No Nukes to save Climate

SUBHEAD: Will 1000 Gigawatts of new nuclear capacity will support an ambitious COP 21 agreement?

By Juan Wilson on 30 November 2015 for Island Breath -

Image above: Oil on canvas painting "The Neighbor" by Mark Bryan. From (

Recently I've found myself on a mailing list from the World Nuclear Association (WNA). They are a group that is claiming we can save the world from the worst effects of global warming by a crash course of building nuclear power reactors.

Se the box below for the content of their email.

The are calling for 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear power capability. To get an idea of the scale of this proposal consider that the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station had six operational reactors with a total capacity of 4.7 gigawatts.

That would mean that the WNA is advising the building approximately 1,200 GE boiling water nuclear reactors on the scale of those that continue to poison Japan and the Pacific Ocean. This is a patently insane course of action.

As it is, there is no long term energy or resources to support and maintain the existing 439 nuclear power plants that exist today, or the 69 under construction today. I say that because:
  • The length of time needed to contain and control the radioactive materials in those reactors is measured in the thousands of years. 
  • The need for the continual requirements for fossil fuels, interstate highways, operating heavy duty equipment, machine shops are unlikely to be sustainable.
  • The technology, knowledge, expertise, experience and educational facilities needed to support the long term safety of nuclear power plants is likely to disappear as did our ability to continue the extraterrestrial exploration that we were involved in just two generations ago.
I won't go into the need for maintaining the world's nuclear weapons material. But imagine the next half century during which the 500 or so the still operating nuclear plants have to be decommissioned. Imagine 20% of them failing and joining Fukushima Daiichi spewing poisonous radioactive isotopes into the environment for eons. 

Back in 2014 I wrote (
Even some of the most influential councils I have heard in the past few decades are flailing to find a way back to the "good old days". I can understand why techno-optimist Bill Gates - Founder of Microsoft - would be trying to keep all the juice flowing but why would these guys be turning to cranking up the dial on nuclear power?
Stuart Brand - Creator of the Whole Earth Catalog
James Lovelock - The discoverer of the Gaia Principle
James Hansen - NASA scientist who warned of Global Warming 
All have become enthusiastic supporters of replacing fossil fuels by building nukes. They argue (successfully) that we cannot support the lifestyle we have become accustomed to with alternative renewable energy sources like solar, wind, hydro, wave, etc.

What that tells me is that they are not ready to simply live with less. That is what is happening. We are experiencing an impoverishment that is the result of dirtier, more expensive and harder to get energy.

Fighting to maintain our lifestyle will be a situation that can lead to very bad human behavior. Turning to nuclear energy to charge our iPad and Prius is one very bad behavior.
And the madness continues. The COP21 climate conference in Paris has begun. The government and government representatives desperately wanting "more of the same" scarfing at the trough are wheeling and dealing.

The last thing they want to express is the idea that things will be changing in the near term. We will be forced to abandon our current ways and face a new reality. We will consume less or suffer a Martian atmosphere. Life will go on - but without primates and whales.

I suggest you might contact  Jonathan Cobb at the World Nuclear Association.
Media Contact:
Jonathan Cobb: +44(0)20 7451 1536
There are some Island Breath article on the subject of the Fukushima Daiichi multiple meltdowns. Nuclear power has proved to be uncontrollable.

World Nuclear Association

The COP 21 negotiations in Paris should reach an agreement that encourages a transition to a low carbon society by making better use of nuclear energy alongside other mitigation options, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Director General Agneta Rising said “To implement the goals of an ambitious COP 21 agreement governments need to develop policies that encourage investment in low carbon generation, especially nuclear energy.  We need 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2050 to combat climate change. This will require effective regulation and markets that value low carbon emissions and reliable supplies.”

The IPCC says that emissions from the electricity generation sector should fall by 80% by 2050 (1) to prevent a greater than  two degrees Celsius rise in average global temperatures. While this seems challenging, electricity generation is one sector where a low carbon path has been proven with technology available today. Countries such as Switzerland, Brazil, Sweden and France have achieved low carbon electricity supplies through combinations of generation from nuclear energy and renewables.

Nuclear energy is a proven provider of affordable, reliable low carbon electricity. Over the last fifty years nuclear generation has been estimated to have avoided the emission of more than 60 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (2). That's more than ten times the annual carbon dioxide emissions from the world's road transport (3).

Director General Agneta Rising continued: “France has shown that with nuclear energy an affordable low carbon generation mix is achievable. COP 21 must deliver an agreement that helps us achieve a low carbon emissions world.”

Media Contact:
Jonathan Cobb: +44(0)20 7451 1536
The World Nuclear Association is the industry organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business. We are joining with more than 140 societies and associations on the Nuclear for Climate initiative. For more information see

(1) IPCC Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change Chapter 7 p516

(2) “Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power”,  Pushker A. Kharecha* and James E. Hansen, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013

(3) IPCC Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change Chapter 8 p606

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