Energy & Environment

Greens dispute climate scientists on nuclear power

Environmentalists are pushing back against four prominent climate scientists who say the green movement should embrace nuclear power plant construction to help fight climate change.

E2-Wire wrote about the open letter from the four scientists to environmentalists on Sunday.

Several anti-nuclear environmental groups said Tuesday that it didn’t change their minds. Greenpeace wasn’t swayed by the letter from scientists James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley and Kerry Emanuel.

“While we respect Dr. Hansen and his advocacy to raise the alarm about catastrophic climate change, we thoroughly disagree that nuclear power has any role to play in addressing the threat posed by global warming. If we are to abate the worst impacts of climate change we need solutions that are fast, affordable, and safe. Nuclear is none of these,” said Jim Riccio, nuclear power analyst with Greenpeace USA.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) wasn’t swayed either.

Damon Moglen of FOE said the group believes nuclear is a “dirty, dangerous, overly costly and proliferation risky failed technology of the 20th century.” He instead said there’s a need to “urgently” ramp up deployment of renewable sources and energy efficiency technologies in order to curb greenhouse gases.

And Michael Brune, executive director of the anti-nuclear Sierra Club, had this to say in a statement Tuesday:

The Sierra Club and our 2.1 million members and supporters respect these scientists, and thank them for their years of service. Unfortunately, we will have to agree to disagree with them on this one. While we agree that the climate crisis is the most urgent challenge of our time, this group is fails to acknowledge that wind, solar and efficiency are the faster, cheaper, and safer way to fight the climate threat.

Brune continues . . .

If Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have taught us anything, it’s that nuclear plants are too expensive, too slow to build, and too risky. That’s why countries like Germany – one of the largest economies in the world – are going all in on renewable energy sources and decommissioning dangerous nuclear plants. 

He pointed to Gallup polling showing much higher U.S. support for wind and solar energy than nuclear power.

Joseph Romm, the lead climate blogger with the liberal Center for American Progress, focuses on the cost of nuclear plants in his own rebuttal to the scientists’ letter posted on Monday afternoon.

Romm clears his throat by noting great respect for Hansen and the other three scientists who wrote the letter, and highlights his frequent citation of their work.

But Romm adds: “I think their letter is mis-addressed and also misses the key point about nuclear power — because it is so expensive, especially when done safely, the industry has no chance of revival absent a serious price on carbon.”

He writes that it’s not the green movement that has prevented construction of new nuclear plants in the U.S. in recent decades.

“As a practical matter, environmental groups have had little impact on the collapse of nuclear power in America. The countries where nuclear has dead-ended are market-based economies where the nuclear industry has simply been unable to deliver a competitive product,” he writes.

Check out the rest of Romm’s post here.

Tags Climate change environmental groups Nuclear energy

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