Nuclear Green Charles Barton, who seems to be either a cool curmudgeon, or a rational hippy, talks about energy policy and the terrible environmental consequences of not going nuclear.Comments in response to my last Oil Drum post were not nearly as hostile as previous pro-nuclear posts drew. In no small measure this was because I made clear the distinction between LFTR technology and LWR technology. Some of the LFTR critics complained that the LFTR would create too much energy and therefore would lead to overpopulation, resource depletion and environmental problems. This is implausible. Poor people in underdeveloped economies increase their wealth by having children whose labor enriches their families. People in advanced economies increase their wealth through continued education that qualified them for better jobs. Educated women for the most part prefer holding jobs to having large families. The reproduction rates of many economically advanced countries is below population replacement levels.
Resource consumption drops in advanced economies with mature infrastructures. More emphasis is placed on convenience and portability than on material mass. I am writing on an iMac, a powerful computer not much larger or heavier than a LCD screen. The iMac also consumes less power, but possesses computing power that far exceeds that of massive super computers of a generation ago. That is in fact far more computing power than I really need. So am I going to buy a more powerful, lighter, and less power draining computer when it comes in the market? Yes! I am a citizen of an advanced civilization, a dedicated consumer of small resource consuming consumer items. Nothing would please me more that replacing my Honda Accord with a small two seater plugin hybrid, powered by a 400 HP electric motor.
All the critics of advanced, high energy economies scorn WalMart shoppers. They shop, of course, at REI. But let me ask this, how many WalMart shoppers are terrorists? If you are a terrorist aren't you going to prefer REI to WalMart? The best way to fight the spread of terrorism is to spread WalMarts to underdeveloped countries, and to provide local consumers with the electricity needed to plug in all those 42" LED TV sets. People who are watching 42" TV sets are not going out to riot, or set off truck bombs. Mark my words, the low energy route will encourage terrorism. The day everyone in the world shops at Walmart or Target and REI shuts down is the day when world peace will break out! That day is not going to come about because of windmills or photovoltaic technology, but can be produced by electricity flowing 24 hours a day, from LFTRs all over the world.