Dr. Zink’s use of global atmospheric computer models to disprove global warming concerns (“Studies Throw Cold Water on Nuclear PR,” Power Engineering, April 2002) is a trial lawyer’s tactic of using the opponent’s weakest argument to discredit the opponent’s testimony. In fact, the nuclear power advocates who support global warming are using the same tactic, focusing on their strongest argument while downplaying other concerns, such as waste disposal.
The National Academy of Sciences Report on global warming states that CO2 and CH4 have been steadily increasing over the past century. In addition, there has been massive melting in recent decades of the north polar ice cap. What remains uncertain is whether or not this will cause future drastic changes to global weather patterns. Since the cause is uncertain, one can ignore it or take sensible precautions, beginning with reducing wasted energy.
The U.S. consumes 24 percent of the world’s energy and 40 percent of the world’s gasoline production. After the huge oil price spikes of the 1970s, oil prices dropped sharply in the mid-1980s. This was due in part to increased energy efficiency in industry and a shift by consumers to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. However, this trend reversed in the 1990s after Detroit used a loophole to produce gas-guzzling SUVs that were exempt from car fuel standards. In addition, natural gas deregulation and the absence of low-cost clean coal technologies contributed to a near-total shift in new power plants to natural gas-fired facilities. While this will reduce CO2 emissions, increased gas use will pressure oil prices upward. California’s electricity crisis was a foretaste of what may happen in future years.
Solutions to energy waste that will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions include mandating increased fuel efficiency for cars, developing low-cost clean coal technologies, and safely and economically addressing the nuclear waste issue.
Dr. Bert Zauderer
President, Coal Tech Corp.
Merion Station, Pa.