Environmental guru Naomi Oreskes lumped global warming scientist James Hansen in with a group of pro-nuclear energy climate scientists that, she says, practice a “strange form” of global warming denialism in a Wednesday editorial at The Guardian.
Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard University, states climate scientists who suggest nuclear energy is a viable alternative to fossil fuels are, like global warming denialists, “officially irrelevant.”
In 2004, Oreskes wrote a widely distributed essay called “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” in the journal Science. In the essay she notes 75 percent of 983 abstracts written in science journals from 1993 and 2003 either explicitly or implicitly backed the view that man-made global warming is, in fact, harming the environment.
former Vice President Al Gore referenced Oreskes’ essay in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Her Guardian post Wednesday was written in response to a clarion call issued by four climate scientists — James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley — urging scientists to consider nuclear energy as an option.
“To solve the climate problem, policy must be based on facts and not prejudice. Alongside renewables, Nuclear will make the difference between the world missing crucial climate targets or achieving them,” Hansen and his partners write in The Guardian.
Nuclear energy is “environmentally advantageous,” the Hansen post continues, adding it is fully capable of powering whole civilizations with little or no negative effects on the environment.
Oreskes calls into question Hansen’s pro-nuclear argument, writing, “We can transition to a decarbonized economy without expanded nuclear power, by focusing on wind, water and solar, coupled with grid integration, energy efficiency and demand management.
“Our studies show that we can transition to a fossil free economy faster without nuclear power,” she adds.
The reason why nuclear energy is not viable, she argues, is because it is too slow to build, too expensive, and carries with it the specter of a nuclear meltdown. Nuclear energy, she notes, is just a fancy and “elaborate way to boil water.”
Pro-nuclear activists disagree. The risks associated with nuclear energy use, Hansen’s pro-nuclear group argues in an editorial in 2013, are much smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuel use.
“We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology,” Hansen implored in 2013.
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