Should anti-fossil expansion movement align with pro nuclear movement?

On April 11, 2014, Roger Annis, a member of the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group, gave a talk at the University of California Santa Barbara. The talk was titled Oil, tar sands, coal, natural gas: What’s behind the expansion drive of Canada’s and North America’s fossil fuel industries?

It is a fascinating talk with some excellent slides that have maps of pipelines, railroads, refineries, and reservoir areas and show how they are all interconnected. He talks about proposed new pipelines, new drilling areas, new terminals and about the increased traffic being pushed through the existing infrastructure.

He describes the increasing contributions to the global emissions of CO2 and more noxious combustion products, the risks to our shared climate, the monetary motives, and the growing number of oil-by-rail accidents with a good description of the root causes and effects of the tragedy in Lac Megantic that killed 47 people.

Aside: The risks associated with oil-by-rail hit close to home for me this week with a derailment in downtown Lynchburg, VA, next door to my current home town. The tracks here run along the James River, an important tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. The river runs through a couple of hundred miles of southern Virginia from Lynchburg before it gets to the Bay. Dozens of communities along the way depend on the James for a variety of uses including their water supply.

The derailment resulted in the impressive fire ball and intense black smoke that is typical of the genre of oil-by-rail events, but the derailment also put three of the cars into the James River, releasing about 20,000-25,000 gallons (at last count) of crude oil.

Fortunately, no one was hurt; there is a little bit of a buffer between the tracks and most of the buildings downtown. Several hundred people were evacuated or cleared the area without any prompting. End Aside.

Roger introduced himself as a life-long Socialist and participant in a number of movements, starting with the movement to end the Vietnam War. His last job before he finished working was as an aircraft mechanic. He has also been a writer for many years and developed his skills while “at university.” (I put quotes on that phrase because it is one of those examples where people who speak different dialects of the English language have different ways of constructing sentences. In the US, someone would most likely have said “in college.”)

Roger’s talk was informed by his socialist lenses and he used phrases and chose words that clearly come from his experiences in movements and in writing about them.

Though I am not a socialist, I have several socialist friends. We share many of the same views about the importance of cooperative effort, the use of democratic principles to make the world a better place, and the risk of allowing people whose only measure of effectiveness is money to run the world. I’ve also never joined in any protests or carried any placards, but again, I have friends and associated who have. I understand that mode of communications and community building and sympathize with many of the causes.

Though nearly everyone would probably disagree with me at this point, I believe that there is a natural alliance opportunity between people like Roger and people like me. We both care deeply about our shared environment and about people. We both share a distrust of the people who run huge corporations for the sole benefit of their stockholders and we believe that the government has an important role to play in planning and enabling a more even sharing of prosperity among the people.

Roger and I are probably miles apart right now in regard to nuclear energy. I say that based on a couple of comments in his talk. He mentioned something about fighting against nuclear waste and he referred to the idea of using nuclear reactors to provide heat for Canadian tar sands extraction as particularly “crazy.” We are also miles apart on the idea of growth and prosperity.

Like many socialists, he believes that one of the sins of capitalism is a supposed dependence on relentless growth. He also indicates a distrust of competition; many socialists think it is much better if we all just get along and agree on what to do instead of each trying to do better than everyone else.

For me, nuclear energy is one of god’s ways of helping his people do more with less. Nuclear energy’s densely packed energy means that we should be able to figure out a way to use far less material in a actinide economy than in our current hydrocarbon economy AND be more abundantly supplied with reliable power. As the Ford commercials say, AND is better than OR.

The material use reduction enabled by atomic energy could be even more impressive than the one represented by my ‘i’ devices.

Here is an example of that particular material-savings technology. When my wife and I were first married, we owned a lot of recorded music on cassette tapes. Every time we went on a road trip, one of the first things we put into the car was three briefcase-sized boxes of tapes carrying our favorite music. Each box held 30 tapes; each tape contained two albums. (We did that ourselves so we could carry more music. We purchased each album in vinyl and then produced the traveling version.) The 180 albums that we were thus able to carry that way now fit on the old 8 GB iPod that I use as my workout entertainment AND there was room to double the library.

