Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Case for Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

I should not have put off reading this because of the title (connecting nuclear power and fracking); it's a very interesting article

"...each energy source—oil, natural gas, wind, nuclear, solar, etc.—should have a market price based not only on its production costs, but also, in part, on its unique public costs reflected by revenue-neutral taxes: a carbon emissions tax, a security-of-supply tax, a catastrophe insurance tax, and even a local emissions abatement tax," he says. "While people hate the thought of paying more taxes, we are in truth paying most of these 'taxes' today. Unfortunately, the political process allows these taxes—or subsidies—to be hidden in rules, regulations, and foreign policy decisions."
...Lassiter is concerned that the massive carbon emissions from today's coal plants and transportation sector pose a major danger to mankind through the effects of rapid climate change. Less typically, he's more bullish on nuclear power and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," than he is on solar energy or wind power for addressing the worldwide carbon emissions problem. It's not that he has anything against renewable energy. It's that he hasn't seen evidence that renewable energy sources will get cheap enough, fast enough to slow global carbon emissions, particularly those from coal-fired power plants in China and India.
"The Chinese and Indians are going to clean up their local pollution problem—particulates and sulfur emissions—from coal plants, but the carbon emissions are an entirely different matter. To have a dramatic impact on those carbon emissions, you need to find something that beats a traditional coal plant in their countries on straightforward energy economics, and that's really, really hard to do," he says.
Continue Reading at Harvard Business School


  1. It is difficult to get interested in any case for combating Climate Change (use of high case CC= code for Global Warming and scary CO2, which is really plant food) because the premise calls into question analytical skills of the author. By now all one has to do is read the Wall Street Journal

    This is Harvard though, morass of green, so it is hard to find the patience to wade through the hand-wringing over emissions of CO2 when progress is being made in reduction of more problematic gases and it is frequently the case that the energy supply closest to you is the one you should work with.

    The blather about "renewables" such as wind and solar we have been force-fed illustrate the difficulty will be in getting an honest and complete assessment of costs. I'm tired of ideologues and their confirmation bias.

  2. Fair enough - I thought the Professor's point that "we are in truth paying most of these 'taxes' today" was compelling. Given what is being done, correctly or not, I think he is providing some methods that allow prices to fall and useful technologies to advance (without preselecting what they are).