William tucker has a great article on nuclear energy and why it is superior to fossil fuels and other alternatives. Fossil fuels are concentrated solar energy from fossilized plants and animals that lived long ago. Burning coal is approximately twice as dense in terms of energy compared to burning wood, and oil or natural gas is twice as dense as coal. Wind power, solar and other "renewables" are actually less dense than wood - by a factor of more than 10. Sunlight reaching the ground on a squre yard of the Earth's surface is only enough to power a single 100 watt light bulb, so thousands of acres of land would be required to replace even one conventional power plant. Of course, it isn't sunny all the time either. Wind faces the same issues - the wind isn't always blowing and enormous amounts of land are required to replace a conventional power facility. Biofuels use up around 30% of one of our primary food crops and replace only 3% of our oil needs.
As for nuclear power, read it and weep.
"Remember, when we talked about the energy density of fossil fuels and renewables we talked in factors of 2 thru 50. Do you know what the density factor is for uranium? It’s 2 million. A pound of uranium gives you 2 million times as much energy as a pound of coal. That means you can run a whole city for a week with a lump of uranium you can hold in one hand. In fact a 110-car “unit train” of coal has more energy in the uranium traces in the coal than in the coal itself.
Let’s see what this means in practice. The average 1,000-megawatt coal plant must be fed by a unit train arriving at the plant every day. Such trains now leave Cheyenne, Wyoming every 12 minutes carrying coal from the Powder River Basin to power plants from Nevada to Arkansas. More than half the nation’s rail freight is now coal. In fact, it’s straining the whole infrastructure and we may have to build new rail lines before long.
Now lets’ look at nuclear. A 1000-MW nuclear reactor is refueled by a single tractor-trailer arriving at the plant once every eighteen months. The fuel rods are only mildly radioactive and can be handled with gloves. Over their four-and-a-half-year life cycle those fuel rods will put zero greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the coal plant across town will spew 3 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That’s why we have a problem of global warming."
How in the world is this possible? e=mc , that's how. A very tiny amount of matter can be transformed into a great deal of energy. Chemical reactions, such as burning fossil fuels, occur in the outer electron shell of the atom. Electrons are around 1/1800ths of an atomic mass, the rest lies in the nucleus - thus the amazing amount of energy available in "splitting atoms". The end result is that nuclear is two to twenty times less less impactive to the environment.
What about the dangers, you ask? Well, the uranium used in nuclear reactors is the 235 variety, while the most common occuring naturally is the 238 isotope. Only .7% of natural uranium is -235, so a difficult refining process is necessary in order to obtain the necessary quantities to sustain a nuclear reaction, which is 3% in a conventional reactor. If you want to build a nuclear bomb, the necessary percentage is much, much higher - in excess of 90%. So there is no chance of your local power station going up in a mushroom cloud.
What about nuclear waste, you ask? That term is realistically a misnomer - there is no such thing. Most of the material (95%) that comes out of a nuclear reactor is completely harmless U-235 that occurs naturally and the other 5% was recycled until the Carter Administration decided to outlaw it. Many of the minor actinides (2%) are actually useful in medical applications, but we import all of ours from Canada now because we can't reprocess our own nucelar fuel. The French also make big moeny selling their reprossessed nuclear fuel, exporting it all over Europe and to Japan.
"Almost everything in a spent fuel rod can be recycled. The U-235 can be used again for fuel. So can the plutonium. Among the fission products and minor actinides there are lots of useful isotopes used in medicine and industrial procedures. Forty percent of all medical procedures now involve some radioactive isotope and nuclear medicine is a $250-billion industry."
All of France's nuclear waste from 25 years of producing 75% of its electricity by nculear power is stored in a single room in the basement of The Hague. One reason we got out of the reprossessing field was the fear of nuclear prolifieration, but that is almost impossible - the vast majority of the plutonium that results from commercial reactors can't be weaponized. It takes a special reactor to create the Plutonium-239 that is used to make a nuclear weapon, which is exactly what the Russians were up to a Chernobyl. Nuclear engineers know all this, but the debate has been dominated by the environmental lobby so pervasively that all the facts have been shoved under the rug. It sort of reminds one of the "settled science" of the Climate change myth, doesn't it?