Increasing costs of climate change–related disasters reflects importance of nuclear

Hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters across the United States caused $95 billion in damage last year, according to new data referenced by the New York Times. The cost is almost double the amount in 2019 and the third-highest loss since 2010.

The new figures, reported January 7 by Munich Re—a company that provides insurance to other insurance companies—are the latest signal of the growing cost of climate change. The spike reflects the need for increased reliance on clean energy sources such as nuclear, solar, and wind.

ANS Board of Directors votes to retire outdated position statements

The American Nuclear Society’s Board of Directors on November 19 voted to retire several outdated position statements, as requested by the Public Policy Committee. Among them are Position Statements #37 and #63, dating from 2010, which have been retired for lacking policy recommendations and for being redundant, as other position statements exist with language that better articulates the Society’s stance on those topics.

Opinion: U.K. power stations could make hydrogen, heat homes, and decarbonize industry

Nuclear reactors have evolved to achieve more than just electricity generation and should be part of the U.K.’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Photo: Royal Society, authors provided

The United Kingdom needs to start rebuilding its capacity to generate nuclear power, according to an opinion article published Wednesday on The Conversation by two members of the U.K.-based Bangor University faculty.

Bill Lee, a professor of materials in extreme environments, and Michael Rushton, a senior lecturer in nuclear energy, argue that the plan by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the U.K. government on the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, is “strangely silent on nuclear power.”

To fight climate change, accept nuclear energy

“The world needs a mix of renewable power sources, including one that can carry on producing power when the others can’t—the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow,” British journalist Jonathan Gornall writes in an opinion piece posted Wednesday on the Asia Times website. Gornall argues that the residents of Suffolk County in the United Kingdom would be better served by the expansion of the Sizewell nuclear power plant than by leaving a wooded area untouched.

IAE, IAEA warn that climate challenge would be much harder without nuclear



“Given the scale and urgency of the climate challenge, we do not have the luxury of excluding nuclear from the tools at our disposal,” the leaders of the International Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote in an op-ed article posted on the CNN website last Friday.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IAE, and Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the IAEA, said that the COVID-19 crisis not only delivered an unprecedented shock to the world economy, it also underscored the scale of the climate challenge the world faces: Even in the current deep recession, global carbon emissions remain unsustainable.

Nuclear power: Are we too anxious about the risks of radiation?


Following U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent restatement of the United Kingdom’s commitment to nuclear power, BBC News chief environment correspondent, Justin Rowlatt, wrote an article aimed at separating fact from fiction regarding the safety and benefits of nuclear energy.

Among his points, Rowlatt defended the use of nuclear power to combat climate change, examined the data behind deaths from radiation exposure directly caused by the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents, and explained that exposure to low levels of radiation is not a major health risk.

IAEA kicks off annual meeting in Vienna

IAEA General Director Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks to socially distanced attendees at the agency’s 64th General Conference plenary session on September 21. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

With special precautions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Atomic Energy Agency commenced its week-long 64th General Conference yesterday with a plenary session that included remarks from Rafael Mariano Grossi, the agency’s director general.

“The latest IAEA annual projections show that nuclear power will continue to play a key role in the world’s low-carbon energy mix, with global nuclear electrical capacity seen nearly doubling by 2050 in our high-case scenario,” Grossi said, referring to a recently released agency report. “Climate change mitigation remains a key potential driver for maintaining and expanding the use of nuclear power.”

The IAEA conference runs through September 25.

Feature Article

Can chemical heat pumps for integrated energy systems and industrial applications change the world?

Nuclear energy is faced with a number of challenges in a changing energy landscape, driven by the need to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. Renewable energy technologies are being considered as the solution to climate change and are increasingly being deployed across the world. However, renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, are highly variable, and deployment of these technologies has resulted in significant perturbances in the energy market, raising questions about grid stability and the adaptability of other sources to compete in a changing marketplace that prioritizes renewables. Nuclear plants, well suited for baseload operation, have demonstrated technical capability and flexibility to respond to the fluctuating demand; however, they have also discovered that the economics of such operating mode are not necessarily optimal to their financial security. On the other hand, despite contributing to the carbon emissions, the low cost of abundantly available natural gas and resultant low-cost electricity have exacerbated the economic pressure on nuclear technologies, raising questions about their survival and role in future energy systems1.

Conca: What would Biden-Harris administration do for nuclear energy?

With the Democratic Convention now under way, it is good to remember that all the leading climate scientists say that we cannot address climate change without significant nuclear power, Jim Conca noted in his opinion column on the Forbes blog site. Supporting nuclear power - or not - is a clear signal about how serious a candidate is about climate change and supporting science over mere activism, Conca said.

Alternate History: What could have been

In an entertaining “alternate history” article from The Economist posted online on July 4, a turning point in human history may have occurred on March 6, 1974. That was the day that French prime minister Pierre Messmer made an announcement that “may have saved the world from a dangerous rise in temperatures—an obscure phenomenon known in scientific circles as ‘global warming,’” noted the article. The article, What if nuclear power had taken off in the 1970s? gives a fictional account of what might have happened around the world had nuclear energy been more widely accepted decades ago.

U.S., Poland to talk nuclear later this week


Energy, including nuclear energy, will be among the topics discussed at a June 24 meeting in Washington between President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda, according to remarks by Duda at a June 18 news conference. “We will definitely talk about cooperation between Polish companies and Polish authorities, and companies and authorities from the United States, over conventional nuclear energy and its use,” he said. The meeting will take place just days before Poland’s June 28 presidential election.

Piercy discusses wide-ranging topics on Titans of Nuclear podcast

ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy was a recent guest on the Titans of Nuclear podcast, hosted by Bret Kugelmass. The podcasts feature interviews with experts throughout the nuclear community, covering advanced technology, economics, policy, industry, and more.

The wide-ranging discussion with Piercy tackled diverse subjects—from his Washington, D.C., policymaking background, to ANS’s role in addressing challenging nuclear issues, to waste management and climate change.

Union of Concerned Scientists Acknowledges Importance of Nuclear Power in Carbon Emission Reduction

A political seismic shift occurred this week - and I am not talking about the mid-term election.  The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report Thursday acknowledging nuclear power's important role in reducing carbon emissions.

ANS Will Enter the Climate Change Dialogue


In August, the American Nuclear Society conducted a simple 4-question poll on climate change policy. I commissioned this short poll to establish a baseline understanding of our members' views on the general issue and possible policy actions that ANS should consider. The results are in and it is clear that members are ready for ANS to participate in this important policy discussion.