Introduction - An Energy Policy Focused on Habitat Protection
*We are in the process of updating these web pages on energy. The accident at Fukushima has not been covered, nor more recent data from the Life Span Study from the Radiation Effects Research Foundation.
Conservationists today are faced with a serious dilemma. They are certain that the use of fossil fuels is leading toward a global catastrophe. But at the same time they are increasingly aware that many t ypes of renewable energy, because of the large amount of land that they require, will have a seriously detrimental impact on the natural world, especially if their use expands. After thoughtful deliberati on, the Maryland Conservation Council adopted the following four ways to reduce our carbon footpri nt and to ultimately eliminate the emission of green house gases, while minimizing impact on increas ingly stressed habitats; they are listed in order of decreasing desirability:
1) Stabilize, and then reduce human population. This has long been a position of the MCC becau se we believe that population growth is the main cause of environmental degradation. More info rmation will be found soon on this website. We recommend two thorough papers recently writte n by Tom Horton: http://www.abell.org/publications/detail.asp?ID=140 (short version) and htt p://www.abell.org/pubsitems/env_Growing_808.pdf (full version). 2) Decrease per capita use of electricity as well as other forms of energy by fostering a conservati on ethic, and increase the efficiency with which energy is used by supporting the development a nd acceptance of more efficient appliances and by shifting demand to off-peak hours. “The best power source is the one which does not have to be built.” 3) Utilize solar power produced on existing structures, not on open land. Deserts are ecosystem s too. Maximize the use of geothermal heat pumps for residential heating and cooling. 4) Use nuclear power to the greatest extent technically feasible. An informative web site promot ing the use of nuclear energy and which also mentions the problems created by unending popula tion growth is: http://www.coal2nuclear.com/index.htm
Taking these four parts of MCC’s energy policy in account, the Board voted at its November 2007 meet ing to support Constellation Energy’s proposal to build a third reactor.
The MCC concludes that nuclear energy, which produces no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gase s (2) also has a smaller footprint or impact on biological diversity compared to wind, solar, or bioma ss; in some cases, orders of magnitude smaller. When cost is stripped of various forms of government al assistance, and the actual, not theoretical, effectiveness is used to calculate the size of the installa tion needed to generate a given amount of electricity, nuclear power is the least expensive.
The MCC has also concluded that commercial reactors of the type now used in the United States have a sound safety record, even considering the accident at Three Mile Island (TMI), and that there is no credible evidence that there has been harm to health by these reactors. MCC further concluded that t he hazards of transporting used nuclear fuel have been badly exaggerated, and that recent proposals about the storage of used fuel will reduce the technological difficulty of construction a long-term rep ository. Each of these subjects is treated in detail on its own page on this web site, as the links at the t op of this page indicate.
In the debate over energy production, impact on the environment is a primary concern. From the bio logist's or conservationist's viewpoint, the environment, in addition to being a resource base for hum an development, is an object of wonder and source of learning through science, and it thereby acquir es value that is independent of economic or material considerations. It becomes an intellectual reso urce, a challenge to the ability of humans to understand extraordinarily complex and fragile objects. This view values aesthetics, and affirms that the natural world, untouched by man, is an object of gre at beauty, mystery and challenge. The opportunity for humanity to hone its intelligence on, and enjo y the beauty of the natural world is an essential complement to a healthy life – it does not conflict wit h it. The MCC believes that support for renewable energy should take this into consideration.
It bears repeating that the MCC is not giving an unqualified endorsement to nuclear power; our concl usion is that nuclear power is the least destructive of all the alternative technologies, but that the bes t policies are to stabilize population and reduce per capita demand.
The following page compares the relative impact on habitat of nuclear power generation to generatio n by renewables. Other pages present a thorough analysis of the health impacts of accidents at nucle ar power plants, especially Three Mile Island; the safety of the methods developed for the transporta tion of used nuclear fuel; and a technically simpler goal for the long-term storage of used fuel.
Accuracy is a serious concern; if anyone questions our data or methods, please contact our website e ditors at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(1) Norman Meadow, PhD retired in 2006 after 34 years in the Biology Department of The Johns Hopkins University. He held the title of Principle Research Scientist; and now holds the courtesy position of Doctor of the University. He spent about 45 years doi ng biological and biochemical research, first on the physiology of the aging process at the Gerontology Research Center of the Nat ional Institutes of Health, then on the biochemistry of solute transport in bacteria at Hopkins. He has coauthored 39 papers in t he peer-reviewed scientific literature, and 5 methods papers and reviews. His research required the use of tracer radioisotopes.
William Biggley retired in 2001 after 38 years in the Biology Department of The Johns Hopkins University. He held the title Se nior Researcher, and was also the Radiation Safety Officer for the Homewood Campus. His research interests included oceanogr aphy, the ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, insect and marine bioluminescence and the spectroscopy of chemiluminescent reaction s. He has coauthored 32 papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
D. Daniel Boone is a professional ecologist and natural resources policy analyst with 30 years experience studying wildlife and t heir habitat throughout the Appalachian region. He began his career as a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servi ce, and later served as coordinator of the Maryland Natural Heritage Program in the Department of Natural Resources. He also was employed for several years as a Forest Ecologist with the Wilderness Society. He now works as an independent environment al consultant. He co-authored the recent report: “Landscape Classification System: Addressing Environmental Issues Associated with Utility-Scale Wind Energy Development in Virginia” (available via www.VAwind.org. He has been actively engaged with is sues and concerns regarding utility-scale wind energy development for four years.
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Last edited: 5/22/13 11:00 PM
THE MARYLAND CONSERVATION COUNCIL'S POSITION on NUCLEAR AND RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY
Norman Meadow(1), William Biggley(1), and D. Daniel Boone(1)