Does nuclear power contribute to Global Warming/Climate Change?

I don't suspect that nuclear power contributes to 'greenhouse gases' but I've been assured that hydro power is neutral on warming because it takes energy out of rivers and puts that energy into power lines. My query is because I think nuclear power puts out energy into power lines without taking it out of another part of the global climate.


Dooberheim K, you have covered several means of generation. I'd be interested to also know how present Solar technology rates compared to the others. Cheers, NM

Update 2:


Sagebrush, even your buddies-in-denial aren't keeping their heads as firmly in the sand this weekend.

11 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Nuclear power does not burn fossil fuels so does not emit carbon like oil , gas and coal do.

    However nuclear power generation does produce heat , the nuclear reactors must be kept cool and they use rivers to maintain a constant flow of cold water in and warm waste water out.This warm water lowers the oxygen level in the rivers and can kill fish.

    The nuclear power stations generate nuclear waste that we do not know how to dispose of or how to make safe. We simply store for ever really as its half life is 50,000 years so it will be half as dangerous in 50,000 years time.

    That waste will mount up and become ever increasingly expensive to store.

  • Matt
    Lv 5
    8 years ago

    Good question.

    Energy released directly from human activity, such as the heat released from decomposing landfills, can and does cause local warming. Global warming, however, is not a result of direct energy transfer from human activity; we do release a lot of energy, true, but the planet is a huge, open system, and we just don't have enough impact to do that. Your kitchen appliances might heat your home a few degrees, but you'll stop feeling them the instant you step outside.

    To heat the whole atmosphere, it takes a really huge transfer of energy taking place over the entire planet or at least a really big part of the planet. There's only three really huge energy transfers that might do it.

    First, the transfer of energy from the sun to the earth. We can see a change in this after major volcanic events; the dust reduces the energy earth receives for a year or so, and, indeed, global atmospheric temperatures take a temporary cooling dip. But other than volcanoes, solar input hasn't changed much in the last century, so it doesn't explain why global warming is happening.

    Second, the transfer of heat to and from the ocean during the southern oscillation. This cycles back and forth, and balances out in periods longer than a few years, so while it might explain why 2012 is hotter than 2011, it doesn't explain why long-term global warming is happening.

    Third, the transfer of energy from the earth into cold, dark space. This transfer is slowed down by greenhouse gases, and greenhouse gas concentrations have been steadily rising every year for decades. This is the change that most likely explains why global warming is happening.

    So, knowing now that it's about greenhouse gases and not direct energy transfer, we're prepared to compare nuclear to the other options. Nuclear power does involve some indirect greenhouse gas emissions, construction, mining, transportation, etc., but they are relatively small. One estimate puts nuclear power's total greenhouse gas emissions, including indirect emissions, at 66 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt hour, or 66 gCO₂e/kWh. This is far below coal power's total emissions (960 gCO₂e/kWh), but higher than solar (32 gCO₂e/kWh) and wind (10 gCO₂e/kWh). Unlike solar and wind, however, nuclear can provide a consistent level of power without a form of battery storage, so makes a relatively easy build-one-plant tear-down-the-other replacement for coal.

    Source(s): "The fact is, there's no such thing as a carbon-free lunch for any energy source."
  • 8 years ago

    How does that old saying go "you never get something for nothing" as several answers state all energy sources (even green ones) have environmental costs, dams use concrete as do nuclear power plants but then so do coal power plants, but construction is a one off process, after that green usually has far less in the way of emissions yes you have to mine uranium but you also have to mine coal but for the life time of the plant uranium emits no real Co2 emissions while that is about all coal does.

    Deniers have a set of myths on other green technologies as well like solar use more energy in manufacturer than it will ever produce, only a child would believe such nonsense, turn around time on recover of outlay on a solar cell is down to around 5-7 years and continues to improve as cheaper more efficient cells come along, Wind is about the same and like nuclear for their working life time Co2 emission are pretty much nonexistent compared to coal or oil or gasoline.

    While solar and wind are not as reliable as coal they are an addition to an overall power supply, which lowers the need to build more coal powered stations, the type of solar that uses mirrors to heat salt is much more efficient than silicon cells and can produce power for up to an hour after sunset and have a far smaller foot print in terms of space need to produce the same amount of power. The lag due to the Sun can also be lessened if such systems are part of a national grid in a country like the U.S. with a three hour time difference you could have a plant on the East coast feeding power to the West coast in the morning and the reverse in the evening.

