February 6, 2006; a letter to the San Francisco Chronicle in response
to a full-page article advocating such a revival; no part of the letter
below was published.
Editor — Common sense would be absent if we revive nuclear power.
Points in favor of nonnuclear nonfossil options:
- A kilowatt saved by efficient energy-use is just as useful as a
new kilowatt produced and then wasted. Greater energy-efficiency in
U.S. buildings, lighting, transport, manufacturing, and agriculture,
would provide far more “new” energy than would 100
additional nuclear power plants.
- Conversion to energy-efficiency is an investment costing much
less per unit of “new” energy than nuclear power.
Also, conversion can happen much faster, which helps reverse
global warming sooner.
- If the subsidies proposed for nuclear power were diverted to
subsidize energy-efficiency, the conversion would happen even faster.
- Energy-efficiency as a source of “new” energy is
thoroughly decentralized, which limits the consequences of terrorism,
natural disasters, and blackouts.
- Energy-efficiency produces no plutonium and uses no enriched
uranium, both of which can be stolen or diverted by terrorists to
make nuclear bombs.
- Energy-efficiency produces no radioactive targets for terrorists,
no legacy of radioactive poisons for our descendants to try containing
for 10,000 years, and no exposure to ionizing radiation — a
uniquely powerful cause of gene-damage, which contributes to a host of
miserable human diseases.
- All the points above apply also to solar energy (manifest as light,
warmth, wind, waves, biomass). If mankind borrowed a tiny fraction of
the earth's daily intake of solar energy, to do work for us before it
re-radiates back into space as heat, we could amply meet the energy
wishes of an affluent globe.
- If, unnecessarily, the U.S. chooses the nuclear power option,
all nations will follow suit, and enough of the by-product
plutonium/enriched uranium will surely get into the hands of terrorists
to make life on Earth into hell, even before the other consequences
become intolerable. The common-sense choice is leadership in
energy-efficiency and solar technologies, eliciting global goodwill
— and gratitude from our grandchildren.
Ms. Egan O'Connor, Executive Director
Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, San Francisco.
A Non-Profit Research and Educational Group, founded in 1971.