Conversation with an anti society antinuclear activist
Joris, a frequent contributor to Atomic Insights discussions, provided the following story in a recent comment. I have lightly edited his comment, mostly to provide some white space with paragraph breaks.
I hope his remarks provoke thought and discussion. As Atomic Insights readers know, I firmly believe that the success – so far – of the antinuclear movement can be attributed to the economic and political power of nuclear energy’s competitors. However, I am occasionally reminded that people like the one that Joris describes below are unwitting pawns in the ongoing effort to knee-cap the most capable replacement for coal, oil, and natural gas.
Dear Rod and other experts,
I had the opportunity a few days ago of talking to a bright young anti-nuclear activist about the way Fukushima has helped the anti-nuclear cause. Pretty quickly we got into the difference between what actually happened at Fukushima, and what has been reported about it by anti-nuclear lobby groups such as the one he was involved with.
I braced myself for a debate about how serious the nuclear accident really was, health effects, long term effect, cleanup costs, etc. But I was completely taken off-guard by what he told me right off the bat. He actually *agreed* that the seriousness of the accident was greatly overstated and that the health effects were likely te turn out to be as small as to be nonexistent.
My response was, of course, to ask how he could align this with the scaremongering and misinformation being spread by the anti-nuclear parties. He then explained to me that the facts about nuclear energy, it’s safety and even it’s positive economic effects were not relevant. He said that scaremongering and misinformation where the appropriate and moral strategy of anti-nuclear groups.
He said that the ideology of sustainability and anti-nuclearism was so important for the future of humanity that facts should be of no concern. Moreover: if the invention of fake information (i.e. lies) about nuclear energy could bring closer the day of elimination of nuclear power from the earth, then that meant that producing and spreading fake information should (and indeed was) a top priority of all anti-nuclear groups.
So then I asked him why he thought that it was moral and defensible to lie to people. He said that people in general cannot and do not base their views and opinions on facts, so the value of facts versus fiction was relative. In order to bring about the disired outcome (i.e. a nuclear free world) fiction could be (and in fact was, in his opinion) a much better way to do it then facts.
Finally, I asked him why he thought nuclear power should be eliminated even after he told me that he agreed that nuclear power was good for the economy. His reply was simply that an additional goal of the antinuclear movement (as far as he was concerned) was in fact the reduction of economic activity, since according to him, the greatest cause of ecological damage was increased economic activity.
So in his mind, the fact that nuclear power was a boon for the economy was all the more reason to try to eliminate it. In closing, I told him that a reduction in economic activity would also reduce his own prospects for a high quality of life and prosperity. But he didn’t agree with me. He said that further economic expansion was of no use to him, because he believed in living a simple life.
He said that economic expansion was bad for people because it distracted from the true quality of life, which consists of community and social activities that are mostly threatened by improved prosperity, rather than improved by it.
I’m still trying to understand what to make of this exchange, but one thing occured to me. It is necessary to realise that perhaps a large part of the anti-nuclear groups share the same type of ‘power down, simple living’ ideology supported by this young (and deeply mistaken IMO) man. In that case, not only do nuclear proponents need to explain that nuclear power is safe and affordable, but also that economic expansion is a good thing that should be pursued.
Personally, I’m all for economic expansion. I’ve always thought it was very naive to think that economic expansion should be stopped. I think there is much more expansion needed, if only to help the poorest half of the world population to emerge from the most abominable poverty. And to do that, I can’t see any other way than to rely heavily on clean, intelligent, affordable and sustainable nuclear technology.
Joris’s story reminded me of my recent Atomic Show conversation with Bud Ryan, the producer of The Forgotten Bomb I think Bud and the young person with whom Joris spoke are kindred spirits.
The attitude seems incredible to me. I occasionally visit “the simple life” on backpacking trips, but the experience generally reinforces my appreciation of such creature comforts as air conditioning, hot showers, washing machines, electric ovens, computer networks, and, perhaps most importantly, refrigerators. As the Heritage Foundation video titled Powering America clearly recognizes, every one of those comforts requires energy in large, continuous, predictable and growing quantities.
If people like Bud and the misanthropic antinuclear activist with whom Joris spoke want to live the simple life free from the inventions of mankind, why do they feel empowered to impose that lifestyle on all of the rest of us? I have no sense of guilt and am getting more and more angry about the sanctimonious attitude of those for whom “powering down” and energy conservation is an end in itself.
