There is a letter worth reading published on the Science Magazine web site titled Climate Change and the Integrity of Science. It is signed by dozens of people who are each members of the National Academy of Science, but they make it clear that they are not speaking for the NAS.
I understand that there are people who read Atomic Insights who are offended by the politically and economically motivated overreaching associated with the ongoing, world-wide discussion about the relationship between climate and CO2. I understand why good people fear unscrupulous traders or power hungry politicians who are trying to capitalize on the issue. I recognize why some might confuse those politically/economically motivated efforts to reduce the effects of producing and dumping tens of billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year with the efforts of people who are genuinely worried based on diligent study and research.
It has concerned me, however, just how frequently some of the folks defending our current energy production system and development patterns want to blame scientists for some kind of collusion and dishonest information production due to the discovery of a few emails and mistakes in models. I do not claim that the world is coming to an end or ask all of society to forgo freedom and economic development. I do not believe that our effects on the environment are justifications for massive power grabs or forced wealth transfers.
I do believe that all economic activity should internalize as many costs as possible so that the final products are not sold at an artificially low price that is only made possible by spreading costs throughout society. If a production method produces a lot of waste that needs to go somewhere, the owner of that “somewhere” has a right to charge a fee. The disposal cost will presumably motivate the production process owner to spend money for designers, engineers, and technicians that can improve the system to reduce the waste quantity by as much as possible. That market-based model has worked for hundreds of years to encourage development that is less wasteful than what came before.
There is no doubt that I am biased in favor of atomic fission based energy production systems that produce essentially no waste product that has to go somewhere else. Fission produces waste material, but the process is so energy dense that the amount of material is small enough to keep it close at hand until such time as reusing it is profitable.
Advocating for a fee on atmospheric dumping of combustion gases can be dismissed as being selfishly motivated when it comes from a guy who would prefer to sell energy production systems clean enough to run inside sealed submarines. A fee high enough to motivate system improvements for combustion systems would also benefit Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. by helping atomic engines compete in the market.
There is little disagreement that building fission based systems takes longer and costs more than building combustion systems that have waste disposal equipment that is not much more complicated than a smoke stack. The freely available waste disposal system for combustion processes makes it challenging to raise financing for fission based systems under current rules. A CO2 disposal fee might help me – and all other marketers of similar systems – to show investors why they will make more money by investing in our machines than by financing continued exploration for extractive industries. I apologize for giving other advocates of CO2 emission reductions a debate handicap by clearly stating both my economic motives and my support for their effort.