The Greenwash Brigade

Climate-friendly investing… with nuclear?

Janne K. Flisrand Mar 2, 2008

As I’ve been trying to be green in my investments (and mostly failing), this morning’s Marketplace Money story by Sarah Gardner felt very familiar. Then… I noticed the recently familiar question about whether nuclear power is green popped up – and that in this article, Paul Hilton suggested a qualified no. A quick Google (or Green Maven) search illustrates the avid debate within the environmental community about this, and that long-time environmental leaders are coming down on both sides.

Heck, the topic is so loaded, that the two Wikipedia articles (one and two) I glanced at in hopes of finding something less biased warned that “The neutrality of this article is disputed.”

Personally, I’m not sure which side is the greenwash – decrying eco-friendly funds that include nuclear energy, or declaring nuclear is green.

I’ve got a short list of compelling pro arguments:

    1. A carbon footprint that’s on par with other renewables
    2. Reliable electricity

And, a longer list of con arguments:

    1. Higher cost than the alternatives
    2. Solutions for waste are totally lacking
    3. A host of security problems, including terrorism and accidents
    4. Planning, permitting, and building a plant takes an eternity, which means no quick response to more and more pressing climate changes
    5. Centralized generation exacerbates problems we already have in getting electricity from where it’s created to where we need it, and don’t support distributed generation that would create more resilient infrastructure
    6. Mining fuel is environmentally destructive
    7. Uranium (and other nuclear fuels) are not infinite… will we someday find ourselves at “peak uranium” if we grow dependent upon it for our power generation?

My gut says “bad idea,” my head says “I don’t like it, but I’m not sure.” Brigadiers, readers – your thoughts? Can an eco-fund include nuclear power?

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