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Why is Bill Gates investing in nuclear power?

Such forms of corruption are also widespread in the nuclear industry, with groups like the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), devising marketing campaigns that benefit nuclear power plant owning companies, including influencing the appointment of officials to oversight bodies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

In this pursuit, the public also gets to foot the bill; in the case of TerraPower, taxpayers have put up tens of millions of dollars into this venture without ever being given an opportunity to provide or deny their informed consent for this technology.

Beyond Nuclear By M.V. Ramana and Cassandra Jeffery 14 Nov 22

………………………………………………………………………….Systemic Problems

Why is Bill Gates investing in nuclear power? This question comes up a lot, although fre­quently as a rhetorical excuse to wax eloquently about the virtues of nuclear technology. The answer is by no means straightforward.

Nuclear energy is only one lottery ticket among many for Bill Gates. He’s invested into dozens of companies, especially through Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Breakthrough’s investments range from companies that focus on energy storage — examples are Form Energy and Malta — to ones making new kinds of concrete, developing geothermal energy, and producing steel.

Gates has also secured a stake in the future of agriculture; in 2021, he was dubbed America’s largest private farmland owner.

Clearly, Gates’ strategy is to diversify his investments. If the Natrium reactor — TerraPower’s leading offering at this point — turns out to be a nuclear lemon, which is quite likely for the reasons discussed above, Gates will have a suite of investments to fall back on.

This tactic — diversifying assets and investments to increase the probability that at least one stake will pay off big time — is standard practice among venture capitalists. Other fellow billionaires investing in nuclear power have similarly diversified strategies.

Gates and fellow oligarchs have other strategies to maintain their wealth. They devote enormous financial resources and time to nurture their economic positions by political campaign financing and lobbying for favorable policies and regulations.

Such tactics are legal but amount to a form of corruption and facilitate the extraction of what economists call rents (for example, through the imposition of intellectual property protections), which are going to come in the way of climate mitigation as well.

Such forms of corruption are also widespread in the nuclear industry, with groups like the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), devising marketing campaigns that benefit nuclear power plant owning companies, including influencing the appointment of officials to oversight bodies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Among the recent pieces of legislation that NEI lobbied for was the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernisation Act. Publicly endorsed by Gates, the law makes it easier for “next-generation advanced reactors,” the kind that TerraPower is developing, to be licensed for construction by the NRC.

Such behaviors, unfortunately, are standard for the large organizations that dominate today’s economy.

People like Bill Gates are billionaires because they hit the jackpot on a lottery ticket and then lobbied rule-makers to extract as much money as possible from that lottery ticket. These gains allow them to reinvest into a diversified portfolio to increase the odds of another windfall prize.

In this pursuit, the public also gets to foot the bill; in the case of TerraPower, taxpayers have put up tens of millions of dollars into this venture without ever being given an opportunity to provide or deny their informed consent for this technology.

The public — especially those who live near one of the sites targeted for new reactor deployment, the areas where uranium will be mined and processed, and wherever the long-lived nuclear waste will go — will be subject to environmental contamination, paying far more than just a financial cost.

Given the experimental technologies involved in these new nuclear reactor designs, the risks to such communities are considerable. Many of these risks will only become greater with climate change as extreme weather events become more frequent and challenge operations at nuclear plants.

The risks and wasted investments are mounting. Further, this obsession with nuclear power and other untested technologies diverts the public’s attention from the larger systemic drivers of the climate crisis: unabated capitalism and its need for never-ending economic growth.

Pushing the nuclear agenda furthers the falsehood that growth can continue indefinitely with no limits, and the pretense that climate change can be solved using one more technology from the same toolbox that caused the problem in the first place.

“Those most responsible for creating the problem [of climate change] will see to it that they profit from the solution that they propose,” observed Indian writer Arundhati Roy in 2019. People like Gates exemplify that observation. Not only do they create the conditions for accelerating global warming but they also see to it that they are amply rewarded when they claim to know how to solve climate change.

Bill Gates might well be interested in finding a solution to climate change but he seems far more devoted to maintaining the current system for as long as it is feasible. Protecting this system requires, among other things, selling people the idea that the system is capable of solving climate change. Selling nuclear power is part of that larger sales job.

M.V. Ramana is the Simons Chair in Disarma­ment, Global and Human Security and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and the author of The Power Of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy In India. Cassandra Jeffery holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Global Affairs from the University of British Columbia and is the recipient of a Simons Award in Nuclear Disarmament and Global Security for research into the political economy of nuclear energy.  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2022/11/13/bill-gates-and-techno-fix-delusions/

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November 12, 2022 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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