The battle against global warming is being lost because environmental extremists like Greenpeace are not supporting – and often aggressively opposing – some of the most effective tools to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, asserts Ted Nordhaus, president of the environmentalist group The Breakthrough Institute. Nordhaus made his observations in an ongoing debate he is having with Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan.
Nordhaus wrote an article, appearing in Foreign Affairs magazine last month, arguing that it will be nearly impossible to stay within the Paris climate accord’s two-degree warming ceiling, especially with the environmental left opposing many effective tools to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Morgan wrote a reply in Foreign Affairs arguing an immediate conversion to a global wind-and-solar economy is possible, and such a transformation would limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
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“The technologies that Greenpeace and most other climate warriors worship offer no plausible pathway to decarbonize those sectors of the global economy on any time frame consistent with limiting warming to two degrees, much less the more radical target of 1.5 degrees,” writes Nordhaus in his reply to Morgan.
“In a world in which, Morgan asserts, we are already facing serious climate disruption, she takes most of the tools that we have to manage that disruption, including carbon removal and geoengineering, off the table,” Nordhaus observes. “China, India, and other developing nations, despite laudable efforts to deploy renewable and nuclear energy, are also planning to build hundreds of new coal plants over the next decade, yet Morgan rejects out of hand carbon capture and storage. And she avoids mentioning nuclear energy altogether, even though nuclear closures around the world are the primary reason that total global clean energy has stagnated despite hundreds of billions invested in renewable energy over the last decade.”
The Nordhaus-Morgan debate epitomizes the ongoing debate among people concerned about global warming. Many potential solutions exist that would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the environmental left opposes all energy options except expensive and unreliable wind and solar power. Conservatives and climate skeptics will agree to low- and zero-emissions natural gas and nuclear power because they are affordable energy sources. Opposition from the environmental left prevents more of these low- and zero-emissions energy sources from being deployed. Meanwhile, greenhouse gas emissions continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.