In a rather bland report, NYTimes reporter Felicity Barringer [LINK] says some long-time "environmentalists" are starting to accept the possibility that using nuclear power might be a viable option. While I accept that waste generation and storage/disposal are important problems that still haven't been adequately solved, I have long been in the pro-nuclear power camp. The public at large has serious issues with anything "nuclear" or "radioactive," but it seems like that might have something to do with growing up in a world in which they were constantly threatened with nuclear annihilation. Duck and cover, anyone?
Today we have to make decisions with imperfect knowledge and technology. On the one hand we know that fossil fuels are starting to run low (by the way, I still like "Out of Gas", see previous post) and we also know that using them is contributing to a warming planet. On the other hand, we are afraid of using nuclear technology because it can be used for unfriendly purposes and we don't have a very good way to take care of the waste. Also, nuclear fission is not really a renewable energy source, unless we can mine Uranium out of Earth's core. What do we do? Should we abandon both and hope that somehow other renewable energy sources are quickly improved? I'd say that is not the best solution. Let's face up to the facts, and say that the dangers posed by nuclear power right now are far smaller than those posed by fossil fuels or a global energy crisis. With that decision, the immediate future should rely heavily on nuclear fission, with at least one eye toward the future, which should include nuclear fusion along with renewable energy sources (solar, wind, etc.). Or at least that's how it seems to me.