Marianne Williamson, an author and 2020 candidate, called on climate activists to “go beyond” thinking about facts when considering the use of nuclear energy.
As IJR previously explained, 2020 Democrats have been hesitant to embrace nuclear power. Nuclear power is an energy creation process that does not utilize carbon, therefore the process does not emit CO2 into the atmosphere. Instead, energy is produced when atoms of Uranium react and produce heat. This heat is used to boil water to create steam and turn a turbine which create energy without burning carbon.
Although most Democrats have plans to have the United States be carbon-neutral by 2050, at the latest, several of the candidates are looking to only invest in solar and wind power despite nuclear power being a much more consistent, efficient power source.
During MSNBC’s climate forum, Williamson was asked about her opposition to nuclear power and her plan to stop the U.S. from using the power source — despite it making up nearly 20% of U.S. power.
Watch Williamson’s response:
“What is wrong with [nuclear power]? If something goes wrong with nuclear energy — I don’t think people have really stopped to take in the horror. See, we need an integrative politics. We need to go beyond hard data. We need to go beyond just thinking about the facts. I want you to think about this with your heart. If something goes wrong there, what are we even talking about? How can we even consider it? And so what? Maybe we all be a little warmer, a little cool. I mean, Americans, we have to decide. That’s the problem I have with nuclear.”
In a roundabout way, Williamson was referencing the dangers of nuclear power production that many opposed to the source highlight, including the problem of nuclear waste and the risk of meltdowns.
As for waste, spent fuel rods must be disposed of even though they have radioactivity that can harm the nearby environment which is a top concern of those against nuclear energy. There is also the risk of a meltdown, which is a rare event where the nuclear facility malfunctions and could spread radioactivity to the surrounding area.
While this is a serious issue, the doomsday description associated with Williamson’s answer may be over the top.
There have been two incidents of nuclear power meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima. According to a report from the United Nations, 54 people died as a result with up to 9,000 vulnerable to future diseases, such as cancer, from the radiation. In Fukushima, no deaths were attributed to the meltdown, though dozens were injured.
With that said, more than 1,000 deaths were attributed to the evacuation, but the meltdown occurred in the wake of an earthquake, so the deaths cannot be solely contributed to the reactor.
Given that several Democrats — including Williamson — have predicted humanity has 12 years or less to stop carbon emissions before apocalyptic damage is done, the 54 direct deaths of a nuclear meltdown seem rather minimal.