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July 10, 2021

I was intrigued when I saw that former NRC chairman Allison Macfarlane published an article this week on the Foreign Affairs website. 

Its title is "Nuclear Energy Will Not Be the Solution to Climate Change."

It does a good job summarizing new nuclear technologies and existing industry challenges. Its ultimate purpose is to encourage more government support for (presumably) solar and wind power.

You start getting the idea beginning with the article's subhead: "There is not enough time for nuclear innovation to save the planet." 

The article ends with an incredible statement:

"We cannot wait a minute longer." 

The problem with prophecy is that it's a risky business if it doesn't come true. It can damage your reputation. Maybe. If people remember. 

In Christian Dispensationalist circles, this kind of thing happens all the time. So-called prophets predict the so-called "rapture" and the beginning of the end of the world. One of the most incredible cases was from a book published in 1988 titled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.

When it failed to happen, the author published a follow-up explaining why it would happen instead in 1989.

Then in 1993.

Then in 1994.

A similar phenomenon has been happening in environmentalist circles since the 1960s with prophecies of climate cataclysm. 

Here is a page that chronicles failed predictions of climate doom since 1967:

Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions

Here is just one example from 1970: "The oceans will be as dead as Lake Erie in less than a decade."

Thankfully, that one fell short.

It is the mark of human creativity and innovation that we set for ourselves long time horizons for planning and progress. I am an optimist. I believe time is on our side. 

So, that's why I'm grateful that innovative companies are pushing ahead with new technology and new ideas to bring viable nuclear energy solutions to fruition to meet our future energy needs. 

Bill Gates founded TerraPower in 2006; now, there's hope that the first major result of his vision will go online in 2028 somewhere in Wyoming.

Nuscale was founded in 2007 with the idea of bringing small modular reactors into the mix. They are planning to bring their first unit online in 2026 in Idaho.

Kairos Power was founded in 2016 and is aiming to get its first fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactor online by 2030.

"Kairos" is a Greek word that means the right or opportune moment. From the Bible, it is used to describe "God's time."

As entrepreneurs who are risking millions of dollars in investment capital to materialize a vision of more viable nuclear energy on behalf of future customers, I'm going to trust their timeline of the future.

No prophecy required. Just hope for a better tomorrow and the willingness of people to act on a plan to get there.

Sincerely,

John "Going Long" Livingston
Editor
www.NuclearElectricalEngineer.com

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