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Why the West should go nuclear Our irrational fear is costing lives

Science is a double-edged sword (CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Science is a double-edged sword (CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)


January 12, 2023   8 mins

Nuclear power is often described as “the double-edged sword of science”, reflecting the fact that it can be used for both useful and peaceful purposes as well as deadly and destructive ends. This has never been truer than today. On the one hand, fission technology, in the form of nuclear warfare, still holds the potential to spell the end of mankind; on the other, in the form of abundant carbon-free nuclear energy, it could hold the key to civilisation’s survival.

The past year has brought the dualistic nature of nuclear energy into stark relief: the Ukraine conflict — and the proxy war between the West and Russia playing out in its background — raised again the terrifying spectre of a nuclear conflict between the world’s major superpowers. At the same time, it has renewed interest in atomic energy, as policymakers grapple with an energy “polycrisis” that has profound economic, geopolitical and environmental ramifications.

The period between the mid-Sixties and early Eighties was the golden age of nuclear power: hundreds of reactors were built globally, at a rate of 20-40 new plants a year. Despite growing opposition from environmental groups (often funded by the oil industry) and the general public, largely due to the blurring of nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the latter’s mind, this period was nonetheless characterised by widespread optimism about the potential for nuclear energy to usher in a post-fossil future.

Then, in 1986, the Chernobyl disaster changed everything, instilling in us a comprehensible — but irrational — fear of atomic energy. Nuclear power plant construction plunged, especially in Europe and the US. The incident at Fukushima, in 2011, reinforced those fears, leading not only Japan but also countries such as Germany to begin a phase-out of nuclear energy. With the exception of a few nations — Sweden, France, Finland — investment in nuclear all but ground to a halt in the West.

As of mid-2022, 411 reactors were operating in 33 countries, seven fewer than 1989, and 27 below the 2002 peak of 438. The year before, nuclear energy’s share of global commercial gross electricity generation sunk to 9.8% — the lowest in four decades. Between 2002 and 2021, 98 plants were built (while 105 closed), but more than half of the new constructions took place in a single country: China. Meanwhile, outside of China, there has been a net decline of 57 units over the past 20 years.

Until not too long ago, the fate of nuclear energy seemed to be sealed. Western countries prided themselves in steadily decreasing their CO2 emissions, while increasing their share of renewables, convincing themselves that they could slowly wean themselves off fossil fuels without resorting to nuclear. The reality was quite different. In virtually every country that shut down its nuclear power plants following the post-Fukushima panic, clean energy was replaced mostly with fossil fuels, which polluted the air with their particulates and toxins, increasing cancer and emphysema in the population. Researchers in Germany have estimated the deaths from this switch to be in the thousands each year, or easily more than 10,000 over the past decade.

Moreover, to the extent that Western nations have shifted most of their manufacturing to Asia over the past two decades, they have simply “outsourced” their climate pollution to those countries. The truth is that the global energy mix has hardly changed over the past 35 years, with the world remaining as dependent as ever on fossil fuels. And the past year has awoken Western countries to this in the most painful way possible. As the invasion of Ukraine forced European countries to turn to coal and even fracking in a desperate attempt to replace Russian gas supplies, we were reminded of how reliant we still are on fossil fuels to keep the lights on, our homes heated and our factories humming. Indeed, global use of coal hit an all-time high in 2022, and is expected to peak in 2023. The picture is darker still across emerging markets and developing economies, where soaring energy prices have resulted in shortages, blackouts, protests, and extreme poverty.

But there is a silver lining to the energy crisis. Recent months have marked a dramatic recovery for the prospects of nuclear energy across the developed world. Last year, Boris Johnson launched an ambitious plan to build eight new reactors and 16 next-generation small modular reactors (SMRs), in order to triple domestic nuclear capacity to 24 gigawatts by 2050 — 25% of the UK’s projected electricity demand. Currently, the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet makes up around 15% of the country’s energy generation, but the remaining five power plants are set to be shut down by the middle of the next decade. More recently, Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron pledged “ambitious cooperation” in the field of nuclear energy. That’s quite a turnaround for Macron, who during his first term planned to reduce France’s dependence on nuclear energy, which accounts for around 70% of the country’s electricity-generating capacity.

A similar nuclear revival is happening in other countries, too. The US industry has hailed 2022 as an “inflection point”, with surging private investment and unprecedented government support breathing new life into the sector after years of neglect. The US has the world’s biggest nuclear fleet, with 93 reactors providing about a fifth of the nation’s power — and half its carbon-free power. But 13 reactors have been closed since 2013, prompting warnings that, without intervention, half the existing fleet would be out of action by the end of the decade. Japan has also announced, after a decade of paralysis, that it intends to restart 17 of its reactors, which have sat idle since Fukushima. Even anti-nuclear Germany has extended the life of the nation’s last three operating plants, which were scheduled to go offline by the end of last year.

The fact that nuclear energy has been thrown a lifeline in the West is certainly encouraging. But the sector’s future in these countries remains unclear, beset as it is by myriad challenges, including insufficient government support, over-burdensome regulation and lukewarm public perception. In the UK, for instance, despite Sunak’s support for the new nuclear strategy inaugurated by Johnson, a funding deal for the first fleet of new reactors is not expected to materialise for at least another 12 months, amid a row over the cost of Britain’s wider nuclear ambitions. At present, only one plant, Hinkley Point C, is under construction. Similar problems plague nuclear buildup projects in other Western countries. As of mid-2022, more than 40 of the 53 new reactors under construction were in Asia or Russia, and only four countries — China, India, Russia and South Korea — have construction ongoing at more than one site.

This ambivalent approach to nuclear energy — a zero-emission clean energy source — is all the more astonishing given our elites’ almost monomaniacal obsession for Net Zero emission targets. The reason nuclear energy is largely absent from the decarbonisation debate is that the latter is based on a falsehood: that we can generate all the world’s energy needs from renewable sources — primarily wind and solar power. This has become a mantra for much of the climate movement, but it’s a delusion.

Aside from the problems arising from covering colossal tracts of land with wind turbines and solar panels (which require polluting rare earth elements, most of which are in China) to meet the world’s growing energy needs, both are intermittent and energy storage technologies don’t come close to what would be needed. Even with a high percentage of renewables, a stable, constant source of energy would still be needed — and that’s either going to be fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Indeed, countless studies (see here, here and here) have shown that nuclear energy, in combination with renewables, is the only viable path for rapid global decarbonisation.

Not only is nuclear energy available around the clock, unlike renewables, it is also significantly more concentrated than wind or solar power, which means that it requires minimal land use. A typical 1,000-megawatts nuclear facility in the United States needs a little more than 1 square mile to operate; wind farms require 360 times more land area to produce the same amount of electricity and solar photovoltaic plants require 75 times more space.

Yet, despite its obvious benefits, nuclear energy continues to evoke primordial fears in most people, and is perceived as problematic in terms of safety, waste and costs. Such anxieties and concerns — stoked by decades of misrepresentation in popular culture, media sensationalism, and anti-nuclear campaigns funded by some of the biggest polluters on the planet — are largely unjustified.

In reality, nuclear power has an impressive safety record. In the entire decades-long history of civil nuclear energy, among hundreds of reactors across the planet, there have only been two major accidents where a large amount of radioactive material was emitted: Chernobyl and Fukushima. At this point, many counter that all it takes is one accident to cause immense damage. But were Chernobyl and Fukushima really as deadly as we think?

With Chernobyl, 30 people died as an immediate result of the accident, while a UN investigation nearly 20 years after the disaster concluded that up to 4,000 people could eventually die from cancer as a result of the radiation exposure — an increase that in statistical terms would be “very difficult to detect”. The Chernobyl reactor was eventually encased in a concrete sarcophagus, and an exclusion zone of 1,000 square miles around the plant was evacuated and still has restricted access. Several decades later, scientists studying the area — initially predicted to become a “dead zone” — have described it as “remarkably healthy”. The point is not that everything was fine after the Chernobyl accident — it wasn’t — but that world’s worst nuclear power accident in history, itself caused by a mind-bogglingly unlikely chain of mistakes, turned out to be far less deadly than many recent earthquakes, hurricanes, industrial accidents or epidemics. As has since been shown, the vast majority of evacuations from the Chernobyl area had no scientific justification.

The disconnect between reality and perception is even more glaring in the case of Fukushima. Most people are probably not aware that, according to studies carried out by several UN agencies, including the World Health Organization, the total number of people killed, either directly through high radiation exposure or likely to die later through elevated rates of cancer in the population, was… zero. On the other hand, the unnecessary evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people is estimated to have caused as many as 1,600 deaths, owing to long-term psychosocial health effects. It is the irrational fear of nuclear energy that kills, not nuclear energy itself.

Another example of our irrational fear was seen in the panic caused by the Japanese government’s decision to start dumping into the sea the 1,000 tanks of “radioactive wastewater” that it had been storing on-site. The sound of that might make our stomach churn, but it posed no risk whatsoever: the water was mainly contaminated with tritium — the least radioactive, and least harmful, of all radioactive elements — while all of the other radioactive elements were reduced to levels that would not pose a hazard when diluted to such a degree (also, the sea water, like many other things, is naturally radioactive).

Another aspect of nuclear power where perception and reality diverge drastically is the question of radioactive waste. It is generally believed that nuclear reactors produce large amounts of radioactive waste which remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years, and which we are unable to store safely. In truth, since nuclear fuel is incredibly dense, the actual volume of waste produced is remarkably small. The entire volume of spent fuel from 50 years of American nuclear power could be packed into a football stadium, piled 20 feet high. Such small amounts are easy to contain, and current storage and transportation methods have impressive safety records. Moreover, most spent fuel can actually be recycled and turned into new fuel, which is already done in Europe, Russia and Japan — and will increasingly be the case in the future, even as next-generation reactors will produce less waste.

