Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr. Willie Soon – Cortez shocked establishment Democrats when she won the NY-14 Primary a few weeks ago. But even climate advocates are skeptical that a transition to 100% renewables could be achieved by 2035, and are skeptical of Cortez’s apparent rejection of the nuclear option.
Can Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Save the Planet?
Democrats lack an organized plan to stop global warming. Climate scientists say the newcomer has the beginnings of a good one.
By EMILY ATKIN
July 4, 2018
Progressives have been practically leaping for joy since 28-year-old self-described democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her primary election for Congress last week, an outcome that CNN called “the most shocking upset of a rollicking political season.” But perhaps no group has been more excited than environmentalists. In a political environment where even her fellow Democrats often stay vague on climate change, Ocasio-Cortez has been specific and blunt in talking about the global warming crisis. She also has a plan to fight that crisis—one to transition the United States to a 100-percent renewable energy system by 2035.
Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that aggressive action is needed to stave off the violent storms, rising seas, and debilitating droughts projected to worsen as the climate warms. Avoiding that means the earth’s average temperature can’t rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above where it was in the year 1880. Unfortunately, we’re already nearly there; as The Guardian’s Carbon Countdown Clock shows, humans can only emit greenhouse gases at our current rate for another 18 years before we reach the 2-degree mark. We can buy more time, however, if we stop emitting so much greenhouse gas. “The science is pretty clear—we want to reduce emissions, to near zero, as fast as possible, if we want to minimize climate change,” Texas A&M University climate scientist Andrew Dessler told me. That means rapidly decarbonizing the U.S. economy—much like Ocasio-Cortez has proposed.
But for most of the the climate scientists I spoke to, their alignment with Ocasio-Cortez’s plan stops there. That’s not because they don’t want a 100-percent renewable energy system by 2035, but because the Green New Deal lacks some important details. “How will energy be stored as an economical cost if only using wind and solar? What is the role for nuclear power in such a plan? Who will fund this transition?” said Penn State climate scientist David Titley, also the former chief operating officer of NOAA. “I’m very skeptical such a transition can be done in a period less than 20 years from what is basically a standing start.”
Nuclear power is the only certain path to rapid decarbonisation of the economy. France converted over 75% of their electricity to nuclear back in the 1970s. They kept costs down by mass producing nuclear power plants and reprocessing nuclear fuel.
Cortez’s website doesn’t even seem to mention nuclear power – she wants a 100% renewable solution by 2035.
Why do greens like Cortez ignore the nuclear option? Why risk the planet, why risk continued political stalemate fighting for acceptance of renewables, when a nuclear programme would meet far less resistance from Cortez’s right wing opponents? How can socialists like Cortez in good conscience reject the one solution which might win rapid bipartisan support, when they claim the fate of the planet hangs in the balance?
One possible explanation is that embracing nuclear power would not offer politicians like Cortez the same opportunities as renewables to restructure society – life in capitalist nuclear powered France is similar to life in neighbouring countries which have not embraced nuclear power. But this explanation would suggest that Cortez is just another left wing fanatic who sees climate change and renewables as a convenient vehicle to force acceptance of her social programmes.