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James Hansen's Generation IV nuclear advocacy: a deconstruction of nuclear fallacies and fantasies

By: 
Jim Green

Dr James Hansen is rightly admired for his scientific and political work drawing attention to climate change. His advocacy of nuclear power and in particular novel Generation IV nuclear concepts deserves serious scrutiny.

In a nutshell, Dr Hansen (among others) claims that some Generation IV reactors are a triple threat: they can convert weapons-usable (fissile) material and long-lived nuclear waste into low-carbon electricity. Let's take the weapons and waste issues in turn.

Nuclear Radiation, Kierkegaard, and the Philosophy of Denial

By: 
Chris Busby

It used to be, and indeed children are still taught in schools, that the advances that have been made in the last five hundred years (antibiotics, electricity, computers etc) resulted from the application of Science and its overthrow of dogmatic belief.

All ideas are put to the question in the auto da fe of experiment: Galileo’s observations versus the Inquistion’s biblical earth-centric world view and so forth. But over the same period, the power of belief (in Jesus, Marxism, Allah, perhaps ‘Economics’) has continued to flourish alongside the supposedly observation- based, empirical philosophy that we call Science.

Belief is strictly about what we cannot know but I am not going down the Dawkins black hole on this one since there are certainly some very odd things that science cannot explain. But I want to apply the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s approach to something that Science can explain and has: the health effects of ionising radiation.

James Hansen's Nuclear Fantasies

By: 
Jim Green

Climate scientist James Hansen will be heading to Paris to promote nuclear power − and attack environmental groups − in the lead-up to the U.N. COP21 climate conference in Paris in December.

The press release announcing his visit to Paris berates environmentalists for failing to support “safe and environmentally-friendly nuclear power” … which rather misses the point that environmentalists would gladly support nuclear power if it was safe and environmentally-friendly. It notes that the Climate Action Network, representing all the major environmental groups, opposes nuclear power − in other words, efforts to split the environment movement have failed.

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