The argument for nuclear power

Premise 1: Climate change is real.

Premise 2: To avert catastrophe we must either drastically reduce our use of fossil fuel energy or replace it with carbon-free energy, or both.

Premise 3: The worldwide demand for energy is going to grow, not shrink.

Premise 4: Solar, wind, thermal, etc., will never meet that demand.

Premise 5: Even if “green” technologies could meet the demand, their manufacture requires more fossil fuel energy than they produce.

Conclusion: Therefore the only possible way to avert catastrophic climate change is to employ nuclear power on a large scale.

To do this will require . . .

1. Fail-safe reactor designs.

2. Safe management of nuclear waste.

3. Development of advanced reactors that can use the waste from older reactors as fuel.



3 thoughts on “The argument for nuclear power”

  1. As long as we don’t have human error (Chernobyl) or natural catastrophe (Fukujima), we will be fine.


    1. Hi Paul,
      I have long thought as you do, but recently have been reading more and changing my views. This video interview with James Hansen— —addresses Fukishima in the second question, and the argument about Chernobyl is similar: 1) this was old technology and bad design (in Chernobyl’s case, there was not even a containment structure), and 2) the effects of these accidents have been wildly exaggerated. The argument is that deaths from fossil fuel air pollution vastly outnumber deaths caused by nuclear accidents.

      Here is another take, from Michael Shellenberger in his TEDxBerlin talk, “Why I Changed My Mind About Nuclear Power”: He addresses your comment directly beginning at about the 10-minute mark.

      I would be interested in knowing how these two videos strike you. I am actively looking for persuasive arguments that would refute Hansen and Shellenberger, but have come up empty so far.

      1. Someone just sent me this article: “What Are the Safest Sources of Energy,” by Hannah Ritchie: .

        Same conclusion:

        “Nuclear energy is by far the safest energy source in this comparison – it results in more than 442 times fewer deaths than the ‘dirtiest’ forms of coal; 330 times fewer than coal; 250 times less than oil; and 38 times fewer than gas. To be clear: the figures in this analysis was based on energy production in Europe where anti-pollution regulation and technologies are already well ahead of many countries in the world; in this case the death rate from fossil fuels may even be understated.”


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