In a time of increasing concern for water quality and availability, nuclear power facilities require enormous quantities of water and put back effluent into those nearby water sources. At a time of carbon counting, they also generate considerable carbon emissions through the process of construction and with the life-cycle chain of fuel (uranium) mining, milling, transporting, and disposing. As Americans relearn the breadth of what an environmental issue is, nuclear plants all the while create new social and cultural problems for community stability and autonomy. Coal-fired plants quite obviously produce carbon too and, especially with mountain-top removal sites, destroy community as well as nature, but the option for energy source is not either/or.
All that was brought to mind when I heard that the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action is working to prepare citizens to take stands against nuclear power and other dirty energy. They met for the past week near Lake Anna here in central Virginia, the site of Dominion Power’s North Anna Nuclear Facility. (The lake was created to provide cooling water for the reactors back in the 1960s.) Rather than the caricature pro-nuclear advocates often suggest about those opposing nuclear power — naive and anti-modern (wait to see if there are replies to this post–you’ll find some of them) — those organizing to consider alternative means of energy production and alternative strategies for reducing energy consumption take a broad view of the environmental issues at hand. They consider the needs and dynamics of current energy uses and the place such energy systems hold in our lifestyles. They also ask how we might meet those needs and shift them to create a better balance with human and non-human environmental health. Perhaps most meaningful is that they consider those issues as irreducibly cultural and natural.
You can hear more about some of them here. Plus, here’s a statement from homepage of the SCCA:
Earth-centered, community-based solutions to the climate crisis that foster local autonomy and self-sufficiency. We see corporate led, business friendly “solutions” to the climate crisis as inherently opposed to this vision. We do not accept alternative energy sources that externalize their costs onto human and natural communities in the name of reducing carbon emissions. This includes but is not limited to nuclear power, “clean” coal, large scale ethanol and biofuels, carbon sequestration, trading, or offsets, and large dams. These technologies have social and environmental costs that far outweigh any benefits they provide in regards to fighting climate change. We firmly believe that any conversation on alternative energy must address the issue of consumption. No future form of energy can be considered sustainable without drastic reductions in our energy and resource consumption.
The policy statement above and related radio story resonate with many of the posts we’ve offered at this blog, so I wanted to make note of the recent week-long camp.