By Andrew Follett
Conservatives should “call the left’s bluff” on global warming by asking why environmentalists oppose using proven technologies like nuclear power or hydraulic fracturing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, according to an article published Thursday in Forbes.
James Taylor points out in the piece that if conservatives pressure the left to accept natural gas and nuclear power by citing their environmental benefits, the left would either be forced to abandon their opposition or risk their political credibility by continuing to claim that global warming is the nation’s greatest threat.
“Global warming is a greater threat to the American people than global terrorism, you say? Fine, then stop obstructing the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process that is responsible for approximately half of our natural gas production,” Taylor writes. “Global warming is a greater threat to the American military than Russian fighters that simulate attacks on our Navy vessels in international waters? Then stop demanding we dismantle hydroelectric dams that produce affordable, emissions-free electricity.
“Global warming is a greater threat to our military than a rapidly militarizing China?” he continues. “Then allow America to generate more of our electricity from nuclear power, as do nations such as France.”
Taylor notes that transitioning to natural gas cuts CO2 emissions roughly in half while nuclear energy entirely gets rid of CO2 emissions, but that major environmental groups, including Greenpeace and The Sierra Club, and left wing politicians vehemently oppose both of these energy sources. He also points out that both natural gas and nuclear are far more reliable than wind or solar, have costs comparable to conventional coal power and have numerous other major advantages.
The average single nuclear reactor prevents 3.1 million tons of CO2 emissions annually and accounts for 63 percent of non-CO2 emitting power sources. The 2012 closure of the two-reactor San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California caused CO2 emissions to rise annually by 9 million metric tons, equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road. Nuclear power is far cheaper than wind or solar power, making it “the most cost-effective zero-emission technology,” according to The Economist.
Fracking for natural gas, not government support of wind and solar power, caused CO2 emissions to drop sharply in 47 states and Washington, D.C. in 2015, according to both Scientific American and the Energy Information Administration. Studies show that fracking for natural gas is responsible for almost 20 percent of the drop in carbon dioxide emissions, while solar power is responsible for a mere 1 percent of the decline. For every ton of carbon dioxide cut by solar power, fracking cuts 13 tons.
Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have dropped by 1,022 million tons, making them significantly lower than their peak in 2007.
Despite these environmental benefits and falling CO2 emissions, environmental groups continue to heavily lobby against nuclear power and natural gas. Green groups like The Sierra Club still believe nuclear energy leads to “energy over-use and unnecessary economic growth” and oppose natural gas politically based on sketchy science.