A final issue that is usually rolled out as a last line of attack against nuclear energy is that of its allegedly prohibitive costs. This is arguably the most nonsensical argument of all. The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates the global investment needed to build 10-20 new reactors annually — which would more than double nuclear power capacity by 2040 — would cost $80 billion per year. This is equivalent to less than 0.1% of the world’s annual economic activity, and a fraction of what we spent on the pandemic. There’s no doubt that we can “afford” to build up nuclear power, even on a scale much more ambitious than the one envisaged by the IAEA.

It is vitally important that the provision of bountiful, safe, carbon-free energy be seen as an essential public good — and indeed as a crucial national security issue, insofar as it would largely free countries from dependence on foreign energy producers. As such, it can’t be assessed solely on the basis of crude short-termist economic metrics. We have seen the consequences of relying on “cheap” foreign gas. Besides, new nuclear technologies — such as SMRs and floating nuclear power plants — can be developed at a much lower cost.

Ultimately, the obstacles to a rapid buildup of atomic power are neither technical nor economic, but political and psychological. In more than 50 years, there has been just one fatal accident in the USSR involving atomic energy. In the 30-plus countries that still employ it, nuclear energy has not killed anyone, which is not surprising considering it is by far the most tightly regulated form of large-scale energy production in the world, with most plants capable of withstanding the impact of a fully loaded Boeing 767 jet. Our fear is irrational: nuclear is as “deadly” as wind and solar energy — that is, not at all.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

Nothing sums up the modern green movement like electric cars made in questionable working conditions in China that most working people cannot afford and recharged by coal power plants.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Jim Jam
Jim Jam
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Quite. It’s almost as though the actual enivironmental outcomes aren’t the point.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

How dare you!

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

Hush, you ugly little scold!

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

web search “Greta help line”

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Wim de Vriend

web search “Greta help line”

Wim de Vriend
Wim de Vriend
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

Hush, you ugly little scold!

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

How dare you!

BROCK SANDIWAY
BROCK SANDIWAY
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I love my Bolt EUV, and it can be charged from any energy source. You can buy their EV for 26K. Your remark seems ill-informed, as China is now a leader in green energy, and for 100 years a pioneer in biogas. I will talk nuclear when we have exhausted all biogas conversions throughout US, then I might consider small nuke plants that do not require $1.6 million per mile to run cable to large centralized units, while they tear up the countryside.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  BROCK SANDIWAY

What percentage of the fuel market can be filled with biogas? If you have a landfill that services say 100,000 homes, how many of those homes could be heated with biogas?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago
Reply to  BROCK SANDIWAY

“China is now a leader in green energy…” Really? Is coal and lignite green?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Just looked up how many coal-fired plants China has built and plans to build. It’s nothing short of astonishing. Coal must now be green. Just like men are women.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

China is extremely populous and industrializing rapidly. Therefore, the expanding energy needs are not actually that hard to understand.
The share that is in renewables is increasing. Luckily renewables have become cost competitive even without adjusting for the effective subsidy of free-polluting rights for fossil fuels.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

China is extremely populous and industrializing rapidly. Therefore, the expanding energy needs are not actually that hard to understand.
The share that is in renewables is increasing. Luckily renewables have become cost competitive even without adjusting for the effective subsidy of free-polluting rights for fossil fuels.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Just looked up how many coal-fired plants China has built and plans to build. It’s nothing short of astonishing. Coal must now be green. Just like men are women.

Sudo Nim
Sudo Nim
1 year ago
Reply to  BROCK SANDIWAY

China a leader in green energy?
Have you actually been to China recently? Just look around at the pollution from consumer electronics manufacturing and glowing green water running in the sewers. That’s the only prevalent green I saw in around China.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sudo Nim
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  BROCK SANDIWAY

What percentage of the fuel market can be filled with biogas? If you have a landfill that services say 100,000 homes, how many of those homes could be heated with biogas?

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago
Reply to  BROCK SANDIWAY

“China is now a leader in green energy…” Really? Is coal and lignite green?

Sudo Nim
Sudo Nim
1 year ago
Reply to  BROCK SANDIWAY

China a leader in green energy?
Have you actually been to China recently? Just look around at the pollution from consumer electronics manufacturing and glowing green water running in the sewers. That’s the only prevalent green I saw in around China.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sudo Nim
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Agreed – though there are plenty of competing realities that also come close, such as straws made out of paper to reduce single-use plastic but – wait for it – wrapped in a plastic wrapper. Or a diesel van towing a diesel generator up the motorway to charge up a stranded electic car.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

China is of course famously terrible with pollution. At the same time they continue to make large investments in molten salt solar plants etc. For greenhouse gases, they have historically emitted a fraction of the pollution currently causing planet heating and still only emit about half as much per capita as the United States. Great to keep pressure on them but fairly pointless hypocrisy if the U.S., U.K. etc. are unwilling to do much to reduce their own larger rates of greenhouse pollution.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

China is of course famously terrible with pollution. At the same time they continue to make large investments in molten salt solar plants etc. For greenhouse gases, they have historically emitted a fraction of the pollution currently causing planet heating and still only emit about half as much per capita as the United States. Great to keep pressure on them but fairly pointless hypocrisy if the U.S., U.K. etc. are unwilling to do much to reduce their own larger rates of greenhouse pollution.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

You are to be commended for your concern for conditions for the workers who produce the equipment needed to use renewable energy.
One would expect that you also might be concerned about the working conditions of those who mine the materials needed for conversion from fossil fuels.
If so, then you should read Judy Pasternak’s YELLOW DIRT, which is about the abuse of Native Americans in the uranium mines on the Navajo reservation. Native Americans and indigenous people in other parts of the world (such as Australia and Africa) have suffered illness and death in order to extract uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Anyone concerned about working conditions is a step ahead of the entitled proponents of nuclear energy, which is NOT a renewable, depending as it does upon an element which Native Americans historically and rightfully abhorred.
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yellow-dirt-judy-pasternak/1101914556?ean=9781416594833

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

We know nuclear energy isn’t renewable, that’s one of the reasons the people who understand these things actually like it.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Not sure I’ve heard this one. Non-renewable is inherently better because… it leads to higher long-term environmental impact and human impact such as that described above? This some sort of anti-human depopulation perspective?

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Not sure I’ve heard this one. Non-renewable is inherently better because… it leads to higher long-term environmental impact and human impact such as that described above? This some sort of anti-human depopulation perspective?

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

This is the area where I live. Uranium mining deaths took place in the early years of the Cold War, before we developed safe mining techniques and when uranium mining was being pushed by the military to produce warheads for ICBMs.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

I am inclined to differ from you on “safe mining techniques,”
Even in this country, they are few, and many of the safety precautions mining companies are supposed to observe are not followed.
https://truthout.org/video/why-we-re-investigating-grand-canyon-uranium/
In other countries, it’s even worse.
https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/10/29/the-real-cost-of-uranium-mining/#comments

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

I am inclined to differ from you on “safe mining techniques,”
Even in this country, they are few, and many of the safety precautions mining companies are supposed to observe are not followed.
https://truthout.org/video/why-we-re-investigating-grand-canyon-uranium/
In other countries, it’s even worse.
https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/10/29/the-real-cost-of-uranium-mining/#comments

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

We know nuclear energy isn’t renewable, that’s one of the reasons the people who understand these things actually like it.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

This is the area where I live. Uranium mining deaths took place in the early years of the Cold War, before we developed safe mining techniques and when uranium mining was being pushed by the military to produce warheads for ICBMs.

Sudo Nim
Sudo Nim
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

not to mention the perils of mining lithium (and maybe uranium etc) and the growing waste and recycling problem with spent lithium batteries.

Robert Carruthers
Robert Carruthers
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

A reasonable article but as is common downplays the problems of nuclear plants – security, disposal of waste, sourcing of uranium.I will never understand this – we are not idiots every choice is riddled with risk. It is easy to forget chernobyl shut down Europe as effectively as covid. Fukishima rendered a huge tract of Japan as uninhabitable.Nuclear is one option certainly but to paint it in rose is a disservice.

Jim Jam
Jim Jam
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Quite. It’s almost as though the actual enivironmental outcomes aren’t the point.

BROCK SANDIWAY
BROCK SANDIWAY
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

I love my Bolt EUV, and it can be charged from any energy source. You can buy their EV for 26K. Your remark seems ill-informed, as China is now a leader in green energy, and for 100 years a pioneer in biogas. I will talk nuclear when we have exhausted all biogas conversions throughout US, then I might consider small nuke plants that do not require $1.6 million per mile to run cable to large centralized units, while they tear up the countryside.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Agreed – though there are plenty of competing realities that also come close, such as straws made out of paper to reduce single-use plastic but – wait for it – wrapped in a plastic wrapper. Or a diesel van towing a diesel generator up the motorway to charge up a stranded electic car.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

You are to be commended for your concern for conditions for the workers who produce the equipment needed to use renewable energy.
One would expect that you also might be concerned about the working conditions of those who mine the materials needed for conversion from fossil fuels.
If so, then you should read Judy Pasternak’s YELLOW DIRT, which is about the abuse of Native Americans in the uranium mines on the Navajo reservation. Native Americans and indigenous people in other parts of the world (such as Australia and Africa) have suffered illness and death in order to extract uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Anyone concerned about working conditions is a step ahead of the entitled proponents of nuclear energy, which is NOT a renewable, depending as it does upon an element which Native Americans historically and rightfully abhorred.
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yellow-dirt-judy-pasternak/1101914556?ean=9781416594833

Sudo Nim
Sudo Nim
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

not to mention the perils of mining lithium (and maybe uranium etc) and the growing waste and recycling problem with spent lithium batteries.

