SFDebate : Listen, Speak, Discuss, Understand


This House would Invest More in Nuclear Energy

Motion Confirmed : 4-3 IN FAVOR

This was a more technical and complex debate than we have had previously, and that made it educational and interesting. The group went into the meeting fairly ambivalent and unsure of whether or not they supported nuclear energy

James kicked off the discussion framing the debate, and proposing that we should not only invest more in nuclear energy, but also overturn a 30yr ban on construction of new power plants in California. His arguments in favor of nuclear energy lay along these lines :

  • It's Clean - America is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases. 30% of those greenhouse gas emissions come from Fossil Fuel Power Plants. If we are to reduce our CO2 emissions, we must look to alternative sources of energy. Nuclear Power Plants emit no carbon dioxide and do not contribute to global warming, yet produce a huge amount of energy
  • It's Cheap - Nuclear Energy is currently not much more expensive than coal. If you factor out the high costs of powerplant construction, nuclear energy is the cheapest form of power available to us. Unlike Oil & Gas, uranium mining is not susceptible to the geopolitical price instability
  • It's Low Waste - Much is made over what to do with radioactive waste. Yet it is not as difficult a problem as is made out to be. In 22 years, San Onofre power plant has only produced enough waste to fill the size of a basketball court. The waste degrades rapidly and is mostly safe after 600 years. This is compared to coal plants that belch numerous pollutants into the air that we breathe.
  • It's Reliable - Unlike 'sustainable' sources of energy which vary with the whims of the weather, nuclear power can operate at consistently high capacities. California's two nuclear plants account for 15% of the energy consumed. California's wind farms which cover many many square miles only account for 1.5%. - Furthermore in the 2006 heat wave the wind died at the same time as energy use soared.

Remi countered the argument with many good points on the dangers of nuclear waste and highlighting the other alternative sources of energy that are safer and more environmentally friendly

The went on to discuss the safety record of nuclear power plants, and in particular the three-mile-island affair and Chernobyl. We also discussed Yucca Mountain, terrorist threats on nuclear power stations, and how buildings could be designed to conserve energy. At one point the group was leaning heavily if favor of conservation and sustainable sources of power

James's summed up for the motion by arguing that a vote for nuclear energy is not a vote against the environment. It is a clean fuel. In an ideal world, sustainable sources of energy would be more efficient and more reliable, but they're not enough to provide the basic energy needs of society. There have been no signs that we can conserve our way out of our energy needs, and indeed, every year people demand more and more energy than before. So the group should be voting in favor of nuclear energy, or in favor of the status quo where most power comes from fossil fuels.

The group voted 4:3 In favor of the motion. - Many of those voting for the motion wanted to see the investment go into more research on nuclear power, alongside other forms of energy


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