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Nuclear at worst is better than coal at best Featured

"Even when nuclear power plants go horribly wrong, they do less damage to the planet and its people than coal-burning stations operating normally."—George Monbiot.


Notes:    Longer excerpt:

 

"Even when nuclear power plants go horribly wrong, they do less damage to the planet and its people than coal-burning stations operating normally.

"Coal, the most carbon-dense of fossil fuels, is the primary driver of human-caused climate change. If its combustion is not curtailed, it could kill millions of times more people than nuclear power plants have done so far. Yes, I really do mean millions.

"The Chernobyl meltdown was hideous and traumatic. The official death toll so far appears to be 43 – 28 workers in the initial few months then a further 15 civilians by 2005.  Totally unacceptable, of course; but a tiny fraction of the deaths for which climate change is likely to be responsible, through its damage to the food supply, its contribution to the spread of infectious diseases and its degradation of the quality of life for many of the world's poorest people."

Monbiot's comparison, of course, does not take into account other risks associated with nuclear power, such as waste storage and nuclear proliferation.    But those risks are very difficult to quantify.   Of course, on the other side of the ledger, it is unlikely that we are capable of reliably identifying, much less quantifying, the many complex long-term risks associated with changing earth's climate.

Update 7-26-13:   Monbiot is in good company.  Check out "Jim Hanson Presses the Climate Case for Nuclear Energy" on Andy Revkin's NYT DotEarth blog.

Bite Source: George Monbiot, "Japan nuclear crisis should not carry weight in atomic energy debate," The Guardian, 3/16/11.

Rating
★★★★½
2 votes
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Bite Details

Type
Submitted by
Tom Smerling
Created
2011-05-21
Com (1)
byGillian

March 30, 2012

1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This item could be strengthened by including some of the already recognised casualities of climate change. An estimated 40,000 people died in the 2003 European heat wave. 11,000 estimated deaths in the 2010 Russian heatwave. Sudan?

"Climate-change disasters kill around 300,000 people a year and cause about $125 billion in economic losses, mainly from agriculture, a think-tank (Global Humanitarian Forum) led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan reported Friday."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30998907/ns/us_news-environment/t/climate-change-death-toll-put-year/#.T3Uey9n9z-k
Owner's reply

Thanks for helping flesh it out, Gillian!

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