Mitt Romney: No Apology: Book Analysis: Chapter Nine: Running Low. (The Case for Nuclear Energy. What About The Waste? )

December 15, 2010 by
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Romney in this chapter addresses Global Warming and Energy in just 23 pages.

MOCK NUCLEAR POWER PLANT OF THE FUTURE.

Global Warming

Romney recognizes there is a global warming trend, however he is not sure if it is a natural fluctuation in temperature, caused by man’s activities or by both. The current unanimity among scientists that it is caused by man’s activity on the planet is not an established fact. Scientists have been wrong before. Earthquakes were once thought not to be caused by the movement of tectonic plates. Now the reverse has been shown to be true. In the 20th Century some scientists believed that we were entering a new Ice Age.
Whatever the source or cause of Global Warming, Romney recognizes that it can have severe consequences to the planet in terms of climate change. The melting of the ice caps and the rise in sea levels will devastate low lying islands and coastal cities. Global Warming will affect agriculture and the availability of arable land among other things.
Tied in with Global Warming is our dependence on fossil fuels which are the biggest emitters of the greenhouse gases that are believed to cause Global Warming. Our dependence on oil is a major problem because imported oil adds about 300 billion dollars to our yearly current account deficit. Further our need to import oil enriches and empowers some of our worst enemies in hostile countries in the Middle East and South America.
The price of oil is also controlled by the oil cartel which constrains supply and makes it necessary to produce high cost oil first and then sells the cartels cheap oil at the higher price. Further, while the supply of high cost oil is running out the cartel reserves are greater. In the not too distant future, when non- OPEC nations no longer have domestic oil the cartel will have a complete monopoly on oil and the importers of oil will be at their mercy.
Peak Oil
Peak oil is that point where daily world production does not meet the daily demand for oil. When this will happen is not known with any accuracy but it is likely to happen sometime in the foreseeable future. When this occurs the price of oil will skyrocket and only the richest nations will be able to buy the oil necessary to maintain their standard of living. (This will also create political unrest and maybe even war to determine who gets the needed oil.)

Nuclear
Therefore we must find alternate sources of energy other than oil and that new source should be clean energy. The most feasible alternative to oil is nuclear power. The technology is present and has been greatly improved upon since the first generators were built. The cost to produce can be reasonable and can be made cheaper if governmental, red tape can be eliminated. Vermont now gets 73% of its power from nuclear. France gets 80% of its power from nuclear sources and has for many years. The United States has 104, essentially, trouble free reactors at 64 sites. In the short term (and maybe the long term) this appears to be the most practical alternative to imported oil and fossil fuels in general. Further the waste problem is not insurmountable. Eleven countries around the world are building 48 new reactors. Many of these countries have long experience with nuclear energy and one has to ask themselves, would they be building new reactors if they were unsafe environmentally or economically unfeasible? (This is the weak point in his argument in behalf of nuclear. He doesn’t address the waste problem in any depth.)
Other Alternatives.
Coal, gas, ethanol, hydrogen, wind and solar power are some of the alternatives advanced today and they all should be developed. Coal can be processed so it emits less greenhouse gases; gas production can be increased as well as oil production domestically but probably never in sufficient quantities to meet our energy needs. Wind and solar probably will never be able to meet internal energy demands alone or even to together. Hydrogen is still in the development stage and when it will become feasible is unknown. All these alternatives should be developed, but even taken together they are unlikely to meet our energy needs. The best source of energy right now is nuclear.
Romney believes that Cap and Trade is too difficult to enforce or obtain agreement on a world basis. Why should India and China, two of the largest emitters, who are striving to raise their standard of living, restrict themselves because of the Industrial Revolution practices by the Western Democracies that created the pollution problem in the first place? Also it is a disguised energy tax.

Conservation

Conservation is also an alternative and many measures have been taken and will need to be taken to conserve energy from wherever the source, but it alone will not solve the problems of Global Warming or the need for ever increasing energy.
He points out that while oil appears to be the cheapest source of energy it actually has many subsidies and costs from climate change to favorable tax treatment to the maintenance of and Army and Navy on a Worldwide basis to secure its production and delivery to the United States. If these costs were added in at the pump then we would realize just how much we really pay for a barrel of oil and this would incentivized the U.S. to become energy independent.
Romney is optimistic the United States, which has solved complex problems in the past, will solve these problems in the future.

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