One of my many mantras is “more power for more people.”
I would be hopelessly depressed if it was not for the fact that I understand the abundant inheritance with which nature (God, if you prefer) has endowed the people on Earth in the form of both fissionable material and the knowledge with which to put it to safe and effective use. If coal, oil and natural gas were all that we had, our future prospects would be dire in the extreme. It would not even be worth waking up if all we had was wind and solar.
I’m disappointed that Joris didn’t push his attack to total victory!
Following the example of Hannibal at Cannae, he should have carried on falling back by saying that while he accepted the case for simple living, another of the things made possible by having abundant energy is the mass production of artificial fertilizers via the Haber-Bosch process and the use of machines (rather than working animals) in farming. Without these, we could feed barely a third of the Earth’s present population.
People who want to abandon industrial society out of fear of nuclear energy are the moral equivalent of cowardly Soviets who would surrender to the Nazis. Movements of this ilk need to be smashed by any means necessary.
“Not A Step Back (to a pre-industrial society)!”
It is easy enough for idealists in rich countries to argue for the simple life with little or no power. They do not consider the effects of lack of power in African and Asian countries.
Clean water, sewage removal, refrigeration, medical equipment all need reliable electrical power. Without them, people lead miserable lives and die young.
This guy says that he enjoys living the simple life. Did Joris ask the two most important questions of all? Where did this simple life person go to the bathroom at home? Where did he get the water he drank?
There are people out there who know the difference between what people imagine the simple life to be like and what the simple life actually is. This characters sounds like he would have no problem promoting the fantasy lie of a utopian simple life society while knowing and expecting all the horrific problems to come about.
All for their own good of course…
This is some monsterous info. The issue I see before us is how to get this out to the general public? As a rather successful blogger myself, I want to think we can do some good. But, we’re too-often preaching to the choir, which is no fault of our own. That’s just the way the cookie has crumbled. I’m talking about the public-at-large. How can we get this significant info widely broadcast? Especially in Japan where the prohets of nuclear doom are having a field day.
@Les – I am not sure I have the answer, but all I can do is to keep the pressure up. I know that there are commercial journalists who read Atomic Insights and who follow my Twitter stream. A friend of mine who spent twenty years as a news producer at one of the big three networks (before there were four) told me that they often used to pick up stories from local markets. She also told me that the web, particularly the well produced blogs, are becoming another early warning source of brewing stories.
Eventually, the truth will win as long as we keep repeating it as often as we can. It is a slow process, but I guess I have been groomed for patience by my personal and professional experiences.
There is somewhat of a silver lining to this story. It is very telling that the antinuclear side knows that it must lie to maintain support. In the past the majority did believe what they were saying about nuclear energy; they may have been dead wrong, but it was from ignorance, not subterfuge. This means that we are getting the message out, and it is being believed.
This is no longer a movement in simple opposition to nuclear, and it cannot continue to beat that drum by itself. They must start trying to sell the rest of their agenda and that is where they will fall. The public will not support the sort of deindustrialized, anti-technology vision they have, and the credibility of those pushing it will vanish.
As I already mentioned, I think the best way to destroy the “deindustrialized, anti-technology vision” is to demonstrate that it is incompatible with the Earth’s present human population level.
I believe this comes down to a sincere but misguided valuation of natural complexity as superior to artificial complexity. These two forms of complexity are seen to be in competition, and sometimes they are. But using nuclear power it is possible to maximise the complexity level for both natural and artificial systems. It’s a matter of how to determine what to value. I contend that ALL organised complexity is valuable, and the field we call ethics is basically a decision procedure to assess what must be done to foster our own little patch of organised complexity, and also to look further afield to assign relative worth to systems displaying organised complexity in general. These deep green anti-human environmentalists have given all their concern to the organised complexity of natural systems to the extent that they are led to disdain artificial organised complexity.
There. That should be clear enough…
I’m afraid that anti-technology, anti-science feeling are somewhat less excusable than mere misguided valuation of there relative importance. I believe that at the root of these beliefs is a hatred of those perceived as being superior. It is covert intellectual class warfare that is being prosecuted by those that feel that they have been marginalized by living in a culture dependent on things and process they do not understand. Disempowered by their own ignorance, they are lashing out, and have constructed a fantasy of a low-tech world where they are again equal.
