Friday, March 18, 2011

Science Doesn't Agree With You

Science doesn't agree with anybody.  It is what it is.  On the other hand you can accept science, you can dispute science, you can even deny science but, beyond that, your choices are limited.

How many times have we criticized the radical Right for climate science denial?  We routinely excoriate them for promoting false narratives that fly in the face of solid, scientific research - and rightly so.

Yet why is it, when it comes to nuclear science, the Left is as ridiculous as the Right?  Suddenly we're joining the chorus attacking the credibility of nuclear scientists as the atomic equivalent of fossil fuelers.    It's as though we've never managed to grow out of our "ban the bomb"/China Syndrome shells.   "Oh you can't trust them scientists, they're surely up to something, they're in it for themselves."


Do you really believe, even just for a minute, that climate change scientists/advocates of the stature of James Lovelock or NOAA's James Hansen or The Guardian's George Monbiot would support nuclear energy as the only vehicle to enable mankind to wean ourselves off fossil fuels if their decades of research and scientific knowledge didn't leave them convinced of it?   What do you think, they're like Loki out pulling your leg for the sheer fun of it?  Do you think?

One thing the Fukushima fiasco has brought home to me is that the radical Left is every bit as odious, closed minded, dishonest and hypocritical as the radical Right and they both deserve our heartfelt contempt.   Science isn't science when it conveniently bolsters your narrative, your dogma and garbage when it does not.   If your narrative is convincingly  dispelled by science, it's your narrative that's garbage and shame on you for pretending otherwise.


Ian said...

Hear hear. Of course I prefer links to egregious behaviour rather than wide accusations at generic groups, but maybe that's just my preference for appealing to the evidence and not straw-manning positions.

Anonymous said...

Look, the science behind "Nuclear" maybe sound the problem once again is implementation and politics.

Murr Brewster said...

Nuclear power has been attractive especially to scientists since the introduction of the idea of the "peaceful atom." There was a lot of peacework to be done to make up for the damage caused by the bomb. And it's a fine idea. I do understand that people I generally agree with are touting nuclear again. And I understand why. I can't get past the waste issue. Talk about kicking the can down the road.

What's left, but a very precipitous decline in what we've come to think of as our high standard of living? Nothing, I think. We're due for a big fall and it will be painful. The good news is that it's possible that what we value most is not really that valuable, and that we can rediscover that.

The Mound of Sound said...

It may just be that Fukushima has outed a lot of notional progressives. It won't take very long before we gain context in which to assess some of what seem to be absurdly distorted claims. On the other hand, if the radicals are right, we'll also know that in short order. The Fairy Dust people will always lurk in our midst but you have to be a tad unhinged to be drawn to them in any case.

Thanks all for weighing in.

Mark Francis said...

This kind of disaster can be caused a number of different ways. How tornado-proof is Pickering? How would Bruce react to a 747 plowing into it?

Scientists from 'over here' are disputing the scientists 'over there' as to how severe this is. Scientists 'over there' are often in the employ of the power company responsible, so their loyalty is to the corp first, the public second. They have a history of outright falsifying plant conditions, so they can't be trusted.

For years, this very plant has been criticized for being unsafe due to its location. The retort's been "it's fine." Obvious BS.

Can nuclear reactor ever truly be safe enough given the risks associated with catastrophic failure?

Wind turbines in Japan continue to spin, BTW.

crf said...

It is hard to get a clear idea of how severe this is yet. The fact that there are disagreements now doesn't mean much. I don't think there is any doubt that this accident will get the most thorough examination of any disaster.

Murr, you write:
"What's left, but a very precipitous decline in what we've come to think of as our high standard of living? Nothing, I think. We're due for a big fall and it will be painful."

Maybe it's quixotic, but if history is any guide, most people will fight hard against any decline in their standard of living. Pushing the harms into the future if need be.

"Can nuclear reactor ever truly be safe enough given the risks associated with catastrophic failure? "

A very important question. To answer that we need to get a better idea of what people mean by risk. What do people value most losing to a nuclear accident? I would suggest it isn't actually the immediate lives lost, or elevated cancer risks. I think what galls and shames people is the idea that you cannot immediately forget and rebuild in an area you've despoiled.

For evidence supporting that theory, you can just look at any coastline along the ring of fire and see people willingly building on land that that has been swamped by historical tsunamis (let alone ones observable by geologists). People are not ignorant of the risk and do not fear death.

But if you agree somewhat with what I've said, you may be well on your way to supporting nuclear power in some way (In some cases now? Or in the future, when it is safer? In deserts? underwater or at sea?). Because not having a nuclear industry, or at least nuclear knowledge to advance one, means ratcheting up the risk of greatly despoiling the future climate, in a way far more irreversible than the number of accidents we can expect from nuclear power, now and into the future.