James Lovelock’s Latest Book, Renewable Garbage, Endorses Nuclear Energy

On the front page of the World Nuclear Association website, there is prominently a quote from what some consider the world’s leading ecologist and among the world’s leading scientists, Dr. James Lovelock:

“There is no reasonable alternative to nuclear energy if we are to preserve civilization.”
– James Lovelock, a prominent global leader in developing environmental awareness

At the age of eighty-six, Dr. Lovelock has just published his fourth book, The Revenge of Gaia (Penguin Books, 2006). “Gaia” is Dr. Lovelock’s belief that the Earth is an evolved organism, not just a big piece of rock on which we all live. Through his book, Lovelock is referring to Gaia, when he was discussing our third planet from the Sun. His latest book is a must-read for anyone following the renaissance in nuclear energy. Environmentalists will not read this book. Perhaps their superiors forbid them to read this book. Those environmentalists who carefully read Lovelock’s latest book might become nuclear lobbyists, if they shower, shave their hair, and get a little active. Chapter Five, “The Sources of Energy,” will immediately deconstruct every absurd argument put forward by naive and anti-nuclear movements around the world.

Dr. Lovelock’s credentials and accomplishments are light years ahead of those of any environmental tongue that embraces the “green” movement. More than any person alive, Lovelock is first and foremost a giant of the environmental movement on Earth. Since 1974, Lovelock has been a Fellow of the Royal Society. Since 1994, he has been an Honorary Visiting Fellow of the University of Oxford’s Green College. New Scientist called him “one of the greatest thinkers of our time.” The London Observer called him “one of the most influential figures in the environmental movement.” In 2003, he was named a Companion of Honor by Her Majesty. Prospect Magazine named Dr. Lovelock in September 2005 “one of the world’s 100 best global public thinkers.”

How does Dr. Lovelock respond to the nuclear waste issue? He writes: “I have publicly offered to accept all the high-level waste produced in one year from a nuclear power plant for deposit on my little plot of land; it will occupy an area of ​​about a cubic meter in size and fit securely into a concrete pit, and I will use the heat from its decaying radioactive elements to heat my house …and it would be a waste not to use it. More importantly, it wouldn’t pose a danger to me, my family, or the wildlife.” That should enlighten the polemicists who argue against the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

Chapter 5, “Energy Sources,” answers succinctly and convincingly every silly “theory” about renewables promoted by the “green” movement. Let’s take biomass, which makes sense for any interested citizen. Lovelock even agrees with biomass theory, writing, “If used reasonably and on a modest scale, burning wood or agricultural waste for heating or energy is not a threat to Gaia.” Note that he amended his statement with “rational” and “modest”. In short, he explains why biomass will not become a leading source of energy, “Biofuels are particularly dangerous because they are very easy to grow as an alternative to fossil fuels; they will then demand a lot more land or ocean than Gaia can afford… We’ve already taken more than Half of the land is produced to grow food for ourselves. How can we expect Gaia to run the land if we try to take over the rest of the land to produce fuel?” He added movingly, “Just imagine that we tried to run our current civilization on crops grown specifically for fuel, like woodlands, and seed fields.” Oil, etc. These are ‘biofuels’, the highly acclaimed renewable energy source… We would need the land area of ​​several planets just to grow biofuels.”

Wind energy is also bombarded. For environmentalists like Amory Lovins, who believe that “wind farms” will become an important source of energy, they are full of hot air. According to a 2004 Royal Society of Engineers report, European onshore wind power is two and a half times, and offshore wind more than three times, more expensive per kilowatt-hour than gas or nuclear power. Denmark, which has been a pioneer in wind farms, regrets the decision. Nils Gram of the Danish Confederation of Industries said, “In green terms, windmills are wrong and economically meaningless…Many of us thought wind was the 100 per cent solution for the future, but we were wrong. All of our energy needs account for it is a solution Only 3 percent.” Lovelock wrote: “To supply the UK with its current electricity needs, it would require 276,000 wind generators, about three per square mile, if national parks and urban, suburban and industrial areas are excluded… At best, power is available from wind turbines only at 25 percent a hundred of the time.” German environmentalists, who recently led the way in shipping wind energy, should reconsider. “The most recent report from Germany put wind energy as available only 16 percent of the time,” Lovelock wrote.

Sure, solar power should be the answer, right? Wrong – wrong – wronged! Lovelock wrote that “solar cells are not yet suitable for powering homes or workplaces, mostly because they are too expensive, despite more than thirty years of development. At the Center for Alternative Technology in Wales, there is a demo house with a roof made almost entirely of silicon photovoltaic cells.In summer it saves about three kilowatts of electricity, but the installation cost was comparable to the house itself, and the life expectancy of the cells is about ten years.Sunlight, like wind, is intermittent and, without efficient storage, would be an inconvenient source of energy in latitudes this is “.

