Archive for the ‘France’ Category

The rights are right for once

October 25, 2007

I could not really imagine myself nodding my head in response to something on Fox News. But then their coverage of nuclear energy and my response just depicts the rift between political aspirations and labels and factual reality that is rooted deep among both conservatives and liberals. For some reason, opposition to nuclear power is supposed to be the domain of liberals, and support for it is supposed to be that of conservatives. Naturally the conservatives are against any liberal agenda, but for once their rants actually have something to with reality.

The program on Fox that had me nodding my head was a coverage of nuclear energy in France and the US and advocacy of nuclear power for the US. France is a role model for the world when it comes to nuclear power; almost 80% of their energy comes from nuclear (I wonder how many Americans actually know this) and in addition there has been not a single fatal accident related to nuclear power in France as in the US. More importantly, their spent fuel reprocessing plants firstly actually exist, and secondly are among the best in the world.

There were the usual environmentalists who complained about the dangers of nuclear power. Most of these people don’t seem to be familiar with facts. I have stressed several times that pollution from coal, car accidents, and even deaths due to drownings in swimming pools kill more people than nuclear power plants, the first two factors vastly more so. The radiation from a nuclear power plant is a miniscule fraction of the natural radiation around us. In addition, the whole debate about how dangerous the spent fuel rods are is clearly a straw man; the spent fuel rods are consigned to water pools and other storage facilities precisely because there is great inertia about reprocessing them. This is much more so in the US.

I always find it disconcerting how many liberals and environmentalists equate environmentalism with anti-nuclear activism. Campaigning against coal pollution is quite legitimate but campaigning against new nuclear power plants is regressive. I understand that this mental equivalence of environmentalism and anti-nuclear thinking among liberals is partly the result of sorid history, but things need to change for the future.

For once, I am with the rights on this one, if for an altogether different reason than liberal-bashing.