I witnessed the beginnings when I was young. In the post War/Cold War era, science and technology took over from the humanities the leading role at all levels of society. In the schools, the fight was obvious, with older teachers openly hostile to the trend, vigorously fighting changes like the dropping of Latin and Greek from the high school syllabus, and the inclusion of general science at the lower levels as mandatory in their stead. In the classroom there were regular attempts by those teachers that felt threatened to denigrate the sciences as a crass pursuit not worthy of real intellectuals. Method was dismissed as a mechanistic and shallow process that was not applicable to the really important philosophical questions, and was generally flawed due to its inability to establish unsalable truths.
Naturally most of this fell on deaf ears among those of us that knew we were headed toward careers in science and tech, but it certainly hit a note with those that could never hope to, due largely to their inability to do math. These people went on to yearn for a glorious past minds when artists and writers were the leading lights in Western civilization and ‘natural philosophy’ was the realm of dilettantes, and technology that of deluded ‘inventors’ working in well deserved obscurity. They began to talk of this time as a Golden Age and dismissed all real progress as dross and dystopian.
One group that bought into this view were disaffected middle and working class youth who began to realize that they were going to have to work for a living, and having found that the jobs available to the under educated were not to their taste, grasped on to the sour-grapes idea that prosperity was a hollow goal and imagined an idyllic life in a commune letting your food grow unattended while they amused themselves smoking dope and screwing like rabbits.
When both of these viewpoints were shown up for the simplistic, unobtainable farce that they were, and both the Learyian “Turn on, tune in, drop out” counterculture nonsense was exposed as intellectually bankrupt and living at one with Nature was far less romantic than Thoreau made it out to be, rather than see the error in their thinking, they turned on Science and Technology holding them to blame. What we see now are the inheritors of these ideas, reduced to attacking their perceived foe with lies. Not being able to make their ideas work, or attract the masses, they are now determined to lead an uprising against progress in the hope that with modern amenities gone, their dreams can be realized, naturally with themselves in the role of leaders.
There movement survives because of the weariness many feel with the struggle to maintain themselves. The idea of a simple life, free of traffic jams and the sudden appearance of new software that needs to be learned at their jobs and the general irritants of life has some appeal. As well there is the residual belief in the moral value of doing with less that I described above.
This is not a fight about nuclear energy. Nuclear isn’t anything special to these types; it is only a target because it is seen as vulnerable and is a symbol of what they hate the most: something they will find themselves dependent on that they do not understand, and cannot control. This is at the root of this behavior.
I suspect weariness with constant change is also a reason for the rise in religious fundamentalism (in all religions) in the past few decades.
As for traffic jams — could it be argued that our suburban, car-oriented society is itself a product of the way in which 19th- and early 20th-century nationalists romanticized pre-industrial rural life?
You’re right on, DV8. That said, “we” are partially to blame. “We”, as those who do actually understand science and technology, have too often been too prideful of our ability to understand and have made it seem overly difficult to understand some things.
Far too many people out there think that anything nuclear is super complicated and difficult to understand. Their impression is that it is too difficult for them to grasp.
In reality, though, fission is simple. A neutron strikes a big nucleus, it splits, more neutrons hit other nuclei. That is basically IT. When I have kids someday, I will probably teach them about fission before they even know how to read, and I expect they’ll be able to grasp the simple 13 word description I just gave.
I myself chose mechanical engineering rather than nuclear (foregoing $2,000/yr in additional scholarship money) in large part because of nuclear seeming so daunting and difficult. I don’t regret becoming a mechanical engineer due to the diversity of work that degree could allow me to do, but that does provide an example of what you’re saying, DV8, even from someone with a decent understanding of physics and technology.
I suggest you teach your kids simple mechanics first. They can see and experience it in their everyday lives. That makes it easier to reason about. For example I’ve been pointing out the effects of friction to my 4 year old daughter her entire life. “Why does the swing you’re on slow down? Air friction. Feel the wind on your face? Mechanical friction. Hear the squeaky hinge?”
I will do that too, along with a decent dose of projectile motion at an early age from playing catch.
I came across Jon Elster’s “Sour Grapes” when I was studying ecological values. His book was referenced as being a seminal guide for the future. I marked it on my reading list but have not had time to get to it. I see now why it is featured so prominently in the ecological movement.
You are quite right, nuclear isn’t anything special, other than perhaps man’s foray into the realm of the Gods. We have the power to destroy entire countries in minutes, or power the world for millennia, that kind of power is a lighting rod for a movement that refuses to understand how the world works. It is contrary to the type of anemic future that people like Tom Regan advocate.
