This article (without the footnotes) appeared in the October 2008 issue of Friends Journal; ©2008 Friends Publishing Corporation; reprinted with permission.

Comments can be left on Karen's blog, at A Friend's Path to Nuclear Power 

A Friend's Path to Nuclear Power
by Karen Street                                                                                                                        

Karen Street, a member of Berkeley (Calif.) Meeting, began working on energy and environmental issues in 1995, with an early focus on climate change. Her interest groups and weekend retreats cover a range of issues: understanding the science and impacts of climate change, examining our own greenhouse gas emissions and motivations for change, energy policy and technology updates, nuclear power, corporate response to climate change, and informed activism. For references and footnotes for this article, go to Karen's blog: A Musing Environment.

Over a decade ago, I held opinions about nuclear energy similar to those of many Friends. I worked against nuclear weapons, but made a distinction between weapons and nuclear power plants—with the latter being a lighter concern. Later, after Three Mile Island, I became more aware of nuclear power risks. In the early days, however, I saw no reason to believe nuclear energy was any better or worse than other sources of electricity, including coal power. I knew from newspapers at the time that 2,000 miners died every year, mostly from black lung disease[1], and I assumed the dangers of nuclear waste were about equally bad.

Then, in 1995, for a class at University of California Extension, I chose to write a paper comparing coal and nuclear power. My training in math and physics led me to notice that all the authors who shared my initial position on the dangers of nuclear power got the physics and/or numbers wrong. Those who challenged my assumptions—arguing that nuclear energy is far less harmful to human health and the environment than coal power—checked out as reliable and compelling. (One antinuclear writer, Amory Lovins, argued, among other things, not that nuclear waste was dangerous, but that nuclear power costs a tad more than coal power.[2] He did not speak to my concern: which source of energy costs the most in human lives?)[3]

I searched without success for scientifically reliable sources to support claims that nuclear energy was too dangerous to be worth the risk. Rather, the story of coal—and the myriad ways it kills—began to look like the real disaster we were visiting on ourselves and our children, while the story of nuclear energy—the improved ventilation of mines beginning in 1959 that removed the major cause of miner death[4], the comparatively far lower risk of radiation from nuclear waste than was generally understood, the absence of air pollution—began to sound like a far safer energy source than coal could ever be.

I had two choices at this point: maintain my beliefs without justification, or give them up.

For me, as a Friend, the Testimony on Integrity—to be honest and truthful in word and deed—pointed the way then, as it does today. Initially, I looked at all sorts of books, articles, and websites, from believable to bizarre. I wanted to base my ministry only on those sources I found to be the most scrupulous and knowledgeable. Did their numbers compute? Was the evidence they cited traceable to verifiable sources? Did the evidence support the conclusions drawn? Was the work reviewed by independent experts in the field?

Even the best-documented and most sensible reports may someday prove wrong, and no system is totally immune to pressure. Peer review, however, such as that used in high-quality journals like Science and Nature, or in selecting papers for academic journals and conferences, is a formal process in which experts who do not have conflicts of interest are selected to review research or other work to determine whether it merits publication. Unaffected by those who stand to benefit from findings or recommendations, this process also rules out unfounded speculation. In this sense, the technical review performed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission or by national labs and governmental or intergovernmental agencies, can be seen as a type of independent peer review.[5]

The facts, theories, models, projections, and the like found in these sources continue to be tested over time. Within the scientific, technical, and policy communities that produce and rely on this information, although scandals are not unknown, those who fudge data are discredited, and errors are acknowledged and corrected. Though all knowledge is fallible, the ideas and information subjected to this kind of scrutiny are, not surprisingly, more reliable.

In my ministry, governed by the Testimony on Integrity, I try to pass on only information that has been subjected to this kind of review. This approach protects me from rumors and exaggerations, like the claim that we are running out of uranium[6], or that greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear energy are comparable to those from natural gas[7]—two assertions offered by antinuclear activists that are incompatible with reports appearing in peer-reviewed publications.

As I began to consider advocating nuclear energy to replace coal power, I examined the issues through the lens of the Testimony on Equality. If there is that of God in people, don't kill them. I could not find sources I trusted that told me that radioactivity from nuclear waste—even less so from a normally operating plant—would significantly jeopardize human health[8], while coal pollution kills over 20,000 people in the United States every year[9], plus contributing more than one-third of U.S. emissions of CO2 changing our climate.[10]

Nuclear accidents do kill: 50 to 60 are dead already from Chernobyl, and, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, up to 4,000 more may die from the initial exposure.[11] Although a Chernobyl could not happen in the West because we use containment systems and other safety features not used in that plant[12], fatal accidents can happen anywhere. But what does this mean? I hear antinuclear activists who appear to accept hundreds dead in plane crashes[13], 43,000 Americans dead every year in automobile accidents[14], and many more coal miners dead in the area around Chernobyl since the late 1980s than are expected ever to die from Chernobyl.[15] We seem able to accept these accidental (though predictable) deaths, yet some would insist that nuclear power—which has an impressive track record for safety in Western countries—must never have a single fatality.

