Saturday, August 3, 2013

Progressives for Nuclear Progress: Welcome to a New Blog

Welcome to the new blog in the pro-nuclear blogosphere: Progressives for Nuclear Progress. This blog, by Eric Schmitz, has the subtitle: Bringing the American Left on board for a clean nuclear future.  Together it reads:
Bringing the American Left on board for a clean nuclear future.

The blog also has a Facebook page Progressives for Nuclear Progress.

In his latest post I take a vacation and what happens?  Will Davis at Atomic Power Review welcomes  the new blog.  Davis notes that Schmitz is an engineer, and I would like to note that Schmitz is a good writer.  Let's look at his two most recent posts.

Teachable Moments   

Schmitz (so far) has taken some news item or blog post about nuclear power, and made very thoughtful (and sometimes acerbic) comments.  For example, in his post: "Fail-Safe"--when failure does NOT mean disaster,  Schmitz critiques Entergy for its communication about some malfunctioning radiation monitors. Schmitz says that the problems with those monitors was a "teachable moment." He notes that  "fail-safe" does not mean "this can never fail."  It means: "Even if this fails, safety is not affected."


In another post, Schmitz comments on the Breakthrough Institutes major post: Liberals and Progressives for Nuclear.   As Schmitz says: "I have come to realize that we (liberals and progressives) cannot afford to continue sticking our heads in the sand when it comes to the one kind of power generation that is capable of providing ample energy at nearly zero carbon cost."

By the way: please read the Breakthrough Institute post on Liberals and Progressives for Nuclear.  It features an impressive group of people, with impressive quotes.  Paul Allen, Mark Lynas, Gwyneth Cravens, Stephen Tindale (former director of Greenpeace).  Read it!

Slightly-off topic: Non-Progressives

The "other side of the aisle," is also noticing that more liberals and progressives are supporting nuclear nowadays.  Joseph Somsel writes Nuclear Power's New Friends in American Thinker.   He reviews  Pandora's Promise. He basically likes the movie, but  he warns the nuclear industry not to embrace climate change. Somsel writes: "As public opinion becomes more aware of the falsity of the claims of impending climate catastrophe, nuclear needs to maintain its distance. "

Well, I don't agree with Somsel about climate change, but there you are. Personally, I welcome all nuclear supporters, no matter what they think about global warming.  Climate change is only one of many reasons to support nuclear energy.

Charles Barton

In any reasonable discussion of nuclear communication, all nuclear bloggers must acknowledge the leadership of Charles Barton of Nuclear Green Revolution.   Barton has been blogging from an avowedly liberal political stance...since 2008!  Other pro-nuclear blogs started earlier, and were written by liberals, but Barton is the person who explicitly combined the two topics.

 I am always and eternally grateful to Charles Barton for his work in changing nuclear energy from a Republican-Democratic debate energy discussion.

I am pleased to see Eric Schmitz's blog joining Barton's blog.

Nuclear Green


Eric said...

Thank you again for the mention, Meredith! "I hope I can live up to this," has been my watch-phrase in many ways recently.

I read Somsel's article, and I also appreciate his welcome, tepid though it may be. There's some good food for thought there, even for someone with my political opinions, things I agree with (Al Gore's approach being a disappointment, for one), and naturally some things that made me bristle a bit, but that's hardly unexpected.

I am somewhat troubled, however, with the insistence on the nuclear industry "maintaining a distance," which I am not convinced will be of service to anyone. At least, I don't feel that it is any more helprul than the industry fully embracing anthropogenic climate change as a motivating factor. The concept of the Prisoners' Dilemma comes into play here as well: If we refuse to communicate, and insist on remaining at a perpetual distance, we are much more likely to compete -- by wasting time arguing about the truth or falsity of climate change, for example. But if we do communicate, we are more likely to cooperate and end up with the best solution for everyone. As you note above, there are far more reasons to support nuclear progress than heading off catastrophic climate change. Other forms of pollution, finite resources, growing populations and emerging middle-classes, destruction of nature, used fuel management, just to name a few things that should be of concern to progressives and liberals. So while I understand the caution that Somsel advises, I would in turn caution against being so over-cautious that we cannot come together to any effect.

All in all, late to the game is still in the game. (And I think I may have just come up with the title of a future article!)

Joseph Somsel said...

Please note that in my article in American Thinker, I too welcomed any sincere support for nuclear power. I decided to be a nuclear engineer while I was waist deep in oily water from a spill at my beach in Florida when I was 19 so count me as an environmentalist too.

What I argued against was trying to sell nuclear power plants as a remedy or preventative for climate change.

Ask yourself this question, would it be wise for the reactor vendors like Hitachi, Areva, and Bill Gates to publicly advertise their products as a solution to global climate warming (or cooling, or drying, or wetting)?

Ernest said...

Would it be wise for the reactor vendors to publicly advertise their products as a solution to global climate change? Speaking only for myself as an environmentalist and energy consumer, I say yes, strongly.

To rephrase Eric's point, what is the downside? At worst they might annoy climate change deniers, who will support nuclear anyway. At best they could get millions of allies. There's a big market for reliable, low-carbon energy that has a small footprint AND already has been successfully proven at the biggest continental scale. Renewables can't beat that record.

Meredith Angwin said...

Eric-- I did worry that I might be overloading you with expectations, and I hope I did not do that. I wanted to be encouraging, and feared about being "over the top."

On the other hand, I really wanted to put your blog in context with Joseph Somsel's article and Charles Barton and so forth.

Joseph-- Thank you for the note. I hope I didn't misrepresent you, and I apologize if I did. I read your article as "great that people are valuing nuclear, but it seems to be for the wrong reason." Your article was much better referenced and more nuanced than that, and I admit my statement was an oversimplification.

Ernest--Sigh. Yes. Carbon Dioxide and Nuclear Energy. I recommend my post on "the great divide and how to cross it." Not that the post resolves anything, but it has quite a long comment stream. If I point a finger at anyone, the rest of the fingers point back to me.

Pete51 said...

On the subject of Pandora's Promise, you may be interested to learn CNN will broadcast it on November 7.