Sometime in the late ’70s I learned about the greenhouse effect in geography class. Twenty years later in Kyoto world leaders agreed they ought to do something about climate change before the consequences grew too great, before the damage became too problematic.
So, in 2000, me, “Are we gonna build the zero-carbon generating capacity we can now?”
Them, “NO! Never nuclear.” was the answer. “We can make all the electricity with windmills and PV panels.”
Ten years later, me, “It has been a decade of increasing carbon output. We have made less than no progress on carbon emissions. Shouldn’t we start building some meaningful zero-carbon generating capacity?”
Them, “NO! Nuclear scares me! I don’t understand it. I have no useful sense of the risk/benefit ratio. NEVER nuclear. Besides wind and solar are getting cheaper. We can do this with ‘renewables.’”
Ten more years later, me, “Ok, another decade of increasing carbon emissions. Wind and solar have not magicked the problem away yet. They may someday. But right now we need to build lots and lots of zero-carbon generating capacity. Could we do that now? It has been 20 years of not doing anything useful. Can we please do something?”
Them, “NO! Nuclear is an archaic technology. With ‘renewables’ and ‘green energy’ investment we don’t need it. Besides even though wind and solar are only a tiny fraction of unreliable generating capacity we have this great biofuel technology in which we cut down forests to make wood chips. We cook those in bioreactors to make carbon fuel and burn it! It is ‘RENEWABLE!’”
Me, “OMG! that is a terrible idea! That is taking a low-energy-density fuel source that is otherwise a carbon sink and turning it into a source of additional carbon. Wood burning is already a major source of atmospheric carbon globally. We need to reduce its use, not increase it. This is making the problem worse, just with extra steps.”
Them, “But it is not nuclear. NEVER nuclear.”
Me, “My gods. We are never gonna start solving this problem are we?”
Them, “We already have. You just have to BELIEVE that a solar panel on the roof of an apartment block in Scandinavia in the winter at night can produce all the energy that building needs.”
I do not know that I will be alive or able to afford internet in ten years. But I would rather not go through another iteration of this pathetic fallacy.