Effective government involvement essential for many innovations

The Breakthrough Institute has published a thought-provoking piece titled Reinventing Libertarianism: Jim Manzi and the New Conservative Case for Innovation It is highly recommended reading.

Here is a comment that I left on the piece, focusing on my particular interest area of clean nuclear energy development.

Interesting observations. I agree with just about everything other than the following statement:

“Nuclear energy came out of the Manhattan Project. No private company could ever have taken a weapon and made it an energy source.”

My deep research into the history of nuclear energy reveals that the order should be differently phrased.

Nuclear energy is a natural part of our physical world. God – or nature, if you prefer – put densely packed energy into the atomic nucleus and gave human discoverers the key for unlocking that energy.

Fission itself occurred in natural rock formations in a place called Oklo in Gabon, Africa. No private company could have turned this gift into a weapon capable of mass destruction, but an enormous, government-funded, world war-inspired effort against a nation led by a madman could.

Nuclear energy could have been easily harnessed for good by a small group of scientists and engineers. Without the Manhattan project and its resulting installation of deep nuclear and radiation fears, peaceful nuclear energy development could have progressed along the same lines as the taming of fire.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights

Of course, it is impossible to reverse time and to start all over again. Since governments around the world have already seized strong control over nuclear energy innovation, actions to free the atom and allow it to better serve human masters must involve effective government decision-making.

Though most governments have not been terribly successful in their approach to atomic energy — with a few notable exceptions — it is time for citizens to put pressure on their representatives to learn more about the incredible gift of massive stores of energy-dense, emission-free fuels like uranium and thorium provide to humanity.

Fuel resiliency will be part of quadrennial energy review

During his speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, February 19, Energy Secretary Moniz made a comment about fuel resiliency that is worthy of discussion, especially as it might provide another opportunity for nuclear energy advocates to make the case for the importance of continuing to operate, develop and deploy our technology. Dr. Moniz […]

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Smoking Gun research continuing in earnest

In 1993, after I had made a decision to resign my active duty commission and design a small atomic engine, a colleague warned me that “the oil companies will never let you succeed.” At the time, I was pretty naive, so I didn’t heed his warning. Over the years, I have gradually learned more about […]

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McMurdo Station – the New York of the Deep Freeze South

(Note: If you are impatient and do not want to watch cute photos of penguins, skip to 19:06 to learn more about the reasons why the PM-3A, a 1,500 kilowatt nuclear electricity generator and process heat supply system, was such a valuable contributor to sustained Antarctic research.) Nearly all of the images that are used […]

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Importance of nuclear energy from perspective of developing world

This post originally appeared as a comment in response to an Atomic Insights post titled Global corruption in natural resource industry. It discusses energy issues from the perspective of someone deeply engaged in action to improve conditions for people in the developing world. It is too important to be buried in a comment thread. By […]

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Tina Gerhardt thinks Obama Administration likes nuclear energy – Huffington Post

Tina Gerhardt has published an almost sadly amusing article on the Huffington Post titled Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Nuclear Energy? in which she tries to make the case that President Obama’s climate action plan is an undeserved endorsement of nuclear energy. Gerhardt is apparently unaware of all of the barriers that the current administration has […]

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Pandora’s Promise – bullseye against wrong target

I had an experience this weekend that reinforced my growing understanding that pronuclear advocates have been distracted by the wrong target. Instead of focusing our fire against the people — both outside and inside the industry — who have successfully driven up the cost of nuclear energy to a point at which it is unable […]

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Atomic Show #202 – Atomic Earth Day 2013

Many nuclear professionals have been attracted to the technology because of its inherently light footprint when compared to all other alternative power sources. It uses less land, less metal, less concrete, and a tiny volume of fuel when compared to producing a similar quantity of energy from other sources of reliable power, especially when the […]

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Dieter Helm – Nuclear saga cannot go on (Leaders must push to a happy ending)

Dieter Helm has generously shared an April 2013 article written for Prospect Magazine titled Stumbling towards crisis. In that article Helm points to US energy decision making as a good example that serves as a contrast to UK energy policy making. He sees chosen path in the UK as almost guaranteeing a crisis. In his […]

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Switch II Fission, the Sequel

Last night I drove to Lexington, VA where the sustainability program was hosting a screening of Switch (to a smarter future). There was a decent crowd; perhaps 100 or more students, faculty and townspeople. It is an impressive documentary, with inside views of facilities that people rarely see. It also does a good job of […]

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Nuclear energy fights climate change and energy poverty at same time

The Washington Post Wonkblog recently published an article with the following headline Can the world fight climate change and energy poverty at the same time? There is a straightforward answer to that question that involves some hard work and some paradigm busting, but at least it is a path that offers a good chance of […]

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Atomic Show #198 – Women are empowered by reliable energy

A few days ago, Steve Aplin wrote an inspiring post on Canadian Energy Issues titled The electric grid: the greatest invention of all time expanded after women won the vote. That post described how important electricity was to the effort to free women from household chores so that they could choose to pursue more interesting […]

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