Top Scientists Say Go Green, Go Nuclear [Pic]

Submitted by: Orlitoq 2 years ago in

Nuclear power is the greenest option, say top scientists

Environmentalists urged to ditch their historical antagonism and embrace a broad energy mix

Nuclear power is one of the least damaging sources of energy for the environment, and the green movement must accept its expansion if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, some of the world"s leading conservation biologists have warned.

Rising demand for energy will place ever greater burdens on the natural world, threatening its rich biodiversity, unless societies accept nuclear power as a key part of the "energy mix", they said. And so the environmental movement and pressure groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace should drop their opposition to the building of nuclear power stations.

In an open letter to be published next month in the journal Conservation Biology, more than 65 biologists, including a former UK government chief scientist, support the call to build more nuclear power plants as a central part of a global strategy to protect wildlife and the environment.

The full gamut of electricity-generation sources, including nuclear power, must be used to replace the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas if the world is to have any chance of mitigating severe climate change, their letter says.

The letter is signed by several leading British academics including Lord May of Oxford, a theoretical biologist at Oxford University and former chief scientific adviser; Professor Andrew Balmford, a conservation biologist at Cambridge; and Professor Tim Blackburn, an expert in biodiversity at University College London.

As well as reducing the sources of carbon dioxide, the chief man-made greenhouse gas implicated in climate change, the expansion of nuclear power will leave more land to support biodiversity and so curb the extinction of species, they say.

Recognising the "historical antagonism towards nuclear energy" among environmentalists, they write: "Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the development of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat climate change, we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is "green"."

It is too risky to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power for replacing fossil fuels because of problems to do with scalability, cost, materials and land use, they explain.

Along with nuclear power, wind energy has the highest benefit-to-cost ratio

Along with nuclear power, wind energy has the highest benefit-to-cost ratio (Getty)

"Nuclear power - being far the most compact and energy-dense of sources could also make a major, and perhaps leading, contribution . It is time that conservationists make their voices heard in this policy area," they say.

A golf-ball-sized lump of uranium would supply the lifetime"s energy needs of a typical person, equivalent to 56 tanker trucks of natural gas, 800 elephant-sized bags of coal or a renewable battery as tall as 16 "super" skyscraper buildings placed one on top of the other, they said.

The letter was organised by Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania and Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide. The two co-authored a paper in the January issue of Conservation Biology outlining the scientific case of nuclear power in terms of environmental protection. Of seven major technologies for generating electricity, nuclear power and wind energy had the highest benefit-to-cost ratio, they concluded.

"Trade-offs and compromises are inevitable and require advocating energy mixes that minimise net environmental damage. Society cannot afford to risk wholesale failure to address energy-related biodiversity impacts because of preconceived notions and ideals," they said.

Professor Corey told The Independent on Sunday: "Our main concern is that society isn"t doing enough to rein in emissions Unless we embrace a full, global-scale assault on fossil fuels, we"ll be in increasingly worse shape over the coming decades - and decades is all we have to act ruthlessly.

"Many so-called green organisations and individuals, including scientists, have avoided or actively lobbied against proven zero-emissions technologies like nuclear because of the associated negative stigma," he said.

"Our main goal was to show - through careful, objective scientific analysis - that on the basis of cost, safety, emissions reduction, land use and pollution, nuclear power must be considered in the future energy mix," he explained.

The letter aims to convince people of the potential benefits of nuclear power in a world where energy demand will increase as the climate begins to change because of rising levels of greenhouse gases, Professor Corey added.

"By convincing leading scientists in the areas of ecological sustainability that nuclear has a role to play, we hope that others opposed to nuclear energy on purely "environmental" - or ideological grounds might reconsider their positions," he said.


Environmentalists urged to ditch their historical antagonism and embrace a broad energy mix
Credits: source
There are 49 comments:
Male 14,331
Not too long ago Nuclear was what hippies hated the most now they want it......ask the people who used to live in Chernobyl how perfect nuclear is.....everything is flawed its how long potential flaws last that`s concerning.
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Male 31
Wow!!Where did they get their Phd`s at and who hired them as professors? Then, where did they hide the nuclear waste?
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Male 1,152
Step 1. make oil from trees
step 2. put 10% of oil made back in ground
step 3. replant trees
step 4. repeat

Cars can be carbon negative. And since we use solar to grow trees, the hippies will be happy.
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Male 5,872
Oil will still need to be extracted and refined, until a substitute for lubricants has been developed. Coal will still be needed, as will nuclear power, to fill the generation gaps until we have 100% security.

