Nuclear Energy Versus Fossil Fuels

Nuclear power is garnering an increasing amount of attention as a climate-friendly energy alternative to greenhouse gas (GHG) intensive fossil fuels.  Emissions-free nuclear energy is both safe and clean and as such it is a logical alternative to fossil fuels. Nuclear also generates a million times more energy per atom than the combustion of fossil fuels. The Problem with Fossil Fuels Most of our serious and worsening environmental problems are related to the burning of fossil fuels. So it is not overly facile to suggest that ending fossil fuels is the answer,  A total of 70 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere today...

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Fact Check Reveals Nuclear Energy is Safe and Clean but not Renewable

Hyperbole bordering on hysteria has misinformed the debate about nuclear energy and obscured the facts. We have decades of data that clearly indicate nuclear is both safe and clean. The dangers have been wildly exaggerated and solutions to legitimate concerns like waste management have not received the attention they deserve.  What are the Dangers of Nuclear Power? The process of generating nuclear energy creates mutagenic gamma rays, which are a penetrating form of electromagnetic radiation that damage tissue and ionizes DNA. These high-energy photons must be contained or shielded by the design of the reactor and waste storage facilities to...

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Types of Nuclear Energy: Where We Were and Where We are Today

To determine the trajectory of nuclear power we need to appreciate where we have been and where we are now. We cannot understand the issues surrounding nuclear energy without knowing something about its history, who is using it, how it works, and the basics of different reactor designs. At the dawn of the atomic age, nuclear energy was touted as a source of almost magical wonders, however, over the last 30 years, it has fallen into disrepute. More recently we are seeing a resurgence of interest in nuclear power in response to the burgeoning demand for clean and reliable electricity....

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Despite the Headlines, 2021 Was A Year Full of Environmental Victories

You cannot be faulted for failing to notice the long list of environmental wins that occurred in 2021.  Good news stories do not have the sensationalistic allure of dramatic prophecies of doom, but once you get past the dire headlines, there is a litany of overlooked achievements that tangibly illustrate progress. Environmental successes are easily overlooked in a world ravaged by climate change, biodiversity loss, an ongoing global pandemic and attacks against democracy. We are bombarded with apocalyptic predictions that seem to celebrate defeatism, however, contrary to the prognostications of the ubiquitous prophets of doom, we still have time to act. ...

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Fossil Fuel Pollution: Disinformation and Political Corruption

The fossil fuel industry is the primary driver of climate change, they pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink, they also subvert democracy and deceive people with clever disinformation campaigns.  The spill off the coast of Huntington Beach in California is another tangible reminder of the destructive impact of fossil fuels. This pipeline breach may not equal the scale of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska or the ongoing toll on wildlife from BP's Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, but it has destroyed sensitive wetlands and killed thousands of fish and birds.  Thousands of...

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Keystone XL Pipeline Finally Cancelled and Others Will Follow

The  Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline is dead. This is yet another signal that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of fossil fuels. In the last decade, KXL has died and been resurrected more times than a videogame avatar. It has been a long and winding road but the combination of political leadership, environmental advocacy, and market forces have killed the pipeline, this time for good. Now that the final nail has been banged into the zombie pipeline's coffin, other pipelines are in the crosshairs. The KXL saga finally came to an end on June 6, when the developer of the...

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Big Oil’s Future Grim as Activist Investors and the Courts Demand Climate Action

The ground underneath the fossil fuel industry is shifting. Shareholders and the courts are challenging some of the world's biggest oil and gas companies for failing to act on climate change. No single day speaks more poignantly to the declining fortunes of the industry than Wednesday, May 26th. On this day three of the world’s biggest publicly traded companies suffered grievous blows that may prove to be the opening salvos of a war they are destined to lose.  Bill McKibben described these events as "cataclysmic" and an "utterly crushing day for Big Oil."  Bloomberg's Julian Lee described it as "The...

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Fossil Fuels Kill Millions Every Year

Fossil fuels are deadly, both in terms of the air pollution they generate and the climate impacts they augur. Fine particulate matter from the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for millions of deaths each year and climate change imperils hundreds of millions more.  Reports have been circulating about the deadly link between fossil fuels and air pollution for years. A 2012 study concluded that air pollution from fossil fuels was contributing to the deaths of more than 5 million people every year. The most recent data suggests the mortality rate from fossil fuel pollution is more than twice previous estimates. A recent study published in...

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Banks are Backing Away from Fossil Fuels and Embracing Sustainability

Major banks have been slow to act but it appears as thought they are moving away from dirty energy. Big lending institutions have have pledged to support emissions reductions consistent with the Paris Climate agreement, however, until recently their words have not matched their deeds.   Banks have been involved with sustainability for years and many have set sustainability investment goals. Almost ten years ago Bank of America and Wells Fargo each committed $50 billion for financing sustainable initiatives and green transport. In 2015 Citigroup announced that they would invest 150 billion in sustainability.  Valerie Smith, director of corporate sustainability at...

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Economics Fuel Renewable Energy Growth

Global renewable energy capacity set a record last year and 2021 is expected to be even better.  Renewables are already the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, they currently supply more than a quarter of global electricity production and they are on track to be the largest source of electricity in the world by 2025.   Renewable energy has experienced prodigious growth that has consistently outpaced expectations. A recent Ember and Agora Energiewende report indicates that in Europe renewable energy and wind have almost doubled in the last five years.  Globally, solar installations have tripled in the last decade according to an IHS Markit...

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