Nuclear Power Requires Critical Analysis

The dangerous narratives employed in the article “Ishikawa Employs Dangerous Nuclear Narratives, ” written by Production Editor Christo Hays, surprised me (Sept. 27, 2019).

Hays claimed that most of nuclear power’s existing problems, such as issues of waste disposal and fuel rod cooling systems, can be improved and fixed through technological development. Hays stated that the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011 was “the result of fuel rods overheating and reacting with water-based coolant to create explosive hydrogen,” and continued, “New fuels and coolants eradicate this possibility.”

 First, it is difficult or even impossible to specify the cause of a nuclear meltdown. Hays has forgotten the simple fact that nuclear meltdowns, like other tech- and science-related incidents, involve the interaction between science, technology, and society. For example, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, which Hays used as an example to prove his point about severe technological problems, also involved the technicians’ decision to vent, as well as a lack of preparation on the behalf of TEPCO, the electric company that was responsible for protecting the Fukushima nuclear power plant against severe accidents. Thus, technological improvement cannot solely reduce or eliminate nuclear meltdowns or any other incidents related to technology.

Second, using technology to solve problems caused by technology is oxymoronic. Hays argues that newly developed technology is capable of solving problems that are caused by pre-existing technology. Hays does not acknowledge the nature of self-reference in technology; thus, Hays implicitly admits the possibility of another problem happening because of the newly developed technology.

In Hays’ argument, there is also an embedded causal relationship between what we are able to do and what we ought to do. Nevertheless, even though we may be able to solve the problems of nuclear power via technology, it does not necessarily follow that we should solve them do so. Therefore, Hays fell into a logical fallacy when he introduced several technological methods that might be capable of fixing problems of current nuclear power plants, such as “new fuels and coolants.”

Furthermore, both Lasdun and Hays support nuclear power because they say it is the best option for energy production that can both avoid worsening the climate crises and match energy supply to demand (“Nuclear Represents Best Option,” Sept. 13, 2019). However, this reasoning is not sufficient to reject my anti-nuclear argument. Hays criticized my argument by stating that my article “presents no evidence to counter Lasdun’s claim that humanity requires nuclear energy to avert climate catastrophe.”

 However, my previous article aimed to raise concerns about using nuclear power in general, not specifically in relation to climate change. Even if nuclear power might be used to avert climate catastrophe or for other purposes, my previous article’s argument — that nuclear power is dangerous — still stands.  

I also do not have a responsibility to present an alternative to nuclear power, at least in my anti-nuclear argument. Nuclear energy advocates put pressure on anti-nuclear advocates to present an alternative energy source that helps solve the climate crisis. This kind of pro-nuclear narrative, which flatly rejects anti-nuclear arguments, is irrationally dangerous because it suppresses critiques of nuclear power by ignoring its flaws. 

I am aware of the need to combat the climate crisis, and thus I think I share the same concern as Lasdun and Hays. Also, I am aware that renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, can also affect the environment. Installing solar panels can necessitate deforestation, and huge wind turbines kill numerous birds, leading to harmful destruction of the ecosystem. Nevertheless, it is dangerous to blindly accept the benefits of nuclear power and rush to recklessly expand nuclear energy use without first considering its problems. It cannot be overemphasized that there is no causal relationship between the lack of time to think about alternative energy sources, given the pervasion of the climate crisis, and the necessity of nuclear power. We need to be fully critical of how pro-nuclear arguments deploy this false link.