The best chance for humans to avert the worst risks of both accessible fossil fuel depletion and global climate change is for people who generally agree on those risks to begin working together to improve our ability to use nuclear energy. That will mean that both nuclear energy advocates and antinuclear environmentalists must recognize that they share a common rival and also share many common goals.
The barriers between the groups are falling; I believe there are two reasons. Environmentalists that have long opposed nuclear energy are reevaluating their position as a result of deep concerns about climate change. Many pronuclear advocates are reevaluating their learned aversion to left-leaning environmentalists, partially as a result of realizing that hydrocarbon salesmen touting unlimited supplies of cheap methane (aka natural gas) are responsible for recent job losses among their peers, engineering classmates and technical society friends.
The teaser for the above clip initially led me to believe that Ms. Goodman might have invited Hansen, Caldeira, Wigley or Emanuel to her show to explain their recent letter to fellow environmentalists, but at least one of the people she did invite mentioned the ‘N’ word as a possible mitigating tool.
AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Anderson, you say we need “radical and immediate de-growth strategies.” What exactly does that mean?
KEVIN ANDERSON: In the short term, the only way we can get our emissions down is to actually reduce the level of energy we consume. Now, we can also put low-carbon energy supply in place, you know, power stations that are renewable—wind, even nuclear, as well. These are all very low-carbon power stations and other energy sources. But they take a long time to put in place. And we now—we’ve squandered the opportunity we had to make those changes. So, we still need to do that, but it’s going to take us 20, 30 years to do that. So what we need to do in the interim is to reduce the amount of energy we consume, and therefore reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that we emit.
Later in the interview, Goodman described her interview of James Hansen from several years ago. It is past time for her to invite him back to explain why he and his climate scientist colleagues have strongly encouraged their environmentalist colleagues to engage in a rapid reevaluation of their opposition to nuclear energy development.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask about the role of scientists and protest, so that brings us to James Hansen, known as the leading climate scientist in the United States, retired this year as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies so he can be more activist. He has been arrested multiple times in recent years protesting mountaintop removal, coal mining, demanding action on climate change. A few years ago, I talked to him about his arrests at these protests.
JAMES HANSEN: These protests are what we call civil resistance, in the same way that Gandhi did. We’re trying to draw attention to the injustice, because this is really analogous. This is a moral issue, analogous to that faced by Lincoln with slavery or by Churchill with Nazism, because what we have here is a tremendous case of intergenerational injustice, because we are causing the problem, but our children and grandchildren are going to suffer the consequences.