Lakewood, CO: Polaris Books, 2023
310 pp. $19.95 (paperback), $8.95 (Kindle)
The important thing to know about nuclear power is that it is far and away the greatest energy resource available to humanity today, exceeding all others combined thousands of times over. —Robert Zubrin
Since the 19th century, energy has transformed people’s lives. From lightbulbs to computers, washing machines to airplanes, it has powered an ever-expanding range of life-enhancing technologies.
But as we continue inventing new ways to improve our lives, the amount of energy we need will increase. Population growth and the industrialization of poorer countries further expand the amount of energy we need. “To raise the whole world to current American standards [of living],” says aerospace and nuclear engineer Robert Zubrin, “will require multiplying global energy use at least fivefold—and probably more like tenfold once population growth is taken into account” (6).
At the same time, scientists, politicians, and journalists are telling everyone to reduce energy consumption and replace fossil fuels with “renewable” sources such as wind and solar power that produce less energy, less reliably than fossil fuels. In The Case for Nukes, Zubrin opposes this approach: “Far from contracting our energy use,” he says, “human progress must and will inevitably entail continued exponential growth of human power generation” (2). He explains that an increase in energy production will enable “a radical and necessary improvement in the quality of life for billions of people” (6). Is there an energy source that can deliver this exponential growth safely, cleanly, and reliably? . . .
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1. Zubrin groups all fossil fuels together for this purpose, but coal reserves are considerably larger than oil reserves.
2. “Figures and data from The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein,” https://www.moralcaseforfossilfuels.com/data1626371367331.
3. “Solar Energy Generation by Region,” Our World in Data, https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/solar-energy-consumption-by-region;
“Wind Power Generation,” Our World in Data, https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/wind-generation.
4. This is due to the greater radiation exposure at higher elevations, where there is less protection from cosmic rays.