More nuclear power is the only way for the Earth to avert a global warming crisis, prominent environmentalist and Environmental Progress president Michael Shellenberger writes in a newly published column. Shellenberger explains that extremists who oppose all power other wind and solar power are causing a spike in poverty while making it more difficult to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Wind and solar power “are too diffuse and not reliable enough to power factories and cities, and thus cannot lift people out of poverty nor reduce emissions from fossil fuel-powered electrical systems more than only modestly,” writes Shellenberger.
Environmental Progress president Michael Shellenberger. Photo courtesy of www.Shellenberger.org.
By opposing the construction of new nuclear power plants and pressuring policymakers to shut down existing nuclear plants, activists are ensuring that zero-emissions power is leaving the grid. Although most anti-nuclear activists are also anti-fossil fuel activists, fossil fuels are more often than not replacing the displaced nuclear power, Shellenberger observes. As a result of anti-nuclear activism, medium and high-emissions power is thus replacing zero-emissions power, Shellenberger explains.
Shellenberger asserts that reducing carbon dioxide emissions “doesn’t mean making everyone poor or even slowing growth. On the contrary: France enjoys some of the cheapest, and cleanest, electricity in Europe. And the right to cheap electricity is, for all of us at EP, a fundamental human right. But if nuclear’s fortunes are not reversed, then the chances of preventing very large temperature increases — without using extreme measures, like deliberately trying to cool the planet — drop close to zero.”
People – especially in the Third World – will not choose to reduce carbon dioxide eimssions if the cost is expensive and scarce electricity, Shellenberger observes. “The truth about nuclear is quite simple. Only nuclear power can lift all humans out of poverty without cooking the planet, or keeping cities like Delhi and Beijing caked in deadly particulate matter.
“Solar and wind are too diffuse and not reliable enough to power factories and cities, and thus cannot lift people out of poverty nor reduce emissions from fossil fuel-powered electrical systems more than only modestly,” notes Shellenberger.
Shellenberger joins other prominent scientists, environmentalists, and global warming activists calling for an expansion of nuclear power to avert a climate crisis. For example, prominent warmist scientists James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira, and Tom Wigley have frequently spoken and written about the need for more nuclear power to address global warming.
While most skeptics and conservatives disagree with Hansen et al’s global warming views, conservatives have long championed nuclear power’s environmental benefits and its price and reliability advantages over wind and solar power. The political landscape appears ripe for a bipartisan coalition of policymakers removing barriers to nuclear power to benefit the environment and our economy.