I added emphasis to the world “could” because we are not there yet. Our current nuclear energy technology is hugely inefficient and uses far more materials than needed. That just means we are only part way up our first ‘S’ curve of innovation to make the best possible use of the capabilities inherent in uranium, thorium and plutonium.

Competition is also one of my favorite activities, but my view is that it should be constructive, not destructive. Love of competition is what inspired me to become a swimmer. I have a cousin who is 11 months younger than I am. We were on vacation together the summer before 1st grade. He told me how he and his sisters had just joined a swim team. As boys will do, we then challenged each other to a race to the dock at the far end of the swimming area. It was a close race; I cannot remember who won, but after that race I asked my mom if we could find a swimming team.

Eleven years, 25 trophies, 90 medals, a slew of ribbons, a tiny scholarship offer and some great memories later, I dramatically slowed my swimming career and joined the Naval Academy Sailing Team. The experiences were almost all positive and I still have certain advantages from the techniques I honed in the thousands of hours of practice during those 11 years in the pool.

For example: all the way up until a few months before I retired from the Navy at age 53, I chose to perform a 500 yard swim instead of a 1.5 mile run. Even without practice for six months, I could jump in the pool and earn a grade of ‘excellent’. With just a little bit of training to get my muscles and breathing in better shape, I could earn an ‘outstanding’. With just a little more, I could max out and earn 100 points. My goal was always to swim the 500 in a time fast enough to qualify as ‘outstanding’ for a 21 year old. I’m not bragging, just pointing out the benefits of constructive competition.

Bringing the discussion back to energy, I believe that a free market solution to the challenge of fossil fuel industry expansion involves the effective use of nuclear energy to out compete fossil fuel in a growing number of applications. As nuclear wins more markets, the hydrocarbons in hard to reach, environmentally sensitive areas will lose their extraction value. There won’t be a push to build new pipes because there will no longer be any profit in spending the effort required to perform the extraction and the transportation.

When nuclear energy is allowed to compete more freely, it can beat fossil fuel because it is naturally endowed with some characteristics that fossil fuels can only wish they had. It has 1-5 million times as much energy per unit mass and when it releases its energy the products weigh less than the original and can be stored in the same amount of space.

One of the reasons that I slowed my swimming career is that I started getting beat more regularly by people who were gifted with superior tools. I realized that my dream of being the next Mark Spitz was probably not going to happen because I am only 5′ 10′ and don’t have large hands and feet. I’m still a little jealous of my little brother who is 6′ 3″ and has huge hands and size 12 feet. With his tools and my desire, we could have been contenders.

I’ve not terribly regretted my decision to cede swimming competition to others. As it turned out, my Olympic year would have been 1980, when I was 20 years old. Back then, in the pure amateur Olympic era, it was almost impossible to find a male swimmer in the Olympics who was either 16 or 24 years old. As you may or may not recall, President Carter decided that the US should boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics because of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. My buddies who did not find other competitive outlets were disappointed – to say the least.

I’m sure that most of the people who work in the hydrocarbon industry are going to be able to find other valuable ways to make a living in the actinide age. I’m not so sure about the capitalists whose wealth and power comes from the perception that the assets they control are vital and in somewhat short supply. Most of the time, I don’t worry too much about them; they have had plenty of time to read the writing on the wall.

In fact, I believe at least some of them not only read the writing, but believed it to be true and took action to hide the truth from others. There was a time when I projected my reinforced sense of fairness and integrity onto others, but I’m more mature now.

It’s pretty obvious that there are some people who believe that the Tonya Harding school of competition is the right way to go. At least some of those believers in “all’s fair in love, war and business” have worked hard to make it difficult for nuclear energy to enter or remain on the field of play.


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About Rod Adams

43 Responses to “Should anti-fossil expansion movement align with pro nuclear movement?”

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  1. Ruth Sponsler says:

    Before anybody automatically discounts this post out of hand, let it be noted that there is historical precedent here that goes all the way back to the days of the discovery of artificial radioactivity and fission.

