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And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

#GivingTuesday                               Observercast

Nuclear Energy Causes Global Warming

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BY MORTON S. SKORODIN

We need energy to heat our homes and provide electricity for our appliances.

Most commonly in our world, coal, oil, natural gas, and radioactive [nuclear] materials, especially the heavy metal, Uranium, supply our energy.

Radioactive elements that produce nuclear energy do it a certain way – and the same way each time. The basics are easy to understand:

These materials, such as Uranium, change into other materials during which a huge amount of energy is released. Remember Albert Einstein’s famous equation, e=mc2. Well, it is kind of like magic – that c2 is a very large number; e is the energy you get at the end; m is the very tiny amount of mass or “stuff” that changes from stuff you can see into unseen but powerful energy.

But before we go on we need to make sure we know what we are talking about. What is energy? Several kinds come to mind. We have mentioned three already: nuclear, electricity and heat. There is also “mechanical motion”; think about working out at the gym. Notice another thing at the gym – one’s muscles get warm; so heat is produced as well as mechanical motion.

Another thing about energy: once it is released, it never goes away. It can never be destroyed. This is a perfect rule with which everyone agrees. It is actually called a “law” – the first law of thermodynamics.

What happens to the energy, after we use it, such as when I have finished moving my fingers typing this sentence?

It is lost as waste heat out “there” somewhere. It is dispersed and spreads out in all directions and can not be reused. This is called entropy and is the second law of thermodynamics.

Now what does that have to do with nuclear power and global warming?

Once you release all that energy from Uranium, as in a nuclear reactor, it is here forever, except for some fraction that radiates out into outer space as “long-wave radiation.” The rest goes into the air, waterways, glaciers, dirt and rocks as waste heat, also called thermal [heat] pollution, increasing the temperature, thereby bringing about global warming.

Is nuclear the only the only source of energy that releases waste heat?

No. Coal, oil and natural gas [hydrocarbons, so-called “fossil fuels”] also release waste heat when burned.

Why is this fact not included in the title of this article?

Because many people already know that use of hydrocarbons causes global warming. Also, many believe that nuclear power does not cause global warming and that it may actually solve the global warming problem. Nothing could be further from the truth, because it produces heat and, therefore, thermal pollution.

What about greenhouse gases that are discussed on TV and the internet, such as carbon dioxide? What about other greenhouse gases such as water vapor and methane?

This is best approached by admitting that this is an area of great conflict. Well-connected scientists almost universally claim that global warming is occurring, that it is from human activity, that activity that causes the emission of “greenhouse gases” [especially carbon dioxide or CO2]. These are gases that make up a small part of the air we breathe, but they are able to hold in heat.

Millions of people agree with this. Other millions disagree. Leaders [or misleaders] of both factions present plausible evidence of wrongdoing by and conflict of interest on the other side. Both are correct about this and we should not be surprised that this is the case. Though startling claims are made about the need to save the planet, it is really about money and power, meaning here a different kind of power, that of authority and control. Imagine the wealth and personal power to be derived from selling and controlling the flow of energy to billions of people.

Hydrocarbons produce CO2. Businessmen and their agents who back hydrocarbons stand to lose a great deal of money and power if CO2 elimination is made a top priority. The other side has its own investors who stand to profit by promoting nuclear power in competition with coal, oil, and natural gas energy sources, and also by selling CO2 reduction technologies. There are also military and political reasons for nuclear promotion. [Incidentally, this side also erroneously claims that nuclear power does not result in CO2 pollution.]

In fact, it appears that greenhouse gases have a small but definite effect and work together with the direct heat pollution discussed here to make the problem of global warming worse.

Neither side is interested in promoting the facts as presented in this report, because they both stand to lose. They both cause thermal pollution [global warming].

Fortunately solar and wind power do not cause thermal pollution because they use the Sun’s heat, which we will get whether we use it for our energy needs or not. These technologies have matured and their costs have come crashing down and will continue to do so. The best solution for the long-term supply of electrical energy is to institute these renewable sources at the municipal level and as a cooperative effort. This gives everyone energy independence.

