While we’re definitely big optimists here at Futurismic on alternative energies, there are downsides to most of what we consider clean energy. Biofuels in their current incarnation pits the hunger of the poor against the hunger of our poor. Solar is at the mercy of cloudy weather and efficiency concerns, while similar problems face wind power. And coming from the Midwest United States, tidal power generators aren’t going to do me a lick of good.
The far-thinking people at the Long-Now Foundation had two very fascinating speakers back in September whose theory is that nuclear is the way to go. They’re not your usual nuclear shills, either. Gwyneth Cravens wan an anti-nuclear activist who marched against the bomb and against the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island. The other is an sustainable organic-farming, bee-keeping, nuclear expert at Sandia Labs called Dr. Richard Anderson.
Their point is that alternative energies are largely tied to the whims of nature, something not good enough to supply the baseload power for our energy needs. They do bring up some scary thoughts on our current use of fossil fuels, and make comparisons to what we would consume using nuclear. One fun tidbit is that all the nuclear waste that would be generated to provide power for the average American over the course of their life would fit inside a Coke can. Give it a listen if you can, but at least read the blog summary.
Personally, I think nuclear’s the way to go, at least for the moment, although I definitely think wind and solar can and should be used to provide supplemental power. Maybe someday we can move to completely clean energy, but that day hasn’t come yet.
(image via Operators Are Standing By)