James Hansen has done great work as a scientist and as an activist willing to put himself and his career on the line. He is, however, now working closely with Michael Shellenberger, founder of the Breakthrough Institute and, recently, founder and president of Environmental Progress, a 510(c)(3) that he assures us does not accept fossil-fuel industry money. Here is the presentation the two of them did at the Bonn COP this month arguing for nuclear power. This argument will not go away easily as scientists like Hansen despair of political solutions and begin to see nuclear as the only way to avert near-term climate disaster.
I have two obstacles to even considering nuclear power. First, after more than half a century of nuclear power, there is still no plan for safe disposal of the waste produced by nuclear reactors. Leaving that problem to future generations is colossal hubris. Second, the massive capital required for and the centralized nature of nuclear power generation virtually ensures that it will be administered by a highly secretive bureaucracy enveloped by a culture that ensures lack of accountability, coverups of mistakes, and reckless behavior. After Three-Mile Island and Chernobyl, if you had asked me to name the one country on Earth that might have been best adapted technically, culturally, and politically to safely manage nuclear power, I would have guessed Japan. Then along came Fukushima.
What do you think are the chances that this argument will gain traction? Has anyone torn Shellenberger and Hansen's road show apart?