Denmark recently claimed to have reached its maximum capacity for windpower generation, which supplies 20% of its electric grid. However this is only 7% of its total energy consumption if one includes its use of petrol, diesel, and natural gas. Clearly when the latter energy sources are gone, it must find other means of replacing them to empower its transportation fleets and heavy industries. The only sources for additional prime energy are then coal or uranium whose production of electricity or heat allows the manufacture of synfuels, or the charging of portable energy units (storage batteries and flywheels) on a Joule for Joule basis. The laws of energy conservation and energy inter-conversions first enunciated by Sir James Prescott Joule and Nicolas Carnot are immutable: nothing comes for nothing. In summary, preferably by the year 2030 but not later than 2050, the entire energy pie shown in Brief 26 must be accomodated by nuclear fission (available for at least 1300 years), if one wants to avert an energy catastrophe and avoid global warming (i.e. no burning of coal).
Whether we can pass by the year 2030 unscathed without serious economic upheavals will depend on how forward-looking our future government leaders will be. They must distance themselves from the political influence of myopic extremists who insist that we slow or terminate nuclear power development and replace it
entirely with solar cells and wind mills. Instead, government leaders must heed warnings of the nuclear energy engineering profession. Otherwise disastrous energy shortages will surely develop resulting in similar finger-pointing as with the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York's World Trade Center, or the dam breaches around New Orleans from hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Many early warnings were ignored. History shows time and time again that people and government bureaucracies tend to keep their heads in the sand till jolted. Unless remedied on time, oil depletion will produce a downward spiral of rapidly escalating shortages of food and goods, collapse of the economy, serious impoverization of the majority of people, and an increase of war-provoking world tensions. Desert cities like Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona which are totally dependent on a cheap-oil economy, will become ghost-towns [Ref 53]. Construction of a nuclear power plant requires eight years of planning, designing, testing, and safety analyses, before it produces the first kilowatt. We cannot afford the luxury of meditation until catastrophy hits. But if history repeats itself, we probably will suffer great losses first before action is taken.
The sad part is that an escalating energy crisis is avoidable. Wise governments should start immediately investing in the synfuel research and development programs listed above and concurrently commence the design, development, and construction of avanced breeder reactors. As a bonus, it brings many new high-tech jobs and reduces unemployment, much like president Franklin Roosevelt accomplished with his national hydro-electric and road-work programs during the great depression of the 1930's. Environmentalists should join nuclear engineers to demand expansion of abundant non-air-polluting nuclear energy. Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776: 'We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately'.
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