Saturday, January 26, 2013

Climate Change and Nuclear Energy

Bjorn Lomborg, the skeptical environmentalist on whom I've written several posts, has another great opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.  While I don't agree with everything he says, I do celebrate his pragmatism:
In his second inaugural address on Monday, President Obama laudably promised to "respond to the threat of climate change." Unfortunately, when the president described the urgent nature of the threat—the "devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms"—the scary examples suggested that he is contemplating poor policies that don't point to any real, let alone smart, solutions. Global warming is a problem that needs fixing, but exaggeration doesn't help, and it often distracts us from simple, cheaper and smarter solutions.

For starters, let's address the three horsemen of the climate apocalypse that Mr. Obama mentioned.

Historical analysis of wildfires around the world shows that since 1950 their numbers have decreased globally by 15%...

Claiming that droughts are a consequence of global warming is also wrong. The world has not seen a general increase in drought...

As for one of the favorites of alarmism, hurricanes in recent years don't indicate that storms are getting worse...

This does not mean that climate change isn't an issue. It means that exaggerating the threat concentrates resources in the wrong areas.
The left's solutions are always the same--more government control, more showy proposals that endanger prosperity, more punishing of success and affluence.  Lomborg, rightly, sees better alternatives.

One of my litmus tests to determine if someone truly believes or is just an ideologue is their stance on clean, safe, relatively inexpensive nuclear energy.  If they support use of that clean, mature technology, then we have some common ground on which to stand.  If not, they're just a leftie spouting off their talking points, and I have no use for that.  There's even a documentary at Sundance:
Meanwhile, sit down for this: at the current Sundance Film Festival–Robert Redford’s baby–there is debuting a new documentary about environmentalists who have changed their mind and are now pro-nuclear power.  Does Redford, who signs direct-mail letters for the anti-nuke NRDC, know about this?  The film is called Pandora’s Promise, and here’s what one early critic at Sundance has to say about it:
When was the last time you saw a documentary that fundamentally changed the way you think? It’s no secret that just about every political and socially-minded documentary shown at Sundance is preaching to the liberal-left choir. The issue may be dairy farming, human rights abuses in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the marketing of AIDS drugs, or Occupy Wall Street (to list the topics of four festival docs this year), but the point of view is almost always conventionally “progressive” and orthodox. So when Robert Stone, who may be the most under-celebrated great documentary filmmaker in America (watch Oswald’s Ghost if you want to touch the elusive truth of the JFK assassination), arrived at Sundance this year with Pandora’s Promise, a look at the myths and realities of nuclear power, he was walking into the lion’s den. For this isn’t a movie that preaches to the choir. It’s a movie that says: “Stop thinking what you’ve been thinking, because if you don’t, you’re going to collude in wrecking the world.” Pandora’s Promise is built around what should be the real liberal agenda: looking at an issue not with orthodoxy, but with open eyes.
When liberals use reason, I can understand them. When they just emote and cry and beat their drums, I can't. The lefties I've quoted above, I could sit down over a burger and have a nice discussion with them.


Peggy U said...

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Robert Redford was a proponent of nuclear energy. Or maybe it was the late Paul Newman ... I'll see if I can find the article.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, lefties promoting nuclear power. Next you'll tell me they think the banking and housing collapse was caused by B. Frank and Pelosi and their brethren. Pigs may even fly.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Kinda fun, ain't it anonymous? Folks with otherwise impeccable lefty credentials, genuflecting to all the right totems, mouthing all the right slogans, who on one issue or another depart from the way of righteousness and moral rectitude.

There are lefties in favor of charter schools, vouchers and all that. Lefties in favor of the free market. There's really nothing remarkable then about lefties in favor of nuclear power.

Think of it as unwelcomed eruptions of adulthood in otherwise reliably left-thinking people. That may be what it is and if that's so then the left's on a course to self-destruction. To the benefit of the entire human race of course but still, exciting hey?

What would the world be like if the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank woke up one morning without the untroubled and unexamined assumption that the world revolves around them and owes them everything they want? How could it be anything but a better world?

Anonymous said...

I strongly recommend Gwyneth Cravens's book: