M.V. Ramana and Robert Jensen: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report released in October rightfully elicited much public commentary about global warming and its truly frightening impacts. But in those initial reactions, less attention was paid to the unnerving implications of the report’s suggested solutions, which encourage us to roll the dice on unproven technologies and double down on nuclear power. Underlying the IPCC report’s claims is the belief that technological solutions can fix the climate problem. Yet these fixes don’t address the root cause of climate change. The report outlines four broad pathways to stay within that limit, all of which include large-scale deployment of various technological fixes to climate change. These include not just the sensible pursuit of solar energy and wind power but also of unproven technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, which has not been demonstrated to work at scale. In the report’s “energy-intensive scenario,” nuclear energy has to increase by a factor of around five. Wishful thinking about unproven technologies is easier to understand than the continued faith in the failed project of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy has been generating electricity since the 1950s, with more than 400 nuclear power plants operating in the world today—long enough for us to evaluate its ecological and economic costs, risks, and benefits. Nuclear energy has been declining, not growing, as a share of the electricity market during the period that climate change has become recognized as an important problem. The starting point of any serious discussion of climate change must be to recognize that it is not possible to limit global warming to either 1.5 or 2°C in any “resource- and energy-intensive scenario” where economic growth continues in the usual fashion. To put it more bluntly, one cannot resolve the climate problem under capitalism, which cannot survive without endless growth.
Yes Magazine 2nd Nov 2018 read more »