The Nuclear Option for TreeHuggers

Uncle TreeHugger is back for Earth Day. This time He Wants You to 'pull the trigger' on the "nuclear option". Media pundits and industry advocates, whether by intent or accident, are setting the stage for a comprehensive Federal energy bill by arguing that a revival of nuclear energy can save the world from Climate Change disaster. The footnote, of course, is that this would happen through government (taxpayer) support. This same nuclear industry has for decades accused its opponents of being Luddite. In a remarkable turnabout, the nuclear industry and the media echo chamber sound like a doom-saying bunch of danged TreeHuggers.Now here's what Uncle TreeHugger wants you to do. So listen up, you grinning Ex-Luddites. You're going to go pretend that you go for it hook, line, and sinker. Pump it up for weeks after Earth Day, protesting and petitioning like there's going to be no tomorrow. Photoshop some great web sites and protest signs that say: "Stop Climate Change, Build More Nucs"; or, "Nuculears Good, Climate Change Bad". Stuff like that.

You old timers are pretty good at chants. Get creative. Maybe rent a suite in New York's best hotel and call a press conference where you announce that you'll stay in bed until Congress agrees to fund more climate-fixing "nuculears". For you supporting protestors outside, best if the camera sees a mixture of dreadlocks and dark suits.

Uncle TreeHugger does not care whether you believe any of this or not. The point is purely tactical. Our objective is to get the media all fired up and focused on Climate Change, helping those in denial, propagandized into submission, or living in general ignorance to sense the risk and demand a role in finding solutions.

You know how journalism works. To be "fair and balanced" broadcast news editors will invite nuclear industry and DOE representatives to give their thoughts on the urgency of Climate Change impacts and whether nuclear generation offers a solution. Once this goes down, there are only two outcome scenarios that are possible. One: they say "no big deal, and we didn't really mean it"; and the "nuclear option" fizzles away. Two: they go for the bait, and prattle on about how much 'the world needs endless more nuclear power to save us from Climate Doom'.

Either way, TreeHuggers win. Either the one-off, top-down approach goes away or great masses of people snap to attention, heading the US to the tipping point that Europe and Japan long ago reached.

If you're queasy, Uncle TreeHugger wants you to keep these things in mind: it takes decades to design, test, prototype, license, and commercially develop any new nuclear technology. They've got water shortage issues to overcome for the cooling, and Mega-Mansion filled suburbs have crept around many of the sites they'd have their eyes on. New reactors designs are out there, but none licensed for commercial use. Nuclear generators are not competitive without direct government support, in a time of accelerating budget deficits.

Conversely, a privately capitalized wind farm can go up in about a year once the grid is upgraded to take the power and permits issued.

Solar power sales continue to grow in the 20% per year range while material costs and production cost efficiency increase steadily for the system manufacturers.

By the time the nuclear industry is ready to apply for new licenses and present the government with really big engineering invoices, we'll have had a decade to work for a more balanced energy policy at all levels of government.

Go on TreeHuggers. Reframe the debate. Hoist 'em by their doom-saying petards.

by: John Laumer