Are Liberals Science Deniers? Now’s A Good Time to Find Out

Mon, 2011-03-14 05:48Chris Mooney
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Are Liberals Science Deniers? Now’s A Good Time to Find Out

It seems inevitable. Although we don’t know yet just how bad the situation is at Japan’s damaged nuclear plants in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, the events across the Pacific are already triggering a new and differently tinged debate over nuclear power back here at home.

Nuclear defenders are calling for keeping things in perspective—fossil fuels, they point out, have many more costs and risks associated with them than nuclear power; and newer generation reactor designs are far safer than those built in Japan many decades ago (a number of US plants from the same era have the same or similar designs).

Yet figures as influential as Senator Joseph Lieberman are already saying we should “put the brakes” on developing new nuclear plants in the U.S.—despite plans for a so-called “Nuclear Renaissance” that have won strong support from President Obama.

As someone who specializes in reporting on the politics of science, I find all of this fascinating—for the following reason.

When I and others demonstrated, during the George W. Bush years, that political conservatives had grown very strongly anti-science, we often heard what I would call the “nuclear counterargument.” The point was made that, hey, during the 1960s and 1970s, it was the political left that attacked science illegitimately—particularly around nuclear power.

Here’s a typical example of the charge, from the George C. Marshall Institute book Politicizing Science: The Alchemy of Policymaking (2003):

To attack the nuclear power industry, [activists] needed ammunition, and it was readily found. They only had to go through the nuclear power risk analysis literature and pick out some of the imagined accident scenarios with the number of deaths expected from them. Of course, they ignored the very tiny probabilities of occurrence attached to these scenarios, and they never considered the fact that alternate technologies were causing far more deaths. Quoting from the published scientific analyses gave the environmentalists credibility and even made them seem like technical experts. (Bernard L. Cohen, “Nuclear Power,” p. 146) 

Similarly, in reviewing my book The Republican War on Science, sci-fi author David Brin offered a counterpoint: “Take for example the ill-considered leftwing concordance to rigidly oppose nuclear power, a faulty liberal reflex that ignores real potential to reduce carbon emissions and help bridge the next few decades while we develop sustainable technologies.

A centerpoint of this “nuclear counterargument” was that the left used fears of reactor meltdowns and the escape of radiation to unjustifiably scare the public. And if that’s true, then this is certainly the ideal moment for such misuse of science to occur again. So the question is, will it?

It’s almost like a natural experiment in the politicization of science.

We can put the point a little bit more sharply: Today’s Republican Party has evolved to the point where the denial of climate science is mainstream within the party, or even dominant. Scarcely a day goes by without a Republican politician uttering something demonstrably incorrect on the subject.

So here’s the question: Will leading environmentalists, elected Democrats, and other influentials on the other side of the aisle be caught engaging in similar abuses in the unfolding nuclear debate? Will they say things provably incorrect, in the service of trying to tank nuclear power?

Or are liberals and conservatives today truly different when it comes to handling scientific information, no matter what their core political impulses may be?

I, for one, am betting on the latter outcome. Just read comments at my blog: It’s a bunch of old lefties saying how they’ve come around about nuclear power and how they’re willing to credit the benefits as well as the costs. Or just look at Matthew Yglesias: A good liberal who has just written, “I do think it’s worth speaking up for a nuclear industry a bit. The question is safe compared to what?

As liberals, it might seem that there are good ideological reasons for us to be anti-nuclear. Nuclear power is the child of the “military industrial complex”; private companies are making big money at it; and so on. Yet I don’t believe we’re really opposed today–and even if we are opposed, as some data would suggest, I still doubt we’re inclined to misuse science to this end.

I’m happy to be proved wrong, of course–but I’m betting that the “nuclear counterargument,” even if it may validly describe the political left during the 1970s, has little or no bearing on the politics of science in the present.

Comments

Chris, you give your hand away with your assertion that, if you’re not abjectly anti-nuke, you must be pro-nuke. That’s a logical disconnect that seems to be popular with radicals today. It really wouldn’t hurt to step this rhetoric down a notch or two.

“As liberals, it might seem that there are good ideological reasons for us to be anti-nuclear…private companies are making big money at it; and so on.”

great point chris. if companies make big profits then your against it.

