A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Nuclear Power is Good for 'Gaia'.....

James Lovelock's recent high-profile promotion of nuclear power has brought about a mighty fission in the Great Green World of 'Gaia'. His practical fusion of pragmatic commonsense and clear logic doesn't seem to appeal to the more fundamentalist and puritanical of the faithful(now there's a surprise).

But, of course, when you strip away all the myths, he is absolutely correct about nuclear power. It is basically "Good for 'Gaia'":-

(a) Nuclear power (currently 17% of the world's electricity supply) has the safest record of any major form of energy production. In the West, it has killed no one and injured no one. An analysis by The Paul Scherrer Institute of the number of serious accidents worldwide (i.e., they killed at least 5 people) in the energy sector between 1969 and 1996 gives the following telling results:

Oil = 334; coal = 187; natural gas = 86; LPG = 77; hydropower = 9; nuclear = 1.

(b) Nuclear weapons require enrichment of over 90%; nuclear power needs less than 10%. Most nuclear waste is useless for making weapons.

(c) Nuclear power stations release no 'greenhouse gases'. Over the whole energy cycle audit, they release lower levels of 'greenhouse gases' than any other energy source, including solar power and those dreaded wind farms.

(d) The radiation from a nuclear power station is less than that from a coal-powered station or from a large hospital. (And there are fewer superbugs too, despite the jokes!)

We need a new slogan: "Nuclear Power is Good for 'Gaia'!"

Philip, slaying those hydra-headed myths one-by-one. Lunch at last. "Enriched, I hope?" he said, glowingly.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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