There’s no way to combat climate change without nuclear power RSS Feed

There’s no way to combat climate change without nuclear power

As a proponent of the use of base load nuclear power to replace coal, plant by plant, in response to climate change, I am utterly used to quick, single-word dismissals by the “100 percent renewable” crowd — otherwise, generally my crowd. In response, I can offer this for consideration: In the the U.S. we have produced 20 percent of our electricity using nuclear energy for half a century without a casualty.

At COP21 in Paris, as activists paraded through the streets, they chanted, “100 percent renewables” with fervor, and at every opportunity their leaders spoke the phrase to the media.

My heart sank as I watched them on TV. It apparently was decided without debate or simply supposed that nuclear power would not be used to cut CO2 emissions.

Most of my activist colleagues came to political awareness amid the anti-nuclear fervor of the 1980s, so this key issue was long decided in their minds and felt as tiresome. But James Hansen, the 1988 global warming alarm-ringer, has been adamantly pro-nuclear since the early 2000s. Nevertheless, when I’ve cited his analysis in discussions with renewables proponents, they dismiss it with one or two of those groupthink words.

At COP21, Hansen and three other leading climate scientists gave a long-planned and impassioned news conference adamantly advocating that nuclear power be “part of the mix” to decarbonize the fossil fuel electrical system. Their news conference was barely reported by the (liberal) news media in the United States. But these four scientists had plain and compelling remarks that we can’t afford to ignore.

Ken Caldeira of Stanford University’s Department of Global Ecology: “There’s really only one technology that we know of that supplies carbon-free power at the scale modern civilization requires, and that is nuclear power … . Let’s focus on the climate agenda … and take on supplying energy in a way that provides food and health care and education worldwide with carbon-free energy systems.”

Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at MIT: “Unless a miracle occurs, we are going to have to rev up nuclear power very fast. We know this because we’re scientists and we can do the math. Whatever combination works, but the numbers don’t add up unless you put nuclear power in the mix.”
Read full article at BDN Maine