Shellenberger explores the way civil nuclear has been cast as unsafe, when it is in fact among the safest of energy sources. He roots this in the concerns of wealthy environmentalists who sought to oppose America’s nuclear expansion in the 1950s on the basis that it could be so cheap and ubiquitous that it would lead to excessive and unsightly development. The author sees this brand of thought as a modern offshoot of the (groundless) fears expressed by the 18th-century scientist Thomas Malthus about excessive population growth depleting the world’s resources.
I also have some sympathy for Shellenberger’s argument that nuclear power has a role to play in creating a zero-carbon energy system. However, instead of calmly explaining its advantages over fossil fuels, he attempts to promote it by trash-talking about new renewable technologies, particularly wind and solar.