Readers might have noticed that I've become an unapologetic shill for the nuclear power industry, and have added a number of nuclear advocacy blogs to my blog roll and even posted the Nuclear Advocacy graphic.
My passionate support for nuclear power proceeds from my belief that it is the only way we will be able to provide adequately for the energy needs of our swollen population in the amounts needed to retain the basic benefits of modern technology, let alone real luxury, in the face of terminal fossil fuel depletion, the unacceptable costs and environmental hazards of biomass and ethanol, the need for steep carbon reduction, and the hard limitations on the efficiency and reliability of such "renewable" forms of energy as wind, solar, and geothermal.
One of the best of the nuke blogs, Atomic Insights, recently published a chilling article concerning the ambitious plans of this country's de facto owner, China, to develop the largest fleet of nuclear power plants in the world, in addition to its Promethean dam-building plans and ambitious coal solar power projects, such as the 25-square-mile, 2-gigawatt plant that First Solar is engaged to build there. While not all of these ventures are going to yield the hoped-for returns, China's dedication to exploiting every opportunity to develop its energy production and industrial base while aggressively pursuing control of the world's remaining resources, is indicative of its leadership's determination to remain competitive.
China is also buying futures on as much of the world's future oil production as it can, and more ominously, has drastically restricted "rare earth" elements that are necessary for high tech applications such as lithium ion batteries and numerous other high tech components. China and India are both rapidly developing new nuclear technologies, most importantly those involving smaller reactors with much safer designs that use fuels other than uranium.
In the meantime, the United States under Obama has completely curtailed nuclear development and is investing hundreds of billions of dollars in our corrupt financial system, as well as in attempts to manipulate housing prices upward and in propping up our obselete, failing automobile industry.
In short, China is stimulating its economy by investing its prodigious cash pile into the projects it will need to power its future, while the United States is racking up more unrepayable debt to sustain the unsustainable with the insanely destructive "cash for clunkers" program, $8000 tax credits for first-time home buyers, and insanely easy 3.5% down payment FHA loans, which already have a 14% delinquency rate. In other words, we've invested an untold amount of money in the next wave of defaulting loans and guaranteed another massive, costly bailout effort in a couple more years.
China, India, and other Third World countries are investing the industries and technologies of the future, while we are investing in the dead past.
China and India and other Asian nations are determined to remain as competitive and productive as possible, while we are turning our backs on every opportunity and misallocating our remaining wealth to efforts to resuscitate dying, obsolete, and even pernicious industries (like the housing-inflation and mortgage-fraud machine), and to starting another credit rampage, by extending more loose credit and paying people to buy cars and houses. In the same spirit, we are pouring our road stimulus funds into the very places where the population is sparsest and that generate the least economic activity, and into Bread and Circuses of various sorts.
The United States has lost its lead in almost every field of endeavor that matters. We are now quickly losing our lead in heavy electrical equipment, and lastly, we are beginning to slip in scientific research.
Most of all, we've lost the ability to re-invent ourselves. We're still very heavily invested emotionally in this country's glittering post-WW2 period, and have never grasped that not only was the prosperity of that era founded on an anomalous confluence of circumstances most unlikely to be repeated ever again, but was unsustainable from the outset.
This is the difference between societies that flounder after a few centuries, or even decades, while other cultures endure for thousands of years. Compare cities like NYC and Boston, who embraced high tech as their old smokestack industries withered, to cities like Cincinnati and Detroit, who continued to cling to the old early-20th century industrial model and as it withered away anyway, turned to government bailouts, corruption, and low-wage service industries instead of making the effort to rebuild their battered economies on a different template.
At this point, our book looks written. It looks like we're determined to squander every opportunity to build the industries we will need as we go through the biggest economic shift of the past 150 years, and are destined to become a deteriorated, fourth-world backwater with collapsed cities, ever-increasing crime, violence, filth, brutality, and disorder along with vaulting poverty rates with all the misery we associate with undeveloped countries This doesn't have to happen, but the window of opportunity is closing quickly. Let's hope our current leadership can find the mental clarity and political will to steer us onto a different path than the rut of steep decline we've settled into now.