(Found via The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.)
This was a really great debate between the two camps of whether or not to add nuclear power to our arsenal of energy sources sans fossil fuels. The big piece wrong is that they are talking about two different sets of numbers. The pro side is talking about overall current energy needs, whereas the anti side was speaking about replacing transportation energy costs. Once you see that, it undercuts the anti side quite a bit.
Still, it is great to hear those points out. It does seem that with our knowledge, wind can and ought to be a strong power source, and solar ought to be on all suburban and rural rooftops. Hell, you can farm underneath wind turbines, so you might as well plug your tractor in and remove even more of the black energy required to generate our food.
Both points, though, miss a big step: transportation of energy. We lose tons of electricity over our power lines. Superconductors aren’t viable for mass production. Battery power keeps getting better so long as we keep wanting Internet access in our pockets. But how do you think all the electricity is going to get from 10,000 wind turbines to a town?
The first speaker was right that we can hold onto our nuclear waste materials while fourth-generation generators (waste burners, essentially) are developed further. And who wouldn’t love the idea of burning our kill-Earth-ten-times stockpile down to a simple kill-Earth-twice stockpile? That right there should be the front retort of any anti-nuclear energy argument.
So the future is nuclear for base load, wind for topping off that base and for sale (windy in one place, calm in another), and solar for the extra daytime use? Sounds reasonable for me. Now if we can either quit burning fossils for creating and moving our foods (oh yeah, and packaging them), we may do better. Plastics aren’t going anywhere, but I wouldn’t mind going back to a world of mostly wood, metal, stone, and glass.
It would help us all out if we made our food more short-range, for certain. And if I could take a train to anywhere in the region. But if we can at least kick the black energy for using our computers and lights and toasters, we’re at least going to be in a better place.