Why Environmentalists Pose a Bigger Obstacle to Effective Climate Policy than Denialists

In the recent Netflix smash hit Don’t Look Up, scientists try to warn the world about a comet hurtling towards Earth that is going to wipe out human civilization and possibly life itself. Except, no-one wants to hear the bad news: the US president is too busy with the midterm elections and wants to silence the scientific Cassandras, a psychopathic tech mogul comes up with a cockamamie scheme to mine the precious minerals in the comet, and everyone else is just too distracted by the latest celebrity shenanigans to pay any attention to the impending disaster. When the despairing scientists urge people to “Just look up,” the defiant answer “Don’t look up!” becomes the rallying cry of the comet denialists, whipped up by the populist US presidential administration.

All of this, of course, is a rather obvious and heavy-handed allegory for our current climate predicament. Reviews of the movie have been mixed, although many critics have praised the film for being a “spot-on” indictment of our culture, an “on-the-nose assessment” of our dealings with the climate crisis, or even “so-sharp-it-hurts.” One climate scientist writing in the Guardian opined that the movie “captures the madness I see every day.” In the same newspaper, long-time climate activist George Monbiot wrote that the movie felt like “my whole life of campaigning flash before me.”

It would be silly to take apart a work of satire, but as these glowing reviews attest, Don’t Look Up offers an—admittedly grotesque—version of a narrative about climate change that has been promulgated seriously by many people. In this story, solving climate change is mostly a matter of facing reality, breaking the power of fossil-fuel interests, and mustering the political courage to do what needs to be done. We already have the technological solutions to climate change, writes Naomi Klein in her influential book This Changes Everything, but they are sabotaged by a ruthless “elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.”

By taking that very narrative to such ludicrous extremes, Don’t Look Up has also helped me realize what exactly is wrong with it: it is a self-serving myth told by well-off Western progressives that scapegoats easy villains, distracts from genuine solutions, and stands in the way of some long-overdue soul-searching.

Don’t get me wrong: fossil fuel companies deserve all the blame they can get for their decades-long campaign of truth-obfuscation and intentionally confusing the public about the reality of man-made climate change. In some countries, most notably the US, climate skepticism has significantly delayed the actions that are needed to tackle climate change. But outright denialism of the sort skewered in Don’t Look Up has been on the wane for some time. In the United States, nine out of 10 people now agree that the consequences of climate change will be felt by current and future generations. In a survey of 10 Western countries released just before the COP26 conference in Glasgow last year, 62 percent of participants agreed that climate change is the main environmental crisis the world is facing, ahead of concerns about pollution and new diseases. Even fossil fuel companies have now finally and grudgingly come to accept that their products are heating the planet.

If you buy into the Don’t Look Up narrative, however, it is easy to gloss over one inconvenient fact: fossil fuels have been fantastic engines of progress for humanity, by providing access to cheap, abundant, reliable, and (relatively) safe energy. They have freed us from back-breaking labor, tripled our life expectancy, and allowed one country after another to escape from miserable poverty. Fossil fuel companies have become so powerful precisely because, at their core, they offer an extremely desirable product from which all of us benefit, both in direct and visible forms (gasoline, diesel, natural gas) and in myriad indirect forms (cement, plastics, steel, glass). Indeed, if you look around your living room, you would be hard-pressed to find any object that did not somehow involve the use of fossil fuels (if only because it will almost certainly have been hauled to you by a diesel-powered machine).

Despite what many climate activists profess, we don’t yet have clean and affordable solutions for cement and steel production, fertilizer production for agriculture, or aviation. In the absence of such clean alternatives, forgoing the use of fossil fuels will inevitably entail painful sacrifices and difficult questions about how to share the burden of emission reductions.

To see why “denialism” and “manipulation by elites” fail as explanations of climate inaction, consider Germany, one of the richest and most environmentally conscious nations on the planet. German political leaders have been taking the climate crisis very seriously for more than three decades, and unlike in the US, climate denialists are marginal and have never wielded political power. Even in Germany, however, getting rid of fossil fuels has proven extremely difficult. Despite having spent 500 billion euros in its much-heralded Energiewende (energy transition), Germany is still burning massive amounts of lignite and coal, and is not even remotely on track to reach its climate targets. Even with the best of intentions and tons of political goodwill—and without denialists muddying the waters—climate progress has proven elusive. Indeed, you may be surprised to learn that the US, despite experiencing much more trouble from self-professed “climate skeptics,” has achieved similar emission reductions to Germany over the past two decades, mainly by switching from coal to gas and with some energy efficiency.