After five decades of predictions of nuclear meltdown, it hasn't happened.[16] I try to imagine a nuclear power accident where many people die, and I ask how that might compare to the costs of not using nuclear energy. Besides the thousands in the United States who die each year from coal particulates, hundreds of thousands die from coal in China every year. [17] Coal pollution kills preferentially the very young, the very old, and those with other health problems. In the United States alone, coal deaths are the equivalent of more than six Chernobyls a year, and in China, they equal nearly 100 Chernobyls a year, including infant deaths in the tens of thousands. (Solar power is not a viable option for the Chinese so long as pollution blocks the sun.[18])

At one time, arguments warning against a possible Chernobyl, or demanding that no one should ever die from nuclear waste, might have felt persuasive. But I carry in my heart a picture of the people or the species I am trying to help. In the first year of my ministry, I carried over 26,000 deaths in the United States from coal pollution and mining. The number dead here from coal has grown to 350,000 since then.

But already by 1995, when I was learning the horrors of coal energy, those numbers were considered insignificant. Among scientists, saving those lives had already become only "another benefit" of reducing fossil fuel use—a more urgent goal.[19] The dominating fear then, growing bigger every year, was climate change. While the burning of coal and other fossil fuels is most immediately harmful to people downwind, climate change harms everyone—disproportionately those who do not benefit from the energy producedÑand endangers species in every part of the planet.

At the time, I had my favorite problems and my favorite solutions. I did not want climate change to matter. Too much was demanded of me, not just changing my mind, but also changing how I lived.

But it became obvious that our Peace Testimony was involved: living in the Light that takes away the occasion for war. Conflicts over the environment—over water and food and land above sea level—will continue to escalate. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 2, by the 2050s the number of people without water year-round due to climate change may grow to two billion or more.[20] Bangladeshis are already moving because of saltwater incursion into freshwater supplies[21], and the Not Welcome signs have appeared in nearby areas.[22] When tens or hundreds of millions lose access to water and food, conflict is unavoidable.

Studying climate change soon expanded my concern for the environment, as well. As I began to see where people lack food and water, I came to understand what we must be doing to other species. Scientific studies proliferated: along with other alpine and polar species that will go extinct in coming decades, two-thirds of polar bears will be gone by mid-century.[23] All shelled organisms in the ocean are at risk, including coral reefs crucial to at least a quarter of marine species[24], on which significant numbers of the world's poor depend exclusively for protein. A combination of warming and earlier spring is increasing the number and duration of large fires in the Northern Rockies as well as California and Oregon, adding to other ecosystem threats.[25] Even bacteria species are expected to go extinct in large numbers, let alone our primate cousins.[26] And the circle closes—what we do to the least of these our brethren, we are doing to ourselves.

From the beginning, the testimonies have framed and supported my ethical and rational understanding. But I am also filled with sadness and grief.

I hear people talk in abstractions about the benefits of not depending on corporations for our electricity—as if BP and other corporations are not involved in solar power, or that only nuclear energy of all electricity sources is produced by corporations. I hear claims that nuclear power costs a fraction of a cent more than coal power per unit of energy. (This is true in coal-rich nations; in other nations, nuclear power is often cheaper than coal, even without carbon capture and storage. Coal will be more expensive than nuclear power everywhere if we use technology to sequester carbon.)[27] I could understand arguments against doubling the price of electricity, but when people talk about fractions of a cent, I think of the 170,000 deaths attributable to climate change in 2000 alone, from heat waves, flooding, drought, and disease.[28] And I grieve.

I hear compelling pleas that we should live with less. Indeed, in my presentations, I help people look at personal greenhouse gas emissions, how we make choices, and what we value. But I am reminded of entomologist and human population growth critic Paul R. Ehrlich's recommendation that the world's population stabilize to between one and two billion.[29] Since then, it has grown from 3.7 to 6.6. billion. We can work toward reduced demand, but we cannot base policy on wishful thinking. Policy experts are looking for solutions that wonÕt roast us, whatever the world's population, whatever the levels of consumption to which we hold ourselves. During the time Friends have been asking me why people in charge of policy don't consider voluntary changes in behavior, world greenhouse gas emissions have grown faster than even the highest estimates.[30]

Marianne Lepmann, a beloved Berkeley Friend who lived to age 90, left Germany with her family in 1933 after she woke up with a vision of the Holocaust. Those in her family who stayed behind all died. "The price of indecision was death," she said. Similarly, I hear Friends say they intend to work on climate change tomorrow, or that we should wait to see if renewables and efficiency will be enough before we expand nuclear power plants. Then I wake to more reports of my state, California, suffering a big increase in forest fires, which scientists say is due to climate change.[31] By century's end, all predictions are that the snow pack will be gone, or nearly so, with great harm to agriculture and ecosystems. I read about the gradual replacement of Amazon rainforest by savanna. I hear the Ganges River, a spiritual wellspring as well as a source of water, will run dry during part of the year within a generation.[32] And I grieve.

