The Promise of Nuclear Power

Last night we got a taste of life without abundant and relatively cheap electricity.  A high voltage Rocky Mountain Power transmission line went down and left Brigham City without power for about 30 minutes.  We were in the dark, but not really long enough to start getting cold.

Few of us can imagine what life would be like without abundant energy.  My parents certainly do know what is like, since they both grew up with wood and coal burning stoves that cooked their food and provided what warmth there was in their humble homes.

When I was younger, I visited my grandparents in both of those homes, which had long since been converted to natural gas and propane.  I remember some winters there also.  My mom’s parents lived on the Bountiful bench which would usually get a few feet of snow throughout the winter.  While my dad’s parents lived near Woodruff, which wouldn’t get much snow, but the -40°F temperatures more than made up for the lack of snow.  They were survivors, or I wouldn’t be writing this now.  Kerosene lamps, firewood, and coal allowed such survival, barely.

Our lives are vastly more prosperous and productive today because of abundant energy.  It has transformed our lives.  I want that to continue, but it will not, unless we make decisions today that will allow scientists, engineers, physicists, and entrepreneurs the freedom to pursue nuclear energy without the killing regulations that only serve to keep the fossil fuelers in power and awash in money.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower said this on 8 December 1953 in a speech entitled, Atoms for Peace,

The United States knows that peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. That capability, already proved, is here–now–today. Who can doubt, if the entire body of the world’s scientists and engineers had adequate amounts of fissionable material with which to test and develop their ideas, that this capability would rapidly be transformed into universal, efficient, and economic usage?
(See paragraph 62)

Well, what the heck happened?  Atomic Rod has written some well researched articles about what went wrong and who derailed the progress of nuclear energy. Click here to learn more.


I know this post is a little bit late, since Thanksgiving was last week, but after very pleasant weather for the week, it turned bitter cold.  I’m talking about temperatures in the single digits (°F); an arctic blast straight out of the north.

It was then that I realized what I was thankful for (besides my loved ones).  I had enjoyed the company of my family, for which I am most grateful.  But, the cold weather reminded me of the incredible prosperity that we have because of cheap energy.  Central heat (and central air conditioning in the summer) is a blessing of incomparable value, one that has not been enjoyed by many people. The Kings and Lords of old did not enjoy such opulence as we do in this regard.

Most of the land in the United States is at high latitudes where there are cold, harsh winters.  I don’t think anyone born after 1960 can imagine what life would be like without electricity at our beck and call.  We flip a switch and are able to accomplish what would be considered miracles just a few decades ago.

I want this type of lifestyle to continue for me and my family and for the whole world.  Great things have been accomplished with fossil fuels, but increasing global consumption of oil, coal, and gas will eventually drive up their prices as supplies are reduced.  Only nuclear power can provide the energy we need in the quantities necessary for our continued prosperity.


Cui Bono

Cui Bono is a Latin Phrase that means “who stands to gain”.  That is an important consideration when talking about nuclear power these days.  This is equivalent to asking you to “follow the money”.

Consider this, the Chicago Tribune recently reported that Japan shippers are planning to order 90 new liquified natural gas (LNG) tanker ships by 2020.  These ships are estimated to cost nearly 20 billion dollars! That is an amazing 200 million dollars each!

The article clearly states that these ships are necessary to transport LNG “to generate electricity and make up for the shortfall from the shutdown of nuclear reactors after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima facility in 2011.”

So who stands to gain from the shutdown of nuclear power in Japan? LNG shipping companies for one.  LNG producers for another.  And again the amount of money we are talking about is astronomical – tens of billions of dollars!

So next time you are tempted to think that the anti-nuclear response in Japan or anywhere else is a grass roots rational response to risks posed by nuclear power, think again!  Any organization planning to spend 20 billion dollars knows how to market and buy media coverage to insure their investments.

Also, consider that thorium fuel could be transported in a small jet. No need to spend 20 billion dollars on ships when one small jet could do the job. And a thorium shipment would only be needed every year or so at each nuclear plant.

That is because thorium is the most energy dense substance in the universe.  The energy is locked in the nucleus of the thorium atoms and is released by splitting the thorium atoms in a nuclear reactor. As the graphic (stolen from below shows, a bowling ball sized piece of thorium contains as much energy as an oil supertanker.  If you have the bowling ball, you don’t need the supertanker!

bowling ball of thoriumbwr