Bringing American Progressives on board for a clean nuclear future
Today I received an email from Senator Elizabeth Warren, whom I admire deeply, asking for my input on climate change, particularly what I think the planet will look like in 25 years. The message is as follows:
There are a lot of people in Washington — a lot of lobbyists and a lot of politicians — who are determined to block any new laws that might reduce pollution.
Year after year, evidence grows about the damage we suffer from carbon pollution, and yet, the science deniers stay locked in place. It’s so bad that we can’t even have a serious conversation about the growing evidence that the earth is in real trouble.
So I have a question for you.
If we don’t do anything at all to stop climate change, what do you think the world will look like 25 years from now?
Monday night, several other senators and I are pulling an all-nighter on the floor of the Senate to talk about the importance of pollution and climate change. We are going to do our best to bring attention to a topic that a lot of people in Washington don’t want to talk about.
I’ve been assigned a block of time to talk, and I want to spend a chunk of it talking about as many stories as I can from people like you.
Here is my response:
Climate change is only part of the larger problem that we will need to solve if our planet is not to become a very unpleasant place to live over the next 25 years. We dismiss the growing middle class populations of nations like China, India, and Brazil, and their increasing need for abundant and affordable energy, at our deep peril. And to insist that these people should simply learn to make do with considerably less energy than we in America have taken for granted is nothing short than hubris. Energy austerity is just as odious and wrong-headed a policy as is economic austerity. They are evil twins to each other. Climate change and emerging populations make it absolutely imperative that we begin working fervently and relentlessly on developing more and better ways to generate abundant and affordable energy, and to do so in the cleanest and safest ways. This includes deployment of new “Generation III and III+” nuclear technology, and rapid development of Generation IV designs that will be capable of recycling our existing stock of used fuel. Such designs have the added benefit of being able to reduce the amount of final waste products to a tiny fraction of what we now call “spent fuel.”
A future with no or very limited use of fossil fuels is simply imperative, and one way or another, we will eventually have exactly that. Such a future without nuclear power as part of the energy mix, however, will not look like the “solartopia” promoted by many dogmatic environmental purists. Instead, that future will look a lot more like Mad Max — and we will never find Tomorrow Morrow Land.
If you care to share your own thoughts with Senator Warren, whether or not you also received the invitation, I am sure she would welcome your input.