I hear arguments about the role of nuclear subsidies—for research and development and for extra regulatory costs of new plants. Many are unaware that subsidies for solar R & D have exceeded those for nuclear power since 1976[33], and that these and other subsidies must continue to be high for decades given the costs of developing and deploying solar technology. If we argue against subsidy-intensive solutions, solar would be among the first to go. Instead, we all hope for more solar subsidies, even though solar is expected to provide less than half a percent of the world's energy in 2030 unless better technologies are discovered.[34]

I hear people fantasizing that we can meet all of our energy needs with so-called renewables, by which we mean fuel sources that do not run out. Contrary to popular view, windmills and solar collectors require more resources to build and replace than nuclear plants for an equivalent amount of energy, because the energy source is so much more diffuse.[35] And to my sorrow, current reliable estimates continue to suggest that neither renewables alone nor together with nuclear energy will come close to meeting expected increases in demand, much less cutting into current levels of fossil fuel use.[36] Meanwhile, I learn that food productivity in parts of Africa will decline by half by 2020, and up to 30 percent in South and Central Asia by mid-century, due to climate change.[37] And I grieve.

Others idealize so-called "non-technological solutions," by which they mean non-nuclear, though they support national labs' use of nanotechnology that will be essential to make solar power economically viable.[38] And who does not depend on our society's advanced technologies, from telephones and computers to airplanes? Inarguably, we need all the non-fossil fuel sources of energy we can muster—from solar and wind to nuclear energy—and technology of many kinds will be basic to any solution we find.

But truly non-technological solutions are also important, such as redesigning cities to make driving inconvenient in order to promote walking, biking, and public transportation; taxing air travel to make it a less attractive option; and mandating higher summer temperatures in public buildings. Along with such non-technological solutions, we can focus on safer technologies. But instead, I read of Germany replacing nuclear plants with coal plants—without carbon-sequestering technology.[39] And I grieve.

Analyses from International Energy Agency and others accepted for inclusion in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change offer no way to keep global temperature increase below 2°C, and few see any way to keep increases below 2.4°C. Instead of finding additional solutions such as carrots and sticks to change our behavior, I hear Friends opposing one of the largest solutions. And I grieve.

Some want only those solutions that are decentralized, small-scale, natural, or whatever the current appeal to our longing for a simpler world. But why only those solutions? Following these arguments, we may, within a decade, have policies in place that assure a precipitous melting of the Greenland ice sheets and the creation of a world where many will find adaptation impossible, guaranteeing conflict for decades or centuries.[40]

Scientists see species extinction dominoing: species magnificent in their own right—whales and bees and hummingbirds—or prosaic and indispensable as fungi; species beneficial to humans and ecosystems—the mangrove forests that buffer coasts from storms and harbor fish, or species whose benefit may not be apparent; species that have withstood climate change for millions of years.[41] I allow myself to acknowledge these losses, and I grieve.

I know my own resistance to change, so I share sympathy with others who are digging in heels and locking knees to protect old beliefs. But there is comfort in knowing that when called, I have followed. When challenged, I have responded. Friends' testimonies ask no less of me.

[1] Center for Disease Control identified black lung disease as the underlying or a contributing cause of death for 2,700 coal miners in 1982; this was down to 700 by 2004. Coal workers' pneumoconiosis: Number of deaths, crude and age-adjusted death rates, U.S. residents age 15 and over, 1968Ð2004, (CDC: 2005) Many fewer die in mining accidents, which averaged 45/year in the 1990s, though 65 died from US mining, 33 from coal mining, in 2007. Mine Safety and Health Administration Injury Trends in Mining (US Department of Labor)

[2] Lovins once advocated coal over nuclear power, in part because it was cheaper. For example, he gives the increased expense of nuclear power relative to coal as 25% more, however, 25% of <3 cents/kWh was not a big addition to the utility bill. Amory Lovins and Hunter Lovins, Energy/War: Breaking the Nuclear Link (New York: Friends of the Earth, 1980), 56.

Even though Lovins described many problems with then-current coal power, he was once enthusiastic about many upcoming coal technologies (now he advocates getting rid of coal altogether). In his pivotal 1977 Foreign Affairs article which brought Lovins to the attention of the world, he says, "Properly used, coal, conservation, and soft technologies together can squeeze the "oil and gas" wedge...from both sides—so far that most of the frontier extraction and medium-term imports of oil and gas become unnecessary and our conventional resources are greatly stretched. Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy with only a temporary and modest (less than twofold at peak) expansion of mining." Amory Lovins, Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken, Foreign Affairs, October 1976

Lovins, who was often recommended to me by Friends, became important to my own process. I had been searching for people who agreed with my preconceptions, and found that they erred on facts and/or laws of physics (particularly thermodynamics). After reading portions of two Lovins books, I continued to read material Friends and others gave me, but I stopped actively seeking to justify my beliefs.

