In my first book on energy and climate and the human potential,
I spoke to this time.
I said that once Climate Change became mainstream,
there would be a huge push for nuclear energy.
Here is part of a new Fortune Magazine story:
May 30, 2005
Vol. 151, No. 11
Nuclear Power Is Back-Not A Moment Too Soon
By Geoffrey Colvin
"It took a month for the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor to cool off in 1979 after it partially melted in America's most famous nuclear accident.
The emotional heat was a lot more intense; it took 25 years to fade. But at long last it has mostly dissipated, and now, very quietly, nuclear power is on its way back in the U.S. and around the world. And-it must be said-that's a good thing.
How does a technology that was unmentionable for decades get rehabilitated?
Only by a combination of factors. Most important by far is the mainstreaming of the global-warming threat. Remember that for years scientists debated bitterly whether the earth was warming at all, and if so, why. You can still find respectable scientists who say the threat remains an unproven hypothesis. But that debate no longer matters. Enough scientists, policymakers, and citizens now believe that global warming is real and caused by fossil-fuel carbon emissions that it makes sense for everyone to behave as if that's so.
"The threat has gone mainstream. "
I rest my point.
From a power plant perspective, nuclear plants are not that different than a coal plant, or natural gas steam plant. For that matter, a large central station solar plant would operate in the same manner too. You make something really hot, you make steam by bringing water really close to this hot thing, and then you use that steam to drive steam turbines that turn electric generators.
What makes nuclear plants so special is the fuel they use and the waste they create.
It is impossible to separate peaceful nuclear technology from weaponized nuclear technology.
That is the issue in Iran at this moment.
Nuclear fuel is a finite resource, just like oil. In fact, the nuclear resource is actually very limited. Few proponents speak about this.
Nuclear waste must be kept away from our environment or it will poison our environment.
Nuclear plants must be carefully monitored so that they do not release these poisons into the environment.
All three must be guarded.
So, if you want a technology that requires the most guarding, the most security, creates the most dangerous pollution, offers a strong likelihood of providing weaponization expertise, and the greatest single risk management challenges, with implications for generations and generations that follow you, then nuclear technology is your thing.
No private insurance company will insure them.
So, the risk must be socialized at the nation state level.
The profits, of course, will be privatized at the corporate level.
There are perhaps four human types who propound the use of more nuclear plants.
Those who don't have the slightest idea what they are talking about when it comes to energy and electricity, and so have placed their faith in someone else's opinion and judgment.
Those who are physicist who have supported nuclear technology in the past and therefore want their name and public testimony vindicated before they die.
Those who have natural, innate fascist tendencies that blind them to ideas and concepts that are inherently plutocratic, anti-democratic, and socially reckless, and think Darth Vader is an OK guy in a pinch.
And four, those who have an abandonment disorder which leads them to a perverse unconscious urge to hurt themselves and everyone and thing around them.
If you are particularly unlucky, you may qualify in all four.
The Fortune story does give you some handholding here:
"Stewart Brand writes in the current MIT Technology Review, "The only technology ready to ... stop the carbon dioxide loading of the atmosphere is nuclear power." James Lovelock, the originator of the Gaia hypothesis, which regards the earth as a single, living organism, has stated flatly that "nuclear power is the only green solution." Even Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore has spoken up for nukes. They all make the same point: In a world threatened by warming, an emission-free power source is desperately important. "
Stewart, James, and Patrick should be entombed with these wastes.
And then finally, the unsubstantiated kicker comes:
"Solar and wind power cannot even begin to fill the need."
They can't even begin?
We can provide energy for the whole world with a land mass the size of Texas dedicated to solar. It's a lot less area than we've paved already. I can provide all the energy my growing city needs simply by covering the cooling pond of our existing nuclear plant with solar panels.
When you include the mines and the footprints of the oil wells, and all our power plants, we have already committed enough land to provide all the energy we need through solar.
And, I am not talking about using any roof top real estate. The average energy guzzling American can provide all the energy for his homes and cars with half of his roof.
We can provide substantial portions of our energy needs with wind. And, in much of the US, and other land endowed nations of the world, you would never see the turbines.
Every coal plant, every gas plant that uses steam, even a nuclear plant, can be retrofitted today with boilers that burn hydrogen and oxygen that is cracked out of water from the electricity generated from a broad portfolio of wind turbines, solar generation, and heliohydrogen generation.
The next time you hear someone say, "well the wind doesn't blow all the time and the sun doesn't always shine", remind them that domestic oil wells "don't always pump, nuclear plants don't always run, and foreign oil may not always find its way here". That is why we have oil tanks, and strategic reserves, and why we will have hydrogen power plants that make H2O instead of CO2.
We can run our world without coal, without uranium, without oil, without pollution, without war, without changing the climate, without propaganda.
If we want to,
If we want to.