Nuclear Waste Can Protect Tropical Forests

Let's just consider James Lovelock's idea for a second: Dump our nuclear waste into the tropical forests and other areas that need protecting from human activity such as as farming or construction, to conserve them.

This is one of climate scientist James Lovelock's solutions to the often-asked question of what to do with nuclear waste whenever the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis expresses his criticised support of nuclear power. In his book "The Revenge of Gaia" (2006), Lovelock states: "one of the striking things about places heavily contaminated by radioactive nuclides is the richness of their wildlife." (2007 Penguin Books, p. 116) He argues that animals and plants don't perceive radioactivity as a danger. What is far more threatening to ecosystems are people who create extensive farmlands or construction sites. Lovelock explains that maybe radiation reduces the lifespan of wild plants and animals, but that a far bigger threat is human activity. So to keep humans out of valuable ecosystems, we could dump our nuclear waste there. Here is Lovelock's explanation (2007 Penguin Books, p. 117):

The preference of wildlife for nuclear-waste sites suggests that the best sites for its disposal are the tropical forests and other habitats in need of a reliable guardian against their destruction by hungry farmers and developers.

Of course there are plenty of reasons not to dump nuclear waste in rainforests, or even consider nuclear energy at all, but it is an idea worth sharing.

It is only one of many radical viewpoints Lovelock expresses in his book "The Revenge of Gaia". The book gives a good overview of the bigger picture of the state of our planet, and is definitely worth reading. Another of his ideas to save humanity from climate change is Burying Large Amounts of Charcoal in the Ground. We also recommend reading the Guardian's article Enjoy life while you can. "Because", as Lovelock says, "if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan." Not a very optimistic statement, but we should ask ourselves: Should we ignore Lovelock? (take the TreeHugger survey). ::James Lovelock

Tags: Nuclear Power | Waste

Best of TreeHugger