Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Environment

Nuclear power saves lives

Highly read on pubs.acs.org 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.

Environ. Sci. Technol. 47, 4889–4895 (2013)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nuclear power saves lives. Nature 497, 539 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/497539e

Download citation

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

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