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February 25, 2006

Placating the Greenies


by Gordon Prather

The Greenies aren't particularly upset with President Bush for launching – on false pretenses – an unauthorized war of aggression against Iraq three years ago.

Nevertheless, the Greenies are extremely upset with Bush.

Why?

Well, for one thing, up until now, Bush hasn't taken the threat of global warming seriously.

Sir David King, her majesty's chief scientist, has declared "global warming" to be a more serious threat to mankind than international terrorism. Hans Blix, former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, concurs.

James Lovelock, father of the Gaia hypothesis, thinks King and Blix – if anything – still underestimate the seriousness of the "global warming threat."

So serious that Lovelock now urges the fastest possible substitution of nuclear energy for fossil fuels:

"Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies, and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources.

"I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy. Even if they were right about its dangers – and they are not – its worldwide use as our main source of energy would pose an insignificant threat compared with the dangers of intolerable and lethal heat waves and sea levels rising to drown every coastal city of the world.

"We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilization is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear – the one safe, available energy source – now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet."

How did Lovelock – if not Blix and Sir David – come to view so seriously mankind's increasing use of coal, oil, and natural gas?

In 1992, the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) caused to be established the Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC), to which President Bush the elder made us a party.

The IPCC's stated mission is "to assess the scientific, technical, and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change."

The operative term is "human-induced."

The IPCC has three working groups, one of which is charged with assessing options for limiting "human" greenhouse gas emissions.

So why haven't the IPCC weenies also settled on the nuclear-power option as man's last best hope to prevent global warming?

Well, because of Greenie opposition, the IPCC weenies haven't even allowed the operators of nuclear power plants to accrue credits for displacing greenhouse gas emitters.

But that may be about to change.

The FCCC's Kyoto Protocol obligates all "industrialized" signatories to reduce by 2012 their emissions of six "greenhouse gases" – primarily carbon dioxide – to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels!

Because of the Greenies, five European Union signatories – including Belgium, with 60 percent of its electricity nuclear – were officially committed to phasing out nuclear power.

But now, some EU countries – including Germany – are having second thoughts about phasing out nuclear power. For one thing, replacing Germany's nuclear power plants with coal-fired plants would result in an increase of more than 170 million metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions.

During his first term, Bush did launch a Global Climate Change Initiative. But he didn't "cap" carbon dioxide emissions à la Kyoto. Worse, Bush defined man-made greenhouse-gas intensity in terms of gross domestic product. Bush sought to lower American emissions intensity from an estimated 183 metric tons per million dollars of GDP in 2002 to 151 tons by 2012.

Worse still, participation was to be voluntary. Bush simply proposed to improve the methodology used for the Energy Department's greenhouse gas registry established by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 1992. But the registry does credit reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon fixation, achieved "through any measures whatsoever," including shifting from coal to nuclear power.

However, because the system is voluntary, the credits couldn't be traded.

Well, Bush has just announced his Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, and in an attempt to placate the Greenies, Bush has encouraged Sen. Domenici, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, to introduce legislation that would – if enacted – make participation mandatory in a greenhouse gas "cap and trade" system.

Why placate the Greenies? Well, Bush apparently really does want to revive nuclear power. And replacing coal and oil with nuclear power is obviously the way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

But another reason might be that Bush appears about ready to launch – on false pretenses – another unauthorized war of aggression, this time against Iran.

You get the picture.


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Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.

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