Climate Scientist James Lovelock, who spoke here in Washington last Friday night, was interviewed by Andrew Revkin of the New York Times for today's edition of the newspaper. It's required reading:
Q. Can you explain why you think nuclear power is so vital?Something to think about, and a message that the public at large needs to hear about renewables. One more time: We like renewable sources of energy, and they can be part of a solution that will keep the lights on and constrain emissions of greenhouse gases. What bugs me is that so many activists get away with trying to con the public into thinking that wind and solar power are silver bullets.
A. The really bad thing we did way back when was starting to burn things in the atmosphere to get energy. We started with fire, just cooking food, and probably could have gotten away with that. But once we started burning forests to drive the animals out as a cheap way of hunting, then we started on our downward course. What we're doing now with fossil fuels is just as bad.
We live in a nuclear-powered universe. We're the oddballs by getting energy from burning carbon.
My justification of nuclear power is that we've reached a stage now where the dire things that threaten us are so great that even the results of an all-out nuclear war pale into insignificance as unimportant compared to what'’s going to happen.
Q. You seem to say we have to get over the idea that renewable energy sources --— wind, solar --— in the short run, are a useful way out of this.
A. I feel they're largely gestures. If it makes people feel good to shove up a windmill or put a solar panel on their roof, great, do it. It'll help a little bit, but it'’s no answer at all to the problem.
It's not helpful when journalists simply reprint some claims without checking, something the Times reporter did in the following passage:
Opponents of nuclear power have started a counteroffensive to Dr. Lovelock's call for a new nuclear age, arguing that mining uranium and building nuclear plants releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide ...However, as we know from research done by the International Energy Agency, the total lifecycle emissions of nuclear energy are comparable to hydropower.
UPDATE: Instapundit just noticed the Lovelock piece, as has Science and Law Blog. David Roberts of Gristmill, who we have tangled with elsewhere, is suffering from a clear case of cognitive dissonance.
ANOTHER UPDATE: In an introduction to the Lovelock interview, Sixteen Volts wrote the following:
The biggest crime of the Greens against humanity has been their opposition towards nuclear energy, recycling their tired scare tactics originally written by the same entities that financed the "Peace movement" that for some mysterious reason ever opposed Western military operations. For this reason, I actually hope that the global warming is real and will cause as much destruction as possible among Greens and their supporters and the nations that they admire the most, while I sit safe here in the Golden Horseshoe area. That would certainly be poetic justice.I like to feel I'm a little more charitable, but let's just say I can understand the anger and the frustration.
Here's a line from the Knight Science Journalism Tracker that had me laughing:
He’s (Lovelock) an iconoclast and definitely cuts across the grain of usual political cant. Revkin conducts a sympathetic interview that might have been better had he challenged Lovelock hard enough to rile him up.Challenged him "hard enough"? I'd love to see these same journalists challenge anti-nukes hard enough to get them riled up, perhaps over their claims on total lifecycle emissions for starters. Then again, I'm not holding my breath.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Environment, Energy, Politics, Technology, Electricity, Nuclear Power, James Lovelock, Climate Change, Global Warming, GHG