Throwing the nuclear baby out with the fossil-fuel bathwater

A really important paper was just published in Science Advances by Elizabeth Anderson & colleagues.

The team’s paper, Fragmentation of Andes-to-Amazon connectivity by hydropower dams, pretty much highlights what many pragmatic environmentalists have been stressing for years — so-called ‘renewable’ technology rolled out at massive scales (to the exclusion of other technologies like nuclear power) can really endanger biodiversity.

As environmental campaigner, Mark Lynas, rightly points out, renewables, with sufficient base-load back-up by technologies like nuclear, are so far ahead of other combinations (particular, regionally specific mix ratios notwithstanding) in terms of what they can potentially achieve for biodiversity, that our society’s blind push for 100% renewable (instead of 0% carbon), is doing far more environmental harm than good.

It is a case of throwing the nuclear baby out with the fossil-fuel bathwater.

Hydropower dams are massively destructive, and not just because they threatened freshwater biota directly; they also carve up pristine forests with roads, villages, and supply routes. As we know from previous work, excessive road building can spell biodiversity doom for places like the Amazon.

So, I want to reiterate just how important the nuclear piece of the sustainable power puzzle is. We need smart solutions that take all technologies seriously, and not just hand-pick what we believe (without evidence) to be the most sustainable for our own future as well as that of our fellow species.

CJA Bradshaw