”But Nukes”

An explosive silver bullet. Goes hand in hand with #ButRenewables. Nuke fans are often against government intervention (see #ButPolitics), which is odd {2} since the only way for nukes to compete is to enforce an energy price floor.

There’s a difference between saying that nukes would solve the problem, only nukes can solve the problem, and nukes is part of our toolkit and we need all the tools we got. The first claim is hard to verify, the second claim is obviously false, so all we got left is what I take to be a truism {5}.

Examples

Bill Gates could end climate change. Think about that. He could do this if people let him realize his vision around nuclear power. The government is incapable of doing what he’s doing.

(Cyan)

Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change.

(Daniel)

Objections and Replies

Costs. Who cares what they cost if they solve the problem—
☞ How about eternal serfdom and suffering? Srsly, constraints matter.

Hippies. Those damn hippies that are killing nuclear because of their act—
☞ Hippies are not in the driver’s seat. They never were. Old hippies can be in power nowadays, but they stopped being ones. Hippie punching will cause the nukes’ demise {3, }.

Independence. Nukes don’t use a source that is connected to the Sun—
☞ The argument omits that our power plants still depend on climatic stability (e.g. Fukushima), that we humans depend on climate, and that energy production depends on its affordability.

Jim Hansen. I agree (on solutions) with James Hansen—
☞ It’s not clear that you’re for a carbon tax or for renewables like Jim is. In fact I have yet to see you stand against fossil fuel subsidies, against Republicans cancelling scientists, and against hippie punching in general.

Lobby. There is a powerful lobby (i.e. hippies) against nuclear—
☞ Fukushima may have slowed but did not stop Japan to go long on nukes. Even the Greens agree we should maintain our old nuke plants.

MikeS. MikeS is very convincing—
☞ So much that he’s been kicked out of the org he founded and that Zeke, the new BTI science guy, said that he was mixing accurate with misleading and false statements. Zeke also underlines that he also falls into the trap of seeing a single technology as the one true solution to climate change, and mistakenly sees denigrating other clean energy technologies as the best way to promote it.

Number One. Nuclear Power is the number one energy source—
☞ It’s less than 15% of the world electricity. It’s an important part of many countries’ portfolios. It could play a bigger role, it could play a lesser role. We should keep what we have.

Politics. Your politics caused our current predicament—
☞ I’m not against nukes, dummy. In fact I’m not against anything. AGW is a very big problem, and I hold that we’ll need all the weapon we got against it.

Putin. You like Putin—
☞ I rather like poutine. You don’t seem to realize that US nukes plants have been decommissioned because of the gas boom.

Stigma. The anti-nuclear stigma has likely caused damage—
☞ To call it a stigma implies it’s unjustified, which is far from clear. Public resistance might have been less if the industry got its act together.

Taxes. Taxes are unnecessary—
☞ More than 97% of the economists believe otherwise. Jim also suggests a tax.

Technical Problems. There are no technical problems—
☞ I suppose it depends what you mean by that. Hitachi could not reach a good deal with the UK governement. The USA has costly wastes in limbo. We know that it’s hard to mix nukes with other investments.

Wastes. Nuclear wastes are no problem—
☞ Wastes are so little a problem that Bill spent decades and billions trying to create fusion reactors with short-lived and manageable by-products.

Will. Where there’s a will there’s a way—
☞ There needs to be a will to pay more for our energy than what we are paying right now.

Notes

{1} Alpha. The only way to replace fossil fuels is to replace fossil fuels. We won’t be able to pull it off with one pet technology, cf. {4}.

{2} Mystery. Going nuclear means closing markets and centralising controls. Why are anarcho-capitalists so enamoured with nuclear may always remain a mystery to me.

{3} Loss. Pitting nukes vs renewables is a losing proposition: it already lost. A Marshallian plan to power the Western world with nukes is past us. Too late now. Some places will need them, but it’s too risky, too expensive, too slow to go bullish on nukes. But

{4} No silver bullet.

{5} All weapons. Tackling AGW will be so hard that we’ll need all the weapons we got. That includes nukes, but also renewables, and among them many other technologies we may not think of, e.g. hydrogen.

Readings

2019-13; I oversaw the U.S. nuclear power industry. Now I think it should be banned; Gregory Jaczko worries about human stupidity.

2017-06; Why Some Nation Chose Nuclear Power; a no-nonsense analysis.

2017-11; Going Nuclear; my own take.

2017-10; Electrify Everything.