Nuclear Plant Opponents and Climate Change
Let's talk a little about carbon dioxide.
- Burning fossil fuels produce carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide leads to climate change.
- Nuclear power produces only negligible amounts of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases.
Opponents of nuclear power are stuck with these facts about carbon dioxide, but they try to get around them. They want to have their cake (close nuclear!) and eat it as they wrap themselves in environmental nobility (stop climate change!) How do they do this?
- Few opponents will say carbon dioxide doesn't matter, because then they would be "climate change deniers" -- which is the wrong political party.
- Some opponents say that both nuclear and fossil should be and will be replaced very quicky by renewables, so the comparison is not important.
- Some say nuclear power cannot make much of a dent in the problem anyway, and the nuclear fuel cycle makes as much carbon dioxide as natural gas.
Gundersen: A Little Carbon Dioxide Doesn't Matter
At the January Janus Forum debate at UVM, Arnie Gundersen took a different approach than the ones I outlined above. He discussed nuclear plants (Vermont Yankee) and climate change. Here is what Gundersen said in January.
Gundersen's argument is that nuclear plants have poorer Carnot efficiency than fossil plants and therefore heat up the rivers more, which is bad for the fish. He claims that Vermont Yankee heated the river and decreased the shad in the Connecticut from 70,000 fish to 16 fish. Therefore, the little bit of global warming we would get if we replaced Vermont Yankee with fossil power does not matter very much. He claims we will save the river, even if we hurt the climate a tiny bit.
Actually, there are far more than 16 shad in the Connecticut River, but this post is not about refuting Gundersen. I did that in an earlier post, Hot Climate and Cold Fish. My aim in this post is to show the variety of complex, baffling, and ultimately false arguments nuclear opponents make about carbon dioxide and nuclear power.
France versus Denmark on Global Warming
Luckily for pro-nuclear people, we don't have to make complex arguments. We don't have to look at the future when (hopefully) renewables-do-it-all---and pretend that future is here right now. We don't have to tell lies about the nuclear fuel cycle being as bad for the climate as natural gas. We don't have to claim that warm water (not hydroelectric dams or imported bass) is killing the native fish.
Pro-nuclear people can be straightforward, because we have real facts and can make a real arguments. Pro-nuclear people can can look at actual countries (Denmark and France), actual carbon dioxide numbers, and cheerful videos to show that
Nuclear Energy is a major ally in the fight against carbon dioxide increase and changing climate.
Video Note: Gundersen video is from the UVM debate in January. France/Denmark video by MyLiberationBaby for Brave New Climate.
Gundersen note: Gundersen made similar remarks about the river when he was on the panel discussing the Transparent Radiation film at University of Vermont about a week ago. (I don't have links to the panel itself, so I will link to my post on the UVM film.)
Climate Change Note: I am aware that a certain portion of my readers do not believe carbon dioxide is leading to climate change. I think carbon dioxide is leading to climate change, and that is a problem. However, I was pro-nuclear long before climate change was an issue. Whether you think carbon dioxide causes climate change or not, I hope you can agree that using up our fossil fuels for generating electricity is not a good idea, since nuclear power will do the job just as well.