Move with the times, get with the program, or when the Chinese beat you to it, you will go bust my friend.
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Male 5,872
Use of fuel. - Audi are currently running a pilot project to generate a useable fuel called `e-gas` (look it up, start learning). This process uses excess electricity generated to hydrolise water, producing hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is combined with CO2 to make methane. The by-products are water and heat, which can be used for other purposes. The methane is pumped into the gas distribution mains, which in Germany contain enough capacity for 3 months use. The gas is compressed to make LPG for use in road/rail vehicles. Spare hydro-power can be used for the same purpose.

Why is this so difficult to understand?
Do you have shares in a power company?
What is there to criticise in efforts to improve the environment?
All change takes time and on a large scale it can be a long time, so it is better to make a start now.
I accept that there will be a necessity to continue the use of the `dirty` fuels during the changeover period. Oil will still need to be extr
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Male 5,872
5-cats - I find your intransigence rather alarming considering your intelligence and mature years. Solar energy will not reduce in the life of mankind on this planet, so can for our purpose be considered infinite. Dirty or not, when the fossil fuels and nuclear sources have gone, where will the power come from?
The sun. The big fusion reactor in the sky. There is no magic electricity fairy to generate power when the earthbound sources are depleted. Injecting political opinion into power-supply is crass stupidity; arguing about which party invests more money into solar power development is as foolish as arguing what colour the bucket should be, to bail-out a sinking ship. I am `Conservative`, but blessed with the foresight to see that new sources must be developed NOW, not when it all starts to run out.
Use of fuel. - Audi are currently running a pilot project to generate a useable fuel called `e-gas` (look it up, start learning). This process uses excess electricity generate
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Male 12,365
Is it possible to make a breeder that can be used for Th232 -> U233 but can`t be used for U238 -> Pu239? Both involve neutron capture.

A thorium cycle certainly has advantages if it can be made to work efficiently, but I think the advantages are less extreme than you make them out to be.
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Male 12,365
[quote]Nickel2: Not all fission is "Dirty". Please look at the Thorium fuel cycle and read about it`s potential to make clean, non-proliferation, nuclear reactors. Thorium reactors would also be much safer and the spent fuel has a very short half-life and is low level radiation.[/quote]

You`re gilding the lily. The decay chain is different, but it`s not as dramatically superior as you`re making it out to be.

For example, one of the reasons why the thorium cycle is considered less likely to cause proliferation weapons is that at one key stage it`s a fearsome gamma emitter. That makes it *far* harder to handle and harder still to do so without being easy to find.

Assuming that the breeding problem is overcome. if not, you`re going to need more dangerous stuff to make the thorium into a fissile isotope of uranium (which is the actual fuel - thorium itself isn`t fissile).
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Male 12,365
[quote]Then there is the safety issue aka fudgeashima. That said, if these types of issues can be rectified, nuclear is a valid option.[/quote]

All the safety issues regarding fudgeushima Daiichi were rectified years ago. Decades ago. Even, to a large extent, at the same time fudgeushima Daiichi was built, even though its design is obsolete over and over again. For evidence of that last point, look at fudgeushima Daini. Same design, hit harder by the tsunami, hardly anyone has heard of it because it didn`t fail.

But modern nuclear fission power stations can`t have any of those safety issues anyway, regardless of circumstances. The design of them makes it impossible because despite the obstacles progress has been made in nuclear fission power stations.

You`re right about the radioactive waste and the fuel rods, though. Those are still real problems, though there are partial solutions so it`s still much safer than anything else that`s reliable.
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Male 12,365
[quote]Talk about Gov`t corruption, what happened to Tesla`s papers on FREE energy??? I`d rather direct my thoughts and personal energy toward de-commercialization of this subject! Also there`s no waste or footprint to deal with.[/quote]

Since they were made up online long after Tesla was dead, there never were any papers.

Tesla`s actual proposals were about transmission of electricity generated by power stations. In a way far less efficient than the way we use now.

