In his opinion piece regarding energy advice for Ontario, Klaus Dohring correctly identifies climate change as one of the greatest threats facing humankind but then, foolishly, suggests that we do away with nuclear power, the only electricity generation source capable of displacing greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuel generation on any significant scale.
While he congratulates Ontario for doing away with coal-fired generation, he suggests we also shut down nuclear plants, which helped us shut down the coal plants in the first place. They generate about two-thirds of the electricity that coal plants used to generate without emitting greenhouse gases.
He then goes on to say that we should emulate the German example by targeting 80 per cent renewable generation by 2050. He fails, however, to mention that Germany’s electricity generation is far dirtier than Ontario’s with a GHG footprint over five times higher than ours.
And, because Germany shut down some of their older nuclear plants in 2011, their GHG emissions rose in 2012 because they replaced most of the lost electricity by burning more coal. Do we really want to emulate Germany?
Without any justification he claims that nuclear plants are polluting, which would come as a surprise to those who live near them in places like Darlington, Pickering and the Bruce Peninsula since, in fact, they are extremely clean and quiet electricity producers.
There is a relatively small amount of left over fuel from nuclear power generation in the world today. If it is not reused, which is happening in some countries, it may pose an unknown risk to our descendants hundreds or thousands of generations in the future.
However, our immediate problem is the threat posed by increasing GHG emissions to our generation, our children’s and grandchildren’s and, to date, nuclear power has been the best tool for slowing those emissions, as Ontario’s example has shown.
Dismissing nuclear power is like ignoring the runaway freight train that is heading right at you because you are afraid that in the distant future your lifestyle may lead to heart disease.
If we don’t stop the freight train, we likely won’t have to worry about humanity’s old age.