    The "energy" dams take out of rivers is momentum which adds nothing to Co2 output, unlike the burning of oil, coal or gas.

  • 8 years ago

    It contributes to climate change about as much as wind energy does, in most peer-reviewed life cycle assessments. Uranium does take a lot of energy to mine and purify, but it is so energy dense that you don';t need a lot of it compared to coal. Wind installations don't require fuel when they operate, but they require hundreds of times the steel and concrete to build (per energy unit) than a nuclear plant does.

    Hydro is generally considered the lowest contributor, but it still contributes some because of the energy used to build the dam and generators.


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  • ?
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    very little. if breeder reactors were used to generate nuclear fuel, then the carbon footprint would be almost nothing. the greatest contributor to carbon is fossil fuels. coal and oil, because of the huge amounts being used. nuclear power is a superb source of electricity. too bad the media trashes nuclear power out of almost complete misunderstanding of it,s effectiveness.

  • 8 years ago

    Yes, because if you look at how much energy is used mining the uranium and transporting it to the power plants, and the actual energy used to construct the plants and dispose of the waste, and the fact that fossil fuels had to be used for these things, then even before you look at the nuclear process, you can see that it does contribute to Global Warming/Climate change.

  • 8 years ago

    That's just one of many things that are destroying the earth.Man and his wisdom is worth nothing.They destroy everything we as human beings need to exist for MONEY! Tell me just how wise we really are? God tells us the right way to live yet we reject him,human beings have from the very beginning,it was so easy! just don't eat from that tree.

    Source(s): Holy Bible the source of all truth
  • 8 years ago

    No, because in fog from nuclear power plants is no CO2 present.

  • 8 years ago

    You can say everything man does contributes to GW/CC. And you couldn't be proven wrong. That's because nobody has defined either one. What is Global Warming? How much rise in a decade constitutes global warming, or even in a century. How do you measure the temperature? Every meter or every kilometer? Are you talking about surface temperature of land mass? At what levels above the earth do we consider? What comprises this 'energy budget' the climatologists are talking about? Do we consider the temperatures of the oceans in this GW? If we do then there are admittedly no conclusive studies or data collection to date. These are a few of the questions which it would only be reasonable to answer before making any decision on GW.

    Then there is no legal definition of Climate Change either. How can you honestly answer your question when there has been no definition of Climate Change? You can't. It is as simple as that. It is easier to give dimensions to a ghost than to define Climate Change.

    Quote by Louis Proyect, Columbia University: “The answer to global warming is in the abolition of private property and production for human need. A socialist world would place an enormous priority on alternative energy sources. This is what ecologically-minded socialists have been exploring for quite some time now.”

    You see the greenie movement is not so much as climate change as human change. They want your money and they want to control you.

    and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty."

    Quote by Christine Stewart, former Canadian Environment Minister: “No matter if the science is all phoney, there are collateral environmental benefits.... climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

    Quote by Timoth Wirth, U.S./UN functionary, former elected Democrat Senator: “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

    Quote by Richard Benedik, former U.S./UN bureaucrat: "A global climate treaty must be implemented even if there is no scientific evidence to back the greenhouse effect."

    This is what is on the minds of those who have you convinced that there is a GW/CC problem. It surely isn't the preservation of the earth, rather it is the amassing of wealth and power as clearly stated by greenies themselves.

    Nigel: Explain this. The earth's temperature has been going down for the last decade, all the while, the CO2 level has risen. To any true scientist that would show that CO2 does not control the temperature. You greenies stick your technical heads in the sand and don't even respond to great scientific evidence as this. You thump your chest and call names and make vapid insinuations but in truth your knowledge is lacking anything anything but BS (Bad Science to your censors.) Just as that phonied up chart in your article. Are you really that hard up where you accept any data which will promote your agenda and ignore facts.

    John Barnes, climate scientist and confirmed warmie admitted this: “If you look at the last decade of global temperature, it’s not increasing,” Barnes said. “There’s a lot of scatter to it. But the [climate] models go up. And that has to be explained. Why didn’t we warm up?”..."We do have satellites that can measure the energy budget, but there’s still assumptions there. There’s assumptions about the oceans, because we don’t have a whole lot of measurements in the ocean.”.

    Now you come up with this trumped up chart and it shows that the earth is warming during the last decade when even your own greenies admit that it hasn't. Ha! Ha! Talk about having your head in the sand.

  • 8 years ago

    AGW is 100% political and has nothing to do with science!

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