The Journal News | Pace Students, Professors Discuss Future of Energy | LoHud.com
Clary’s April 14 column outlined some of the complexities discussed:
‘ Small room, big issue.
Students at Pace University may have gotten more than they bargained for this week when a 35-minute lunchtime discussion focused on nuclear power.
The “Common Hour Conversation” allows students to share pizza with their professors and talk in a more informal way about global issues than they might be able to in a lecture setting.
This week’s topic, “Is Nuclear Power Essential Energy for the Future or a Ticking Time Bomb?” was headlined by faculty, but drew experts from a variety of sectors, including politics and the environment.
Too much to cover in such a short time, but former Riverkeeper John Cronin, a senior fellow for environmental affairs at Pace, got to the heart of our energy future midway through the discussion.
“Personally, I don’t want to talk about whether I’m pro-nuclear or anti-nuclear because I think we’ve got a bigger problem,” Cronin said. “We’re against everything. I mean, seriously. There’s hardly a power-generating source that doesn’t cause a controversy. Environmentalists have organized against wind power; everybody’s against (hydro)fracking. People are against coal, they’re against nuclear.”
Cronin told the wide-eyed students that they’re the ones who will inherit these problems and coming up with solutions is just getting tougher the longer we put it off.
“We’re not going to (rely in large measure) on solar or wind in our mid-future and we are going to need more energy in all likelihood,” he said. “For most of the energy sources we’re using now there is a fairly strong anti-campaign against almost every single one of them, so we’ve got some hard choices to make that are not as simple as nuclear or no nuclear.”
Jessica Moitt, a junior from Brooklyn who will soon be president of the school’s nature club, didn’t ask any questions during the discussion, but was glad she came.
“I’m trying to do to as many of the Earth Month events as possible,” Moitt said. “I wanted to educate myself on the issue.”
Moitt is typical of the New York City dwellers who got their awareness raised last month when officials started talking about evacuating 50 miles around Indian Point if there’s an emergency there.
“If that happened here … where are all these people going to go?” Moitt asked.
She said her club wants to petition against building new nuclear plants in Indonesia because of the events in Japan.
“Right now, I’m against (nuclear power) because of the effects, the severe effects,” she said.
But with “degrowth,” as economic professor Ghassan Karam called it, an unlikely possibility, some students wondered if energy production isn’t worth the potential risk.
Those are the questions the next generation is going to have to answer. They and their kids and their kids’ kids.
Cronin gave some good advice on that, as well.
“You see all the gray hairs in here,” the veteran environmentalist said. “You’ve heard what we’ve had to say; now ignore us. Go find out for yourself. Ask your own questions, make your own decisions. It’s not only about the distant future and about the present. There’s a whole path we have to go on. You’re the ones who are going to have the children who will have to live with the next generation of power, whatever it turns out to be.”
Not to mention the risks. ‘
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