I’d like to contrast two recent contributions to the nuclear energy discussion. The first is the IAEA Climate Change and Nuclear Power report, a straightforward, fully-referenced resource that spells out the considerable past and future capacity of nuclear as a non-emitting, scalable source of electricity. It summarises the sort of information that has lately seen a growing number of critical thinkers reassess their positions on nuclear, and despite less than four years having passed since an arguably deathless multiple-reactor accident, has seen the IPCC progress from popularising a doubtfully simplistic majority renewable plan from Greenpeace to calling for at least a tripling of nuclear generation in response to climate change.
The other is a very recent survey that reinforces the unsurprising popularity of solar and wind in Australia. Popularity for nuclear remains a factor that probably dwarfs the quite tractable issues surrounding its serious consideration in Australia – especially for a clear majority of women who don’t like the idea at all, and seemingly prefer coal to some extent. Indeed, the authors report that:
Forty-six per cent of people surveyed don’t agree that coal is good for humanity but forty-five percent agree that it is an essential part of our economic future. Forty-one percent also accept that coal is the world’s principal energy source and is likely to remain so for decades to come…
Popular intermittent non-fossil generators certainly abate a proportion of emissions. But I don’t see climate change and emissions pollution response as a popularity contest. If we also largely realise that reliable electricity is important, that’s a great start. We each have to honestly consider what our chosen position on this matter means to us.
Or to put it another way…
Ever had a best friend who was there when you needed them, every week/month/year, day & night? That’s my idea of a truly valuable friend. What about a friend who only answered your calls on nice days? Or one who blew in maybe a third of the time, regardless of time of day or whether their help was even needed? Sure, those two can still make a contribution, but your best friend is who you need if you want to get anything useful achieved.
Now, would you rather that best friend was the sort of dude who slowly, nonchalantly poisons you, your children, and everyone you know? Or, instead, sorts all the garbage and recycling to the point of obsessive-compulsion, and drives really, really carefully?