About Cayte Bosler

Cayte Bosler is an investigative journalist covering the intersections of climate change, wildlife and community resilience in the Adirondack wilderness. Throughout her career, she has researched ecology and wildlife biology in protected areas in the Bolivian Amazon and in Cuba, trekked to an extreme altitude ecosystem in the Peruvian Andes, and boated through the mangrove-filled estuaries of Guatemala — all to chronicle solutions for conserving the natural world. She holds a master of science from Columbia University’s sustainability program and is a fellow of the Explorer’s Club.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. JB says

    Princeton’s Net-Zero America study echoes what has been said here. It comprehensively models multiple net-zero scenarios for the United States, taking into account siting and transmission infrastructure. In all scenarios, new nuclear power plants play a significant role by 2050–especially in New York State, where we have excellent existing infrastructure in place for nuclear and thermal power plants, but lack the infrastructure and environmental conditions for rapid, economical deployment of large-scale wind and solar projects. This kind of regional planning is what we need if we are going to achieve our climate and environmental justice goals. It’s definitely worth a look: https://acee.princeton.edu/rapidswitch/projects/net-zero-america-project/.

    • Boreas says

      JB,

      I agree. Frankly, I believe until we can find a safer, cheaper, alternative to fossils that is truly SCALABLE, nuclear should be at the top of our list – if even for the short term. Two generations of people have been raised believing nuclear power is fraught with danger and environmental risk, and have been led astray. Sure, there have been large nuclear accidents, but we need to LEARN from them, not simply avoid nuclear power altogether. Indeed, there is a definite issue of nuclear waste/storage, but is this truly worse than storing CO2 in our atmosphere?? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      How many decades of electricity have been generated by decommissioned and current nuke plants? Ask Europe about their experience with nukes. Now balance that against the accidents that have actually occurred with nuclear generation and depleted fuel transfer/storage? Shouldn’t the DOE be spouting these figures along with the NUMEROUS bad effects of coal, oil, and gas extraction, refining, and usage? Nuclear energy is not a newcomer to the party, but with the exception of a few accidents, has been quietly generating power and jobs for over half a century. How about a level playing field? The Navy loves nuclear for power generation.They don’t seem to be scairt! {But of course, they don’t actually pay for it – WE do!} Why is it good for the Navy yet bad for the country??

      Nuclear energy was dealt such a blow from misinformation and fossil fuel propaganda that we stopped building plants in this country because of real and imagined safety issues combined with cost. So virtually no taxpayer dollars have gone into developing less expensive, smaller footprint, and safer nuclear generation and waste remediation for decades. BIG MISTAKE. Over a century ago, electrical energy into the homes was almost smothered in its crib because of accidents, fires, misinformation, and hysterics. But pioneers like Tesla worked on refining the science so much so that it is in widespread use around the world. Many problems were worked out, but indeed, some still exist.

      Who do you suppose was/is behind these generations of people fearing nuclear power generation? Science and research?? Not at all. BIG OIL and the Koch regime. Carbon emission misinformation was not their only target. Any major competitor to fossil fuels was, and still is their target. Generations of politicians fueled their careers suckling at the teat of Big Oil. We need to get Big Oil and the Kochs’ money and propaganda out of world and US politics. Until we do this, there will be no real progress in clean energy generation.

      New and/or better forms of energy production need a level playing field to get started. I, personally, look forward to Improved Nuclear energy for much of the world’s energy needs – at least until the perfect form of energy can be harnessed. Nuclear energy has worked well for powering the Sun and other stars for many billions of years, why not figure out how to use it here?

      • JB says

        Knee-jerk reactionary politics is definitely playing a big role here–further complicating an already massively complex challenge. But I think economics is indeed the bigger problem. Profit-motivated shortcuts were arguably to blame for the few nuclear energy accidents that have happened. The same thing is going to happen with renewables if we continue down the same path–that is, allowing the renewable energy grid to be planned and overseen by free markets (or worse, public-private partnerships!) rather than comprehensive, inclusive and forward-thinking planning institutions.

  2. Zephyr says

    What do you do with the highly toxic waste that must be safely stored for thousands of years? Nobody has figured that one out yet. Plus, how long does it take to build a nuclear plant? Meanwhile, totally safe and cheap renewables like solar and wind are being built every day. Nobody wants a nuclear plant built in their backyard–including the proponents. Their tune changes the minute a plant is proposed in a particular location, and all of the proponents come out of the woodwork to proclaim that yes they want nuclear, but not next to them. That should answer how safe the average person feels with regard to nuclear.

    • Boreas says

      I lived between 2 nuclear plants on Lake Ontario in the 80s and 90s. Did me no harm. Great sources of high-paying jobs (both for building the plants and for running them) that can’t be shipped overseas. Many people moved there for the jobs and the lake recreation. I would say it is primarily wealthy people who don’t want them in their back yard, but certainly use the power. Personally, I wouldn’t want a wind farm in my back yard. I would put up solar panels if I had any sun here. I am not about to cut beneficial trees to make them worthwhile.

      Nine Mile Point was 5 times more expensive than was budgeted – primarily because of graft and the upgrades that had to be re-engineered and instituted after the 3 Mile Island accident. Re-designing a house while building it is similarly costly. The key is to design well and institute smaller-footprint plants as is often done in Europe – perhaps even where decommissioned coal/oil plants exist where possible, as the transmission lines/ROWs already exist.

      Again, is depleted nuclear fuel useful for any other purposes? Can it indeed be stored safely underground? Launched to the sun? Is the remote risk of radiation accidents (emphasized by Big Oil obviously) WORSE than the ONGOING CO2 “waste” storage in our atmosphere that IS creating problems globally every single day??

      We need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Use whatever relatively safe technology we have or can develop to minimize fossil fuel use and extraction into the future. Hopefully nuclear fusion research will be stepped up, but instituting ANY major energy changes is going to involve getting Big Oil/Energy profits out of the pockets of politicians and media so that other types of energy production are on a level playing field.

      Nukes aren’t perfect, especially with the waste issue, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be improved upon and revisited. Nothing is perfect. Wind and solar depend on extraction industries as well, and the infrastructure has limited lifetimes and usefulness depending on location. We need to be wary of rose-scented snake oil from all players. We need to be looking at everything and incorporate the technology that makes sense for the area – including modern hydro. NYS eats a lot of energy, and has shown nuke plants work. Nuclear may not be a fit for everywhere, but nothing is. But it may be an important tool to get us through this century. But voters need to be given the truth, not myth and spin pushed by the most profitable corporations in the world.

      • Zephyr says

        So, it takes a minimum of 5 years, and often 10-15 to build a new nuclear plant. Meanwhile, New York will be close to its goal of 70% renewables using mainly solar, hydro, and wind by 2030. Long before any possible new nuclear plant is likely to be built. Even if there was the political will to build new nuclear in New York (there isn’t) it would arrive too late to help us with the climate crisis.

        • JB says

          Zephyr, based on everything I’m seeing right now, we’re looking at more like 50-60% renewable electricity in New York in the next 10-15 years, with maybe 5-10% of that in turn being solar and 10% imported from Quebec’s massive hydroelectric facilities.

          The problem is that NYS electricity consumption will likely double in the next several decades, and going beyond that milestone of about 70 TWh of renewables (50% of current NY electric consumption) becomes exponentially more difficult with each additional TWh. We don’t have another Niagara Falls within our boundaries that can generate 2 GW renewable electricity on demand, even during future mid-winter peak seasons.

          But the electric grid does not “stop” at political border crossings, nor is it as decentralized as some like to think. Will anti-nuclear sentiments really lead to a better alternative? Is a society that is unwilling to spend 15 years building a few nuclear power stations on existing sites where existing infrastructure already exists really going to be able–or willing–to build millions of acres of large-scale renewable energy projects in places that lack the necessary infrastructure but yet are home to millions of people? I think not. We’ll export our problems elsewhere by default, whether that be massive renewable projects in the Eastern Subarctic or the Midwest, natural gas plants, or the very same outdated nuclear power plants that we refuse to replace. And, whether we like it or not, our neighbor–Ontaro, Canada–will continue producing most of their energy with nuclear power stations just upwind of us.

          Nuclear power plants produce waste–everything does, including renewable energy projects–but the amount of waste produced even by older nuclear plants is miniscule compared with the dangerous waste that is produced by any coal-fired power plant. And newer generation nuclear power plants produce orders of magnitude less waste than current 2nd-generation nuclear plants, and that waste can have a lifetime of a few centuries as opposed to tens of thousands of years.

          In an ideal world, we would not need to make any environmental sacrifices in the name of energy production. The problem is that we will never get where we should be if we continue to insist that we’re already there. And unfortunately, insisting on this falsehood costs nothing, at least in the perpetually immediacy of the current political cycle.

  3. Nathan says

    it’s time to build next generation reactors, much safer, power failure safe, breeds new fuel and basically can run for decades with minimal new waste. reusing existing power sites for new energy production, waste products can be mixed with molten glass and solidified into glass rods that are much safer for storage and non leaking. does not require massive solar fields or numerous wind turbines and works 24/7 supplying and ever increasing power demand. if we are going to have all electric cars and replace car fossil fuels, then we are going to need giga watts of new electric power. it makes more sense to build a few new breeder reactors, than cover 100 sq. miles with solar panels with loss of wilderness, farm lands ect. and/or thousands of wind urbines with eroding blades, noise pollution and bird losses. We really dont have much other choice but next gen nuclear reactors to power a greener future.

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