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Updated: September 9, 2010 14:36 IST

Nuclear energy cheapest and safest, says scientist

Special Correspondent
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Dr. Fred Singer, crusader against global warming. Photo: S. Mahinsha
Dr. Fred Singer, crusader against global warming. Photo: S. Mahinsha

Speaking out for nuclear power attracts criticism from groups opposed to this form of energy as they fear that disasters are a distinct possibility in atomic plants.

But then, Siegfried Fred Singer has never shied away from going against the grain. Known for his crusade against the human-induced global warming theory, Dr. Singer feels that nuclear energy offers the cheapest, safest and the only carbon-free power source in the world, ideal for rapidly growing emerging economies such as India and China.

At a meet-the-press programme organised by the Kesari Memorial Journalists Trust here on Monday, he said thorium resources in India could last thousands of years and give the country almost unlimited potential for power generation. Nuclear power was the best option for India at this stage of economic development. The country could also export thorium.

“Nuclear power will prove to be more attractive when fossil fuels run out,” he said. “Renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are not clean as they are assumed to be; they are very expensive to build and operate, work intermittently and hence unreliable. One coal plant can substitute hundreds of windmills in terms of power generation,” he said.

An Austrian-born American physicist known for his work in space research, atmospheric pollution and satellite technology, Dr. Singer said the campaign in many European countries to stop using fossil fuels and the proposal to close down nuclear plants would lead to an economic calamity. “There has even been a plan to cover the Sahara desert with solar receivers and transmit the power to Europe. It is a crazy idea.”

He lauded the stand adopted by India and China at the Copenhagen summit. “They raised objections to the proposed treaty to cut carbon emissions and with good reason. The world does not need such a treaty. It is useless,” he said.

Dr. Singer is one among a minority group campaigning against the theory that global warming and climate change were induced by human activities. He believes that the next Ice Age is certain to come. “It will come soon, we do not know when. Natural climate change is a reality. Sea level has risen 120 metres since the last Ice Age. Human activities have had no effect on the phenomenon,” he said.

Dr. Singer said the rapid growth of population was matched by the economic growth and energy use in countries such as India and China. A trenchant critic of policies aimed at capping carbon emissions, he says, “Emissions have gone up but it has had no impact on the climate. There is no correlation between carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere and the increase in temperature, no scientific evidence yet pointing to anthropogenic causes for climate change. Satellite data has revealed no abnormal warming.”

Highlighting the ClimateGate controversy involving the manipulation of data by scientists to make the case for global warming appear stronger than it is, he said there could have been a conspiracy between British and U.S. scientists involving analysis of surface data from weather stations.

Asked about the Non-Governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an organisation he founded, he replied, “We are a growing minority with thousands of scientists. The number of sceptics about human-induced global warming has been growing since the ClimateGate controversy erupted.”






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