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Nuclear Disagreements

There is this vibe among the Swedish mainstream rightwing politicians that climate change is real, but, “isn’t gonna be a problem once we have enough nuclear plants”.

As with all optimism, I sure hope they’re right, but it’s scary because I don’t see it as that credible since it’s such a slow and expensive solution compared to faster tracks like sun and wind. The recency bias of market capitalism put us in this mess but might benefit us if it steers us away from nukes.

A lot of the same battery and motor tech that’s useful for nuclear in the distant future is useful for sun and wind now, so people should really get off the “lol, we’ll just wait for nuclear, and burn gasoline until then” crazy train and start switching to electric (and frugality) right now. Whether as a stepping stone or as the be-all, end-all.

It’s also based on a misconception. It’s easy to get the idea that “that’s a problem for those 250000 years from now, not us”, but they have it backwards. It’s gonna be a problem for everyone up until then.

That said, my biggest prio is the most imminent destructions, with a special focus on climate change, and right now, it seems to me that fossils are worse than nuclear. A lot of people from the left are like “lol, no, sun and wind is fine” and I’m like… I hope you’re right, but, I’m glad the eggheads are considering all options here!

Generation III and IV reactors have not been panning out in practice so far.

That’s something to keep in mind in two respects.

On one hand, if you find yourself in a “debate” with some dude who bought into the LFTR hype on Slashdot ten years ago, don’t get flimflammed. There are some kinks left to sort out in this vaporware. On the other hand—if some of these ideas do pan out, that might be a good thing and might cause me to soften my stance on nuclear a bit.

One thing both sides of this issue need to keep in mind is the Jevons paradox. “Nuclear is enough” and “sun/wind is enough” and “we need nuclear and sun/wind” all have it wrong since there’s no limit to the hunger of Galactus and Sinistar. In addition to greener sources of power, we (as a planet) need to figure out a way to use it efficiently and frugally, and endless-race-to-the-bottom tech like Proof of Work needs to die. It should go without saying that a mindless “put in power for money” faux Sampo like Bitcoin is the dumbesr idea of all time, but here we are.


This essay is critical of nuclear, yet I got panned by the anti-nuclear crowd for not going far enough.

I’m interested in generation IV since the pro-nuclear eggheads promise reactors that will help burn away some of the radiation from the already existing nuclear waste from past and current reactors.

One reason why nuclear (even fusion!) sucks is that the steam turbines in them aren’t particularly efficient compared to wind and solar. Even if you would’ve gotten these big, honking structures “for free”, it’s just really expensive to turn uranium to heat and then turn that heat to electricity. Thorium fares a little bit better, but then we get to…

It’s vaporware! It’s all a bunch of experiments and maybes and perhapses. The entire point I was making here was: build solar and wind. If I come across as soft on nuclear, it’s because that’s my writing and reasoning style: I’d rather phrase my position as:

dear nuclear proponents—please stop burning fossils and please build sun and wind. If nuclear gen IV does end up working out, you’ll be glad since it can benefit from all the grid improvements driven by sun and wind.

than phrase it as:

dear fellow nuclear haters. Isn’t it great that nuclear sucks lol. Gen IV is never ever gonna work in time.

That’s just not me! I’m not one to be all choir-preachy when we have people out there—including politicians—who are dismissing all of us dirty vegan hippie kooks while guzzling gas like there’s no tomorrow with vague promises that “nuclear will fix the climate crisis”. I’d rather try to reach them and convince them.


Reduce energy use (maybe time to ratio energy) and build sun and wind. That’s what we need to do this year. And stop burning fossils.

Nuclear is gonna be a while before it’s ready for production.

I am interested in the gen IV, if they can work out the many, many kinks of something like a liquid flouride thorium reactor, but the promise of a future cornucopia is no excuse for wasteful and reckless planet-burning living today. It’s the other way around: we should live a little bit tighter and more frugal today to ensure that there even is a tomorrow, and if these science fiction devices do end up panning out, we can splurge then. Not now, not in advance.

Update to the update

Because of the storage problem, it seems like we do need nuclear in conjunction with wind&sun.

My main point is that we need to cut down on energy usage and that politians should cut it out with the “nuclear will solve everything” attitude. It’s not enough and it’s not fast enough.

  1. Leave fossils in the ground
  2. Ration and save energy
  3. Build sun, wind, and probably nuclear

In that order. Not the reverse order.

Also gen IV isn’t real yet so don’t pretend that it is.