+1 386-243-9402 MON – FRI : 09:00 AM – 05:00 PM

The Case for Nukes

There have been many stories and books about climate change. I decided it was time to update my view on the subject. In the nineties and early 2000s, I was not so sure about climate change or where I stood. In 2008, I read Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America. This got the subject onto my radar, but I was not ready to take a firm stand. At that point, I felt I needed to take a position. About ten years ago I was on a shuttle to an OCLC board meeting sitting next to my friend and fellow board member Dr. Brady Deaton.

Brady got his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. He served as Chancellor of the University of Missouri from 2004 through 2013, after coming to Missouri in 1989 as Department Chair of Agricultural Economics. Brady had an intense interest in the world’s agricultural economies, which are deeply dependent on climate change. He travelled the world lecturing and sharing research in Asia, several African countries, Haiti, and other Caribbean countries. He received five honorary degrees from universities. Brady was Chair of the U.S. Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) from 2011-2016 and continues to serve as a member. This is a man who has no political alignments and knows what is actually going on around the world with regard to climate change.

Almost needless to say, Brady believes climate change is real, it is being driven by humans, and the need for actions is urgent. He said if you have any doubts, you should read a book he recommended. I cannot remember the name of the author or the book, but I read it and became convinced Brady’s view was the right one. I also stand by the numerous articles on climate change I have written here.

Unfortunately, like most subjects in recent years, it has become highly politicized. Not just climate change, all issues. According to Quorum, the 118th Congress is on track to be one of the most unproductive in modern history, with just a fraction of normal law making with just a couple dozen laws turned into reality. When it comes specifically to climate change, the two most recent political statements have been, “Ban oil and gas” and “Drill, drill, drill”.

Getting rid of oil and gas reminds me of the call ten years ago to get rid of healthcare insurance companies. Neither are possible. Behind the line of “ban oil and gas” is the implication we are not doing much to extract oil and gas from within our own boundaries. As of 2022, the United States was the world’s leading producer of both crude oil (11.91 million barrels per day) and natural gas (37.10 quads). The trend has continued through 2023. For 2022, the record represents approximately 18% of global crude oil production and 34% of global natural gas production. The leading producer of both crude oil and natural gas, accounting for nearly 40% of total US production, was Texas. U.S. oil production has been increasing steadily since 2008, thanks to advancements in technologies like hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), not drilling. Natural gas production has also grown significantly, primarily due to the development of shale gas reserves.

Both of the political statements come from benighted politicians. They should be talking about nuclear power. Dr. Robert Zubrin, an American aerospace engineer and advocate for space exploration, wrote The Case for Nukes: How We Can Beat Global Warming and Create a Free, Open, and Magnificent Future. He sees nuclear power as a clean, efficient, and reliable energy source which can play a crucial role in solving climate change and ensuring energy security. In his book, which I highly recommend, he lays out the facts in a very understandable and compelling manner.

Zubrin emphasizes nuclear power produces electricity without emitting greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, a major contributor to climate change. He argues it is a crucial alternative to fossil fuels for clean energy development. He highlights the significant energy output of nuclear power compared to other sources like renewables. A single nuclear reactor can generate as much electricity as multiple wind farms or solar arrays, requiring less land and resources. He points out nuclear power plants can provide stable and consistent electricity unlike some renewable sources dependent on weather conditions. This makes it crucial for maintaining a resilient and dependable energy grid.

The major challenges are public perception based on outdated points of view and data. This needs to be updated to reflect these advancements. A huge challenge is the complex regulatory hurdles involved. Zubrin advocates for streamlining the approval process and providing government incentives to make nuclear power more competitive. These are problems our politicians should step up to instead of grandstanding with meaningless political statements while other countries are rushing to deploy modern nuclear reactor facilities.

The most enlightening book I have read about climate change was by John Doerr, the billionaire venture capitalist and author of Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now. Doerr emphasizes the urgency of the climate crisis. He describes it as the “hardest thing humanity has ever tried to do” and urges for immediate action and ambitious solutions. He advocates for scale, arguing incremental changes won’t be enough. He proposes a ten-step plan encompassing electrifying transportation, greening the grid, reducing agricultural emissions, and leveraging technology and innovation to accelerate progress.

Doerr believes business and technology have a crucial role to play in solving the climate crisis. He promotes a shift toward low-carbon technologies and encourages businesses to prioritize sustainability in their operations and investments. Putting his money where his mouth is, he founded the Kleiner Perkins Green Initiative to invest in companies working on climate solutions and supports initiatives like the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. Doerr’s track record is amazing. He helped start Google, Amazon, Sun Microsystems, Netscape, Intuit, VMware, 23andMe, Zynga, Slack, and Bloom Energy just to mention a few.

Following is a concatenation of a few of Doerr’s quotes I find most impactful. “We are the first generation to feel the effects of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. Climate change is not a political issue, it’s a survival issue. We have the technology, the resources, and the ingenuity to solve this problem. What we need is the will.” Overall, Doerr’s message is one of hope and action as opposed to political rambling jabber. He believes by working together, we can still address the climate crisis and build a more sustainable future.

Note: I use Bard AI as my copilot and research assistant. AI can boost productivity for anyone who creates content. Sometimes I get incorrect data from AI, and when something looks suspicious, I dig deeper. Sometimes the data varies by sources where AI finds it. I take responsibility for my posts and if anyone spots an error, I will appreciate knowing it, and will correct it.