A new IPCC report attacks nuclear power as a key climate solution by promoting the notion that it risks nuclear weapons proliferation, may cause childhood leukemia, and destroys the natural environment.

This is Schellenberger’s misguided critique of the IPCC Climate Change Report that he claims favors renewables over nuclear.

Some flaws in his argument:

Schellenberger is totally married to big centralized generating units, like nuclear, and the myth that the need for electricity is ravenous throughout the world.  He seems to have no idea about electricity surpluses in parts of our grid and elsewhere in the world.  He focuses on industrial scale wind or solar. Mini grids and decentralized generation on demand cannot be part of his vocabulary since nuclear generation can’t  fit into either of these categories.

He still talks about the land mass needed for either solar or wind as if it is a problem. This totally ignores dual use, off shore wind and roof top solar – among other things. He pans large hydro because of its damage to the environment while ignoring run of the river hydro.

He is still talking about the operating capacity of nuclear.  He is correct.  It is higher than wind or solar which are less “dense” – to use his word.  However, it makes little difference what the capacity is if you can’t turn it on when it is needed and  off when it is not needed. Nuclear has no on and off switch. Wind and solar are variable but predictable, which is why NYISO has been able to integrate wind into the NY grid with little fuss and they are both easy to turn on and off.

Shellenberger++ol uses world wide figures to justify individual civilian reactors and belittles the use of civilian reactors to produce nuclear weapons. He admits that is why some countries want nuclear technology but claims that since it hasn’t happened, it is nothing to worry about.

He claims that  the environmental impacts of uranium mining are vastly smaller than for coal, because uranium is at least 2 million times more energy dense than coal. Like many of his “facts” this is grossly  misleading. Yes, enriched uranium  is “dense.”  However uranium ore does not come out of the ground that way. It takes 50 pounds of useless rock to extract 1 pound of U35 that can then be processed for use in civilian reactors. Coal can be used as it comes out of the ground.  Uranium cannot. The amount of tailings in either case would be influenced by where the seam of desired material is located – under how much other material.

The Navajo have a saying: you can meet an old coal miner but you will never meet an old uranium miner…

Feel free to use any of this information in any way that you find useful.

Marilyn Elie