2020-02-10 07:15:17 UTC
Anti-nuclear bias has no place in Nature
In his otherwise excellent review of Thane Gustafson’s book The Bridge, Andrew Moravcsik includes nuclear power in his list of energy sources to which natural gas is “environmentally superior” (Nature 576, 30–31; 2019). Burning natural gas in fact releases almost half as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as does coal. Nuclear power production itself releases none. Taking into account the CO2 released from fossil fuels burnt during plant construction and uranium mining and processing, nuclear energy ranks about equally with solar power — so still much less polluting than natural gas.
If Moravcsik is referring to damage from environmental releases, nuclear power has proved itself to be much cleaner and safer than natural gas. If he is considering nuclear waste, existing practice effectively sequesters spent nuclear fuel from the environment by using dry-cask storage. Permanent disposal sites (two currently: the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico, for military waste, and Onkalo, under construction in Finland) will effectively isolate nuclear waste for centuries.
Anti-nuclear bias has no place in a pre-eminent journal of science, especially when global heating is increasing dangerously as a result of our over-dependence on fossil fuels.
Nature 578, 37 (2020)