US50 -- While crossing the Nevada desert, we saw the wasteland of the Bush energy policy's dreams. "The lonelinest highway in America," US50, bisects tens of millions of acres taken from native Americans years ago. Today, that wasteland is used to store nuclear waste, among other things. Without this easy waste disposal option, American energy policy suddenly becomes more expensive. With it, nuclear reactors can come online in the knowledge that hazardous waste has a happy hunting ground.
The emotional heat about nuclear power in the States has faded. Very quietly, nuclear power is on its way back in the U.S. and around the world. Attitudes have shifted in Europe too. A new nuclear power plant is under construction in Finland. Interest in reactors is growing in Britain, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovokia, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, reports Steven Taub of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Taub puts the trend down to a realisation that global warming is real and that fossil-fuel carbon emissions need to reduce if governments are to meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Several of the world's eminent environmentalists now embrace nuclear power. Stewart Brand writes in the current MIT Technology Review, "The only technology ready to ... stop the carbon dioxide loading of the atmosphere is nuclear power". James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, which regards the earth as a single, living organism, has started flatly that "nuclear power is the only green solution". Even Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore has spoken up for nukes.
They can rest at night knowing the American desert southwest contains hundreds of millions of unarable acreage well-removed from back yards and in the control of the US government. That government is willing to be paid to handle the nuclear waste of a generation of users.
Geoffrey Colvin -- "Nuclear power is back--not a moment too soon" in Fortune, May 30, 2005.
Photo from Flickr photoset "Westward HO!"