The disappointing outcome of Germany’s Energiewende, despite its laudable intentions, does not mean that we should abandon all hope. In fact, Germany could have performed much better than it did, and this is where the story becomes uncomfortable for the climate activists celebrating Don’t Look Up. Slashing emissions of greenhouse gases requires a range of different actions, but foremost among them are two things: first decarbonize electricity generation, then electrify everything. As it happens, there are a few industrialized countries that have already achieved an almost complete decarbonization of their electricity sector. If you exclude those with unique geographical advantages like Norway or Iceland (which benefit greatly from hydropower and geothermal, respectively), you will find that all of them did so by relying heavily on nuclear energy.

Consider Germany’s neighbor France, which pulled off this feat without even worrying about global warming. Back in the 1970s, when France decided to switch from fossil fuels to nuclear energy, the climate problem was not even on the agenda. And yet, within about 15 years France had almost fully decarbonized its electricity sector and had electrified a lot of other stuff (such as electrical heating and high-speed trains). Countries like France and Sweden have demonstrated in real life that it is possible to eliminate fossil fuels without sacrificing economic growth and prosperity. The reason why the carbon intensity of German electricity, even after two full decades of Energiewende, is still more than five times higher than that of nuclear France is not because of mass delusion and elite manipulation about the reality of man-made global warming. Quite the contrary. It is because anti-nuclear environmentalists—the very same people who express the highest level of anxiety about climate change—have more political clout in Germany than in France and have convinced their political leaders that it’s an excellent “climate policy” to abandon atomic energy and close down all of their remaining reactors.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when the opposition to nuclear energy became the linchpin of the environmentalist movement, anxieties about nuclear energy were perhaps more understandable, not only because climate change had not appeared on the horizon yet, but also because less was known about the environmental impact of nuclear waste and accidents (now known to be rather small) and about the environmental and health impact of coal plants (now known to be absolutely huge).

In its entire history, nuclear energy has avoided around 74 billion tons of CO2 emissions, about twice the current global annual emissions. That could have been an order of magnitude higher, if the nuclear industry had continued its early rapid growth phase from the 1960s. Alas, in country after country, planned projects for nuclear power plants were canceled because of public opposition (more than 120 in the US alone), mostly led by the environmentalist movement. Excessive regulation, fueled by fear-mongering about the harms of low-level radiation, eventually led to a negative learning curve: every new reactor project was more expensive and time-consuming than the last one. And thus, the reign of King Coal was unthreatened.

Even today, with climate scientists sounding the alarm ever more desperately, most environmentalists have been unwilling to give up their old fight against nuclear energy. Throughout the Western world, the battle for the premature closure of nuclear plants is being led by Green parties and NGOs. Even young climate activists like Greta Thunberg have chided the European Commission for (finally) planning to include nuclear energy in its Green taxonomy. Even today, Germany could still avoid one billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2045 if only it decided to keep its remaining reactors in operation. But the very climate-conscious German political leaders would prefer to burn more coal and lignite, the dirtiest and most CO2-intensive of all fossil fuels, for years to come. In my own country, Belgium, the Green party wants to build and subsidize brand new fossil gas plants to replace perfectly fine nuclear power plants.

Because environmentalists were among the first to put the climate problem on the agenda (for which they deserve credit), they have also dominated the debate about climate solutions, wielding outsized political influence even today. For years traditional political parties in the Western world unthinkingly adopted the traditional “green” remedies, most notably renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. In the public imagination climate action became almost synonymous with the switch to “100 percent renewable energy.” Power companies in Western countries that claim to offer “green energy” always mean this to refer to renewable sources, not nuclear power. Even fossil fuel companies, cynically enough, went along with this narrative, flaunting shiny solar panels and wind turbines in their advertisements and marketing materials. Naturally, they didn’t mind environmentalists obstructing their only genuine competitor on the energy market, knowing full well that the world economy would never be powered by variable renewables, or at least not for another couple of decades. Time and again, we see that closing a nuclear plant means locking in fossil fuels, because you also need energy when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. The only technology that can replace a coal or gas plant one-for-one is a nuclear power plant, and that’s the very last thing climate activists want. #ExxonKnew indeed, and they didn’t care.

