One of the regular features of NEI Nuclear Notes that has been extremely useful over the past couple of years is the “another blogger for nuclear energy” posts that introduce a new blogger to NEI’s readers. This feature was introduced by Eric McErlain, the guy who really got NEI involved in blogging and I believe that David and the rest of the crew have determined that they would carry it on after Eric’s departure.
I want to give full credit for the idea, but I am borrowing it for this particular entry. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been involved in a Nuclear Energy “Live” Debate on Green Options that was hosted by Mark Seall, the man behind TalkClimateChange.com. At the beginning of the debate, Mark indicated that he was an interested observer who did not know enough one way or the other about nuclear power to make a commitment. Following the debate, he declared that he had learned quite a lot, but that he still considered himself a “fence-sitter” when it came to whether or not nuclear power should be a major tool in the fight against air pollution and climate change.
On April 11, 2008, Mark declared publicly that he was Coming Off The Nuclear Fence. Hey, that might not seem like a big deal to you, but to a self declared atomic evangelist, all conversions count, even if they take a few weeks worth of effort.
To be quite honest, I am not sure that my effort made the real difference – Mark made his decision after the reality sunk in that the only real alternative to nuclear power for addressing the large power needs of the developing world was coal. The reality of the contrast from an environmental point of view between coal combustion and uranium fission is what made him make a choice to make the following statement:
Earlier this week I positioned myself on the fence of the nuclear energy debate, recognizing it’s relative strengths and weaknesses, but failing to align with any position. However, when faced with pressing realities and faced with a choice between relieving poverty, aggravating climate change, or accepting a manageable risk it looks like nuclear is our option – for now.
My next task is to try to get rid of that qualifying “for now” comment. I cannot see any glimmer of hope of a technology that will do a better job of providing humans with their necessary power sources. Until the laboratories find it, I will remain satisfied that fission is the best energy option for us to develop and deploy for an indefinite period of time.