As one of the largest industrial catastrophes and the second largest unintended nuclear catastrophe in history continues to develop, questions are beginning to be asked. Some of these questions are better than others. A number of these questions reflect a naivete of how choices are made in the real world. One of those questions is if we cannot ensure that nuclear power can be produced with absolute security then why are we using nuclear power?
With power, I think we can reduce the issue to three strategies.
1) Pursue non-carbon emission based technology. Several technologies are in this area. Hydroelectric is one of the biggest producers. The ability to expand hydroelectric is heavily limited though. Nuclear has shown the most potential for expansion at this point with the significant downside of generating waste that remains heavily toxic even after a generation. Other technologies in this space are the “renewables” like wind, solar, etc. All of these technologies have significant output to capital expenditure issues.
2) Pursue carbon emission based technology. This area is dominant presently. Presently there are significant concerns over this contributing to global warming. Even disregarding that, oil, coal, and natural gas are approaching supply issues. Parallel to that, third world adoption of these uses are very high. China recently became the largest car market in the world. Over the next decade, India is projected to become the third largest auto market.
3) Kill off 5-6 billion people. Sure, we could go zero population growth (ZPG), but that is a compromise proposal. At only a billion or so people, strategies one and two become non-factors. The number of people may need to be lower, but at that level grafting is no longer a pie in the sky theory. Without going into doomsday scenarios, I bring this up mainly because if one claims we can’t do either strategy #1 or strategy #2, they are choosing this strategy.