Energy for the public: the case for increased nuclear fission energy

Energy for the public: the case for increased nuclear fission energy     

R Stephen White    

Santa Barbara, US: BookSurge Publishing   2005 | 310pp | ?49.95 (HB) | ISBN 0938711857        

Reviewed by Dennis Rouvray 

There are problems ahead wherever you look on the energy front these days. Our energy sources are rapidly becoming depleted, we have an ever growing dependence on foreign suppliers, greenhouse gases are creating havoc with our climate, and all our nuclear power stations are nearing the end of their lifetime. Some hard thinking as well as some creative solutions are called for if we are not to run out of energy in the foreseeable future. And if we are to continue with our current eclectic mix of energy sources - which seems to be the only viable option at present - should greener and cleaner sources play a more important role? Some 8 per cent of our energy needs are currently met by nuclear power stations. But the British government seems set to make greater use of renewable energy that will be derived from hydroelectric, solar, wave and wind sources. The targets set are 10 per cent from renewables by 2010 to an ambitious 20 per cent by 2020. 

As Energy for the public  makes all too clear, our energy policy is now becoming a highly controversial topic. This book, written by a retired American nuclear physicist, marshalls arguments in favour of a 100 per cent nuclear future. Although the overall intention is to ’do much to dispel the public’s angst’ about nuclear power, he is so extreme in his advocacy of this energy source that he frequently disparages and even dismisses other sources all together. For instance, he claims that the public has ’an unfounded fear of the dangers of radiation’. Moreover, opposition to the transportation of nuclear waste and its subsequent storage underground for many thousands of years has been ’misleading at best and dishonest at worst’.  

This work is teeming with polemical arguments of this ilk and so it does little to advance rational debate on a topic that intimately affects us all. It is particularly regrettable at this juncture that the opportunity of exploring these now very pressing issues on their merits has been eschewed in this book.