There’s not much left to do. Science, reason, objectivity, truth—you can place these before the mind, just like you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink and you can’t make people think. And that, tragically enough, is the earthquake silently churning beneath our feet—the refusal to think. To cast aside our emotions, our ingrained perceptions, our hereditary notions of what is and what is not, our cultural tribes and our beloved self-image, our hopeless slavery to our reflection—to cast aside all this and remember what a real argument is, to be willing to be persuaded by soundness of thought, by logic, to hold no assumption or opinion too dear that it lies beyond the reach of transformative rationalization, to gaze with clean eyes upon the real shape of the world—to this we have become ghosts, strange and orphaned.
No matter what scientific logic you place before this new wave of hysterical climate-changers, poltical junkies, and environmentalists, they will point and sneer from behind their entrenchments, their walls of ideology which they tie (curiously) to their own personal identity. Take a recent op-ed piece published on projectsyndicate.com by Emeritus Professor of Physics and Fellow of Keble College at the University of Oxford, Wade Allison, in which the distinguished professor lends his voice to the percussive tide of scientists, teachers, engineers, researchers etc. emphasizing the need for nuclear energy. The article begins from a historical perspective, somewhat unintentionally (perhaps) lending humor to the discussion when it refers to renewables as “pre-industrial revolution fuel” and “the fuel of our ancestors”—which technically, it is. And a thousand green voices go shrieking into the air…..In reality, however far from that we may now live, Professor Allison is spot-on. He is assessing the potential of a fuel based on its inherent energy potential—namely, the number of electricity units (kWh) in a kilogram (2.2 pounds). He proceeds methodically in comparison: Pre-Industrial Era fuel (water, wind, solar, & vegetation) carries an energy density of 0.0003kwh, Industrial Revolution fuel (coal, oil, & gas) carries a 1-7kwh density, and Nuclear Revolution-era fuel (uranium and thorium) boasts an energy density of 20 million per kilogram. What’s the significance?
The Professor makes a clear delineation, “To harness sufficient energy, pre-industrial fuels need huge, nature-despoiling – hardly ‘green’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ – power stations: massive arrays of solar panels, forests of gigantic windmills, and vast flooded river valleys. Their size attests to the weakness of the energy that they collect, while intermittency implies a typical working availability of only 30%. And, as Germany’s Energiewende policy has demonstrated, these fuels are not enough.”
Germany, as one recalls, famously abandoned nuclear energy in total capitulation to unfounded nuclear hysteria among its population and all in the supposed name of reducing carbon emissions—the result has been comically disastrous. Not only have the country’s CO2 emissions actually risen, they have also, by virtue of being unable to make up the energy deficit left by nuclear abdication, had to buy/borrow energy from France in order to meet their country’s needs. Their famed Energiewende has now become a global joke. France meanwhile, who went all-in on nuclear energy to the point they are leading the planet in recycled fuel technology, has cut their CO2 emissions by 16.4% since 1990.
Aside from sheer carbon statistics, those who still hold the word “nuclear” in a vile, dark, and evil cabinet, will point without pause to radiation—by now I think it’s relatively safe to say that even the staunchest opponents of nuclear energy will concede that a power plant cannot explode—and they will be wrong. Professor Allison continues,“Apart from the solitary decay of radioactive atoms, nuclear energy is firmly locked inside individual nuclei, which never meet one another except at the center of the sun. Nuclei do not release their energy prematurely, because only a free neutron can override the lock, and such keys decay quickly: their half-life is ten minutes. As a result, nuclear energy can be released only inside a working reactor. Such is the exceptional physical safety of nuclear energy. Moreover, biology protects life from nuclear radiation. Over three billion years, life has evolved to survive the natural radiation from rocks and space, developing ways to recover from the damage caused. But that is a longer story. The point is that moderate exposures to radiation are effectively harmless. Even higher doses are used routinely to diagnose and cure cancers, thanks to the work of Marie Curie. The public accepts the use of nuclear technology for human health; it should do the same for the health of the planet. Yet, although fears of nuclear power have no scientific basis – indeed, nuclear power is far safer than any other energy source – they pervade public policy, with the risks often being fictionalized for the sake of entertainment.”
To say the future of the planet is at stake should engender the dismissal of secular politics and the unification of our global efforts toward one goal: reduction of our carbon footprint. Instead, so horribly predictable in the spectrum of human history, it has shredded us into warring tribes of ideology, politics, and emotion. The world could be on fire and we’d debate it. Sad, the legacy we leave to our children will not be of action, but of petty squabbling over who gets to say they’re right.
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The full article may be viewed here: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/nuclear-energy-clean-green-reliable-by-wade-allison-2019-06