Of course, municipally owned, cooperatively run energy sources will be vigorously opposed by hydrocarbon and nuclear barons and those who will want to privatize, for their own profit, renewable energy sources. They will want to centralize renewable energy, and dole it out to large areas through grids under centralized control.

We, the public, must assert and struggle for what is best for us and our Planet. If we do not switch to non-heat adding solar and solar-derived energy sources, we will burn to a crisp.

Morton S. Skorodin, MD, lives in Stillwater, OK and is an occasional contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

31 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Oklahoma Observer:

    Your July 21, 2010 article, “Nuclear Energy Causes Global Warming” contains several factual errors.

    Thermodynamic energy and heat are not, quite, the same — hence the author has to invent categories like “waste heat”.

    The concept that energy can be created, but not destroyed, does, indeed, properly belong to thermodynamics. Thermodynamics, however, has been largely superseded by quantum mechanics; we now know that matter and energy can be converted one into the other and that, indeed, empty space can get into the mix.

    The author is in error in stating that solar and wind energy technology “do not cause” thermal pollution.A solid argument can be made that they generate much, much, much less thermal pollution, but the fact is that the construction of solar and wind technologies yields heat in the manufacturing process; residual amounts of heat are generated during operation of these technologies.

    Interestingly, the author skips over one of the potentially lowest heat-producing, as well as potentially lowest greenhouse gas technologies: nuclear battery power.

    The type of “nuclear energy” we hear about so much (owing to the folly of our civilization in having built so much of it) is nuclear fission. There are a variety of technologies which use radioisotopes (many of which we have created or dug up, some of which will continue to generate power for thousands of years). Beta-voltaic cells (for example) are not new — the first one was built in/around 1913.

  2. My dear Friend Morton is fighting the good fight to end uclear energy and Nuclear Bomds.He is doing this cause great harm by his article.We can live on all things solar if powerful corporate forces were not ruling us.We could have a very beatiful world or we can and may destroy it all by our fossil fool addicted Greenhouse gas production.We produce lots of heat that Greenhouse gasses trap(co2,methane,water vapor, nitrous oxide and others,co2 ,by far the worst and longest lasting).In leading us away from a truly Green economy he stops the use of Nucear Energy.We are very near an ice free world..think what that means The science is out there.

  3. EU agrees mandate for “nearly zero energy” homes
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE64I6LO20100519
    Pete Harrison, Reuters, 19 May 2010
    All new buildings constructed in Europe after 2020 will have to be virtually carbon-neutral after the European Parliament gave new energy standards the last approval they needed Tuesday.

    Carbon equity has bi weekly posts from around the world to we can have a ZERO CARBON civilization.We also have to be a zero Nuclear civilization.These ideas are not at odds..

  4. “Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain the Consumer Society” by Ted Trainer.

    Anyone who has illusions about the likelihood of renewable energy becoming our sole energy source needs to read this. One important point, made by Trainer but which needs emphasis, is that many of the speculative scenarios about renewable energy are over-optimistic because they assume (without always explicitly saying so) that renewables will be ADDED ON to coal and nuclear energy, which will in this scenario continue to be the main source of baseload electricity.

    Thus, the next time you hear someone enthusiastically and broadly claiming that renewables will run our society, you should ask them whether this includes replacing all present forms of electric power. I think Trainer is correct in assuming that these people do not foresee (much less propose) ending the use of coal and nuclear. Nor does our government nor does the coal industry nor do the nuclear utilities.

    And note that Trainer does not address the equity and social justice issue in detail, but deals mostly with the advanced consumer societies of the world. That these patterns of consumption and growth can be continued in a renewable energy economy is the largest and most grotesque fable of our time. That the services of the earth’s ecosystems will remain fully functional and available to fuel the consumer society indefinitely is the other side of that fable. Tragically, these are the fables, the paradigms of denial, under which capitalism and economic growth operate.And they flourish because humans don’t want to hear the bad news. And the bad news includes the fact that our government has no intention of enacting energy legislation that will constrict economic growth or industrial production in any way, or increase the price of energy, which is the bottom line necessity if we are serious about slowing global warming and moving into an era of renewable energy. This era will take fifty years in any case, and we haven’t even begun the transition. Thus it is clear that we will be forced into it only by emergency climate events, which are already occurring. By then we will be in defensive mode and the costs will be huge to protect our coasts and infrastructure. In brief, we have botched it completely and have probably lost the battle already.

