Commentary | We must think critically about the energy of the future

Re: “Nuclear choice is our prerogative” | Commentary | March 28

I was heartened to learn from Alexander Kunev’s recent article that the “main drawback” of nuclear power is the potential damage to ecosystems that stems from inland plants’ excessive water demands. I guess I was confused because I was under the impression that the main drawbacks of nuclear energy were potential core meltdowns and where to safely store nuclear waste for a few millenniums. But apparently Kunev doesn’t see those things as problems.
Proponents of nuclear energy assume the world will remain both free of nuclear catastrophe and politically, socially, and economically stable because that has largely been their experience. This is an unsound and dangerous way of approaching the future.
While nuclear energy has been safer per unit time than other energy sources, it is illogical to call it “safe” when its destructive potential and future unknowns are also factored into that calculation. It is especially poor logic when that calculation is extended out for millenniums. When considered from a proper long-term perspective, nuclear power is actually incredibly dangerous.
As a simple what-if thought experiment, consider the predicament of sea-level nuclear plants and a seven-metre rise in sea levels? If that’s easy enough for the engineers to answer, then consider your favourite case of political and social turmoil and spent nuclear fuel. Then consider any unexpected and improbable event that you cannot even fathom or plan for. Repeat that thought experiment for thousands of years. That is the reality of the nuclear situation.
In the end, maybe everything will be just fine. But to be safe, I’d prefer to think critically about our energy consumption and its sources instead of selling out our future so we can maintain today’s energy levels.

Jesse Pratt
U3 Agricultural Economics

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