: triple the price) it would be a disaster for the modern lifestyle. We need people to change their habits, but we can’t expect them to do it overnight. A phased in approach is likely going to meet a lot less public resistance.
In the mean time we can continue to develop renewables and use them, but we need to get off burning coal as soon as possible if we are serious about reducing our emissions. Assuming clean coal technology will help is a bit of a false hope. It’s never been used at the commercial scale yet and unless a breakthrough occurs soon it is too expense at least compared to traditional nuclear.
So I’m willing to consider nuclear technology, but if these costs are right, nuclear might be just a bit too expense and perhaps we take the risk on clean coal. It’s never an easy decision.