The real constraint on nuclear power: war

A future where everything goes right for nuclear power, with advancing technology driving down costs, making reactors a safe and ubiquitous energy source, and providing a magic bullet for climate change, might bring other surprises.

For example, technology might also make supersonic cruise missiles cheap and ubiquitous.


The Fukushima operators appear to be hanging in there. But imagine how they’d be coping if someone fired a missile at them once in a while.

Fortunately, reactors today are mostly in places where peace and rule of law prevail.


But peace and good governance aren’t exactly the norm in places where emissions are rising rapidly, or the poor need energy.


Building lots of nuclear power plants is ultimately a commitment to peace, or at least acceptance of rather dreadful consequences of war (not necessarily war with nuclear weapons, but war with conventional weapons turning nuclear reactors into big dirty bombs).

One would hope that abundant, clean energy would reduce the motivation to blow things up, but how much are we willing to gamble on that?

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