by Lan Nguyen
When people talk about switching away from fossil fuels, renewables are usually the solution presented. But what about nuclear? Fossil Free Northwestern hosted a debate and discussion on Thursday night to explore the role of nuclear in the future of energy. Two nuclear experts went head-to-head, but there was one thing they agreed on: fossil fuels contribute to climate change and need to be eliminated.
Dr. Jordi Roglans-Ribas, from the Argonne National Laboratory, presented the pro side of the debate, followed by Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds Energy Education, who spoke against it. A Q&A session with audience members followed.
Dr. Roglans-Ribas spoke about the importance of nuclear energy as a supplement to renewable resources, while Gundersen emphasized the economical and time constraints of the technology. In the Q&A session, the speakers discussed the justice aspect of nuclear energy, with Dr. Roglans-Ribas saying nuclear plants create jobs that can help communities, and Gundersen arguing that mining ore displaces and pollutes indigenous populations.
Fossil Free NU, formerly known as DivestNU, calls for divestment of Northwestern’s endowments from coal companies, moving toward divestment from all fossil fuels. They organized the event, along with Northwestern Energy and Sustainability Consortium (NESC) and the Northwestern Energy Technology Group (NETG), to spark a dialogue about alternative energy sources.
“I think that people in the audience came away with more knowledge about fossil fuels, the pluses and pitfalls of nuclear energy, and a desire to continue conversations like these long past our event,” said Noah Becker, a Bienen freshman and event coordinator from Fossil Free NU.
So—is nuclear the solution to the energy problem? Check out the infographic below for more details, and make your own decision!