Reconsider Nuclear

1 Feb

Combine Rod Adams and Michael Shellenberger and nuclear energy has an effective way to pitch its value.

Rod Adams, and his guests nobly represents both the virtues and vices of the nuclear engineer caste, a topic Adams and his guests have often lamented. I recommend his podcast for its nutty goodness – by which I mean, it’s jam-packed full of useful information – and a window into the professionals who populate the industry. Unfortunately, science repels a certain subset of people universally, and any discipline designed to question an American’s individual intuition – witness any treatment of TSA and scanners at airport – is doomed politically to failure. But Atomic Show #195 – and some of the comments – was especially nutty.

Jerry, Dave and I discussed the BEIR process, the very human traits of regulators who are unwilling to change, and the illogic of continuing to apply a model that never had any empirical (experimental) basis. We also discussed how application of the “conservative” model of radiation standards resulted in real, measurable harm after the events at Fukushima.


In the response to that core damaging event, thousands of vulnerable people in nursing homes and hospitals were evacuated during a natural disaster in order to avoid what turned out to be trivial doses of radiation. The evacuations were rushed, they took place during a late winter storm with freezing temperatures, and they had to use a greatly damaged infrastructure of roads that added the risk of delay in the bad weather conditions.

Also notable in the discussion is the health benefits of low-level radiation.

Michael Shellenberger is providing pro-nukes a tactical opening. As much as Colbert’s dumb guy alter-ego pressed him, Shellenberger didn’t recant his pro-nukes stance. He didn’t support it enthusiastically, or as the optimal energy source. It’s that gap someone like Rod Adams can exploit, if he can be as glib as Shellenberger and as contrived as Colbert.

Now, if we could create a single pundit sock puppet weaving Adams and Shellenberger, nuclear energy might have work its way into the public’s good graces.

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