Scientists sign nuclear entreaty

15 December 2014

More than 60 leading scientists are urging environmentalists to set aside their preconceptions about nuclear power.

In an open letter, they express their support for a recent article titled Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation.

They wrote that this publication provides "strong evidence for the need to accept a substantial role for advance nuclear power systems with complete fuel recycling" as part of a range of sustainable energy technologies. These should include "appropriate use" of renewables, energy storage and energy efficiency.

"Much as leading climate scientists have recently advocated the development of safe, next-generation nuclear energy systems to combat global climate change ... we entreat the conservation and environmental community to weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is 'green'."

The paper was written by Barry Brook, chair of environmental sustainability at the University of Tasmania, and Corey Bradshaw, Hubert Wilkins chair of climate change at the University of Adelaide in the journal Conservation Biology.

This assesses the land use, emissions, climate, and cost implications of three previously published but contrasting "storylines" for future energy production. It then uses a multi-criteria decision-making analysis to rank seven electricity-generation sources - coal, gas, nuclear, biomass, hydro, wind, and solar - based on costs and benefits. It also tests the sensitivity of their rankings to bias stemming from philosophical ideals. Irrespective of weightings, they found that nuclear and wind energy had the highest benefit-to-cost ratio.

Next-generation nuclear power and related technologies, based on modular systems with full fuel recycling and inherent safety, "hold substantial yet largely unrecognized prospects" as a replacement for fossil fuels, Brook and Bradshaw wrote. But nuclear power still has an "undeservedly poor reputation" in the environmental community.

The letter, with its list of signatories, is published on the conservation blogs ConservationBytes and Brave New Climate.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News