Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Socialist Case for Nuclear Energy

Facts For Working People is publishing this essay for the interest of our readers.  The issue of nuclear energy is a controversial and important one and the organizers of this blog admit that our understanding of it is limited. We thank the author for taking the time to express one viewpoint on it.
Added note: It has been demanded of the two founders of this blog that we share our views on this subject.  It is safe to say it has been our position that socialists oppose nuclear energy based primarily on it's incredible destructive potential as a weapon and how to deal with waste.  But both of us know very little about the subject. David Walters has shared views we have not heard and we share them here. Hopefully a discussion on it will expand our knowledge of the issue and allow us to make a fully informed decision about its future.  RM and SOT.

The Socialist Case for Nuclear Energy
The deepest, the most objective and the most indisputable criterion says: progress can be measured by the growth of the productivity of social labour.
-- Leon Trotsky, The Lessons of October (1932)

by David Walters *

Energy, the environment, global climate change, and sea level rise are all huge, vast interconnected subjects that generate much debate and controversy at every level of society. One expects this when the future of our species, and all other species, are at stake.

The center of this discussion can be narrowed down to one technological and scientific issue: the generation, use, and distribution of energy. The historic application, or utilization, of various forms of energy is a measure of human progress. Even before the rise of civilizations such as the Indus, Greek, Persian, and others long gone were relegated to the anthropology text books and museums, and even before the development of class society, human use of energy set us apart from all other species, including the higher ones such as dolphins and apes.

Heat to cook food or keep warm in colder climates was the first human use of energy generated by the chemical reaction (though unknown to early humans) of hydrocarbons when brought to a higher temperature. This was low-density energy from a strictly biological source: wood.

Every step up the climb from pre-class society through the first civilizations, through the massive slave societies of the Egyptian and Roman empires through feudalism, and into and including our modern imperialist; with every advance in the mode of production; with every step forward in the application of scientific techniques for growing food, understanding the seasons, and increasing productivity of commodity creation; each has been intertwined dialectically with the discovery and deployment of ever more abundant, ever more useful, ever more dense forms of energy that could be deployed easily by growing numbers of people seeking to make their lives easier.

The rise and uplifting of human culture has always depended on, and been a function of, this development and utilization of cheaper, abundant and denser energy.

Most on the socialist left have forgotten this. The development of energy use by humans shows an evolution from wood to water/hydro and wind to coal and later to petroleum and gas, and finally to nuclear power. Each has provided vaster quantities, and qualities, of energy for human use. Each one has been denser than the last, that is, more energy could be extracted from each subsequent form per measured unit of weight or volume.

This aided the expansion of the forces of production and the utilization of more labor-saving devices and techniques, and led to higher-quality goods and superior means of distribution.

It this development of the productive forces that Marx saw as being increasingly in conflict with the mode of production we know as capitalism. Thus, he saw the increase in production per capita as a goal, a human species goal, and something to strive for. Capitalism was beginning to hold this back, and thus one of the main underpinnings of Marxism was established: showing the contradictory nature of capitalism and how historically it sows its own doom.

But what does this have to do with the central question raised earlier? In the left today, and the much broader Green and environmental movements, this expansion of production is considered a “bad thing.” It causes pollution, ecological collapse, and climate change. No doubt, the rapid expansion of industry under capitalism in the 19th & 20th centuries has caused these terrible changes. But it also has allowed humans to develop solutions through techniques that could alleviate these problems were such forms of production placed under the democratic control of society, that is, what we call socialism.

Marx understood at least under communism, production would have to increase to alleviate the grinding poverty that prevailed in 90% of the world’s population of his day. In his 1847 essay The Principles of Communism, he posed the following question and provided an answer:

What will be the consequences of the ultimate disappearance of private property?
Society will take all forces of production and means of commerce, as well as the exchange and distribution of products, out of the hands of private capitalists and will manage them in accordance with a plan based on the availability of resources and the needs of the whole society. In this way, most important of all, the evil consequences which are now associated with the conduct of big industry will be abolished.

There will be no more crises; the expanded production, which for the present order of society is overproduction and hence a prevailing cause of misery, will then be insufficient and in need of being expanded much further. Instead of generating misery, overproduction will reach beyond the elementary requirements of society to assure the satisfaction of the needs of all; it will create new needs and, at the same time, the means of satisfying them. It will become the condition of, and the stimulus to, new progress, which will no longer throw the whole social order into confusion, as progress has always done in the past. Big industry, freed from the pressure of private property, will undergo such an expansion that what we now see will seem as petty in comparison as manufacture seems when put beside the big industry of our own day. This development of industry will make available to society a sufficient mass of products to satisfy the needs of everyone.