“conservatives had grown very strongly anti-science”….crying foul when your team tried to hide the fact that proxy data didn’t jibe is hardly anti science. crying foul when your team has the raw data for temperature eaten by phil jones’ dog (what happened to the raw data anyway?) is hardly anti science. crying foul about new studies suggesting that temp reconstructions were all wrong prior to 2001 and now saying that these temps are unprecedented is hardly anti science. suggesting that we understand climate sensitivity and put a value on it so as to predict future climate patterns is anti science. suggesting we understand feedbacks necessary to create 4,000 ft sea rises is anti science. making it seem like fact that warming since the ice age is caused by co2 is anti science. CONSENSUS is anti science.

and saying that it is intuitive that the ‘warming’ would create more cold and snow (especially when there hasn’t been any warming in the past 15 years) isnt anti science, its outright foolish.

Would you mind giving an example of something “provably incorrect” in arguments that were made against nuclear power? If anything, the misuse of science was by nuclear advocates. You also provide a caricature of ideological reasons to be against nuclear power.

As I recall,there was little if any basis for putting any numbers on probabilities of accident scenarios. Yet for some reason, even to this day, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses a lower figure for valuing lives than other agencies.

And much of the debate around the escape of radiation to the environment was on the effects of low doses, or whether these were, as some proclaimed, “safe”. There was actually quite a bit of data on this, from workers exposed in nuclear weapons facilities and exposure to nuclear testing - mostly classified (well summarized in this 1989 NY Times article on America’s Radiation Victims”. My knowledge is not up to date on the current status.

And quality control inspectors were often fired or harassed for doing their jobs. Full disclosure: my first foray into science and policy was as an assistant to a couple of attorneys engaged in the Silkwood Supreme Court Case, and intervention in NRC restart proceedings for TMI Unit 1, which had been offline at the time of the accident in Unit 2. In the course of organizing the Silkwood Awards, for nuclear workers who endured personal hardship in the defense of public safety and health, I spoke to many of them personally. As for science,those working in weapons facilities didn’t think too much of epidemiologists - they would not have results until they were all dead.

Although less immediate, climate was also a concern at the time - Gore’s initial hearings were in ‘78, when we still had time to do something - the election of Ronald Reagan put a stop to a lot of renewable energy activities.

I remain opposed to building new plants, which on top of other things, require massive subsidies, but have accepted that existing plants are with us forever. For now, they are a bridge technology but I would like to see them - and coal plants shut down asap.

“Would you mind giving an example of something “provably incorrect” in arguments that were made against nuclear power?”

A list of demonstrably untrue arguments against nuclear power:
* China Syndrome
- Actually impossible for most reactor types
* Every nuke plant is potentially a Chernobyl
- Only RBMKs can have that type of accident. There are only two still in operation.
* Nuclear plants can be turned into “Dirty bombs”
- If you crash a plane into a reactor building, youll vaporize the plane, shut down the plant, but not harm containment
* Nuke plants release a constant, deadly stream of radiation
- They demonstrably do not.
* Chernobyl killed 200,000 people
- WHOs estimate is 4,000; only greenpeace goes past that.
* TMI-2 killed people
- Actually, the estimate is 0-1 additional cases of thyroid cancer per year
* Nuclear power is less safe than other forms of power generation
- In terms of fatalities and injuries per GWy, there is no safer mode of generation, renewables included.
* Spent reactor fuel can be easily made into a weapon
- Spent reactor fuel doesnt maintain a chain reaction anymore.
* Plutonium from spent reactor fuel can be easily made into a weapon
- Fuel grade plutonium is too high in spontaneous fissiles and gamma emitters to be practical for weapons use.
* Nuclear reactors must be big
- The earliest reactors were on the order of 60 MW. Newer designs are in the range of 60-360MW. While its true that for LWRs, 1GW seems to be the optimal power density, newer designs have different scaling peaks.
* Nuclear power consumes/contaminates water
- Per watt, nuclear power consumes exactly as much water as any other technology. Coolant water must be filtered heavily before its passed through a tertiary coolant loop (which never enters the reactor, nor does it come near water that has). It comes out cleaner than it went in.

”* Nuke plants release a constant, deadly stream of radiation
- They demonstrably do not.”

