Nuclear Energy — Is It Really Part of the Solution?

Is nuclear power necessary? Or even helpful? Photo credit: Albrecht Fietz on Pixabay

Some people are enthusiastic about nuclear energy. I’m not so enthusiastic but, if it can be part of the solution to our climate crisis, I’m fine with it. That said, my eyes are open.

I keep reading some rather annoying and unbelievable assertions from nuclear advocates. That nuclear is safe. That renewable energy isn’t viable. That nuclear is cheaper — cheaper than the alternatives, which aren’t viable anyway.

Frankly, I believe that most of these people are simply people with financial interest in nuclear energy. Or ideologues of some sort. Because their reasoning is weak, and they are very selective of the facts which they cite, some of which aren’t facts at all.

First, there’s the downplaying of the history of nuclear accidents. Chernobyl is cited as the worst disaster, but that plant was a foolish dangerous design and wouldn’t be repeated. And it was created and run by the Soviets who were careless and incompetent. Americans and other westerners know what they are doing.

Sure, there was Three Mile Island. But who died there? And wasn’t that a long time ago? We’ve learned so much since then and that accident was pretty minor.

Fukushima? Well that was in Japan and it’s under control now. Isn’t it? And that disaster was caused by a natural disaster — a deadly storm — which is unlikely to happen again. Right?

I find none of these arguments convincing. To me, it’s like arguing nuclear weapons aren’t dangerous because the planet hasn’t yet been destroyed by nuclear weapons. I don’t confuse good luck with competence. And all this downplaying of nuclear safety convinces me even more that those who want nuclear power plants are in denial about safety and would operate them carelessly.

I doubt that nuclear is necessary. Wind and solar and other options exist and are, in fact, cheaper. Nobody has presented evidence that nuclear would be cheap. They’ve just stated it. Of course, one could cite actual shortcomings of alternative energy — issues with batteries and the relatively short life-spans of alternative power plants. These are cited as if nobody is working on improving alternative energy. As if there wasn’t promising research to improvement batteries and solar panels, some actually under development.

In fact, alternative energy has been improving by leaps and bounds, and costs continue to plummet. Not as fast as I’d like, but the trend is clear.

So, if you want to try to persuade me that nuclear can be part of the solution to climate crisis, I’m already convinced. But if you want to persuade me it’s necessary or that alternative energy isn’t viable — well, you are only destroying your own credibility.

Frankly, I think the push for nuclear is largely motivated by those who want to profit from energy as a limited and controlled source of energy. If people collect their own solar power from their own roofs, where’s the ongoing income stream for investors? If energy is cheap and plentiful and decentralized, how can capitalists continue to profit as they have from fossil fuels for more than a century?

When it comes to fixing the climate, I have no ideology. I’m in favor of whatever works. But my eyes are open and I see people with all kind of motives — some laudable, and others not so much — and I’m not fooled. What must be done is clear — stop burning fossil fuels, replace them with clean energy and perhaps use less energy overall. We don’t need all the crap that is created to be sold, and if less of that is better for the future of our children, lets have less crap.

This isn’t about adults. We’ve had our time. Our “leaders” have failed decade after decade and we’ve been unwilling to go along, or unable to stop them. But our time is about up anyway. What will we leave our children? If we fail to curb climate catastrophe, then the next generation — IF they survive — will rightfully blame OUR generation and several generations preceding them for their suffering. And they will be correct to do so.

Maybe the nuclear advocates who dismiss alternative energy are guilty, too.

Elsewhere, in my other essays, I’ve proposed actions that ordinary people can try. (Maybe you should follow me.) Of course, the biggest responsibility (and guilt) lies with oil executives, wealthy fossil fuel advocates, and corporate-financed politicians who continue to destroy the planet. But the rest of us have things we can at least try.

Will YOU try?



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Ray Katz

Ray Katz

Internet pioneer. But I’m most interested in stabilizing the Earth’s climate and promoting our common humanity.