For decades, the development of nuclear power has sparked staunch debate among scientists, politicians, and activists alike. For its proponents, the promise of nuclear energy is clear: It's the most effective means of reducing greenhouse gases and combating climate change while still meeting the world's growing demand for energy. And to date, nuclear energy produces approximately 10% of the world's power and rakes in billions in revenue in the United States alone. But its critics argue that expanding nuclear energy is dangerous and ill-advised. They cite the high costs of building powerplants, the potential consequences of a meltdown, and the challenge of managing waste. Rather, they argue, we should look to wind and solar to meet our energy demands. Should nuclear energy fuel our future? Arguing for the motion is Kirsty Gogan, co-founder and executive director of Energy for Humanity with Daniel Poneman, former deputy secretary of energy. Arguing against the motion is Gregory B. Jaczko, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Featuring a keynote conversation from Bill Nye, scientist and CEO of the Planetary Society. John Donvan moderates. This conversation was taped on January 23, 2020.
· Cutting fossil fuels to meet climate targets requires using every clean energy option available. Renewables alone can't meet the world's energy needs.
· Renewables are inconsistent - the sun doesn't always shine, and the wind doesn't always blow - but nuclear power can operate nearly every day of the year.
· There are fewer nuclear-related fatalities than those related to fossil fuels; nuclear power isn't as dangerous as the public assumes.
· The low operating costs of nuclear power justify the high initial investment. The next generation of reactors will recoup the cost of earlier models.
· Meeting climate targets requires switching to the quickest, cheapest carbon-free energy possible. Nuclear plant construction is too costly and time-consuming.
· There isn't sufficient regulation and governance to monitor nuclear energy at a large scale.
· Nuclear infrastructure could be weaponized by both governments and terrorists.
· Uranium mining and radioactive waste remain dangerous and the United States still doesn't have a permanent solution for dealing with nuclear byproducts.