During a recent vanity search through Technorati to find out who is linking to Atomic Insights and what they are saying about it, I came across a comment dated March 23, 2008 on Capitol Valley titled (crackpot) Reader Feedback! and realized that I was the “crackpot” in the subject line.
Rod Adams, of the Atomic Insights Blog, wrote us a nice letter about our piece on Dr. Patrick Moore from earlier this week. On the other hand, I am not sure that despite proclaiming himself an expert on the issue, he is fully aware of the history of Nuclear Power, and perhaps he didn’t even listen to the entire interview.
Wow. I know I am sometimes a bit cranky and I have some theories that are not necessarily mainstream, but am I really that far off base?
Please visit the Andrew over at Capitol Valley and let him know how you feel – one way or the other. I really want to know!
For your reading pleasure, here is the complete letter that I sent to Mr. Feinberg on March 21, 2008:
I thoroughly enjoyed your interview with Dr. Moore for Capitol Valley. As you mentioned in your blog post, he is a very smart man. He is also a very perceptive man and a tremendous organizer of people and ideas. I am sure glad he is on the good side of the nuclear issue now.
One of the ideas that I have been trying to share about the battle that all new technologies face dates back to the days of Ned Lud – the perhaps mythical character who led the fight against power driven weaving looms during the Industrial Revolution. The people he led became famous and have even entered our modern lexicon – “Luddite” is the term applied to people who stand in the way of progress. They are often seen in a rather complimentary way as fighting to preserve an idyllic way of life against technology driven change.
A deeper reading of the story gives a slightly different understanding of what the word really means. The specific people who followed Lud’s lead and took direct action against the people building and installing power driven looms were not disinterested bystanders who wanted to maintain a simple way of life. They were, instead, members of the guild of skilled weavers. They were elites whose skills with hand looms provided a much better living than the average person; they protected their knowledge through limited apprenticeship programs. They had a lot to lose in a world where people could purchase large quantities of inexpensive cloth made without much reliance on skilled labor.
The original Luddites were members of a well established, prosperous enterprise that organized to take action to stop or at least slow the advance of a competitive technology. They were not selflessly seeking to protect a good way of life from destruction by new technology, they were selfishly trying to protect their own privileged position in a society. They did not care that clothing was so terribly expensive before industrial production that only the wealthy could afford more than one or two outfits. They were unmoved by the fact that poor people often shivered in inadequate garments or lived in filth because they avoided washing the few outfits that they had for fear of wearing them out.
The same story plays itself out in industry after industry. Plastics got demonized by a coalition of the steel and aluminum industries who saw their container, toy, and automotive markets getting invaded by the easier to handle, lighter weight material. Apple and Commodore – in the early days of personal computers – got portrayed as suppliers of buggy, unreliable, insecure machines that could never handle real business tasks by companies like Digital, Unisys, and IBM that made mainframes that only large companies could afford.
As you pointed out, MySpace, Facebook and other interactive media efforts get bombarded by mainstream media with stories about their potentially negative impact on the young. Of course those same media properties air programs that portray hundreds of murders and other violent acts every week while trying to attract the same eyeballs that are moving to more interactive, arguably more educational uses of their time in the online world. In other words, FUD happens.
From a human security point of view, the battle against nuclear power was probably the worst example of all. The visible Luddites in that case hid behind the mantle of selfless Environmentalism, but the real power probably came from the richest enterprise the world has ever known. Though there is a lot of money in Silicon Valley, the total revenues of all technology companies combined pale when compared to Exxon-Mobil. Last year, that single company sold more than $340 BILLION worth of product and banked more than $40 BILLION in net profit. That company, however famous, only has a 2-3% share of the oil market, which itself is only about 1/3 of the total energy market.
Take a look at the people who control energy wealth in Texas, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Dubai, Iraq, and Iran (not an exhaustive list) and compare the way that they live with the way that most energy consumers in the world live. They have tremendous motives for loosely organizing to fight against the only real source of power that can help displace our collective addiction to fossil fuel. In his talk with you, Patrick Moore mentioned the forward looking master plan of Exxon-Mobil and Shell International for new energy sources in the US, but please understand that the energy business has had long term master planning in place for many decades – there are plenty of books on the subject.
Sorry for the long note. Hope you found it thought provoking.
Editor, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast
Founder, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.