Japan walked back from emissions reductions commitments last week, admitting that closing down its nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster has made such targets impossible to achieve. The announcement, which coincided with yet another round of feckless international climate talks in Warsaw, put green hypocrisy on nuclear power in sharp relief: environmentalists have long snubbed the energy source, despite the fact that it may be the planet’s best bet for zero carbon baseload power production.
Now, even the NYT is acknowledging nuclear’s merit:
[Japan's announcement] brings into sharp focus the most urgent challenge: How will the world replace fossil fuels? Can it be done fast enough, cheaply enough and on a sufficient scale without nuclear energy? For all the optimism about the prospects of wind, sun and tides to power our future, the evidence suggests the answer is no. [...]
[W]hile investment in renewable sources is crucially important to meet new energy needs, nuclear power remains the cheapest and most readily scalable of the alternative energy sources. Difficult as it may be to reduce dependence on coal, nuclear power is probably the world’s best shot.
There’s a lot of hemming and hawing in that article, and we can only imagine how much it must have pained the Gray Lady to admit that nuclear energy is a better option than solar or wind. But scaling up nuclear energy is, as the NYT puts it, the “unavoidable answer” to the question of how we power civilization without blackening our skies and cooking our planet.
There’s a new generation of nuclear technology available that’s safer, more efficient, and produces less waste. The developing world should be investing in these kinds of reactors, rather than nice-sounding but ultimately insufficient solar and wind farms. If the green movement really cared about sustainability, it would be the loudest advocate for nuclear energy around. But greens are as provincial in their worldview as they are inept in their strategy, so they’ve resisted acknowledging nuclear’s myriad benefits. Nuclear’s future still looks bright, because greens are thankfully just as bad at implementing their ideas as they are conceiving them.
[Nuclear reactor image courtesy of Shutterstock]