The Nuclear Skeptic, Part 1: Sketching the Playing Field (reprint)

[This article first appeared in European Tribune in 2006. ]

The Case for the Defence

The claims made by the various spokespeople for the nuclear industry at this juncture are, in précis:

Further systematic or conceptual, implicit or explicit claims often heard from the industry or its supporters are:

I think that about sums it up, but perhaps our local pro-nuclear advocates can add a few more talking points.

The Case for the Prosecution

The claims made by opponents of nuclear plants, on the other side of the fence, can be distilled into this list:

In addition, antinuclear advocates have their own implicit or explicit “larger assumptions” or ideological groundwork which tends to inform the viewpoint of a majority among them. These might include:

Summary Remarks

The usual disclaimers apply: not everyone who is pronuke will agree with every one of the “pro” talking points, and vice versa for the contranuke position; ideological mappings are always fuzzy in detail. But published literature from both points of view seems to bear out the rough clustering in meme-space that I’ve tried to map here.

In addition to a polarisation of risk assessment and beliefs as detailed above, there is an approximate conventional-political polarisation: support for nuclear power is more common and firmer among people of right and centre-right ideology and/or strong adherence to neoliberal received ideas; it seems to be more common and firmer among high-level technocrats as well. Again this is not a hard and fast correlation, but a perceptible tendency. Firm opposition to nuclear power is more common among people of left/liberal, anti-war, “green,” anti-capitalist, sustainable/eco-activist, “hippie” leanings. Support for nuclear power also appears to be significantly stronger among males than females, something I’ll return to in a later installment.

I’d be interested to find out how ET readers feel about this meme-map… how it reflects — or doesn’t reflect — their own experience of the nuclear power debate.

In the next diary (part 2) I’ll start to address the problem of security and its social implications, and similar sociopolitical issues around nuke plants and the model of power distribution that they lock us into. Thereafter I’ll try to address different talking points from the lists above, not in any particular order, and as time permits. Let the games begin…

Originally published at

Retired; ex-software engineer. Paleo-feminist. Sailor. Arduino tinkerer. Enviro. Libertarian Socialist (Anarcho-Syndicalist, kinda). Writer. Altermondialiste.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store