THE ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION
Only 3% of the world’s electrical needs are supplied by the renewables. In the US, Wind provides 7.3%, Solar provides 1.8%, Fossil fuels 62.7%, and Coal 23.5%. Most of the rest is hydroelectric that has held steady for decades. Germany, with great effort and cost, has 55.8% of the energy generated from renewables, some of which is wood that has, by the way, a larger Carbon footprint than oil. It cost Germany half a trillion Euros to accomplish this, along with 32 billion Euros a year, to be able to provide that amount of renewable energy. Germans pay the most for electricity in all of Europe, and about three times more than Americans pay for the same amount of electric power. Since wind and Solar are not consistently available, the energy would need to be stored in some form of battery to provide the energy needed when the sun is not shining, or the wind is not blowing. At the present time, the battery storage costs alone for the USA would be 23 trillion dollars annually. That is 1 trillion more than the annual gross domestic product. Hardly doable.
Renewables are just not going to do it. Besides the expense, they, too, have their adverse environmental impact. Wind turbines, for example, kill more birds than any other etiology. The larger birds are most affected, like eagles, falcons, condors, cranes, hawks, and more. Large birds have a slower reproductive cycle than the small birds and, as a consequence, are disproportionately killed to where extinction for some of the birds that are already endangered becomes a likelihood. The companies that deal in wind are not at all anxious to acknowledge their murderous tendencies towards birds, and additionally to bats and insects, much less what to do to mitigate it. They keep their windfarms under lock and key to prevent anyone from seeing the extermination of birds, bats, and insects. Where are the compassionate environmentalists?
Solar, hardly a factor at 1.8%, takes up vast swaths of land. It would take 22,000 square miles of solar panels to power the USA. That would be the entire square area of Massachusetts, Vermont, and Delaware combined.
I know that fossil fuels will eventually run out, and as a finite resource, fossil fuels could be put to much better uses than burning them. It is the source of making plastics, a variety of medications, lubricants, fertilizer, paving material, dyes, deodorant, paint, detergents, even heart valves, and hundreds of other products. To burn it is almost criminal. Although, fossil fuels, as the main and only source of global warming, seem a bit far-fetched for me to accept. What about the sun and its spots, the ocean currents, the clouds, Milankovitch cycles, El Niño, La Niña, Cow farts, vulcanos, etc.? As a physician, my thinking is scientifically oriented. Lowering CO2 levels, not the best greenhouse gas, as the only way to lower global temperature seems a bit simplistic to me as a non-climate scientist. There have been times on earth when CO2 levels were 7000 ppm. It should have been like an oven, but the earth was a frozen snowball from pole to pole. Likewise, there were times on earth when the CO2 levels were 100 ppm. It should have been an ice age, but polar bears were frolicking in lush green forests north of the Arctic circle, and Eric the Red was growing beans in Greenland. If that is not true, why would there be skeletal remains of bears and saber-tooth tigers, and billions of gallons of oil under the Arctic permafrost?
I am also not for enriching other countries, especially our enemies, by buying their oil. But I do question the need to lower CO2 levels quickly, with devastating economic consequences to the poorer nations, especially Africa, which would devastate their economy and starve thousands of Africans. We have time and options that do not cause economic disaster.
I hope that lowering CO2 levels will affect global temperature, as climate scientists predict. Keep in mind that the concept of lowering CO2 and influencing the global temperature is just a theory that has not been proven. Association does not mean causation. No one has shown that a lower level of CO2 will lower the temperature and add ice to the Arctic ice shelf. No climate scientist has any idea what will really happen, but I do think our air quality will get better, and there will be fewer people dying of emphysema and other chronic lung conditions. If it lowers global temperatures, that would be a good thing also.
But how do we lower CO2 levels? We must reduce our carbon footprint. It is obvious to all but the hardcore environmentalists that renewable energy will not reduce the carbon footprint. It is not affordable; it is not even logistically possible. Even Germany, who has done more at an enormous cost to get barely above 50% from renewables, still has to use wood to do so. A source of clean energy is available and has been available for decades. Nuclear Energy!
Oh! But nuclear energy is so dangerous. Really? How many people have died from nuclear accidents? In the last 75 years, the timespan of our nuclear age, there have been 44 deaths directly attributable to radiation accidents! The most lethal so far was Chernobyl, with 28 deaths. There are estimates of a potential 5000 cancer-related deaths. But primarily thyroid cancers have appeared, which usually are curable and have not caused any deaths. There were more deaths (600) in Fukushima from stress, related to the evacuation of old people, than there were from radiation, which was only one person who died of lung cancer along with three non- radiation deaths from industrial accidents. Nuclear power stations are not nuclear bombs. Nuclear bombs are a complex device that nuclear fuel rods do not even approach in the ability to explode. The bomb is an entirely different animal that can and has killed thousands. The exact death toll of Nagasaki and Hiroshima will never be known. Estimates are that 80,000 in Hiroshima and 40,000 in Nagasaki died instantly, with an additional 70,000 dying later of illnesses caused by the bomb such as cancer. The overall death toll would be close to 200,000.
When a nuclear power plant has a meltdown, the worst-case scenario, the numbers are considerably smaller; Fukushima had only one death, for example. The better way to compare the risks of all forms of energy sources is to look at deaths per terawatt hour. A Town of 27,000 people would consume one terawatt hour of energy in one year. Nuclear power is by far the safest and cleanest form of energy!