Here is the really “inconvenient truth” for the climate movement: the main obstacle to effective climate action for the past two decades has not been the climate denialists who refuse to face the reality of the problem, but the environmentalists who incessantly demonized and sabotaged our most important source of concentrated, weather-independent, dispatchable, zero-carbon energy (which also happens to be the safest and least polluting one).

The opposition to nuclear energy is not the only way in which mainstream environmentalists have, with the best of intentions, hurt the cause of climate action. Though anti-nuclearism is the most consequential mistake, a similar story can be told about GMO technology (which has a range of climate benefits), Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), and market-based climate solutions like carbon pricing. By dismissing such solutions as “technofixes” and promoting “less is more” and “small is beautiful” solutions instead, environmentalists have ironically underestimated the true magnitude of our climate challenge.

More generally, the co-opting of climate science to launch attacks on capitalism, consumerist culture, neoliberalism, and a host of other left-wing bugbears having little or nothing to do with climate change, has fueled the ideological polarization around the issue. Though the science of climate change transcends all ideology, the same cannot be said of mainstream climate activism. Ironically, the claim that climate and capitalism (or climate and economic growth) are incompatible is one with which the denialists wholeheartedly agree: the only difference being that they want to ditch climate policy rather than capitalism. Such ideological hijacking made it easier for the right-wing denialists to dismiss the whole climate story as yet another excuse from the hippies to impose Big Government and take away their SUVs.

Luckily, there are hopeful signs that the tide is turning. Now that traditional Greens and progressives are losing their monopoly on the climate issue, and other parties with different ideologies have become involved. Political interest in nuclear energy and other technological solutions is rapidly increasing. The Netherlands, France, the UK and a host of other Western countries have announced that they will be building new nuclear plants, because it has dawned on them that renewables alone will not save us from climate disaster. China plans to build 150 new nuclear reactors, which promises to collectively avert more CO2 emissions than half of the current total annual emissions of the European Union. Europe itself plans to include nuclear energy in its Green taxonomy, despite loud protest by Green NGOs and anti-nuclear countries like Germany and Austria. In Finland, even the Green party has come around to nuclear energy.

Environmentalists and climate activists deserve credit for raising awareness about global warming, but that does not exempt them from criticism. Precisely because they had the science on their side when it came to diagnosing the problem, environmentalists have been far too complacent about questioning their preferred solutions. It’s difficult to engage in counterfactual history but consider the following comparison. Suppose that the fossil fuel industry had never engaged in its disinformation campaign about the reality of man-made global warming, or even that the denialist movement had never existed and we had all collectively listened to climatologists right from the get-go. Would we have solved climate change by now? Not necessarily. We would basically still have been left with the same dilemma: given that fossil fuels bring so many benefits to humanity, it is extremely hard to get rid of them. But what if the anti-nuclear movement had never existed? What if environmentalists had embraced the atom 50 years ago and nuclear energy had indeed become the “energy of the future,” living up to its early promises? A good case can be made that we would have been much closer to a solution for climate change today.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://quillette.com/2022/01/27/why-environmentalists-pose-a-bigger-obstacle-to-effective-climate-policy-than-denialists/
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Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for eloquently explaining how the wedding of “no carbon emissions” with “no nukes” has been disastrous, and simply will not work in the real world.

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Thank you to the author for bringing the discussion to Planet Reality.

The idea that nuclear power couldn’t possibly be made safe has always seemed ridiculous to me. The US Navy has had nuclear powered vessels since the year I was born. If there were a serious safety problem, especially in the propulsion system, the American practice of lawfare would have crippled the fleet by now. So nukes can be safe.

The question becomes, at what cost? Commercial ships aren’t powered by nuclear because it doesn’t make economic sense, not because it can’t be done (NS Savannah). But we’re not discussing ships; we’re discussing what, to the minds of many, amounts to a planetary crisis of existential proportions. If it’s a question of life and death, cost starts to become less important, doesn’t it? So the aversion of many environmentalists to nuclear has always seemed to not be well thought out, at least to me.

