If we genuinely need nuclear power—be it older conventional designs or new, unproven small modular designs—to make the energy transition a success, then that case has not been demonstrated. Instead, nuclear advocates have primarily used political argument to support continued investment in it. Because if we just went by the industry’s actual track record, and properly internalized its risks and high costs, we’d never build another nuclear power plant again.
Nuclear power never had a proper justification as an electricity generation technology. It is an industry built on a foundation of lies, extravagance, conceit, and failure. It always has been, and continues to be, a fig leaf for the nuclear weapons industry.
The fact is that we do not need nuclear power to make the energy transition a success. Even if we did continue to invest in it and force the public to shoulder its actual risks and excessive costs, doing so could actually hinder the energy transition, not advance it.
Our guest in this episode, Stephanie Cooke, has literally written the book on the untold history of nuclear power. As the former editor of Nuclear Intelligence Weekly and the author of In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, she brings over four decades of experience as a professional nuclear industry journalist. She explains why, contra the recent pro-nuclear sentiment captivating climate hawks, the nuclear power industry is not at the dawning of a new age, but rather at the end of its old age.
Stephanie Cooke is the former editor of Nuclear Intelligence Weekly and author of In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age. She began her journalism career at the Associated Press and then began covering the nuclear industry for Nucleonics Week, Nuclear Fuel and Inside NRC.
She joined Energy Intelligence in 2007 when Nuclear Intelligence Weekly was launched. There, she oversaw global coverage of the commercial nuclear industry and its role in the energy transition, including analysis of comparative costs, both social and economic.
Currently, Stephanie is a regular contributor to Energy Intelligence World Energy Opinion. She also writes and comments on nuclear for other media.
Recording date: August 29, 2023
Air date: October 18, 2023
Geek rating: 5