This was inevitable. Now China is making an all-out thrust into nuclear power.
Meanwhile, the United States hasn’t built a nuclear power plant in 20 years. The U.S. relies on nuclear energy for about 20 percent of its electrical power, and there’s been no increase for decades. Safety was the worry. Is that still so?
Is it time to give nuclear power another look? Or are its risks just too high?
France gets about 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants. France also has been keen on demanding all other industrialized nations cut back on burning fossil fuels. Here’s why, I guess. While every other free nation was freezing nuclear power levels, the French were busy replacing coal and oil with the atom.
Only one answer? In Britain last year, scientist and "Green guru" James Lovelock shocked his environmentalist friends by declaring the Earth has no time to lose. The planet’s 6 billion inhabitants must switch rapidly to much more nuclear power, he said, or we face a catastrophe from global warming.
"By all means, let us use the small input from renewables sensibly," Lovelock said, "but only one immediately available source does not cause global warming, and that is nuclear energy."
Beyond terrorism and nuclear arms proliferation, beyond Social Security and Medicare, America’s decision on nuclear power will be the next big political issue. How we deal with it may decide whether civilization even survives.
Time for urgency. Our environment has to come first, and global warming seems a genuine threat. Assuming it is real, what’s the most reasonable thing to do about it? And why is not one American leader asking this question with any sense of urgency?
Update: Reuters also reports that China and India are under pressure to comply, by 2012, with the Kyoto Protocol limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Nuclear power has its hazards, but carbon dioxide production is not one of them.