Robert Carruthers
Robert Carruthers
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

A reasonable article but as is common downplays the problems of nuclear plants – security, disposal of waste, sourcing of uranium.I will never understand this – we are not idiots every choice is riddled with risk. It is easy to forget chernobyl shut down Europe as effectively as covid. Fukishima rendered a huge tract of Japan as uninhabitable.Nuclear is one option certainly but to paint it in rose is a disservice.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
1 year ago

Nothing sums up the modern green movement like electric cars made in questionable working conditions in China that most working people cannot afford and recharged by coal power plants.

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Hindman
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

If you really consider CO2 an existential threat, which I am skeptical of, you absolutely have to embrace nuclear. Enviros who oppose nuclear are either stunningly misinformed, or motivated by something other than saving the planet.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Veenbaas
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“Enviros who oppose nuclear are either stunningly misinformed, or motivated by something other than saving the planet.”

Or in some cases both, given the watermelon thing.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Absolutely agree on both points.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The reason that you can say this is because the mainstream media do not inform people about any nuclear accidents except those which simply cannot be hidden or covered up. Were they to do so, you might understand the seriousness of the problem nuclear reactors pose.
The fact that nuclear reactors have so many layers of protocol, and require a special agency to oversee them (an agency which demonstrably has been “captured” by the nuclear industry) should tell you something.
Suffice to point out that the nuclear industry, through the Price-Waterhouse Act, has made the American taxpayer responsible for insuring the industry. That is because no insurance company will take on the massive, even hideous, risk of insuring an industry that is so dangerous, so poorly regulated and so fraught with accidents.
https://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/radevents/

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Claptrap from start to finish.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Utter nonsense.
Airliners are more complex and more regulated than cars, buses and trains. Yet air travel is statistically the safest of those forms of travel.
The fact that something is technically more challenging and has more regulation does not make it less safe. It’s usually more safe, since so much more time, money and effort goes into designing safety in (e.g. failsafe design, redundancy) and anticipating and minimising risks.
The fact that you are unaware of this and clearly do not understand what you are talking about and are just making up a load of FUD tells us everything we need to know.
The majority of the incidents in the web page you cite appear to be from Russia/the Soviet Union. The Soviet bloc was known to not take safety nearly as seriously as Western countries, so this is a) absolutely no surprise and b) no basis to judge safety in the Western countries.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Since you really don’t know me, I have to say that your insults are simply the result of brainwashing to by the mass media and all the paid proponents of nuclear power. I think I understand well enough the fact that nuclear power was touted in the fifties as promising to be “too cheap to meter.” That effort at propagandizing nuclear power for civilians was launched in order to be able to build reactors to produce the transuranic elements needed in nuclear weapons, and to fob off the costs onto the rate payers.
Suffice to say that the taxpayers also have been left with the tab for insuring these monsters, with the Price-Waterhouse Act.
Some of that cost was recouped, of course, when depleted uranium, formerly regarded as waste, was discovered to be useful for weapons and munitions.
Of course, the waste produce by NPP’s is one of the biggest arguments against proceeding with this technology, which Albert Einstein regarded as a ridiculous way to boil water.
As far as the database I listed, please understand that it is only one of several, and if you took the trouble to look for yourself–an effort you are probably disinclined by your nature to engage in, you would find others.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

P.S. Perhaps you are used to talking to people who are simplistic enough to think the more complicated something is, the more likely something is apt to go wrong.
That is not the issue. Nuclear energy is indeed a complex subject, but it is the fact that we are dealing with radioactive material that makes it less safe. It is well known that there is no safe level of radiation. I think you need to study this more for yourself, because you have clearly been duped by the shills of the nuclear industry.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Since you really don’t know me, I have to say that your insults are simply the result of brainwashing to by the mass media and all the paid proponents of nuclear power. I think I understand well enough the fact that nuclear power was touted in the fifties as promising to be “too cheap to meter.” That effort at propagandizing nuclear power for civilians was launched in order to be able to build reactors to produce the transuranic elements needed in nuclear weapons, and to fob off the costs onto the rate payers.
Suffice to say that the taxpayers also have been left with the tab for insuring these monsters, with the Price-Waterhouse Act.
Some of that cost was recouped, of course, when depleted uranium, formerly regarded as waste, was discovered to be useful for weapons and munitions.
Of course, the waste produce by NPP’s is one of the biggest arguments against proceeding with this technology, which Albert Einstein regarded as a ridiculous way to boil water.
As far as the database I listed, please understand that it is only one of several, and if you took the trouble to look for yourself–an effort you are probably disinclined by your nature to engage in, you would find others.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

P.S. Perhaps you are used to talking to people who are simplistic enough to think the more complicated something is, the more likely something is apt to go wrong.
That is not the issue. Nuclear energy is indeed a complex subject, but it is the fact that we are dealing with radioactive material that makes it less safe. It is well known that there is no safe level of radiation. I think you need to study this more for yourself, because you have clearly been duped by the shills of the nuclear industry.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

You might also want to get your facts right before posting such nonsense. Price Waterhouse is a global accounting firm, nothing to do with the nuclear industry.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I didn’t mention the firm, I mentioned the legislation entitled “the Price Waterhouse ACT.”
Learn to read carefully, and you might be able to get YOUR facts straight.

Last edited 1 year ago by Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

I didn’t mention the firm, I mentioned the legislation entitled “the Price Waterhouse ACT.”
Learn to read carefully, and you might be able to get YOUR facts straight.

Last edited 1 year ago by Romi Elnagar
Jim M
Jim M
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

You don’t have earthquake insurance either… If your house gets wrecked by an earthquake, it’s on you….

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Claptrap from start to finish.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Utter nonsense.
Airliners are more complex and more regulated than cars, buses and trains. Yet air travel is statistically the safest of those forms of travel.
The fact that something is technically more challenging and has more regulation does not make it less safe. It’s usually more safe, since so much more time, money and effort goes into designing safety in (e.g. failsafe design, redundancy) and anticipating and minimising risks.
The fact that you are unaware of this and clearly do not understand what you are talking about and are just making up a load of FUD tells us everything we need to know.
The majority of the incidents in the web page you cite appear to be from Russia/the Soviet Union. The Soviet bloc was known to not take safety nearly as seriously as Western countries, so this is a) absolutely no surprise and b) no basis to judge safety in the Western countries.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

You might also want to get your facts right before posting such nonsense. Price Waterhouse is a global accounting firm, nothing to do with the nuclear industry.

Jim M
Jim M
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

You don’t have earthquake insurance either… If your house gets wrecked by an earthquake, it’s on you….

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

IPCC and other sources of policy recommendation on greenhouse pollution are generally friendly to nuclear if you read them. The problem is cost, renewables have become too cheap. Ask the green communists in Texas.
Do you really believe, as you imply, that literally heating our own planet with pollution is most likely benign? On what basis? Seems like the kind of thing that would be hard to say out loud and not have it sound like what it is.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“Enviros who oppose nuclear are either stunningly misinformed, or motivated by something other than saving the planet.”

Or in some cases both, given the watermelon thing.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Absolutely agree on both points.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The reason that you can say this is because the mainstream media do not inform people about any nuclear accidents except those which simply cannot be hidden or covered up. Were they to do so, you might understand the seriousness of the problem nuclear reactors pose.
The fact that nuclear reactors have so many layers of protocol, and require a special agency to oversee them (an agency which demonstrably has been “captured” by the nuclear industry) should tell you something.
Suffice to point out that the nuclear industry, through the Price-Waterhouse Act, has made the American taxpayer responsible for insuring the industry. That is because no insurance company will take on the massive, even hideous, risk of insuring an industry that is so dangerous, so poorly regulated and so fraught with accidents.
https://www.johnstonsarchive.net/nuclear/radevents/

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

IPCC and other sources of policy recommendation on greenhouse pollution are generally friendly to nuclear if you read them. The problem is cost, renewables have become too cheap. Ask the green communists in Texas.
Do you really believe, as you imply, that literally heating our own planet with pollution is most likely benign? On what basis? Seems like the kind of thing that would be hard to say out loud and not have it sound like what it is.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

If you really consider CO2 an existential threat, which I am skeptical of, you absolutely have to embrace nuclear. Enviros who oppose nuclear are either stunningly misinformed, or motivated by something other than saving the planet.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Veenbaas
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

I am coming to appreciate Thomas Fazi’s grounded, realistic articles related to environmental topics. Unlike most environmental advocates, he seems to have a firm grasp of what is realistic and what is not and is willing to debate things in the real world without expecting humanity to embrace draconian energy restrictions, a silly headed notion if there ever was one. I remain skeptical that CO2 is an existential threat to our civilization, but I am willing to embrace reasonable plans to reduce fossil fuel usage because, as Fazi points out, the burning of fossil fuels poses other problems as well, especially coal, and the good options like natural gas are not as abundant as the terrible ones, like coal. To further emphasize Fazi’s point about how little waste nuclear plants actually generate, I have a parent who worked in the nuclear industry for many years, who would often tell me that coal power plants generate more radioactive waste than nuclear plants do because of the impurities left over in the ash when the coal is burned. So due to our fear of radioactive waste, we actually produced more radioactive waste. In case you doubt my anecdotal evidence, here’s a lovely article from fifteen years ago explaining this example of human collective stupidity in greater detail. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/. Granted, both are generally less dangerous than driving to Wal-Mart, but one number is nevertheless tinier than the other. Nuclear power is something that both green advocates and anyone else with a functioning brain should support wholeheartedly.

Leejon 0
Leejon 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Well said! But human collective stupidity will, I suspect, keep us on the path to perdition forevermore. The news seems much like watching one of those tedious reality TV programmes aimed at the lowest possible denominator – which seems to be the ability to merely breath. On a positive note, many of us will be dead soon, a prospect which seems less dreadful with every passing day.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

At a certain point, enough people will be standing in bus queues instead of driving the car they used to be able to afford, enough people will be holidaying in Britain with memories of Spain, and enough people will be wearing three layers in a cold damp home that used to be warm, that no government can survive by selling more of the same.

