I’m going to beg forgiveness and literary license for the following extended, potentially inappropriate, and perhaps too personal metaphor.
For several weeks, I’ve been struggling with finding my “voice” in dealing with current events related to the U.S. electricity production system. As part of my healing process, I went on a several day long reading binge that included some histories, an advice book by a famous cartoonist about finding paths to success through multiple failures, and even a few mystery novels.
A reading binge can produce a hangover characterized by a stimulated mind armed with new methods of expression. It provides a variety of new filters useful for finding unusual patterns in a complex world.
Looking through my new set of lenses, the following headline from one this morning’s Google Alert emails struck me hard.
My immediate reaction was to wonder who the heck gave “Environmentalists” the authority to make the “do not resuscitate” (DNR) decision for nuclear energy in the United States.
It reminded of a recently devoured novel about a patient, cold-blooded, calculating chess player who decided that he was ready to move on to another woman. Divorce didn’t cross his mind. Instead, he created a long-term plot that would eliminate his first wife, cast himself as a deeply caring and emotional man, and allow him to walk away with a huge life insurance payment. The setup for the payoff took almost a decade, but his plan succeeded.
Even though not part of the original strategy, he took advantage of a painful illness and a claimed DNR discussion to get away with a skillfully executed murder. His success required the assistance of a number of additional characters; some were unwitting people taken in by the murder’s act, some were knowledgable co-conspirators.
It’s my belief that the U.S.’s ability to effectively use nuclear fission energy is in a situation analogous to the inconvenient wife in that story. Unlike the situation in the novel, where the patient is dead and buried when the book begins, our nuclear technology sector is still alive, but in the throes of a painful struggle with an uncertain outcome.
It’s at a point where active intervention is required to keep it alive.
Aside: Sure, I know about new nuclear and have a great deal of optimism about its potential. I can’t shake the belief that there will be no “new nuclear” in the U.S. for a very long time unless we take action now to slow the demise of old nuclear. End Aside.
There is obvious potential for occasional, potentially painful code red actions, but it is far too young and potentially vibrant to be a candidate for a DNR. An awful lot of people will miss the electricity production option if the plot to kill nuclear power promptly enough to avoid the potential of a cure succeeds.
Not only has the industry been severely battered by external forces, but it has developed habits that have damaged its ability to thrive. An identifiable group of opponents would like nothing more than to prevent the possibility of recovery. The people with harmful intent are deeply involved in the situation and looking for opportunities to kill the patient.
Some attending specialists have declared a terminal prognosis with a near term demise after a significant amount of additional pain. Others are praying for a miracle. Many are feverishly working on potential cures; I feel compelled to try to give them more time.
Unlike the defense attorney protagonist in the novel that inspired this admittedly unusual post, I’m under no ethical code of confidentiality. There’s nothing to stop me from sharing what I know about what I believe is a sustained plot to kill nuclear and reap a huge payoff.
One contribution that I can make to potential recovery of the patient is to step into the plot and identify the evil intent of the people actively – but not always openly – seeking the final demise of the patient.
Of course, it’s still going to be my word against that of a skilled, ostensibly credible, and beguiling group of assassins who have attracted a number of innocent supporters and clever co-conspirators. Convincing people to listen requires providing them with insights into motive and methods that open their minds to asking hard questions.
There is an almost unfathomable quantity of money and power riding on whether or not nuclear energy can be revived in time to approach its true potential. Any energy that is not supplied by nuclear power plants will have to be supplied by another source. All competitive suppliers, including those who market coal, gas, wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, and even distillate fuel oil have the potential to increase sales, revenues and profits if they can force nuclear plants to exit the market.
During a brief building period that lasted less than 40 years, electricity production from nuclear reactors in the U.S. increased from zero to 800 billion kilowatt-hours per year.
At $0.05 per kilowatt-hour, that electricity is worth about $40 billion per year. Just imagine how large that number could have been if the technology deployment had not been abruptly halted. Heroic resuscitation efforts are worthwhile.