The only reason why I can imagine including "nuclear energy" on an appropriate technology site, a site supporting sustainability, is to immediately explain why it is neither appropriate nor sustainable, and then completely dismiss it.
Taking the two major parallel paths in nuclear energy, the fuel and the power plants, there is not a single step in either path that is sustainable. From extraction of the ore, to transportation, to processing, to use, to so-called disposal, everyone of these steps has impacts, dangers, externalized costs, hazards, etc. Just extraction alone has serious biotic, land, and water impacts. All have huge energy costs, borne by fossil fuels, and externalized by the industry and imposed on the public, environment, and consumer.
The power plants are a vast expense, again borne by all the usual suspects. The financial cost is simply unsupportable, and it is borne by the public. The cost of construction, environmental impacts, and associated energy expense are staggering. Land impacts and associated habitat loss or pressure just for the physical plant are huge.
In operation, thermal impacts in cooling towers or downstream water is immense. Radioactive gases are routinely released. Cooling ponds collect radioactive byproducts which can also enter the environment. Accidents are a matter of record, validating all the above assertions, but the record is incomplete. In only one instance and one disease, 8000+ thyroid cancer victims and patients surrounding Chernobyl should have a larger voice in the matter.
Just the challenge to the criticism in the entry, the projected reserves of Uranium, demonstrate how nuclear energy is simply not sustainable. "Sustainable" has NO time limitation. Despite this, some vague hope of future technology to make the fuel last in perpetuity does not render ANY OTHER STEP sustainable. Nuclear energy is a series of fatal flaws, yet its proponents maintain their assertions.
Regarding a solution to global warming, i.e., human-caused global warming, nuclear energy is only a distraction from real, substantive solutions, using actual sustainable energy, including Wind and Sun in the most distributed manner possible, conservation, human population reversal, mass transit, and many other real solutions. All of THESE have features that are sustainable, if not in their entirety. As nuclear energy IS a distraction from society's proper focus, it should be seen as such and quickly thrown out of the discussion.
SustainableDavid 12:13, 10 August 2008 (PDT)
how to dispute nucear[edit source]
Nuclear energy is not limited to fission, but ought to include fusion discussions as well. I'm not expert on either form, but as a physics undergrad I recognize that there are dramatic differences between the two. One might argue that fusion is also not sustainable, and in a sense stars are not sustainable. Fission is moderate widespread, and fusion has yet to be demonstrated, though at times I wonder if that's because various industry lobbying groups have ensured that funding is constrained. One reason why I remain open to both technologies is that I have not had the opportunity to read a thorough and dispassionate discussion of the technologies, both "on their own" and in relative terms against other options.
As a founding director of Appropedia, you can be assured that I value sustainability. And yet I don't see it as black and white as you seem to. I value solar and wind, and yet recognize that there are going to be times and places (night time in winter in, say, the Midwest) where we need non-wind, non-solar, non-tidal power sources, or at a minimum pretty efficient and massive power storage mechanisms. Hydroelectric has been damned (so to speak) as unsustainable, and geothermal has both proponents and detractors, and is unknown in terms of costs and sustainability in many areas (we can't all be Iceland).
I have solar (PV) at my house, and I drive a Prius. I've been challenged as to the life cycle sustainability of PV (which I think is easily defensible) and the extraction impacts of nickel metal hydride (much more difficult).
So, I think there's a good chance that you have the information (or have come across it, anyway) which will support a solid argument that would convince me that all nuclear options ought to be off the table. From a purely selfish perspective, it would be great to provide a short summary of the nature of the issues, and links to the information.
Thanks for all the work you're doing. I look forward to learning a lot form you. --CurtB 14:47, 10 August 2008 (PDT)