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We're Playing Nuclear Roulette

We're Playing Nuclear Roulette

By David Swanson
December 5, 2011

The International Forum on Globalization has published the most concise, useful, readable, and damning denunciation of nuclear technology I've seen. And it's available for free as a PDF right here:

Nuclear Roulette: The Case Against a "Nuclear Renaissance"

Nuclear energy suffers from the following drawbacks:

The energy put into mining, processing, and shipping uranium, plant construction, operation, and decommissioning is roughly equal to the energy a nuclear plant can produce in its lifetime. In other words, nuclear energy does not add any net energy.

Not counted in that calculation is the energy needed to store nuclear waste for hundreds of thousands of years.

Also not counted is any mitigation of the relatively routine damage done to the environment, including human health, at each stage of the process. We are giving our children cancer at an astonishing pace, through each stage from mining to operation, and through additional steps including the use of depleted uranium weapons.

Also not counted is the cost of attempting to ensure that nuclear energy states do not become nuclear weapon states (or non-state actors).

Nuclear energy is not an alternative to energies that increase global warming, because nuclear increases global warming. When high-grade uranium runs out, nuclear will be worse for CO2 emissions than burning fossil fuels. And as global warming advances, nuclear becomes even less efficient as reactors must shut down to avoid overheating.

The holy "marketplace" will not create or sustain a single nuclear plant. The good ol' tax payers are on the tab to eat the financial losses and cover the costs of major disasters. The meltdown of a single reactor in the U.S. (many of them built by GE in the same manner as the Fukushima plant in Japan) could irradiate an area the size of Pennsylvania.

Nuclear disasters are covered up (corporate newspapers still regularly claim nobody died at Three Mile Island) and near misses not discussed, in part because GE owns NBC while until 2000 Westinghouse owned CBS.

Nuclear is far less efficient when all factors are considered than other available energy sources, including wind, solar, wave, hydroelectric, and geothermal. Looking good in comparison with coal is a qualification that can still kill us.

Here in Virginia the government has just reopened a nuclear plant on a fault where it was damaged and shut down by an earthquake in August. Earhquakes have been increasing in frequency dramatically, thereby increasing the danger of nuclear catastrophe.

Also here in Virginia the government is trying to charge people for producing electricity from solar and trying to lift a ban on uranium mining, with catastrophy not just risked but almost guaranteed.

It doesn't have to go this way. These choices are not driven by necessity, but by greed, corruption, and recklessness.

Share the above linked PDF with everyone you can. It's laid out like an argument and would make perfect preparation for a debate on nuclear energy. The author, Gar Smith, deserves huge credit. Please put it to good use.


David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online activist organization

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