Skip to main content

Omitting Some Inconvenient Facts

New York Times columnist John Tierney just previewed former Vice President Al Gore's new documentary on global warming (free text here), An Inconvenient Truth, and writes that there were more than a few things missing:
Gore shows the obligatory pictures of windmills and other alternative sources of energy. But he ignores nuclear power plants, which don'’t spew carbon dioxide and currently produce far more electricity than all ecologically fashionable sources combined.

A few environmentalists, like Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, have recognized that their movement is making a mistake in continuing to demonize nuclear power. Balanced against the risks of global warming, nukes suddenly look good --— or at least deserve to be considered rationally. Gore had a rare chance to reshape the debate, because a documentary about global warming attracts just the sort of person who marches in anti-nuke demonstrations.

Gore could have dared, once he enticed the faithful into the theater, to challenge them with an inconvenient truth or two. But that would have been a different movie.
I was thinking the same thing last week as I read an interview Gore did with Grist where he dismissed nuclear energy out of hand.

Thanks to QandO Blog for the pointers. For more on Patrick Moore from our archives, click here.

UPDATE: Our friend Pat Cleary over at NAM Blog got an unexpected gift from Gore yesterday.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Commenting on Tierney's piece, Harvard Econ professor Greg Mankiw thinks it might be time for a carbon tax:
The two issues that Tierney raises--the carbon tax and nuclear energy--are closely related. One effect of a carbon tax is that it would automatically promote nuclear energy. Right now, production of electricity via nuclear power is not particularly cost-efficient compared to alternatives such as coal. But a carbon tax would make coal-produced electricity more expensive, encouraging utilities to take another look at nuclear power.
A little more than a year ago, Duke Power CEO Paul Anderson floated a similar idea.

Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments

Rod Adams said…
Eric:

I am not so sure that Gore is as dismissive as you think. He is never a huge advocate, but he is, after all a politician who understands his base. I find his actual statements at least somewhat encouraging.

In the Grist interview, for example, here is his concluding remark about nuclear power.

"In any case, if they can design a new generation [of reactors] that's manifestly safer, more flexible, etc., it may play some role, but I don't think it will play a big role."

From my point of view, that is not such a bad comment. I think that we have already designed that next generation, Gore may just not recognize it yet. :-)

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…