Research Highlights | Published:


Nuclear power saves lives

Nature volume 497, page 539 (30 May 2013) | Download Citation

Highly read on 20 April–20 May

Nuclear power might have prevented almost two million air-pollution-related deaths around the world, an analysis of historical data suggests.

Former NASA scientist James Hansen, who left the agency in early April to devote his time to climate activism, and Pushker Kharecha at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York estimate that nuclear power has prevented some 1.84 million deaths that would have occurred had that power been generated by burning fossil fuels. This equates to 370 times more lives saved than have been lost to radiation poisoning or occupational accidents in nuclear power plants over the past 40 years or so. In addition, the power generated by the technology has prevented 64 gigatonnes of carbon-dioxide-equivalent greenhouse-gas emissions, which would have accompanied the burning of fossil fuels, from entering the atmosphere.

About this article

Publication history





    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing