Grasping at an Atom-Splitting Strawman
We must confess that our adversaries have a marked advantage over us in the discussion. In very few words they can announce a half-truth; and in order to demonstrate that it is incomplete, we are obliged to have recourse to long and dry dissertations.
— Frédéric Bastiat
“Harnessing, storing, and transporting energy across long distances is inherently risky business, no matter the energy source,” wrotein Frame of Reference, pondering why injuries and deaths in associated with certain energy sources are valued differently than others. In one example he cites the breakage of a hydroelectric dam in China caused by Typhoon Nina in the summer of 1975 resulting the death of somewhere between 26,000 and 240,000 people. Residents of Lac-Mégantic, Québec, recently recalled the tenth year anniversary of train tanker explosion that killed almost 50 people and destroyed dozens of buildings. In the third example: two mechanics who were killed working on a Dutch wind turbine. The Green Chicken notes (for the most part) there have been little to no efforts to remove all hydroelectric dams, stop drilling for oil (despite the demands from Climate Crisis hysterics), or for constructing and maintaining more wind turbines because of such deaths.
Nuclear energy is another story.
Doomberg goes onto slay many common myths and tricks used either intentionally or accidentally by those critical of nuclear energy starting with a basic explanation of how such risk is in part both due to a substance’s toxicity and the dose at which it’s applied. Radiation in doses big (the ones feared) and small (cancer treatments, X-rays, flying) are among their examples, given this is indeed a piece about the risks of nuclear energy. Conflating the destruction caused by nuclear weapons with nuclear power reactors is another common myth as if every nuclear generation station is a Final Destination plot away from becoming the next Tzar Bomba.
Then there’s the “waste.”
Not only does the Green Chicken note that there isn’t a single recorded injury or fatality from said “waste”, or that the amount of it generated by US nuclear power stations alone over the past 70 years is stupidly minuscule but that the term “waste” is misleading. Unlike other items, ahem, batteries , and solar panels, said
waste partially-spent nuclear fuel can be recycled and repurposed. (h/t to
The Green Chicken then the notes the industry’s squeaky-clean safety record:
The civilian nuclear energy industry has done more to advance human flourishing than virtually any other sector. Day after day, it cranks out valuable, reliable, and carbon-free baseload power with predictable capacity factors. The industry has a near-perfect safety record, and data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics proves “that it is safer to work at a nuclear power plant than in the manufacturing sector, real estate, health care, leisure and hospitality industries, and financial sectors.”
One might think the loud, deep, thump immediately following such prose was that of a nuclear power plant blowing up A-Bomb style, but that’s literally impossible (the “waste” as well).
Instead that was a mic drop.
Well… not so fast.
In comes the hard-hitting, always truthful and Noble arbiters of truth.
The Los Angeles Times’ Sammy “Would the occasional blackout help solve climate change?” Roth is back with take on nuclear energy. His framing in this week’s “If only nuclear power were an easy climate change solution” is not nearly as absurd as before, but has a shaky foundation.
First is the whole idea of “solving” climate change which in his mind seems to be something that, “could bring an end to deadlier heat waves, worsening wildfires, rising seas and more extreme droughts and storms.” That may seem simple enough, but given how it seems these days every event or lack thereof, regardless of scientific evidence, is now asserted to be due to climate
change crisis and even people arguing in op-eds that weather events should be politicized. So, just when will “we” know whether such efforts are paying off? Everything and nothing is climate change, these days.
Then there’s the idea that only nuclear power is needed for such a solution. He claims to have drawn inspiration for the piece from a recent Wall Street Journal article covering Grace Stanke, a prolific young promoter of nuclear power and current Miss America.
She’s, in his words, “is one of a growing number of Americans — I hear from them all the time — who see nuclear energy as the best way to confront global warming.”
Yet, if one is to go read the actual WSJ piece (or the “growing number” link), there’s not one mention of nuclear power as a climate change panacea. It’s entirely possible that is a view Ms. Stanke holds, but it’s not mentioned anywhere in the WSJ piece.
Another is that he believes fossil fuel usage needs to end - seemingly completely, and that carbon emissions must be eliminated within the next ten to 15 years. It’s unfortunate Roth seems unfamiliar with his co-worker’s interview in September 2022, of the Vaclav Smil about the realities of fossil fuels’ contribution to nearly everything he takes for granted or that the much of the rest of the world will continue to consume fossil fuels as part of both their development and human flourishing. These fossil fuels also required to manufacture the fiat virtue toys (heat pumps, EVs, batteries, solar panels, wind turbines) that out of touch Coastal Elites believe will bring their salvation from Gaia. Smil is also known for his sharp critiques of rapid decarbonization.
“Maybe if everyone loved nuclear power,” he laments, as if romantic feelings somehow supersede physics. Well, perhaps they do up to a point. He mentions that “many Americans” (no source) fear radiation nuclear meltdowns, claiming historical events, not seeming to mention the LA Times itself, based in the state which is the homeland of modern nuclear movement, has been a pusher of many nuclear energy falsehoods. The falsehoods out there are almost overwhelming, hence the need of people such as, , , , and to name a few to repeatedly engage in repeated refutations.
In what amounts to the largest grasping of straws ever, mind you this being from someone who repeatedly cheers on fiat fuels such as wind and solar, which are more resource intensive, less energy dense, less reliable requiring fossil fuel backup, he brings up concerns about uranium mining and waste disposal.
One tells the story from a joint LA Times/Propublic investigation which occurred as Roth emphasizes, on tribal lands where the US Government long sourced uranium. The other, also US Government site, but this time in Washington State.
Although both stories point to takes of environmental irresponsibility (such that never happens with fiat energy! /s ) and a likely coverup, Roth neglects to point out both of these locations were primary sources of uranium for the US Military’s nuclear weapons during the Cold War and have little or nothing to do with civilian nuclear power.
Towards the end of the piece, in what almost comes off as a taunt, he remarks, “Nuclear advocates can sing the technology’s virtues to the high heavens, but they’re not going to silence the critics or eliminate the drawbacks.”
We’ve yet to see any evidence of nuclear advocates silencing critics, the drawbacks are minimal and far less than fiat fuels and de-growth - both of which are staples of Roth’s “reporting” and that of the LA Times.
The rest of us can continue to live in reality.
The momentum is is building, both in the US and abroad.
"The criterion of truth is that it works even if nobody is prepared to acknowledge it.”
-Ludwig Von Mises"