Dr. James Hansen’s reply to my question about Nuclear Power
Guest essay by Eric Worrall
A a few years ago, Anthony Watts posted a link “The Middle Ground where AGW skeptics and Proponents should meet up“. At AGU2013, Anthony asked Dr. Hansen a question in full session about the very same topic and a video of that exchange follows.
The proposition is, that in the highly polarized global warming debate, there are, or should be, some surprisingly broad areas of agreement. A video also follows showing Anthony asking Dr. Hansen about this at AGU2013
One such area of agreement appears to be support for nuclear power. In addition to the Middle Ground article, WUWT has posted many other articles, on Thorium and next generation nuclear technology, which have been well received by regular readers of this blog.
Dr. James Hansen is also a supporter of nuclear power. A few months ago, James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel and Tom Wigley published an open letter, calling for and end to opposition to nuclear power, for the sake of the environment.
If I have understood correctly, scientists who are truly concerned about CO2, such as James Hansen, support nuclear power, because nuclear power a plausible route to decarbonising the economy, without the difficulty of convincing voters to accept drastic curbs to their lifestyles.
Skeptics like myself tend to support nuclear power, because it is the future – we tend to love high technology and the glorious rise of human civilisation, and yet we are, contrary to the straw man stereotypes projected by many of our opponents, concerned about environmental issues, such as the megatons of toxic ash and sludge produced by coal power stations. We see next generation nuclear power as the clean, inexhaustible energy source of the future.
So I sent an email to Dr. James Hansen mid March this year, asking whether he had ever considered sharing a platform with Anthony Watts, to jointly promote acceptance of a nuclear powered future. I made it very clear I was asking this question on my own initiative, and had not discussed it with Anthony.
This was Dr. Hansen’s reply:-
“The more important matter is the need for a slowly rising revenue neutral carbon fee, 100% of the funds distributed to the public, equal amount to all legal residents. This would cause nuclear power to win out for electricity. Otherwise we are going to get a very expensive dual renewables–fossil fuel system. This fee-and-dividend approach is by its nature a conservative agenda, allowing the market to work. It is also a winning populist political strategy, providing some correction to the increasing disparity of wealth, allowing the hard-working careful low-income person a chance to make some money and contribute to a cleaner, healthier world. This is what conservatives need to understand. If they don’t, the changing demographics will sink them, and we will all suffer under a screwed up energy system.”
I replied to Dr. Hansen, pointing out that Conservative opposition to carbon fees was entrenched, and asked whether the issue of how to make nuclear power economically attractive, on which there was no agreement, could be set aside for now, for the sake of jointly promoting research into next generation nuclear technology.
So far I have not received a reply to my second email to Dr. Hansen.
The conversation and questions I put to Dr. Hansen were meant in good faith. I hope the dialogue I have had to date with Dr. Hansen is not the end, that the conversation goes further, perhaps with other participants. Perhaps I am being naive, but I really am a keen supporter of nuclear power, and would like to find a way for everyone who supports a nuclear future to join forces, to overcome the decades of propaganda against nuclear technology, which has retarded its development in the West.
Here is Anthony asking Dr. Hansen about Thorium power at AGU2013