    Irene Curie and Frederic Joliot joined the French Socialist Party in 1934.

    Not arguing a perspective either way – just stating a well-known historical fact. Google “Irene Curie socialist” and you will find numerous confirmations of this.

    I’m sure this post will incite discussion. It would be helpful to bear historical precedents in mind when discussing. The Curies’ decisions were controversial in their day.

    • Paul W Primavera says:

      The greatest socialist regime of all time produced Chernobyl. This demonstrated that what socialism produces is inherently dangerous. Its enemy produced TMI which proved the safety of Western reactors under the worst of circumstances.

      I defer to what Pope Leo XIII said about socialism in his encyclical Quod Apostoloci Muneris. Google it. The English translation is readily available but I prefer the original Latin.

      • John T Tucker says:

        “The greatest socialist regime of all time produced Chernobyl. This demonstrated that what socialism produces is inherently dangerous.”

        Lol we invented the graphite moderated reactor, the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb… and actually used the atomic bomb on two primarily civilian targets. But I guess on the whole we capitalists always have such better ideas and uses for atomic science. ( http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/dam/assets/140408122738-esquire-grooming-12-horizontal-gallery.jpg )

      • Eino says:

        Hey Paul!

        I am not Catholic. Just the same. I kind of like the latest Pope. They say he’s a mite Socialist. I doubt if he is one of them Godless socialists that built Chernobyl.

        http://www.marketwatch.com/story/thank-god-the-pope-is-an-anticapitalism-socialist-2013-12-11

        Highlights from the article:
        1. Economic inequality is the root cause of all the world’s problems
        2. ‘New tyranny’ of capitalism concentrates wealth, increases inequality
        3. Capitalism’s ‘worship of money’ is the new ‘golden calf’ idolatry
        4. ‘Invisible hand’ of capitalism can’t be trusted, increases inequality
        5. Capitalism’s ‘trickle-down’ economics is a failed ideology
        6. Capitalism promotes excessive consumption, undermining society
        7. Capitalist economics excludes the masses, killing public solutions
        8. Capitalism sees humans as ‘consumer goods’ to be exploited
        9. Capitalism’s individualists reject ethics, increasing inequality
        10. Conservative individualism is undermining the common good.

        Seems like he is interested in the common good. Reminds me of the guys that talk about Thorium.

    • Rick Armknecht says:

      In late 2008, I had some “Hope” that there would be some positive “Change” as regards the deployment of nuclear power in the U.S.
      I knew about France, its socialism, and its deployment of nuclear power.
      I also knew that America’s incoming president had a socialist bias and that he promised to look at all ideas (no matter who came up with the idea) and make “smart” choices. Knowing what I do about nuclear power, I had good reason to have hope.
      I do not agree that “Chernobyl . . . demonstrated that what socialism produces is inherently dangerous.” Such demonstrations are found in the Concentration Camps, the Re-education Camps and the Gulags. I have a very wide Libertarian streak in my politics and any concentration of power (be it government, corporations, religious institutions, labor unions, or any other organization) makes me uneasy. Thus, the relatively small scale of Adams Atomic Engines is an inherently positive aspect in my estimation. Still, the very nature of nuclear power mandates considerable government control (if not by ownership, then by regulation). While such control is opposed to Libertarian philosophy, the technical realities and concomitant benefits of nuclear power more than compensate for the government control.

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The risks associated with oil-by-rail hit close to home…..”

    When this business of increased rail shipments of crude first started gaining speed last year, I was a bit taken aback, realizing the amount of derailments I’ve witrnessed in the Tehachapi area, particularly in the area of the infamous “Tehachapi Loop”, (which is the manner of track layout that is used to enable trains to scale the Tehachapi mountains between Bakersfield and Los Angeles).

    Letters and calls to the transportation editor of the “Bakersfield Californian” have gone unanswered. Local and statewide media seem to be completely avoiding mention of the frequency of derailments, (if they are even aware of that frequency). Tehachapi currently has about fifty trains per day passing through. That number is slated to increase with proposed siding improvements.