Solar and wind power were just two of the many energy sources Lovelock sends to the trash. Wave and tidal energy, hydroelectricity, hydrogen, fusion energy, coal, oil and natural gas suffer similar consequences under the scientific microscope of Dr. Lovelock. Geothermal energy has partial endorsement, but Lovelock writes, “Unfortunately there are a few places where it is free. Iceland is one of them, and it derives a large part of its energy needs from this source.” How many of you know that while natural gas can cut carbon dioxide emissions in half, if it is used everywhere, some natural gas seeps into the air before it burns? According to the Chemical Industry Association (2004) report, this accounts for about 2 to 4 percent of the gas used. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a greenhouse gas 24 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

Fusion sounded great in theory, but when I discussed it with Dr. Fred Begay, at Los Alamos National Laboratories, last November, he told me it could take fifty years to develop, if it could be developed as an energy source. Lovelock explains in his book why Fusion Energy is great, but he made one point, which frustrates nuclear physicists (which ecologists won’t even talk about), “…nuclear fusion of hydrogen produces millions of times more energy than just combusting it, but to start a strong reaction requires Some means of heating hydrogen to 150 million degrees. How exactly do you heat something on Earth to 150 million degrees, when the temperature of the Sun’s core is just over 100 million degrees? Again, great theory and work is being done in the field to find a solution sometime this century, but this technology is still in its incubation stage.

The most shocking and disturbing discussion during Lovelock’s book was the problem of carbon dioxide emissions. The burning question these days is “what” to do with nuclear waste. Lovelock thinks we should start worrying about what to do about waste carbon dioxide emissions, “The annual global production of carbon dioxide is 27,000 million tons. If that much is frozen in solid carbon dioxide at -80 degrees Celsius, That would be one mountain a mile high and twelve miles in circumference. And that much every year cannot be sequestered so quickly—maybe not for twenty years from now.” “If only we had developed and installed equipment for removing carbon dioxide from power plants and industry fifty years ago, we would now have problems that can be overcome,” he added. Another problem with carbon dioxide should give you nightmares or reach for a gas mask. According to Dr. Lovelock, carbon dioxide “has a complex removal process with an effective residence time of fifty to one hundred years. Almost half of the carbon dioxide we have added so far to the air remains there.” This means that the carbon dioxide we add to our air pollution will still be breathed in by our children, our grandchildren and their children. How’s that for a legacy?

James Lovelock’s conclusion about nuclear energy

How does James Lovelock feel about nuclear power? “I believe that nuclear energy is the only source of energy that will meet our demands and yet not pose a threat to Gaia and interfere with its ability to maintain a comfortable climate and atmosphere composition. This is mainly because nuclear reactions are millions of times more active than chemical reactions. Most of the energy available from A chemical reaction, such as burning carbon in oxygen, is about nine kilowatt-hours per kilogram. The nuclear fusion of hydrogen atoms to form helium gives several million times more, and the energy from splitting uranium is still greater. “

With his book, Lovelock reminds us that nuclear power is the only answer for this century, “We need zero-emissions energy sources right away, and there is no serious competitor to nuclear fission.”

Lovelock deals with Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, the nuclear tests in the 1960s, and many other events over the past 50 years as nuclear power developed. If you’re wondering about radiation and cancer, Lovelock answers that too. You can jump in, after reading those pages, and start faxing them to every environmental group you can contact. This may be the most definitive analysis of the disconnect between the media and the green over nuclear power and its impact on our health I’ve ever read. Lovelock concludes that “the persistent distortion of the truth about the health risks of nuclear power should make us question whether other statements about nuclear power are equally flawed.”

One of the specific questions that puzzled me for several years was this: How many people die to produce each of our energy sources? The table below answered this question. The comparative safety of different energy sources comes from the Paul Scherer Institute in Switzerland in a 2001 report, which Lovelock reproduced on page 102 of his book. The institute examined all the world’s large-scale energy sources and compared them against their safety records. The number of deaths was expressed in terms of terawatt-years of energy made, between 1970 and 1992. A terawatt year (TTY) is one million watts of electricity produced and used continuously throughout the year.

Fuel Fatalities Who Deaths per TTY
Coal 6400 Workers 342
Hydro 4000 Public 883
Natural Gas 1200 Workers and Public 85
Nuclear 31 Workers 8

Lovelock is not only in favor of nuclear power, as an idle idea. He is passionate about nuclear power as a life-saving measure, “My strong pleas for nuclear power come from a growing sense that we have little time left to install a reliable and safe source of electricity…the consideration is time; we have nuclear power now, and new nuclear construction must begin immediately. All alternatives, including fusion energy, require decades of development before they can be used on a scale that would significantly reduce emissions.”

He concludes his masterpiece for the fifth chapter of The Revenge of Gaia by writing:

“Meanwhile, in the climate centers of the world, the barometer keeps regressing and tells us the imminent danger of a climatic storm the intensity of which the Earth has not withstand for fifty-five million years. But in the cities the party goes on; how long before reality enters our minds?”

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