Patrick Moore is doing great things in terms of getting people to reconsider their position on the use of nuclear energy. I continue to remain a bit jealous of the attention that he is able to command as a “founder of Greenpeace” and “former anti-nuclear activist” who has changed his mind.
I know that there are lots of hard working, capable, extremely bright people in the nuclear industry that have never had to change their mind abut the technology – they “got” its potential as soon as they learned the details of how plants are designed and operated.
It is sometimes disappointing to see how often Mr. Moore’s words get picked up and published compared to how often Jeremy Whitlock, Ruth Sponsler, Stewart Peterson, Ted Rockwell, or Jim Muckerheide get mentioned in press reports. Someday, nukes will again get the respect that they deserve, in the meantime, I guess it is at least a benefit that people are paying attention to the “man bites dog” type story of a Greenpeace founder turned nuclear technology advocate.
One of the best and most comprehensive pieces that I have found so far by Patrick Moore about nuclear power’s environmental benefits is a recent article published on February 25th by the San Jose Mercury News titled In an era of global warming, some environmentalists are taking a second look at a much-maligned energy source.
I think that the Mercury News is paying more attention to the topic at hand because of the proposal by some Fresno based businessmen to build a two reactor station there that will produce in excess of 3000 MW of electricity. Moore’s piece is excellent and certainly worth a read.
The Fresno station (and probably several others) is sorely needed in California; the electricity there is some of the most expensive in the nation. Though many people point to California as an energy conservation success story, the path that it has taken to get there is not one that can or should be followed by the rest of the US.
The first step is to locate as many people as possible in a temperate climate where neither heat nor air conditioning is needed. That is not an option for states like New York, Illinois, Florida or Texas where the climate is a little less mild.
The second step is to push out as much manufacturing business as possible. Chemicals, metals production, aircraft manufacture, chip fabrication, and even server farms take too much power, so they should be discouraged by ever tighter and more expensive regulations, heavy property taxes and rising electrical power costs.
After a few decades of such policies, most of these concentrated electricity consumers will have found other places to do their business, allowing the state to claim energy efficiency improvements. Of course, this path is sort of being followed by the rest of the states in the US, but it is not one that is recommended for continued prosperity.