The same will be true of agriculture, which also suffers from the pressure of private property and is held back by the division of privately owned land into small parcels. Here, existing improvements and scientific procedures will be put into practice, with a resulting leap forward which will assure to society all the products it needs.

In this way, such an abundance of goods will be able to satisfy the needs of all its members.

This holds as true today as it ever did in the imagination of Karl Marx before the 1848 upheavals across the European continent. For today’s 7 billion (and growing) people, socialism, which can only be built by harnessing the productive forces of the entire planet, promises what Marx wrote of in 1847. But we can do it wisely, and democratically, only if we eliminate the global imperialist system.

Such a world of abundance will require more, not less energy. Yet, there is a belief, especially in the advanced Western countries of Europe and North America among socialists and activists for social change, that humans “use too much.” This is an idea that has been absorbed from the forces around the Greens and others who think there are too many people, that we cannot possibly sustain so many people on Earth, and that if we brought the standard of living of the entire world up to that enjoyed by workers in these Western countries, the planet would be ruined.

Doing so under capitalism, the world would be ruined. Capitalism has no way to lift the masses from poverty. Consider the following:

Ø  There are 1.6 billion people with no electricity.
Ø  Billions of people have no access to energy efficient mass transportation.
Ø  Billions of people have little or no access to education and health care.
Ø  Increasingly vicious wars and privatization continue to cause grinding poverty,  dislocation and environmental destruction.

Capitalism is the cause. To bring the entire world to the (rapidly dropping) levels of Western workers or “middle income” families would require not simply a fundamental increase in wealth redistribution and energy, but a vast per-capita increase in both. But the refrain from many environmentalists and even socialists continued: “We use too much!” This is as reactionary as wanting to bust unions or launch wars of aggression of neo-colonial conquest.

These same leftists put their hopes in the false panacea of what has been called a “100% fossil fuel-free/nuclear-free carbon-free renewable energy economy.” Many academic papers have been written seeking to prove the practicality of such a project. An equal number of papers destroy this myth; that is not the purpose of this essay. Rather, consider several points about energy.

The advance of civilization has been predicated on the accessibility of and increased per-capita use of energy, but every paper advocating renewable energy is based on  a massive reduction in per-capita energy use. While arguing renewable energy can power a high-tech civilization on a planetary scale, authors believe that such an endeavor itself could be carbon-free. Consider one example: according to almost all studies, land-based wind energy, the only kind being built in the United States, uses 8 to 12 times the amount of concrete per unit of energy compared to nuclear power. Concrete uses massive amounts of dirty natural gas in its production. It uses more steel, copper, and aluminum, not to mention that far more intensive extraction-mining of rare earth metals is required for wind generators than for nuclear power.

Because  wind and solar energy have actual usable energy production, or capacity factors (CFs), that are very low, massive overbuilding of these systems will be needed. Nuclear energy in the United States is around 90% CF; that is, 90% of the time, a 1,000 MW plant produces 1,000 MWs. In some countries, it is even higher. Wind’s CF on land-based wind farms is only 33%. Solar is only 20% because the sun is only at its useable height in the sky from about 10am to 3pm.

What to do? There is a lot of talk about storage, big batteries, or using hot molten salts to store power. This can be done, but can it be done on a genuine utility-scale basis? The costs are overwhelming, as every solar and wind plant utilizing storage has proven. And they have remained in the experimental stage for more than a decade.

Nuclear is safe. This sounds like an outrageous claim in light of Fukushima and Chernobyl. In fact, the number of deaths per amount of energy for nuclear is way lower than it is for fossil fuel. It is lower than wind and solar if installation and industrial accidents are taken into account. People will argue about the numbers, but given what our species face with respect to global climate change, this is the wrong argument. Those numbers are going to be outrageous; they already are.

Fukushima could have been prevented. The capitalist board of directors of Fukushima’s operator TEPCO had its seawall only to minimum “recommendations” when common practice in other countries, for private or public utilities, is to build beyond specs. They also built their fuel tanks for the auxiliary diesel generators powering their auxiliary cooling system right on the water at their intake structure, rather than locating them behind the plant up on the hill from where the video was taken of the tsunami hitting the plant. There would have been no "Fukushima accident" had TEPCO put safety ahead of profits.