  5. I appreciate Morton Skorodin’s article greatly, as well as the comments added thereto; please allow me to advance what I consider the inescapable conclusion:

    Although “alternative” or “renewable” energy technologies must be developed further, the real solution is that every single person on the planet needs to reduce energy consumption.

    I do not know how that might be accomplished, but, mathematically, I just do not see any way that the present social system can go on.

    With the albedo of the Earth decreasing, carbon gases increasing, the result is not voluntary: we shall not have the choice of giving up coal, oil, nuclear fission, natural gas, and similar technologies — we are, quite simply, looking at a future in which none of these exist. We shall not have a choice of replacing these with various renewable alternatives — we are, quite simply, looking at a future in which we shall be forced to consume less energy than we use at present.

  6. Michael Marino’s point in this latest post cannot be stated often enough or strongly enough.

    My only disagreement would be with “every single person on the planet will be forced to reduce energy consumption”, as I think some of the poor who live on the streets may already be at rock bottom.

    I am sure that even those of us who live at a relatively moderate level of consumption, and think we are being pretty kind to the planet, will be forced to make HUGE changes. U.S. society in particular is on a collision course with reality.

    • Seems like I heard somewhere that a homeless person getting a cup of coffee has a surprisingly high eco footprint, due to having some services available and the way they are generally organized in our society.

  7. The implicit assumption in some of the posts is that reducing energy use equals reducing convenience. Living in an under-insulated house in a cold climate is NOT a convenience… uses more heating oil, has a cold “feel’ to it (from radiant heat loss). Here in L.A. efficient, mass transit could outrun our gas-burning traffic jams at 1/10th the energy use for 70-80% of all travelers. Organic farming is carbon negative in addition to being better for you and better tasting. There’s plenty of energy and if we use it well we’ll use less and live BETTER as a result. What you can’t do is replicate this culture’s waste, a concern only to the unimaginative.

  8. I’ve only now discovered the OK Observer: what a precious petunia in an onion patch! Dr. Skorodin is also unique in that he goes beyond talk about heat trapping gas emissions and considers the nature of the source heat itself, which most folks are either oblivious to or simply take as a “given”.

    I stumbled upon the OKO by following links referenced by a Common Dreams comment contributor, upon whom the tenor of Dr. Skorodin’s statements about nuclear power was lost. For clarity:

    * Harvesting energy as it falls and moves upon the Earth is nearly heat neutral. (Albedo is reduced a bit by solar arrays.)

    * Harvesting/releasing energy which has been sequestered over geological periods of time (via petroleum, gas and coal) is not at all heat neutral over periods of time that humans might wish to span.

    * Harvesting/releasing energy which has been created within the fusion furnaces of stars over Cosmic periods of time –well, need I go further?

    * However: Dr. Skorodin’s contribution to this discussion and 99.9+ percent of what one can read about global warming at venues like Common Dreams –it all amounts to everyone using ever less energy and space –presumably, until we’re growing vegetables in our hair and taking turns breathing. Can any of the OKO’s informed and intelligent readers come up with a better solution?

    Craig

    • Energy is ubiquitous, abundant, all over the place, etc.

      We have an ARTIFICIAL SCARCITY –

      scarcity and rumors of scarcity are good for the bottom line and thus, an integral, and REQUIRED part of the capitalist way.

      Time to drop it and assist energy costs to drop towards zero!

