On Point On Point

Is Nuclear Power Necessary?47:40

Play

With guest host Jane Clayson.

Will it take nuclear power – a lot more nuclear power – to save the world from climate change? The debate is on. In Paris and beyond.

This May 3, 2011 aerial photo shows the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, N.H. The impending retirement of Massachusetts' only nuclear power plant could roil energy markets across New England. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
This May 3, 2011 aerial photo shows the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, N.H. The impending retirement of Massachusetts' only nuclear power plant could roil energy markets across New England. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

The world leaders have made their speeches and gone home. Their negotiators and technocrats are still in Paris, at the climate summit, trying to turn their bosses’ words into a real deal. But even if this turns out to be a diplomatic triumph, it still only gets the world halfway to the goal of stopping the rise in carbon. The focus is on renewables –wind, solar—and who pays for what. But experts on the sidelines say that’s not enough --you have to go nuclear --a lot of nuclear plants across the planet—to get to where we need to be. This hour, On Point, climate, carbon and nuclear energy.

Guests

David Unger, energy editor the Christian Science Monitor. (@dungerdunger)

Josh Freed, vice president for the clean energy program at the Washington, D.C. think tank Third Way. (@jsfreed)

Allison Macfarlane, director of the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs. Former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Atmosphere and Energy Program at Stanford University. Author of "Air Pollution and Global Warming." (@mzjacobson)

From The Reading List

The Christian Science Monitor: In Paris, a turning point for global climate talks -- "Across two decades, diplomats have grappled with the ultimate tragedy of the commons: how to dramatically reduce human-made emissions that trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere. Nearly every nation agrees it should be done. The hard part is agreeing on how to do it."

NPR News: World Leaders To Debate Role Of Nuclear Power At U.N. Climate Summit — "Both the United States and quite a number of other countries are pushing nuclear hard as one of the clean energy options that are available. It doesn't - like wind or solar, it doesn't emit carbon and it also doesn't emit the local air pollution that can cause smoggy skies and deaths as you see in Beijing or New Delhi or the other cities of the developing world."

Boston Globe: Inconvenient truths for the environmental movement -- "Nuclear power presses a number of psychological buttons — fear of poisoning, ease of imagining catastrophes, distrust of the unfamiliar and the man-made — and so is held to an irrationally higher standard than fossils. When a coal mine disaster kills dozens, or a deep-water oil leak despoils vast seas, nobody shuts down the coal or oil industries. Yet the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan, which killed nobody, led Germany to shut down its nuclear plants and quietly replace them with dirty coal. Even France — which gets three quarters of its electricity from nuclear power and has never had an accident — now plans to shut down many plants under pressure from environmentalists."

+Join the discussion
Share

Support the news

Next Up

Where to now?

More On Point or Explore Audio.