Civil War on the (Climate) Left

Journalist William Tucker, who has written more sense about nuclear power than just about anyone, caught up with multiple Green Weenie winner and climatista capo Bill McKibben at a conference four years ago, and relates the following:

After McKibben gave his rousing speech to an enthusiastic audience, I was able to grab him for a moment in back of the little makeshift stage. I asked him about nuclear power. He admitted that nuclear was going to be necessary if we were ever to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. “Why don’t you come out favorably in public for nuclear power, then?” I asked . . . “If I came out in favor of nuclear,” he said, “it would split this movement in half.”

So there you have it. McKibben, like many other environmentalists, knows in his heart that there isn’t much chance of reducing carbon output without nuclear. But he does not want to be caught saying so in public.

This has been completely obvious for a long time. I’ve had a couple of fairly senior people from mainstream environmental organizations tell me that they can’t publicly support nuclear power because “our members would revolt.” And one very important environmental philanthropist told me a couple years ago that “the biggest mistake of my career was opposing nuclear power 30 years ago.”

But some have gone public, such as James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley—all certified “consensus” climatistas—who wrote in The Guardian last week:

Nuclear power, particularly next-generation nuclear power with a closed fuel cycle (where spent fuel is reprocessed), is uniquely scalable, and environmentally advantageous. Over the past 50 years, nuclear power stations – by offsetting fossil fuel combustion – have avoided the emission of an estimated 60bn tonnes of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy can power whole civilisations, and produce waste streams that are trivial compared to the waste produced by fossil fuel combustion. . .

The climate system cares about greenhouse gas emissions – not about whether energy comes from renewable power or abundant nuclear power. Some have argued that it is feasible to meet all of our energy needs with renewables. The 100% renewable scenarios downplay or ignore the intermittency issue by making unrealistic technical assumptions, and can contain high levels of biomass and hydroelectric power at the expense of true sustainability. Large amounts of nuclear power would make it much easier for solar and wind to close the energy gap.

The climate issue is too important for us to delude ourselves with wishful thinking. . .

Well this didn’t set well with Naomi Oreskes, who is one of the more extreme climatistas on the scene. Oreskes fired back in The Guardian that the Hansen et al article represents a new form of—wait for it—“climate denialism”!

There is also a new, strange form of denial that has appeared on the landscape of late, one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.

Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power.

[T]hey are blaming environmentalists, suggesting that the opposition to nuclear power stands between all of us and a two-degree world.

Never mind Hansen and his fellow pro-nuke climate scientists: Bill McKibben is a closeted denialist?! Pass the popcorn. Here’s just a few of the Tweets the article provoked :

Oreskes tweets

This last tweet refers to my favorite howler in the Oreskes article:

Numerous high quality studies, including one recently published by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, show that this isn’t so.

If you’re familiar with Jacobson’s work, which concludes we can power the whole country within two decades on the usual wisps of wind, solar, unicorn flop sweat, and the sunbeams of Obama’s brilliance, I give you a minute to get up from ROFL at Oreskes calling it a “high quality study.” Jacobson is regarded as a joke by most of his colleagues at Stanford, and his work is widely derided.

For one thing, the Jacobson study assumes that in another 20 years no one will live like . . . Naomi Oreskes! Turns out Oreskes is a wannabe Al Gore or John Kerry. She lives in 5,200 square foot home outside Boston, generating, by one estimate, over 400,000 pounds of CO2 emissions a year. (She has a second home in California; specs unknown.) And that’s before she boards airplanes for her ski trips to the Rockies. Brian McNicoll of TownHall estimates Oreskes’s total carbon footprint to be around 1 million pounds of CO2 a year. Heh.

I’m starting to sense a strong correlation between foolishness and hypocrisy.