As a result of pure chance, I ended up on CBC national television during Canada’s hotly debated Fall 2008 federal election. Producers of a program called the “X-Challenge” were looking for 100 “necessary polluters” to make up a studio audience for a televised political “debate” focused on the environment, with an interesting twist.
Audience members were asked their political choice prior to the beginning of the show and via nifty hand-held “vote clickers” would after each “round” weigh in, with the goal being able to see if anyone changed their mind about who to vote for based on the persuasiveness of the debaters. The results were surprising!
Each of the 100 were asked to formulate a question for the panelists, who were the Green Party’s Adrian Carr, Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh, Michael Byers of the NDP, and Lorne Mayencourt representing the Conservatives. My question, which was rather provocative, was selected as one of four to be personally delivered on camera to the panel.
I am the CEO of a company exploring for uranium, and I wanted to know if they supported uranium mining and nuclear power.
You can see the segment I was in here: http://www.cbc.ca/mrl3/8752/news/features/xchallenge2-081008.wmv . There’s a few minutes of banter and other content before I am introduced.
The responses of the politicians are very interesting but predictable. No one came out pro-nuke. What a surprise.
After the debate a thought occurred to me that I wish I had expressed on television: if environmentalists reject nuclear power as an alternative, there really is no climate change crisis. Nuclear can produce almost unlimited amounts of energy with near zero carbon emissions and no greenhouse gases. It’s non global warming. And with an abundant domestic supply, it removes the dependence on foreign oil.
The starkness of this juxtaposition is causing many environmentalists to come around on nuclear. The logic is simple. If you assume the risk of catastrophic climate change is high, the extremely low risk of a nuclear meltdown becomes a non-factor. The fact is that nuclear power is very safe when compared to other means of energy creation, such as coal, hydro, bio fuel (see my prior blog “Food for Thought” on the misguided bio fuel strategy), and so on.
I would challenge anyone to research the topic. This is a good website to start with http://www.cna.ca, the Canadian Nuclear Association. Many myths are exposed.
No sane person would suggest that uranium mining are without environmental footprint or safety risk, but the alternatives I argue are worse. There’s a growing view that man made global warning is going to “kill us all.” Carbon emitters and “climate criminals” should be thrown into jail according to some pundits.
Politically it is uncomfortable to admit one is wrong and support nuclear, but watch for Obama to quietly change his tune over the next few years and come out with a pro nuclear energy policy. If I’m wrong, come back to this blog and tell me so. If I’m right, well, I’m right.