Updating on Nuclear Power

UPDATE: Upon further investigation this argument doesn’t carry for most countries because the amount of space required is a constraining factor more than price. It may still be true for countries like Australia.

Last year I changed my mind about nuclear power. This is a position held by a lot of smart contrarian people, and I think we need to update.

Is this important? I don’t think this is as important as many other issues effective altruists focus on. That said, I think paying about as much attention to this as you pay to any other popular political issue seems about right.

Epistemic Status: Check the comments to see if I made any obvious mistakes.

Why was I pro nuclear? Nuclear power can provide cheap reliable electricity without contributing much to climate change. It’s not as unsafe as most people feel it is. This made it seem like the ideal solution, if only we could rally the political will. I’m not trying to convince anyone here, but my reasons for supporting are probably similar to others.

What’s changed? In short, renewables are getting cheaper, and are now cheaper than Nuclear. Combined with the fact that rallying support for nuclear would be much harder than for renewables, I think we should update towards supporting renewables.

Source: Our World in Data

What to do? I’m roughly just going to vote for renewables and against non-renewables. I don’t think nuclear is bad, but I am happy to accept the “anti-nuclear pro-renewables” package. I’d love to hear any other concrete suggestions about what to do in the comments.

(A version of this was cross-posted on my blog).