The Weekly Carboholic: nuclear energy is not zero-carbon, but is low carbon

carboholic

Nuclear power is not, as the industry and some politicians claim, a carbon-free source of electricity. It is truly carbon free when you split uranium in a nuclear fission reaction, but acquiring that uranium-235 and disposing of its wastes are not zero-carbon enterprises. For that matter, nor is constructing the nuclear power plant itself. And now Nature News has reported on a study about how much carbon nuclear power plants emit over their entire life cycle, and the life cycle of its uranium fuel. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker, Part 4


On Monday we introduced you to Bill Becker and heard all about PCAP’s policy suggestions. Tuesday we focused on how the United States could wean itself off of carbon using a cap-and-auction market system, and yesterday we talked about national security and how it relates to energy and climate.

Today, in our final segment, we talk about the science of global heating, the technology that can help address it, and it’s deniers.

S&R: How do you address the concerns of the person who just spent $4.30 per gallon to fill up their tank with gas, who is concerned that the price of gas for their furnace is going up, who sees their electricity prices rising because Chinese demand for coal is driving up coal prices, when you say that you’re going to make all of that carbon-based energy even more expensive?

Bill Becker: Well, first you tell them that the price has gone up not because of climate change or anything we’ve done to solve climate change, it’s gone up because these are fossil fuels, they’re finite fuels and it’s inevitable that they’re going to run out. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker, Part 3


On Monday we introduced you to Bill Becker and heard all about PCAP’s policy suggestions. Yesterday we focused on how the United States could wean itself off of carbon using a cap-and-auction market system. Today we talk about national security and how it relates to energy and climate.

S&R: You’ve used a phrase that a photovoltaic panel, from a national security perspective, is equivalent to a rifle. Last night [at the Green Constitutional Congress] you also said that a plug-in hybrid was equivalent to a tank. How much into the public’s perception has national security risen that you’re starting to use this kind of language?

Bill Becker: Well, publicly I’m not sure it’s risen very far. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker, Part 2


Yesterday we introduced you to Bill Becker and heard all about PCAP’s policy suggestions. Today we focus on some of the nuts and bolts of weaning the United States off of carbon, specifically cap-and-trade, cap-and-auction, and carbon taxes.

S&R: John Podesta said today [at the Energy and Climate Change roundtable] that the process of decarbonizing, of getting ourselves off of fossil fuels, would be a massive and breathtakingly difficult process for our country and the world. How will PCAP help the President and Congress convince the American people that decarbonizing our economy won’t be too difficult to undertake at all?

Bill Becker: Well, a couple of things. John is right, this is going to be a massive undertaking. We’ve got 200 years of a fossil economy that we need to reinvent, and we need to do it on a dime – turn on a dime. And we need to do it as a global community instead of as one country. And we don’t have a czar who can impose this on us – the democratic process is frustrating to say the least. So it’s a huge undertaking. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker – Part 1


During the Democratic National Convention, I had the opportunity to interview Bill Becker, the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Program (PCAP). Over the course of the interview, the topics ranged from PCAP’s recommendations to the next President and Congress to the national security implications of global heating to cap-and-trade carbon emission markets to climate science and fossil fuels. What follows is the first part of the interview where Becker talks about what PCAP does, what its recommendations are, and what the United States needs to do in order to respond to the looming climate crisis.

In the interests of disclosure, I’ve rearranged the order of the questions and answers in order to group them logically by topic instead of chronologically. Continue reading

Awareness – the Green Constitutional Congress, part 1

Monday night, Dialog:City held the poorly attended Green Constitutional Congress with the intent to open a democratic dialog between the attendees and the panelists. Instead, what the attendees got was nearly 30 minutes of rambling monologue by organizer and moderator Bruce Mau followed by six additional monologues by the panelists and wrapping up with nearly no discussion of any kind between the panelists. So much for dialog.

However, what the Green Constitutional Congress lacked in focus it generally compensated for with interesting information coming from the panelists themselves. Continue reading