The problem with nuke plants is not that they release a constant, steady stream. The problem I have with them is periodic releases that do happen on a regular basis, of effluent (which the NRC admits in their regs. that the radionuclides within which have “remained the same or decreased”, therefore are not zero) and gases, that while chemically inert, you can still breathe in; it only takes one particle to give you cancer. External “low dose” is not comparable to internal dose.

There are problems with most of your statements; you parse your words very carefully. For instance you assume crashing a plane into a reactor is the only way to turn a nuke plant into a dirty bomb. We have seen that all that needs to be done is take out the electricity and water supply. Dynamite the pumps and power lines.
“* Nuclear power consumes/contaminates water

And you won’t convert thinking people like me with whoppers like the last:
“- Per watt, nuclear power consumes exactly as much water as any other technology.”
Really? Solar takes millions of gallons per day like nuclear?

Obviously you’re getting your info from the nuclear lobby. Lying cleverly is not the way to make progress, by deceiving people into buying something just because you believe is right?

“We have seen that all that needs to be done is take out the electricity and water supply.”

All that does is release a few grams of short-lived gaseous radionucleides, which, while undesirable, is not a big deal. This is not a “dirty bomb”. Its an industrial accident.

Also, it should be noted that I-Fukushima 1 was /the/ oldest nuclear reactor in Japan, due to be decommissioned in a week. The other reactors at the I-Fukushima facility failed due to the hydrogen explosion. /All/ of the reactors stood up to the earthquake they were underdesigned for, and only failed due to the loss of the generators.

In fact, II-Fukushima suffered more or less the same impact, but didnt suffer the same fate. Why? Because theyre slightly newer reactors, with slightly better safety design. Even past the extreme of nuclear plant design, a hairs breadth meant the difference between a non-event and a controlled failure.

If anything, this is a call to update our reactor fleet.

“It only takes one particle to give you cancer.”

Been reading Helen Caldicott, I take it. It only takes one particle, true; just like it only takes one time to get you addicted, and one shag to get you pregnant - except the odds of any one inhaled particle giving you cancer is astronomical, if non-zero. That statement is a way to dishonestly create alarm, and if youre really an electrical engineer, you know /exactly/ how badly youre lying as a result. The “It only takes one” meme is the tactic of the alarmist.

“Really? Solar takes millions of gallons per day like nuclear?”

Im sorry, I was talking about power generating technologies, not expensive*** pseudogreen* toys**. The techs that would replace decommissioned nuclear, and will power increased capacity in lieu of nuclear are coal and natural gas - both of which have the same per-watt physical cooling requirements as nuclear, but dont have nearly as strict regulation.

“Lying cleverly is not the way to make progress”
Then you might want to stop doing it.

* Yes, pseudogreen. The production of tonnes of arsenic-laced runoff - a waste product that is far more long-lived and just as toxic - for a few kW of power is not something I consider to be “green”.
** Yes, toys. The worlds largest PV plant is Sarnia PV in Ontario, with a nameplate capacity of 80 MWp, but an expected output of 120GWh/year (or, reduced to a real number, ~14 MW). Given the panel area of 966,000 m^2, thats also 14 W/m^2. That is a pathetic waste of land area. Also not green, and decidedly not contributing a whole lot of anything to the power grid.
*** Yes, expensive. Expanding Sarnia from “20MW” to “80MW” (More accurately, 3MW to 14MW), it cost 400 million CAD. This comes to a bit under 39 CAD / W. That is /the most/ expensive energy production weve got. Further, its built on thin-film technology, which means the system has an expected lifetime of about 20 years. The math works out to 22.2 Ca cents / kWh - someone is going to be paying that rate.

If you take away cooling water and external electricity, and disable the backup generators, reactors can melt down, experience hydrogen explosions, etc. That’s a dirty bomb.

“* Nuclear power is less safe than other forms of power generation
- In terms of fatalities and injuries per GWy, there is no safer mode of generation, renewables included.”

You sound like a tobacco company executive. That’s only if you use the death and injury figures provided by the IAEA (that the World Health Organization deferred to on reporting on Chernobyl) The one-sided junk science of the IAEA and NEI only shows their vested interest, not true health effects. Are you sure you’re including all the people who will die of cancer from the seawater radioisotopes being concentrated in food and water? Chernobyl is not even done killing people, not to mention the health costs. The land around Chernobyl and Fukushima can’t even be used anymore. Not safe. Renewables don’t have the cost of making land unsafe to live on, essentially forever. It’s too late after a meltdown to close a reactor.