I am surprised that they would even want things like an iPad or smart phone. Yet we can’t keep them on the shelves… I guess those technologies do not pose a “social danger”.
In my opinion, those who advocate for “powering down” are just one or two short ideological steps from justifying genocide. If they are willing to lie about the effects of nuclear accidents or the benefits of nuclear power, then they probably have no problem telling people that living this energy reduced lifestyle is better for them. They will probably start by joining forces with people who are trying to tell us that we really don’t need vacines.
The expression “power down” means different things to different people. For myself,a supporter of nuclear energy but also an environmentalist,it means escaping from the mentality of Growth At Any Cost.It should be obvious that infinite growth is not possible in a finite system. If that is attempted,and it is,then there will be catastrophic results for spaceship Earth and all its passengers,not just human kind.
I see 4 main problems for us at present –
Energy – nuclear power has a large part to play in solving this problem
Population – There is already a massive population overshoot.It is critical that effective measures are taken to address this otherwise the natural control mechanisms will do it for us – disease,famine,war.
Cultural mindset – This mainly pertains to the prevalent population/growth cognitive dissonance but it also applies to the conventional wisdom re nuclear.
Environmental destruction – A to Z – an account would fill volumes.
I disagree that over population is the cause, or that a pro-growth mentality is the cause of environmental problems. This world is very able to sustain and thrive with a high human population. Resources are only as limited as the creative ability of the human mind. Wealth is created by creativity. I could name 10 ways that could sustainably feed the world in the context of nearly unlimited energy. Each of them would be compatible with vast areas of land being – as they are today – parks.
Environmental problems typically come in places where the population is poor, governments are oppressive and laws are constantly changing. Environmental problems stem from ignorance or selfishness. The first is cured by study, the second by grace.
I lived through the 1970’s when we focused on clean air and water. And in a remarkably short time, amazing improvements were made. But in the 1980’s I wondered to myself how long it would take politicians to tax us to breath. When I heard that CO2 had been declared a pollutant – I could see they had it figured out. When I began to read Rod and follow various nuclear bloggers, I understood that we could have our energy and our population and our constant growth.
The doctrine of over-population is a seductive one but one which has been proven wrong over and over. Resources are NOT limited. We have creative minds.
David how can overpopulation NOT be a problem? Do you really love people so much you want that many of us? Are you one of the Duggars without the J name?
I am for nuclear power as means of eventually replacing coal. But I also think all of us can do our part to use energy wisely, though I think all the consumer steps (light bulbs, efficient appliances) have already been taken. As they have found in Japan unfortunately, they can live without some of the excess lighting and advertising in Tokyo. Eventually, they will need more power but hopefully, now they realize what they really do need.
I don’t understand the need for the guys here to want to have kids to add to our energy and environment problems. Is that necessary?
These are concusionary statements with no citation to facts, much less authority.
Clearly if there were fewer humans, or we simply stopped expansion of the population, that would go a long ways towards solving our energy problems, AND our “environmental” problems. As was pointed out, this issue will have to be addressed at some point.
Yes, I really love people so much I would like even more of them. Each of them is a precious gift of God with an absolutely unique set of gifts and talents that enrich us all.
My contention is that with creativity and unlimited energy there is no such thing as over population. You can look at simple population densities in major cities and see that an urban environment is able to support extremely high densities. These densities are supported by energy. Manila Philippines has a population density of 111,576 / sq mile. I have been in Manila and lived for some time near there. The pollution, traffic and basic living conditions have constantly improved over the years. Thus human creativity has improved the situation. Does it need more improvement? Yes, but the fact of the matter is that a very large number of people can live in a very small space. The ability to do that is a function of culture, creativity and power.
Let’s look at a few numbers and suppose that 1/2 the population density of Manila was used for the whole human population. With that the whole of humanity could live in an area about the size of Georgia. To feed that population we could build 4 level elevated farms and use irrigated systems with artificial light to grow crops continuously. I guess that something 1/4 to 1/6 of currently used ag land area would be needed to grow the crops. They could be grown in what is currently waste land such as in the Sahara desert. This would leave the rest of the earth for wildlife, parks, and wonderful beautiful places to visit.
So, my conclusion – that with creativity and energy there is NO Such Thing as over population.
Have you ever visited Singapore?
