Why Climate-Change Skeptics
On January 14, 2010, the board members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, including 19 Nobel Prize winners, voted to move the minute hand of their famous “Doomsday Clock” to 6 minutes before midnight. They say the clock indicates how close society is to midnight, to the 2 catastrophes that could destroy civilization – climate change or nuclear war.1 In 2007, Viktor Danilov-Danilyan, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, likewise warned that climate-change impacts could be equal to those of nuclear war.2 Yet increasing the use of atomic energy for electricity, as a way to address climate change, means increasing the risks of weapons proliferation, therefore the threats of nuclear war. Can society avoid both climate change and nuclear war? Or does society face a dilemma, either to expand atomic fission technology, or to endure global climate change?
Commercial Nuclear Fission and Climate Change
This apparent dilemma has caused some people to re-think their opposition to atomic energy. During one week in 2009, 3 leading environmentalists claimed nuclear power is needed to help address climate change, in part because they claim reactors release few greenhouse gases. Stephen Tindale, a former Greenpeace director; Chris Smith, the chair of the UK Environment Agency; and Chris Goodall, a Green Party activist, all changed their positions to support fission.3 Physician James Lovelock, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, former Friends of the Earth board-member Hugh Montefiore, Whole Earth Catalogue founder Stewart Brand, and others say expanded nuclear power is necessary to avoid climate change.4
Physicist Amory Lovins and most environmentalists disagree. He claims that no major “green” groups have accepted atomic energy, that only industry “front groups” and a few self-proclaimed, individual “environmentalists” accept nuclear fission.