[Letter from Washington]
“In the face of escalating alarm about climate change, the siren song of “clean and affordable and reliable” power finds an audience eager to overlook a business model that is dependent on state support and often greased with corruption; failed experiments now hailed as “innovative”; a pattern of artful disinformation; and a trail of poison from accidents and leaks (not to mention the 95,000 tons of radioactive waste currently stored at reactor sites with nowhere to go) that will affect generations yet unborn.”
BY: Andrew Cockburn © HARPER’S | From the January 2022 Issue
Last June, Bill Gates addressed a crowd of politicians and reporters in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “Fifteen years ago I assembled a group of experts . . . to solve the dual problems of global energy poverty and climate change,” the sweater-clad multibillionaire declared, speaking by video. “It became clear that an essential tool to solving both is advanced nuclear power.” But the technology, he continued, needed to become safer and less expensive. To this end, he had promised to invest $1 billion in TerraPower, a company he founded in 2008 to develop small modular reactors that can be churned out on an assembly line. He was now happy to announce the construction of a plant on the site of a defunct coal facility in Wyoming.
Andrew Cockburn is the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. His most recent book is The Spoils of War.