Changing the colours you like to wear? Check.
Going where people tell you not to, to do things you shouldn’t? Check.
Taken together it seems like a correlation that leads to the scary conclusion that society is currently going though puberty and rebelling against whatever authority it can find. Teenage rebellion comes in many forms, but it all stems from the same place. The desire to hang on to childhood for as long as possible, to be free of responsibility and demand and the eternal optimism that anything can be accomplished. It’s an intoxicating mixture, but it usually never lasts (the tails on a bell curve do technically go out to infinity though). And it peters out for the same reason that most punk rock starts to suck after the band gets big. It’s really hard to stay angry about having no money and no one giving you any respect when you have enough money to do what you want and have peers you respect paying attention to you and respecting you in turn.
Sure being an adult is scary. To a young person it looks like nothing but a giant web of entanglements, responsibilities, requirements, and treadmills meant to keep a person stuck in the same place forever. But the truth is that it actually is the time when a person has the most freedom of all, and all the things that children generally see as chains weighing us down are ideally the choices that we make that help us build the lives we want. Although, if you have the willpower, you can scrap it all and start fresh. Sure not everyone gets to live their perfect life, but we can constantly strive to improve our lives by making better decisions based on the ones we have already made. Children and young people don’t understand this until they experience it for themselves, it took me far longer than I would care to admit to really get a grasp on it.
And this is where what this has to do with nuclear power comes into focus. Nuclear energy looks like nothing but a giant responsibility from the outside. It seems hugely complicated, requiring an enormous amount of effort to build, run, maintain, and contain. And when people on the outside compare it to the view on the outside of wind and solar it seems like no comparison. Wind and solar seem like plug and play freedom. Build it and forget it while you just collect energy from the aether. But once you start to look at how you want to build your life on a societal level you have to realize that you, and by extension the rest of us, cannot afford to rebel against the facts any longer. It is a known fact that nuclear can decarbonise our power grid, and all it requires is for us as a civilization to agree that we need to shoulder the obligation now and into the future to take care of our world and ourselves.
It might sound a bit unfair to put an obligation to continue our choices onto generations that don’t even exist yet, and thus don’t have a say in it. Unfortunately we can’t wait for people who won’t be born for 60 or 100 years to join the conversation, since if we don’t make the decision now some of them might not ever join the conversation. And this is the foundation of being an adult; that We make our choices not only to benefit ourselves, but also to allow those that will come after us freedom to experience things that we never could, and to make their own choices in that new world we opened for them. If that means putting in some extra effort and sacrificing some possibilities for ourselves for a world where Tom Morello has fewer things to rage about for those who will come after us… I think that’s a no brainer.
But if we don’t grow up as a society, then those that come after us will be stuck in the same spot we are, and won’t have the option to explore, grow, and live by their own choices . Instead, they will have to choose from the same options we currently face because we were too chicken to make a hard decision. I can’t imagine a crueler burden to lay on future generations.