    I have never seen actual serious derailments mentioned in our local media, but have seen many derailments in my eleven years in this area. Recently I saw one small mention of a recent Tehachapi area derailment in the “Los Angeles Times”. The article dealt with that single derailment, and did not raise the issue of frequency of derailments.

    I wonder if there is an avenue of research through which one could obtain the records of derailments? Surely there must be a branch of the Department of Transportation that is informed, by regulation, of these derailments. I think the public should have a right to know the risks involved with increasing the volume of crude shipped by rail.

    • Rod Adams says:

      Try this one:

      https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/reports_rail.html

      BTW – Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged? This is not a political question, but a question about plot. As I dimly remember, an increasing rate of train derailments was a big indicator of the collapsing society in that 1940s vintage novel.

      One of the heroes in the book was also a guy who had independently figured out a new way to extract oil from the shale rocks in Colorado. His production was almost singlehandedly keeping the country afloat. (The situation was reminiscent of the Bakken in North Dakota, which from the point of view of an east coast guy is pretty darned close to Colorado.)

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “……..and the risk of allowing people whose only measure of effectiveness is money to run the world”

    Gee, Rod, haven’t you heard?

    Thats a “free speech” issue.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @POA

      I’m not so worried about rich people being able to spend lots of money on campaigns as I am about the notion that somehow that makes them the sure winner. The Americans I know and love are actually quite irritated by political ads and sometimes purposely vote for the guy who runs the fewest ads as long as he indicates that he has something meaningful to say.

      If it wasn’t for the fact that my wife has strongly expressed her opinion on the matter in the negative, I would consider trying to run a complete political campaign from my office on a shoestring budget without a single ad buy. It would really upset the world view of the political-media-finance establishment if I managed to win by simply setting up some good communications with people and honestly answering their questions.

      • SteveK9 says:

        That’s a good approach. You might go wrong following it blindly, but if you are deluged with ads from a candidate it’s probably positive on average to vote for his opponent.

  4. Soylent says:

    No, they can’t and won’t be on our side, nor should we want them to be. These people are anti-freedom, anti-humanity and anti-energy.

    In just that short video he opposed hydro, nuclear, gas, oil and coal, while at the same time admitting that renewables are voefully inadequate.

    He opposed efficient agriculture, proposing instead local, organic agriculture, which is an environmental disaster using more land, energy, water and more labour.

    He advocated abusing government power to not just tax carbon or similar, which is at least an honest attempt at accounting for externalities, but suggested that the government should decide which businesses may exist or not, because consumers freely able to chose would not make the correct decisions.

    When people like him gain power, they usually end up killing off about 10% of the population. Either because of criminal imcompetence and starvation like under Mao, or murder to create a “new socialist man” who will do what the party leadership thinks is correct like the USSR, or to create a blond and blue-eyed aryan super race like Nazi Germany; or a combination of all of the above like Cambodia.

    If these people are on my side, I’m siding with the fossil fuel humpers regardless of their anti-nuclear stance as the lesser of evils.

    • John T Tucker says:

      Why would you feel the need to “side” with them? This is a NP advocacy site.

      “When people like him gain power, they usually end up killing off about 10% of the population. ” Perhaps. But guaranteed with FF :

      U.S. Health Burden Caused by Particulate Pollution from Fossil-Fueled Power Plants
      Illness Mean Number of Cases:

      Asthma (hospital admissions) 3,020
      Pneumonia (hospital admissions) 4,040
      Asthma (emergency room visits) 7,160
      Cardiovascular ills (hospital admissions) 9,720
      Chronic bronchitis 18,600
      Premature deaths 30,100
      Acute bronchitis 59,000
      Asthma attacks 603,000
      Lower respiratory ills 630,000
      Upper respiratory ills 679,000
      Lost workdays 5.13 million
      Minor restricted-activity days 26.3 million
      ( http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/graphic-science-health-care-burden-of-fossil-fuels/ )

      Follow the link to the chart. Of course they fub a bit when they include but fail to mention hydro, wind/solar are not on demand base-load sources of energy and require reliable base-load back up. Meaning you certainly need to add FF casualties to their numbers in varying proportions. And their graph is not to scale.