In the1977 Foreign Affairs article he considers a variety of energy issues, including pollution, dependence on oil, and climate change. Lovins advocates what he calls a soft energy path: efficiency can reduce demand, and renewables (solar heating and cooling, hydro, wind, and biofuels—fuels made from biological material, but not solar collectors in the desert) can pretty much supply all of that reduced demand, though coal will be important for decades. Lovins also argues against using electricity for heating, and supports small scale sources which "virtually [eliminate] distribution losses," although wind power usually travels a long distance in any scheme for widespread deployment. He describes large centralized power plants as "future technologies whose time has passed."

Several of his points are important, and Lovins' article helped many understand for the first time, eg, the importance of efficiency and some methods for achieving this reduced use, as well as arguments against using electricity for heating. He advocates looking at the problem holistically, considering the cost of better insulation along with savings on heating and cooling systems. Lovins ignores some issues, such as greater pollution dangers from small sources of electricity. Additionally, many scientists were not comfortable with many of his main points.

An unusual attack in a peer-reviewed journal on the credibility of someone who talks about science included Hans Bethe, a Nobel Prize winner in physics knowledgeable about nuclear power, citing "evidence that Lovins has overstated the capital cost of nuclear and other conventional technologies by a factor of 2 or 3 and understated the cost of solar energy by a still greater margin." Experts in wind and biofuels were no more positive. Experts in solar power expressed even stronger opinions, for example, "Sheldon Butt, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, describes what he calls 'a lengthy series of distortions and even misrepresentations of physical and scientific fact.'" Allen Hammond, Soft Technology" Energy Debate: Limits to Growth Revisited? (pdf, subscription needed) Science 27 May 1977 196: 959-961

In the Foreign Affairs article, Lovins states that getting rid of nuclear power will virtually eliminate "nuclear proliferation from the world", a surprising statement given how many nuclear weapons reside in countries that developed power after weapons, if at all.

Lovins argues that solar heating was already cheaper in 1977 in much of the continental US than electricity or oil, and that the entire package, efficiency plus coal plus renewables, is cheaper than the alternative (perhaps because he believed the cost of a kWh was likely to treble by 1985). Additionally, Lovins states, "[r]ecent research suggests that a largely or wholly solar economy can be constructed in the United States with straightforward soft technologies that are now demonstrated and now economic or nearly economic." I have read about the low cost and our rapid ability to move to renewables many times over the years, and wondered why, if this is the case, articles opposing nuclear power even need to be written. 

[3] I do not address concerns about proliferation or terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants, etc, as that would add to the length of the paper and because it was not a part of my own process. I was interested in non-proliferation, and read about it, but none of the material I had read mentioned nuclear power, per se, as a proliferation risk.

Because I have heard a sizeable number of anti-nuclear Friends worry about this, many of these are addressed on my blog, A Musing Environment, see Nuclear Power in a Warming World. See particularly these: 
Part 1 Nuclear Bombs, Nuclear Energy, and Terrorism
Part 2 Today's Bombs, Making a Bomb
Part 3 Making Bombs from Nuclear Waste
Part 4 Terrorist Targets
Part 5 Nuclear Proliferation—International Treaties
Part 6 The Bomb Spreads
Part 7 Nuclear Power and the Weapons Threat
The material in those posts comes mostly from David Bodansky Nuclear Energy 2nd edition. (New York: AIP Press, 2004)

[4] Mining in unventilated uranium mines is dangerous because of the radon gas. "By 1990, 410 lung cancer deaths had occurred among the 4,100 miners in the Colorado Plateau study group; about 75 lung cancer deaths would normally have been expected in a group of miners such as this." DOE Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments - Final Report Openness: Human Radiation Experiments, Chapter 12: The Uranium Miners.

[5] Recently, both Science and Nature magazines addressed the topic of peer review. Nature posts a Peer Review Debate. One post, Quality and value: The true purpose of peer review, makes the point, "[S]cientists understand that peer review per se provides only a minimal assurance of quality, and that the public conception of peer review as a stamp of authentication is far from the truth." Nevertheless, scientists consider this step necessary and scientific organizations DO consider this a minimal step.

