Sunday, 7 March 2010

Nuclear: a thought

If we only think of our children, then we might think of nuclear power as a good thing; but if we think of more distant future people, then evidently nuclear waste is a horrific legacy to leave them, people who won't even get any benefit at all out of the waste in question having been produced.

5 Comments:

Blogger Joe Otten said...

If you call nuclear waste horrific, then it is hard to find an adjective strong enough to describe global warming.

9 March 2010 at 09:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While it is noble to think of the long term consequences of nuclear waste, I think you may have overlooked two things.

The first is that nuclear energy is a source of power of which a share goes towards enhancing the life chances of this generation, which will in turn present new opportunities for our children and theirs. So there is the possibility of indirect benefit for many generations to follow. (So I disagree that our descendents will have no benefit in an absolute sense if that is what you were saying)

The second point is that as the true costs of dealing responsibly with nuclear waste becomes public knowledge, over time, then it will be less attractive to future generations and they will substitute for something else. I do not think that it is too hard to show it as an unattractive economic prospect even in our time.

I for one dislike nuclear power - it offers limited useful life with massive burdens of waste. However benefit does come from it and those benefits can be passed on. But I think in the long run its use for power will be a blip as our children face the costs they will abandon it.

12 March 2010 at 00:31  
Blogger Rupert said...

Anon's 2nd point here is very curious - because surely the consequence of taking it seriously is that you ought to agree with me that those of us who are already aware of those costs now should do exactly what I say: i.e. oppose nuclear. And yet you don't seem to embrace that conclusion.
Why not?

12 March 2010 at 10:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply. You were originally saying we should oppose nuclear on the basis it harms future people who will not benefit.

I think nuclear should be opposed on the grounds that it is uneconomic. This can be argued now, but we both know there are interests at hand who endeavour to hide the true costs (consider what happened awhile ago in Lancaster). That wont be able to continue and then we will move away from nuclear naturally. We can try and fight nuclear but with the forecasted shortage of energy over the coming decades, I dont expect anyone with say will listen.

12 March 2010 at 18:56  
Blogger Rupert said...

Thanks, Anon. That helps clarify.
I agree with you. We should fight nuclear chiefly on these three grounds:
1) It's being dangerous in terms of nuclear proliferation / nuclear terrorism.
2) It's being uneconomic.
3) It's being an attack on future people.
Points 2 and 3 have a deep synergy. The ultimate reason why nuclear is uneconomic is that it will have costs indefinitely into the future. If one doesn't discount the future, then these costs will be mind-bogglingly vast.
So perhaps you and I don't really disagree significantly.
The key thing about these 3 arguments is that they all REFRAME the argument away from the terrain that is less helpful to us, because of the way the debate (unfortunately) has gone, nationally: the terrain of energy 'needs', and of climate change.

16 March 2010 at 09:10  

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1. 2. 3. Rupert's Read: Nuclear: a thought 4. 12. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 23. 24.

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29.
If we only think of our children, then we might think of nuclear power as a good thing; but if we think of more distant future people, then evidently nuclear waste is a horrific legacy to leave them, people who won't even get any benefit at all out of the waste in question having been produced.
30. 31. 32.