Now, it’s a bit of a jab at a massive and massively positive announcement. But the active discussion of nuclear in the context of any climate change conversation is a useful litmus test for how serious the discussants are about solving the looming death of our planet.
Nuclear is a topic we have discussed a few times before in Fission today, fusion tomorrow
and briefly in The Manichaean rainbow
. We’re obviously pro-nuclear or as Josh calls it, pro-elemental power. Yet, it’s not just a position statement: nuclear energy is a critical ingredient in the fight against climate change that can’t be ignored. As Bill Gates
writes in his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster
from last year:
Here’s the one-sentence case for nuclear power: It’s the only carbon-free energy source that can reliably deliver power day and night, through every season, almost anywhere on earth, that has been proven to work on a large scale. No other clean energy source even comes close to what nuclear already provides today. […] And it’s hard to foresee a future where we decarbonize our power grid affordably without using more nuclear power.
Stanford isn’t a bastion of nuclear research compared to MIT and Berkeley across the bay, which can take advantage of some of the work of the nearby Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. But that’s all the more reason to ensure that this line of research isn’t ignored, but rather expanded. For the initial publicity, it’s a missed opportunity. If it’s forgotten entirely, it’d be a tragedy.