Monday, November 23, 2015

Inconvenient truths, etc.

...we must not triple-count the energy promised by renewables: they cannot supplant existing fossil fuel use and replace decommissioned nuclear plants and meet the skyrocketing needs of the developing world.

The article I am seeing the most of today is Inconvenient truths for the environmental movement
...traditional greens have been distracted by their signature causes, and in doing so have themselves denied some inconvenient truths.
The first is that, until now, fossil fuels have been good for humanity. The industrial revolution doubled life expectancy in developed countries while multiplying prosperity twentyfold. As industrialization spreads to the developing world, billions of people are rising out of poverty in their turn — affording more food, living longer and healthier lives, becoming better educated, and having fewer babies — thanks to cheap fossil fuels. In poor countries like India, citizens want reliable electricity to power these improvements, and stand ready to vote out any government that fails to deliver it. When American environmentalists tell the world to stop burning fossil fuels, they need to give Indians an alternative that delivers the prosperity they demand and deserve.
That brings us to the second inconvenient truth: Nuclear power is the world’s most abundant and scalable carbon-free energy source. In today’s world, every nuclear plant that is not built is a fossil-fuel plant that does get built, which in most of the world means coal. Yet the use of nuclear power has been stagnant or even contracting. 
...A third truth is that climate change must transcend ideology.

So what should environmentalists be demanding? Foremost, governments need to fund research and development for low-carbon energy technologies at Apollo-program levels of commitment...

The second priority is carbon pricing...

Alberta released a "Climate Leadership" report yesterday, which features a carbon tax and some regulation - capping emissions from the oil sands and restricting the operations of coal-fired power plants.

I have my doubts about the efficacy of carbon taxation (at $20/metric ton, rising to $30), but I find it hugely preferable to Ontario's micro-management driven cap-and-trade whimsy.

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