Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Dark Day for the Yellow Jackets' Department of Science

As debate picked up again this morning on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, an amendment was offered by Rep. Fred Upton (MI) to designate nuclear power as a renewable energy source. There's no doubt nuclear energy is a complex science. We should be lucky then, that Rep. Phil Gingrey's (GA) day job keeps him far away from nuclear reactors. That's because Mr. Gingrey - a graduate of Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry - suggested that uranium, the source of nuclear power, is renewable because it is almost inexhaustible, stating that “uranium may be the most abundant on the periodic table.”

If that seems wrong, that's because it is. Really, really wrong.

According to a basic science textbook (or a precocious middle school student) hydrogen, helium and oxygen not only round out the top three most abundant elements on Earth, they, along with the next 7 elements, account for 98% of all matter! Uranium, which is rare, is listed as a 45th most abundant element by the Department of Energy.

Given the length of the last few days' proceedings, it's always possible, that Mr. Gingrey confused the words "abundant" and "rare." Or perhaps "uranium" and "hydrogen." Or "may be" and "isn't."