A new commentary by Forbes columnist Mark Gibbs looks at possible unintended consequences should cold fusion actually prove to be able to provide cheap and abundant energy.
He considers the consequence of vast amounts of waste heat created by cold fusion generators, and how that would lead to more pronounced urban heat islands which could lead to ecological instablility (e.g. more rats and mosquitos) and contribute to greater global climate change. Along with waste heat, would also come more light pollution, which can have harmful effects on ecosystems and human and animal health.
He also mentions that CF-driven desalination which would allow for potable water in arid places would also lead to the creation of millions of waste salt and mineral sites throughout the globe.
As with any new technology that appears on the scene, there’s no doubt that widespread cold fusion technology would present all kinds of new challenges to deal with. Gibbs mentions a few, and will certainly be others. Once the technology is widely accepted as being capable of changing the world energy picture, there will surely be much more public debate on the topics, and we will see how people in power will try to manage what could be a time of great upheaval.