Positive Energy

Friday, May 25, 2007

10. Ethical Considerations

What do you think are the ethical considerations related to a decision to allow new nuclear power stations to be built? And how should these be balanced against the need to address climate change?

The ethical considerations are overwhelming - similar to throwing a rope to a drowning person. Energy is needed to make human life less destructive. The burning of coal, wood, and dung has to stop. Nuclear power makes this possible. It has to be used as quickly and as extensively as possible. Failing to do this displays a lack of understanding of the value of life. Such lapses in compassion are monstrously immoral, even perhaps insane.

Future generations do not want to inherit a world of ruin, decay, poverty, starvation, and warfare, especially if we have the clean energy resources to do otherwise. People opposed to nuclear power like to imagine a future population that is upset because we left behind a pile of spent fuel. Given the choice between a world in poverty without spent fuel storage or a world of wealth with some spent fuel repositories here and there, it is clear that the wealth alternative should be pursued. This can be framed differently to illustrate this point - future generations want life expectancies of one hundred years, not thirty years. If we can set them up with one hundred year life spans we should do this. Using nuclear power achieves this, not using it dooms our descendants to much shorter and more miserable lives. Morally, we have to give them the better alternative.


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