I don’t know what else to say. The way I see it, people who won’t even consider nuclear aren’t serious about solving the problem. There is no other source of power, readily available today, that is a realistic competitor to carbon-based power. It’s possible that nuclear power will be an interim solution, like hybrid cars (IMHO). It’s possible nuclear will be a fairly long-term solution. But either way, as a bridge to something better, or a partial long-term solution, it’s well past time to start building (safe) nuclear power plants. Including breeder reactors…

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Interesting article from an interesting philosopher. I especially appreciated his links to buttress his arguments - way better than waving your hands and saying “everybody knows this”.
But starting with " the environmentalists who incessantly demonized and sabotaged our most important source of concentrated, weather-independent, dispatchable, zero-carbon energy (which also happens to be the safest and least polluting one)" seems less than unbiased. And in fact his point is (surprise) that nuclear power plants can be a way to produce energy without producing greenhouse gasses.
Well and good - I think he is wrong in saying that environmentalists oppose “market-based climate solutions like carbon pricing” (to my knowledge the US environmental community has been pushing for a carbon tax for decades) but his opinion on nuclear is presented clearly. In particular he references a UN report on Energy Generation Options (https://unece.org/sites/default/files/2021-10/LCA-2.pdf) as showing that nuclear is less polluting than carbon extraction. I recommend it - you can’t exactly read it, but it is full of useful graphs and the methodology behind them. And nuclear comes out looking pretty good - until the last paragraph of the report: “Risks are excluded from LCA, as LCA only assess routine operations of a system.”
I am afraid that “risks” are what the opposition to nuclear technology is based on. When they happen, nuclear accidents can carry extreme hazard, and there is no safe way of storing ‘spent’ fuel for the thousands of years it will be toxic. I live in Portland, Oregon, downstream from the Hanford nuclear facility (WWII and more recent), and researchers have for years been tracking a plume of radioactive material moving underground toward the Columbia river. It appears to be unstoppable.
I don’t deny that nuclear power generation is a possible way to reduce carbon emissions, but to ignore “risk” seems unworthy in a true debate.

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So because a US government project established in the 1940’s was constructed in a way, or the waste therefrom disposed of in a way, that may result in radioactive material entering the Columbia river, nuclear plants shouldn’t be built today. Sure thing. By analogy, that means we shouldn’t make automobiles either, because when Henry Ford started mass producing them, there were neither seat belts nor airbags. Me, I prefer to learn from past mistakes and do things better in the future. As noted in the article, France has been constructing nuclear plants steadily since the 1970’s. I don’t recall reading about safety problems in French nuclear plants, nor about issues with nuclear waste leakages there. I guess that’s just pure luck. I’m sure it couldn’t have anything to do with design and location considerations in those plants and waste disposal sites.

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Thank you for such a wonderful essay. It breaks the true obstacle to really tackling climate change down into a digestible format, whilst simultaneously providing a wealth of source materials for those wishing to research the subject more thoroughly. I’ve been arguing this position for years, but have never seen the argument made more articulately.

One small issue I would like to suggest. The UK’s recent commissioning of nuclear was deeply flawed- because the party (the Tories) doing the negotiating were economic libertarians who truly believe in the power of the market to solve any problem. This may well be the case, but most overlook one of the few areas where government is truly peerless, even in terms of anything the market can provide- when government controls its own printing press and has access to a friendly central bank, then the market cannot match government as an underwriter of risk.

Because EDF was instead asked to bear the brunt of any risk going forward, the future pricings of the current UK commissioning were eye-watering by comparison to what they otherwise could have been achieved. Nuclear, like Big Hydro is best thought of as a major national infrastructure investment, and as such government should bear the lion’s share of the Sovereign risk- to do otherwise locks in future energy unit pricings which makes further future expansive nuclear energy projects look superficially unappealing.

This is not to say that the supplier shouldn’t bear a small portion of the risk, without some risk there aren’t the incentives to invest in safety. But the British Government missed a trick in failing to understand that there are some areas of economy, like energy infrastructure, where greater government involvement, in an arms-length capacity, is to be desired.

Thank you again for a great essay. I wonder whether the author would consider doing an article on the new solar desalination project which is part of the NEOM project and pioneered by Cranfield University? @claire

As usual, my essays are to be found on my Substack which is free to view and comment:

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It is pure madness that we continue to be reductively lectured to with the saaaaame freakin’ statist platitudes. I’m really looking forward to the day when some bright young science writer will say, “you know, the skeptics are probably right.” Humans affect the climate but the climate is a system so complex that we don’t even know how complex it is. But even if there could be some certainty that our fossil fuel consumption will make the earth a lot warmer and some guarantee that that would be a bad thing, there are obvious things we could do. If that part of the scientific community that relies on dire climate prognostications for grant money really believed we were spiraling toward Armageddon, they would all be nuclear energy advocates. The fact that they’re not proves they are largely full of s***.