However, there were no deaths from the accident itself (compared to the 20,000 who died from the earth quake and tsunami itself!) and many experts believe there will likely be no fatalities because the population was exposed to so very little radiation after the accident.

Chernobyl, a truly horrific accident that caused 4,000 treatable thyroid cancer incidents (a number most likely vastly underreported), was a one-off incident. A converted military-style reactor built by the U.S.S.R using a design banned in all but two countries of the world, exploded. The explosion sent dozens of tons of fuel into the atmosphere. There are still 10 such reactors online and yet, despite Chernobyl and despite the collapse of the U.S.S.R., there have been exactly zero other accidents of the type that happened there at any of those plants. Why? The nuclear industry in Russia stepped up and engineered out the ability of humans to cause such an accident, and began to add large, heavy containment to existing plants and design it into future plants. The Russians also stopped building this type of Chernobyl-style reactor.

Even under capitalism, the nuclear industry, despite corruption, despite the profit motive, has proved superior to the fossil fuel industry (including both privately run and publicly owned plants) in the number of deaths incurred through normal operations. Any comparison of fossil fuel plants and nuclear favors nuclear technology shows this to be the case.

Socialists argue that, like any technology, nuclear energy would be far better employed in a democratically run, worker- and consumer-controlled public power grid. Of this there can be no doubt. But we are talking about technologies that are being employed under capitalism generally. Many developing countries are delving into nuclear energy and developing nuclear plants or at least the safety regimes required by international law as a prerequisite to building a nuclear grid. Countries currently building nuclear grids include China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, the UAE, South  Africa/Azania, and many more. They do this without influence from the "Nuclear Industry" or other lobby groups but after reviewing all the alternatives. Some of these same countries are also building new coal and gas plants and, at the same time, investing massive amounts to develop wind and solar power.

France is the world’s premier user of nuclear energy. The French ruling class decided that France had to eliminate its reliance on burning oil for power generation. In 15 years, France went from zero to 79% of its grid powered by 54 nuclear power plants. When an electric car gets plugged into the wall at night for recharging, or an aluminum plant is running to produce the millions of tons of aluminum needed in a modern society, everyone in France knows it is nuclear, not fossil fuel, providing the power. France has demonstrated that even a capitalist economy can rid itself of fossil fuels if it deploys nuclear.

There is nothing objectionable about wind and solar power per se. They can be useful and should be deployed in a limited fashion depending on local conditions (their ability to displace coal and gas is overstated; they are married to both, as the experiences of Germany and Denmark, where wind and solar power are deployed widely, have shown). But it is nuclear power that socialists should be fighting for: it is power on demand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; and every megawatt produced by a nuclear plant can displace, permanently, an equal number of MWs produced from fossil fuels. No renewable source of energy, save for hydro-electricity (which has limited potential) can make the same claim. This fact alone should disqualify renewables for serious consideration as the solution to climate change.

While massive amounts of renewable energy has been deployed in Europe, not a single fossil-fuel plant has been phased out as a result. Nuclear, however, immediately displaces a fossil-fuel generation plant. China, which today has 30 nuclear plants under construction, would be building 30 coal-fired plants if the nation could not or was not allowed to go nuclear. Socialists should not only be defending the right of developing countries to build nuclear power plants, we should be demanding the bosses’ governments do so, and expand its deployment. We should be fighting for workers governments to come to power to organize society along the lines outlined here.

Socialists should oppose waste and inefficiency. These problems are worse in underdeveloped countries than in the advanced countries, but because per-capita energy use is much higher in the latter any amount of wasted energy generally compounds already existing problems from garbage to overextraction of resources to pollution, as well as climate change. We should be for conservation and efficiency as a function of any rational society based on human needs and not profit.

But this doesn’t mean lowering anyone’s standard of living (except the bankers and bosses, of course!). It really means a full-on reorganization of our productive and consumption capacity with the goal of raising the development level of the underdeveloped world in a rational and democratic manner, no longer under the jackboot of imperialism.

What does this mean, really, in many underdeveloped countries where only 10% of the population has access to electricity? Does it mean a 50" flat-screen LCD television? A 24-cubic-foot Sub-Zero refrigerator?  Central air conditioning and two SUVs in the front of a 3,000-square-foot home? Of course not. And yet, this seems to be what so many think when they object to raising the standard of living of the billions in underdeveloped countries to those of the West.