      And no before anyone even suggests it, yet again, this has NOTHING to do with validating low dose radiation exposure fud. Dont even suggest it. There is real research associated with particulate emissions and a host of other problems with FFs.

      • Soylent says:

        “Why would you feel the need to “side” with them? This is a NP advocacy site.”

        See the topic and the OP.

        “[FF illness]”

        I’m well aware of the dangers of fossil fuels. Like I said, without energy life is cheap, short and miserable; even coal power is far better than no power.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Soylent

          Yes, burning raw coal is better than freezing or being limited to the production possible from human labor.

          However, a diet of rice is also better than starving.

          The point is that there is no reason not to strive to use our human intellect to improve on raw materials and to reduce their negative effects.

          I am a huge fan of hydrocarbons and the benefits that class of chemicals have brought and will continue to bring to mankind.

          I am not, by any means, a fan of the hydrocarbon hypers that believe that their luck or tenacity in finding and dominating the exploitation of natural reservoirs of those materials — even when they are inconveniently located under someone else’s property or homeland — entitles them to almost unlimited wealth and power.

          I do not think they have the right to prevent alternative fuels — some of which are actually quite superior — from even getting onto the field of play.

        • John T Tucker says:

          “Should anti-fossil expansion movement align with pro nuclear movement?”

          Yes and I thought about it a lot. There is a specific position suggested in there and the possibility of pro nuke people “joining” with them doesn’t seem to be part of it. The anti fossil movement is already aligned with the nuclear movement, whether they like it or not. It is the only workable solution for significantly reducing FF use.

          I don’t think this guy is the evil threat you make him out to be. He may be misguided on a few issues, quite a few, but at least he is paying attention to others for humane and logical reasons. His maps were interesting and he made a point, intentional or not, I noticed a bit back in the keystone XL arguments (and gas) – they are already shipping the stuff and will probably continue to no matter what.

          I dont think anyone suggested that we are even in a position to cancel fossil fuel use. I dont think there is a possibility of it becoming endangered even with all my, this guy’s and everyone else’s anti fossil rants.

          There is no real threat to fossil fuels.

          Are you that worried about FFs that you think you need to advocate for them? There may be a cost/price argument in there to be sure but I dont think we are anywhere close a position to worry for them yet.

          • Rod Adams says:

            It’s also important to remember that Annis is deeply grounded in the real world; he worked as an airplane mechanic for 15 years, for goodness sake.

            However, probably for good reasons, he learned to be distrustful of very large corporations and the people who climb the required ladders to put themselves in a position to run them.

            I’m pretty sure that there are not many corporate executives participating here — though there might be some lurkers. How many of you have had a least a few experiences during your working careers that helped you recognize that your interests and the corporations interests were not always well aligned? How many times did you see backslappers promoted over producers? How many times did you wonder “How the heck did he get to be in charge?”

            How many times have you heard someone justify a questionable action by saying “it’s only business?”

          • John T Tucker says:

            More than I would ever want to. Even in personal experience.

            Yea, I sounded arrogant there and could have used much better wording and made a more concise, less pandering, argument. Id probably agree with most of his conclusions anyway. I tend to believe we are where we are becasue it works and there is also a complex narrative argument in that. One that is far too complicated and important to quickly discus.

            His FF transport issues talk was exemplary. And I hate youtubes. There hasn’t been a single rebuttal here that even approaches it. I think he was trying to be complete in offering a alternative economic philosophy, but like you say the other arguments were reasoned over a lifetime of work and experience and need to be addressed in much longer and thorough format than you tube allows.

    • PissedOffAmerican says:

      “If these people are on my side, I’m siding with the fossil fuel humpers regardless of their anti-nuclear stance as the lesser of evils”

      Even more damaging than engaging in partisan pissing contests…left right left right blahblahblah, would be the purposeful effort to separate the pro-nukers from the anti-fossil fuelers.