  9. Unfortunately Mr Sorkin’s contribution while well intentioned is wholly inaccurate in it’s science. The idea that the man’s “thermal pollution” contributes in any meaningful way to global warming is not correct. The total “thermal pollution” generated by man is many orders of magnitude smaller than the energy provided by the sun. However the enormous amount of energy provided by the sun does not cause the atmosphere’s thermodynamic energy to crank up day by day because the system is generally in equilibrium – approx 121 petawatts are absorbed by the earth each day and 121 petawatts are radiated back to space. The relatively small amount of energy generated by human activity does not meaningfully disturb this equilibrium and is simply radiated back to space.
    However while the system will always find equilibrium, man’s activity in remodeling our environment, changing the earth’s albedo and increasing the greenhouse gas content of our atmosphere is apparently changing the system that effects this equilibrium resulting in a warming atmosphere as we appreciate it.
    There are a lot of reasons to oppose nuclear power but the idea that it contributes to global climate change is not one of them. Unlike solar and wind energy, Nuclear is a potential base load (reliable) source. Discarding Nuclear inevitably forces us to accept either hydrocarbon sources or an increased reliance on local storage devices – batteries. As things stand I’d take nuclear pollution with all of it’s risks over the environmental impact of an exploding battery industry.

    • You bring up a common and important argument. It comes up all the time.

      Looks like a no-brainer, does it not?

      It’s actually a brain-teaser!

      The explanation will be presented ~Aug. 12-13.

      It’s a common mistake, not unlike how you spelled my name.

    • Nuclear power is not god for baseload if the (riverine) water supply is not reliable, as in France during hot summers – they import hydrocarbons from the East; many of their elderly died.

      As to storing/releasing solar/wind – there is a dazzling array of techniques- molten salt, 10 kinds of batteries, heat pumps, flywheels, etc. Good for baseload.

  10. Certainly high efficiency solar increases the earth’s absorptivity, and extracting energy from the wind changes the wind patterns (somewhat) from what they would normally be. Both of these may cause “warming.” Additionally, production of current solar technology is quite dirty, with a lot of dangerous chemical waste that must be stored in superfund sites. Nitrogen-triflouride is also released in the production of solar panels. It has 1000 times the impact per volume as CO2 as a greenhouse gas and has a residence time 10,000 times longer. “Green” technology also produces waste.

  11. I am more of a nuclear skeptic than Al Lang — but he is absolutely correct about the science.

    A little bit of Google/Wikipedia searching yielded the following numbers:
    * Total worldwide average power from nuclear power in 2006: .93 TW (Terawatts)
    * Total global average energy consumption in 2006: 15.8 TW
    * Total geothermal energy emitted from the earth: 42 TW
    * Total solar energy hitting the surface of the earth: 89,000 TW

    Let’s, for sake of argument, double the total global energy consumption number to account for waste heat created in electrical generation. At 31.6 TW it is still smaller than what is slowly oozing out of the earth.

    But all of those numbers are minuscule compared to solar energy. All other heat sources essentially get lost in the wash once you factor in the sun.

    Granted, it is conceivable that this tiny change could result in a significant temperature build-up over time — but one has to wonder why we have never heard of it. After all, you couldn’t attribute it to an anti-nuclear bias among climate scientists — the scientific question is whether human-generated heat impacts the global climate regardless of whether it comes from nuclear, coal, or a guy on a bike. Moreover, the math and physics involved are relatively simple compared to the massive computer models that these folks regularly deal with.

    No, I’m forced to conclude that human generated heat just isn’t a significant factor. What matters is the earth’s ability to dissipate heat. In relation to the impact of Greenhouse Gas emissions, the minuscule amount of heat added by human activity simply doesn’t matter.

    As I started out saying, I am a skeptic when it comes to nuclear power. But I don’t think you do the anti-nuclear movement any favors by bringing in specious arguments based on bad science.

  12. Uber-hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham, a self-described “die hard contrarian,” tells it like it is in his blunt 2Q 2010 letter:

    1) The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, after at least several hundred thousand years of remaining within a constant range, started to rise with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. It has increased by almost 40% and is rising each year. This is certain and straightforward.

    2) One of the properties of CO2 is that it creates a greenhouse effect and, all other things being equal, an increase in its concentration in the atmosphere causes the Earth’s temperature to rise. This is just physics. (The amount of other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as methane, has also risen steeply since industrialization, which has added to the impact of higher CO2 levels.)

    3) Several other factors, like changes in solar output, have major influences on climate over millennia, but these effects have been observed and measured. They alone cannot explain the rise in the global temperature over the past 50 years.