The chance of inhaling a nuclear particle may be low, but you will develop a cancer from an emitter particle if you’re unlucky enough to inhale one, or your body puts a strontium-90 atom into your bone. The nuclear industry wants us to believe that they can keep safely adding fission products to the environment, that did not exist in any measurable amount before 1944. In engineering, safety trumps cost, and with risks like radioisotopes as persistent as those from fission, that travel around the world, and concentrate in our food, you use the precautionary principle.

You really think people are going to be more scared of solar than nuclear? The point is we don’t need nuclear with its risks and costs. You need to state all the facts about solar if you’re going to claim ONLY coal and gas are the alternatives to nuclear. Solar has changed a lot in the past two years. The EU installed 12,000 MW of solar PV, but only 145 MW of nuclear in 2010. Where in the world were 12,000 MW of nuclear installed in 2010? Nuclear is the pseudo-green expensive toy:
http://www.renewablepowernews.com/archives/2212
Nuclear is only going to get more expensive after Fukushima. The only two plants being built in the US will have a cost of 14-16 cents/kW, and solar is already, or will be cheaper, and the cost will only continue to drop, as nuclear plant cost only goes up:
http://www.americanhydrogenassociation.org/ahaDukeinfo.html
http://www.renewablepowernews.com/archives/2363
You should get up to date with actual facts:
http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/2011/03/clean-energy-trends-2011-clean-edge-solar-is-an-economic-powerhouse

SolarDoneRight.org agrees with you on large solar; see their website. There are plenty of places to put large solar without wasting productive land. Germany is not having a problem with their 12,000 MW of installed solar. panels. Solar works, add wind and geothermal and nuclear is dead as a civilian power source, except the subsidized, greatest-polluting military will be the last to let go of it, when hydrogen becomes cheaper.

Lying by omission is still lying, so quit doing it about solar in your one-sided defense of nuclear.

A commenter said he did not support more nuclear energy plants and would shut down all coal fired power plants ASAP. That would be fine. We could do that. But we - the Western world, and the USA specifically - would have to give up a life based on cheap energy. I dont think even the liberal left want to do that or are prepared to do that or believe in doing that.

Green energy technologies are expensive not because of low demand, but because they are energy-inefficient. Solar and windpower have low efficiencies fundamental to their nature because clouds, night, calm and storms prevent either of them from operating 24-7. The unreliability of both was supposed to be mitigated by a “smart” system that coordinated system use across the nation; as one went down, another fed into the grid. The trouble with that is that you now build 3X capacity because of inherent unreliability. And even then you will have brownouts and blackouts because even 100 percent reliability is so only 19 out of 20 times.

Non-nuclear, non-coal, non-fossil fuel use is un-replaceable with the Western consumerist, do-lots, have-lots lifestyle. My neighbours 15-year old girl demands her mother turn her hair dryer off while fiddling with the comb, but loves the indoor pool and hottub her and her friends use. All of them love their blackberries and video games. Cheap energy use underlies the life they want - and say they can afford - to live.

Until the average Joe wants, not just agrees philosophically, to live in 1000 sq ft homes, walk to work, drop vacation or retirement plans out of country, and sweat it out during the 3 weeks of hot summer weather without an a/c unit, we cannot reasonably expect to eliminate nuclear etc. power systems. The American Way of Life depends on it. Excessive consumption drives the American Way of Life as it does the world economy. You cannot have the life we want/demand/have without non-green technologies at this time.

At this time - that is the only caveat. If the left, liberal, eco-conservative wants to shut-down perceived dangerous or planet-damaging activities, we need replacements for cheap energy, not a loss of cheap energy. We have been touting nuclear fusion for so long the subject is stale: I presume the CERN experiments wrt the Boson (God) particle are all about nuclear fusion, for all the money being spent there, but not much is coming out of that right now. Fission reactors, for all their problems, are the only energy source on the planet right now that gives large energy densities reliably without CO2 or other emissions. And the lead time on them is measured in decades. In China, the green example of renewable energy activity, nuclear reactors are being built and one new coal-fired power plant comes on stream each month (projected minimum the next 48 months). The Chinese government knows where in the near-term its energy is coming from. At the same time it is buying up all the heavy oil and gas it can in Canada (since the American public doesnt want this “dirty oil”, I guess the Chinese enviros will get it.)

