Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why the environmental movement needs to stop (irrationally) hating and instead embrace safe nuclear power

Alright, I’m going to say something that will undoubtedly stir up controversy given that this is a subject of hot contention among the environmental/sustainability movement.

I believe that nuclear power, used in a safe, controlled manner, will be absolutely critical in creating a more sustainable future for us all.

Yea, pretty much this. Sans the Fallout vibes that the text gives me.

Certainly, this statement will incite anger and doubt among many who know me as a sustainability advocate. But I firmly believe that my support for carefully regulated nuclear power and a sustainable future are NOT mutually exclusive. Not at all.

There are those who believe that nuclear power is inherently dangerous, and that it has no place whatsoever in a clean-energy based future. I respectfully disagree with those people. Wind, solar, hydroelectric, along with other sources of renewable or clean energy, will all play large roles in power generation in the future. But a steady, safe (when done right) source of clean energy like nuclear power will be absolutely critical in replacing the massive amounts of coal that are currently used as the primary mode of power generation.

My claim that nuclear power is “clean” or “safe” will also cause controversy-but when made and inspected correctly, modern nuclear reactors have an absurdly low risk of failure. People will be quick to point out Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, but 3 incidents out of nearly 50 years of nuclear power....where all three were caused by incredibly extenuating circumstances and outdated reactor technology. Our efforts should be focused on preventing oil spills, fracking, and other dangerous activities that occur with far more regularity than nuclear accidents.

Cleaning and disposing of nuclear waste certainly is an issue, but technologies such as breeder reactors can help solve that problem while generating massive amounts of clean power.

Simply put, I believe that continual blocking of nuclear power will seriously hurt the transition away from dirty fossil fuels and only exacerbate anthropogenic climate change (while also hindering the transition to a more sustainable future).

For more reading, which goes more in depth on my beliefs, I highly recommend checking out these two articles: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/are_fast-breeder_reactors_a_nuclear_power_panacea/2557/

If you have comments, questions, or want to argue with me, feel free to send me emails/post such inquiries in the comments.



  1. Darsh,

    This is like playing with fire. There are many better alternatives. I can't believe that you support nuclear power!!! Well it may come to that. I love your argument though. Good luck.

  2. What argument? All you said was : do it safely. Look up reports of all accidents in nuclear powerplants around the united states and you will have a glimpse of the severity of the issue. Turkey point florida is an example. The ridiculous examples such as chernobyl are only known because they could not be controlled. All other accidental spills are neve heard about

  3. Santiago,

    I think that "doing nuclear power safely" is an argument, although it may qualify as more of a position. But there are no massive nuclear incidents barring Chernobyl and Fukushima that were truly catastrophic (and only Chernobyl actually caused serious harm). Turkey Point Florida didn't actually have any issues at all. The power blackouts were really just that. There have been about 33 nuclear accidents since nuclear power has been used, and the vast majority have been relatively harmless. In addition, few, if any, accidental spills occur-evidence of them please? They'd be all over the news very very quickly. In comparison to dirty coal, nuclear power is magnitudes more safe.


  4. Well, I have done extensive research on this topic and have to side with Adarsha with regard to Turkey Point Florida. Though the accidents that happened until now are harmless, does not mean that the methods are safe enough. We have still a long way to go. We can't bank on nuclear power alone Adarsha. How can we do this safely is the big question?