The Latest Excuse for Ignoring Nuclear Power …
… allegedly comes from the International Atomic Energy Agency.According to Geoffrey Lean, an official IAEA report claims that nukes can't possibly stop global warming:
The second scenario in the report, as summarized, does not make sense. If the world becomes more prosperous as a result of nuclear energy, that prosperity is due to being able to get by on less fossil fuel. It's also quite likely that fossil-fuel prices will rise in a high-demand scenario, so any expansion of energy use would be preferentially nuclear. In any case, it will take much longer than 25 years for global warming to become serious and we can expect various forms of nuclear energy to make fossil fuels obsolete by that time.
The IAEA report considers two scenarios. In the first, nuclear energy continues to decline, with no new stations built beyond those already planned. Its share of world electricity - and thus its relative contribution to fighting global warming - drops from its current 16 per cent to 12 per cent by 2030.
Surprisingly, it made an even smaller relative contribution to combating climate change under the IAEA's most favorable scenario, seeing nuclear power grow by 70 per cent over the next 25 years. This is because the world would have to be so prosperous to afford the expansions that traditional ways of generating electricity from fossil fuels would have grown even faster. Climate change would doom the planet before nuclear power could save it.
On the other hand, the summary on the IAEA's own website makes it clear that the two scenarios mentioned above are not the whole story:
I'm sure that semi-professional green loons will ignore the above, treat the claim that nuclear power cannot be a part of an anti-warming campaign as the Voice of Science, and cite that as an example of how conservatives are anti-science.
To estimate nuclear power's full potential for reducing future carbon emissions, however, the calculations have to be done for scenarios in which nuclear power truly expands its contribution to world energy supplies, rather than contracts as in the IEA scenario. Our starting point is the long-term scenarios of the IPCC's Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES).5 Although these were not designed to explore specifically nuclear power or any other particular energy option, their objective of minimizing total long-term system costs leads to future expansions of nuclear energy very different from the IEA's projected intermediate-term contractions.
One reason that the SRES scenarios differ from the IEA is that they minimize total energy system costs looking ahead 100 years. They thus take greater account of the projected depletion of low-cost fossil fuels and give greater weight to longterm returns than do current deregulating energy markets---which form the basis for the IEA reference scenario. From the longer-term perspective of SRES, nuclear power is a more attractive investment than from the near-term perspective of the IEA.
On the other hand, one lesson that my fellow reactionary crackpots should learn is that Establishment Science makes far more sense than the summaries given by non-scientific “intellectuals.”