Nuclear Energy’s Carbon Footprint

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want: a ban on any website

citing scientific research without linking to it. In Business Week’s Debate

Room this week, we are presented with the entirely unedifying spectacle

of two men hurling papers at each other and not giving anybody the opportunity

to judge for themselves.

The subject is the amount of carbon emissions associated with nuclear energy.

Jim Riccio, of Greenpeace USA, says that "Last month,

the Oxford Research Group found that contrary to industry claims, nuclear power

does not qualify as a carbon-free technology," and links to an older Business

Week story

saying that "while coal, the primary source of electric power in the U.S.,

produces 755 grams of carbon per kilowatt hour, the range for nuclear is between

10 and 150 grams per kilowatt hour. Wind power is 11 to 37 grams."

In the other corner, Scott Peterson, of the Nuclear Energy

Institute, says that "Research from the University of Wisconsin shows life-cycle

emissions from nuclear energy are lower than those from renewables such as solar

and hydropower and dramatically lower than those for power plants fueled by

coal or natural gas."

So which is it to be? If these individuals would link to the Oxford Research

Group and University of Wisconsin papers, we’d be able to read them and make

our own minds up. But maybe then the demand for experts and pundits might drop.

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