THIS past summer, the Group of 7 nations promised “urgent and concrete action” to limit climate change. What actions exactly? Activists hope for answers from the coming United Nations climate conference in Paris, which begins Monday. They should look instead to Washington today.
The single most important action we can take is thawing a nuclear energy policy that keeps our technology frozen in time. If we are serious about replacing fossil fuels, we are going to need nuclear power, so the choice is stark: We can keep on merely talking about a carbon-free world, or we can go ahead and create one.
We already know that today’s energy sources cannot sustain a future we want to live in. This is most obvious in poor countries, where billions dream of living like Americans. The easiest way to satisfy this demand for a better life has been to burn more coal: In the past decade alone, China added more coal-burning capacity than America has ever had. But even though average Indians and Chinese use less than 30 percent as much electricity as Americans, the air they breathe is far worse. They deserve a third option besides dire poverty or dirty skies.
In America, the left worries more about our five billion metric tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions and what it might do to Earth’s climate. On the right, even those who discount the environmental effects of fossil fuels can’t deny their contribution to economic volatility. We saw this in 2008 when a historic high oil price coincided with a historic financial crisis.
The need for energy alternatives was already clear to investors a decade ago, which is why they poured funding into clean technology during the early 2000s. But while the money was there, the technology wasn’t: The result was a series of bankruptcies and the scandal of Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer in California that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving a federal guarantee of hundreds of millions of dollars. Wind and solar together provide less than 2 percent of the world’s energy, and they aren’t growing anywhere near fast enough to replace fossil fuels.
What’s especially strange about the failed push for renewables is that we already had a practical plan back in the 1960s to become fully carbon-free without any need of wind or solar: nuclear power. But after years of cost overruns, technical challenges and the bizarre coincidence of an accident at Three Mile Island and the 1979 release of the Hollywood horror movie “The China Syndrome,” about a hundred proposed reactors were canceled. If we had kept building, our power grid could have been carbon-free years ago.
Read more: The New Atomic Age We Need
The Latest on: Nuclear power
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The Latest on: Nuclear power
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Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has vowed revenge after the killing of the country's chief nuclear scientist, as top officials pile blame on Israel.
- Iran scientist's assassination appears intended to undermine nuclear dealon November 27, 2020 at 11:52 am
Analysis: shooting of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will do more harm to diplomacy than it does to Iran’s nuclear programme ...
- MPs attack ‘lack of knowledge’ over UK nuclear power clean-upon November 26, 2020 at 4:04 pm
MPs have warned there is a “perpetual” lack of knowledge in government about the state of Britain’s 17 earliest nuclear power sites, which are expected to cost taxpayers about £130bn to clean up over ...
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A new IAEA data animation shows that extending the life of existing nuclear power plants significantly increases the availability of reliable low carbon power, helping to meet climate goals and the ...
- United States Nuclear Power Plant Equipment Report 2020-2025 - ResearchAndMarkets.comon November 24, 2020 at 8:58 am
Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2020 - 2025)” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering. The United States nuclear power plant equipment market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more ...
- Nuclear to Cost U.K. $900 Million a Year More Than Flexi Poweron November 23, 2020 at 2:23 pm
Building a new large nuclear plant alongside renewable power would cost the U.K. as much as 660 million pounds ($877 million) more a year compared with installing flexible energy technologies.
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The UK government has just announced its “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution”, in which it lays out a vision for the future of energy, transport and nature in the UK. As researchers into ...
- Wisconsin's Nuclear Power Plant Operator Seeks 30 More Yearson November 20, 2020 at 10:13 pm
The operator of Wisconsin’s only remaining nuclear power plant wants to keep the 50-year-old plant running through 2050.
- United States Nuclear Power Reactor Decommissioning Report 2020 - ResearchAndMarkets.comon November 20, 2020 at 9:36 am
The “United States Nuclear Power Reactor Decommissioning Market - Growth, Trends, and Forecasts (2020 - 2025)” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering. The United States nuclear ...
- UPDATE 2-EDF to close UK Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant by July 2022on November 19, 2020 at 1:24 pm
France's EDF will begin decommissioning Britain's Hinkley Point B nuclear power plant by no later than July 15 2022, the company said on Thursday.
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