Robert F. Kennedy Jr. disavows need for individuals to change behavior

During the march held in New York City on September 21, PJTV reporter Michelle Fields spoke with Robert F. Kennedy about his plans to change his personal consumption habits. The good news is that RFK Jr. has absolved all of us of having to make any changes in our personal choices; the bad news is that he believes that the only necessary changes to make it possible to prosper without CO2 is to pass a few laws.

I am a proud liberal in the classic sense of the word; I don’t believe that ordering people or businesses to take action that is detrimental to their health and prosperity is an effective or acceptable means of achieving progressive goals. Far too many people in political fringe groups have seized on a genuine problem of rising CO2 production and atmospheric concentration as a political tool to further already existing agendas that have little to do with addressing the underlying technical challenge.

They also have little to do with advancing human development and enabling better living for more people.

Unfortunately, far too many people on the right have been entranced by the “don’t worry, be happy” messages sponsored by fossil fuel interests. They ridicule people who are concerned about the rate of CO2 emissions. They dispute our concerns because the models developed so far do not predict future effects with sufficient precision. They assert that taking action would be too costly compared to simply adapting to whatever changes come about from continuing business as usual while seeking economic growth through burning ever greater quantities of hydrocarbon fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.

I tend to agree with Kennedy in pointing to the problems caused by excessive oil interest money and power. I also agree that fighting wars to control oil resources is both immoral and economically wasteful.

I tend to agree with Fields in pointing out that many climate change activists are hypocritical because their actions do not match their words.

However, if I were to confront Kennedy, I wouldn’t ask him about his cell phone or his automobile; neither of those has any significant impact on CO2 emissions.

Instead, my litmus test would include pointed questions about nuclear energy. That technology is the best way to take effective action to slow both CO2 emissions and to reduce the economic disparity caused by excessive profits in oil and gas extraction. Anyone who is serious about climate change should also be serious about using nuclear energy as a tool in the battle; it is the only available power source that can function reliably despite the weather and despite geographic location without producing any CO2.

If I had the chance to confront Leonardo DiCaprio, I would not beat him up about his use of private airplanes, I would ask if he is interested in learning the useful example that could be set by building yachts powered by atomic engines.

It is both understandable and admirable to be concerned about the current state of nuclear technology and the high cost of building and maintaining nuclear power plants. The solution, however, is to continue improving the technology, find and eliminate the bottlenecks in regulation, skilled labor and industrial capacity, and work to lower the existing political barriers that add many years to the development timeline for most projects.

Unfortunately, Kennedy and many of his cohorts dismissed nuclear energy long ago and have so far refused to take a hard look at why they made that decision and to question if it is now time to revise that position in light of new information. They loudly berate people who deny the science of climate change while frequently denying the more settled science that tells us that atomic fission works safely and reliably while producing abundant quantities of affordable energy.

Atomic Show #222 – How Proposed EPA CO2 Rule Rewards States for Replacing Nuclear With Gas

On August 20, 2014, Remy DeVoe, a graduate student in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee, published an earthshaking piece on ANS Nuclear Cafe titled Unintended Anti-Nuclear Consequences Lurking in the EPA Clean Power Plan. Unfortunately, there has been a bit of a delayed reaction; so far, only the most carefully tuned instruments have […]

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Aspen Institute’s Panel Discussion on American Energy Leadership

The above panel discussion — moderated by Coral Davenport, who is an Energy and Environment Policy Reporter for The New York Times — features three energy and policy experts. Meghan O’Sullivan is a professor of International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School. From 2004-2007 she was the deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan. Michael […]

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More non-nuclear prescriptions from Shell

Shell, one of the world’s largest natural gas and oil companies, is spending large sums of money creating and distributing beautifully produced propaganda aimed at convincing us all that natural gas can provide increasing supplies of clean electricity, clean heat, and clean transportation fuel. While I have nothing against natural gas as a fuel source […]

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Armond Cohen: Looks at Lovins’s claims with questioning analysis

A few hours ago, I posted a blog titled Amory Lovins-speak: Three misleading statements in a 15 second sound bite. That post included a video embed of Lovins presentation during a March 28, 2014 symposium sponsored by the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth titled Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and […]

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Atomic Show #217 – Michael Mariotte, President NIRS

At the suggestion of a long time Atomic Insights contributor and Atomic Show listener, I invited Michael Mariotte for a guest appearance on the Atomic Show. In the small world made up of active nuclear advocates and people adamantly opposed to nuclear energy, Mariotte and his organization are famous — or infamous, depending on one’s […]

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Atomic Show #215 – Armond Cohen, CATF, describes need for nuclear

Armond Cohen is the Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force. We spoke in January 2008 on episode #78 of the Atomic Show. At that time, Armond and his organization did not take a position on nuclear energy. On March 28 of this year, I heard Armond give a talk at the commemoration of […]

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EPA Carbon pollution emission guidelines – New and preserved nuclear capacity

The EPA has released a 645 page draft document titled Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units for comment. Though several newspaper commentaries about the rule fail to mention the word “nuclear” the EPA draft document includes 76 instances of the word, often in terms of describing it as a […]

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Existing nuclear plants are valuable and worth saving

Many currently operating nuclear plants are in danger of being permanently shut down due to temporary conditions including low, but volatile natural gas prices, improperly designed markets that fail to recognize the value of reliable generating capacity, quotas and mandates that result in certain types of electrical generators receiving direct monetary payments in addition to […]

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Should anti-fossil expansion movement align with pro nuclear movement?

On April 11, 2014, Roger Annis, a member of the Vancouver Ecosocialist Group, gave a talk at the University of California Santa Barbara. The talk was titled Oil, tar sands, coal, natural gas: What’s behind the expansion drive of Canada’s and North America’s fossil fuel industries? It is a fascinating talk with some excellent slides […]

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James Hansen is worried about CO2 and realistic about solutions

Dr. James Hansen is perhaps the world’s most famous and stubbornly insistent climate change activists. He bases his concerns on several decades worth of intensive research. During part of his career, he served as the director of a large laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Center, so it was not just his own research that he […]

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Vermont Yankee: Clean Kilowatt Cow That Deserves Saving

Vermont Yankee is a 650 MWe nuclear power plant in excellent physical condition. It has an operating license that is valid through 2031 and it is run by a well-trained operational staff. It supplies power to a grid where 60% of the capacity comes from natural gas that is delivered via a constrained pipeline system. […]

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