Many people say "Tesla" when they mean "gods" or "magic" or sometimes "sci-fi". Although people talking about magic and sci-fi are usually aware that they`re talking about fiction.
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Male 12,365
[quote]least damaging my ass. drat nuclear power. its dangerous to the point that the advocates should be locked up for insanity. the pacific ocean is drating dead thanks to fudgeushima, but no lets quadruple down. drat you, drat you. drat. you.[/quote]

Are you aware that you`re making no sense at all? Are you trying to undermine serious consideration of any risks involved in nuclear fission by associating it with ludicrous ravings? The Pacific ocean is dead...nobody with a functioning mind would take that claim seriously.

Even ignoring that, your claim is a single instance of failure in a design that`s been rendered obsolete 4 times over in a power station running past its sensible end of life (which occured because of people like you) which was built incorrectly, inadequately protected to cut costs and lacked adequate disaster planning...and it still caused far less harm than coal does.
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Male 40,772
@Nickle2: Eh? You do know that we "conservatives" have been pushing for ALL KINDS of research for decades now. Nuclear, solar, wind, thermal. It just makes sense: the "energy companies" WANT NEW sources! New ways to make money!
It`s the "greenies" who`ve FOUGHT AGAINST N-power since the beginning! Based on fear and lies.

Not one person in the USA (or Japan!) has died in an n-power accident in 50+ years now. Yet many thousands have died from oil, gas and even coal. Coal is actually quite safe, it doesn`t explode & catch fire like gas, gasoline & oil...

Aside from mining & drilling I mean, obviously! I`m sure there have been "workplace accidents" building & transporting windmills too...

Every tiny iota of an n-plant is costed and accounted for. Especially "waste". BILLIONS are sitting idle (in `Government held trusts`) waiting to be spent on proper, PERMANENT safe storage, scuttled by Oba
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Male 31
Talk about Gov`t corruption, what happened to Tesla`s papers on FREE energy??? I`d rather direct my thoughts and personal energy toward de-commercialization of this subject! Also there`s no waste or footprint to deal with.
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Male 389
@onoffonoffon government regulation ensures corruption and cost overruns

There wouldn`t even be a nuclear industry if not for government intervention because the investment cost and liability for private industry is too high.

@5cats Sassy!....I must of hit a nerve at some point.
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Male 5,872
I have faith in those that do. The Amish tendency will continue to use horses. Solar, wind and tidal power will escape them completely.
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Male 5,872
America is very lucky as a nation, in that it does have forward-thinking people in it`s midst.
People who see solutions, not just problems.
The Early ones included Nikola Tesla, (one of my heroes), George Westinghouse, etc.
They did not whinge about problems, they sat down and devised solutions; they are a credit to the American Nation.
The more modern forward thinkers include Elon Musk, who is `currently` building a new `Gigafactory` in Nevada. Gigafactory
None of them obtained instant results, failure was common, but so was perseverance.
The `nay-sayers` scoffed and scorned perpetually. Those people had the strength of character to bring their designs to production regardless.
I do not have the ability to design these things myself, but I have faith in thos
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Male 1,152
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Male 5,872
Those who do not support "green power" ALWAYS ignore this! It`s never factored into their cost analysis, or pollution projections. Not that I`ve ever seen, not even once.
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Male 5,872
I am well aware of the need for back-up for wind, solar and tidal power.
The thorium fuel cycle is fine. The estimated 6,355,000 tonnes world thorium resources would last a long time, it is however, fertile rather than fissile, and can only be used as a fuel in conjunction with a fissile material such as recycled plutonium.
The brighter amongst us will have noticed that I did not specify the elimination of fossil fuels, more the advancement of the use of solar energy. I am bright enough myself, to appreciate the problems of storing electricity; I advocate investment to promote research into the advancement of use of solar power.
I liken the `nay-sayers` to the old-timers who were convinced that cars would never supersede horses. There was a transition period when the two existed side by side. Problems were solved; horse use decreased.
Those who do not support "green power" ALWAYS ignore this! It`s never factored into their cost analysis, or pollution projecti
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Male 2,150
Nuclear isn`t zero emission. Waste water and spent fuel rods are still problematic. Then there is the safety issue aka fudgeashima. That said, if these types of issues can be rectified, nuclear is a valid option.
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Male 1,152
>the spent fuel has a very short half-life and is low level radiation
That sounds wrong. Generally the shorter the half-life the more radioactive. And the longer the half-life the less radioactive.

Can you provide a source?
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Male 40,772
@Nickle2: But ALL the solar panels (and wind, and tidal) power needs to be BACKED UP. That`s it`s #1 problem!
Every MW of "clean energy" demands an equal amount of "dirty energy" too! Right?
Unless you allow blackouts and such... and those force millions to use tiny gasoline & diesel generators: causing maximum pollution! Far worse than burning coal (for example).

