The far left is isolating itself on climate policy, taking issue with high-profile climate scientists who say we need more nuclear power to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Many of the most prominent scientists warning about global warming tell us wind and solar power alone will fall far short of the carbon dioxide reductions necessary to forestall substantial global warming.
The progressive website Common Dreams published an article today claiming nuclear power causes global warming. That is a very novel claim, considering the Mount Rushmore of scientists warning about a global warming crisis has consistently advocated for nuclear power playing a central role reducing carbon dioxide emissions. James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira, and Tom Wigley – comprising four of the most prominent and credentialed scientists warning about global warming and advocating immediate policy action – wrote a column in the UK Guardian emphasizing how important nuclear power will be in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
“We need affordable, abundant clean energy, but there is no particular reason why we should favor renewable energy over other forms of abundant energy,” the scientists wrote.
“Most importantly for climate, nuclear produces no CO2 during power generation,” the scientists explained. “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.”
“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 scientists concluded.
Common Dreams seeks to discredit these scientists, arguing that mining for uranium and the construction of nuclear power plants emit carbon dioxide. Perhaps so, but the same argument applies to wind and solar power. The rare earth minerals required for wind and solar equipment are more difficult to mine, are more spread out than uranium deposits, and impose much worse environmental problems than uranium mining. Moreover, most wind turbines and solar panels are manufactured overseas, requiring more utilization of fossil fuels – and therefore more carbon dioxide emissions – to deliver them here to the United States.
Scientists can and do disagree about whether humans are causing sufficient global warming to warrant strong, immediate government action. Nevertheless, scientists on all sides of the global warming debate agree nuclear power is an effective – and perhaps the most effective – available tool for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. If progressive activist groups like Common Dreams seek to eliminate nuclear fuel as a climate mitigation option, they will be contradicting the very scientists who are taking the lead calling for carbon dioxide reductions.