Nuclear power ressentiment by mattsteinglass
September 4, 2008, 10:00 am
Filed under: Environment, President

Listening to Rudy lauding McCain’s energy policy with rah-rah lines, I’m struck by the fact that the twin cheers are “drill, baby, drill” and “nuclear power”! Why do they think of nukes as a popular, appealing plank of an energy platform? Why is it a rah-rah line? Who is it that’s all “Nuclear power! Yee-eah!”  I understand they’re trying to lay out an alternative energy approach that distinguishes them from the Democrats, but while I understand how a pro-oil stance appeals to the vestigial anti-global-warming crowd, I can’t figure out why, if you’ve acknowledged that we need to move away from oil, you would then be more inclined to support nukes over renewables on an emotional level. It seems like a leftover resentment from 1970s politics, like the whole energy platform is based on “neener-neener, screw you hippies, we loves us some oil and nukes. And DDT!” It’s entirely reactive and feels vestigial, like the Cuba boycott of energy policy.


3 Comments so far
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I don’t have special insights in regard to the crowd mentality that prevailed at the convention, but I suppose different people react at different levels. Some people plain don’t like self-righteous, hypocritical bores who reflexively blame all the world’s problems on those who don’t think the way they do. Others have done the math and realize that windmills and good intentions won’t provide the energy people need to live in the 21st Century. Nuclear plants built to US standards have a startlingly good safety record. Even the spent fuel, for all the handwringing that goes on among the no-energy-is-good-energy crowd, has never caused harm to anyone or anything. People are catching on to the benefits of nuclear energy and are becoming increasingly impatient with people who say the only acceptable energy sources are energy sources that don’t work. Then there are people who want new energy sources–any energy sources–to free up heating oil for making gasoline.

Comment by red craig

I actually support more nuclear power, and think the rational case for building more plants is strong. What I don’t understand is how it works as an emotional appeal now. I could even understand how it worked on an emotional level in the ’70s, but today, I don’t get it. Who is the viscerally pro-nuke constituency, apart from people working for Westinghouse?

Comment by mattsteinglass

I think emotions come from external stimuli. A child could be afraid of dark rooms because of scary stories. A person could be fond of a place because of pleasant experiences. Anti-nuclear attitudes are based on novels, movies, and biased news reports, and are mainly emotional. In the case of pro-nuclear feelings, I think they have more to do with aversion to the opponents. So your initial suggestion is right, that it’s “neener-neener, screw you hippies.” It’s just that, like other emotions, this one is founded on some perception. Specifically, the perception that anti-nukes intend to make the country depend on unreliable energy sources. My point before, humble as it is, was that people can support something emotionally (even something as technical as nuclear energy) although they could acquire the attitude from different directions.

Comment by red craig

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