Nuclear Pride and Prejudice

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a community in possession of a good economy must be in want of a steady energy supply.”

chat Posted Sep 05, 2014 by Rezwan | Category : Energy Supply Nuclear Narrative
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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. 

Citizen Consumers

The Bennet sisters (and a friend) are citizens/consumers in search of power to run their lives. 

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.  Although really, he can hold his own. But there was that one bit of intermittency, where Jane felt abandoned…but let’s not dwell on it, shall we. He’s back! And all is well.

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 (nuclear weapons) 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. He ends up with the superficial Lydia, subsidized by others, extorted to cover the stranded assets.

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.  (Although technology improvements are making this less the case - still require some load following capacity). 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 her bright nuclear future.

In the end, the nuclear family spends a lot of time with the sunny Bingleys, and I’m sure Charlotte Lucas comes over a lot while William Collins huffs away over in the distance. And they all live amiably ever after.


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 a really cool 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 with our ideal mix of de-carbonized energy sources. 

Tears come to my eyes.



Let’s make this movie!

I can see this as a Baz Luhrman spectacle.  The guys work for energy companies.  There’s a convention in the town.

Notes & Related:

Freakonomics Affirmation

Check out this podcast from @Freakonomics: What does “Pride and Prejudice” have to do with game theory and nuclear deterrence?

It turns out Jane Austen was a game theorist, per Michael Suk-Yung Chwe

Race to Be the First Net Zero Carbon State
Global Energy Challenge in Legos and Beans

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