Friday, March 02, 2007

Stewart Brand and Nuclear Power

It is wonderful to see someone talking sense about nuclear power, and someone as potentially influential and credible as Stewart Brand. From the New York Times:

“There were legitimate reasons to worry about nuclear power, but now that we know about the threat of climate change, we have to put the risks in perspective,” he says. “Sure, nuclear waste is a problem, but the great thing about it is you know where it is and you can guard it. The bad thing about coal waste is that you don’t know where it is and you don’t know what it’s doing. The carbon dioxide is in everybody’s atmosphere.”

He also goes on to comment on something that I've always felt was a great problem with the environmentalist group:

Mr. Brand predicts that his heresies will become accepted in the next decade as the scientific minority in the environmental movement persuades the romantic majority. He still considers himself a member of both factions, just as in the days of the Merry Pranksters, but he’s been shifting toward the minority.

“My trend has been toward more rational and less romantic as the decades go by,” he says. “I keep seeing the harm done by religious romanticism, the terrible conservatism of romanticism, the ingrained pessimism of romanticism. It builds in a certain immunity to the scientific frame of mind.”

The Earth is a finite resource, but as things are at the moment we can't remove our cities without displacing billions of people. We can't uproot our infrastructure without loss of life and loss of quality of life.

Putting a vague abstract of an untainted Earth before the health, wellbeing and happiness of everyone already living on Earth has been a problem for the environmentalists. It may even have contributed to the length of time it took for politicians and businesspeople to treat the environment as a serious issue.

That's not to belittle the tremendous strides the environmentalist-faction have managed to accomplish over the past several decades, but it is only by embracing technologies like nuclear power, genetic engineering and cheap manufacturing that we will be able to solve our current problems of global warming.

1 comment:

James Aach said...

FYI: Mr. Brand has also endorsed my insider novel of nuclear power, Rad Decision, as an lay person's guide to the topic. Available free online, and also now in paperback.

"I'd like to see Rad Decision widely read." - Stewart Brand