opt out of the nuclear option

Is it possible that the mythical power of cold fusion could be the source of carbon-free energy we’ve always dreamed of? Today, France was selected for the ITER site, an experimental fusion reactor. This is one step short of a real deal, dubbed the DEMO, but since the EU is paying half the bill, and since France already has more nuclear reactors than mostly anybody else out there, perhaps this will give rise to new interest in fusion. Nature, reporting here. The BBC reports as well, while sporting a fun, interactive fusion graphic slideshow.

Environmentalists, as often is the case when being cited in articles, appear as luddite pariahs. Ironically, this could be the very best thing to happen to climate change environmentalism. It doesn’t hurt to have precautions, but it does hurt your reputation if that’s all you can offer. Here, they are worried about an earthquake faultline residing under the proposed location for this facility.

Greenpeace offers its fireback, saying that the astronomical expense could purchase 10,000 megawatts windfarms. The unprofessionalism really comes out in this quote:

“Governments should not waste our money on a dangerous toy which will never deliver any useful energy. Instead, they should invest in renewable energy which is abundantly available, not in 2080 but today.”

Jan Vande Putte, quoted by BBC

My intuition tells me that environmentalists are not well received in the scientific community, though this insight comes largely from what media tribulations I’ve come across.

3 Responses to “opt out of the nuclear option”

  1. sieber says:

    I think the Greenpeace representative is offering (or is being quoted as offering) a stupid argument. Economic arguments are not ones with which environmentalists can win because the counter argument, “we shouldn’t spend money on the environment when so many people are starving/dying in the cold,” is so compelling. Following that line of counter argument means that we could have more money for alternate fuels if we didn’t spend money on conservation or, more expensively, industry regulations. A better argument concerns the lack of safety of plants–the fault lines–or of waste disposal. Then Greenpeace can say, “if you build more plants, it’ll be the poor countries that will suffer because that’s where the rich countries will send their waste to.”

    A larger argument, of course, is whether alternate energies can provide our ever-expanding needs. I’d hate to see more nuclear (fission) plants. Perhaps fusion will provide a bigger percentage of the energy needs than the alternatives. So why not invest in fusion and wind and solar, etc. Otherwise when oil runs out and the bill comes due, we won’t have enough money to fix the world economy.

  2. spike says:

    Truth be told, no single mind can link all the repercussions that such a project will tug on. Yet it cannot be overlooked that financial capital earmarked for certain ventures can’t be liquidated for a replacement venture, in the face of so many stakeholders and planners.

    A further question to ponder is: human rights, and who are we talking about? Perhaps the proponents of fusion projects are worried about their own future, their own nation, etc., and hope that in bringing this clean energy on-line, they will save the climate for everybody… what a perfect public good! And what humanitarianism!

  3. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually one thing that I think I’d by no means understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m having a look ahead on your subsequent put up, I will try to get the cling of it!