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Four nuclear myths. A commentary on Brand’s ‘Whole Earth Discipline’ and on similar writings

AuteurAmory Lovins, RMI
6-01-2-16-61.pdf
Datumoktober 2009
Classificatie 6.01.2.16/61 (KE & BROEIKAS - WEL/NIET OPLOSSING + SCENARIO'S)
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Uit de publicatie:

                                        Four Nuclear Myths
      A commentary on Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline and on similar writings
       AMORY B. LOVINS, CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF SCIENTIST, ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE
                                   13 October 2009

Public discussions of nuclear power, and a surprising number of articles in peer-reviewed
journals, are increasingly based on four notions unfounded in fact or logic: that

    1. variable renewable sources of electricity (windpower and photovoltaics) can provide little
       or no reliable electricity because they are not “baseload”—able to run all the time;
    2. those renewable sources require such enormous amounts of land, hundreds of times more
       than nuclear power does, that they’re environmentally unacceptable;
    3. all options, including nuclear power, are needed to combat climate change; and
    4. nuclear power’s economics matter little because governments must use it anyway to
       protect the climate.

For specificity, this review of these four notions focuses on the nuclear chapter of Stewart
Brand’s 2009 book Whole Earth Discipline, which encapsulates similar views widely expressed
and cross-cited by organizations and individuals advocating expansion of nuclear power. It’s
therefore timely to subject them to closer scrutiny than they have received in most public media.

This review relies chiefly on five papers1–5, which I gave Brand over the past few years but on
which he has been unwilling to engage in substantive discussion. They document6 why
expanding nuclear power is uneconomic, is unnecessary, is not undergoing the claimed
renaissance in the global marketplace (because it fails the basic test of cost-effectiveness ever
more robustly), and, most importantly, will reduce and retard climate protection. That’s
because—the empirical cost and installation data show—new nuclear power is so costly and
slow that, based on empirical U.S. market data, it will save about 2–20 times less carbon per