Two essays linked in two different emails this morning characterize polar opposite views of the future of modern civilization.
In the first, published yesterday, Chris Hedges sermonizes about The Wages of Sin.
In the second, we get yet another picture of what's looking like a desperate attempt to save civilization with the promise of low carbon producing energy: Big push for small nuclear reactors.
Reading first one and then the other, I don't know if it matters which one reads first, creates quite a muddle. Which will be our fate?
Hedges himself describes the delemma as analogous to Alice who's fallen down the rabbit hole:
Quote Chris Hedges:
When a society laments the past and dreads the future, when it senses the looming presence of death, it falls down a rabbit hole. And as in the case of Alice—who “went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, ‘Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?’ and sometimes, ‘Do bats eat cats?’ for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it”—language becomes unmoored from experience. Daily discourse, especially public discourse, is, as our presidential campaign illustrates, reduced to childish gibberish.
The article on the international push for mass production of small nuclear power plants ends with a summary of a warning from the Union of Concerned Scientists, that was already raised over two and a half years ago.
Quote Paul Brown:
The US-based Union of Concerned Scientists points out the difficulties of placing small reactors close to centres of population and doubts that they can produce power more cheaply than larger ones. It points out that existing commercial reactors originally got bigger and bigger to produce economies of scale.
The scientists accept industry claims that smaller reactors are inherently less dangerous than larger ones, but argue: “While this is true it is misleading, because smaller ones generate less power than large ones, and therefore more are required to meet the same energy needs.
“Multiple SMRs may actually present a higher risk than a single large reactor, especially if plant owners try to cut costs by reducing support staff or safety equipment per reactor.”
Their report concludes: “Unless a number of optimistic assumptions are realised, SMRs are not likely to be a viable solution to the economic and safety problems faced by nuclear power.”