    4) The uncertainties arise when it comes to the interaction between greenhouse gases and other factors in the complicated climate system. It is impossible to be sure exactly how quickly or how much the temperature will rise. But, the past can be measured. The temperature has indeed steadily risen over the past century while greenhouse gas levels have increased. But the forecasts still range very widely for what will happen in the future, ranging from a small but still potentially harmful rise of 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit to a potentially disastrous level of +6 to +10 degrees Fahrenheit within this century. A warmer atmosphere melts glaciers and ice sheets, and causes global sea levels to rise. A warmer atmosphere also contains more energy and holds more water, changing the global occurrences of storms, fl oods, and other extreme weather events.

    Grantham’s only missed point is that listening to the disinformers — aka continuing to do little — makes the high end of the warming the likely outcome (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F and Hadley Center: “Catastrophic” 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path).

    5) Skeptics argue that this wide range of uncertainty about future tempe

  13. We’ve known for a while that we are poisoning the oceans and that human emissions of carbon dioxide, left unchecked, would likely have devastating consequences — see “2010 Nature Geoscience study: Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.” And we’ve known those impacts might last a long, long time — see 2009 Nature Geoscience study concludes ocean dead zones “devoid of fish and seafood” are poised to expand and “remain for thousands of years.”

    But until now, conventional wisdom has been that big ocean impacts might not be seen until the second half of the century. This new research in Nature suggests we may have much less time to act than we thought if we want to save marine life — and ourselves. The study concludes:

    In the oceans, ubiquitous microscopic phototrophs (phytoplankton) account for approximately half the production of organic matter on Earth. Analyses of satellite-derived phytoplankton concentration (available since 1979) have suggested decadal-scale fluctuations linked to climate forcing, but the length of this record is insufficient to resolve longer-term trends. Here we combine available ocean transparency measurements and in situ chlorophyll observations to estimate the time dependence of phytoplankton biomass at local, regional and global scales since 1899. We observe declines in eight out of ten ocean regions, and estimate a global rate of decline of ~1% of the global median per year. Our analyses further reveal interannual to decadal phytoplankton fluctuations superimposed on long-term trends. These fluctuations are strongly correlated with basin-scale climate indices, whereas long-term declining trends are related to increasing sea surface temperatures.

  14. It is startling that when discussion is held about the environment and energy, that Hydrogen is never presented as the answer. Well, the future IS HERE. In the early 1900’s,Walter Russell, an American genius, gave a new science to the world. It was rejected because no one understood it, except for fellow geniuses like Nicla Tesla (a good friend of Russell’s). In 1945 Walter Russell displayed his Hydrogen engine for FDR, and was promptly told that it would “wreck the economy” (just whose economy were they referring to?) Giving free energy to all the peoples of the world certainly would not have hurt THEIR economy, so I will assume they meant the oil corporations and elite of the world’s economy. Walter Russell was then disappeared from the history of America, which he had greatly shaped. Now comes Blacklight Power in New Jersey, who has built an atomic reactor that runs on one gallon of water FOREVER. They use the hydrino (one of Russell’s many Hydrogen molecules on his revised periodic chart) to create NIAGARAS of Energy. They have SIX orders from utilities to build Hydrogen Powered Reactors that need virtually no fuel costs and do not pollute at all. The future is here and it’s very EXCITING. This fossil fuel age will soon be over, Thank GOD! It has overstayed its welcome for 70 years. Spread the word. How many more BP spills can Mother earth (and us) survive? http://www.blacklightpower.com

  15. Honestly, this is the worst possible argument against nuclear power. Waste heat is a tiny issue compared to GHGs, because the latter have residency and lifespan warming that dwarfs the former. In fact, with no GHGs at all, we could produce all the waste heat we want, because it would all radiate out into space eventually.

    If you wanted to stay warm, and i handed you a space blanket, would you wrap yourself in it, or set it on fire? which would keep you warm longer?

    The already robust arguments against nuclear power (at least the business-as-usual kind) are sufficient.

    Adding anthropocentric global warming via carbon infusion denial to the mix simply kills it.

