Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: nuclear power

Environmental Humanism: Hope

The final chapter of Apocalypse Never by Michael Shellenberger gave me more hope of humanity and inspiration to help than all the environmental anger, hate, bawling, and disruption I have seen in my life combined. I’m convinced that showing the world how we have advanced, focusing on the positives, and providing ideas and inspiration is how we move forward on this planet together.

Humans are amazing creatures. We know we will die and use our intense imaginative abilities to forestall that event as long as possible. We create elaborate story systems to keep the fear of annihilation at bay. We physically and naturally need social groups and systems to survive and create nuanced political and religious reasons for it.

What if instead we faced reality? Not likely, I know. There’s no power structure to that. Simply wearing a “memento mori” symbol, taking a step back, allowing others to find their own way, living your life and loving the people around you…nah…too easy.

What does this book have to do with all that existential stuff? I had come to understand by observation that enlightenment was the reason we have become so ready to throw ourselves into the religion of environmentalism and politics. And this book showed me how and why in the last chapters.

The best part is that it isn’t a book of “Look what the bad guys are doing!” or “These other people are so stupid!” It’s a book filled with reason and compassion for others. Of course, some people are doing this or that, they are trying to survive and thrive just like we are. How can we do this together and better?

environmental humanism
“Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts”

It’s hopeful and encouraging. And I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The closing of the book suggests a look at “environmental humanism” instead of “apocalyptic environmentalism,” and I whole heartily agree. Statistically, things are getting better. We are affecting change because we are becoming more and more wealthy, productive, and efficient. Humanity is evolving.

“The stories we tell matter. The picture promoted by apocalyptic environmentalists is inaccurate and dehumanizing. Humans are not unthinkingly destroying nature. Climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, and species extinction are not, fundamentally, consequences of greed and hubris but rather side effects of economic development motivated by a humanistic desire to improve people’s lives.”

Apocalypse never by michael shellenberger

Which do you think would make someone want to change the way they do things, take risks to create new systems, and grow: “humans suck and should be eliminated,”” or humans do great things and have the potential to do so much more?”

This book was so much, and I enjoyed every page, even the ones that make me look at my husband and say, “You will not believe this.” It’s enlightening, positive, and joyful at the end. If you are tired of the doom and gloom, the “we’re all going to die, the sky is falling” rhetoric of the environmentalists, but you still believe we could be doing something better, read this book. You won’t regret it.

Looking for a place to start, I found this site to be very helpful, Neutron Bytes – List of Pro-Nuclear Groups

Nuclear Power & Vacations

This morning I got to the chapter of Apocalypse Never by Michael Shellenberger on nuclear power and have been chasing those ideas around in my head for over an hour. That’s a long time to stay in one place for my brain.

nuclear power

Growing up, the only ideas I have about nuclear are “cold war,” The Simpson’s, and seeing San Onofre on our frequent drives to San Diego. Speaking of that, I looked up San Onofre to see if it was still operational. My sons surf there often and recently sent me a picture of a pathway sign that read “Beach Access” and “Nuclear Power Plant.” They laughed, “We could use this for the opening scene to a nuclear holocaust movie!”

San Onofre isn’t operational now. They shut it down in 2013. All I know is what is written in a Wikipedia article, which is usually a good start.

“The plant was shut down in 2013 after replacement steam generators failed; it is currently in the process of decommissioning. The 2.2 GW of electricity supply lost when the plant shut down was replaced with 1.8 GW of new natural-gas fired power plants and 250 MW of energy storage projects.”

Skeptical and grumpy as I am about humans at the moment, I grumbled to myself, “Probably a great idea, but we can’t seem to get people to consistently flip burgers, put stickers on books, or reliably deliver mail to my house right now. I don’t trust us to do anything right.”

Yeah, I know, that’s a terrible attitude. I’m not saying nuclear engineers are stupid. I’m saying with the way things are, inflation, politics, and all…it’s making it very hard for anyone to do a good job at anything. And I know a few engineers that would agree with me.

I didn’t come here to grumble though. I’ve heard some great things about nuclear power over the years and I’ve been curious as to why we aren’t pursuing it as an answer to the world’s energy and environmental problems. Fear and superstition seem to be the biggest problem, along with power and money, after my extensive research. That’s sarcasm.

Maybe I should say those are the problems I’m seeing right now, knee-jerk and emotional reactions to the information I am currently being presented with. I wouldn’t make any major decisions based on it and I certainly wouldn’t join any campaign to make a law or regulation, but it has piqued my curiosity and I’m inspired to investigate it more.

I trust Michael Shellenberger’s viewpoint because he doesn’t seem so alarmist and reactionary. He seems willing to see other people’s points of view and change his stance when given new information. He doesn’t seem like a revolutionary fanatic. But all I know is this book and two interviews.

Nuclear energy was a theme of a vacation we took with the kids a few years ago. It didn’t start out that way, but most of our vacations end up with some sort of over-arching theme after a few weeks. We head out in one direction, find an RV park, and then look for places to explore and experience. The time we headed toward Tucson, Arizona to visit family and then on New Mexico, with the hope of getting to San Antonio, Texas (which we never did), was the vacation we named the “Nuclear Tour.”

We visited the Titan Missile Museum, The White Sands Missile Range Museum, along with the White Sands National Park. We saw the Carlsbad Caverns and Roswell, New Mexico. And then ended the tour with a visit to The Nuclear Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Oh, wait! AND we visited the Ice Caves on the way back to California. That has nothing to do with nuclear power, but I loved it and more people should see it.

Years later, my youngest son read about The National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, which we loaded up and headed out to see immediately, along with touring the Hoover Dam. He’s always been fascinated with energy and engineering.

Along with those places, this book, and the Environmental Progress website, that is the extent of my research. It seems to me that if we really want to help the environment on a grand scale, nuclear is the way to go. It’s not 100% safe, nothing is, but it also doesn’t look to be as crazy dangerous as we are led to believe.

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