” Clearly if there were fewer humans, or we simply stopped expansion of the population, that would go a long ways towards solving our energy problems, AND our “environmental” problems. As was pointed out, this issue will have to be addressed at some point.”
Someone has pointed out that these are “These are concusionary statements with no citation to facts, much less authority.”
I don’t see anything clear about fewer humans solving our energy problems and environmental problems. We have been given the gift of unlimited energy in the form of Uranium and Thorium. We have been given the gift of creativity.
Yes, this – not global warming – is the real dividing line. It is this attitude – behind the use of science in the global warming debate – that makes people cry foul.
Are people intrinsically valuable? For the past few years the environmental movement has denigrated humanity and in a strange twist seem to think that they are above the consequences of their actions. They think that their ability to live in “simplicity” is NOT fostered by the very freedoms, economy, and energy they personally despise. Pol Pot would be proud. They are badly mistaken – both about their own intrinsic worth and about their ability to live “simply” in freedom without the supporting infrastructure. A lie will never end well.
Indeed, people living in (perhaps relative) comfort by farming their own land are also known as “kulaks”. National power though often rests more on the industrial products of the cities, which is why Stalin crushed the kulaks in order to better feed the cities.
The lack of honesty in the anti-nuclear movement is apparent. Many “rank and file” members will believe the lies but members like the chap in this story will continue to tell whatever lie they can get away with. Since “everybody knows” that nuclear power is evil, they consider it justified. I recently had an on-line exchange with an anti-nuke who claimed that Chernobyl has killed a million people and the Fukushima is “many” orders of magnitude worse.
A little math shut him up. If Chernobyl has killed 1 million people in 26 years and Fukushima is, let’s say 3 orders of magnitude worse, then Fukushima will kill 1 billion people by 2037. However, I am quite confident that this annoying bit of math will not stop him from repeating the same lies to someone else.
I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda. I lived in a rural village, in the relatively prosperous southern part of the country. I have experienced, first hand, the type of lifestyle he proposes.
He has no idea what he is talking about. (Not that that is likely to surprise anyone here.) There is a [i]reason[/i] so many people from Africa want to move to Europe. There is a [i]reason[/i] there are more Ethiopian doctors on the US east coast than there are in Ethiopia. A “simple” life in the US bears absolutely no resemblance to a simple life in a non-industrial society.
While this video is addressed to Americans, it does show the malaise that that is infecting all of Western culture. It is very apropos to this discussion.
We Stopped Dreaming
That video tells a massive part of the problem we face, even though it has no direct mention of nuclear power or energy in general.
Also, the video reminds me of the title of an article from some months back that I had meant to read but don’t think I ever did. Something in the title mentioned “stealing my Jetsons future”, I think.
You mean this?
The views the anti-nuke guy professes are basically the left’s version of libertarianism. It’s the naive view that oppressive system X (in this case capitalism, in libertarianism’s case government) can be reduced or eliminated so that quality of life can flourish. Both sides hit the brick wall of reality rather quickly, but idealism prevents adherents from seeing the truth: that the very thing they despise is what enables them to live a sheltered existence. For environmentalists it’s that the capitalistic system and scientific advancement have created lives where copious leisure time is possible, and where we can enjoy casual healthy lives without constantly toiling to survive. For libertarians it’s that government creates a stable, well regulated environment where private property can exist, and thereby a capitalist system can exist, and stripping away the regulation will eventually destroy capitalism itself. It’s actually ironic that both sides are warring against each other because they essentially have the same goal: the destruction of human society.
This is a topic of some confusion. The environmental left wants to create a world of “social good” where we value things that have intrinsic value that are dictated through “science”. In their mind there are no property rights there is only public property that everyone has a “right” to access and is why we must make sacrifice for the social good.
This is in direct contradiction to methodological individualism, which serves as the cornerstone of individual liberty which is what libertarians seek to preserve. It also happens that the US constitution is written to preserve this ideal of liberty. Libertarian’s do not seek to eliminate government, far from it. What is advocated is the reduction of the ability of government to intrude into our lives. That an individual has a right to do with their property as they see fit so long that it does not interfere with another’s rights. From a libertarian perspective regulation is the proper means to prevent theft of welfare. Pollution is such a theft.
Libertarians are not anarchists which is what you described above. Anarchists are fundamentally collectivists who want to remove the restrictions on their ability to take be deconstructing the society that has evolved to protect individual property rights. Socialists such as those of the environmental left want to ensile greater governmental control that have further intrusion into individual property rights and seek abolishment of individual property all together. Their goal is to create a human society where they are in control. Libertarians seek to preserve individual property rights and to establish and maintain a government that acts to protect individual property.