    Also, all waste heat should be utilized at least once, if possible. That’s done in a lot of countries and a lot of locations already.

    If you can’t use the waste heat from a coal plant, then that’s an area where you should already ban building coal plants.

    Nukes are too dangerous to use the waste heat directly and efficiently, but that’s not to say their waste heat can’t be exploited, just a little less efficiently – right now price incentives work against that.

    I should note that Nathan Myrhvold makes the same mistake, and it got parroted by the Freakonomics science illiterates.

    Frankly, in general, MDs shouldn’t inveigh on physical science, physics, or circulation issues.

  16. We’ve had an energy source for 50+ years that could provide near limitless, cheap, always available power.

    1 marble of this fuel in your hand could power your entire life.

    500 tons of this fuel could power %100 of America’s energy needs for 1 year.

    This fuel is an Element called Thorium.

    http://energyfromthorium.com/plan/

    The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor

    the Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR, pronounced “lifter”) uses uranium and thorium dissolved in fluoride salts. These salts are chemically stable, impervious to radiation damage, and non-corrosive to the vessels that contain them. LFTR cores can be made much smaller than a typical light water reactor (LWR).

    The Advantages

    1)Safety–LFTRs Cannot Melt down like Uranium Reactors.

    2)Proliferation Resistance–Thorium Fuel Cycle cannot make weapons grade materials.

    3)Energy Production–LFTR is 300 times more efficient than a typical uranium LWR.

    4) Waste–A LFTR power plant would generate 4,000 times less mining waste and 10,000 times less nuclear waste than an LWR.

    5:) Secondary Products–Because an LFTR is so energy dense, the nuclear “waste” products from the LFTR include stable rhodium and ruthenium, rare elements needed in modern electronics

  17. As a physicist, I was disturbed by a major flaw in the article by Mr. Skorodin on global warming and nuclear energy. There are adequate reasons to be skeptical about nuclear energy, but concern about the heat it releases is not among them. Al Lang and Donovan have identified the flaw in Mr. Skorodin’s article. He states, “Another thing about energy is once it is released it never goes away. It can never be destroyed. It is a perfect rule with which everyone agrees. It is even called a law–the first law of thermodynamics.” The sentence in this statement that is incorrect is that energy “never goes away.” The fact that it is not destroyed does not mean it does not leave the earth in the form of infrared radiation.

    The earth receives 1,370 Watts per square meter of energy from the sun 24 hours a day. Some is reflected back into space immediately, and some penetrates the atmosphere to warm the surface of the earth. The earth is constantly absorbing and radiating this energy back into space. In the daytime it absorbs faster than it radiates and the earth heats up, while at night it radiates faster than it absorbs and the earth cools down. On the average over all latitudes this absorption and radiation are in equilibrium and produce an average global temperature.

    The earth receives 110,000 times as much energy every second from the sun as is released by all forms of primary human energy production–fossil fuels, biofuels, hydroelectric power, geothermal and nuclear. Applying the correct law to this, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, shows that the maximum increase of temperature caused by all anthropogenic sources is less than 0.006 degrees Celsius. Measured global warming is closer to 1 degree Celsius–more than 160 times what can be accounted for by human activity. The contribution of the heat from nuclear reactors is no different from any other form of heat released by human activity. On a global basis it is no more than 14% of the total. By itself, the heat released by all the nuclear reactors in operation in the world cause less than one tenth of one percent of the observed global warming.

    Global warming requires greenhouse gases to impede the ability of the earth to shed the heat it absorbs from the sun. Energy from the sun arrives in visible wavelengths of light to which the atmosphere is transparent, but it is radiated back into space in the longer wavelength infrared radiation, and the greenhouse gases make the atmosphere more opaque to that light. Thus the atmosphere absorbs the escaping energy and heats up until it is warm enough to radiate it away and restore thermodynamic equilibrium.

    Scientists agree that the earth has slightly warmed over the past century. That is a measured observed fact. What is controversial is whether it is caused by human activity or by natural cycles. No competent climatologist believes it is caused by the direct heat released by human activity–nuclear or otherwise.

