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Ben Claassen III

Choose Your Poison

The disaster at Fukushima Daiichi fuels anew the debate over nuclear power, advocates of which say that, whatever its shortcomings, nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gases. Also, new plant designs are better than those currently melting down.

Unimproved is human nature, which favors profitable shortcuts. Thus, however well engineered the plants, nuclear accidents are inevitable—just like oil spills and mine explosions.

Coal

In addition to their global warming contributions, emissions from burning coal currently kill an estimated 170,000 people every year—but they are mostly old and sick already. In China, some 3,000 people die annually in mining accidents.

Oil

Emissions from oil kill an estimated 130,000 each year.

Nuclear

There have been about 2,600 deaths attributable to nuclear accidents each year. Many of those killed were young and vigorous, though, and there is as yet no disposal method for the spent fuel—which remains dangerous for eons.

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