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Monday, March 4, 2024

Transitions – Hot rocks for a clean planet

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In November, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met in Dubai, UAE. Over 200 countries participated with 70,000 attendees, including business leaders, young people, climate scientists, indigenous peoples, journalists, experts, stakeholders, and pressure groups.

King Charles and Pope Francis attended, but did not meet my husband, Roger, a retired nuclear engineer who represented the American Nuclear Society. 

Zero-emission nuclear plants run at all hours, in any season, in any weather. To those looking to replace coal and gas with wind and solar energy, nuclear power works even when the air is calm and/or the sky is cloudy. And nuclear fuel (the “hot rocks”) contains about a million times more energy than the stuff we burn, so we need only a little of it.
Wind turbines are massive with looming 165-foot blades. They have been known to impact the environment with noise, and the death of millions of birds and bats. The U.S. military has had to close several flight paths where wind turbines hampered low-altitude training missions.

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Wind and solar generators are reliant on weather, so they cannot generate electricity 24/7. During the two-thirds of the time that the wind is “off” or the three-quarters of the time when solar is “off,” the missing power is made up by polluting fossil-fueled generators, usually gas.

Roger became intimately familiar with nuclear power while operating a reactor on a U.S. Navy submarine. He was on a sub in the early 70’s. He recently attended a reunion of the sub in Florida. Roger volunteers to teach groups about the pros and cons of nuclear power.
Currently, the biggest con is cost. Georgia Power and Light just finished building the first new reactors in the U.S. in 30 years, far over budget and behind schedule – mostly because we don’t know how to build big projects in the U.S. anymore. Now, small plants are being developed for more efficient mass production in factories and for the export market.

Roger attended the UN Conference on his (our) dime because he understands the urgent need for solving our climate problems while maintaining the electricity supply from which we prosper. He is retired – but not from concern for our energy needs.

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Barbara Blomquist
Barbara Blomquist
Barbara Blomquist is a Naperville resident, wife, mother, quilter, and screenwriter. Contact her at BWBLomquist@aol.com.

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