Those who support "green power" ALWAYS ignore this! It`s never factored into their cost analysis, or pollution projections. Not that I`ve ever seen, not even once.
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Male 17,511
Nickel2: Not all fission is "Dirty". Please look at the Thorium fuel cycle and read about it`s potential to make clean, non-proliferation, nuclear reactors. Thorium reactors would also be much safer and the spent fuel has a very short half-life and is low level radiation.
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Male 1,152
Madduck, fossil fuels are not finite resources. We can create coal and oil. Even with the energy lose through production they are still the most efficient mediums for storing energy, atleast until battery technology drastically improves.
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Male 1,152
Neo, the sun runs on fuel too. That will eventually run out too. There goes solar and wind. The moon will eventually fall from it`s orbit. There goes tidal.

The only true renewable option will probably be some sort of fungal biofuel, or perhaps atmospheric carbon reclaimers.

The important question is how long will a fuel last. Some estimates say that uranium will last 200 years, others 15000. Thorium could last 100,000 years or much more.
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Male 5,872
Nuclear power is the cleanest by far.
The important thing is the type of nuclear power:
Fission = dirty, long-lasting nasty by-products.
Fusion = clean, long-lasting power, very few nasty by-products.

Take a few minutes to go outside and look at a fusion-reactor. It`s 93 million miles away, so for us it is moderately safe; our bodies evolved to make use of it. Our planet`s magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from most of the nasty radiation, and gives us good clean energy that we can harvest without turning the place into an uninhabitable toxic mess.

All we need is investment in the technology to reproduce that nuclear fusion on a `small` scale. The un-wasted oil will then last the lifetime of the planet being used in small quantities to stop things squeaking.

Until then, solar energy can be used to make more solar-panels, extracting clean energy from the light of the sun.
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Male 40,772
@747Pilot: Are you TRYING to make @middlewaytao look "intelligent" by comparison? Is there some strange reason you "weigh in" on a topic you obviously know NOTHING ABOUT?
Cripes man! Not one thing in that brief comment is correct. Not even the word "the" :-<!!!

@pritchards114: You need to put a smiley in when you`re being sarcastic, eh? Otherwise people might think you really mean that nonsense! :-)

You... ARE being sarcastic... right? :-O
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Male 512
Really? fudgeushima? As in Foo-KOO-she-Muh. The editor is going to censor the name of a power plant that went bad. Sheesh, IAB. Censorship os the worst thing on the internet and here`s why. fudgeushima...You`ve got to be kidding. fudgeushima fudgeushima fudgeushima fudgeushima idiots
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Male 512
Personally, I`m all in for nuclear energy. Granted, we need to be a lot smarter about it and put a lot more $$$ into it while we invest in alternative energy. There is no one simple answer just yet but photovoltaic paint is really cool! Still, anyone that just says "I`m against nuclear energy because..like...fudgeushima" is a neohippie and to be ignored. Nuclear plants built correctly are a fantastic source of energy as long as we are taking full advantage of the budding science of solar energy. I fully support Nuclear plants in the backyards of Republicans! Why not? What? Is radiation going to make them any dumber? I think not.
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Male 31
Wow!!Where did they get their Phd`s at and who hired them as professors? Then, where did they hide the nuclear waste?
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Male 216
least damaging my ass. drat nuclear power. its dangerous to the point that the advocates should be locked up for insanity. the pacific ocean is drating dead thanks to fudgeushima, but no lets quadruple down. drat you, drat you. drat. you.
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Male 12,365
[quote]Nuclear power is ridiculous. Its waste has a half life of over 20,000 years, produces weapons grade plutonium/uranium, and can cause a lot of damage if something happens to cause a meltdown. Thorium maybe?[/quote]

Nuclear power, even fission, is safer and more environmentally friendly than any other form of electricity generation on the same scale. You would benefit from learning more about it. Particularly since you suggest thorium as an alternative to nuclear power when the only potential use of thorium as a fuel is to alter it on an atomic level so that it can be used for nuclear fission. You might also find it useful to look into nuclear fusion, which is also nuclear power but very different to nuclear fission. It`s not practical yet, but it`s promising in the short-mid term (the first demonstration fusion power station is planned for about 30 years from now).
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Male 12,365
[quote]As an interim solution while we get renewables 100% reliable [..] [/quote]

That will be forever. It`s impossible to "get renewables 100% reliable" because we can`t control them.

