Claim: Nuke power has saved 1.84 million lives by reducing air pollution

This is junk science because:

  1. It is an ecologic study that contains no information on individual exposures or causes of death.
  2. Typical ambient air quality is not known to have kill anyone ever, and certainly not since nuke power came on line in the 1970s.
  3. Don’t believe me on #2? Find me someone killed by the recent atrocious air quality in China.

    The media release is below.


    Despite safety and other concerns, nuclear power saves lives, greenhouse gas emissions

    Global use of nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and release of 64 billion tons of greenhouse gases that would have resulted from burning coal and other fossil fuels, a new study concludes. It appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

    Pushker A. Kharecha and James E. Hansen state that nuclear power has the potential to help control both global climate change and illness and death associated with air pollution. That potential exists, they say, despite serious questions about safety, disposal of radioactive waste and diversion of nuclear material for weapons. Concerned that the Fukushima accident in Japan could overshadow the benefits of nuclear energy, they performed an analysis of nuclear power’s benefits in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution deaths.

    The study concluded that nuclear power already has had a major beneficial impact, based upon calculations of prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions for the period 1971-2009. Nuclear power could prevent from 420,000 to 7 million additional deaths by mid-century, and prevent emission of 80-240 billion tons of the greenhouse gases linked to global warming, the study found. “By contrast, we assess that large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than the expansion of nuclear power,” it notes. If the role of nuclear power declines significantly in the next 20-30 years, Kharecha added, the International Energy Agency predicts that achieving the major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that are required to mitigate climate change would require “heroic achievements” in the use of emerging low-carbon technologies, which have yet to be proven.


2 thoughts on “Claim: Nuke power has saved 1.84 million lives by reducing air pollution”

  1. They just utter utterances.
    They haven’t got the foggiest idea what they are talking about. They just have to talk.
    Didn’t anyone ever tell them that “silence is golden”?

  2. If airborne irritants and particulates affect the lungs over the long term, people who are more vulnerable to lung trouble might die somewhat younger in an area with higher levels than in an area with lower levels. That’s rather different from “saving lives”, though.
    Pollutants can be relatively safe in the short run and still have long-term health effects. Cigarette smoke is safe in the immediate term but harmful over decades. I doubt even Beijing’s air is as bad as smoking in a car, but there are people who are more vulnerable to such effects.

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