No, it means this: it means the right to generate and use electricity. The right to the ubiquitous light switch we take for granted in the West. It means electric light available day and night, whenever an individual decides he or she wants to read, whenever a student wants to study. It means at least a small refrigerator where leftovers can be chilled without spoiling. It means a laptop computer and access to the Internet. It means, perhaps, a small television. It means some air conditioning, perhaps only in one room, so children don’t suffer diseases brought on by increasing temperatures in our world. It means an electric hotplate or stove top so the 30,000 women and children who die every year in India from cooking with charcoal indoors can live. That is what energy means, and that is why we need more of it, a lot more, and why it has to be carbon free. This is what it will take to make all of Africa, India, and most of South Asia “developed.”

The anti-nuclear movement condemns billions of people to decades’ more energy starvation because of misplaced liberal guilt over greenhouse gas emissions. Rather than coming up with truly better ways to produce energy, this movement wants us to down-gear and “use less.” This is why anti-nuclear idealism should be characterized as a reactionary response to the climate crisis, and it explains why socialists who adapt to the Green ideology have lost their bearings.

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) of 30MW to 300MWs can be built in mass production lines, lowering their cost. They can be set up in rural parts of any country and have an electricity grid literally built around them that could, eventually, be connected to and form a national grid that would enhance development and raise people’s standard of living. There are only two things holding this up:
1.     Imperialism, which has been breaking up countries, fomenting civil wars, and destroying the national economies of these countries.
2.     The anti-nuclear/Green movement, which views any development in general as harming the planet, and sees nuclear energy as particularly evil.

For socialists to recapture the true vision of Marxism and the early revolutionaries of the 19th and 20th centuries means learning the lessons of the downside of the development of the productive forces such as climate change. It means using science and technology to alleviate and reverse the environmental damage capitalism has created, so we can live up to Marx’s vision of a new society:
“Society will take all forces of production and means of commerce, as well as the exchange and distribution of products, out of the hands of private capitalists and will manage them in accordance with a plan based on the availability of resources and the needs of the whole society. In this way, most important of all, the evil consequences which are now associated with the conduct of big industry will be abolished.

“There will be no more crises; the expanded production, which for the present order of society is overproduction and hence a prevailing cause of misery, will then be insufficient and in need of being expanded much further.”

Further Reading:
The Principles of Communism by Karl Marx:
Section on energy in the following document:


Errol said...

Sorry. This will not work. The issue of spent fuel and other N waste cannot be solved. We should not be producing anything as dangerous as this.
Then there is the carbon foot print of nuclear power, mining, processing, building, decommissioning, etc.
Only reducing power consumption can help.

DW said...

Hi Errol, thanks for commented. Let me reply:

You are wrong on both accounts:
1. Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) is only a problem if you don't understand how much there is. There ARE problems/issues with nuclear energy, but SNF isn't one of them. Why? Because there isn't that much of it. It's sort of a 'fake issue'. In France, the most nuclearized society on the planet (with the lowest carbon output AND electrical rates in Europe), ALL their SNF is stored in one room. There it awaits reprocessing to be turned back into fuel again and reducing the volume and long lived radiation profile of what's left.

In the U.S. the entire SNF quantity after 50 years(!!!) of commercial nuclear energy is approx. 70,000 tons. By comparison the average 500 MW coal plant in the U.S. produced about 5 million tons of waste and an equal amount of CO2. One plant, one year vs the entire 5 decades plus nuclear industry. The SNF is dangerous but it is so easily managed and so small...because nuclear, as I explained in the essay, is so incredibly dense.

SNF should not be buried. Socialists should oppose geological storage for an amazing important resources such as SNF. It should be reprocessed.

2. CO2 (and I assume you mean Green House Gas - GHG- emissions) for nuclear is the same as wind. The more educated anti-nuclear and pro-renewable advocates understand this and don't use this false claim. The Dept. of Energy which everyone uses as a guide to the issue of GHG output understands that nuclear, like wind, is basically carbon free. How is this?

