Thursday, November 23, 2006

Global warming is caused mainly by electricity generation, not transport...

... writes Anatole Kaletsky in the Times today. Attacking Chelsea Tractor drivers and frequent flyers may bring a nice warm glow to the hearts of some in the environmental movement but it doesn’t really help to address the issue. In practice it probably has the reverse effect because such campaigners, seen more as envious and anti-business than pro-climate, make themselves more likely to be ignored.

He writes about the go-ahead being giving "to build the world’s first nuclear fusion reactor [which] could pave the way to commercial availability of electricity from nuclear fusion by around 2045". So too late for me then, malheuresment. But, as he says, that still leaves the issue of what to do in the shorter term.

Noting that "the rational response to global warming is not to find ways of stifling economic growth or curbing travel. It is to accelerate technological advance" he identifies that "the top priority should ... be to develop less-polluting methods of power generation". Quite right, slowing down the world economy would guarantee far more premature death and suffering than even the most alarmist predictions about climate change anticipate.

Renewables alone can’t, alas, bridge the electricity gap but they could meet about a fifth of our needs. The rest will have to come from "nuclear [fision] or more expensive clean coal technologies". But clean coal needs more research and development funding. This would be something really worth demonstrating about but probably isn’t sexy enough to draw the crowds...

5 Comments:

At 08:53, Blogger Courtney Hamilton said...

Clean coal (carbon free) technology is already here, but Greenpeace have already rubbished future plans because they argue there's no such thing as clean coal.

What really bothers me is that a country like France has been producing carbon free electricity for nearly 30 years using nuclear energy - environmentalists need to swallow their pride and start supporting it.

 
At 15:53, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Yes it's a shame that a certain type of environmentalist seems to approach the issue as though it were a religion with a fixed set of 'truths' that can never be tampered with.

Many of the solutions (and there are many) lie in large-scale developments that must involve 'big business' which they hate and, at least in the short term (20-30 years), nuclear which they are deeply suspicious of.

I suspect that a lot of them 'weren't very good at science' at school and can't therefore appreciate the distinction between nuclear power (safe) and nuclear weapons (not safe in some hands) or understand the limitations of small-scale solutions such as wind or solar power which can only play a minor role with the technology available today.

They also seem to overlook the huge number of premature deaths that would certainly be caused by a substantial sudden reduction in our energy use although they're very keen on alarmist stories about the deaths that might be caused by climate change...

 
At 19:37, Blogger Dave Semple said...

I suspect any solution which involves big business will be disastrous. The subsidies which the government has been required to offer to drum up interest in constructing new plants, not to mention the fiasco of literally any public venture involving business in the last, oh, twenty years, bears me out. If environmentalists are suspicious of big business, there are solid, empirical reasons as to why.

I'm an environmentalist who is all in favour of nuclear fuels - but on the other hand "carbon free" doesn't mean environmentally friendly. I've always been in favour of nuclear energy, but its only recently that the full implications of storing used fissile materials are being realised. There's good reason to be cautious.

The sort of people who are against nuclear energy usually base their opinions on research by greenpeace and other organisations. It's easy to make the argument that they are tendentious - and they are - but on the other hand if there was a society called "Evil Capitalist Exploiters of Earth's Natural Resources for Huge Profits', you can bet Anatole Kaletsky would quote it verbatim and buy stocks in it.

Though if Private Eye is to be believed on the subject of Kaletsky, that it would subsequently go bankrupt, all its executives being arrested.

 
At 14:20, Blogger Ladyhihi said...

I'm an environmentalist who is all in favour of nuclear fuels - but on the other hand "carbon free" doesn't mean environmentally friendly. I've always been in favour of nuclear energy, but its only recently that the full implications of storing used fissile materials are being realised. There's good reason to be cautious.



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