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The Brief Case against Reviving Nuclear Power.

By Egan O'Connor

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. If the subsidies proposed for nuclear power were diverted to subsidize energy-efficiency, the conversion would happen even faster.

  4. Energy-efficiency as a source of “new” energy is thoroughly decentralized, which limits the consequences of terrorism, natural disasters, and blackouts.

  5. Energy-efficiency produces no plutonium and uses no enriched uranium, both of which can be stolen or diverted by terrorists to make nuclear bombs.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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