|The tacit assumptions of nuclear culture||… and the rival assumptions of non-nuclear culture|
|Theoretical thinking.||Real-world thinking.|
|“It’s okay to create huge amounts of nuclear waste without having first developed a proper solution for dealing with it.”||“No technology should be deployed without the means to safely and permanently deal with all its consequences.”|
|“We think technological civilisation will grow and develop indefinitely.”||“We don’t know what the future holds and prefer not to take chances.”|
|“We think future generations can cope with our nuclear waste, and that it’s fair to leave them with the problem.”||“It’s selfish to burden future generations with nuclear waste.”|
|“We can live with the thought that in 500 years time, people who know nothing about radioactivity might stray into our waste.”||“We are appalled to think that in 500 years time people might stray into our waste.”|
|“We need to support growth (at almost any cost).”||“Economic development should not trump all other values.”|
|“The solution to an energy shortage is generating more.”||“We need to learn to make do with less or to come up with better solutions.”|
|“Cheapest is best.”||“Safer is best.”|
|“We can solve that problem.”||“There is, all too often, a yawning gulf between theory and practice.”|
|“Experts know what’s best for ordinary people.”||“Ordinary people’s opinions should be taken seriously.”|
|“Wouldn’t that be cool?”||“Shit happens.”|
A few months ago, if you’d asked me, I would have said I was not anti-nuclear. Coincidentally, various people then asked me what I think about nuclear energy. I read things. I thought about what I had read. I wrote a lengthy screed carefully designed to avoid conventional anti-nuclear sources. And then I wrote the above. Which seems to simplify it all, for me at any rate.
Arguments about nuclear energy, like a great many arguments about technological and economic development, are frequently represented as being about facts. I suspect that, at root, they’re far more about values. Does my values breakdown terribly over-simplify things? Or does it just simplify things?