  18. I’m going to sidestep the scientific arguments here concerning deep space radiation, whether the heat argument is relevant or not, about whether solar and wind contribute to thermal increases and point out a few facts we can all agree upon.

    Nuclear power plants produce heat. That’s how they work. If we left the uranium in the ground, that heat would remain unrealized as matter. We are in fact releasing heat during the reaction process that otherwise would not be on the planet.

    How much heat? Gobs of it.

    But lets talk about all types of power generation, coal, gas and nuclear. Power plants heat water to produce super heated steam to turn turbines (terribly inefficient), to generate electricity. The heated water must then be cooled. It’s too hot to release into nature, but too cold to turn the turbines again. That would be what the author calls “Waste Heat”.

    This heat is dissipated (slowly, so as not to boil anything it touches) into the environment using, believe it or not, fresh water. Turns out more than half of the fresh water consumed in the US is used to cool power plants. MORE THAN HALF of the ~345,000 Mgal/day we use. Here’s a link to a graph from Lawrence Livermore Labs documenting the fact: https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/content/water/water_flow_archive/US_water2000.pdf.

    No matter what you say, that’s a lot of heat.

    If we weren’t burning these fossil fuels and generating heat through nuclear reaction, this heat would not be released into the atmosphere. It would remain trapped in the coal, gas and uranium lying around in the ground.

    Once released, however, greenhouse gasses trap this abundance of heat against the earth which contributes to global warming.

    All power plants contribute to global warming, even nuclear.

  19. Fossil fuels are just old solar energy. How else do you think they were formed. Do you just think they were just randomly here? Or were they formed from organic materials that got there energy from sunlight and their carbon from carbon dioxide? Okay, now with that said, what was the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere when the firsts amounts of oil and natural gas were formed? Do you get the point? Even if global warming was 100% proven we would just be shifting the equilibrium back to where it started.

  20. ran into your article that discusses nuclear energy contributing to global warming.
    I think people need to start thinking about this more, as they seem mostly focused on carbon emissions.

    I believe I may have read somewhere (wiki?) that a nuclear power plant emits something like 10% more heat than traditional gas/coal burning plants.
    If you have the means to find the correct percentage, it would be a great addition to your article.

    The nuclear industry causes many severe threats to the environment (including we inhabitants):
    the use of fossil fuels and various other heavily toxic chemicals such as arsenic used for the extraction and processing of uranium, the “regulated” release of radiation by power plants, and nuclear waste.

    Please read about the Hanford Site if you will.
    The surrounding areas of Chernobyl have experience higher cancer rates and children with severe deformities and mental retardation, some never living to adulthood.

    Nuclear energy is just not cost-effective when considering the cost of manufacture and disposal, and the threat to the inhabitants of the planet.

    Population is also a factor of heat.
    Our population is now 7-billion.
    Not only are there more people driving vehicles than ever, but there is also more body heat, construction, breathing and farting, and waste, and therefore gobs of methane produced by those 7 million people.
    Our own bodies and action contribute to global warming.
    Now that would be another interesting article.
    And someone who can get some statistics in that article could say a lot.

  21. This is very misleading. Nuclear energy does not contributge to carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It is the greenhouse gases that are the dominant factor in global warming. The author downplays this, almost to the point of ignoring it..
    So the article is worthless.

  22. I believe in the faith in humanity and keeping the “world’s health” first. This article about nuclear power has heightened my opinion on c2 wastes. With the billions and billions of people in this world today we are losing the value of life as we know it. As the prices of gas, oil and now milk on the increase from the use of said fuels to run their machinery, the more the c2 amounts will skyrocket. The ability to use a non-harming renewable resource will drastically change the quality of life, giving the option to keep ALL of our c2 to a prospering lower level. Now, nuclear in my opinion, is a much better and safer source compared to the burning of coal and fossil fuels to obtain energy but, to say that is one of the causes of global warming is completely correct. Although the amount that is dispersed could not be valid. As well as having much more nuclear materials needed to obtain fuel than we have coal and fossil fuels to burn to gather the same exact energy. In conclusion I believe that the author of this- Morton S. Skorodin, MD, is extremely knowledgable and have enjoyed his post.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.