A Science editorial says "Peer review, in which experts in the field scrutinize and critique scientific results prior to publication, is fundamental to scientific progress, and the achievements of science in the last century are an endorsement of its value. Peer review influences more than just science. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other similar advisory groups base their judgments on peer-reviewed literature, and this is part of their success. Many legal decisions and regulations also depend on peer-reviewed science. Thus, thorough, expert review of research results--without compensation--is an obligation that scientists shoulder for both science and the general public...At Science, we read thousands of reviews and author responses each year. From this vantage point, the system does not appear to be irretrievably broken and continues to serve science well." Reviewing Peer Review (subscription needed), Science 4 July 2008:Vol. 321. no. 5885, 15 

[6] "Adopting the probably conservative resource estimate of 20 million [metric] tonnes, uranium resources...could sustain four time the present rate of generation for 80 years." Seawater also contains uranium. The current cost of obtaining uranium from seawater, which would likely come down with research, would add 1.5 cents/kWh. There is five times as much thorium as uranium. David Bodansky Nuclear Energy 2nd edition. (New York: AIP Press, 2004) 71, table 3.4; 225 - 6

[7] Life cycle greenhouse gas costs of energy (for nuclear, this would include mining, enriching the uranium, operating and decommissioning the plant, and waste disposal) are of critical importance to tens of governments, hundreds of site managers, thousands of academics, hundreds of thousands of businesses making decisions anticipating or already living with greenhouse gas caps.

International range for
greenhouse gas emissions: modern coal plant from 790 - 1182 g/kWh, natural gas from 389 - 511 g, nuclear from 2 - 59 g. Frans H. Koch, Hydropower-Internalized Costs and Externalized Benefits, International Energy Agency (IEA)-Implementing Agreement for Hydropower Technologies and Programs, (Ottawa, Canada, 2000). 

For a British analysis, go to House of Commons, Environmental Audit, Memorandum submitted by Malcolm Grimston

For an American analysis, go to Paul Meier, Life-Cycle Assessment of Electricity Generation Systems and Applications for Climate Change Policy Analysis
(pdf), (University of Wisconsin-Madison 2002). 84 

Sometimes an argument is made that using lower quality uranium increases
greenhouse gas emissions. A British analysis shows that greenhouse gas emissions associated with fuel would increase from 1.85 g CO2/kWh to 3.85 g. Carbon footprint of the nuclear fuel cycle: Briefing note (British Energy: 2006) (pdf), 2 

All analyses I've seen indicate that nuclear
greenhouse gas emissions are comparable to those from wind (ignoring the back up, normally inefficient natural gas) and lower than solar.

[8] For the first 10,000 years, radioactive exposure is trivial. "The Department estimates the maximum exposure to occur some 300,000 years after the repository is closed. At that time, it is possible that some people living in the Amargosa Valley could receive an additional 260 millirem per year. This would bring their total radiation dose to around 660 millirem per year." To compare, typical exposure in Washington state is 630 mrem. Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management Fact Sheet: Americans' Average Radioactive Exposure (from a proposed US nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain) (Las Vegas: US Department of Energy, 2004)

For comparison: Just looking at radiation from soil and bedrock, ignoring cosmic rays and other sources of exposure, "(s)cientists have determined the NORM terrestrial doses in many parts of the world. These doses vary depending upon the geology of the area. Regions with high amounts of uranium and thorium in the soil and bedrock also have higher radium and radon concentrations. The US average is 30 mrem. The highest US terrestrial dose is 88 mrem. The highest measured terrestrial dose, 26,000 mrem/yr, occurs in Ramsar, Iran. Other high annual terrestrial doses occur in areas of Brazil and India (3,500 mrem), China (1,000 mrem), Norway (1,050 mrem), and Italy (438 mrem). The areas in Iran, India, and Brazil are associated with high concentrations of uranium and thorium in the soil. Epidemiological studies of the people in these areas have been made to determine, what, if any, affect these high radiation dose levels have on health. To date, no radiation related health effects have been found." United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation 1993; National Committee on Radiation Protections and Measurement Report #94
See source here (pdf). 

To further compare 260 mrem to other exposures, it is comparable to a one cigarette a day habit, and less than the occupational exposure of flight crews. See, for example, Department of Energy, Radiation in Perspective

Also, Per Peterson in a talk at UC, Berkeley points out that groundwater pollution near Yucca Mountain tens of thousands of years in the future will be relatively unimportant compared to groundwater pollution today and in the future from 20th century chemicals. Per Peterson, Current and Future Activities For Nuclear Energy in the United States (2006) slides 30 and 31 

According to National Research Council, the biggest challenges are societal, and we deal with much more complex and greater potential hazards than nuclear waste. "Safety and security assessment experts must communicate their belief that their calculated results, although imperfect, provide sufficiently reliable input for decision makers. As long as one can be accurate in assuring that the levels of radioactivity release are low, precise estimates are not needed. Even with some orders of magnitude of residual uncertainty, the calculated release may be clearly within defined safety goals or limits." Committee on Disposition of High-Level Radioactive Waste Through Geological Isolation, Board on Radioactive Waste Management, National Research Council, Disposition of High-Level Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel: The Continuing Societal and Technical Challenges
, (National Academies Press, 2001), 3 - 6

[9] Clean Air Task Force estimates more than 30,000 American deaths due to fine particulate pollution from fossil fuel power plants in the US each year, disproportionately from coal, along with hundreds of thousands of Americans who suffer asthma attacks, cardiac problems, and upper and lower respiratory problems from fine particles from power plants. About 88%, or 26,500, are from coal. Conrad Schneider, edited by Maria Padian Dirty Air, Dirty Power: Mortality and Health Damage Due to Air Pollution from Power Plants. (Massachusetts: Mount Vernon Printing, 2004), 5.

