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Nuclear power is environmentally friendly

Leading environmentalists now embrace nuclear power. 27 billion tonnes of CO2 annually is far worse.


[chronicle] Within the environmental movement, central figures are now beginning to embrace nuclear power. Gaia Father James Lovelock, Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore and Friends of the Earth Nestor Hugh Montefiore all believe that the fear of radioactive radiation is exaggerated and that the alternative to a nuclear renaissance, ever-increasing CO2 emissions, is far worse.

Erle Marie Sørheim downplays this in her review of, among other things, Lovelock's book in Ny Tid on 6 October. If we continue as we are now, we will soon reach a point where we can no longer prevent the climate system from running wild.

In the September issue of Scientific American, MIT professors John M. Deutch and Ernest J. Moniz show that nuclear power plant development could account for a reduction in CO2 emissions of between four and seven billion tonnes. While the total nuclear energy capacity currently stands at just over 400 GW, Deutch and Moniz predict that the world's nuclear reactors will produce 1000 GW by 2050.

Most nuclear power countries no longer discuss decommissioning. The mood has changed. New technology is safer and more efficient, and not least – nuclear power is increasingly seen as a pure alternative in a world where gloomy climate predictions have become part of everyday life.

In Sweden, only ten percent of the population now wants to shut down the country's nuclear reactors as quickly as possible, while 30 percent actually want to develop new nuclear power. In Finland, construction of the first new nuclear reactor in the West is underway in 20 years, and in China, India and Japan a new generation of nuclear power plants is already in operation. Much points to a nuclear renaissance.

Mad scientist.

In the middle of the night on April 26, 1986, the number four reactor exploded in Chernobyl. The control rods got stuck, the reactor core melted, and it started to burn. The moment after, 1000 tons of heavy reactor cap was blown off.

The cause of the accident was not a technical failure. The accident was due to a classic case of "mad scientist". It was wanted to test whether the system's own electricity turbine could operate the security system should the external electricity connection fail. The aim of the test was to acquire knowledge that would increase safety, but during the experiments the safety routines were exceeded on a number of points and the result was thus disastrous. A still unknown amount of radioactive waste disappeared into the atmosphere and later fell over much of Europe.

There is considerable uncertainty about the extent of the accident. However, there is little doubt that too much fear is spread. The so-called Chernobyl Forum, an international association of scientists, believes that no more than 56 deaths can be directly linked to Chernobyl. The aftereffects, such as cancer, leukemia, and children born with maladies, are far less severe than most people expected. The WHO Cancer Research Department has estimated that 16.000 Europeans may die before their time as a result of the Chernobyl accident. However, since a quarter of us die of cancer anyway, the exact number is impossible to measure.

Many people probably imagine that today the godzilla-like creature wanders around the Chernobyl forests. The reality is quite another. Both flora and fauna flourish. Animals, birds and plants have an area of ​​4000 km2 around the old power plant. Biology professor Ron Chesser, who has spent ten years studying wildlife around the reactor, believes that small doses of radioactivity actually seem to have helped to strengthen the genes that protect against cancer. Several researchers believe it is high time to reassess whether all radiation is dangerous.

Waste and weapons.

What speaks to a new nuclear era are, first and foremost, the still unresolved issues surrounding waste management and weapons proliferation. In its Nuclear renaissance, however, WJ Nuttall shows that there are good prospects that the technological solutions of the future will contribute to the recycling of high-radioactive waste.

When it comes to weapons proliferation, the goal is primarily to prevent more countries from developing technology for enriching uranium. Developing enrichment technology is, by the way, a long, complicated and expensive process, and as long as the fuel for peaceful nuclear reactors with the current system can be purchased in an open market, many naturally question that some countries still insist on standing for the enrichment process themselves.

If the aim has never been to produce weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, why not just trade in Iran like other peaceful nuclear nations? And why did the country keep its enrichment facilities hidden for 18 years? In order to further increase the distinction between nuclear weapons and peaceful nuclear power production, an international agreement is envisaged in the future where the user countries lease the fuel from a few producer countries.


However, what could really make nuclear power great was if someone had thrown on the table the 4-5 billion it would have cost to build and test out a so-called accelerator-driven thorium power plant. In such a power plant, the danger of uncontrolled chain reaction will be eliminated. With thorium, and not uranium, as fuel, the by-products will be completely harmless.

According to Professor Egil Lillestøl, very positive experiments have been carried out in Cern, and several of the world's leading scientists in the field, among them Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia, will be willing to throw what they have into their hands and travel wherever it may be to bring technology to life. . Among the countries of the world that have both rich thorium deposits and more than enough money, Lillestøl highlights one, Norway.

The solutions to the climate herd.

We know well how the climate class can be resolved. The technology and knowledge needed is not science fiction. The simplest of the measures is, of course, that people in rich countries learn how to easily and effectively reduce their energy consumption. Most other measures, in different ways, are aimed at replacing the highly polluting coal power. The majority of environmentalists continue to emphasize renewable sources, especially solar and wind power.

However, among the measures that are really moaning, it seems difficult to get beyond the nuclear power. And as James Lovelock so emphatically points out in his latest book, the hourglass is about to run out.

Many people probably think it would have been good if Einstein had never explained to us that E = mc2. Perhaps it would have been true if the mystery of nuclear power had never been solved. But the knowledge is there, and it is unlikely to disappear. And then maybe it's just as good to try to make the most of it?

By: Kjetil Mygland, idea historian,

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