These ‘Nuclear Bros’ Say They Know How to Solve Climate Change

Shannon Osaka in The Washington Post: The typical “nuclear bro” is lurking in the comments section of a clean energy YouTube video, wondering why the creator didn’t mention #nuclear. He is marching in Central California to oppose the closing of the state’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. His Twitter name includes an emoji of an atom. He might even believe that 100 percent of the world’s electricity should come from nuclear power plants. As a warming world searches for ever more abundant forms of clean energy, an increasingly loud internet subculture has emerged to make the case for nuclear.They are often — but not always — men. They include grass-roots organizers and famous techno-optimists like Bill Gates and Elon Musk. And they are uniformly convinced that the world is sleeping on nuclear energy.

Meet the fans of nuclear power: Nuclear advocates often meet each other on the internet — on large shared WhatsApp groups, sharing news on the subreddit r/nuclear, or on Twitter. It’s also on the internet that they have earned the moniker “nuclear bro,” a catchall term of unknown origin that places men who are pro-nuclear alongside the likes of “Berniebros,” “Crypto bros,” and “brogrammers.

The “nuclear bro” label — often wielded by environmentalists and others skeptical of nuclear power, some of whom are in return labeled “renewabros” — serves to cast nuclear supporters as all being of a particular type: young, White, millennial men with a singular focus on splitting atoms. It alludes to a few factors of “bro culture” that can make interacting with some nuclear bros frustrating and bizarre. The criticism is that these types of bros mansplain, refuse to accept other arguments, or otherwise harass their interlocutors. But while some portion of the pro-nuclear community online certainly fit that description, many pro-nuclear activists argue that the label is misplaced. They say that the movement is a diverse group of men and women who come to nuclear energy mostly due to fear of climate change and with a science-based perspective.

Chris Keefer, a 40-year-old emergency medicine physician who lives in Toronto, has always been on the political left. Before the birth of his son, he said, he was “tribally anti-nuclear” — opposed to the energy source simply because everyone else he knew was opposed to it. But after his son was born, in 2018, Keefer began to read more about climate change, and was horrified by the dangers of a much hotter world. He put his scientific training as a doctor to work, reading research about the energy transition and trying to understand how to power the economy without emitting billions of tons of carbon dioxide. What he found surprised him. “It became quickly apparent that hydro and nuclear are basically the only two tools that have helped achieve deep decarbonization,” Keefer said. (“Deep decarbonization” means eliminating almost all fossil-fuel energy sources.) He cites the example of Norway, which generates around 95 percent of its electricity from hydropower, and France, which generates around 80 percent of its power from nuclear plants. More here.


Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Shareer Alam, Syed Ali Ammaar Jafrey, Syed Hamza Gilani, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Shaheer Alam, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail, Usman Nazir