We've been hearing a lot about nuclear power lately. Bush mentioned it as an ideal energy source to generate hydrogen fuel. An MIT study proposed two reactor concepts to produce nuclear hydrogen. This Weekend Edition story on NPR finds that a co-founder of Greenpeace is an active supporter. And the Nuclear Energy Institute says that nearly 7 out of 10 Americans don't mind it.
Despite all the recent hype, Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the World Wide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth, argues in this article that nuclear reactors are still a poor choice as an energy source. Among his reasons are that we still don't know how to effectively deal with nuclear waste; uranium may soon fail to meet global demand; nuclear reactors are the ultimate soft target for terror attacks (duh, didn't you see Season Four of 24?); and that nuclear energy "represents the kind of highly centralized, clunky technology of a bygone era."

His last point is the most interesting. Rifkin envisions a future of "decentralized, renewable technologies" which would include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and biomass supplemented by a hydrogen infrastructure to store all of this clean energy. His description is akin to that of a poetic version of the Internet, but instead of data flowing across vast networks, he argues for a global electricity grid supplying energy wherever needed.

(Photo: Front page, New York Times / May 5, 1940)

[Source: San Jose Mercury News]

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