The reason for this is that despite the uranium mining (which only amounts to about 1/100th the amount of energy compared to say, the mining for all extractive industries that go into building, for example, a wind farm:concrete, copper, steel etc) and construction, wind uses 8 to 12 times as much primary materials (concrete and thus the massive amounts of natural gas to make it, above noted copper, steel, aluminum, plastics) per unit of energy that wind and nuclear are basically equal. Depending on the study, it is a few percentage points better or worse. Both, wind and nuclear, out put insignificant amounts of GHG emissions that both are statistically irrelevant.

And, with reprocessing, advanced forms of uranium enrichment such as laser enrichment and pyroprocessing, along with the introduction of fast breeder reactors, we can envision a future a few decades off that eliminates mining altogether! Already, HALF the U.S nuclear generation, or 10% of ALL the electricity produced in the U.S., comes from ZERO emissions: the recyling of former Soviet nuclear bombs. If we campaigned for 100% global nuclear disarmament, we could run the worlds nuclear fleet for 20 years on a "Megatons to Megawatts" program and not mine any more uranium. do know that much/most uranium is not mined "as uranium" but as a by product of things like tungsten and copper?


DW said...

[Because of the space limits here I've broken up my reply into parts--DW]

On the Socialist Discussion list on Yahoo, John R. replied to my essay. I answer him here.

John wrote:
"I think that David's article suffers from the same mistake that Lenin made. He (Lenin) thought that capitalist technology could be copied without major change by the Soviet Union. Thus, for instance, he was a supporter of Taylorism. He also thought that modern capitalist agricultural methods could be copied. On the second issue, his mistake is understandable since the longer term results of those methods were not so clearly visible in Lenin's day. They are visible today, however. We need only consider the dead zones such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico surrounding the Mississippi delta that results from the massive runoffs from factory farming. Julian has referred repeatedly to an author whose name I forget who points out the problems with modern agribusiness and also some alternatives."

David's reply:
I actually agree with John here. The results of unintended consequences always lives with us. You learn by being creative and experimenting. By understanding context and other applied proven methods. So we have to deal with these. I'm not sure John's point here as a 'mistake' is valid. We have to, under real democracy achievable only under socialism, learn and make corrections. That couldn't be done in the USSR for a variety of reasons. We will be under, I hope, under no such contraints.

John wrote:
"I agree with Tim's critique of David's approach, which seems to be that all technologies that capitalism develops is "progress". We should remember the warnings that Engels made in "The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man." In that beautiful little essay, Engels explains that what distinguishes the human species is the fact that it, alone, can foresee the more distant consequences of its actions. However, he warns, we shouldn't be overly proud of this ability because the even more distant consequences are not foreseen oftentimes. He gives several examples, such as the denuding of forests in Greece and Haiti, for instance. "

David's reply:
This is why I support a super abundant society based on a huge expansion of the productive forces: I don't think we have a choice. We have to or doom billions (with a 'b') to poverty and degradation. As Engels notes, as did founder of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, that humans are a creative species and such, because we can envision the future, also shape that future. We know now that deforestation has terrible consequences. And, another concern of Engels, the de-fertilization of agricultural lands had also to be addressed. But at no point did Engels suggest that humanity stop chopping down trees or using agriculture. It's that now can plan based on our inherited cultural experience what we can and cannot do and how to mitigate past mistakes.

DW said...

Continued from the last comment:

John wrote:
"As for nuclear energy itself: I think David has not dealt with the issue in a completely forthright way in the past. For instance, when I raised the bird hatchling die off that resulted from Chernobyl, he first responded by comparing that to my grandmother dying after Chernobyl and then claiming Chernobyl was the cause. When I showed that, in fact, Chernobyl was the cause of the die off, he dismissed the significance of it. When I showed what that significance was, he jumped to another argument. And in all his arguments, he ignores one fundamental issue: What is to be done with the nuclear wastes? Even present day advocates of nuclear energy don't claim to have an answer to that. They only say that some future technology will be able to deal with it."

David's reply:
I thought I had dealt with it. To the point, John, you don' with the "significance" of the die off. What is the significance and why did the die off only effect hatchlings on the West coast of N. America? John, Chernobyl was a disaster. There is no sugar-coating that nor would anyone want to. But the reasons, and solutions to the event/accident are simply *never* dealt with in any serious scientific or engineering way. The idea that the accident could of been prevent at several levels is dismissed by anti-nukes largely because the activist wing of those who are opposed to nuclear energy *do not want a solution* or they wouldn't have anything to complain about.