At present the Net Zero bandwagon is kept going mainly because most people simply assume that it’ll be everyone who pays for it, somehow. This is not entirely daft, since most people look at their own finances and wonder, with some justification, where exactly would they be getting the money to pay for Net Zero?

The answer is that they won’t be paying cash for it, they’ll be paying in draconian falls in living standards. Once that reality bites – and it’s starting to already – there’s going to be hell to pay.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I fail to see how a drive for lower carbon emissions will lead to ‘draconian falls in living standards’. As I understand it, electricity generation by wind and sun is already cheaper than burning gas or coal, and the article on which we are commenting makes the same claim for nuclear. Renewables are certain to get cheaper as the technology advances (solar panels get cheaper every year and their method of generation continually progresses) and other sources come on stream economically (eg geothermal and tidal power).

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Renewables are not workable because we do not have power storage technologies for both predictable periods of no generation (solar at night) or unpredictable periods of no generation (particularly low or high winds).

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Renewables are entirely ‘workable’ even if they need back-up from non-renewables or storage – they work very nicely now. And note that new technology is always coming on stream – geothermal energy (there is literally unlimited ‘free’ power not that far beneath your feet!) and tide power will be cracked sooner rather than later. To suggest that we won’t have to entirely give up on fossil fuels at some point in the future (if mankind lasts that long) is obviously false.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“Renewables are entirely ‘workable’ even if they need back-up from non-renewables or storage – they work very nicely now.”
They work very nicely when the wind blows (but not too much) and the sun shines. Battery technology is absolutely nowhere near adequate.
“To suggest that we won’t have to entirely give up on fossil fuels at some point in the future (if mankind lasts that long) is obviously false.”
Who suggested that? Certainly wasn’t me.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Sun and wind currently produce c. one third (v approx figure but the exact one came out this week) of UK electricity over the last year – sounds workable to me!

I didn’t suggest that you suggested it! But to reject electricity produced by renewable energy out of hand obviously does suggest that.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Sun and wind currently produce c. one third (v approx figure but the exact one came out this week) of UK electricity over the last year – sounds workable to me!

I didn’t suggest that you suggested it! But to reject electricity produced by renewable energy out of hand obviously does suggest that.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Tidal power is workable but has been rejected because of cost. This is a theoretical cost where the upfront cost is amortised into a theoretical cost per kwhr.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Yes the current cost is too high, but then the current cost of all nascent technology is too high, until usage, scale and research bring it down. The economics of tidal power will be sorted, it’s just a question of when.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Yes the current cost is too high, but then the current cost of all nascent technology is too high, until usage, scale and research bring it down. The economics of tidal power will be sorted, it’s just a question of when.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“Renewables are entirely ‘workable’ even if they need back-up from non-renewables or storage – they work very nicely now.”
They work very nicely when the wind blows (but not too much) and the sun shines. Battery technology is absolutely nowhere near adequate.
“To suggest that we won’t have to entirely give up on fossil fuels at some point in the future (if mankind lasts that long) is obviously false.”
Who suggested that? Certainly wasn’t me.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Tidal power is workable but has been rejected because of cost. This is a theoretical cost where the upfront cost is amortised into a theoretical cost per kwhr.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Try explaining that to the green communists in Texas.
Even persisting in science denial around greenhouse warming, renewables have just become too cheap. You can leave your dispatchable power sources operational, run renewables the majority of the time when you do have wind/sun, and save money and reduce pollution. It is going to be difficult for the hyperpartisan luddite fringe to completely stop the momentum of the market on this.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Renewables are entirely ‘workable’ even if they need back-up from non-renewables or storage – they work very nicely now. And note that new technology is always coming on stream – geothermal energy (there is literally unlimited ‘free’ power not that far beneath your feet!) and tide power will be cracked sooner rather than later. To suggest that we won’t have to entirely give up on fossil fuels at some point in the future (if mankind lasts that long) is obviously false.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Try explaining that to the green communists in Texas.
Even persisting in science denial around greenhouse warming, renewables have just become too cheap. You can leave your dispatchable power sources operational, run renewables the majority of the time when you do have wind/sun, and save money and reduce pollution. It is going to be difficult for the hyperpartisan luddite fringe to completely stop the momentum of the market on this.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

If renewables are cheaper, wouldn’t the world be switching to wind and solar in a meaningful way, without the need for subsidies? The most expensive energy grids in the world are the ones with the deepest penetration of wind and solar.

For every MW of wind and solar, you need another MW of reliable energy as a backup. You basically have to build two energy grids, one based on wind and solar and another when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

If wind and solar really worked, you would think there would be one electrical grid somewhere in the world based solely on renewables. And there are plenty that have tried, such as El Hierro in the Canary Islands.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Veenbaas
Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You are ignoring the considerable efforts of the fossil fuel industry to prevent the use of renewables, and even to forbid (outlaw) their use.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

That is nonsense. The fossil fuel industry is one of the most prominent supporters of renewable energy for the simple reason that it knows that renewable energy is too unreliable to provide baseload power, thus creating a permanent demand for fossil fuel energy.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

There literally cannot be a permanent demand for fossil fuel energy, because fossil fuels will run out!

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

There literally cannot be a permanent demand for fossil fuel energy, because fossil fuels will run out!

John Dowling
John Dowling
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

“Renewables” are not a viable option for powering a modern society for economic, technical and practicality reasons. There is no getting round the laws of physics.You may not have noticed that the fossil fuel industry is progressing “renewable” generation under the threat of punitive taxes.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dowling

Please explain how the ‘laws of physics’ preclude generating 100% of energy from ‘renewables’. It might not be quite practical as yet but it is certainly foreseeable, surely. Or do you think that research into new technology will just standstill where we are today?

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

There is no reason to think that we can’t develop an economy entirely dependent upon renewables. Sooner or later, ANY economy that relies on extracted resources will run out of same. This includes nuclear energy, which relies upon uranium.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

There is no reason to think that we can’t develop an economy entirely dependent upon renewables. Sooner or later, ANY economy that relies on extracted resources will run out of same. This includes nuclear energy, which relies upon uranium.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Dowling

Please explain how the ‘laws of physics’ preclude generating 100% of energy from ‘renewables’. It might not be quite practical as yet but it is certainly foreseeable, surely. Or do you think that research into new technology will just standstill where we are today?

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Enlighten me on these projects. I’m not aware of them. Exxon and Shell spend a lot of money and effort in greenwashing, but I’m not familiar with their anti-renewable campaigns.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

That is nonsense. The fossil fuel industry is one of the most prominent supporters of renewable energy for the simple reason that it knows that renewable energy is too unreliable to provide baseload power, thus creating a permanent demand for fossil fuel energy.

John Dowling
John Dowling
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

“Renewables” are not a viable option for powering a modern society for economic, technical and practicality reasons. There is no getting round the laws of physics.You may not have noticed that the fossil fuel industry is progressing “renewable” generation under the threat of punitive taxes.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Enlighten me on these projects. I’m not aware of them. Exxon and Shell spend a lot of money and effort in greenwashing, but I’m not familiar with their anti-renewable campaigns.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Obviously you need back-up (for now anyway) – but it’s on the same grid not a different one! Whatever the source of electricity it flows along the same grid.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“Whatever the source of electricity it flows along the same grid.”

No actually. If the source reliable and can be varied according to demand, then the grid required to deliver it is far simpler and more efficient than a grid whose primary purpose is to manage intermittency.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

So it’s the same grid then, just different. Or do I misunderstand you?

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

So it’s the same grid then, just different. Or do I misunderstand you?

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“Whatever the source of electricity it flows along the same grid.”

No actually. If the source reliable and can be varied according to demand, then the grid required to deliver it is far simpler and more efficient than a grid whose primary purpose is to manage intermittency.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If fossil fuels truly were cheaper, wouldn’t they be a growing rather than shrinking share of new capacity, without the need of expensive special free-polluting rights provided by government (as directed by rent-seeking industry)?

Last edited 1 year ago by Geoff Price
Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You are ignoring the considerable efforts of the fossil fuel industry to prevent the use of renewables, and even to forbid (outlaw) their use.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Obviously you need back-up (for now anyway) – but it’s on the same grid not a different one! Whatever the source of electricity it flows along the same grid.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

If fossil fuels truly were cheaper, wouldn’t they be a growing rather than shrinking share of new capacity, without the need of expensive special free-polluting rights provided by government (as directed by rent-seeking industry)?

Last edited 1 year ago by Geoff Price
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“I fail to see how a drive for lower carbon emissions will lead to ‘draconian falls in living standards’.”

I know. It is almost spectacular that you fail to grasp this, but here we are.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I must indeed be stupid.
Since wind and solar power are currently cheaper than fossil fuel produced electricity perhaps you could explain it to me.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Since they’re not cheaper though, I am not going to explain it to you.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

The reason the fossil fuel industry and the nuclear power industry have such a grip on our economy has nothing to do with their expense. Nuclear power reactors are prohibitively expensive to build, but the lobby for the industry is powerful, as is the lobby for the fossil fuel industry. This is why we have news articles in our supposedly free speech democracy which overwhelm us with “facts” to convince us that renewables are silly and useless and that people who advocate for them fail to understand this.
Funny how stupid people in places like Europe are! Over there, they even think they should learn from disasters like Sellafield!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Is this the same Europe that is suffering the worst energy crisis since the ‘70s because of their reliance on renewables and divestment of fossil fuels? Europe is literally the case study in why renewables are a failure.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Romi Elnagar

Is this the same Europe that is suffering the worst energy crisis since the ‘70s because of their reliance on renewables and divestment of fossil fuels? Europe is literally the case study in why renewables are a failure.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

They can not possibly be cheaper because they require another energy generation method to cover periods when green stuff produces big fat zero.
So whatever the cost of alternative energy sources, it just adds to cost of green energy.
Therefore, total will always be greater than just cost of non green energy generation methods.
You might believe in green energy for variety of reason but lower cost is not one of them.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Since they’re not cheaper though, I am not going to explain it to you.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

The reason the fossil fuel industry and the nuclear power industry have such a grip on our economy has nothing to do with their expense. Nuclear power reactors are prohibitively expensive to build, but the lobby for the industry is powerful, as is the lobby for the fossil fuel industry. This is why we have news articles in our supposedly free speech democracy which overwhelm us with “facts” to convince us that renewables are silly and useless and that people who advocate for them fail to understand this.
Funny how stupid people in places like Europe are! Over there, they even think they should learn from disasters like Sellafield!

