Where do the children play?
This was not only a song by Cat Stevens about our growing separation from nature but it was also a foretelling of a time when we could lose sight of what is important to us. Having enough space is becoming a major concern in some parts of the world and we need to be concerned. We have seen the effects of how space and opportunity is comparatively plentiful in North America. Japan’s Fukushima events affected Switzerland, Germany and Italy to the point that they are likely going to need to sacrifice valuable land for wind and solar energy if they stick to their plan of going with so-called “renewable” energy.
How I became a nuclear energy supporter and advocate?
It was my concern for the environment that led me to start looking at the energy problem. I was excited about the new age of technology that authors of the sixties and seventies of my youth had predicted would bring us leisure and comforts never before seen. My fascination with the world of nuclear technology peaked when I started reading the blogs of Kirk Sorensen and Charles Barton (Jr.). Never mind the theoretical physics concepts like quarks and quantum nechanics but now I was reading the writings about Alvin Weinberg and the Molten Salt Reactor experiments with Thorium which were simpler to understand and that convinced me this technology was truly a game changer if we were able to embrace it as a new kind of nuclear energy source. A reactor that could be built to function under water and provide energy and with it’s high temperature and excess heat it could desalinate water into fresh drinking water that up till recently was fairly abundant. Climate change has started causing droughts and in turn forest fires that threaten our homes and our air.
The voluminous writings of Charles Barton and the infectious passion and enthusiasm of Kirk Sorensen and later the wise and insightful posts by Rod Adams convinced me that I was onto something really important.
This is why I think the nuclear renaissance still should happen.
Nuclear has a small physical footprint and a small carbon footprint. It is not intermittent and we are discovering that because of the intermittent nature of the two most popular renewables, wind and solar, that they will need load following and that means, if not nuclear energy, natural gas or coal will be needed to supplement the times when the wind stops or when the night comes. We have learned that both industries have negatives that are hard to live with. We don’t need them as a necessary evil. The technology is too expensive. The cost to the environment is too big. The pollution of coal is the worst but the undocumented damage caused by fracking Methane out of the ground is also too big a cost. Nuclear has the added advantage of being a very dense source of energy and the newest methods will also run themselves with built in passive safety. This improvement over current reactors is an enormous improvement.
Old Dreams and New Dreams
These days it’s hard to mention the American Dream without raising a feeling of bitterness. It’s like being at a funeral and talking about the drinking habits of the deceased and what killed them. I want to remind people that the dream is not lost, that what we aspire for can be regained. The enormous challenge of getting back to a level of productivity and a state of optimism will only be accomplished if we embrace a nuclear age. We will all share in the guilt of leaving behind a messed up world for our children if we don’t try to repair the damage.
First, the nuclear energy solution needs to be recognized as a real solution to improving the quality of life. The quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the climate we share and the economy for which we are a part.
How Nerds are like children and what they both can teach us.
There is no better way to honor our children than to follow their example of natural idealism. We should recognize that their naivite and fearlessness to facing the unknown is what brings out the envy that we so willingly express when we mock their child like ways. In the same way we mock Nerd like behavior and part of what makes a nerd is their tendency to keep their child like ways, slower than most of us, to adapt to adult personalities and traits.
Nerds like efficiency, compactness, all things esoteric, intellectually challenging and rewarding. Well it is interesting that nuclear energy is also efficient, compact, esoteric, intellectual, challenging and rewarding. Also Nerds in large numbers like nuclear energy. But in this case the Nerdy choice is the best choice. It’s about time we catch up to scientific achievement. Coal began the industrial revolution. ~160 years later we’re still using it. Let’s really join the modern age.