Christine Whitman, former EPA head in the Bush administration, and Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, joining forces to promote nuclear energy? What’s that all about? They are probably trying to breathe life into a moribund industry that has not had an order for a nuclear reactor in this country in decades.

With all that has been written about global warming and the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the nuclear power industry has seized upon an opportune moment to recruit a former corporate shill in the EPA and a misguided individual with past environmental credentials to push a technology that has been around for 50 years and has no end game.

Yucca Mountain, the supposed “final solution” for storing nuclear waste, with billions spent over the decades, still has not one radioactive rod lying within. Why, with all the knowledge accumulated since the inception of nuclear power, would we accept a technology that still does not know how to deal with ever-increasing amounts of highly radioactive byproducts?

Trying to solve the energy crisis under a system where competing corporate interests hold sway over our legislators is a daunting if not an impossible task, and embracing nuclear power as a way out, even over the short term, is shortsighted.

The long-term solution to the energy crisis lies in the controlled conversion of hydrogen to helium — fusion, the process that powers the sun. Much money and scientific talent is being expended by major powers in this area. European Union member states are collaborating in a joint effort carried out within the European Atomic Energy Community (EUROTOM). They are aiming to demonstrate the scientific and technical feasibility of fusion as a safe, clean, readily available energy source. When that day comes, the burning of fossil fuels will join the dinosaurs as a phenomenon whose time came and went.

The short-term solution to the energy crisis lies not in the construction of more nuclear power plants but in the more efficient use of the energy we produce and the promotion of alternative sources, such as wind, solar (both active and passive), thermal and geothermal. Can any of this happen under capitalism? It probably can, as long as they can see a way to make a profit.

An example of energy savings dictated by rising energy costs was a New York City initiative in which all the traffic lights in the city were replaced, at a cost of tens of millions of dollars, by light-emitting diodes, resulting in lower energy costs and many millions of dollars in savings.

Will all of the needed solutions be implemented under capitalism? Probably not. There are too many competing corporate interests. So then, can it happen? Yes! When people demand that people’s and society’s interests come before corporate interests, as in the slogan “People before profits.” Or shall we say: Socialism!

Bill Mackovich is a retired steel and hospital worker.