Climate Change

Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time. Funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions like solar, wind and geothermal energy of essential resources.



Far from "solving global warming," atomic energy is too risky to operate in a destabilized climate

In response to the freakishness of historic floods on the Missouri River in Nebraska threatening the Fort Calhoun and Cooper atomic reactors simultaneous to a historic wildfire in New Mexcio coming dangerously close to tens of thousands of 55 gallon barrels of plutonium-contaminated wastes, Beyond Nuclear has published a new fact sheet entitled "Far from 'solving global warming,' atomic energy is too risky to operate in a destabilized climate."


Dr. Michio Kaku discusses extreme weather and radioactive risks

Dr. Michio Kaku (pictured left), a professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York, a radio host, and popular t.v. personality who has been interviewed extensively by national news media regarding the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, has written "United States Hit With a Triple Nuclear Threat - How Dangerous is it?" and "Preparing for the 100 Year Storm and Wondering if the Three Simultaneous Nuclear Crises are an Accident?". Kaku questions whether global climate change could account for the severe weather extremes currently threatening nuclear facilities simultaneously -- historic floods on the Missouri River putting the Fort Calhoun and Cooper atomic reactors in Nebraska at risk; historic wildfires in New Mexico that nearly overtook the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab. He warns that "we might have more 'unprecedented' nuclear crises due to historically bizarre weather patterns." Far from solving the climate crisis, as the nuclear industry would like everyone to think, nuclear power is too risky and unsafe to operate in a climate crisis.


"Nuclear power is too risky to operate in a destabilized climate"

In an online post entitled "Flooded Nebraska nuclear plant raises broader disaster fears," Steve Hargreaves at CNN Money has quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps on the growing risks to nuclear power plants from severe weather events caused by the climate crisis. The story reports:

"With the vast majority of the world's climate scientists predicting more extreme weather events in the years ahead as the planet warms, activists are calling for the at-risk plants to be shut or, at the very least, strongly reinforced.

'Each one has its own pathway to disaster,' said Kevin Kamps, an activist at the watchdog group Beyond Nuclear. 'Nuclear power is too risky to operate in a destabilized climate. We think it should be phased out.'...

...The Missouri River is flooding as a result of a particularly snowy winter in Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas, as well as heavy spring rains.

Kamps brought up the possibility of any one of the half-dozen dams upstream from the plant failing, calling that event a 'nightmare' scenario that would push the water well past the 1,014-foot level the facility was built to withstand.

In that event, power to the plant from either its grid connection or back-up diesel generators could be lost, resulting in an inability to circulate water to keep either the reactor core or the spent fuel pool cool, said Kamps."

Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet, "Routine Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants in the United States: What Are the Dangers?," contains a map showing the locations of the 104 operating atomic reactors in the U.S. Dozens of reactors are located on rivers, potentially at risk from floods. Dozens of reactors are on the sea coasts, potentially at risk from hurricanes or storm surges -- and, eventually, from rising sea levels. And dozens of inland reactors, including those on the Great Lakes (and there are an additional 20 reactors on the Canada-side of the Great Lakes), are at risk from such natural disasters as tornadoes -- potentially exposing the drinking water supply for 40 million people to catastrophic radioactive contamination. Beyond Nuclear's backbgrounder, "Climate Chaos and Nuclear Power," prepared in Feb. 2008, shows clearly that nuclear power is not safe in an ever worsening climate crisis.


"Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time"

Scientific American has re-posted E-The Environmental Magazine's Earth Talk blog post entitled "As the World Reconsiders Nuclear Energy, the U.S. Remains Committed to Its Expansion," which quotes Beyond Nuclear and our board member Karl Grossman. The post reports:

"...According to investigative journalist Karl Grossman, Obama changed his tune on nuclear as soon as he took office, “talking about ‘safe, clean nuclear power’ and push[ing] for multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies for the construction of new nuclear plants.” Right away, Grossman says, Obama brought in nuclear advocate Steven Chu as energy secretary, and two White House aides that had been “deeply involved with…the utility operating more nuclear power plants than any other in the U.S., Exelon.”

...But just because nuclear energy isn’t a fossil fuel doesn’t make it green, given the ongoing risk of radioactivity. Also, reports the non-profit Beyond Nuclear, “Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time…funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions, like solar, wind and geothermal energy, of essential resources.”


UN study shows renewables can provide 80% of energy needs

Close to 80 percent of the world‘s energy supply could be met by renewables by mid-century if backed by the right enabling public policies, according to a new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released on May 9. The report noted that it is the absence of political will, not renewable resources, that can hinder progress: "it is not the availability of the resource, but the public policies that will either expand or constrain renewable energy development over the coming decades," according to Ramon Pichs, Co-Chair of the Working Group III. The 1,000+-page study looked at direct wind energy, solar energy;bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower and ocean energy and ran more than 164 different scenarios. It ruled out nuclear energy as cheaper way of cutting greenhouse gases stating that "renewables will contribute more to a low carbon energy supply by 2050 than nuclear power or fossil fuels using carbon capture and storage. Read the press release and the full report.