Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is Oklahoma about to go Nookyooler?

Apparently some of our fine state legislators are eager for Oklahoma to have nuclear reactors of its very own. I've got some pretty mixed emotions about relying on nukes for energy. On the surface, the construction and use of nukes would make a potentially attractive intermediate source of energy as our civilization transitions from petroleum products. Of course there is the issue of the health and safety of those residing near a reactor, as well as a host of environmental issues. Certainly the technology has improved a bit, and a lot of nuclear waste can be recycled. Still one wonders how waste storage would be managed, as well as how well-constructed and maintained the reactors would be (we are after all living in an era where deregulation is a religion in its own right). Then there is the length of time to build a reactor and get it operating - you're going to need about a decade from start to finish, meaning that if the goal is meeting immediate or short-term energy needs, the reactors should already have been constructed. Further, there is the question of how close the world is to - get this - peak uranium production. Then there's the question of how viable our current lifestyles (I include myself here) are globally, and whether looking at nukes is merely a way of continuing business as usual for just a little bit longer before some serious lifestyle changes are imposed upon us by nature itself.

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