An examination of 95 large cities accounting for 40% of US population found almost 4,000 premature deaths annually, based on mortality data from 2000. "This value is probably an underestimate of the total mortality burden from such an increase in ozone because it accounts for only the short-term effects." Some of this is attributable to coal, though coal's contribution is decreasing. Michelle Bell, et al. 2004. Short-Term Increase in Ozone Linked to Rise in Number of Deaths in Large U.S. Cities JAMA 292:2372-2378. 

[10] US coal carbon dioxide emissions were 2,154 million metric tons in 2007, out of 5,984 metric tons CO2 for all energy. Energy Information Agency, U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Energy Sources 2007 Flash Estimate, 2008

[11] International Atomic Energy Agency. Chernobyl's Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-economic Impacts and Recommendations to the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine (pdf) Second revised version, (The Chernobyl Forum: 2003-2005), 14-16 

[12] IAEA Frequently Asked Chernobyl Questions

[13] 1,700 US civil aviation accidents in 2007, no fatalities on large scheduled commercial airlines (down from 50 in 2006), 535 deaths in general aviation accidents. Insurance Information Institute, Facts and Statistics: Aircraft Accidents in the US 2007

[14] 2,575,000 motorists and non-motorists injured in US traffic crashes, 42,642 killed. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration 2006 Traffic Safety Annual Assessment Ð A Preview, (pdf) 1

[15] "Ukraine's coal mine death toll is over two hundred per year (eg. 1999: 274, 1998: 360, 1995: 339, 1992: 459)." World Nuclear Association Safety of Nuclear Power Reactors See Appendix 1: the Hazards of Using Energy

[16] "The historical record of nuclear reactor performance can be interpreted as showing that they are very safe or that they are very dangerous. The former conclusion follows if one limits consideration to plants outside the former Soviet Union (FSU). The latter conclusion follows if one focuses on the Chernobyl accident and takes it as a broadly applicable indicator."

As of 2003, commercial reactors outside the FSU had a cumulative operating experience of more than 10,000 reactor years (by now it's 11,000 reactor years). No one has died from an accident from radiation exposure, neither worker nor public. [Two people died in a Japanese reprocessing accident.] Military reactors in the West have had problems: in 1961, three army technicians died. David Bodansky, Nuclear Energy 2nd edition. (New York: AIP Press, 2004), 371-410 

[17] Bryan Walsh, Choking on Growth, Time, December 13, 2004.

World Health Organization estimates 380,000 deaths/year due to indoor air pollution (this is primarily coal) and 275,000 deaths due to outdoor air pollution (a combination of transportation and coal). Environmental Health Burdens of Canada, China and the USA,
(WHO, 2007), 2.

[18] The cost of photovoltaic cells in California exceeds a reasonable greenhouse gas tax, more than $300/ton CO2-equivalent avoided. Much of China is south of California, but high temperatures in the summer decrease efficiency by 0.5%/degree Celsius above 25°C (77°F). Severin Borenstein, The Market Value and Cost of Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Production (Berkeley: Center for the Study of Energy Markets (CSEM) Working Paper Series, 2008), 25. An overcast day can decrease cell effectiveness by 50% or more. Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Panels, (, 2008)

[19] For example, Cifuentes, Luis, et al Science. Hidden Health Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation. 17 August 2001 293: 1257-1259

[20] "The number of people living in severely stressed river basins is projected to increase significantly from 1.4-1.6 billion in 1995 to 4.3-6.9 billion in 2050, for the SRES A2 scenario (medium confidence). The population at risk of increasing water stress for the full range of SRES scenarios is projected to be: 0.4-1.7 billion, 1.0-2.0 billion and 1.1-3.2 billion, in the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s, respectively." Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report Working Group 2 Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Technical Summary

See the full report or one of the summaries for more information.

IPCC scenarios do not describe possible responses to climate change, but rather various storylines in the absence of a response: higher or lower population, more or less globalized, more or less emphasis on material vs service economy, more or less low- greenhouse gas sources of energy chosen for reasons unrelated to climate change. Today, greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than predicted by A1fi, the fossil intensive scenario. Next decade, actual growth in greenhouse gas emissions could average 3.1%/year, compared to 2.6% for the fossil intensive scenario. Peter Sheehan, The new global growth path: implications for climate change analysis and policy (pdf), Climatic Change (2008) table 4, 9.

