An Environmental Case for Nuclear Power ( and LENR by Extension)

In an article recently published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science and Technology NASA scientists Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen argue that using nuclear power in place of fossil fuels has already prevented 1.8 million air pollution-related deaths and if used into the future`save millions of more lives in coming decade. Here’s part of the abstract of the article

Because nuclear power is an abundant, low-carbon source of base-load power, on balance it could make a large contribution to mitigation of global climate change and air pollution. Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. Based on global projection data that take into account the effects of Fukushima, we find that by mid-century, nuclear power could prevent an additional 420,000 to 7.04 million deaths and 80 to 240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels, depending on which fuel it replaces.

The estimates of numbers of deaths were based on such factors as mining accidents, lung diseases among miners, and air pollution. The authors did not include estimates of deaths based on global warming related factors. Further discussion of the study can be found here.

The environmental case for nuclear power is not uncommon these days, since it is a technology in use that has a chance of replacing fossil fuels in terms of power output that doesn’t emit CO2. Environmentalists like Bill Gates, George Monboit (of the Guardian), Patrick Moore (Greenpeace co-founder) and now NASA’s James Hansen contend that carbon dioxide is more dangerous to the planet in the long term than radioactive waste, and even the chance of radiation leakage from a nuclear accident.

The point of this post is not to argue in favor of more nuclear fission plants, but to point out that if the case for the E-Cat, or other LENR technology, can be demonstrated conclusively, it is very possible that heavyweights in the environmental movement could move quickly to start backing cold fusion as a viable alternative to fossil fuels and become important lobbyists for its implementation. Surely they would prefer clean and safe LENR to dirty and dangerous nuclear fission.

So far, we haven’t really seen any influential environmental leaders (or any other kinds of influential leaders for that matter) publicly back LENR — but it seems reasonable to expect that this situation may quickly change. One would hope that at some point common sense would come into play and reasonable people would see the many advantages LENR has to offer once it is conclusively demonstrated.

In related news, the New York Times is reporting that James Hansen is retiring from NASA after 46 years, and is planning to spend more time lobbying for environmental causes.