[Due for the most part to greenie activism,] oil is expensive, and some oil-states are causing more and more trouble. Regardless of whether you think the earth is warming -- or that, if it is, it's the result of burning fossil fuels -- lots of people do think that. And efforts at preventing nuclear proliferation are looking pretty pointless, these days. Meanwhile, the likelihood that Americans will quit using electricity, or driving around, in order to embrace an ascetic-green lifestyle seems even lower than in the 1970s.
All of this is combining to make nuclear power look more attractive again. In fact, it's starting to build some bridges across traditional divides, as this oped by former anti nuke protester G. Pascal Zachary illustrates:
"I don't regret my youthful opposition to Diablo [Canyon California power plant]. Back then, nuclear plants were badly run and uneconomical, and the near-disaster at Three Mile Island exposed nuclear regulations as a sham. But much has changed in the past 25 years, and for a variety of reasons I think nuclear power deserves another chance.
This greenie then gives away his religious/political agenda by the following statement:
"... We can only push an expansion of nuclear power, which today supplies 20 percent of America's electricity, as part of a comprehensive program to limit the production of greenhouse gases, promote renewable energy sources, and dramatically raise the cost of burning fossil fuels in automobiles. Expanding nuclear power is only one piece of the energy puzzle. But it is a piece we cannot afford to dismiss."The Chinese, facing a rapidly expanding economy with no significant oil reserves of their own, seem to agree. According to MSNBC:
"While experts in the United States and Europe talk about reviving plans for nuclear power, China, as in so many other fields, is racing ahead. The so-called pebblebed technology behind the Beijing test plant originated in Germany more than three decades ago, and the U.S. nuclear-power industry also pursued it. But when public opposition to nuclear energy [mobilized by collectivist greenies] forced those countries to curtail nuclear research in the 1980s, Beijing took over."
In Britain, environmental guru James Lovelock has called for the deployment of nuclear power to fight global warming, but other environmentalists are horrified at the thought. At least, however, the subject is being debated after decades of being off the table entirely.
The question is whether, despite the lead of people like Zachary and Lovelock, the environmentalist religion as a whole will be willing to abandon knee-jerk opposition to nuclear plants. I fear that too many environmentalists who, like Zachary, cut their teeth on antinuclear activism will be less willing to respond to changed circumstances with changed attitudes. Social movements are often more about beliefs than about reality, and ever since Tom Hayden et al. organized the antinuclear movement as a way of preserving some of the anti-Vietnam-war movement's infrastructure, it's been as much a political [and religious] movement as an environmental one.
Will we be able to turn our back on outdated beliefs in order to salvage things in the 21st Century? Stay tuned.