Tuesday, May 23, 2006

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.

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1 comment:

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. :-)