In a comment on Nuclear power vs. global warming vs. the environment: Whether civilization survives, JJ writes:
[I]t seems to me that European countries have been smarter on the CO2 front by keeping fuel prices high. I’m not going to say that accepting the Kyoto Protocol is a good idea, but at least it shows that Europe accepts the existence of a problem and is willing to take steps to remediate.
The other thing we, in the US, are wrong about is the use of nuclear energy to replace some of our CO2 generation. “It’s messy! It’s dangerous!” we complain. So what! If it renders portions of our planet uninhabitable, so be it. It would certainly be better than having the whole planet become uninhabitable, a situation that the unbounded increase of CO2 may well bring about. Hybrids and solar and wind and city planning and everything else mentioned ... [on CalPundit] are necessary and helpful and politically correct and all sorts of nice, … but just not enough.
Carbon tax and nuclear power. Learn to like it, because it’s the only way.
There is something to JJ’s points. Twenty years ago, which was not long after the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, I wrote a lot about the risks of nuclear power. I know risks still remain, and I know that even the thought of more nuclear power is a mortal sin among my closed-eyed, wish-the-problem-away friends.
But it’s also true that once a national site is established (probably at Yucca Mountain, Nevada) for the disposal of nuclear wastes, doubling the number of nuclear power plants would not double the risk of storing nuclear wastes. Monitoring 35,000 tons of waste would take about the same amount of effort as monitoring 70,000 tons.
Send in the mathematicians. On the other hand, doubling the number of nuclear plants could almost double the risks of nuclear plant accidents. This is where we need a national scientific debate. How great would that risk be? Might the added risk be acceptable, if all the alternatives are much worse?
The same goes for a carbon dioxide tax.
We should bring together the scientists on both sides of the global warming and nuclear power debates. Let a panel of independent mathematicians hear them out and do the calculations. Then let’s see some clear-headed recommendations.
Update: Author Michael Crichton seems to be thinking along similar lines.
His new novel, “State of Fear,” challenges some of the science of global warming. C-SPAN 2 will broadcast Crichton on 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12 and 13. Says C-SPAN:
Mr. Crichton argues that for a study to be particularly fair, two different groups with opposing interests (when applicable) should conduct the same study at the same time and then the results of each should be published simultaneously and compared.