If you seriously think that carbon dioxide emissions pose an existential threat to the planet–I don’t, but let’s assume you do–the only rational course is to go nuclear. Wind and solar are both terrible for the environment; more important, they are intermittent and unreliable. The most modern wind technology produces electricity only around 40% of the time. Solar varies with the climate, but in my home state of Minnesota, solar panels produce electricity something like 18% of the time. That means that if you commit to wind and solar, most of the time, you won’t be using either. You will be burning natural gas. So wind and solar translate into fossil fuels forever. (Supposed battery solutions don’t exist.)
Nuclear power, on the other hand, is reliable, would be cheap if rationally regulated, and emits no CO2. This is why, as Steve has noted over the years, a growing number of environmentalists have come out in favor of nuclear energy. But they are still a minority, and it has been a long time since any new nuclear plants have come online. In some states, developing nuclear energy is actually illegal.
This video by the Clear Energy Alliance details Bill Gates’s advocacy of modern nuclear technology, which, if activists would allow it to be implemented, would represent a big advance over the decades-old nuclear technology now used in the U.S. energy sector. I have never been much of a Microsoft fan, but I think Gates’s philanthropy has been practical and praiseworthy. Here is the video:
I actually don’t believe that most climate activists believe what they say about global warming. If they did, they would be pushing hard for nuclear energy.