The idea of a government of the people for the people and by the people is still new. Its implementation in the United States has been far from perfect but is perhaps the most honest attempt to date.
Let’s take a case study on regulation. In the Netherlands, there was a problem with runoff from animal feedlots which created a significant burden of downstream users due to the eutrophication of the watershed. The government responded by dictating the maximal density of animals that can be placed on the land to that which the land can “naturally” absorb. This was heralded as a major victory and as an example of what regulation should look like. This approach ignores individual property rights. A libertarian approach to this problem would be to identify the maximal runoff concentration of nutrients that the entire watershed could handle. Then establish a market where users could purchase the allotment of runoff permits, once the runoff permits were gone they would have to do something different or not produce. A possible solution that could have evolved would be the use of anaerobic digesters to process the manure, produce energy and a salable product of compost to the feed producers. The most efficient combination of solutions would have evolved under a set of regulations that respected individual property rights.
In theory, yes, libertarians want to maintain a government that can ensure property rights, but all I ever hear from them is a desire to eliminate government at all levels, remove all taxes, etc. And even if they do wish to keep some form of government they ignore the fact that without some form of governmental authority extra governmental forces always try to take over. The only answer libertarians have to this is that the magical market will prevent anyone from becoming powerful enough to impinge on individual liberties. It’s bunk, and as fluffy as the environmentalist’s belief that life will be idyllic without energy.
And in your example the government would still have to manage and regulate the market. I understand the desire to create systems that dynamically generate solutions. One of my main research interests is evolutionary computation, where bottom up solution creation and emergent behavior are central features. Another “feature” is that they fail catastrophically quite easily. 🙂
I would be careful with the term Libertarian when describing an ideology. In the overly polarized political environment we seemed to have slipped into in the West, it has become a popular term for what used to be called Centreism.
Centreism is the political philosophy of avoiding the extremes of right and left by taking a moderate position. True Libertarianism is a child of Minarchism (itself a form of watered down Anarchism.) It has been misinterpreted (particularly in North America) as being commonly associated with those who have conservative positions on economic issues and liberal positions on social issues, which is in fact, Centreism.
Yes in the case study it requires government enforcement of the laws and regulations against those who seek to break them. It requires a government with enough capital to be able to maintain its existence (governments do this by enforcing their laws). If the government does not have enough capital then it does not have the means to protect individual property and is only a paper tiger. Tigers need teeth to be effective.
I fail to see a contradiction in respecting individual property rights and preventing market failures. They are one in the same especially once you look at the economic theory, where market failures are patent theft. When someone is branded as a libertarian I take care to read what they say vice what is said about them. Most, not all advocate a limited form of government that has enough money to do what it is that government is supposed to do as outlined in the constitution. Bit of history the constitution was rewritten because the articles of confederation as Washington said had “no money”.
Over regulation and under-regulation both constitute market failures. Current policy relies on the precautionary principle where unless proven 100% good then it is bad, where what we know doesn’t matter, only what we don’t. Thus the precautionary principle is an impossible policy as it claims or even relies on future omnipotence. It will take some going through and careful thought to adjust our regulations and policy to remove the market failures that exist and will take perhaps a century of concerted effort to do so as it took about as long to implement. I hope that future politicians will be agile enough to recognize NGO impairment of individual rights. Nothing is perfect, nor will it ever be. I think what you are seeing is the reaction to decades of social engineering ind progressive policy. The pendulum swing will probably go a hair too far the other way but will find its due course.
DV8, I do not see how individuals such as John Locke, David Hume, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Ludwig von Mises, and F. A. Hayek are decedents of an anarchist line of thought. This is something I have just started reading and becoming interested in so I am not terribly well read. As I understand it, anarchism is fundamentally a collectivist approach that seeks the abandonment of property rights and all social structure. The people I mentioned brought something fundamentally different, the ideal of individual rights and of property rights, which cannot exist in an anarchy as they require social structure.
I found this online haven’t had took much time to fully read, has a strong libertarian bent (which means there is probably a blind spot somewhere):
If you have something else that provides another perspective I’m interested in hearing it, its hard to understand an elephant just by touching its trunk.
Capital ‘A’ Anarchism, as a political movement (as opposed to a philosophy) is a product of the 19th century. The Anarchist Joseph Déjacque was the first person to describe himself as “libertarian”, which is link between them.