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This article is good, but misses some of they ways that Germany has (and still is) misbehaving. Germany poured massive amounts of money into solar power in Germany. Of course, Germany is one of the cloudiest countries on Earth. Predictably, the insanity continues. Germany (right now) opposes kicking Russia out of SWIFT (if the Russians invade the Ukraine). Why? Because Germany has become massively dependent on Russian gas. It is not my intent to take a position on what should or should not be done about the situation in the Ukraine. However, Germany’s position is remarkably craven.

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Indeed, I agree with this with respect to nuclear. I’ve read some suggestions on how nuclear isn’t necessary, but I don’t see the data to support it yet, and it doesn’t seem to take into account the local resources including solar and wind, at scale. Nuclear is pretty obvious.

But, I find there’s another criticism of environmentalism I don’t see discussed much in Don’t Look Up. In the movie, the people who can actually solve the problem are the rocket scientists. The two astronomers successfully informed other scientists and engineers, and their agencies, and they came up with an engineering solution with rockets. It was awkwardly presented with Ron Perlman’s character, but the hard work of actually solving the problem wasn’t even part of the movie; it was all done in the background and magically the rockets all showed up. If you want a movie about solving such problems, it would look more like Apollo 13.

But, the two main characters instead spend most of the movie trying to convince the public that they are right. It seems to matter to them. Leo’s character gets rapped up in fame, and Jennifer’s character is depressed at being disliked. Leo spends time trying to convince random commenters on the internet. The two become activists and become MCs at Ariana Grande’s (character’s) concert, preaching to the existing believers, followed by a ridiculous song with blunt lyrics.

Of course none of this has anything to do with solving the problem. What random people on the internet think can’t stop a comet, nor can a concert or song. What the public thinks doesn’t really matter because they can’t stop a comet. Space agencies can. The military can.

To me, these human characteristics of the main characters mimics much about activists. It becomes more about a desire to be believed, validated personally, and fame and following, and “being right”. It’s about personal belief and feelings, not about solving the problem.

Greta Thunberg is another potential example, but she can hopefully be turned the right way. She didn’t get famous for improving solar panels or batteries, or for some scientific breakthrough, or developing the economic model to show how we can switch to green energy quickly with minimal suffering. She got famous for opportunistic finger-wagging, and now she is marched around the world to keep doing it. Finger-wag at the UN. Finger-wag at Davos. Finger-wag at industry, at politicians, and at the public.

But she’s just a kid. That’s why she’s trotted around by her handlers. She hasn’t done anything of value toward solving the problems and doesn’t have any skills to help in that manner. If she wants to help, and if her handlers want her to actually help, she’d work hard at getting a good education in engineering, economics, science, and/or policy development, and work on solving the problems. We could use her passion. Maybe she can be a great nuclear engineer and finally get that fusion problem solved. Or any of the solutions I mention above.

My worry is, when you give an unskilled teenager unearned global fame, she’ll fall out of fashion after losing the youthful “charm” that her handlers are using her for, and she’ll spend most of her productive life trying to get back that former fame. I think that is, sadly, the more likely case.

And that is a fundamental problem of many activists; they don’t have any skills to help. Many aren’t interested in helping. They are instead interested in being believed, being accepted, being validated, and sometimes even being adored.

Meanwhile, people like Elon Musk have done far more to bring about electric vehicles and solar roofs. He’s even made it acceptable to former opponents of climate change. He didn’t care if they believe in climate change. He simply produced a high performing car, lower long-term costs, and made it fun and economic.

You don’t need to be rich to do it either. Look at the companies like Aptera making a solar-powered 2-seater optimized for energy efficiency that is far cheaper to operate than other cars, making economic sense.

When complaining, we say that no raindrop thinks it is responsible for the flood, but the same is true for solutions. Stop trying to convince people and just build better solutions, and they will come. But that is hard work, and hard work doesn’t sell as easily and immediate finger-wagging fame in an age of Instagram celebrities.

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The author forgot to mention one of the biggest boondoggles of the climate movement; Ethanol. Good example of unintended consequences.

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The whole “Global Warming is Bad” is a spurious and near religious belief in general.

  1. We have an odd focus on a certain level of CO2 that only existed when we started measuring. Ice core samples and other measures show incredible fluctuations in CO2 levels thoruhougt history. For example, plant life is optimized for 1200ppm of CO2 which maximizes their energy creation and oxygen exchange. That’s optimized, not acceptable. We are about 1/3 that rate today. So how could plants be optimized for 1200ppm if not that being the average level over the course of plan evolution? If 400 is the ‘right level’ why are plants disagreeing?

