Against All Science & Reason, Germany Abandons Nuclear Power
As reported on CNN, Germany abandoned nuclear power last weekend, shutting down its last three operational nuclear power plants. This act made good on a policy proposal from the Schröder-Merkel era, one whose implementation had been delayed three years by the exigencies of Germany´s still-growing demand for electric power. It was a point of celebratory pride among the Greens and other poorly informed citizens convinced that the benefits of abandoning this reliable energy source outweigh the potential risks of continuing to use it.
Considering the effects of the Chernobyl disaster in Europe, one can understand some of the concern in Europe. Then, when Angela Merkel was Chancellor, there was the disaster that was not really a disaster at Fukushima. Although we heard much of what was rightly called “hysterical press coverage of the event,” no significant radiation exposure resulted from it. The real damage in Fukushima came from the storm, which did threaten to catastrophically damage the reactors there, but did not.
A Baffling Move
In light of that reality, concern for the imagined risks of nuclear power ought to be weighed against both the real causes of the Chernobyl disaster (bad reactor design and human error) and Germany´s own very successful, safe experience with nuclear power. That experience lasted most of 70 years and includes six of the ten safest and most productive reactors in the history of nuclear power.
One could also consider the experience of Germany´s next-door neighbor, France, which is currently getting approximately 70 percent of its power from atomic energy. It is somewhat baffling that nuclear power – a “CO2-neutral” form of power generation – is thought to be more harmful than beneficial by people who are alarmed about CO2 causing a global climate apocalypse – especially considering what the Germans are using to replace it: coal and natural gas, both of which are not “CO2-neutral.”
The rejection of nuclear and natural gas power by the Green parties and their ideological confreres makes even less sense in light of last year´s declaration from the European Parliament to deem nuclear and natural gas “green power” for the purposes of fighting that greatest of boogey men, “anthropogenic global warming” (now dubbed “climate change”).
The decision has met with a hailstorm of criticism from advocates of sane energy policy. By that I mean energy policy that balances the needs of advanced, technological human civilization against real harm caused by real pollution coming directly from the mines supplying the solar and wind industries, not CO2. Recall that CO2 is the very gas on which plants, and therefore all life on earth, depend for their continued existence.
More than a year before the decision was finalized, real-life rocket scientist and nuclear engineer Zubrin wrote the following on Germany´s plan:
A number of important points stand out from this data. In the first place, note that the Germans get far more energy from coal than from natural gas. Note also that while Germany now only gets 4 GW of power from nuclear energy it previously obtained 22 GW of nuclear power, nearly twice the total amount it gets from all gas, not just the 40 percent that comes from Russia. Finally note that Germany’s “green” power has resulted in 541 gms of CO2 emission per kWh. This is six times the 95 gm/kWh of nuclear-powered France.
Which is to say, anti-nuke Germany is less “green” in terms of CO2 emissions, than pro-nuke France. Moreover, as Andrew Stuttaford pointed out in National Review last weekend after the final reactors were taken offline:
To say that Germany’s attempt to decarbonize its economy has had mixed (and hugely expensive) results is an understatement. But if decarbonizing its economy is an objective that Berlin wishes to pursue, then, rationally, it should be turning to nuclear energy as a key element in achieving that aim.
Unfortunately, when it comes to nuclear power, superstition (or, to be kinder, a form of primitive dread), not reason, has long been a powerful force in Germany. That’s why then-chancellor Gerhard Schröder of the center-left SPD (which was then in coalition with the Greens) agreed to phase out the country’s nuclear-power stations in an agreement reached in 2000. Under the terms of the deal, the last of them would go offline in 2020 or so. Back then nuclear energy supplied around one-third of Germany’s electricity.
Criticism also came from Lincoln Hill, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Nuclear Energy Association (of Great Britain), who wrote at Cap-X:
The decision [to abandon nuclear power] itself has no basis in science. Ostensibly, the accident at Fukushima drove the Merkel Government to revive the nuclear phaseout. The most important thing to know here is that Japan, where Fukushima happened, is trying hard to restart its 30GW nuclear fleet, even as Germany finishes shuttering a fleet of 20GW. Japan has recognised that they can and should fix the foreseeable failures in plant resilience (water-proof back-up generators, build higher seawalls) and regulatory oversight that led to an entirely avoidable accident, minimise seismic risks, and continue safe nuclear operations. Germany, of course, had neither the shortcomings in plant resilience, nor the regulatory failures, nor the seismic risks that Japan had. They had no case for their decision.
CNN is at least honest enough to mention this apparent conflict of goals, a conflict which raises some questions about the motive behind the shuttering of Germany´s nuclear power plants. What Zubrin, Stuttaford, Hill, and others have clarified for those with ears to hear is the real motivation behind the decision.
Irresponsible Green Puritanism
It is not science. It is an ideology that puts unobtainable climate goals ahead of human flourishing. The lead editorial in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, written by Eric Gujer and published on the front page of its April 15th edition under the headline “The Energy Transition is Nothing but Ideology,” put it this way:
The Greens (and all other parties who participated in the abandonment of nuclear energy) are demonstrating with their conduct the fundamental conflict between an ethic derived from subjective personal inclinations and an ethic derived from a sense of responsibility to others. The former is only interested in its abstract concern, which must be as pure as possible, and does not get its hands dirty with the compromises needed to reach the intended goals. An ethic derived from a sense of responsibility to others, by contrast, is aware that … every successful policy requires trade-offs against the original objective.
The chief subjective personal inclination behind the Green movement in Germany and elsewhere, it is increasingly apparent, is sheer misanthropy. Driven by the deranged belief that the very existence of humanity is a plague on the planet, environmentalists – mainstream environmentalists and not just fringe groups like “Extinction Rebellion” and “Last Generation” – are not willing to weigh the trade-offs involved in using nuclear power or natural gas against their benefit to humanity. They are, as shown above, willing to sacrifice both the environment and human lives to support “green energy solutions,” as long, that is, as the destruction of the local ecology, the accompanying misery, suffering, and death take place out of sight, not raising inconvenient questions for them personally. This moral myopia has been present in the environmentalist movement for a long time. Thankfully, some environmentalists have been noticing for a while, and challenging their fellow travelers.
Taking Humans into Account
A coherent environmentalist worldview should take human flourishing into account. Humans are the only creatures on Earth, after all, who notice when other species go extinct and are capable of doing something about it. Those who follow the Bible as their moral and civilizational guide, understand that the creation care mandate from Genesis encompasses a sound understanding of exercising stewardship over the Earth and of our own dignity as bearers of God´s image.
A biblically informed environmentalism, or one that is at least compatible with a sound biblical anthropology, would take into account the trade-offs, the benefits vs. harms and risks, inherent in every form of power generation (even steam). It would not ignore the environmental harms done for the benefit of Green power or make irrational decisions such as the one implemented by the German government last weekend.
The Green policies currently enacted by the Federal Republic and favored by environmentalist ideologues? They aren´t coherent. They are a farce. But not a funny one.John D. Martin
is a professional translator, missionary, and writer living in Germany, where he works with several different ministries, and lives in a Christian intentional community. He has written academic articles on medieval literature and culture and has published essays in Salvo, First Things, and Boundless. He is a native of Indiana.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/green-misanthropy-2