Nuclear Fusion Incinerates Climate Crazies
Authored by Thomas McArdle via The Epoch Times,
Your attention please. This century’s scheduled performance of the apocalypse has been postponed indefinitely, ladies and gentlemen. Your tickets will be refunded at the box office…
On Dec. 5, 2022, scientists at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility in California aimed 192 laser beams at a pinhead-sized target containing deuterium and tritium and a fusion reaction succeeded in releasing more energy than the amount delivered by the lasers. But this achievement of inertial confinement fusion is not only the first time in history that nuclear fusion has worked under controlled conditions (in contrast to a thermonuclear bomb); those lasers also disintegrated the green energy fanatics’ arguments in favor of dismantling the world’s 90 percent-plus fossil fuel-based $85 trillion economy. They have now been discredited as much as Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons’s sloppy claims of having conducted fusion at room temperature in 1989, despite the two’s up-until-then impressive scientific credentials.
Until Dec. 5, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s banning of gasoline-powered cars by 2035 was excessive in the extreme; now it is simply illogical. The global rise of nearly 3 degrees Celsius in temperatures by the end of the century that the United Nations fears will now be headed off in half that time, likely less, thanks to mankind’s scientific ingenuity. The same kind of scientific ingenuity that in latter decades has allowed oil companies to reach and extract more than 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in “impossible to reach” locations thanks to the engineering breakthrough of hydrofracking. The results have included millions of new jobs for Americans, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy prices, and (until Joe Biden became president of the United States) American energy independence.
Nuclear fusion is the means of energy generation conducted within the sun, and for mankind’s needs it is a source of energy that is for all practical purposes infinite. Unlike the nuclear fission utilized in today’s nuclear power plants, fusion would not generate unstable nuclei that remain radioactive for millions of years and must thus be transported for permanent disposal to nuclear waste sites. Nor would fusion entail the risk of accidents releasing fatal amounts of radioactivity to populated areas (the danger of which from fission reactors the nuclear power industry has minimized in recent decades); nor could a fusion apparatus be used to construct nuclear weapons.
Now that we know inertial confinement fusion works in a controlled laboratory setting, the challenges in bringing about its widespread industrial use, which pertain to energy delivery to the target; availability of tritium or the development of the use of an alternative such as boron or helium-3; symmetry control; heating and density of the fuel; hydrodynamic stability; and shockwave convergence, can all be expected to be solved within the next 40 years. The United States, after all, is the nation that constructed the hydrogen bomb in a tight time frame, landed a man on the moon within a decade, and invented the microprocessor whose improved versions in budget smartphones of today dwarf the computation power of NASA’s supercomputer of the 1960s.
And none of the progress that can be expected from this month’s breakthrough precludes further study and experimentation of other possible forms of nuclear fusion—colliding beam fusion, inertial electrostatic confinement, muon catalyzing, photoelectric fusion, and hybrid fusion-fission. Like fracking, breakthroughs in these areas can arrive unexpectedly and change the game entirely.
But if you think the left, both here and around the world, is going to stand for their mission to cripple capitalism being derailed by a scientific breakthrough, you don’t know them. Fusion opens the floodgates of energy; radical environmentalists, on the other hand, want energy to trickle down and be rationed in accordance with government edicts. Instead of a world of limitless possibility in which even those who are now poor can live out their dreams, the left’s dream is a world of severe restrictions on economic prosperity and individualism, a global economy in which solar panels and windmills and mass transit are forced on the public as a duty. A society in which the freedom of driving your own family car is replaced by the mobility limits, enforced conformity, and artificial community—not to mention discomforts, lack of privacy, and crime—of the bus and train for all (except possibly the likes of Biden climate envoy John Kerry and other climate policemen among our governmental betters, who are wedded to private luxury travel).
Beyond the bugaboo of possible accidents and the health effects of marginally increased radiation produced by fission plants, the anti-nuclear movement’s arguments (pdf) against nuclear energy have revolved more in recent years around high costs, and the many years it inevitably takes to plan, license, and construct new plants; and in the years to come we can expect them to insist on unreasonably heavy regulatory hurdles imposed by government when fusion becomes industrially feasible. In other words, artificial impediments to the realization of fusion’s benefits for mankind.
There can be no forgetting, however, that the environmentalist left is driven by the irrationality of pure fanaticism, and their objective is to revolutionize society into complete unrecognizability. Only in September, Jane Fonda was asked how her new climate-focused political action committee “will be able to deliver on a fully de-carbonized America.”
Instead of presenting any science, Fonda replied: “There would be no climate crisis if there was no racism. There would be no climate crisis if there was no misogyny,” adding that “we need to take a good look at” America’s free market economic system. “All of the experts, and I’m not one, say this will force us and this will be an opportunity to restructure the way humanity lives on the planet. … Between now and 2030, we could cut fossil fuels in half, but then we have to do a whole lot of other things.”
We can be sure that in the coming years Democrats will invent obstacles to private research on nuclear fusion, and that “Big Fusion” will replace Big Oil as the new demons of capitalism. Fusion bursts one of the Democratic Party’s biggest political bubbles: Democrats won’t be able to fundraise on the idea of the world coming to an end when a fusion-powered economy is a few decades away and will solve climate change and all the other energy problems they can concoct.
But if we want nuclear fusion to come on line cheaply as soon as possible and produce the definitive solution to a hotter earth, we will let private industry be in charge, largely unfettered, instead of dreaming up a plethora of new, excessive regulations.
And in the meantime, with total global oil shale resources 1,000 times greater than the more than 1.6 trillion barrels of crude oil reserves in the world that by themselves will last us another half century; plus 100 years of clean natural gas that is now reachable within the United States alone thanks to fracking, the fusion breakthrough means no apocalypse for our grandchildren to suffer after all.
So in the near term, keep solar panels and windmills secondary, and drill, baby, drill.