  2. ~12000 years ago, humans survived the catastrophic end of the nice age in which ocean levels raised 400ft, the reduced ice pressure on N America caused Indonesia to collapse further into the ocean, not a single saltwater reef existed and those that did are at least 400 feet deeper, and there were massive spikes and drops in temps that make our 1C change look paltry. And then we know ice ages are cyclical too! Every 200,000 years or so. So what happens between ice ages? Warming…then cooling… Color me shocked.

  3. Any anti change argument devolved only into human impact. It boils down to economics. Take the ice age conversation; what would happen if we had something similar? Well, most of our infrastructure is coastal…Florida is screwed…And there are nations that might vanish. When you boil the arguments down, they aren’t evolutionary, they are economic.

I’ve actually become a bit of a global warming advocate. It helps green the deserts, would probably result in a greenhouse effect that would warm northern climates, could force the redesign of infrastructure to be more environmentally symbiotic, and support a population much much larger than we have today. (point of fact, none of the Dinosaurs could exist in our climate today in their Jurassic period size because our climate is NOT as hospitable as it was.

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Wish I could give more likes :slight_smile:

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It won’t be safe for humans if there are too many dinosaurs running loose!

But seriously, where you say ‘economic’ there is also a lot of ‘cultural conservatism’ built into it. Think of all the ‘history’ embodied in the artifacts that might end up underwater, lost just like Atlantis. For thousands of years people have lived near the coasts, and somehow survived and rebuilt after storms and floods, and left really very few artifacts. But now we have a history, including buildings which have stood for centuries. They are the proof of our wisdom and civilization. They distinguish us from the dinosaurs. It is not enough that we have ‘been fruitful and multiplied.’ We have left our marks on the face of the earth. To think that we couldallow the weather to wipe those marks clean. :cry:

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  • Plant trees.
  • Restore natural gas.
  • Restore and extend nuclear power.

Based on reality, that’s the agenda. Anything else isn’t serious. Next question.

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My late best friend started “Nuclear-free Berkeley”. We fought about this for more than forty years. I’m pro safe nukes.
The author of the article mentions Degrowth as a link in passing. Growth is a major driver of CO2.
The immediate objection is the need for capital-based economics for raising world living standards. That’s half-right. The need is for REGULATED capitalism, which we ain’t got, and that’s where the emphasis should lie.
Regulated capitalism could divert funds to the needed solutions: degrowth, nukes, geoengineering, GMO, BUT aimed at long-term considerations, not stock manipulation. The Interstate Highways weren’t built by private companies, but no one thinks they weren’t economic drivers.

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One thing that holds back nuclear in the US is disposal/storage of nuclear waste. Yucca Mountain in Nevada seems an ideal facility, but because of Senator harry Reid’s opposition, the site has never opened in the 23 years since it became ready to accept deposits. Las Vegas has now decided to rename its airport after Reid, who died in 2021.

Greens seem worried about radiation levels in 10,000 to 1,000,000 years from now.

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This article is remarkably Atlantic (Europe / North America) centric. In real life the Asia-Pacific region dominates (by far) CO2 emission growth, although you would never know it from this article. In real life, global CO2 emissions having been rising (forever) and Asia-Pacific accounts for a little more than half of the global total. The BP data shows that German CO2 emissions are declining at a rate of around 1% per year. Germany may get to zero by around 2100.

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Yes, this is correct. The author seems to be overgeneralizing about “environmentalists” based on a subset of wooly-headed Green activists. The tide is also turning among serious environmentalists in favor of nuclear power, although it’s true that well-intended but misguided activists spent decades fomenting an unfounded fear of nukes.

The fact that many of them are proves that you are largely full of s***.

Agribusiness and politicians from Midwestern states are responsible for this particular boondoggle, not climate activists. Environmentalists have long recognized that ethanol is a net negative for the climate.

It helps green the deserts?!? My goodness – talk about a “spurious and near-religious belief.”

No, it’s not. Natural gas is a bridge fuel but all fossil fuels need to be phased out eventually. Decarbonization of the economy is the actual agenda, and nuclear power should play an important role in that process but it’s far from sufficient. If the world’s major economies had implemented a carbon tax thirty years ago when the science was already clear we would be well on our way to achieving this goal. The longer we wait, the more painful the transition will be.

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It would help if you did a simple google search on ‘CO2 greenification’ and you might be surprised at what you find! :slight_smile:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/carbon-dioxide-fertilization-greening-earth

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