Ted Rockwell took some time away from his nascent blogging efforts at Learning About Energy to produce a useful reference that he calls Nuclear Energy Facts 10-09. He has described the effort as a “draft working report that attempts to collect and document the scientific and engineering facts, and the basic rationale, that support the generation and use of nuclear power.” Here is his charge to his fellow scientists and engineers:
“I recognize that issues like energy policy are often set with little apparent regard for science. But to conclude there is nothing scientists can do to affect policy is an excuse for laziness. To get clear answers requires careful definition of the questions, and strict adherence to the facts, and the use of formal reasoning. It is the duty and the privilege of scientists and engineers to do this.
For example, when I assured a friend that a shipping cask of used nuclear fuel could not “go off like a bomb,” she replied, “That’s your opinion.” We have to present the basis for convincing policy makers and opinion makers that such facts are not matters of opinion. We all have a right to our own opinions, but not our own facts.
This is not to claim that scientific facts are all that matter here. But if scientists make the facts clear, that will make it easier for the public and the policy makers to hold advocates for other factors—political, fiscal, legal, sociological—to justify the use of those factors on their own merits, and not to imply that somehow, the mysterious and complex technical situation requires what they are trying to sell.
I encourage your participation in making this into a useful tool. I invite your comments, suggested revisions and additions, and anything else that will facilitate better decision making in the important field of energy, and its influence on our ecology, economy, security and standard of living.”
Ted has given me permission to distribute his document and to help him collect feedback that can be used to improve its utility. Any comments that you make will be welcome and shared with the report’s author. I have added a link to the report in the right hand column under the heading of “Reference Material” so you can find it whenever you need it for use in a discussion or comment thread.