Someone posted something about nuclear power being the cleanest power we're capable of; I responded. It's almost like a blog, so why not post it one? On the topic of: nuclear power.
But how about solar power? It's just like a nuclear reactor, except it runs without maintenance, can't be hijacked by terrorists, isn't susceptible to natural catastrophes and doesn't give us any of that radioactive fallout that we still don't know how to store safely for future generations. Compared to the alternatives, nuclear power has the potential to quickly become, at any moment, the dirtiest power we're capable of.
The problem is that radioactive fuels can't be disposed of, nor can they be properly stored.
Even if old waste was properly recycled and current nuclear reactors received the necessary funding to effective them with all the newest technology, the waste would still last a hundred years minimum. Currently stored waste will last tens of thousands of years minimum, and the best method of storage we've developed thus far is canisters made of copper, which we know will corrode/leak within a hundred years or so. That's not even 1% of the necessity!
These canisters are stored deep down underground, but once they start leaking how easy won't it be for all that radioactivity to make its way into the groundwater and poison pretty much our entire water supply? Even a tiny radioactive leak has severe consequences, and you'd think people would've noticed this with the recent meltdowns!
Nuclear power is still such a new form of energy. The first reactor was built 60 years ago this year, and it's crazy that it's being so widely used even though we know that even without the potential side-effects of a natural disaster (applicable as much to active power plants as to all stored material) or human error/abuse, there is no safe way to deal with all the excess waste. Earthquakes for example are becoming increasable common even in parts of the world they've never previously occurred - they could easily rupture old containers in places we might previously have thought were safe harbor.
Nuclear power vs fossil fuels?
Fossil fuel pollution has much milder side-effects, none that affect hundreds or thousands of future generations, or in a worst case scenario make the world complete uninhabitable. As far as fossil fuels are concerned they're still being used for most vehicles, factories etc for other purposes than electricity. Nuclear power is being used and greenhouse gases are still being emitted simultaneously, it's not just a case of using one over the other, and you need to take into consideration how much cooling a nuclear plant actually needs to function. As for the production of solar panels and cells generating greenhouse gases, it's the same thing with anything we produce, even nuclear plants.
Just imagine if we were pouring as much money into the research of efficient solar power as we are into nuclear power, which is as far as I'm concerned a dead-end source. Think of everything we could achieve! Solar power is a resilient, external, automated and virtually harmless and eternal (as far as the human species is concerned) source of energy that could easily satisfy the entire planets hunger for power many times over.
Seems to me that all who favor nuclear power aren't seeing the bigger picture, or taking into consideration the possibility that things go wrong. Things do go wrong, and with nuclear power the results can be catastrophic. Is it really worth that risk?