Last month’s Long Now podcast summarizes the arguments in Gwyneth Cravens’ new book Power to save the world: the truth about nuclear energy. Cravens was a protester against nuclear power in the 1980s. D.R. (“Rip”) Anderson, who knows a thing or two about the subject, changed her mind. In Stewart Brand’s summary of the talk, he notes:
Comparing the environmental footprint of nuclear versus coal was the most persuasive mind-changer for Cravens. Coal involves vast quantities of mine spoil, vast quantities of fuel, vast quantities of pollution (including mercury and uranium), and vast quantities of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere. Nuclear, by contrast, uses the most concentrated form of energy in the world, the plants are small, and the waste amounts to one Coke can per person’s lifetime of energy use.
The podcast lays out the big picture in a comprehensive way. I’d like to pretend that none of it surprised me, but that’d be a lie. Although I’ve never been opposed to nuclear power, I’ve never wanted to seriously contemplate a major ramp-up either.
I wonder what combination of art and circumstance would change our society’s mind on this subject again?