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    • Thank you, Factotum, for a truly awesome response. Last night after I rediscovered the video, I watched the beginning half again and all the rest. Interesting that it already has 150,000 views and the comments are turned off. Must be controversial.

      I generally agree with everything you wrote. He was so adamant about some pretty bold statements that I wanted him to justify. And he was so dismissive of things like the risk of nuclear.

      When I was in college, I told a few friends that I was going to change my major from geophysics to nuclear, because I thought oil & coal were dirty and dangerous. I made many of the arguments then that he is making now. But I blinked when I thought about how no matter how safe nuclear really is, the public will always think of nuclear bombs. I’ve wondered what a career in nuclear would have meant for me.

      Bill Gates seems to be making cogent arguments without the bombast, but I get the feeling that even he is losing faith after the administration decided he can’t build a pilot with the Chinese.

    • no matter how safe nuclear really is, the public will always think of nuclear bombs.

      This is true. I grew up in a time where a nuclear reactor exploding some countries away meant that I wasn't allowed to play outside for quite some time - that I wasn't allowed some foods I liked - that I saw my parents dig over the garden I helped plant. I grew up reading a children's book about a reactor accident in Germany, which gave me nightmares for weeks, although for reasons only semi-related to the nuclear hazards described in the book. I remember a cartoon that was shown on kids TV about an elderly couple surviving a nuclear attack but eventually succumbing to radiation effects.

      In hindsight, all of that was very crazy and likely shouldn't have been dumped on a whole generation of unsuspecting kids - but those were the times living close to the iron curtain, in a country that was basically the staging area for World War III.

      All of that is probably worth a separate conversation. Here, it's just meant as a reason why just mentioning the word "nuclear" is able to shut down a discussion with a whole generation of people. The Green party, at least here in Germany, has "anti-nuclear" in their DNA. Exactly those people who are most concerned about our climate are people who are opposed to nuclear technology.

      Maybe nuclear power is the "lesser evil". The areas affected by the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are small compared to the area affected by global heating and the climate crisis in general, so maybe having about four of those accidents per century going forward might not be the end of the world, relatively speaking. Still, I think it is unrealistic to believe that any of that will happen. If nuclear power is our only way out, I guess we're doomed.

    • Thank you for that explanation. Here in the United States, we see articles about Germany and France closing nuclear power plants and not opening new ones and it makes me wonder why. I assumed the old plants were no longer economic and new ones were too expensive. I didn’t realize you had the same fears of nuclear we have.

      The HBO show Chernobyl was very popular here and I think it is because the idea of a nuclear meltdown is so frightening.

    • Yes. Here in Germany, nuclear power generation has stagnated since the 1980s, due to public pressure. There has been some back and forth on the eventual date for complete phase-out, but it is now expected to happen by 2022.

      Currently there are only seven reactors still operating, and there have been less than 40 in operation at all. Compare that to the 400-ish that would be Germany's "fair share" of the 40,000 suggested to be built for carbon capture.

    • I see quite a few pro-nuclear articles like this one and they spend some time talking about Germany. Honestly, I don’t know what to think. If these innovative new plants from Russia work, then they seem great, but work means no huge accidents and how can you reliably predict those?

    • It not about predicting huge accidents, it's about designing reactors so they don't have catastrophic failure modes. Like, for example. pebble bed reactors (there are other designs as well). The main insight is the need for the reactors to be passively safe, which means that if the operation is interrupted at any time the reactor just shuts down by itself and remains contained.

      But, for various (political and other) reasons, we have lost precious decades we could have used to perfect those types of reactors, and here we are, at the time when they would really help in decarbonising our economies.

    • You and @Factotum might really like part 3 of the Netflix series, Inside Bill’s Brain, because it’s all about TerraPower, the company Gates has been funding for a long time. It sounds like they have framed the nuclear problem exactly right and they were ready to build a pilot in China until the U.S. stopped it because trade disputes. Bill has done a lot to cultivate a relationship with President Xi and his wife, China in general, and they seem very motivated.

      I’m in the camp of we need to give TerraPower a shot.