It’s amazing how the emotion of fear will make us totally illogical. … Fear that global warming will cause rising waters and pestilence [can] cloud one’s thinking, obscuring the true facts of past history, past CO2 concentrations, and the sun’s being a variable star by 0.5 percent.
Fear has led many to believe the “peak oil” theory [that] oil production has reached its peak. Information as to how many wells are now being adiabatically refilled seems lost. Drilling … in certain areas known to have oil has not been approved because of fear of hurting that environment.
One of the worst fears seems to come directly from nuclear-energy fission and fusion. Nuclear fission has been providing power for the past 50 years. In 2004, fission nuclear power provided 6.5 percent of the world’s energy and 15.7 percent of the world’s electricity (Wikipedia). … Nuclear fuel contains at least 10 million times more useable energy than chemical fuel.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reports at least 439 fission reactors in operation. Fission provides 20 percent of the electricity consumed by the United States (France has 80 percent).
But fear of nuclear accident, radiation, nuclear proliferation and nuclear-waste production has almost halted new plant production. The 1979 Three Mile Island and 1986 Chernobyl disasters played right into everyone’s fears. But [following] Chernobyl, the problematic containment [has] been addressed in all new fission facilities without any further problems.
In a nutshell:
1) Only one death in half a century from direct result of radiation exposure from the generation of atomic power. (In the last 50 years there have been 83,000 American deaths from coal mining accidents and premature black-lung disease.)
2) Per the Department of Labor, over the last 50 years America has sustained at least 1,000 deaths and 50,000 debilitating injuries from oil and gas drilling.
3) [There were] zero casualties in America’s worst nuclear accident—Three Mile Island.
4) A total of 104 U.S. nuclear-power facilities have produced no link to cancer rates (16 types) for those living in their shadows (National Cancer Institute). …
Because of its sensationalism, American pop culture has seized on the idea of nuclear mutation in animals and humans … [while] people easily overlook all the injuries and pollution caused by mining waste, runoff, acid rain, dams, gas discharges and windmills.
Bottom line: Even if you believe that CO2 is killing the planet—despite its necessity for photosynthesis for every living plant—fission only generates a fraction of the CO2 that coal- and gas-fired electricity does. It seems the answer for all our fuel needs is sitting there staring us in the face, but fear has disabled us.
— Kevin Roeten