Intractable Carbon Problem

We need to decarbonize. But it is delusional to think that will be today, or this month, or this year. We really do not have a technology for that.
Electricity would be easy if people were not what they are. We could build nuclear reactors and decarbonize electrical generation within 10–20 years. It would take that long to build them. But that is not going to happen because first you would have to convince misinformed people that we should build nuclear reactors. Best of luck with that. So while possible with existing tech, decarbonizing electricity is by no means going to happen soon. And all the carbon cost of the delay lies at the feet of the antinuclear (energy) lobby.

And yet this is not the most significant problem. In a recent interview a climate scientist was finally asked what the prognosis was for decarbonizing. She made the above point about electricity, but went on to say that both heating and transportation were less tractable problems. And they are. It is not easy to see how heating can be refitted to eliminate fossil fuels. A bigger problem however is that for this, or more problematically to electrify transportation would require a vast increase in core electrical generating capacity that absolutely cannot be achieved with wind turbines and photovoltaic cells.

For the UK alone, electrifying all the vehicles would require an additional 10 full-sized nuclear plants on top of those that would be built to replace existing fossil fuel production.

Particularly in light of the Canadian government’s announcement on the Trans-Mountain expansion it is important to understand that while we must move toward carbon free energy, primarily by educating people about nuclear power, we are still in a fossil fuel age and we still need to manage the production and infrastructure associated with that fact until we can get off this carbon producing ride.

Published by


I am an experienced freelance graphic artist and sometime canoeist. I feel strongly about the quality of professional work and like sitting by a remote lake on a sun-warmed rock.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *