Nuclear power and the collapse of society

Repost from Rex Weyler’s Blog at Greenpeace

Entire post available here

. . . . This is the face of industrial collapse, when alleged solutions become bigger problems. Nuclear power has now become a massive liability, draining resources from communities that need schools, hospitals, and the essentials of life. Joseph Tainter, Jared Diamond, and other researchers point out that some societies – Tikopia island, Byzantine society in the 1300s – avoided collapse, not by increasing complexity with better technology, but by down-sizing intentionally, learning to thrive on a lower level of complexity.

This is now the challenge of industrial society. Can we, and especially the rich and powerful, change our habits of consumption and growth? Can we come back to Earth?

Header Image: Odum diagram of the uranium chain, 1976

  • Thanks, Mary! I miss your blogging! Hope Florida is treating you well!

  • Kex Che

    Thank you Mary for the contribution posted. The real mystery with nuclear is that the issue is still alive, in spite of having been rejected and definitely dismissed at any reason-based level, and the only remained rationale is that of the private corporations having some direct interest in it.
    Francesco Gonella

    • The real mystery with nuclear is that the issue is still alive

      A big problem is the “techno-cornucopians,” who see nuclear (especially so-called “advanced” nuclear) as a way to keep kicking the energy can down the road.

      They often masquerade as “greenies,” claiming that “advanced” nuclear avoids the problems of “dirty” energy sources, like coal and petroleum.

      I love it when they go on and on that there is so much uranium in the ocean that we wouldn’t even have to mine it. We can’t even do large-scale desalination!

      Folks like Rex need to address these points well, or the techno-cornucopians will just “yeabut” them into submission.

      • Rex elegantly described a difficult, emotional topic and linked it to the need to reduce the scale of society. And he told the whole truth, which is almost no one does these days. People look at little pieces of problems, and tell partial truths, which allows for continued denial and the status quo. Nuclear was barely positive net in the 1970s, without taking the cleanup into account. Since then, the fact that it was heavily subsidized, without the need for additional infrastructure helped keep it alive. But now rickety, 40 year old nuclear power plants are becoming dangerous, especially as the economy declines, power outages increase, and things start to fall apart. As I have said before, this is our real threat, IMO. Not climate change, not terrorism, which are just symptoms of a global economy with receding energy inputs.

        What keeps it all going at this point is pervasive positive feedback loops that create overshoot. We have created the largest, tallest hierarchy of complexity and built environment in the history of the world. Along with that comes increasingly sclerotic positive feedback loops through hyper-capitalism and the financial sector that perpetuate the status quo. And being a part of this system just perpetuates further drains on the environment and more pollution. Sigh.

        Thanks, Jan. Yes, my vitamin D level and my immune system are much happier now!

  • cognizantfox

    Thank you for sharing!