The Nuke Dilemma

I have gone back and forth between polar extremes on this question over the past decade. On the one hand, nuclear accidents and waste disposal problems pose risks so great we shouldn’t even contemplate them, not even for a moment. On the other hand, continuing to burn fossils sets us on a course toward continued environmental destruction and unchecked climate change.

Recently a group of environmental scientists delivered a public letter encouraging environmentalists to start taking nuclear seriously.


The reality is that renewables (wind and solar) can’t begin to scale to match the amount of energy we are using / will need in the future. And:

“Quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuels. No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology.”

Fukushima freaks us out, as it should. But Fukushima also represents a completely antiquated mode of nuke plant construction. Future plants will operate very differently, with a native tendency to shut down, not melt down.

Damned if we do, damned if we don’t?

2 Replies to “The Nuke Dilemma”

  1. Agreed, Scott. I have in the past been mostly pro-nuclear, but have always been open-minded to the disadvantages. Also always felt the Canadian CANDU reactors were inherently safer. Still think the future is in fusion, rather than current fission reactors. Thank you for the link, I will have to make time to read and catch up a little more.

  2. Also, strongly recommended watching for anyone interested in this, is the independent film shown on CNN recently, Pandora’s Promise – about the rise of pro-nuke environmentalists in recent years.

    Too much to say about it to get into it here, and I’ve worn myself out discussing it on Facebook, but I have a feeling it’s going to get people thinking about this stuff in a whole new light.

    Personally I’m putting a lot of stock in advanced in Thorium reactors – very high output, very low radiation, and super abundant source material. Whatever we do, we have to *move* on it – we can’t sustain the current carbon diet, and renewables simply aren’t going to get us there in time.

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