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Bait and Switch: Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change

By James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley | The Guardian | December 3, 2015

… We have become so concerned about humanity’s slow response to this challenge that we have decided we must clearly set out what we see as the only viable path forward. As scientists we do not take advocacy positions lightly, but we believe the magnitude of climate change now presents an unprecedented moral challenge that compels us to speak out.

… The voluntary measures put on the table at Paris by over 100 nations are a welcome step, but unless there are strong measures to reduce emissions beyond 2030, global emissions would remain at a high level, practically guaranteeing that young people inherit a climate running out of their control. A new and intensified approach is clearly needed.

Everyone agrees that the most urgent component of decarbonisation is a move towards clean energy, and clean electricity in particular. We need affordable, abundant clean energy, but there is no particular reason why we should favour renewable energy over other forms of abundant energy. Indeed, cutting down forests for bioenergy and damming rivers for hydropower – both commonly counted as renewable energy sources – can have terrible environmental consequences.

Nuclear power, particularly next-generation nuclear power with a closed fuel cycle (where spent fuel is reprocessed), is uniquely scalable, and environmentally advantageous. Over the past 50 years, nuclear power stations – by offsetting fossil fuel combustion – have avoided the emission of an estimated 60bn tonnes of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy can power whole civilisations, and produce waste streams that are trivial compared to the waste produced by fossil fuel combustion. There are technical means to dispose of this small amount of waste safely. However, nuclear does pose unique safety and proliferation concerns that must be addressed with strong and binding international standards and safeguards. Most importantly for climate, nuclear produces no CO2 during power generation.

To solve the climate problem, policy must be based on facts and not on prejudice. The climate system cares about greenhouse gas emissions – not about whether energy comes from renewable power or abundant nuclear power. Some have argued that it is feasible to meet all of our energy needs with renewables. The 100% renewable scenarios downplay or ignore the intermittency issue by making unrealistic technical assumptions, and can contain high levels of biomass and hydroelectric power at the expense of true sustainability. Large amounts of nuclear power would make it much easier for solar and wind to close the energy gap.

The climate issue is too important for us to delude ourselves with wishful thinking. Throwing tools such as nuclear out of the box constrains humanity’s options and makes climate mitigation more likely to fail. We urge an all-of-the-above approach that includes increased investment in renewables combined with an accelerated deployment of new nuclear reactors.

For example, a build rate of 61 new reactors per year could entirely replace current fossil fuel electricity generation by 2050. Accounting for increased global electricity demand driven by population growth and development in poorer countries, which would add another 54 reactors per year, this makes a total requirement of 115 reactors per year to 2050 to entirely decarbonise the global electricity system in this illustrative scenario. … Full article

A New Generation of Nuclear Reactors, the logical “Solution” for the Climate Scare

Stephen Tindale

The “Switchers” and assorted prominent pro-nuclear climate activists:

George Monbiot – columnist with The Guardian newspaper in the UK, and author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. “Atomic energy has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and the impact on people and the planet has been small. The crisis at Fukushima has converted me to the cause of nuclear power.”

Tom Wigley – of Climate-Gate infamy, he’s a senior scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division of the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research. “We need nuclear power to solve this problem … people don’t realise just how bad climate change is.”

James Hansen – author of Storms of My Grandchildren.

Barry W Brook – is the Director of Climate Science at Adelaide University, and Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change, is on the board of the Science Council for Global Initiatives and the International Awards Committee of the Global Energy Prize.

Gwyneth Cravens – novelist and journalist, author of Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy.

Ted Nordhaus – Chairman of the Breakthrough Institute, political strategist and author of Break Through, Why We Can’t Leave Saving The Planet To Environmentalists.

Mark Lynas – author of The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, also a frequent speaker around the world on climate change science and policy. “Let me be very clear. Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost.”

Tom Blees – author of Prescription for the Planet (the seemingly “intractable” problem of nuclear waste is “nothing of the kind”) has “probably done more than anybody to move people to the cause of nuclear power.” Tom also heads the Science Council for Global Initiatives.

Professor Gerry Thomas – of the Imperial College, London, “I am very pro-nuclear as I realise that we have an unwarranted fear of radiation.”

James Lovelock – celebrated father of the Gaia principle.

Fred Pearce – an environment writer with The Guardian newspaper in the UK, and author of The Last Generation: How nature will take her revenge for climate change.

Stewart Brand – a prominent pro-nuclear “environmentalist” and author of Whole Earth Discipline: Why dense cities, nuclear power, transgenic crops, restored wildlands and geoengineering are necessary.

Ken Caldiera – with the Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, recently co-authored an open letter to the environmental movement urging them to bring their support behind the development of new nuclear power.

Kerry Emmanuel – with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is known for his work on attribution of climate change to hurricane events.

Rachel Pritzker – is the founder and president of the Pritzker Innovation Fund. Rachel currently chairs the advisory board of the Breakthrough Institute.

Suzanne Hobbs-Baker – the brain behind Pop Atomic Studios, an organisation which uses the power of visual and liberal arts to “enrich” the public discussion on atomic energy.

Ed Davey – UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, “When I have listened to the arguments of pro-nuclear Liberal Democrats in recent years, the one argument I found increasingly difficult to answer is the climate-change argument, because climate change poses a real and massive danger to our planet. Not keeping a genuinely low-carbon source of electricity as an option looks reckless when we don’t know the future.”

December 6, 2015 - Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , ,

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