Nuclear energy’s unique selling proposition (USP) of lower-carbon electricity production sits in the context of a much larger picture — that coastal nuclear will be one of the first, and most significant, casualties to ramping climate impact, argues Paul Dorfman, of the UCL Energy Institute, University College London. Because of this, Dorfman, who authored a report on the issue released this week, posits that nuclear, far from helping with our shared climate problem, may well add to it. As the world heats, sea levels are rising at an accelerated rate — now estimated at 3 to 4 millimeters a year — as ice stored at the poles and in glaciers melts. A recent NASA study based on 25 years of satellite data found that the Arctic is melting so rapidly that it’s now 20% thinner than a decade ago, weakening a major source of the planet’s cooling. The polar ice caps are melting six times faster than they were in the 1990s, with the high melt rate corresponding to the worst-case scenario for global heating set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This means that the planet will see a very significant rise in sea level, resulting in ramping annual coastal and inland flooding. The melting Arctic ice cap is currently the biggest single contributor to sea-level rise, and already imperils coasts and coastal populations. In other words, a significant part of the Greenland Ice Sheet — which lost a record amount of ice in 2019 — is on the brink of a tipping point, after which accelerated melting would become inevitable.
Nuclear Intelligence 25th June 2021 read more »