The right conservatives have one advantage over the left liberal: the status quo works. There is no viable alternative right now. There could be. Nuclear fusion might work, even if after 60 years we have no productive successes. Solar and wind - a tripling of efficiencies in solar cells and battery storage will do the job for solar power, but wind is inefficient by Gods set-up. Houston, we have a problem.

When Al Gore buys another mansion on the Californian coast, and the Kennedys transfer their wealth offshore to avoid inheritance taxes, and Robert Kennedy in particular petitions to stop wind-turbines off the Cape Cod coast, you know that what is asked for is not a reduction in consumption or wealth personally but ideologically even within the eco-friendly liberals. The elite reflect what we all want to be or have. And all of this is built on excessive acquisition with cheap energy.

It is no wonder that Hansen and Strong and Erhlich and others clamour for small populations: the only way to have all their stuff and be energy profligate while “saving” the world, is if there are hardly any people out there doing what they philosophically want to do. Enjoy life, enjoy experiencing the world, enjoy mixing with others from different cultures, backgrounds and environments. This is the left liberal dilemma in the eco-movements concerned about CO2 emissions: the good life can only be had sustainably by a few. The many have to live in squalor or, better yet, go away. The liberal left cannot try to have the many rise to their standards, and they certainly arent going to suggest trading places.

Focus your efforts on replacing uranium, coal, oil and natural gas with something cost-effective. No other theoretical option is an option. We, on this planet at this time, will live an energy demanding life and do our best to create one for our grandchildren. Life that is rich is not cheap. Only the religious ascetics are willing to live an impoverished life and claim it superiour, and they live as parasites (not enough work to support themselves) and, without producing children, footnotes in any social history.

Doug Proctor wrote “…Excessive consumption drives the American Way of Life as it does the world economy. You cannot have the life we want/demand/have without non-green technologies at this time…”

Do you not realise how ridiculous it is to claim that everyone can only live by wasting resources at an increasing rate until there is nothing left? People are perfectly capable of changing how they live. You don’t imagine things will be the same ten or twenty years down the road do you?

I spent more than half of my life without using or needing a computer. I spent more than half of my life without owning a car of my own. I even lived without a TV for a few years. My parents lived through the Thirties the way humans usually survive - by adapting to change.

You really need to learn the difference between what you want, and what you need, and what you can get by with if you have to.

As a Canadian, I don’t think much of your “American Way of Life” that means stupid wasteful destruction of resources now and leaving your children to live in need in the future.

That’s what I’ve seen so far. Everything that’s vague, or some nuclear industry partisan thinks is wrong, or is reported and then contradicted, is the fault of the journalists involved being scientifically illiterate and anti-nuclear because of fear and paranoia and environmentalist misinformation and some nature kick. Meanwhile, similar reporting on the quake itself and the tsunami itself is just fine. After all, it’s the confusion of an ongoing disaster!

Can we try to show the teeniest, tiniest bit of objectivity in this capitalist theocracy?

Can we remember that the nuclear reactor site, too, is a freaking disaster zone, and that the best efforts of TEPCO, containment workers, government officials and media alike are going to be tentative and imperfect?

Ironically, Chris Mooney, your name is being cited all over associated with the purported claim that scientists have all the blame for science not being communicated, and see, Chris Mooney is WRONG, it’s all the fault of the anti-scientific media! Look how terribly and sensationally they’re reporting this non-incident in Fukushima?

I’ve actually posted excerpts from Unscientific America showing that’s not your position. That said, Brave New Climate, among others, is being touted as “good science” on the disaster - their main press release is by a guy with a degree in supply chains, and people actually in the nuclear safety and nuclear engineering fields have debunked them - when will that see the light of day, again?

crying foul when your team has the raw data for temperature eaten by phil jones’ dog (what happened to the raw data anyway?)

##################

The CRU does not generate its own raw data; it obtains the raw data from various national meteorological offices. Whatever raw data that the CRU supposedly “lost” is still available for the asking (as long as one agrees to the proprietary nondisclosure terms) from those met offices.

