Space Ramblings

Cleaner Energy and the Nuclear Solution

The environmental debate these days tends to be dominated by the Live Simpler school, but there are actually two schools of thought on how to preserve the environment. There is the Live Simpler school which calls for a reduction in technology, in utilization and in the human footprint on the plant. The Live Simpler school is really a “humans need to go back to the caves” school of thought that treats humanity itself and civilization as the problem. By contrast the Live Cleaner Tech school has tried to harness technology to replace dirty technologies with more advanced cleaner ones.

The Live Simpler school is the shriller one so it gets heard much more often. Every time some idiot celebrity proclaims we need to be drinking rat’s milk or not flushing our toilets or Al Gore appears with a chart and a crazy look in his eyes, you’re listening to the apostles of the Live Simpler school. The problem with them is that they’re not only loons, they’re hypocrites. Listening to millionaires who live in mansions and own jets telling people to live simpler is as nauseating as the French aristocracy stuffing their faces while the ordinary people ate rats.

By contrast it’s the Live Cleaner Tech school that has produced the few useful answers so far, from solar power to hybrids, but the more obvious answers including nuclear power and moving heavy industry into space tend to be ignored in favor of small scale answers. By some anyway. Wired has an interesting interview though with Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace and co-chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute’s new Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.

He lists a longer list of environmentalists in favor of nuclear energy too.

People like Stuart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, long-time environmentalist and thinker. He’s solidly in favor of nuclear now. Going back to James Lovelock (founder of the Gaia teory), he was the first iconic environmental guy who said nuclear has got to be part of the solution. Jared Diamond. He’s in favor of nuclear energy too.

And Patrick Moore makes a good point about the discrepancy between a genuine commitment to a cleaner earth and opposition to nuclear power.

became clear to me that there was a logical disconnect. The people who were most concerned about climate change were most opposed to nuclear power. Greenpeace is against fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric power. Those three technologies produce over 99 percent of world energy. What kind of a path to a sustainable future is that?

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