Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Nuclear Exchange in the Guardian

Jean Lambert writes in the Guardian may 25:

How can the government justify plans for a nuclear future (Report, May 24) when such plants will be unable to operate, without breaking environmental laws, if the climate-change crisis continues at the current rate?

Nuclear power plants source enormous amounts of cool water from rivers and reservoirs to keep operations at safe temperatures. With soaring global temperatures, however, the water will simply be too warm to use, leaving power stations with little choice but to restrict output or fall foul of environmental practice.

The past few years have seen large numbers of nuclear power plants across Europe operating at reduced capacity or brought to a halt because of hot summers. With the impending climate crisis this looks set to continue and will no doubt bring energy production to a standstill.It makes more sense to focus on energy efficiency and capture tide and wind power than to build nuclear power stations with their feet in the water. Given that climate change is a historic problem we shouldn't even be thinking about leaving the problem of nuclear waste to future generations.

Jean Lambert

To which a life- long liberal replies:

Jean Lambert (Letters, May 25) typifies the ignorant nonsense that Greens and others display when arguing against nuclear power. No nuclear power station in this country uses river water or reservoirs; all use sea water. This is in contrast to most coal- and oil-fired power stations in the UK, which are located inland. Nuclear, oil, gas and coal power stations discharge roughly equal amounts of heat. In countries significantly hotter than the UK such power stations operate, many inland. To suggest that they could not in the UK is patent nonsense.
JL Summers

I reply:

JL Summers (Letters, May 26th) typifies the belief of most conservative zealots* that ad hominem insults are an acceptable substitute for reasonable discussion. In future, nuclear power stations must be sited inland, because of sea level rise due to global heating. Therefore they will have to draw there cooling water from rivers. But diminished rainfall due to aforementioned global heating will mean that we cannot rely on plentiful supplies of river water. So Jean Lambert's point still stands.

Dr Richard Lawson
* a search shows that he is probably a member of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, which is a bit alarming, since the NII should have thought about these matters in great depth already.

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