There’s an enormous and central political implication to how energy is generated. Energy generation is about political power and its concentration. Natural energy tends naturally to be small-scale and local, right down to micro-generation, and a correspondingly thin dispersal of political power. At the other end of a spectrum, nuclear power necessarily tends towards the creation of a police state, or at least necessitates a powerful, secretive and intrusive state, one that needs security, and engenders more secretive and paternal government, all of which presents the opportunity to assume powers to protect us from the highly-dangerous-in-the-wrong-hands materials they deal with.
The nuclear industry in the UK has its own police force, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which is funded by the private companies who run the UK nuclear industry.
Its website says:
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) is an armed police force, keeping the nation safe from harm by securing the integrity of civil nuclear material.
What we really need to be kept safe from are the kind of societies engendered by nuclear energy. But it stands to reason, if you have nuclear power stations, then you’re managing a very big risk, so then you necessarily need security, and government and experts take more authority over affairs and start taking decisions on behalf of the people for their own benefit and protection. And then there’s a need to photograph people and keep files on them, making profiles on databases, that talk to databases, etc.
And aside from necessitating a security state, nuclear fission obviously is very dangerous . . . even if nothing can go wrong, the consequences should anything go wrong are several shades of disastrous. And things have gone wrong, from the Windscale fire and Three Mile Island to Chernobyl and Fukushima. We’ll come on to energy-harvesting kites more fully in a short while, but to say the extremely obvious here, kites have no potential for disasters.
The cost of nuclear power actually is enormous. We’re never really told the full cost, it’s always presented in different ways. Decommissioning a nuclear power station at the end of its life is a huge cost, but it seems to be on some different accounting sheet. The nuclear waste in the UK is another huge intractable public debt. The full cost probably isn’t really known, it certainly gets frighteningly bigger each time it’s mentioned, and each year it’s being stored under conditions of high security, by companies under pressure to cut costs and maximise return.
Why mess with that kind of thing if you really don’t have to? The obvious fact is, energy is everywhere, huge blooms of it are only a few hundred feet from you as you’re reading this, it’s just a matter of harvesting it. For some, even in spite of themselves, nuclear energy is an essential part of the transition from hydrocarbons to clean fuels, but it's urgent to dispel this notion.