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The Green Fantasyland

By Keith Kloor
Mar 26, 2012 2:31 PMNov 20, 2019 4:49 AM


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At Grist, there is a box with a rotating set of five images that highlights content from the site. When I went over there recently, my eye gravitated to the colorful pictures in the box, including one with this subheadline for a blog post:

Germany aims to trade nukes for a fully renewable power system. Sane countries should follow suit.

What makes this especially insane is that it comes from a person who writes frequently about climate change as the biggest threat facing humanity. In the actual world we live in, when a country scraps nuclear power, renewables aren't an equal substitute. The real tradeoff is higher CO2 emissions. That will remain the case for decades, while Germany's grand experiment is underway. The Grist writer who worries deeply about climate change surely knows this. Yet he suggests that "sane countries" should follow Germany's example. Even Joe Romm, who is no fan of nuclear power, advises:

Given the need to keep climate forcings as low as possible, I wouldn't shutter existing nukes until the clean energy replacements are online, and would prefer to spend big bucks to make them safer.

Anti-nuclear greens who are concerned most about global warming might want to think about something four leading UK environmentalists recently stated:

As writers and thinkers who are interested in and concerned with environmental issues, our job is to assess the technological and policy options on climate change as objectively as possible. Independently of each other, we have all reached the conclusion in recent years that the gravity of the climate crisis necessitates a re-examination of deeply-held objections still shared by many in the green movement towards nuclear power, including, until recently some of our own number.

On a related note, I'll point out another highlighted image rotating at the Grist carousel. It's also rather odd placement for an ad.

Like the nuclear/renewable swap, this is for people living in fantasyland. UPDATE: Be sure to read this piece by Spencer Weart at Yale Environment 360, entitled "Shunning nuclear power will lead to a warmer world." It went up the same day as my post.

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