Nuclear Pride and Prejudice
Rezwan Razani - July 07, 2013
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a community in possession of a good economy must be in want of a steady energy supply.”
I’ve been having conversations about nuclear energy with environmentalists, while my mother reads “Pride and Prejudice.” Then it hit me - Pride and Prejudice is a nuclear energy story. Jane Austen was so prescient.
The Bennet sisters (and a friend) are citizens/consumers in search of power to run their lives.
- Elizabeth is a consumer with high standards who is quick to judge.
- Jane is sweet and non-material.
- Lydia just wants to have fun and doesn’t ask deeper questions.
- Charlotte Lucas - well, she’s concerned about the future and she’ll put up with a lot.
The Power Sources
The men, plus a few women, are the power sources.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is nuclear energy. He has the most power of the group of potential suitors. Initially folks were impressed by his wealth (power), just as folks thought nuclear energy would be great back in the day. Then everyone decides he’s an antisocial jerk, just as mushroom clouds turned everyone off to nuclear power. His haughty manner makes it hard to like him. The community tries to do without him. As the story unfolds, more information is revealed, exonerating his character. Likewise, with the release of Pandora’s Promise, more information on nuclear power is being revealed, and hopefully this will lead to exoneration.
Mr. Bingley is Solar energy. He has a sunny disposition. A lot of power to offer. This is very nice for Jane. She is amiable and low maintenance. A perfect coupling. Mr. Bingley doesn’t have the raw power of Mr. Darcy. As such, Mr. Darcy is Bingley’s backup power source, the baseload in the relationship.
Mr. Wickham is the dark side of the military. A charming but corrupt soldier. Leveraging other people’s power to drive his own mayhem. Not a producer. A perfect match for the oblivious Lydia. Note the back history with Darcy and Wickham. They grew up together - but Wickham (the military) is dependent on the Darcy’s (the power source). Darcy finds Wickham repellant. Wickham lies about Darcy. Their paths keep crossing, although Darcy would like to completely disassociate - just as nuclear power and weapons keep being mixed up today. And nuclear power wants to make a clear and permanent cut. Alas, Wickham has those wily extortionist ways.
William Collins is wind. He is the clergyman, Elizabeth’s cousin who proposes marriage. She turns him down and he marries Charlotte Lucas. She handles his overbearing presence via avoidance. She arranges their space and timing so that she is in places that he is not (“So you see, it often happens that a whole day passes in which we have not spent more than a few minutes in each other’s company.”) This is likely the way to handle wind energy: location, location, location. Collins/wind needs a baseload power source to sponsor him. Cue Catherine deBerge - an old fossil - fossil fuel.
Yes, Catherine DeBerge is fossil fuels. She is incensed that her nephew Darcy should ever want to join forces with Elizabeth, i.e., break away from fossil corporate control and be independently at the disposal of the consumer. She’d like to keep nuclear power under wraps in the fossil family, deployed at her will, standing by to marry her sickly daughter. The daughter is clearly a symbol of what would happen to the world if we continue to be reliant on fossil fuels. Also a great symbol of the lack of future in fossils.
Georgiana is nuclear fusion. She is Darcy’s young sister. That makes her a member of the Darcy/nuclear family, Not yet proven or online, the shining hope of a nuclear future. She was almost despoiled by the evil Wickham who wanted to subvert her gift to military ends. Luckily, Darcy thwarted that and at the end of the story, she is in the happy household of Darcy (nuclear power) plus Elizabeth (the consuming public), happily honing her skills for the ultimate nuclear future.
One other important note. The turning point in the novel, the moment at which Elizabeth realizes Darcy is the one - is when she sees Pemberly - the ultimate back yard.
Yes, chicks dig the back yard. Again, kudos to Jane Austen for getting this right. The ultimate decider for any energy supply is - how does it affect your back yard? Which energy supply has the best NIMBY coefficient? [Note: See also the Cinderella Energy Project, which takes place in NIMBY land, and features a footprint test.]
Take a drive in the country with the Gardiners (Gardeners?! Jane!) and you will see that Darcy/Nuclear has the best backyard when you count everything - energy density, minimally invasive, no green house gases, least land used per energy output, lowest fatality rate per unit of energy and so on.
Take that drive, consider the true NIMBY, recalibrate your Prejudice, and let’s all live happily ever after.
Tears come to my eyes.