However capital ‘L’ Libertarianism internationally, has a very broad ideological base from Left-libertarianism of the Steiner-Vallentyne school, to the Right-libertarianism of Albert Jay Nock, and a huge number of variations between. That is why I caution those that use the term to be careful that they make their definition clear. Libertarianism to a German is not the same thing as it is to an American.
Thank you very much.
I think people who promote “a simpler life” without abundant, reliable electricity have absolutely no concept of what it would be like to live in the world they promote.
One simple convenience that we take for granted, refrigeration, relies entirely on a steady stream of reliable electricity. Refrigeration enables long distance transportation of perishable foods, and relatively long term storage of food in the home. Without refrigeration most of the people in our cities would be without food within 3 to 5 days. Without adequate refrigeration within 30 days everyone who relies on insulin would be in big trouble.
Refrigeration is not the only vital process that depends on reliable electricity. Communications, commerce, air conditioning, banking, etc all require reliable electricity.
How would that young activist feel if his iPhone, twitter, or Facebook failed for 24 hours or more? Perhaps they need a little taste of an extended power outage to create a sense of reality to counter their misdirected idealism.
John you are completely right about refrigeration, but I find that I live without an Iphone (have a simple phone) twitter, and could live without Fakebook just fine.
I don’t know why the guys here advocate growth all the time. Do we want that many people? Why do we even need some things that consume power, for example a Chuck E. Cheese?
Bob’s obsession with Chuck E. Cheese is now bordering on the pathological.
Bob – Perhaps your problem is that you fail to understand that other people have friends. They actually like people and enjoy communicating with them, which is probably why gadgets that help people stay connected are so popular these days.
Have you ever even been inside one? They’re horrible.
Go on a Saturday with a video camera and come away with the best advertisement for the use of birth control you’ll ever see.
You seem to be creating a bit of a straw man. I don’t see anyone here advocating pumping out kids at ridiculous rates.
The prevailing idea here is that a world where people’s children can have the hope of living in a future world without the restraints of excessive energy supply issues is preferable to a massively resource constrained future.
No one on this forum is directly advocating pumping out kids, but it is a central theme of the religious right. (Opposition to contraception, most forms of family planning, etc.)
Personally I’m not against growth and think that whatever growth we have can be handled by proper technological innovation. By proper I mean those that maximize efficiency AND productivity, while minimizing negative side effects. That’s why I advocate LFTR, as it’s really the only energy generating solution that fits the bill. The same ethos that makes LFTR great should be adopted elsewhere.
All the “simple life” lovers I know (and we have lots of them in France) never mind being in first world & energy gobling hospitals when they’re ill or sending their children to elite schools (what the hell for, you may ask).
First, rough starting off on my pro-nuclear YouTube video; didn’t believe it was so tough finding online footage of people on the street saying “It’s Too Dangerous!” I hope this isn’t going to require a street field trip!.
The main problem we have fighting anti-nuclear ignorance and fear and biases is media exposure, pure and simple. What is it that makes the MSM come running to Arnie like some chief authority so except that they share the same anti-nuclear goals? Given the challenge, Enenews Twitter slyly avoids having any debate with Rod exposing their lies and shallowness to their followers by citing him as “not being credible” and “no credentials”. All these claims EneNews and Arnie makes are just extraordinary to behold and it startles me how his followers just blindly believe his “evidence” and shadow-facts like lemmings! Is science education THAT bad???
I am an environmentalist. I work in my field promoting conservation (of energy and other natural resources), so it would perhaps be accurate to describe me as a rabid environmentalist. It is truly amazing to see and hear the responses of otherwise rational friends when you discuss the place of nuclear power generation in the energy marketplace. There are no energy sources without the potential for problems. Wind farms decimate migrating bat populations in North America; PV cells by definition do not generate electricity when the sun is down (also many built in China by workers in terrible conditions before being shipped via fossil fuels to the US). Even if we followed the utopian fantasy of moving to solar power generation, we will still need power plants to stabilize the grid when power is not being generated. Batteries, if they could be created with enough capacity to be useful, would still involve dangerous and environmentally damaging mining. So should we have nuclear power? Yes. Should we reduce our energy consumption? Yes. This does not have to be an either or and the goal of reducing consumption does not me a return to the pre-industrial era for most environmentalists I know. Someone mentioned it earlier, but growth for the sake of growth is a goal with no end and imho that way lies madness. How about growth for better living standards or growth for increased efficiency? When those goals shift, at least it means we are all enjoying our ever more crowded existence and living happy lives. Where I live and work, it seems to me that nuclear power suffers from the combination of the fear of the unknown/fear of science and distrust of government and corporations. I can’t blame people for the distrust, but it is a bit crazy to be more worried about a nuclear plant than you are about smoking cigarettes or eating fried food. Sigh.
