[Marxism] Nuclear Energy Causes Global Warming

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Fri Jul 23 13:14:25 MDT 2010


On 7/23/2010 1:24 PM, Morton Skorodin wrote:
> 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.

This is completely wrong.

There are many bad things one can say about nuclear power, but causing 
global warming is not one of them.

The amount of energy humans release and use is an insignificant part of 
the earth's total energy budget. Human use is less than .0001 of the 
amount reaching earth from the sun. Nuclear power is about 6% of the 
human energy budget. And at any rate, both total human use and 
nuclear-generated energy are below the noise floor, completely dwarfed, 
among other things, by the natural variation in the sun's energy output 
and fluctuations in the amount of energy radiated into space by the earth.

To get an idea of the insignificance of the amount of energy humans use, 
consider this statistic from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration. The energy involved in the condensation of an average 
hurricane in one day "is equivalent to 200 times the world-wide 
electrical generating capacity."

In addition, the idea that some fraction of the energy we generate "is 
here forever" and thus heat from this energy accumulates on the earth, 
making it warmer and warmer and warmer in an additive way is 
fundamentally unsound.

To grossly over-simplify, the amount of energy radiated by an object 
increases with its temperature, so even if nuclear power (or all human 
use of energy) were more than an insignificant part of the earth's total 
energy budget, the "extra" (human-generated) energy would (in principle) 
cause a rise in temperature enough so that through increased radiation, 
energy balance would be restored. Of course, in the case of the earth 
this is tremendously complicated because of the climate system which is 
poorly understood. But the energy-trapping effect of increases in 
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is orders of magnitude greater than 
all "thermal pollution."

In other words, we "add" much more energy to the earth through the 
energy-trapping effect of greenhouse gases than through the release of 
energy that produced those gases.

Joaquín





More information about the Marxism mailing list