One of the members of the professional anti-nuclear establishment is a group called the Nuclear Information and Research Service (NIRS). Over the years, the group has collected tens of millions of dollars in payment for their activities. One of their current campaigns is an effort to challenge the logical assertion that people who are concerned about the climate should consider using nuclear power as a tool in the major effort that will be required to address the problem. Here is a quote from their web site:
We’re getting a little tired hearing nuclear industry lobbyists and pro-nuclear politicians allege that environmentalists are now supporting nuclear power as a means of addressing the climate crisis. We know that’s not true, and we’re sure you do too. In fact, using nuclear power would be counterproductive at reducing carbon emissions. As Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute points out, “every dollar invested in nuclear expansion will worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar…”
The simple statement below will be sent to the media and politicians whenever they misstate the facts. We hope you and your organization will join us and sign on in support here.
“We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”
I know that many people involved on the pro-nuclear side think that the best response to BS like this is to ignore it, but I have been trained to “know your enemy”. I also believe that this kind of tripe needs to be strongly challenged every time you see it.
A message was posted on an email list that reaches hundreds of nuclear professionals pointing to a 2 January 2007 letter to the editor of the Rutland Herald out of Vermont titled Nuclear power not so green. The writer quoted NIRS as a source and asserted that nuclear fission fuel production is a major source of greenhouse gases and even claimed that fission products could alter the climate. Here is my response to that letter:
I spent many months underwater sealed up inside atomic powered submarines. One of my duties was to review the atmosphere control logs – I can tell you from personal experience that we did not find any trace of polluting emissions from our fission power plant. That experience leads me to challenge assertions like those of Mr. Lincoln – if nuclear power is clean enough to run inside submarines, it should be seen as a powerful tool to save our shared atmosphere.
Groups like the Nuclear Information and Research Service (NIRS) make their money as part of the professional opposition to nuclear power. It is possible to turn that opposition into a lucrative, life-long career. Quoting their propaganda does not convince me that you know what you are saying.
When you fight against nuclear power, you increase the chances that humans will continue to be addicted to fossil fuels. That plays right into the hands of the people, companies and countries that want to continue to make money as pushers of those fuels. That is a very, very profitable business. Oil, coal and gas companies along with their financial partners and many not so nice countries have been collecting hundreds of BILLIONS in profits in the years since we chose to stop building new nuclear power plants. That action gave the pushers back their market power and has allowed them to increase the price of oil by a factor of ten since 1996, when the last new nuclear plant came on line in the US.
Every time a new nuclear plant started operating during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, it reduced the world wide growth in the need for fossil fuels. In the US, nuclear power almost completely pushed oil out of the electrical power market and it made a dent in both natural gas and coal markets. Right now, the 104 plants that are operating produce the energy equivalent of 4 MILLION barrels of oil per day; roughly 2 times as much as the entire country of Venezuela produces. World wide, more than 440 nuclear power plants produce 12 MILLION barrels of oil per day – 30% more than Saudi Arabia. Those figures do not include naval applications like aircraft carriers and submarines.
It is illogical to say that fuel enrichment is a major source of electrical power demand that must then lead to greenhouse gas emissions. If those enrichment plants got their electricity from fission reactors, they would not emit any greenhouse gases. Of course, we could buy our enrichment services in France – their electrical power grid is nearly all nuclear or hydroelectric power. I would prefer if we employed Americans to build new nuclear plants to supply our enrichment plants and many other power needs. We could then start shutting down coal plants as fast as possible.
By themselves, coal fired power plants in the United States produce almost 40% of our total greenhouse gas emissions – far more than all of our automobiles combined.
Editor, Atomic Insights