A debate at TED in February over nuclear power’s merits as a clean source of electricity featured Whole Earth Catalog guru Steward Brand (pro) and Stanford energy systems analysts Mark Jacobson. A lot of ground covered in 23 minutes, including just how much ground various clean energy options cover.
The winner? It was a slam dunk for …
I’ll let you figure it out for yourself.
“Does the world need nuclear energy?” is an important question, for at least two reasons. First, Congressional legislators seem intent on including increased support for the nuclear industry in any climate or energy bill. While it is now quite possible that similar provisions in favor of offshore oil drilling will be dropped from the legislative agenda, nuclear doesn’t appear to be going away. It’s probably not a question of whether we’ll see more nuclear reactors, but how many.
Second, unlike solar and wind alternatives, the high cost of nuclear energy shows no sign of falling any time soon. If we go down this road, we are committing considerable financial resources. And when you get right down to it, that’s what the debate is all about: how much are we willing to spend on the transition to a post-fossil-fuel era?
Unfortunately, neither debater gets into the meat of the economic issues involved. But they do address plenty of other critical issues, including physical footprints and life-cycle CO2 analyses.