Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nuclear in the Middle

Nuclear in the Middle

Nuclear Power is caught between two stupid opponents that dominate the debate on the future.

On the Green-Left the tactic is to ignore Nuclear. Pretend it isn't there. And then statements like "growth can not continue" make perfect sense. I have a lot of sympathy for this position. Harnessing E=mc2 gives man ever greater power for good or ill, and it is hard to be confident about how that will turn out in the end. And it promises to move humanity even further away from its natural position as part of nature. But its too late. We couldn't support the current 6 billion people with environment-friendly energy sources, even if the energy sources proposed fitted that bill, which they don't. Too many environmentalists dream of a world with 1 billion people, and are sanguine about the process to get there.

On the other side we have the "market is God" Right. They don't have a tactic. They just actually believe that money is important and will solve everything, while energy is just another commodity. They accidentally satirize their own position, as Glen Stevens did when responding to parliamentary questions he said "If the price of eggs gets high enough the roosters will lay". For them Nuclear isn't necessary. The market will provide. The GFC has really brought them out of the woodwork with a huge range of opinions about why the GFC was caused by money going around in the wrong circles. A funny thing is that they never consider the possibility that financial crises might be caused by real world events (like running out of cheap energy), even though every one of them would probably agree that if there was a sudden increase in the real cost of energy then that would have to effect the real economy, and the mechanism of that effect would be through the operation of world finances. They just assume that any gradual change can be accommodated without impacting "sustainable growth".

The reason we need to move to Nuclear Power is that there are too many humans on Earth. The only way that we can continue without massive loss of life, or massive environmental destruction, or both, is to utilize the one energy source that the rest of the natural world doesn't use.