Diana, I think we should consider what is meant when we use the term ‘growth.’ In the context that it is used by those that would see the world go back to a pure agrarian, low population past, the word growth seems to be synonymous with excessive materialism. They equate increased wealth with increased consumption by the few to the detriment of the many, and at the cost of ‘using up’ the planet.
When we, in the pronuclear community think of growth, we see it as raising the standard of living for everyone all over the world. We see cheap, available energy as a solution to the issues of overpopulation, and stripping limited resources, because with abundant energy no one needs to have many children to survive, and great advances in material science will be economically within reach.
Thus growth need not be something to avoid, but rather to embrace..
The fact that some right-wing plutocrats claim to be motivated by a desire for economic growth (one such group is even called the “Club for Growth”) when their promoted policies would actually mainly benefit wealthy rent-seekers at the expense of the masses, also helps to give economic growth a bad name.
We see cheap, available energy as a solution to the issues of overpopulation, and stripping limited resources, because with abundant energy no one needs to have many children to survive, and great advances in material science will be economically within reach.
You are right. We also do not need any more kids like the guys on this board seem to have the need to. People should be encouraged to have smaller families or no kids at all. Then we can start to replace coal plants. Diana, I hope you are concerned about the environment to not have kids and encourge your students to consider a life without children – it can be fulfulling!
Not having kids is surely a good way to evade any responsibility and stay an anti progress protester your entire life. If that’s what you want.
Go extinct, you have my blessing.
I don’t preach a particular message to my students, instead I try to give them the tools to make informed decisions for themselves. Every choice has a consequence and we must all take individual responsibility for our actions. Kids are ecologically expensive, true. However, replacement rate reproduction (2.1 or less kids in the US) coupled with conservation and minimizing waste generation is not a bad choice if you do want to have children. You need to have balance in your approach to these questions otherwise you repel the people you are trying to reach.
Oh and it is, by definition, impossible for an individual to go extinct. We just die, with or without children.
For those concerned about overpopulation, it was a huge concern after the 1968 release of Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb.” In it, Ehrlich made outlandish predicitions of mass starvation and disease by the year 2000, stating that “The battle to feed humanity is over.” Ehrlich was and is a Malthusian who said that giving unlimited energy to the people was like “giving a machine gun to a child” or something to that effect.
He and all of his ilk have no faith in the creativity and resourcefulness of humanity. Funny, as population and energy use has increased and countries have developed, birth rates have gone down and life expectancy has gone up. As we use more and more energy, we find more and more along with the means to extract it.
BTW, it’s interesting to note that Ehrlich has now jumped on the climate change bandwagon and one of his associates is Obama’s science czar John Holdren.
That anti-nuclear activist sounds exactly like every German Öko (our term for treehuggers, greens etc.) I ever came across. It’s no use arguing with them using numbers, they just continue their moral crusade. Ask them how many milliSievert lead to increased cancer incidence. THEY DON’T KNOW AND THEY DON’T CARE. They have a goal and they want to achieve that goal and facts are just obstacles for them.
They have decided to fill their empty lives with this senseless pursuit; it is their religion (as they are all atheists; all that I know).
Rather than to religion (at least the Abrahamic religions, which tend towards natalism) I am more apt to compare anti-nuclear fanaticism to the fervent support for the Nazis shown by interwar Germany’s peasant farmers and traditional craftsmen. These sections of German society were about to be made obsolete by the rise of global capitalism and as a result warmed to the Nazis’ Lebensraum plans.
One can note that for the entire history of the German Reich 1870-1945, German farmers were solidly opposed to free trade because they couldn’t compete with the much larger farms of the United States and Canada. It could also reasonably be argued that those Germans who emigrated to the United States in the 19th century were to a significant degree seeking Lebensraum on an individual basis.
Both pro-Nazi peasants and craftsmen on the one hand, and today’s eco-extremists on the other hand, yearn for a simple way of life, made possible again by a less heavily-populated planet.
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