      Uh, gee, its called “winning people over”. Quite a concept, eh?

      When does the purposeful alienation of a large bloc of people serve the interests of any policy, technology, or social reform? It is believed by nuclear energy advocates such as Rod that the science is sound, the technology is rerasonably safe, and the waste issues can be solved. So, if such assertions are based in truth, whats the problem?

      The task, seems to me, is to present the facts honestly and often, to as wide of an audience as you can successfully reach. One of the things I’ve noticed since participating here is this “us against them” mentality that can only be self-fulfilling. You need to look at politicians, the public, and the business community as potential allies, that only need to be presented with a well structured and convincing marketing campaign.

      But designating certain blocs of people as “the enemy” is a loser right from the gate. They will return the sentiment, and then you’ve lost them forever. It goes without saying you can’t win everyone in the anti FF community over, but only by trying will you win some of them over.

    • George Carty says:

      Actually, you could have made a better argument with respect to the Nazis — they wanted to depopulate Eastern Europe in order to create a Greater Germany with a low enough population density that peasant farmers could have a good standard of living (Hitler believed the high American standard of living was down to its low population density, and likened his own plans for war in the East to the American Indian Wars. He spoke of making the Volga “Germany’s Mississippi”).

      Pre-war Germany’s population density was 133 per square kilometre, while the Nazis wanted to reduce it to 80 per square kilometre. In terms of the distribution of workers between agriculture, crafts, industry and services, the Nazis wanted to turn the clock back to 1900.

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I’m not so worried about rich people being able to spend lots of money on campaigns as I am about the notion that somehow that makes them the sure winner”

    Well, that may not worry you, but it should, because the Supreme Court is seemingly taking things in that direction. Special interests do not spend millions upon millions of dollars on a losing bet. As the two sides are allowed to spend more and more, anonomously, we will reach a point where wealthy special interests are simply buying a seat at the top of the political heap.

    And in truth, I’m fudging my comment in defference to your opinion, because I happen to believe we are already there. The Supreme Court decisions of late are simply designed to protect the ability of wealthy special interest brokers to purchase political power.

    “…….. if I managed to win by simply setting up some good communications with people and honestly answering their questions”

    Isn’t that what you are attempting to do here? Don’t give up.

    One thing that has struck me about your efforts…

    You seem to go to forums that places you in the role of questioner, rather than the answerer. Why not set up your own venue of public forums and round tables, where you and your compatriots can expound on your reasoning, rather than have your questions being given short answers by hostile or agenda driven antis?

    • Rod Adams says:

      @POA

      Why not set up your own venue of public forums and round tables, where you and your compatriots can expound on your reasoning, rather than have your questions being given short answers by hostile or agenda driven antis?

      In due time. It’s on the list of things to do. Started planning one for this summer, but some personal obligations came first.

      Now looking at venues for the fall.

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “BTW – Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged?”

    There’s people that haven’t read it?

    Great Scott, Batman, we’re doomed.

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As the two sides are allowed to spend more and more, anonomously, we will reach a point where wealthy special interests are simply buying a seat at the top of the political heap”

    BTW, Rod, what happens when the same special interest can afford to buy the media presented narratives, and the alleged representatives, of BOTH sides of an issue? You don’t believe that we’re already there?

    • Wayne SW says:

      If not there, we’re getting close. For all the blather about George Soros and the Koch Brothers, in the end, I think they’re different sides of the same coin. Then you get, as we all know, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The last person to really shake things up was Gandhi, and before him maybe Jesus. And we see what they did to them.

      (Sorry, I’m feeling a bit kooky today…)

  8. John T Tucker says:

    It would probably mean setting up a entirety different nuclear advocacy structure. I don’t know if the current one would be compatible or even functional from a decidedly anti FF perspective.

    In reality I think NP is inherently anti FF. Much more so than any other alternatives. Frankly I think as is its also going to be inherently self sabotaging and substandard with respect to the FF positions of the PR movers and shakers, owners and operators that now hold the advocacy reigns. Not to mention the bizarrely sterile and unqualified anti nuke positions controlling and at the top of the regulatory environment. (NRC).

