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The terrible reality is that electricity consumption is expected to increase 160% by mid-century. And the terrible reality is that most of that new electricity is going to be made by burning coal--and not cleanly, either. China is building about one coal-fired plant a week.
There is no incentive in the US for utilities to build coal gasification plants or plants that sequester carbon.
Why will coal be the answer society chooses? Because people accept the risks of coal, which kills 24,000 prematurely every year in the US alone. Because only coal, nuclear, and hydro offer reliable around the clock electricity that does not need a backup. And in the US we only get 5% from hydro--shrinking, too, because of drought.
Until the US decides to invest in a big way in R&D for ways to store renewable energy, then the new electricity will be from coal and, if we are fortunate, nuclear.
As for terrorists blowing up nuclear plants, it really is not possible unless they get their hands on thermonuclear weapons. I am sure they would prefer to use them on cities instead.
if there were no coal or uranium, and we had to MAKE DO on whatever else we can cobble together, what would happen?
yes it would take extraordinary governance, the likes of which is rarer than diamonds in the dust right now, but if enough of the populace educate themselves and take responsibility for their eco-footprint size, i feel certain organisational systems will emerge (see sven), and work to creat the benefits of order out of the pot pourri of chaotic choices that remain unexplored or repressed, as we continue to support leviathans' drunken staggering towards an historical precipice, squawking or dumb, as the case may be.
if coal can be burned cleanly and still be affordable, then so be it.
if the nuke industry can be shown to be transparent, responsible and self-supporting, rather than the secretive, treacherous, and duplicitous self it's hitherto revealed, then maybe...
but meanwhile every day not addressing a future that works on the basis of sustainability and maximim quality of life for the greatest number, AND CAN CLEAN UP ITS OWN MESS AS IT GOES ALONG, is another day wasted in chatter, as the titanic orchestra tunes up for the last waltz.
'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
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