Data trimming, nuclear emissions, and climate change

Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (1):19-23 (2009)

Authors
Kristin Shrader-Frechette
University of Notre Dame
Abstract
Ethics requires good science. Many scientists, government leaders, and industry representatives support tripling of global-nuclear-energy capacity on the grounds that nuclear fission is “carbon free” and “releases no greenhouse gases.” However, such claims are scientifically questionable (and thus likely to lead to ethically questionable energy choices) for at least 3 reasons. (i) They rely on trimming the data on nuclear greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGE), perhaps in part because flawed Kyoto Protocol conventions require no full nuclear-fuel-cycle assessment of carbon content. (ii) They underestimate nuclear-fuel-cycle releases by erroneously assuming that mostly high-grade uranium ore, with much lower emissions, is used. (iii) They inconsistently compare nuclear-related GHGE only to those from fossil fuels, rather than to those from the best GHG-avoiding energy technologies. Once scientists take account of (i)–(iii), it is possible to show that although the nuclear fuel cycle releases (per kWh) much fewer GHG than coal and oil, nevertheless it releases far more GHG than wind and solar-photovoltaic. Although there may be other, ethical, reasons to support nuclear tripling, reducing or avoiding GHG does not appear to be one of them.
Keywords Climate change  Conservation  Data trimming  Energy  Energy efficiency  Greenhouse-gas emissions  Renewables  Solar photovoltaic  Wind
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2009
DOI 10.1007/s11948-008-9097-y
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,999
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
64 ( #128,893 of 2,266,786 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #845,032 of 2,266,786 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature