There is sometimes a fine line between opposing something and not supporting it; between believing that something should be advocated against and believing it should not be advocated for; between believing that something is bad and believing that there are several better options.

Two examples come to mind. One is adaptation, as opposed to mitigation, in response to climate change. (Much more on that soon.) The other is nuclear power.

Readers of this blog probably think I oppose both adaptation and nuclear power, because they just don’t get me, man my writing has been focused on how, in both cases, we ought to be advocating for other things (mitigation in the first case, R&E in the second). In neither case, at risk of pure semantics, would I call my position simple opposition. It’s more a matter of choosing where best to apply effort and advocacy.

All of which is navel-gazing preface to saying that I basically agree with a Jerome a Paris view he characterizes as "favorable to nuclear":

With all that [pro-nuclear stuff] said, I’ll restate here the order in which things would be done, in an ideal world:

  • first, conservation and energy efficiency. "Negawatts" are the cheapest and most underexploited resource we have;
  • second, renewable energies, starting with wind. They are proven technologies, are scalable and wind is already competitive, price wise;
  • third, nuclear. it’s the least bad way to provide the base load capacity we’ll need in the foreseeable future;
  • fourth, gas-fired plants. Gas is less polluting than coal, gas turbines are very flexible to use. Such plants will probably be needed (in places that do not have sufficient hydro) to manage the permanent adjustment of supply to demand that electricity requires;
  • last, coal should be dismantled as quickly as possible from its current high levels of use – and new construction should be stopped.

I might quibble with the relative placement of gas-fired plants and nuclear, but I’d more or less sign on to that agenda. Whatever you think about nuclear power, it’s certainly preferable to coal, which as you may have heard is the enemy of the human race. Does that make me "favorable to nuclear" or "opposed to nuclear"? I guess it’s all a matter of emphasis.

Perhaps the distinction is that Jerome seems to have only two considerations in mind: a true accounting of the facts and a careful accounting of his ideal-world policy.

I share those considerations, but I’m also trying to drag in a third: what’s the current political scene, and given that, what area most needs our advocacy? Right now, I see several powerful forces aligning behind nuclear power, and I see support for R&E scattered, unorganized, and inefficient. So I choose to highlight the drawbacks of nuclear power and highlight the advantages of R&E. This is not blue-sky policy musing, but a response to the actually existing cultural and political situation on the ground.

I suppose it’s the distinction between being a pure journalist, or a pure wonk, and an advocate. It’s a complicated, fraught issue for New Media© folks like myself.

Thoughts?