Faster-than-predicted sea level rise will increase the number affected. IPCC Working Group 1 predictions for sea level rise (up to 59 cm, almost 2 feet) are based on a warming ocean and small glacier melt, and do not include contributions from ice sheet melt because the earlier models were wrong. Ice sheet dynamics are an important focus of scientific studies today. 

For example, one recent report estimates a most likely sea level rise due to all causes of 80 cm (32 in) to 2 meters (79 in), though the lower amount is more probable than the upper amount. The authors describe this range as a starting point for the discussion, though still with substantial uncertainties. W. T. Pfeffer, J. T. Harper, S. O'Neel, Kinematic Constraints on Glacier Contributions to 21st-Century Sea-Level Rise. Science 5 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5894, 1340 - 1343 

[21] "Bangladesh, which has 140 million people packed into an area a little smaller than Illinois, is one of the most vulnerable places to climate change. As the sea level slowly rises, this nation that is little more than a series of low-lying delta islands amid some of Asia's mightiest rivers -- the Ganges, Jamuna-Brahmaputra and Meghna -- is seeing saltwater creep into its coastal soils and drinking water. Farmers near the Bay of Bengal who once grew rice now are raising shrimp." Laurie Goering, The First Refugees of Global Warming, Chicago Tribune, May 2, 2007.

[22] "In Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the risk of coastal flooding is growing and could leave some 30 million people searching for higher ground in a nation already plagued by political violence and a growing trend toward Islamist extremism. Neighboring India is already building a wall along its border with Bangladesh." Kurt Campbell et al, The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, (Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2007), 5

[23] US Geological Survey predicts, "Projected changes in future sea ice conditions, if realized, will result in loss of approximately 2/3 of the world's current polar bear population by the mid 21st century. Because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative." Steve Amstrup, et al Forecasting the Range-wide Status of Polar Bears at Selected Times in the 21st Century (pdf) (USGS, 2007) According to IPCC Summary for Policy Makers Working Group 2, (2007) alpine areas of Australia and New Zealand are threatened by 2020 (p 13), alpine regions worldwide are identified as a key vulnerability in chapter 4 (eg, p 244) of the complete WG2 report. 

[24] IPCC Working Group 2, (2007) ch 4, 213, etc

[25] Science 18 August 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5789, pp. 940 - 943, Westerling, et al Warming and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity (subscription needed)

[26] Baboons may not be at risk, but chimpanzees and gorillas, endangered species, live in tropical forests where, according to IPCC WG2, ch 9, rain has declined. (p 436) Extinction may result from other causes, such as habitat destruction to grow crops for biofuels, a problem for orangutans in southeast Asia. 

Jim Silwa, Climate change could impact vital functions of microbes, (EurekAlert, June 3, 2008) 

[27] "In the absence of a carbon price, nuclear power costs are comparable with coal- or natural gas-based power at current price, or slightly higher. A carbon price of between $10 and $25/tCO2 makes nuclear power economically competitive." International Energy Agency, Energy Technology Essentials: Nuclear Power (pdf) (IEA, 2007) Neither construction time for newer designs like AP-1000 that use extensive factory modular fabrication (industry estimates are as low as 3 years) nor costs will be known for sure until the first several are built, by the middle of next decade.

[28] World Health Organization estimates climate change deaths in 2000: 77,000 from malnutrition, 47,000 from diarrhoea, 27,000 from malaria, 2,000 from floods, and 12,000 from cardiovascular disease, 166,000 in all. The most affected regions were southeast Asia with 80,000 dead, parts of Africa with 36,000 dead, and north Africa/south Asia with 21,000 dead. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum and Rosalie Woodruff, Environmental Burden of Disease Series, No. 14, Climate change: Quantifying the health impact at national and local levels, (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2007), table A.2, 58  The numbers may be higher today.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states, "the excess deaths of the 2003 heatwave in Europe are likely to be linked to climate change." Over 35,000 died just in Europe from heat and the pollution problems associated with heat (increased forest fires, and greater particulate and ozone pollution). IPCC Working Group 2 (2007), ch 8, 397 

[29] Paul Ehrlich began recommending in the late 1960s, early 1970s that the world's population stabilize around 1 - 2 billion. The world's population increased from 3.7 billion in 1970 to 6.6 billion today.

