Global warming skeptics: What do they have to fear?
Global warming skeptics worry environmentalism may cripple economies with assorted misguided energy-related boondoggles, Finley writes. Anti-nuclear environmentalists, Finley adds, have increased electric bills and greenhouse gas emissions, over fears of global warming.
(Page 2 of 4)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Ironically, McKibben is one of those rare environmentalists who is willing to admit that nuclear must play a part in preventing global warming. Interviewed last July at the SolarFest in Tinmouth, Vermont, where he was the keynote speaker, McKibben said he knew nuclear was essential to reducing carbon emissions but didn’t like to say so in public.
“It would split this movement in half,” he said, gesturing to the youthful crowd, many of whom had camped on a hillside farm for three days.
He was right. Half the gathering was there to celebrate solar energy while the other half was campaigning to close down Vermont Yankee, the state’s principal source of power.
In the debate above, McKibben said that global warming is “going to determine what life is like for the rest of creation” …yet he just can’t bring himself to support the low carbon energy source that supplies 20% of all electric power at affordable prices to the most energy hungry nation on Earth, because, like wind and solar, it costs more than fossil fuels up front. And keep in mind, that a wind turbine is actually just a part of a hybrid design that includes a natural gas power plant.
It must be somewhat frustrating for James Hansen to have a partner who is essentially neutralizing his own attempts to promote the use of nuclear. No wonder they aren’t getting anywhere.
Seeking Common Ground
Back to the video at the top.
IMHO, the most knowledgeable guy on stage was Ted Nordhaus. However, he could have done a better job of talking about what he knew. Friendly note to Ted; you managed to say “um” or “ah” 62 times in just 6.5 minutes, for an average of ten times a minute.
Human history is essentially the history of warfare. In anthropology class you will learn that the area between warring groups is called no-man’s land. Ted has the unenviable position of being that reasonable guy standing in no-man’s land, dodging the rocks being thrown by both monkey troops. Unlike McKibben, he received no applause.
He began by asking if there were any climate skeptics in the room. As he suspected, there weren’t. He then made three salient points:
- In this world that we live in you decide what you think then you go find the experts that back that up.
- We went to half of the country and said that you have to support massive expansion of the federal regulatory state and if you don’t support that you are a science denier.
- If this room were filled with climate skeptics, I could guarantee you that 80% of them would be rabidly pro-nuclear.
Nordhaus was suggesting that maybe environmentalists should drop the requirement to be anti-nuclear as a tribal marker. It is not only a proven low carbon source of energy, but it would provide some common ground with climate skeptics.
Nordhaus then brought up the subject of shale gas, which he appears to be in favor of as a transition fuel to lower carbon sources of electricity, like wind. His contention is that the potential for methane to leak and to contaminate ground water is a simple matter of properly plugging leaks, which he sees as a much more solvable problem than those associated with attempting to scale renewables.
Making a Difference