Regular readers of BNC would know that I’m hardly the only climate change researcher to recommend serious deployment of nuclear energy to displace fossil fuels. (Although I’m often portrayed as an isolated [and presumably therefore ignorant?] voice on this point). One very prominent example of a colleague in arms is my fellow SCGI member, Dr James Hansen (pictured left). Some call him the ‘grandfather of global warming‘. He’s an incredibly influential and important figure in science and advocacy circles around the issue of human-caused climate change. For instance, the 350.org initiative is based on his recommended number.
This guy ought to be taken seriously by any environmental ‘activist’ who wishes their case to be scientifically based and consistent. Yet, he’s being blithely ignored (or even denigrated) by the ’100% renewable energy will solve everything’ crowd and their anti-nuclear side-kicks. This is a shame, because he has some really important things to say on energy matters, as well as climate. He’s a polymath, and thinks big. He’s clever. He’s willing to speak out. We need more folks like Jim.
Below I reproduce a slightly abridged version of a recent essay by Jim on the topic of sustainable energy. I do so because: (i) its content matches so well the other material and arguments I’ve published on BNC; (ii) Hansen has featured on many other past posts (see list here); (iii) he’s a personal friend and IFR supporter, and I respect what he says; and (iv) it’s a great topic of conversation for readers. I look forward to your feedback and comments on Hansen’s piece. It should be read widely.
Today’s adults, unless they have a sudden change of heart, are preparing to leave young people a dynamic mess out of their control.
This is an odd situation. It is a wonder to see instinctive, sometimes frantic, reactions of many species as they try to protect their young from dangers. One would think that the intelligent species would have become particularly good at providing protection for their young, and that a democratic system would give that function high priority. But as our paper #3 (“The Case for Young People“) makes clear, governments are failing to protect the rights of young people to inherit a planet that preserves creation and preserves their equal opportunity for good lives.
A facile explanation would focus on the ‘merchants of doubt’ who have managed to confuse the public about the reality of human-made climate change. The merchants play a role, to be sure, a sordid one, but they are not the main obstacle to solution of human-made climate change.
The bigger problem is that people who accept the reality of climate change are not proposing actions that would work. This is important, because as Mother Nature makes climate change more obvious, we need to be moving in directions within a framework that will minimize the impacts and provide young people a fighting chance of stabilizing the situation.
Let me try to provide some insight about the problem via personal experience and simple charts for the United States and the world.