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

They can not possibly be cheaper because they require another energy generation method to cover periods when green stuff produces big fat zero.
So whatever the cost of alternative energy sources, it just adds to cost of green energy.
Therefore, total will always be greater than just cost of non green energy generation methods.
You might believe in green energy for variety of reason but lower cost is not one of them.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I must indeed be stupid.
Since wind and solar power are currently cheaper than fossil fuel produced electricity perhaps you could explain it to me.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Renewables are not workable because we do not have power storage technologies for both predictable periods of no generation (solar at night) or unpredictable periods of no generation (particularly low or high winds).

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

If renewables are cheaper, wouldn’t the world be switching to wind and solar in a meaningful way, without the need for subsidies? The most expensive energy grids in the world are the ones with the deepest penetration of wind and solar.

For every MW of wind and solar, you need another MW of reliable energy as a backup. You basically have to build two energy grids, one based on wind and solar and another when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.

If wind and solar really worked, you would think there would be one electrical grid somewhere in the world based solely on renewables. And there are plenty that have tried, such as El Hierro in the Canary Islands.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim Veenbaas
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“I fail to see how a drive for lower carbon emissions will lead to ‘draconian falls in living standards’.”

I know. It is almost spectacular that you fail to grasp this, but here we are.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I fail to see how a drive for lower carbon emissions will lead to ‘draconian falls in living standards’. As I understand it, electricity generation by wind and sun is already cheaper than burning gas or coal, and the article on which we are commenting makes the same claim for nuclear. Renewables are certain to get cheaper as the technology advances (solar panels get cheaper every year and their method of generation continually progresses) and other sources come on stream economically (eg geothermal and tidal power).

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

Do you imagine it was “human collective stupidity” that led to understanding of Stefan–Boltzmann and radiative transfer theory, the latter among the most productive physical theories of the past century? Unlocking various secrets of the universe including that of planetary temperature and the connection between global warming and greenhouse gases. And leading to four decades now of successful prediction of the literal heating of our planet.

Last edited 1 year ago by Geoff Price
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

At a certain point, enough people will be standing in bus queues instead of driving the car they used to be able to afford, enough people will be holidaying in Britain with memories of Spain, and enough people will be wearing three layers in a cold damp home that used to be warm, that no government can survive by selling more of the same.

At present the Net Zero bandwagon is kept going mainly because most people simply assume that it’ll be everyone who pays for it, somehow. This is not entirely daft, since most people look at their own finances and wonder, with some justification, where exactly would they be getting the money to pay for Net Zero?

The answer is that they won’t be paying cash for it, they’ll be paying in draconian falls in living standards. Once that reality bites – and it’s starting to already – there’s going to be hell to pay.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Leejon 0

Do you imagine it was “human collective stupidity” that led to understanding of Stefan–Boltzmann and radiative transfer theory, the latter among the most productive physical theories of the past century? Unlocking various secrets of the universe including that of planetary temperature and the connection between global warming and greenhouse gases. And leading to four decades now of successful prediction of the literal heating of our planet.

Last edited 1 year ago by Geoff Price
Addie Shog
Addie Shog
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Driving to Walmart isn’t the problem. It’s whether you survive the shop.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Back in the eighties I worked as a civil service scientist on feasibility studies into methods of disposal of nuclear waste – the two methods we researched were storage in mines in geologically stable rock and remotely deployed storage deep in geologically stable seabed.

I couldn’t believe at the time that anyone would consider deploying waste inside (unrecoverable) torpedoes embedded deep in the seabed for hundreds of years could ever have been feasible, or even acceptable – but doing the offshore research made for a few fun ocean trips, including to the Caribbean. I think someone conned the government to get funding for seabed research really.
The mine research, the obvious option, involved a new technique called ‘hydraulic fracturing’ to measure the direction of potential cracks in the stable rock where the waste could leak. I should have joined the oil industry in retrospect.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Stewart
Leejon 0
Leejon 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Well said! But human collective stupidity will, I suspect, keep us on the path to perdition forevermore. The news seems much like watching one of those tedious reality TV programmes aimed at the lowest possible denominator – which seems to be the ability to merely breath. On a positive note, many of us will be dead soon, a prospect which seems less dreadful with every passing day.

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Driving to Walmart isn’t the problem. It’s whether you survive the shop.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Back in the eighties I worked as a civil service scientist on feasibility studies into methods of disposal of nuclear waste – the two methods we researched were storage in mines in geologically stable rock and remotely deployed storage deep in geologically stable seabed.

I couldn’t believe at the time that anyone would consider deploying waste inside (unrecoverable) torpedoes embedded deep in the seabed for hundreds of years could ever have been feasible, or even acceptable – but doing the offshore research made for a few fun ocean trips, including to the Caribbean. I think someone conned the government to get funding for seabed research really.
The mine research, the obvious option, involved a new technique called ‘hydraulic fracturing’ to measure the direction of potential cracks in the stable rock where the waste could leak. I should have joined the oil industry in retrospect.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ian Stewart
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

I am coming to appreciate Thomas Fazi’s grounded, realistic articles related to environmental topics. Unlike most environmental advocates, he seems to have a firm grasp of what is realistic and what is not and is willing to debate things in the real world without expecting humanity to embrace draconian energy restrictions, a silly headed notion if there ever was one. I remain skeptical that CO2 is an existential threat to our civilization, but I am willing to embrace reasonable plans to reduce fossil fuel usage because, as Fazi points out, the burning of fossil fuels poses other problems as well, especially coal, and the good options like natural gas are not as abundant as the terrible ones, like coal. To further emphasize Fazi’s point about how little waste nuclear plants actually generate, I have a parent who worked in the nuclear industry for many years, who would often tell me that coal power plants generate more radioactive waste than nuclear plants do because of the impurities left over in the ash when the coal is burned. So due to our fear of radioactive waste, we actually produced more radioactive waste. In case you doubt my anecdotal evidence, here’s a lovely article from fifteen years ago explaining this example of human collective stupidity in greater detail. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste/. Granted, both are generally less dangerous than driving to Wal-Mart, but one number is nevertheless tinier than the other. Nuclear power is something that both green advocates and anyone else with a functioning brain should support wholeheartedly.

Jim Jam
Jim Jam
1 year ago

Well of course.

The only actual ‘problem’ is that it solves an issue that a great many people with power and influence are either a) directly profiting from being there, or b) want to be there because it serves as an exquisite trojan horse to smuggle in all sorts of measures that the public would never normally accept; Authoritarian dictats that – far from actually ‘saving the planet’ – serve merely as (and we can see this everywhere) scaffolding upon which to build a completely new, utterly top-down-controlled society, while at the same time destroying the means or motivation for any other system to rival it.

It’s surely no coincidence that those apparently most hysterial about the climate ‘crisis’ – or those most frequently found trying to convince everyone else of it – are also lifelong leftists, who have historically dedicated much of their time fantasizing about the destruction of capitalism and the installation of worldwide socialism / communism.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

Your diagnosis is of course right on target.

What has always fascinated me about the people who want to do this is that I can’t understand why they actually want it? What on earth do they get out of a totalitarian society in which liberty is dead, wealth is a crime and fear and paranoia dominate life? They say, of course, that it won’t be like that, but nobody with any sense believes them, and it is surely obvious that they know themselves it’s not true.

You only have to look at the way idiots like Jeremy Corbyn and his followers applaud modern Venezuela to know that hardship, fear and oppression isn’t a dealbreaker as far as they’re concerned. Yes, I realise that they themselves once in power will be just fine, but that’s not the point: they are lying to the rest of us about what they’d do if we let them, we know they’re lying, and they know we know they’re lying.

So what the hell do they think they’re doing?

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I was born under communism and abviously yours and JJ post are mostly correct.
However, speaking to far lefties over 35 years in UK, I am persuaded that they really believe that version of communism they create would be much better than all previous attempts.
Stock phrase is: “Communist ideas are right but they were wrongly implemented ”
They struggle to explain in detail why so many attempts in different parts of the world to build Communism always failed.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Then I would say that the far lefties in question ought to be treated as religious fundamentalists and put on an extremists register of some sort.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

They are fundamentalists. I had the misfortune to share a flat with such people in the year or two after university. To give some insight, they actually believed that if everyone thought like them, you would have abundance of food (and everyone would be vegan); natural order with every individual fitting into a niche in society with no hierarchy; no crime, because all you would need is free and you could use talking therapy to re-educate the occasional transgressor. They really believed this. To say that they were ducking mad would be an understatement. From what I hear (and I try not to hear much), all have lived an adult life characterised by unemployment benefits, alcoholism and mental illness.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

They are fundamentalists. I had the misfortune to share a flat with such people in the year or two after university. To give some insight, they actually believed that if everyone thought like them, you would have abundance of food (and everyone would be vegan); natural order with every individual fitting into a niche in society with no hierarchy; no crime, because all you would need is free and you could use talking therapy to re-educate the occasional transgressor. They really believed this. To say that they were ducking mad would be an understatement. From what I hear (and I try not to hear much), all have lived an adult life characterised by unemployment benefits, alcoholism and mental illness.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Then I would say that the far lefties in question ought to be treated as religious fundamentalists and put on an extremists register of some sort.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“What has always fascinated me about the people who want to do this is that I can’t understand why they actually want it? What on earth do they get out of a totalitarian society in which liberty is dead”
Like watching people struggle to free themselves from a paper bag.
“But it makes no sense why the entire scientific world collaborates in this hoax to impose global tyranny!”
You are right John, it makes no sense. It’s almost as if you have made some comically implausible assumptions in forming your conspiracy world view.

