John Phipps: Questionable Environmental Decisions On Nuclear Power Now Creates New Geopolitical Threat

All over Europe, countries are closing down operating nuclear power plants. While this has been going on for some time, it has now become clear the decision to overstate the minuscule risks and assume greener power sources would be there to replace them was wildly inaccurate.

Angela Merkle, perhaps one of the best German leaders to date has seen the afterglow of her years in office overshadowed by the truly dangerous German dependence on Russian natural gas as a result of her push to abandon nuclear power. A questionable environmental decision has emerged as a geopolitical threat.

The U.S. is on the same path, with the twilight of this dependable power source already taking place. Meanwhile, China is speeding ahead with a goal of 150 plants by 2030, as much as the U.S. and France combined, although that will still only provide a small fraction of their power needs.


Nuclear power has trivial CO2 emissions, and yes, this chart includes mining, manufacturing, and decommissioning costs. It is also demonstrably safer compared to other power sources – all the dire predictions have proven false, even factoring the extraordinary failures like Chernobyl and Three  Mile Island.  

In what I can only describe as hysteria by the public surrounding nuclear technology, overblown fears have replaced years of solid results in the minds of global citizens. The link from radioactivity to bizarre impacts is the stuff of comedy – from the fish in Lake Springfield on the Simpsons to Spiderman’s origin via a radioactive spider bite. The often condescending dismissal of such nonsensical perceptions added a major blunder to a half-hearted public relations campaign by the nuclear industry.

Politicians thought we had time and expertise to replace this power source. Many of their voters made supporting nuclear power a small win-big loss type of decision. Extremism at both ends of the spectrum, from fussy progressives unclear on the concept of inescapable tradeoffs to short-sighted climate deniers on the right content with a threat seemingly too far in the future to take responsibility for, we looked gift power in the mouth and walked away.

There is foolishness enough to go around regarding this choice, but the result will cripple our efforts to control carbon emissions and even preserve democracy.


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