Nuclear's Power
China Has a Smart Green Response to Toxic Smog

China’s struggles with deadly air pollution are well known at this point, but Beijing is embracing a smart solution to its smog problem: nuclear power. Reuters reports:

China aims to build a nuclear reactor in the heavily polluted province of Hebei, which surrounds the capital Beijing, in a bid to cut smog and promote cleaner energy, the head of the country’s nuclear agency said on Friday. […]

“For the integrated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, we are currently planning to build a nuclear plant on the Hebei coast,” Xu Dazhe, chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority, said at the launch of a China-U.S. nuclear safety research facility on the outskirts of Beijing.

He said the smog that had descended on Beijing this week was a reminder of the need to develop nuclear energy, which is also set to play a big role in meeting China’s pledge to bring its greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by around 2030.

Nuclear power is a zero-emissions source of baseload power—a combination that can’t be boasted by the likes of coal, natural gas, wind, or solar power. It’s therefore a no-brainer to deploy it outside China’s capital, whose reliance on sooty coal-fired plants has created something of public health emergency in recent years.

The real question becomes: why isn’t this option touted as the solution to more green issues more often? The environmental movement, in its infinite folly, would prefer to dwell on issues of nuclear waste or the potential for a meltdown rather than soberly analyzing the trade-offs. When looked at it dispassionately, nuclear power a lot going for it these days: new technologies are coming along that can all but eliminate the issue of what to do with waste, and proper siting can minimize the risks of catastrophe (are you listening, Germany?). And to those NIMBY-ists out there, consider this: you’re exposed to more ionizing radiation by eating a single banana than you are living within 50 miles of a nuclear plant for an entire year.

Which is why it’s so disheartening to see public support for nuclear power hitting all-time lows. The Hill reports:

A majority of Americans oppose using nuclear energy for the first time, according to a new poll. Fifty-four percent dislike nuclear energy in the Gallup survey released Friday, with 44 percent who support using it.

Pollsters found that opposition toward nuclear energy is up 11 points since last year, when 43 percent rejected using it as an energy source. Support for nuclear power is down 7 points during the same period, with 51 percent backing the resource in 2015.

This is what foolish green fear mongering has wrought, and it’s a downright shame. Nuclear power has to be a part of our future energy mix—and in fact ought to be the backbone of it. That’s not going to happen, though, if environmentalists keep peddling misinformation and encouraging the public to dread the valuable energy source.

Features Icon
show comments
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service