Thursday, October 26, 2006
In fact excluding the very many times it has been quoted by the Luddites it was only said the once:
It was 50 years ago today [16th Sept 2004} that Lewis Lichtenstein Strauss, chairman of
the US Atomic Energy Commission, said:
"It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their
homes electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic
regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel
effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a
minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan
far longer than ours as disease yields and man comes to understand what
causes him to age."
Strauss was speaking to the National Association of Science Writers in
New York City, and was being poetic about his vision of the future.
"Too cheap to meter" was just one of his litany of phrases, but it is
the only one which has been remembered. In subsequent years, attempts
were made to pin it to the nuclear industry as a whole, as if one man's
vision had been a promise. It has been repeatedly inflicted on the
public, because it's cute, catchy and empty of substance. Amazingly, it
gets dragged up even today, because some people and organizations have
nothing new to say.
Strauss comment was not a promise of the nuclear industry. I compiled a
number of quotes from the time period, before and after Strauss' speech;
none indicate anything but a rational technical approach to the
economics of nuclear power.
I would go further & say that on all those we have made considerable progress. I would also say that without the anti-technology movement we would almos tcertainly be much further ahead.
TO CHEAP TO METER - we know that unlimited electricity can be produced at 1.5p a unit, because the French are doing it. We could be too if allowed to. When you look at electricity bills now & then there were standing charges but electricity & charges cost much more as a proportion of earnings than now. I would be willing to bet that, as a proportion of earnings the standing charges alone then took up a higher proportion of income than honestly priced electricity now would.
END OF REGIONAL FAMINE This has been done by the Green Revolution (no relation to our Greens). Current famines only happen where there is war going on. Of course we could have gone much further using GM, for example with the rice with GM added protein which allows children to develop healthily - were it not for the anti-tech movement.
TRAVEL EFFORTLESSLY Ryanair. The attempt by the Luddites to roll this back on the grounds that air travel contributes to global cooling may succeed in countries heading down the toilet but it is a worldwide phenomenon. It didn't work in the 70s either when these same groups were demonstrating for curtailing air travel on the grounds that it contributed to global cooling either.
AGING Life expectancy is about 13 years longer than then. Nonetheless progress has been less spectacular. I have discussed this before & it seems likely that if we had been spending more money on reversing aging than on breast cancer more progress would have been made. It seems obvious that the reason it has not been is political fear.
Exactly what commerical passenger aircraft is powered by a replaceable resource ?