What about the radioactive waste produced by the nuclear power plant? That waste will be there for a thousand years. The typical 1,000-megawatt nuclear power station that produces the energy need of a million people produces three cubic meters of waste a year. Compare that to a 1000 megawatt coal power plant that produces 300,000 tons of ash and 6,000,000 tons of CO2 every year.
France recycles its nuclear waste, which produces more electricity and reduces the volume of the fuel rods. The spent fuel rods do eventually have to be stored, usually mixed with glass and buried in deep tunnels that are then sealed. Speaking of France, they have used nuclear energy since 1974, and 75% of their electricity comes from nuclear power. They produce so much electrical power that they sell large amounts of it to neighboring states and still have the cheapest electricity in the world. They have had 12 accidents over a 50-year time span with no deaths and no permanent shutdowns.
(I am not counting my wife’s loss of her sense of smell when we bicycled around the Saint-Laurent Nuclear Power Generating Plant of the Loire Valley in 2001. After that trip, she could never smell again!)
It is clear to me that nuclear energy is the ideal choice to become our main source of power because it is safe, not just safe – very safe, compared to all other means of generating energy, and it is cheap. I believe the population if they were properly educated, would accept nuclear power. What about fossil fuels? If one counts accidental deaths and adds pollution deaths, it is a staggering 300,000 per year.
In my experience, environmentalists as a group are educated and above-average IQ people. Most of them are far left of center politically. Why they reject nuclear energy is a mystery to me. Is there another motive for their obviously illogical stance? Could there be a more sinister reason? They have done a pretty good hatchet job on nuclear energy as being evil and convincing the population that human-made CO2 is the primary cause of global warming. With our next election, we may get a taste of the “Green New Deal” to lower CO2 levels. It will create societal stresses that could destroy our economy, set back our way of life, and usurp many of our freedoms. COVID-19 was a good trial run of what a crisis does. Look how quickly it destroyed our economy, set back our lifestyle, and took away many of our freedoms.
Nuclear would provide clean and cheap energy. The environmentalists and most of the left-leaning population have made it abundantly clear that they do not want nuclear energy, based on false assumptions that ignore the science and the evidence.
Why is the population, including the environmentalists, so confused about the safety of nuclear energy? Renewables can not provide the energy we need. That is a fact that has been proven by all the rolling blackouts we have had, and by countries that have really tried to replace fossil fuels and eliminate nuclear energy, such as Germany, and still cannot satisfy the electricity needs. There are behind the scenes events that could explain the discrepancy. The Brown dynasty of Pat Brown, California governor from 1959 to 1967, then his son Jerry Brown from 1975 to 1983, and finally Kathleen Brown, Jerry’s sister, had major impacts on energy policy. The family had significant holding in Indonesian oil companies, as well as oil and gas producing real estate in the US and Mexico. Jerry Brown had much to do with the closure of nuclear power plants in California, even appearing and speaking in anti-nuclear rallies, and appointing regulators that were hostile to nuclear power, as well as constructing pipelines which would bring oil to California. To a lesser extent, the oil multi-billionaire, Tom Steyer, campaigned against nuclear energy in Arizona, while at the same time funding renewable proponents like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Renewables can’t provide enough electricity, and nuclear is being eliminated, leaving fossil fuel as the only option. And guess who has that commodity for sale? Isn’t that called a conflict of interest?
But is there another explanation? Perhaps CO2 levels are not the entire motivation for their stubborn resistance. The utopia that many of these idealogue environmentalists have in mind requires fewer people, a simpler life, smaller all-electric cars, more bicycles, no jets crisscrossing the sky, less mobility of people, no meat (animals produce Methane – a greenhouse gas), a more communal life housed in big cities with large skyscrapers, eliminating suburban sprawl, which would be cheaper than millions of one-family homes, making energy easier to distribute, making commuting a thing of the past, and taking control of large groups of humans effortlessly. These are not my thoughts. You can find them in AOC’s ramblings, in Al Gore’s book, An Inconvenient Truth, and in the Socialist blueprint for our nation. There would be a top-down government that controls most aspects of daily activity, thought, education, and money.
Social Democrats like AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris dream of that. They have “vast experience” in Socialist economics. Bernie administered Burlington, Vermont as mayor for several terms, Kamala was the Attorney General of California (a Socialistic wannabe), and AOC could add all her experience as a Manhatten bartender! I do not question that they would do it better than has been done by all the other countries that have tried Socialism and failed, like India, England, Israel, Venezuela, and above all, Russia, and all the Russian client countries, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Chechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, East Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Albania, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are, by the way, have Capitalist governments, according to all economists, even though they are heavily invested in welfare.
Our capable and brilliant Social Democrats control a presidential candidate who has already been pulled to the left by them and will be further manipulated as his cognitive functions continue to wain. Why would they want nuclear energy that could easily and cheaply replace oil? The CO2 gig has worked well so far. It will serve adequately as a trigger for our next crisis. Why change? That might just spoil some well thought out plans.
My parents were Socialists in their youth but discovered their flaws quickly when they lived in the Socialist worker’s paradise, the Soviet Socialist Republic, but ran away before they too were slated to join the millions who died in the Gulags. I learned from them how Socialists think. Eliminating fossil fuels rapidly as proposed by the “Green New Deal,” would create a crisis. In the words of Rahm Emanuel, former Major of Chicago, “Never let a good crisis go to waste!” Ah, but that sounds too conspiratorial and paranoid, doesn’t it?
Yet such fervor against nuclear energy, with the evidence so clear and convincing, there must be another explanation for environmentalism’s opposition. I either overestimated their intelligence, or their education is substandard, or my conspiracy theory may just be right. Even a Paranoiac is right once in a while.