Welcome to A Nuclear World. This website was created to raise the level of discussion regarding you and me, and energy – how much we are going to use, where it is going to come from tomorrow, and what consequences – good and bad – our actions will have on this planet. As humanity enters the 21st century, it is going to encounter challenges unlike any other faced in our history.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about alternative energy sources, especially renewables, since (at least) 2005. I’ve worked with a solar energy company installing solar panels on residential homes in Kentucky; I’ve toured wind farms in Iowa; I’ve studied the basics of a hydrogen economy and the benefits and dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle at Vanderbilt University, in Tennessee. You name it, I’ve studied it, and I’m always learning more. I’m about to receive an M.S. in “health physics” – a branch of physics which focuses on the protection of humans and the environment from the dangers of radiation, while permitting its beneficial uses – and I will be bringing that experience into the fold as well.
Where I Stand
I believe that the United States’ commitment to fossil fuels – and the world’s – is unsustainable. Not only in the environmental sense, where global warming is a reality that will affect the entire planet for the next century; but also in both the political and personal sense. Political, because the countries that have and the countries that have not are drawing increasingly closer to one another, in the dawn of the Internet Age. Wars of resources, and even wars of ideology, are increasingly unpalatable to a world community that desires peace and prosperity for all, even citizens of other countries. Fossil fuels have provided the impetus for dozens of skirmishes and larger wars in the past fifty years, and will continue to until their need is eliminated. And personal, because the reliance on an outside entity for an essential good for life creates, at least in my mind, a tension, and a give-and-take power struggle that can undermine one’s individual liberty. The balance between individualism and communal living is always a complicated one, but a personal philosophy of mine is that where one can be self-reliant, one should.
I also believe that our commitment to fossil fuels is not evil. It is not amoral, it is not selfish, and it is not inevitable. It is historical, and it has been, until now, a just and prosperous way of life. And because that is changing, it is scary.
We are scared to make the wrong choice for our future, and send this now-global community into chaos, if we fail to find the answer to the question, “What else can we use to sustain our way of life?”. We are scared of the unknown impact we might make from any shift to our current standard of living; from lost coal mining jobs in Kentucky and Virginia, to lost billions of dollars from decommissioned nuclear plants, to even lost communities if our energy grid because unpredictable, changing our way of life in negative and dramatic ways.
It’s not an easy question to answer – “What’s next?”. But we have to try. As you might guess from the title of this site, I think that part of the answer is nuclear power; but we can get to that later. The nuclear power of today isn’t your daddy’s nuclear power – new concepts are being proven to be safe, efficient, and close to waste-free – but there are other alternatives, like solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass, and others. The answer won’t a one-size-fits-all glove, but a nuanced, community-driven response to regional needs that will see all of these sources succeed in one way or another.
What is this site?
Well, that’s complicated. We’ll see as it goes. But right now, it’s a place to gather news about future technologies on the rise; a place to answer basic science and engineering questions about energy sources (I was a high school science teacher – hit me with your best shot!); a place to discuss the political, environmental, and economic realities of our global community (I may regret this); and a place to talk about all things science. As the posts go on, I’ll be trimming down the miscellaneous tangents and find a voice for this site. For now, it’s a beginning of a long discussion. Happy to have you!