Together with his then partner, Val Plumwood, Richard Sylvan evaluated the problem of nuclear energy on both human-centred and environmental grounds, with particular emphasis on intergenerational responsibility. Apart from constituting a non-renewable energy source, they essentially concluded that it was immoral to defer possible nuclear harms into the far-future by way of the resultant production of nuclear waste from the civilian application of nuclear technology (see R. Routley and Routley 1978; 1979a, 1982, 1984b).

On the theme of the civilian application of nuclear technology, including energy, several papers were published in traditional scholarly periodicals and as chapters in trade books.