At the exact moment in which we need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuel, we’re being told that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs
“We also have to pay attention to the problem of continued fossil fuel development.” Photograph: Jeremy Durkin/Rex Shutterstock
Wednesday 16 December 2015 10.38 EST Last modified on Wednesday 16 December 2015 19.32 EST
After the signing of a historic climate pact in Paris, we might now hope that the merchants of doubt – who for two decades have denied the science and dismissed the threat – are officially irrelevant.
But not so fast. There is also a new, strange form of denial that has appeared on the landscape of late, one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.
Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power. Just this past week, as negotiators were closing in on the Paris agreement, four climate scientists held an off-site session insisting that the only way we can solve the coupled climate/energy problem is with a massive and immediate expansion of nuclear power. More than that, they are blaming environmentalists, suggesting that the opposition to nuclear power stands between all of us and a two-degree world.
That would have troubling consequences for climate change if it were true, but it is not. Numerous high quality studies, including one recently published by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, show that this isn’t so. 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. In fact, our best studies show that we can do it faster, and more cheaply.