Why We Must Delay Nuclear Power

Most of us still ignore its disturbing weapons proliferation potential.

Everyone who thinks nuclear fission is sufficiently safe to use at increased scale today needs to upgrade their simulations. Unlike fusion power, it isn’t. Many ecomodernists who see next gen reactors as a key part of the solution to climate change may not be convinced by my article, but most environmentalists, and many in the general public, might. Fortunately we all vote.

Nuclear power is too slow and expensive to move the needle for climate, vs. wind and solar. But its biggest problem is rarely discussed, hence my article. Scaling nuclear power (including thorium and various other next gen designs) will only exacerbate the global risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, and the nightmare scenario of rogue nuclear weapons in use by well-funded small groups, later this century. We have a long road ahead to increase equity and reduce fanaticism. Meanwhile, technological advances make it increasingly easy to produce clandestine nuclear weapons. We ignore that future at our own peril. History argues that a future with rogue nuclear weapons afflicting the world would greatly restrict our civil rights, and greatly reduce democratic representation and transnational cooperation. That’s a future we can work to avoid.

Growing nuclear power should be a nonstarter for our sustainability agenda. We need to delay, decommission, and increase oversight of the entire uranium mining, enrichment, and nuclear weapons and nuclear energy production chain, while we wait for the world’s political and security cooperation and capabilities and networks to catch up with ongoing technical advances. My Medium article explains why.

Callaway Nuclear Reactor (Fulton, MO)

Comments

  1. Dan Vasii says:

    We should not delay it at all.
    Because the renewables are not yet able to cope with the overall need for energy, therefore nuclear would be bridging the gap to that time when renewables will be able to do the job. And the technologies are not all to provide weapon grade fissionable material – especially if we switch the nuclear power to thorium.

    • Thanks for your comment Dan. I disagree, and so do many others. Voting and activism will determine fissions near term future. You have your vote, I have mine. I know enough about it now to realize it is a very dangerous technology we aren’t wise enough yet to handle well. Once anyone has mastered enrichment, they don’t just get one bomb, they can get an endless supply. It’s just how this technology works. Proliferation risk is already much higher than most people realize, because we don’t like to talk about it. Safety is a mirage with this technology. What we do now affects the risk of misuse later this century. Delay is the best choice, until we are significantly wiser and the world is much more self regulated and transparent.

      • Unfortunately the situation, both political (Ukraine war) and technological, do not allow for renewables to take their right position. I do agree that renewables should be the source of energy, but right now they are not in such position – mainly due to the lack of storage technologies.
        There is no proliferation with thorium – it is not eve possible to trigger the fission reaction without a uranium starter. But uranium starter is the same with uranium graded for nuclear plants – “Commercial reactors have just a few percent fissile material in them, and bombs have more than 90 percent,”
        The difference is staggering. In order to obtain bomb-grade uranium, Iran is striving for years, and it is a state with pretty extensive technological capabilities. So proliferation is not a threat -except for dirty bombs, but these can be built from any radioactive source – like cesium from different medical devices.
        Wishing is a powerful thing, but not enough to change the reality, which has its own circumstances.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: