Friday, November 06, 2009


E=mc2 and Renewables

Energy Tribune has an article well worth reading called “Understanding E = mc2.” It’s a different approach to showing why renewables don’t pack enough punch to power industrial civilization.

Assuming readers will check it out themselves, I’ll just use this post to point out two flaws.

First, the author notes that nuclear energy provides a far larger amount of energy, which is true, but he also claims that it has a “vanishingly small impact on the environment.” Why anyone would dare to make such a patently false claim is beyond me, since everyone knows that, from uranium mining to waste reprocessing, nuclear power assaults life on Earth with massive quantities of radioactive waste. Go ahead — walk into a high-level nuclear waste repository, commune with the waste, and tell me how long you live to tell about it. That impact is “vanishingly small”? And the “no emissions” claim is a crock of baloney.

Second, the author operates under the same flawed reasoning as other energy gurus by not realizing that nuclear power is impossible without fossil fuels. Once we realize that coal and oil underpin the nuclear power industry, and that nuclear power presupposes the coal- and oil-powered industrial infrastructure, we also realize that nuclear power will wind down in tandem with the rest of industrial society. Nuclear will keep the lights on only until breakdowns occur or stockpiled fuel runs out, whichever comes first.

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