Positive Energy

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


Canada must begin the immediate construction of new CANDU reactors at the maximum rate that the nation can afford until we have eliminated the use of oil, gas, and coal. This includes the industrial sector, transportation (no more gasoline powered cars), home heating and cooling, and electricity.

Why do we have to do this?


(1) The Canadian worker needs a large supply of energy to remain competitive in a global economy. We live in a cold and a hot country - basic heating and cooling are needed to keep workers effective. We depend on machines and automation for construction and fabrication in a manner that allows our workers to receive a high wage. We live in a large country that requires extensive transportation. We have to move things around a lot so we can eat and dress appropriately. We have to move people to maintain family and cultural bonds. So even if we conserve and optimize, a Canadian future that includes a high living standard is a future that uses a lot of energy. We have to plan for an energetic future.

(2) Global warming is happening. Rapid global warming will cause massive death events (flooding of Bangladesh), wars (control of Iraqi oil), food shortages, and social disruption. Recent scenarios outlined by the US military have portrayed a grim future if environmental catastrophes overwhelm our political arrangements. Other changes are certain: the death of all coral reefs, the extinction of polar bears, extensive forest fires. We can't stop this process, but we have an intellectual obligation to stop contributing to it. We have to stop the dumping of industrial waste carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

(3) The primary human factor contributing to global warming is the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This insidious practice is worse than over fishing the cod stocks in Newfoundland, is worse than clear cutting the forests in BC, is worse than the destruction of the ozone layer by CFCs. It is the dirtiest and most offensive form of industrial pollution. It has to stop.

(4) The fastest way to replace oil, gas, and coal is to build CANDU nuclear reactors. The CANDU technology releases no carbon dioxide, none at all.

(5) This transition will also improve safety. Every year Canadians die in coal mines, are burned in natural gas explosions, and are poisoned in their homes by carbon monoxide from oil burning furnaces. During this same period there have been no injuries caused by CANDU reactors, and comparatively few deaths and illnesses in uranium mines. We need to switch to this much safer technology.

(6) The CANDU technology is an entirely Canadian product. I view it as an engineering marvel equivalent to the Avro Arrow. It is efficient, safe, cheap, and non-militaristic. This is the time, right now, to promote it and gain the advantages that it can deliver to our economy. We can make our workers productive based on clean, plentiful energy, and we can sell CANDU reactors to other places with all the ensuing trade benefits. The moment to act is now.

(7) The changes in the ground transportation sector are manageable. All roads, train tracks, canals, bus routes, etc. can stay as they are. The vehicles used on these routes have to convert to electric engines. For example, fuel cell engines that use zinc as the fuel would be clean, safe, and quiet. Zinc can be put in vehicles and oxidized there yielding electricity that will move the vehicle. The zinc oxide can then be returned to the fueling center where electricity is used to convert it back to pure zinc. This electricity comes from the CANDU reactors. Note that hydrogen cannot be used - it is too dangerous. Also note that electric power for air transportation is not feasible - the only improvement here would be to travel less by air.

That summarizes the argument. It is clear, simple, and feasible.


The Case for Nuclear Power in Ontario


"Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb"
James Hansen
Scientific American, March, 2004


  • The "whys" are all good. The "hows" leave me with some concerns.

    Nuclear waste. It's very poisonous. Where will we put it all? How safely will it be stored for the many hundreds of years it remains poisonous? It's not simple.

    "(CANDU) is ... non-militaristic." Is it not possible to derive weapons-grade plutonium using CANDU reactors? Also, a greater spread of reactors will make easier the theft of materials that can be used in so-called "dirty bombs", will it not?

    Dave Edwards

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2004 01:41  

  • And another thing.

    Does blogger.com have a TrackBack feature for its blogs? I can't find any.

    Dave Edwards

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 May, 2004 01:43  

  • 'Only nuclear power can now halt global warming'.

    So says scientist James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia Hypothesis.

    (I can't get the URL for the first link to work, so here it is as text: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/environment/story.jsp?story=524303 ).

    Dave Edwards

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 May, 2004 13:17  

  • The above URLs should be:
    http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/environment/story.jsp?story=524313 .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 24 May, 2004 13:32  

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