I hear a whole lot of ruckus about global warming and carbon emissions spewed into the air. I have a question for the environmentalists—some of them extremists—pointing fingers of accusation: How much worse off is the planet because of you and your political maneuvering that ended US adoption of fission reactors in the 1970s?
Environmentalist FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about radioactive waste disposal was a major factor halting nuclear power plant construction in the United States. Meanwhile, many electrical facilities resorted to coal and, gasp, oil—fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide when burned.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency: “The largest source of CO2 emissions globally is the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas in power plants, automobiles, industrial facilities, and other sources”. I assume most people in the United States have some sense about this statistic.
But what about this whopper from the EPA: “The process of generating electricity is the single largest source of CO2 emissions in the United States, representing 39 percent of all CO2 emissions”. Please read that sentence again.
I have to wonder how much better off we would be environmentally—and how much less dependent on imported oil—if environmentalists of the 1970s hadn’t gotten their way by getting in the way of fission reactors. The societal and political forces droning on about global warming today remind me of the people protesting nuclear power 30 years ago.
My point: Know-it-alls often don’t know enough, or anything. Shortsighted policies enacted three decades ago have had negative environmental impact, despite their well-meaning. Nineteen seventies science failed to anticipate the long-term impact of environmental policies of the day. Our position isn’t much different. We don’t know enough about the earth’s cycles or all factors contributing to presumed global warming to assess future environmental changes.
We must start with the question: What if we’re wrong about what is global warming and what is its long-term impact?
Photo Credit: Jonas Bengtsson