John, if all there was because of this one-off accident with a reactor that is banned from all but two countries in the world, this one die-off of a percentage of a species of birds, then I'm at a loss to know what the significance is or was. And how this is germane to nuclear energy of the kind that is being built around the world today.

John wrote:
"David rails against those who say that we should use less energy. I guess I'm one of those he's railing against. I do believe (along with George Monbiot) that we can and must vastly reduce the amount of energy we are using in the industrialized world. In part this is through such measures as retrofitting housing, introducing truly convenient forms of mass transit, etc. In part it is through cutting the military. In part is through eliminating the massive luxurious wasteful lifestyles of the capitalist class. But I also do believe that there is a layer of workers in countries like the US who will see an alternative way of living, one that does not require a single individual to own a massive, luxurious car, ten pairs of new shoes, etc. It is true that capitalism itself is eliminating much of this as it impoverishes the masses, but it is still there."

David's reply:
The last thing Mobiot wrote on this is just the opposite of what you state. He notes, from UK energy experts, that is likely to take 50% *more* energy that is currently used in the UK for all purposes to get off of fossil fuels. More, not less, John. And of course he agrees with me about nuclear energy. But thats besides the point. You are wrong if you think we need to "...must vastly reduce the amount of energy we are using in the industrialized world." You should really stop identifying yourself now as a Marxist. You phrase this exactly the way anti-development, pro de-development Greens do. Why should the industrialized world do this, John? You don't explain.

DW said...

Last reply, continued from mid paragraph above.

I *assume* you mean because the level of industrialization is to great to sustain vis a vis *current* energy production and in the way in which it is produced. I agree with you. But not for your generalized reasons and fear of 'industrialization'! is how use energy that is the problem, not the quantity. If we used 100% non-GHG emitting forms of energy (really 'low' emitting forms) why then should we de-industrialize? This, John is *reactionary* what you propose. There is no other term for it. You are demanding we lower are standard of living and, inversely, we must oppose other countries from industrializing! And it is so, so unnecessary save for your irrational fear of 'radiation'. My, my, John.

Nuclear energy can provide ALL our energy needs, including that of transportation (a good 1/3 of the worlds GHG emissions) if we rapidly roll out small modular reactors. But I'll leave this half of an answer to your anti-industrial pov for another reply. Like George Mobiot noted, we simply don't have any other choice.

John continues:
"The transition from capitalism to socialism is not simply a matter of a more sane and equitable means of producing and distributing goods; it will also necessarily entail a vast transformation in the consciousness of tens and hundreds of millions of people, in what we hold near and dear. This will mean an explosion in the arts and science. It will not be simply based on financing for a few, talented "geniuses"; it will mean an explosion of intellectual curiosity amongst the masses of people. This is what will replace the materialist values of the present."

David responds:
Very general so it's hard to disagree. I would say that to get to that cultural transformation will require a material means by which these new "cultural values" can change. They will not change, ever, in decaying, climate changing, and poorer world. But I won't predict how these values will change, but that values are functions of class society, changing the mode of production will be the first start, freeing up humanity from the forced wage-slavery we all exist under is a second. Where it goes from there is anyone's guess.

John continues:
"Incidentally, there are a few technical mistakes in David's piece. He talks about utilizing more "dense forms of energy." I think what he really means is utilizing more dense energy sources. There are several similar mistakes in his piece, for instance where he talks about the amount of energy that can be extracted per measured unit of weight of any one fuel. I suspect the reason for those mistakes is that what he's really driving at is the concept that the peak oil proponents put forward -- "eroie" or "energy returned on invested energy", in other words how much energy is required to produce how much energy. But he doesn't want to use that concept because it comes from people whose conceptions fly in the face of what he's advocating.

David responds:
John is nitpicking here. I'm not writing a technical paper, I'm trying to explain my view, using vernacular, but accurate language in pointing out that what has allowed in large part the advance of human civilization was the utilization of energy from denser forms of matter...wood through uranium. I think most understood that.

John continues:
"He also makes an interesting political mistake when he refers to eliminating "the global imperialist system." This is a mistake that many on the left make here, and it is a means of avoiding the issue of the class struggle within the underdeveloped world. "

David wonders:
Really? This is not a treastie on Permanent Revolution or the struggles around national liberation. It's about noting that without the removal of Imperialism we can never implement truly the full breadth of the technological solution we need to apply to save our common planet.