Proliferating nukes

Scan the recent posts on Idaho Samizdat and you’ll see how nuclear power is enjoying a huge renaissance worldwide, with a multitude of countries – Turkey, Japan, South Africa, Britain, the US, and more – planning to build new plants.

Why? Nuclear plants create prodigious amounts of cheap energy and emit very little carbon.


  1. -and leaves the waste for the next generation to worry about???

  2. I must say I am perplex by your enthusiasm for nuclear power. It is only cheap if you disregard the back-end costs, which are huge. It’s that same reasoning that forges the climate situation we are currently encountering as well as many other aspects within capitalism. It is crucial to evaluate “real world” costs, not just what looks cheap on the front end.

  3. It’s not so much that I’m enthusiastic for it but that it may be the only way, as Jim Kuntsler puts it, to keep the lights on until we figure out what comes next.

    Energy conservation has to be a major part of any energy plan as do renewables. But will that be enough, especially with India and China modernizing rapidly? It would be better if they went nuclear rather than coal, I think.

  4. Thanks for the pointer to my blog Idaho Samizdat. On the issue of spent nuclear fuel, it isn’t waste. It has value and some ideas are making their way to market.

  5. I don’t like the idea of producing mass quantities of waste that must be kept safe from man and nature for 200,000 years. That’s roughly as long as humans have been on the planet– and based on our recent history, it’s pretty arrogant to suppose we’ll still be here (and maintain constant political stability) for the next 2,000 centuries. Even assuming we learn to recycle a fair bit of it, there’s still tons of waste to be protected from a future we cannot predict.

    But here’s what’s really frightening: India has over 200 active terrorist groups, some linked to Al Queda and other radical Islamic groups. Plus experience suggests that many of its civil service workers are for sale at the right price. The prospect of storing nuclear materials (or even using them) in India scares the hell out of me.

    Here’s an alternative: in the U.S., conservation could cut our usage in half with no lifestyle changes and little investment. We already get 7% of our electricity from renewables; if we use half as much, we’re already at 14% renewable. With the recent surge in wind and solar, and new tech coming out almost daily (like wave power and geothermal), the combination of less usage and greater renewable production should quickly (like within a decade) fill the gap, given enough incentive.

    One problem is, people are going to push those sources of power from which THEY can make profits. Oil-, coal-, and uranium- sourced power require constant exploration, mining, processing, and transportation. They employ lots of people and maintain a constant cash flow for thousands of suppliers. No wonder they sound more attractive than solar or wind, which (once the capital investment is made) require little input or labor! They don’t share the wealth.

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