Andrew F
Andrew F
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I was born under communism and abviously yours and JJ post are mostly correct.
However, speaking to far lefties over 35 years in UK, I am persuaded that they really believe that version of communism they create would be much better than all previous attempts.
Stock phrase is: “Communist ideas are right but they were wrongly implemented ”
They struggle to explain in detail why so many attempts in different parts of the world to build Communism always failed.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

“What has always fascinated me about the people who want to do this is that I can’t understand why they actually want it? What on earth do they get out of a totalitarian society in which liberty is dead”
Like watching people struggle to free themselves from a paper bag.
“But it makes no sense why the entire scientific world collaborates in this hoax to impose global tyranny!”
You are right John, it makes no sense. It’s almost as if you have made some comically implausible assumptions in forming your conspiracy world view.

Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

Recite the hymnals brother. Science and reason are but the tools of the continuing communist threat. Fourier kicked off this multi-century program in communist world domination in 1827 with his speculation of a mythical “greenhouse effect” caused by “infrared radiation” we conveniently cannot see.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

Your diagnosis is of course right on target.

What has always fascinated me about the people who want to do this is that I can’t understand why they actually want it? What on earth do they get out of a totalitarian society in which liberty is dead, wealth is a crime and fear and paranoia dominate life? They say, of course, that it won’t be like that, but nobody with any sense believes them, and it is surely obvious that they know themselves it’s not true.

You only have to look at the way idiots like Jeremy Corbyn and his followers applaud modern Venezuela to know that hardship, fear and oppression isn’t a dealbreaker as far as they’re concerned. Yes, I realise that they themselves once in power will be just fine, but that’s not the point: they are lying to the rest of us about what they’d do if we let them, we know they’re lying, and they know we know they’re lying.

So what the hell do they think they’re doing?

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Geoff Price
Geoff Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Jam

Recite the hymnals brother. Science and reason are but the tools of the continuing communist threat. Fourier kicked off this multi-century program in communist world domination in 1827 with his speculation of a mythical “greenhouse effect” caused by “infrared radiation” we conveniently cannot see.

Jim Jam
Jim Jam
1 year ago

Well of course.

The only actual ‘problem’ is that it solves an issue that a great many people with power and influence are either a) directly profiting from being there, or b) want to be there because it serves as an exquisite trojan horse to smuggle in all sorts of measures that the public would never normally accept; Authoritarian dictats that – far from actually ‘saving the planet’ – serve merely as (and we can see this everywhere) scaffolding upon which to build a completely new, utterly top-down-controlled society, while at the same time destroying the means or motivation for any other system to rival it.

It’s surely no coincidence that those apparently most hysterial about the climate ‘crisis’ – or those most frequently found trying to convince everyone else of it – are also lifelong leftists, who have historically dedicated much of their time fantasizing about the destruction of capitalism and the installation of worldwide socialism / communism.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

“The reason nuclear energy is largely absent from the decarbonisation debate is that the latter is based on a falsehood: that we can generate all the world’s energy needs from renewable sources — primarily wind and solar power. This has become a mantra for much of the climate movement, but it’s a delusion.”

It’s worse than a delusion, it is a deliberate lie. The intent at this stage is very obviously not that renewables will replace fossil fuel energy, but that energy in general will become much, much more scarce and expensive. The intent is that the majority of us lose our high-energy lifestyles involving motorised travel as and when we want it, and homes heated to as warm as we want.

This might sound like a conspiracy theory, but there is simply no way that the people peddling this nonsense don’t know that what they’re selling is impossible: of course they know that renewables cannot replace fossil fuels. So it must follow that they know that draconian limits on personal access to energy is the only option.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

And also seconded.
The desire to move from gas to heat pumps is another clue as this is another unworkable solution without a corresponding huge increase in electricity generation to support it.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Perhaps you could explain. Are you saying that ground/air source heat pumps use more energy (however that is measured) than a corresponding use of gas or electricity to produce the same amount of heat (however that is measured)? Please link to a reputable source for those figures as they would interest me greatly.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Er. Gas powered boilers use pumped gas as its source of energy. Heat pumps use electricity. Removing the gas supply line to homes means it must be replaced by additional electricity generation to take up the new shortfall.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Indeed, if you are talking about buildings which have a mains gas supply – and plenty don’t. But which is more efficient at generating heat, gas to heat direct or gas to generate electricity to prime a heat source pump? I don’t know the answer but apparently you do, so what is it?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Again, where did I make a claim regarding efficiency? My point was a simple one, removing the gas supply means a proportionate increase is necessary in electricity generation.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Again, where did I make a claim regarding efficiency? My point was a simple one, removing the gas supply means a proportionate increase is necessary in electricity generation.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Indeed, if you are talking about buildings which have a mains gas supply – and plenty don’t. But which is more efficient at generating heat, gas to heat direct or gas to generate electricity to prime a heat source pump? I don’t know the answer but apparently you do, so what is it?

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Er. Gas powered boilers use pumped gas as its source of energy. Heat pumps use electricity. Removing the gas supply line to homes means it must be replaced by additional electricity generation to take up the new shortfall.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Perhaps you could explain. Are you saying that ground/air source heat pumps use more energy (however that is measured) than a corresponding use of gas or electricity to produce the same amount of heat (however that is measured)? Please link to a reputable source for those figures as they would interest me greatly.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The auto industry, not least the major German OEMs have ultra low emission internal combustion engines able to run on a variety of liquid fuels all ready to go, but are cowed by the green tree hugger sandaloids

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

As I understand it, low emission is not the same as low carbon usage as it refers to pollutants not carbon. Am I mistaken?

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago

As I understand it, low emission is not the same as low carbon usage as it refers to pollutants not carbon. Am I mistaken?

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Fossil fuels will run out at some point so they have to be replaced! Renewable sources of energy are constantly under development, and will get cheaper and better sooner rather than later.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Which is the argument for nuclear power, not renewable energy. As for the final claim in your comment I suggest you re-read the article, and if that doesn’t persuade you that you’re wrong, read Bjorn Lomborg’s latest book, or the one by Michael Shellenberger.

Renewable energy can never be any more than a cottage industry in terms of utility-scale energy. The numbers don’t add up and unfortunately for those who think more innovation will help, it’s the hard limits set by the laws of physics that are getting in the way here.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Nor do the numbers add up in terms of producing the amount of minerals that will be required to achieve Net Zero, as this remarkable presentation shows.
https://youtu.be/MBVmnKuBocc

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Wind and solar power are currently cheaper than fossil fuel produced electricity and produce c.one third of the UK’s electricity – hardly a cottage industry! Please explain to my ignorant self (I didn’t do much science) how the laws of physics prevent improving wind and solar power, and stop developing geothermal and tidal power to become economic. Surely these sources are all ‘better’ than nuclear power since they are genuinely renewable and do not pose the same safety and waste disposal issues – which doesn’t mean that nuclear doesn’t have a place given current technology.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Its utter ignorance to believe wind and solar can replace coal or nuclear as base load capacity (and pls read yourself what that means).

Nuclear, coal and Hydel are substitutes.
Wind, Solar are substitutes.
The two sets are very different from each other.

Here is a simple explanation: nuclear and coal produce the same output, irrespective of weather, sunshine, time of day.

That’s also why the government is so desperate to pretend Biomass is “clean”. That’s because biomass can serve as base load. It’s a different matter that its more polluting and CO2 emitting than coal.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

So many questions. How can wind and solar be cheaper than fossil fuels if it requires fossil fuels as a backup? Why do jurisdictions with the deepest penetration of renewables have the highest power prices in the world? Why do renewables require subsidies if they are so cheap?

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“Wind and solar power are currently cheaper than fossil fuel produced electricity and produce c.one third of the UK’s electricity….”

Sorry, I’m not getting into a debate with someone who mindlessly peddles propaganda at me. This claim you’ve made here is simply not true, and if you take the trouble to research it, you will discove this for yourself.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Its utter ignorance to believe wind and solar can replace coal or nuclear as base load capacity (and pls read yourself what that means).

Nuclear, coal and Hydel are substitutes.
Wind, Solar are substitutes.
The two sets are very different from each other.

Here is a simple explanation: nuclear and coal produce the same output, irrespective of weather, sunshine, time of day.

That’s also why the government is so desperate to pretend Biomass is “clean”. That’s because biomass can serve as base load. It’s a different matter that its more polluting and CO2 emitting than coal.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

So many questions. How can wind and solar be cheaper than fossil fuels if it requires fossil fuels as a backup? Why do jurisdictions with the deepest penetration of renewables have the highest power prices in the world? Why do renewables require subsidies if they are so cheap?

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

“Wind and solar power are currently cheaper than fossil fuel produced electricity and produce c.one third of the UK’s electricity….”

Sorry, I’m not getting into a debate with someone who mindlessly peddles propaganda at me. This claim you’ve made here is simply not true, and if you take the trouble to research it, you will discove this for yourself.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Nor do the numbers add up in terms of producing the amount of minerals that will be required to achieve Net Zero, as this remarkable presentation shows.
https://youtu.be/MBVmnKuBocc

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Wind and solar power are currently cheaper than fossil fuel produced electricity and produce c.one third of the UK’s electricity – hardly a cottage industry! Please explain to my ignorant self (I didn’t do much science) how the laws of physics prevent improving wind and solar power, and stop developing geothermal and tidal power to become economic. Surely these sources are all ‘better’ than nuclear power since they are genuinely renewable and do not pose the same safety and waste disposal issues – which doesn’t mean that nuclear doesn’t have a place given current technology.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Which is the argument for nuclear power, not renewable energy. As for the final claim in your comment I suggest you re-read the article, and if that doesn’t persuade you that you’re wrong, read Bjorn Lomborg’s latest book, or the one by Michael Shellenberger.

