Scientists working at NASA’s Goddard Institute published a study that quantifies how many deaths that would have been caused by fossil fuels if burned for power, were avoided as a result of having had nuclear power displace the power from coal, oil or gas. The answer is 1.8 million and growing every year that the coal is not burned.
Drs. Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen published Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power in the journal Environmental Science and Technology with the striking figure of 1.8 million as the number of lives saved by replacing fossil fuel sources with nuclear. They also estimate the saving of up to 7 million lives in the next four decades, along with substantial reductions in carbon emissions, were nuclear power to replace fossil fuel usage on a large scale.
In addition the study finds that the proposed expansion of natural gas would not be as effective in saving lives and preventing carbon emissions. In general the paper provides optimistic reasons for the responsible and widespread use of nuclear technologies in the near future. It also drives home the point that nuclear energy has prevented many more deaths than what it has caused.
ACS Publications“Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power,” by Pushker A. Kharech and James E. Hansen, on March 15, 2013, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013, 47, 9, 4889–4895.
Scientific American, “Nuclear power may have saved 1.8 million lives otherwise lost to fossil fuels, may save up to 7 million more.” by by Ashutosh Jogalekar on April 2, 2013.