Thank god for air conditioning. Or rather, thank nuclear power – that’s what’s keeping us cool. Wednesday morning at 7 a.m., Ontario’s nuclear plants were generating more than half of the province’s electricity: 11,148 megawatts. Gas, hydro and coal accounted for another 8,608 MW. Wind power, at 97 MW, barely moved the dial. Those mighty turbines (for which we will be paying dearly for many years to come) contributed less than half of 1 per cent of the total power output.
Of course, wind energy is green. But so is nuclear. Unlike coal and natural gas, nuclear power creates zero greenhouse gas emissions.
“Nuclear energy is the most powerful weapon in the war on global warming,” Steve Aplin, an Ottawa-based consultant in energy and the environment, told me in a phone interview. He points out that if Ontario’s environmental lobby had succeeded in having nuclear power replaced by natural gas, the province’s carbon dioxide emissions would have soared.
But wait! Nuclear plants are dangerous. After the disasters at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima, surely nobody could seriously argue that nuclear power is the way ahead.
In fact, the peril of nuclear is one of the great myths of our time. Chernobyl, a disastrously designed reactor, has killed just 56 people so far, according to the United Nations. Three Mile Island and Fukushima have killed none. Engineering has taken many leaps ahead. Today, nuclear is the safest form of power that we have, next to wind."