  9. JIm Baerg says:

    At 33 min he mentions a derailment at the Bonnybrook bridge in Calgary in June 2013.
    That was shortly after the flooding had damaged the bridge & the post flood inspections appear to have been inadequate.

    Whether the flood can be blamed on the extra CO2 in the air is an open question. BTW just after the flood crested I took a picture of some heavy machinery placing large concrete chunks to prevent another section of the railway getting washed away.

  10. Yokohama Michael says:

    Rod,

    I think that’s the first time in my life I’ve come across somebody who expressed a measure of agreement with socialism in one breath and then positively referenced Atlas Shrugged in the next. A remarkable achievement!

  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “A remarkable achievement!”

    And, I might add, a bit surreal.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @POA and Yokohama

      Both of you have been reading long enough to know that I am not an “out of the box” thinker because I don’t recognize boxes in the first place. It is hard to color out of the lines on a blank piece of paper.

      IMO – Rand was writing about the excesses of central control and the misuse of socialism principles to accumulate power and wealth from the people and concentrate it in the hands of manipulators rather than producers.

  12. Joris van Dorp says:

    I don’t know about nuclear in de US, but in the Netherlands and Germany, the historical support for vigorous nuclear RD&D came from the socialist. I believe the socialist theory in support of nuclear was in fact born from the desire to have energy that was cheap, clean and abundant enough to make capitalist-style monopolisation of energy sources history. There was also the realisation that cheap energy would spur production and consumption, making both work and products mroe available to the masses.

    In any case, I know that in the Netherlands, the Socialist Party has (up until Fukushima) been perhaps the strongest force in support of advanced nuclear RD&D. One of the reasons they may be wavering on nuclear today (along with the Labour Party) might be the idea that renewables energy are more labour intensive than other forms of energy, which might be good for their political base. Presumably, they will realize sooner or later that nobody benefits from increasing energy costs, least of all the poor and/or the working class.

    By the way, these ideas were/are also the reason that the Catholic Church has always supported the (safe) usage of civilian nuclear energy, AFAIK. The Church views the promise of nuclear power as a way to free-up more resources for the reduction of poverty.

    FWIW, I have no problem seeing a large role for nuclear power in a future ecosocialist utupia and I fully agree with Rod Adams that there is a great opportunity for ecosocialists and pro-nukes to join forces, disregarding political views. Pro-nukes don’t seem to have the luxury of choosing their alliances. I think we need to mobilize support from all possible quarters. For that matter, I have noticed that in The Netherlands, the Party for Freedom (A brown political party) has been the most pronuclear political party in recent years. While I disagree with their general political agenda, I support their pro-nuclear activities.

  13. Wayne SW says:

    Do the socialists place any kind of value on the “quality” of labor? Almost everyone can see that it would employ many more people if we chose to manually dig ditches rather than use backhoes and excavators. But my guess is most socialists would choose to operate the excavator rather than a shovel. But without the machines, you’d have lots more people digging ditches. Wasn’t that part of the Luddite manifesto back in England last century? I think that may have been part of Chairman Mao’s thinking when he said it was the duty of every good Chinese citizen to kill flies. Insecticide and sanitation were in short supply, but when you’ve got a few billion people, why not have them expend some labor to kill flies?

    In that context, I have never quite understood the unreliable energy advocate argument that the unreliables provide more jobs. It isn’t just jobs per se, but the quality of those jobs. Sure, you can employ thousands of people digging cow $hit for the biomass plant, whereas much more energy can be produced reliably by a few hundred people at a nuclear plant. But my guess is, given the choice, more people would choose to work at the nuclear plant if they could rather than digging cow $hit. Producing more of a basic commodity with less labor tends to help consumers in that the availability of the product is better for those at the lower end of the wage scale.

  14. mjd says:

    The guy who designed the biomass plant probably also designed a wheelbarrow… and put the wheel on his end… he also sells wheelbarrow tires.

