Why Do We Need Nuclear?

  • Only nuclear power can lift all humans out of poverty without cooking the planet, or keeping cities like Delhi and Beijing caked in deadly particulate matter.
  • Coal and fossil fuels can lift people out of poverty but at a high environmental cost.
  • Solar and wind are too diffuse and not reliable enough to power factories and cities, and thus cannot lift people out of poverty nor reduce emissions from fossil fuel-powered electrical systems more than only modestly
  • Hydro can lift people out of poverty and is low-carbon, but it’s limited — most rich world rivers are over-dammed.
  • Spraying sulfur particles into the atmosphere can temporarily cool the earth but not reduce humankind’s negative environmental impact or lift all people out of poverty.
  • Everything is in place to build more nuclear plants.
  • They are the safest way to make reliable electricity and use the least amount of natural resources and produce the least amount of waste.


“Energy and the Environment.” Environmental Progress, environmentalprogress.org/energy-and-environment/#why-nuclear.

Big Vs. Small Scale Nuclear

  • The concept is that you can’t take a large reactor with all of its pumps and valves and piping and just shrink it down and expect to see an economic advantage
  • In a standard reactor, there are pipes running everywhere, and pumps and valves to circulate water to the reactor core.
  • The hot fuel creates steam that is piped out of the reactor vessel to run a turbine.
  • In the NuScale reactor, there are no pumps. Water circulates naturally as it gets heated and then cools off. The whole reactor sits underground in a tank of water that will flood everything in case of an accident.
  • A large traditional plant also takes a decade to build. During that time, a builder pays interest on borrowed money and jumps through numerous regulatory hoops.


Joyce, Christopher. “Is The Future Of Nuclear Power In Minireactors?” NPR, NPR, 6 June 2011, www.npr.org/2011/06/06/137004383/is-the-future-of-nuclear-power-in-mini-reactors.

Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power

  • California is regarded as the leading state when it comes to addressing climate change.
  • But in 2012 California’s carbon emissions actually increased more than 10 percent, bucking the national trend of decreases.
  • In large part because California shut down one of its few remaining nuclear power plants.
  • A recent study that looked at what it would take for California to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
  • It concluded that renewable sources are an important element; but the demand is vast if the state is to convert all its vehicles and the heating of homes from fossil fuels to clean electric energy.
  • A state-funded study by the California Council on Science and Technology concludes that nuclear power would also need to be a big part of the state’s response — providing one-third to two-thirds of the energy.



Harris, Richard. “Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power.” NPR, NPR, 17 Dec. 2013, www.npr.org/2013/12/17/251781788/environmentalists-split-over-need-for-nuclear-power.

Why I changed my mind about nuclear power | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxBerlin


“Why I Changed My Mind about Nuclear Power | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxBerlin.” Why I Changed My Mind about Nuclear Power | Michael Shellenberger | TEDxBerlin, TEDxBerlin, 21 Nov. 2017, environmentalprogress.org/slides-from-michaels-tedx-berlin-talk/6e3gbo2qq99zvpssz847hgc5ngp0kj.
St. Lawrence University