There`s a workaround that`s *theorectically* possible - bulk storage of electricity. I stress *theoretically* because we`ve no way of actually doing it. Current tech isn`t even vaguely close to being within screaming distance of it. It`s entire orders of magnitude away from it.

I also think that nuclear fission is a necessary stopgap, but I think that nuclear fusion is the best long-term strategy, with a minority use of "renewables" (they`re not actually renewable, it`s just that they have huge reserves) if they are viable in local conditions.

[quote]Fossil fuels need to stop now... at once...[/quote]

Are you really willing to kill at least billions of people and end human civilisation? That`s what would be required to meet that goal. We r
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Male 1,454
Nuclear power is ridiculous. Its waste has a half life of over 20,000 years, produces weapons grade plutonium/uranium, and can cause a lot of damage if something happens to cause a meltdown. Thorium maybe?

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Male 15,832
Well, they can kiss their careers goodbye. If you don`t bow at the alter of green energy, you will be excommunicated, slandered, and shunned. No more grants, no more publications, and no more promotions for these guys. They`ll be lucky to keep their jobs.

BTW, the long-term nuclear waste problem has long since been solved, but the antinuclear crowd will never accept any solution.
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Male 5,872
Figures just released recently show that Denmark made 36% of it`s total power requirement from wind-turbines in the year 2014. They still run coal, gas and nuclear.
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Male 389
3 -biologist- favor nuclear power, but still haven`t come up with a long term solution for the waste it creates.
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Male 3,231
After watching what happened to Spock at the end of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. I cant in good conscience go nuclear. The needs of the one man, the needs of the one.
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Male 1,412
@ArgusTuft

I just copy/pasted "Lockheed Martin announced a mini fusion reactor" and got This as the first hit.

Was that what you meant?
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Male 409
I agree with the sentiment, but, the industry needs tight regulations and enforcement. There have been many cases where nuclear plants have been designed and built poorly by unscrupulous contractors and given a free pass by corrupt officials. If I could feel confident of our government and law enforcement would put safety first, I would be 100% in favor of nuclear.

Lets face it. If a contractor screws up a wind turbine, not much is going to happen it is fails. If they screw up a nuclear plant... Chernobyl.
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Female 8,061
As an interim solution while we get renewables 100% reliable we need this. Fossil fuels need to stop now... at once... Long Term- any finite resource will run out no matter what- so lets go for a really really BIG resource (that would be the sun BTW) long term- but right now.. nuclear.
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Male 1,253
Shame I don`t have a link at the moment but Lockheed Martin announced a mini fusion reactor the other day that sounds like the answer.
Perhaps someone with more time than I...?
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Male 606
>But the downside to any fuel: sooner or later it will run out. The only real long term solution is to switch to 100% renewable energy eventually.

By the time humanity runs out of suitably reactive materials, we`d be drated anyway if we haven`t started mining things outside of Earth`s orbit, or at least figured out how to convert any arbitrary matter to energy directly.
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Male 40,772
Yay! Better late than never!

It`s been "the best" for decades now, and has only gotten better and safer over the years.

A "Chernobyl" will simply not happen with any modern design. Sure, accidents are still possible, but with oil and natural gas they are INEVITABLE.

@SMRD That would require only two things: Superconductor and Space Elevator! Also that would allow solar panels in space too, which would be fantastic! :-)

@Neoptolemos: Nuclear fuel? There`s enough to supply ALL electric power for 500+ years... that`s just what we know of, future discoveries will likely increase that.
Plus we can make more of the stuff! It`s not as clean or as cheap, but it`s easily done.
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Male 625
Although it might be an interim solution, nuclear plants still run on fuel (uranium). Luckily, Australia and Canada are big uranium producers and friendly nations.

But the downside to any fuel: sooner or later it will run out. The only real long term solution is to switch to 100% renewable energy eventually.
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Male 297
Build nuclear plants in space
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Male 7,123
I can`t see a viable long-term strategy that doesn`t include nuclear.
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Male 4,155
Well yeah, if it`s done right. Avoid things like building nuclear plants on island prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.
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Male 1,412
Link: Top Scientists Say Go Green, Go Nuclear [Pic] [Rate Link] - Environmentalists urged to ditch their historical antagonism and embrace a broad energy mix
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