Anti-nuclear critics may be celebrating the possible death of commercial nuclear power. But as U.K. energy expert Benny Peiser notes this morning, less nuclear power will mean most industrialized countries will increase their dependency on fossil fuels for electricity, not reduce them. This means global warming activists’ goal may be dying a quick death.
Japan’s rebuilding alone will require a new surge in electricity — not less — as it will need high energy aluminum, steel and concrete for reconstruction. The country will probably turn to old coal and oil plants, to liquefied natural gas and to natural gas to power their high tech economic base and to aid reconstruction.
The turn away from nuclear will be felt throughout Europe. Germany itself will see a 4% increase in carbon emissions alone as a result of its new imposition of a nuclear moratorium for their seven plants, which emit zero carbon emissions. The European Union is set to call for a continent-wide moratorium to test all atomic plants for earthquake protection. Some older plants will not return on line out of fear. Even in Washington, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has called for closure of older nukes.
The loss of relatively cheap nuclear energy will put new pressure on governments to turn to the only ready-made energy answer, fossil fuels. It will mean public pressure to drill for more oil, extract more coal and explore shale gas reserves. And as gas prices spike worldwide, pressure will increase for renewed domestic oil drilling, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.
While the environmental community might be gleeful in saying “Hail, Hail Nuclear is Dead!,” what really may have died this week is the environmentalists’ dream of the imposition by fiat of a worldwide climate change pact.