Renewable energy can never be any more than a cottage industry in terms of utility-scale energy. The numbers don’t add up and unfortunately for those who think more innovation will help, it’s the hard limits set by the laws of physics that are getting in the way here.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

And also seconded.
The desire to move from gas to heat pumps is another clue as this is another unworkable solution without a corresponding huge increase in electricity generation to support it.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The auto industry, not least the major German OEMs have ultra low emission internal combustion engines able to run on a variety of liquid fuels all ready to go, but are cowed by the green tree hugger sandaloids

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Fossil fuels will run out at some point so they have to be replaced! Renewable sources of energy are constantly under development, and will get cheaper and better sooner rather than later.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

“The reason nuclear energy is largely absent from the decarbonisation debate is that the latter is based on a falsehood: that we can generate all the world’s energy needs from renewable sources — primarily wind and solar power. This has become a mantra for much of the climate movement, but it’s a delusion.”

It’s worse than a delusion, it is a deliberate lie. The intent at this stage is very obviously not that renewables will replace fossil fuel energy, but that energy in general will become much, much more scarce and expensive. The intent is that the majority of us lose our high-energy lifestyles involving motorised travel as and when we want it, and homes heated to as warm as we want.

This might sound like a conspiracy theory, but there is simply no way that the people peddling this nonsense don’t know that what they’re selling is impossible: of course they know that renewables cannot replace fossil fuels. So it must follow that they know that draconian limits on personal access to energy is the only option.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

We’ve known for some time that the radiation dangers from the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters have been massively overstated. But I thought it would be worth a quick look at the effects of all those above-ground nuclear tests done in Nevada in the 1950s, before the dangers of radioactive contamination were fully understood.

This was a time when no safety measures were taken at all, so millions of Americans were exposed to high levels of radioactive material over the course of a decade. A quick web search reveals that between 10,000 and 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer could be attributed to the weapons test exposure (note the colossal uncertainty in the range between those two numbers), and 1800 leukaemia deaths.

Now, this is of course tragic for anyone so affected, but the focus of this particular discussion is to ask how scared should we really be of nuclear power stations, even if one of them does blow up once in a while? In the present day, we are tolerating over 7millions deaths per year related to pollution generally. At least half that figure, admittedly, is due to indoor smoke inhalation in poor countries where open fires are used for cooking, but the rest is first-world stuff.

In the UK the figure is 28,000-36,000 deaths a year attributable to air pollution. What the UK is doing is tolerating – each year – over 10 times the total number of radiation-leukaemia deaths from a decade of Nevada nuclear bomb bomb-testing, just because the deaths in question don’t come from nuclear power.

And we’re not even proposing to actually start letting off nuclear bombs anyway, we just want to build nuclear power stations!

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

We’ve known for some time that the radiation dangers from the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters have been massively overstated. But I thought it would be worth a quick look at the effects of all those above-ground nuclear tests done in Nevada in the 1950s, before the dangers of radioactive contamination were fully understood.

This was a time when no safety measures were taken at all, so millions of Americans were exposed to high levels of radioactive material over the course of a decade. A quick web search reveals that between 10,000 and 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer could be attributed to the weapons test exposure (note the colossal uncertainty in the range between those two numbers), and 1800 leukaemia deaths.

Now, this is of course tragic for anyone so affected, but the focus of this particular discussion is to ask how scared should we really be of nuclear power stations, even if one of them does blow up once in a while? In the present day, we are tolerating over 7millions deaths per year related to pollution generally. At least half that figure, admittedly, is due to indoor smoke inhalation in poor countries where open fires are used for cooking, but the rest is first-world stuff.

In the UK the figure is 28,000-36,000 deaths a year attributable to air pollution. What the UK is doing is tolerating – each year – over 10 times the total number of radiation-leukaemia deaths from a decade of Nevada nuclear bomb bomb-testing, just because the deaths in question don’t come from nuclear power.

And we’re not even proposing to actually start letting off nuclear bombs anyway, we just want to build nuclear power stations!

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

The late James Ephraim LOVELOCK, CH CBE FRS (26 July 1919 – 26 July 2022), onetime ‘high priest’ of the Green Cult and author of the seminal GAIA Hypothesis, was saying all this years ago!
All too predictably he was jettisoned from the Green Cult, and denied the Knighthood which some thought he rightly deserved.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

I actually have his book Gaia. I had to use it for an environmental science course I did home ed about 15 years ago (no lab required you see), it pretty much formed the basis of the course, I remember being quite taken with it actually, I haven’t come across his name for a long while, sounds like that’s why! At the time he was all the rage. I didn’t know they had treated him like that.

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

I acquired this book many years ago. It is definitely worth reading. Lovelock was a visionary and was confident Mother Earth would survive the impact of a human population that is out of control!

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Pellatt

Thanks, I might dig it out again, its a fair time since I read it, his idea of looking at the earth as whole, self regulating system was very interesting.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

His autobiography is well worth a read as well.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

I was astonished that he died on his very birthday at 103!
Good man.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

I was astonished that he died on his very birthday at 103!
Good man.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

His autobiography is well worth a read as well.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Pellatt

Thanks, I might dig it out again, its a fair time since I read it, his idea of looking at the earth as whole, self regulating system was very interesting.

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

I acquired this book many years ago. It is definitely worth reading. Lovelock was a visionary and was confident Mother Earth would survive the impact of a human population that is out of control!

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

I actually have his book Gaia. I had to use it for an environmental science course I did home ed about 15 years ago (no lab required you see), it pretty much formed the basis of the course, I remember being quite taken with it actually, I haven’t come across his name for a long while, sounds like that’s why! At the time he was all the rage. I didn’t know they had treated him like that.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

The late James Ephraim LOVELOCK, CH CBE FRS (26 July 1919 – 26 July 2022), onetime ‘high priest’ of the Green Cult and author of the seminal GAIA Hypothesis, was saying all this years ago!
All too predictably he was jettisoned from the Green Cult, and denied the Knighthood which some thought he rightly deserved.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago

Fourth gen thorium power stations is the way forward for me (breakthroughs in nuclear fusion notwithstanding) but has been ignored due to the higher initial costs.
It’s a damning indictment of our national attitude to infrastructure. Cheap short term options always win out and people regard this as being unimportant until there’s a problem.
China look to be the first country to online a thorium power station and Boris’ pitch to move in that direction depended on Chinese investment and involvement (again). And this is the other part of the problem we have, the expansion of university attendance has not had a proportional increase in STEM graduates, leaving us short on the skills necessary for these kinds of projects.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Dalton
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Seconded.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Seconded.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
1 year ago

Fourth gen thorium power stations is the way forward for me (breakthroughs in nuclear fusion notwithstanding) but has been ignored due to the higher initial costs.
It’s a damning indictment of our national attitude to infrastructure. Cheap short term options always win out and people regard this as being unimportant until there’s a problem.
China look to be the first country to online a thorium power station and Boris’ pitch to move in that direction depended on Chinese investment and involvement (again). And this is the other part of the problem we have, the expansion of university attendance has not had a proportional increase in STEM graduates, leaving us short on the skills necessary for these kinds of projects.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Dalton
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago

I suppose all fear is irrational. That doesn’t mean its irrational to be concerned. I completely accept the argument that nuclear energy is the only option available to us to replace fossil fuels. But the future ahead of us – with a massive proliferation of nuclear power plants – is fraught with peril. To date we have been incredibly careful with nuclear power, but as it proliferates, we will get more careless. Corners will be cut. Impressive safety records will be used to justify lower standards. Complicated technologies will be handed to poorly trained people who don’t know how to run it or maintain it. The content of radioactive material in the atmosphere will only grow with each mishap – perhaps to a point where it starts to pose a major threat that we can do nothing about but breathe it in and hope for the best. And that’s without a war or terrorist incident – you can be sure the nuclear plants and storage sites will be prime targets in every little war that comes along in all the unstable parts of the world. Did you know that its impossible to make steel today that’s as hard as it was 100 years ago, simply because of the radioactivity in the atmosphere now? All sorts of unknown unknowns out there – please forgive me if I continue to worry.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim R
D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

Did you know that its impossible to make steel today that’s as hard as it was 100 years ago, simply because of the radioactivity

Do you have a link to that, please?
I knew that pre-1945 steel was sought after for making sensitive radiation detecting equipment. I have no knowledge of steel hardness being compromised.

Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

The impact on hardness is miniscule (I didn’t suggest otherwise) – as you point out the biggest practical issue has been related to uses involving radiation detection. Resulting in a market for old steel manufactured before the 1940s. The point is that radioactivity doesn’t go away – it just builds up in the environment. And before you jump down my throat again – yes I know atmospheric levels have dropped recently – that just means its settled onto the sea floor. 100 years ago people would have laughed at you if you pointed out the impact of increased carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels – fast forward to a world with billions of cars etc. and it starts to add up. What do you think will happen when there are tens of thousands of nuclear reactors and waste dumps all over the planet. Not right away – but wait a few decades and mankind will have its next extinction level event to worry about.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim R
D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

OK, I wasn’t jumping down your throat. I was politely seeking information.
I don’t know why you were given a down vote, so I’ve given you an ‘up’ to cancel it out.

Last edited 1 year ago by D Glover
D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

OK, I wasn’t jumping down your throat. I was politely seeking information.
I don’t know why you were given a down vote, so I’ve given you an ‘up’ to cancel it out.

