Saturday, April 09, 2005

Nuclear Pipe Dreams

It's amazing how much journalists can get paid for being not only irresponsible and ignorant, but for turning logic entirely on its head. Watch how a pro like Nicholas Kristof does it:

It's increasingly clear that the biggest environmental threat we face is actually global warming, and that leads to a corollary: nuclear energy is green.
How does this stuff get past the editors? A child of five could be taught - without much effort - to understand the logical problem with this statement.

There may be a legitimate argument for a return to nuclear power, but I haven't seen it yet. The facts are these: Radwaste disposal is impossible. Storage is unconscionably dangerous, and reprocessing is both dangerous and astronomically expensive. External costs associated with spent nuclear fuel - which get picked up by taxpayers, or thrust onto helpless countries like Nauru - make it far more costly than anyone in industry or government lets on. If that's "green," by Kristof's standards, I'd hate to see his idea of "unsustainable."


Jesse said...

Maybe Nicholas means that the glow that nuclear radiation gives off is green... ;)

I'd like to send him some pictures from Chernobyl, too, so he can see how "green" nuke power really is.

Thersites said...

Gosh, that's a pretty crummy stab at a "corollary." What he really has is a false syllogism:

1. Global warming caused by fossil fuels is an enviromental problem.

2. Nuclear energy does not use fossil fuels.

3. Therefore, nuclear energy is environmentally sound.

Let me ask my 5-Year-Old if he sees the problem here. It'll have to wait until after SpongeBob, though -- I don't want him to be rotting his mind with this Kristof garbage when he is doing something more intellectually rigorous.

monkeygrinder said...

Kristof's tone in the piece is offensive - "It's time for the rest of us to drop that hostility (to nukes)"

Why? Because without 10,000 nuke plants, there is an expiration date attached to unlimited growth of industrial culture?

I bet that would be it.

michaelm said...

Very good point Phila, I'm surprised he had the audacity to print that. Also, I really like Monkeygrinder's analysis: "Because without 10,000 nuke plants, there is an expiration date attached to unlimited growth of industrial culture?" Well put.
I referenced you here.
This is a sort of trackback.

Rmj said...


I think it's a fallacy of the undistributed middle.

But I could be wrong.

Is SpongeBob over yet?

echidne said...

I can't find your e-mail address, Phila, so I'm saying something OT here: I have appointed you for the awful book meme. (Ducks for cover.)

The details are on my blog if you don't know the rules yet. You can always just ignore the pyramid scheme, of course.