November 5, 1999

Nuclear Power's Benefits

To the Editor:

Your Oct. 31 front-page article "Global Economy Slowly Cuts Use of Fuels Rich in Carbon" did not mention the contribution of nuclear power to the slowing of carbon emissions worldwide. Between 1973 and the present, United States nuclear power plants prevented the emission of about two billion metric tons of carbon.

Clearly, nuclear power's ability to generate electricity without carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) emissions will not lead to its increased use unless problems of public acceptance, disposal of high-level radioactive waste and weapons proliferation are resolved.

But we should not discount the contribution of nuclear power to the mitigation of global atmospheric carbon emissions.

Berkeley, Calif., Nov. 2, 1999
The writer is professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at the University of California at Berkeley.

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