One consequence of shutting down nuclear power plants is increased emissions of carbon dioxide that are thought to be contributing to global warming. Andrew Bolt over at the Herald Sun blog notes that in reaction to the Japanese nuclear crisis, several European countries—Germany, Switzerland, Austria—have taken steps to shut down nuclear power generating facilities. The result:
This will mean more countries will be forced to use fossil fuels rather than nuclear, the only relatively cheap source of greenhouse friendly base-load power other than hydroelectricity, also opposed by most greens. Few will dare now to commit to huge cuts in emissions, and especially not in this shaky economic environment, made more turbulent by Japan's disaster. Few will be willing to trust to the green alternatives—all expensive, under-developed or unreliable.
Breakthrough Institute analyst Sara Mansur observes:
Carbon dioxide emissions in Germany may increase by 4 percent annually in response to a moratorium on seven of the country's oldest nuclear power plants, as power generation is shifted from nuclear power, a zero carbon source, to the other carbon-intensive energy sources that currently make up the country's energy supply.
As background, the Washington Post has published today a nice graphic showing the relative emissions of carbon dioxide from various energy sources:
Links via the Global Warming Policy Foundation.