Planetary Emergency? Then Go Nuclear
Antinuclear Greens Aren't Serious About Climate Change
Anyone concerned about global warming should reconsider their opposition to nuclear energy. It is our best bet for quickly reducing carbon emissions — and it is far more economical than many greens believe.
Last week we published an oped in the Wall Street Journal that began like this:
Over the last several decades, the cost of electricity from solar panels has declined dramatically, while the cost of building new nuclear plants has risen steadily. This has reaffirmed the long-standing view of many environmentalists that it will be cheaper and easier to reduce global warming emissions through solar electricity than with new nuclear plants. But while continuing price declines might someday make solar cheaper than nuclear, it's not true today. Yet the mythmaking persists.
Misleading claims about solar's readiness might be excused as the exaggerations of enthusiasts if the claims weren't coming from environmentalists who believe that global warming is a planetary emergency. If they were really serious about the need to move to zero carbon energy, they would see nuclear energy as the obvious answer.
The only nations in the world that have achieved emissions reductions at a pace and scale that begins to approach what will be necessary to mitigate global warming are France and Sweden. Both did so by switching to nuclear energy. France shifted over 80% of its electricity to nuclear in about two decades. Renewable energy, despite decades of public subsidies, can make no such claim.
Warning of the end of the world and delivering the good news about solar and wind plays well with green audiences, but anyone truly concerned about climate change will need to reconsider their opposition to nuclear. It is the best chance we have to make big reductions in carbon emissions quickly.
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Jessica Lovering, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger, "Out of the Nuclear Closet," September 2012
Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, "Fukushima Boosts Green Case for Nuclear," May 2011
Ted Nordhaus, Michael Shellenberger, and Jesse Jenkins, "Nuclear as Usual: Why Fukushima Will Change Less Than You Think," March 2011