The deadly threat posed by the rapid spread of Covid-19 has resulted in unprecedented action from governments around the world. There’s a lesson here for climate change: it’s too damn slow. What would happen, for example, if we learnt that the polar icecaps had reduced by almost half overnight, rather than since the 1980s? What if some of the world’s largest lakes mysteriously dried up over January, not over the past decade? What sort of panic would ensue if a quarter of the world’s population found their homes under water tomorrow, instead of being told it would happen in 80 years?
Times 15th March 2020 read more »
Some say that renewables cannot expand fast enough to deal with the climate crisis. That in the end is a matter of political will- technologically, they can be ramped up to meet all our needs, the ramp rate however depends on how much support they are given. If, instead, support is given to other options, then the negative conclusion becomes self-fulfilling. The most obvious alternative is nuclear power. That is not doing well at present most places in the world, with its economics looking very problematic compared to all else, including renewables, but resources do still flow to it. And the nuclear lobby is still very strong, forever churning out promotional material. Even the usually hard-headed Financial Times occasionally succumbs, as with a piece by Jonathan Ford on 17th Nov 2019, in which he said ‘nuclear power remains one of the few technologies the world has for reliably generating zero-carbon electricity’. As was quickly pointed out by academic critics, the evidence base suggests that, taking account the full nuclear fuel cycle (uranium mining, fuel enrichment, construction of power stations and the waste stream), nuclear has CO2 emissions 10-18 times those of renewables. And, in the light of major accidents, incidents, technical failures and outages, it is certainly difficult to see how the world’s ageing nuclear fleet can be described as ‘reliable’. Quite apart from the other issues, like where to put the wastes and how to keep terrorists at bay and also avoid the spread of bomb making capacity. Even its supporters seem to be having doubts at least about some of the proposed ways ahead.
Renew Extra 14th March 2020 read more »