[extropy-chat] Nuke 'em

Greg Burch gregburch at gregburch.net
Sun Oct 23 12:30:03 UTC 2005

Over the last few years I've come to the conclusion (like very many people) that nuclear power generation is generally undervalued as a source of electricity generation.  Opponents to nuclear power point to issues at almost every step of the process from the mining of uranium ore through storage and disposal of spent fuel and other waste.  Based on the evidence of how many reactors are in operation or have been constructed (in the U.S. at least) over the last 30 years, nuke proponents have done a poor job of responding to those concerns.

>From a technical standpoint, it seems to me that no alternative to nuclear power generation comes close to the value that nuke plants can offer in the face of the many societal problems created by fossil fuel energy sources.  But nuke advocates have to have good answers to overcome the huge hit that nukes have taken in public perception since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.  I'm sure that reactor design and operating procedures have been and can be developed to adequately address the kinds of problems that gave rise to those two incidents.  

But it seems to me that two issues remain as legitimate problems and therefore major stumbling blocks to more widespread use of nuclear power.  These issues are weapons proliferation and waste storage.  Both seem to call for structures of social control about which liberty lovers and skeptics about government power and efficiency should have deep misgivings.  So I'm interested in the thoughts of those here on the List about these two issues. What kinds of social and technical mechanisms present the best balance between harvesting the obvious benefits of nuclear power on the one hand and avoiding the problems of inefficient and overly-intrusive social controls on the other?

Greg Burch

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