Last edited 1 year ago by D Glover
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago
Reply to  D Glover

The impact on hardness is miniscule (I didn’t suggest otherwise) – as you point out the biggest practical issue has been related to uses involving radiation detection. Resulting in a market for old steel manufactured before the 1940s. The point is that radioactivity doesn’t go away – it just builds up in the environment. And before you jump down my throat again – yes I know atmospheric levels have dropped recently – that just means its settled onto the sea floor. 100 years ago people would have laughed at you if you pointed out the impact of increased carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels – fast forward to a world with billions of cars etc. and it starts to add up. What do you think will happen when there are tens of thousands of nuclear reactors and waste dumps all over the planet. Not right away – but wait a few decades and mankind will have its next extinction level event to worry about.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim R
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I think it’s more accurate to say fear is nonrational, but not therefore unreasonable or unwarranted. Fear needn’t be panicked or obsessive and can help motivate one to change, leave, or avoid dangerous situations in a way that detached or purely logical calculation won’t do for most people. It might make sense and not be at odds with rational conclusions to be frightened or worried, though not to cower in fear or be plagued with anxiety.
I readily forgive you for continuing to worry. I’m worried about the colossal real and potential fallouts of the worst nuclear disasters too, in a way that continues, though not on a continuous or continual basis.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I worry far more about a senile world leader accidentally escalating us into WW3.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Understandable enough, but I think the former prez was likelier to go nuclear on his own, both figuratively and in the apocalyptic way, than the current dude. Biden has some sharp and sane people around him, that he listens to and respects–less the case with Trump. Hope Putin has a few sober people he secretly listens to and respects.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Understandable enough, but I think the former prez was likelier to go nuclear on his own, both figuratively and in the apocalyptic way, than the current dude. Biden has some sharp and sane people around him, that he listens to and respects–less the case with Trump. Hope Putin has a few sober people he secretly listens to and respects.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

I worry far more about a senile world leader accidentally escalating us into WW3.

Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I don’t think your fears are irrational at all. I think they are simply good judgment, just like a parent who doesn’t want his child to associate with other kids who experiment with hard drugs.
What I am afraid you fail to realize, though, is that the scenarios you hypothesize as the future of nuclear power plants are HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. The fact is, nuclear power plants are poorly constructed and corners are cut in their operations RIGHT NOW. Radioactive material is leaching into the water and being spewed into the air RIGHT NOW. Nuclear power plants and storage facilities are not sufficiently hardened to withstand terrorist threats RIGHT NOW.
It is really painful to face this. In fact, when I began learning the truth about all things nuclear–including depleted uranium–many years ago when DU was being used in Iraq, it terrified me.
But we have to face reality. Native Americans knew uranium to be dangerous–corn was good and uranium was bad. If we continue to use it, we will leave a legacy for our children for which they will curse us.

Last edited 1 year ago by Romi Elnagar
D Glover
D Glover
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

Did you know that its impossible to make steel today that’s as hard as it was 100 years ago, simply because of the radioactivity

Do you have a link to that, please?
I knew that pre-1945 steel was sought after for making sensitive radiation detecting equipment. I have no knowledge of steel hardness being compromised.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I think it’s more accurate to say fear is nonrational, but not therefore unreasonable or unwarranted. Fear needn’t be panicked or obsessive and can help motivate one to change, leave, or avoid dangerous situations in a way that detached or purely logical calculation won’t do for most people. It might make sense and not be at odds with rational conclusions to be frightened or worried, though not to cower in fear or be plagued with anxiety.
I readily forgive you for continuing to worry. I’m worried about the colossal real and potential fallouts of the worst nuclear disasters too, in a way that continues, though not on a continuous or continual basis.

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
Romi Elnagar
Romi Elnagar
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim R

I don’t think your fears are irrational at all. I think they are simply good judgment, just like a parent who doesn’t want his child to associate with other kids who experiment with hard drugs.
What I am afraid you fail to realize, though, is that the scenarios you hypothesize as the future of nuclear power plants are HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. The fact is, nuclear power plants are poorly constructed and corners are cut in their operations RIGHT NOW. Radioactive material is leaching into the water and being spewed into the air RIGHT NOW. Nuclear power plants and storage facilities are not sufficiently hardened to withstand terrorist threats RIGHT NOW.
It is really painful to face this. In fact, when I began learning the truth about all things nuclear–including depleted uranium–many years ago when DU was being used in Iraq, it terrified me.
But we have to face reality. Native Americans knew uranium to be dangerous–corn was good and uranium was bad. If we continue to use it, we will leave a legacy for our children for which they will curse us.

Last edited 1 year ago by Romi Elnagar
Jim R
Jim R
1 year ago

I suppose all fear is irrational. That doesn’t mean its irrational to be concerned. I completely accept the argument that nuclear energy is the only option available to us to replace fossil fuels. But the future ahead of us – with a massive proliferation of nuclear power plants – is fraught with peril. To date we have been incredibly careful with nuclear power, but as it proliferates, we will get more careless. Corners will be cut. Impressive safety records will be used to justify lower standards. Complicated technologies will be handed to poorly trained people who don’t know how to run it or maintain it. The content of radioactive material in the atmosphere will only grow with each mishap – perhaps to a point where it starts to pose a major threat that we can do nothing about but breathe it in and hope for the best. And that’s without a war or terrorist incident – you can be sure the nuclear plants and storage sites will be prime targets in every little war that comes along in all the unstable parts of the world. Did you know that its impossible to make steel today that’s as hard as it was 100 years ago, simply because of the radioactivity in the atmosphere now? All sorts of unknown unknowns out there – please forgive me if I continue to worry.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jim R
Kevin R
Kevin R
1 year ago

Another thought-provoking piece from Thomas Fazi, one of Unherd’s best writers.
There seems to be a classic cognitive bias at play in the response to nuclear power: an irrational fear of a short term, but highly unlikely, catastrophe set against an equally irrational shoulder-shrugging attitiude towards an almost certain, but slightly delayed, catastrophe (in this case climate change / air pollution which will have a devastating impact on humanity). One can’t help thinking of the heavy smoker who refused to board an airplane for fear it would crash and kill him.
And yet…..given the net drop in the competence and quality of our leaders, can we really trust them to tell us the truth? Is that nuclear site really safe for those living nearby? Are the safety protocols being properly respected? Are the protocols even worth the paper they’re written on? Or is it just theatre to appease the masses?
The French government famously lied to the entire population about the extent of the pollution caused by the Chernobyl disaster:(https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-05-13-mn-5932-story.html).

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin R

‘One can’t help thinking of the heavy smoker who refused to board an airplane for fear it would crash and kill him.’
Another nice example from here in Thailand. Thousands of people riding motorbikes on the second most deadly roads in the world, wearing Covid face nappies but no crash helmet.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Kevin R

‘One can’t help thinking of the heavy smoker who refused to board an airplane for fear it would crash and kill him.’
Another nice example from here in Thailand. Thousands of people riding motorbikes on the second most deadly roads in the world, wearing Covid face nappies but no crash helmet.

Kevin R
Kevin R
1 year ago

Another thought-provoking piece from Thomas Fazi, one of Unherd’s best writers.
There seems to be a classic cognitive bias at play in the response to nuclear power: an irrational fear of a short term, but highly unlikely, catastrophe set against an equally irrational shoulder-shrugging attitiude towards an almost certain, but slightly delayed, catastrophe (in this case climate change / air pollution which will have a devastating impact on humanity). One can’t help thinking of the heavy smoker who refused to board an airplane for fear it would crash and kill him.
And yet…..given the net drop in the competence and quality of our leaders, can we really trust them to tell us the truth? Is that nuclear site really safe for those living nearby? Are the safety protocols being properly respected? Are the protocols even worth the paper they’re written on? Or is it just theatre to appease the masses?
The French government famously lied to the entire population about the extent of the pollution caused by the Chernobyl disaster:(https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-05-13-mn-5932-story.html).

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago

I began buying Cammeco CCJ, and some Denison, DNN, and it really has gone nowhere much, although I am ahead so really beat the bear. Canadian Uranium Miners. I know we will have to make more nuclear plants, and my theory is USA will not want to find its self where Germany is by becoming energy dependent on an erratic source. Most uranium comes out of Kazakhstan, Kazatomprom being the world’s largest producer – and that is a stable country – but then…..it is a long way off.

My theory is USA will mandate a percent of Uranium must come from the North America Continent to be safe – so Cammeco was a definite winner.

Maybe time to get some CCJ – when it dips, I believe it one of the safer commodities – but you never know. (I also have Gold Miner Stocks mostly)

Phillip Arundel
Phillip Arundel
1 year ago

I began buying Cammeco CCJ, and some Denison, DNN, and it really has gone nowhere much, although I am ahead so really beat the bear. Canadian Uranium Miners. I know we will have to make more nuclear plants, and my theory is USA will not want to find its self where Germany is by becoming energy dependent on an erratic source. Most uranium comes out of Kazakhstan, Kazatomprom being the world’s largest producer – and that is a stable country – but then…..it is a long way off.

My theory is USA will mandate a percent of Uranium must come from the North America Continent to be safe – so Cammeco was a definite winner.

Maybe time to get some CCJ – when it dips, I believe it one of the safer commodities – but you never know. (I also have Gold Miner Stocks mostly)

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago

eight new reactors and 16 next-generation small modular reactors (SMRs), in order to triple domestic nuclear capacity to 24 gigawatts by 2050″
What good is building 24 nuke plants in the next 30 years when we only have 12 years left to safe the Earth!? Or is it 9 now, I forget? Is that a rolling estimate, or was it a hard date? Greta’s the expert; I’ll have to ask her.
Seriously, a 30 year time horizon does seem pretty ridiculous. America produced 1 destroyer every 3 days during WWII. Newt Gingrich put it best at a speech in Atlanta 15 years ago: “December 7th 1941 to August 14th, 1945 is less than 4 years. In less than 4 years, we defeated Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. Today it takes 23 years to add a 5th runway to the Atlanta airport. We are simply not prepared, today, to be a serious country.” His sentiments apply to the entire Western world, and taking 30 years to build 24 nuke plants that will power just 1/4 of your current population demonstrates the decadence and unseriousness of our current leadership admirably.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
1 year ago