  15. Robert Margolis says:

    Now Rod, you should know better than to trust something coming out of UC Santa Barbara ;-)

    [For those who may not be aware, UCSB had a NucE major from 1969 - 1995. There was even a nuclear reactor on campus. The good old days for us Gauchos :-)]

  16. Don Cox says:

    “The greatest socialist regime of all time produced Chernobyl. ”

    The USSR was a Marxist dictatorship, which is completely different from Socialism. They may have claimed to be socialist, but so did the German regime of 1933-45.

    Socialism is about universal suffrage, government of the people by and for the people, the right to belong to a Trade Union, free elementary education.

    Marxism and Fascism are about class wars and massacres. Completely different.

  17. David Walters says:

    Having been a socialist for most of my life (and just made the front page of the New York Times on May 1st) I’ve worked with the ecosocialists from Canada, probably the strongest eco-socialists movement exists there. I regularly read climateandcapitalism.com and they’ve actually allowed me to post a pro-nuclear, pro-socialist essay there.

    One of the conditions *politically* that we will require is that everyone…of all political persuasions, *remove* nuclear energy as a partisan issue. We would rather have everyone view nuclear the same way people support rural electrification or more health access for the population, something everyone can get on board with and, have fights over who are better at delivering it.

    David Walters

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “One of the conditions *politically* that we will require is that everyone…of all political persuasions, *remove* nuclear energy as a partisan issue”

    Good luck with that one. Its a great idea, but even a cursory examination of the comments on this blogsite should demonstrate to you how difficult that will be. The problem with blind partisanship is that it is the refuge of ignorance. And such deep ignorance is unable to recognize the wisdom of your requirement.

    • Jeff Walther says:

      Tribalism, whether it is expressed as devotion to a political party, particular religion, or just fanatic following of a sports club, is built into humanity’s genes. It was a valuable survival characteristic when mankind lived in groups no larger than a couple of hundred, wandered from place to place, and might encounter competing tribes or territorial predators along the way.

      In this day and age it is difficult to see a positive net value in tribalism, but it is still with us and something which must be dealt with. It cannot be wished away.

      But this can work for us as well. A great many of the people who consider themselves “anti-nuclear” do so because that’s the popular stance in their larger tribe. With a little persuasion, one can often change their stance on nuclear electricity generation without threatening their tribal identity and thus the conversion is (relatively) easily done.

      Unfortunately, there are also those who are fiercely devoted to the whole tribal platform, and, of course, those who consciously oppose it because they’re making a profit off the suppression. The former won’t let anti-nuclear-ism go without a change in tribal identity and the latter are a lost cause, absent some residual moral fiber.

      But in the former case, sometimes you might convince them that their tribe isn’t really against nuclear power. That’s what “Pandora’s Promise” really does. It tries to show a certain tribe, that tribal leaders are in favor of nuclear power, so it’s okay, they aren’t betraying their tribal identity if they choose to favor it as well.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @POA – Please do not make the mistake of making any sweeping judgements about nuclear energy politics based on the comments at Atomic Insights. Monthly readers – nearly 20,000. Commenters – perhaps a couple of dozen MAX. Not even a random sample.

      • poa says:

        As you’ve correctly pointed out, it ain’ t black and white. I’m comfortable with the direction my opinion about NP has taken since my arrival here. The jury is still out, but the individual politics of the commentors have nothing to do with it. It says volumes about them as individuals but nothing about NP.

        You are doing your advocation a service here Rod. You offer a convincing argument in a winning manner.

  19. Eino says:

    Good post – very interesting

  20. John T Tucker says:

    Nuclear Power Policy Refinement ( https://www.greenparty.ca/new-members/topic/288970 )

    Read the comments too. Note the hardcore threats to leave if it is even considered. I imagine some will even end up openly embracing fossil fuels and denying climate change/pollution/acidification, as I have seen elsewhere, before it is all over.

    In the end they are probably better off cutting such members lose. They were only in it for the anti nuclear sentiment anyway. Not out of real concern for the environment or people. I dont think any amount of science is going to sway them.