"His Population Bomb began, "The battle to feed all of humanity is over ... hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death." In 1969, Ehrlich added, "By 1985 enough millions will have died to reduce the earth's population to some acceptable level, like 1.5 billion people.": Mike Toth, Paul Ehrlich gets Stanford "Reviewed", Stanford Review, March 10, 1998

[30] "The actual emissions growth rate for 2000-2007 exceeded the highest forecast growth rates for the decade 2000-2010 in the emissions scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (IPCC-SRES)." Global Carbon Project (2008) Carbon budget and trends 2007, (, 26 September 2008)

Peter Sheehan, The new global growth path: implications for climate change analysis and policy (pdf), Climatic Change (2008)

[31] "[W]armer temperatures appear to be increasing the duration and intensity of the wildfire season in the western United States. Since 1986, longer, warmer summers have resulted in a fourfold increase of major wildfires and a sixfold increase in the area of forest burned, compared to the period from 1970 to 1986. A similar increase in wildfire activity has been reported in Canada from 1920 to 1999...[E]fforts [for large fires] can cost more than $20 million per day, and seasonal expenditures by governmental agencies in recent years have reached $1.7 billion." Science 18 August 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5789, pp. 927 - 928 Is Global Warming Causing More, Larger Wildfires? (subscription needed) Also see More Large Forest Fires Linked To Climate Change, Science Daily, July 10, 2006.

[32] "The Gangetic basin alone is home to 500 million people, about 10% of the total human population in the region. Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate." IPCC Working Group 2, (2007), ch 10, 493

[33] Federal subsidies for renewables other than hydro were about 5% of the subsidy pie between 1950 and 2003; subsidies for nuclear were 10%. Since renewables produced very little power, the subsidy/kWh was very large. Oil (47%), natural gas, coal, and hydro all received more subsidies. R&D since 1976 is greater for solar than for fission. From 1994 - 2003, renewables plus geothermal received 45% of the R&D budget for electricity, though they produced less than 1% of electricity. Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling, The U.S. Energy Subsidy Scorecard, Spring 2006. (National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and University of Texas Issues Online in Science and Technology) 

Sometimes the Price-Anderson Act is cited as an example of a nuclear subsidy. Under Price-Anderson, the nuclear industry self-insures—all companies together pay up to $10 billion in the event of an accident, on top of what the utility pays. If the cost exceeds that amount, Congress can require industry to pay more, or the US government can pay. Three Mile Island cost the fund (not the taxpayer) $70 million. KB, Price Anderson Act Explained, (NEI Nuclear Notes, September 16, 2008) Natural disasters due to climate change, or exacerbated by climate change, do cost the taxpayer. Increases in the frequency and length of large forest fires, and likely increases in the number of large storms, are costly.

[34] In a weak mitigation scenario, solar in 2030 provides 0.2% of the world's energy, for heating and electricity. Analysis of existing and planned investment and financial flows relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to climate (Vienna: UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2007), 38

Severin Borenstein and others argue that research and development are vital, to find solar technologies that are cheaper or/and more efficient, that today's technology is too expensive. Severin Borenstein, The Market Value and Cost of Solar Photovoltaic Electricity Production (Berkeley: Center for the Study of Energy Markets (CSEM) Working Paper Series, 2008), 24

[35] Wind power, for example, requires ten times as much steel and four times as much concrete per MWh as does nuclear; this ratio will decrease as capacity factor for wind improves. Per Peterson UC, Berkeley talk Current and Future Activities For Nuclear Energy in the United States (2006) (slide 11)

[36] Many estimates in analysis accepted by IPCC Working Group 3 (Mitigation 2007) show coal use continuing to increase. One of the more ambitious plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions was published later. In International Energy Agency's more ambitious scenario, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% worldwide from 2004 levels by 2050, coal decreases only somewhat from about 7,000 TWh in 2005. The difference is that all coal and most natural gas plants in that scenario use carbon capture and storage. Energy Technology Perspectives Presentation at Tokyo Launch (IEA, 2008)

[37] IPCC Working Group 2 (Impacts) Summary for Policymakers, 2007, 13

[38] Lawrence Berkeley Lab's Helios Project addresses both solar and cellulosic biofuels.

[39] "Nuon is also wooing customers away from German providers by offering "nuclear-free electricity" at attractive rates-electricity that will be produced in coal-burning power plants in the future." Sebastian Knauer and Michael Fršhlingsdorf, German Energy Policy At The Crossroads Der Spiegel, July 26, 2007

[40] Center for Strategic & International Studies examines two scenarios for 2040, with a temperature increase of 1.3°C or 2.6°C (this is a little high). Additionally, there is a catastrophic scenario, 5.6°C by 2100. Kurt Campbell, et al, The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change (Center for Strategic & International Studies, 2007)

The Stern Review considers the cost of failing to address climate change: 5-20% of gross domestic product forever. It does not count the cost of conflict. The Economics of Climate Change (UK: The Office of Climate Change, 2006) Executive Summary, x

[41] Some mountainous areas of Europe may have species loss as high as 80% by 2080. By mid-century, "[t]here is a risk of significant biodiversity loss through species extinction in many areas of tropical Latin America." "In both polar regions, specific ecosystems and habitats are projected to be vulnerable, as climatic barriers to species invasions are lowered." "With higher temperatures, increased invasion by non-native species is expected to occur, particularly on mid- and high latitude islands." IPCC Working Group 2 Summary for Policy Makers, 14-15