The CRU’s results have been independently verified by several other organizations (including NASA and NOAA) using data obtained from surface stations *and* satellites. Furthermore, a number of independent “citizen scientists” have published their own global-temperature computations on the web, and their results have further confirmed that the CRU’s results are correct.

If you don’t trust NASA/NOAA/CRU and you have college-freshman/sophomore technical skills, you can perform your own independent verification of the NASA/NOAA/CRU results using public domain temperature data and free, open-source software available on the web.

I know this for a fact because I’ve done it myself. I was able to replicate NASA’s global land temperature index results in just a few days in my spare time.

You can view my own results (computed from a program I wrote from scratch, using publicly-available *raw* temperature data) with NASA’s official results right here: http://img98.imageshack.us/img98/1028/ghcnrawmyresultsnasares.jpg. (Since NASA’s results are so similar to the CRU’s results, a confirmation of NASA’s work is a confirmation of the CRU’s work as well.)

My own results were generated with a simple gridding/averaging program that I wrote from scratch, over just a few days, in my spare time.

Anyone possessing high-school math skills and college-freshman/sophomore computer programming skills can verify my claims using public-domain temperature data and free, open-source software.

Those who claim that the CRU’s global temperature results cannot be independently replicated (with or without the supposedly “lost” raw data) are either incompetent or dishonest. That’s right – incompetent or dishonest. And I’m looking at *you*, mascereye.

when I read this: “Roger Pielke Jr., an esteemed professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, then requested the raw data from Jones. Jones responded:

Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.”

then when I read the request by the CEI to the EPA to reopen the comment period and this was in there:
“Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or
begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if
all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the
1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the
station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the
original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized)
data.”

I thought it meant that they only held the adjusted data. silly me. dishonest on my part, hardly. incompetent, I never claimed to do the study myself and something as you pointed out too many times you are capable of.

so : “crying foul when your team has the raw data for temperature eaten by phil jones’ dog (what happened to the raw data anyway?) is hardly anti science.” to you that statement is claiming that CRU’s global temp results blah blah blah becomes dishonest? I think my statement is hardly the ‘claim’ you make it out to be. and is certainly not dishonest. the dishonesty lies with you.

dishonest is having a medieval warm period in the ?2001? IPCC report and then having it magically disappear in the following ones.

“dishonest is having a medieval warm period in the ?2001? IPCC report and then having it magically disappear in the following ones.”

###########################

Dishonest is claiming that a rough schematic in an early IPCC report in any way represents a global temperature reconstruction. The particular figure referred to was nothing more than a rough representation of the temperature history for a part of central England. In no way could it be considered a global temperature reconstruction like Mann’s (and other scientists’) reconstruction.

Dishonest is also dragging up the ridiculous “Jones lost the raw data” claim.

The small bit of “raw data” that deniers keep screaming about simply isn’t needed to perform independent checks on the CRU’s global temperature calculations. There is far more than enough public-domain *raw* temperature data to perform thorough “sanity checks” on the CRU’s work. Anyone who is competent knows that; anyone who is competent and honest will acknowledge that.

Anyone who is technically competent is fully aware that the global temperature record is highly oversampled – that is, a good representation of global temperatures can be computed data taken from 10 percent (or fewer) of the global temperature stations. I know this for a fact because I’ve done it myself.

The NOAA/NASA/CRU global temperature computations can be easily (and thoroughly) verified by anyone with lower-division undergraduate technical skills, and can be done so with just a few days of work using public-domain raw temperature data and free, open-source software. The fact that the deniers who have been attacking the global temperature record for years have failed to put in the very few days of college-freshman-level work necessary to test their claims tells us all we need to know about their honesty and competence.

(corrected version – moderator, go ahead and “deep six” my previous submission.)

The rhetoric has been embarrassing among the climate hawks, so many of whom are passionately anti nuk… their prejudices seem to be a hold over from the ’70s. Knee jerk emotions seem to overwhelm logic. They’re ignoring or contradicting science just like the deniers of climate change. Considering how they complain about the likes of Watts (WUWT) and Monkton, you’d think they’d be a little more introspective.

Like all things, nuclear power has risks. To ask that it be risk free before resuming construction of much needed plants is absurd. What in this universe is risk free? Certainly not plants powered by fossil fuels.

That said, we have much to learn from the unfolding disaster in the Fukushima Daiichi plant. We should apply all that’s learned as appropriate.