It was 4.6 billion years ago that the earth was born as a fireball. It was 4 billion years ago that life emerged on the earth. It was just 4 million years ago that humans emerged on the earth. We are a new species on the earth. Humans lived as a part of nature at first, then discovered hunting and farming：the start of human culture.
Just 200 years ago, the Industrial evolution started and since then humans started to consume a large amount of energy. Since then, humans thought that the more energy they use, the richer their lives would become.
Of the whole amount of energy that humans consumed in their entire history, about 60% was consumed within the last 200 years. Because of this, many other species have become extinct.
For quite a while, I have been calling America and Japan ‘regressing’ countries, not ‘advanced.’ Countries that destroy the environment and force other animals to become extinct：to me, they are nothing more than regressed.
Many regressing countries want to use more energy than they do today. I myself once thought we needed energy to live enriched lives. However, when I stepped into the world of Nuclear Power research, all my expectations were totally shattered.
Currently there are 55 nuclear power plants in Japan, but none are in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka. They consider nuclear power plants dangerous to build in highly populated areas.
A nuclear power plant of 1000 MW capacity burns 1 ton of uranium per year. The amount of uranium used in the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima is about 1 kg, which equals about 20,000 tons of conventional bombs.
Japan doesn’t possess nuclear weapons. However, it has all the core nuclear technologies：nuclear power plants, processing, and recycling. The reason behind this is the country’s desire to possess [ability to build] nuclear weapons.
The recycling plant in Rokkashomura in Aomori prefecture started test operation on March 31 last year . By starting operation on March 31, the last day of the fiscal year, the local government made sure it could receive fiscal year 2006 funds from the central government.
Recycling plants, even without any accidents, will release a large amount of radiation into the environment. There will be serious consequences if we allow this plant to operate.
The Japanese government and electric companies claim that there will be a severe shortage of electricity if they stop nuclear power plants, which provide 30% of country’s electricity. This is not true. Other power plants can easily cover the difference even if they stop all the nuclear power plants.
The government and electric companies will then say, “Since we can’t reserve electricity, we need nuclear power plants to provide the peak consumption amount in summer.” If you look into the data, however, that is not true either. A few years at the beginning of the 90s, we needed nuclear power plants to cover all the consumption. But after that there was no problem. The peak demand occurs only for a few afternoon hours on about the three hottest summer days. If they really cannot provide enough electricity during that time, we can reduce consumption.
Another point they make is that nuclear power plants are necessary to reduce CO2. Although I think CO2 may be the culprit of global warming, there is no conclusive evidence. Even if CO2 is the reason for global warming, nuclear power plants do not solve anything.
The government and electric companies changed the wording of their press releases from ‘nuclear plants do not produce CO2,’ to ‘nuclear plants do not produce CO2 when they produce electricity.’
It’s obvious that the process of nuclear power production produces a large amount of CO2 in their process such as mining and processing uranium, and managing nuclear waste for the next 1 million years.
Moreover, nuclear power plants produce CO2 when they produce electricity. Nuclear power plants are made of a gigantic amount of concrete and iron. It requires a large amount of energy to operate them, so they are producing CO2. Scientifically, the correct wording is that “nuclear fission reaction doesn’t produce CO2.”
To reduce CO2 emissions, we need to first stop nuclear power plants, which release huge amounts of warm water. Nuclear power plants only use one third of energy they produce to produce electricity. The rest, over 60%, is dumped in seawater, warming up the ocean.
One 1000 MW nuclear plant will warm 70 tons of seawater by 70C [about 120F] per one second. For comparison, flow rate of Arakawa, a large river in Tokyo is probably 30 to 40 tons per second.
55 nuclear power plants in Japan release 100 billion tons of warm water. The amount of precipitation in Japan is 650 billion tons and 400 billion tons of that go into rivers. A quarter of the total amount of water that runs in Japanese rivers is warmed up by 7°C and dumped into the ocean.
When I was in high school, they said that coal supply would be exhausted in 30 years. In 1930, they said that coal would be exhausted in 18 years. In 1940, they said it was ‘in 23 years.’ That prompted Japan to get into the war in order to secure coal supplies.
In 1950 they said ’20 more years,’ in the 70s and 80s it was ’30 more years,’ and in the 90s they said ’45 more years.’ The most recent estimate is 50 years.
Of course, the coal supply will be exhausted at some point. But nuclear power is not the answer. The amount of uranium the earth has is smaller than the amount of oil, which is even smaller than that of coal. Nuclear power won’t last.
The fundamental problem is that humans use too much energy.
As Japanese people became able to use 40,000 to 50,000 kCal per day, their average lifespan climbed into the 80s. Today a Japanese person uses 120,000 kCal per day but life expectancy is still in the 80s.
I propose that we reduce energy consumption by half. This is about the same level as 1970s. In the 70s, we already had major electric appliances. Today’s eco technology is by far better. So we can live a comfortable life with just 60,000 kCal a day. If we don’t waste energy, we can sustain our lives and live a humanly comfortable lifestyle.
Moreover, this consumption level is still above the world average [40,000 to 50,000 kCal]. Three quarters of the whole population on earth live without much energy. 1.1 billion people live with less than $1 per day. Half a billion of them face starvation. A child dies every 2 to 3 seconds.
While many people suffer, Japanese people are trying to build a society where we use even more energy and enjoy the benefit of it.
Kenji Miyazawa said, ‘there cannot be happiness for a person until the whole world is happy.’ I don’t think ‘the whole world’ just means humans. We are at the point where we won’t be able to save the earth unless we think about the whole world.