My blog post The Prisoner's Dilemma and New Types of Nuclear Energy Reactors was posted at The Energy Collective. (The post originally appeared at ANS Nuclear Cafe.) In this post, I compared the types of support given to current and advanced reactors.
N Nadir wrote a comment on the post, and he has generously allowed me to use his comment as a guest post. (I posted another one of his comments as a guest post in August: Vermont is Part of the World. )
The Best in Terms of Risk
Yes, it (nuclear) is the very best form of energy in terms of risk.
Nuclear energy need not be perfect; it need not be risk free to be better than everything else, it merely needs to be better than everything else, which it is.
There is no form of energy ever invented by humanity that has ever, at any time, produced as much energy as nuclear energy has produced with as small a loss of life. Zero. None.
The problem that nuclear has, and no other form of energy has, is that all other disasters - and there are too many to mention - go down the memory hole rapidly, whereas any problem with nuclear plants is rehashed over and over and over ad absurdum.
Gas Explosions and Oil Wars
How many major gas explosions took place this year? How much attention did they get compared to say, Fukushima? How many gas explosions took place in the same year as Fukushima? How did they compare in direct injury and death to Fukushima? How long will any of these gas explosions be remembered or discussed?
We can go further:
How many oil wars have there been? How many nuclear wars?
How many people die each year from oil, coal and gas waste? How many people have died from the storage of so called "nuclear waste" in the more than half a century of commercial nuclear reactions?
The Impossible Standard for Nuclear
Nuclear's problem is not technical, nor is it even rational. Nuclear energy suffers from being held to a standard that no other form of energy can meet, with the result that we continue to cause huge losses of life, property, and the ecosphere because of our irrational fears of it.
Quite frankly, the pressurized water reactor has unquestionably been the greatest and safest large scale energy device ever invented. As reported by Jim Hansen in Environmental Science and Technology nuclear energy, dominated by this kind of reactor, is responsible for saving 1.8 million lives. It might have saved more, were it not for fear and ignorance.
One might build different kinds of reactors with different advantages (and disadvantages) when compared to the LWR but the great engineering success of the LWR is nothing to be ashamed of. What people should be ashamed of is their picayune objections to this fine technology that limited its expansion and use.
N Nadir is a well-known blogger about energy: for a long time, he blogged at Daily Kos. A few years ago, Charles Barton of Nuclear Green described and listed many of his posts.