An early environmentalist is embracing heresy in climate-change battle

Brand, a member with writer Ken Kesey in the radical Merry Pranksters in San Francisco during the 1960s and later publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, says he feels guilty that he and fellow environmentalists created so much fear of nuclear power.

In an interview with the New York Times , Brand, who now lives on a tugboat in Sausalito, said alternative energy and conservation are fine ways to reduce emissions, but nuclear power is proven and “working on a scale to make a serious difference.”

“There were legitimate reasons to worry about nuclear power, but now that we know about the threat of climate change, we have to put the risks in perspective,” Brand said. “Sure, nuclear waste is a problem, but the great thing about it is you know where it is and you can guard it. The bad thing about coal waste is that you don’t know where it is and you don’t know what it’s doing. The carbon dioxide is in everybody’s atmosphere.”


In a report issued today (Feb 27th) entitled “CONFRONTING CLIMATE CHANGE: AVOIDING THE UNMANAGEABLE AND MANAGING THE UNAVOIDABLE”, the United Nations Foundation and the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society stated on page 69:

The key to making the needed large reductions in CO2 emissions is a multi-pronged strategy that addresses all of the major emission sources. This means pursuing in parallel:

(a) the possibilities for lowering the energy intensity of economic activity through increases in the efficiency of vehicles, buildings, appliances, and industrial processes;

(b) the possibilities for lowering the carbon-emissions intensity of energy supply through additions of renewable and nuclear energy supply and through modifications to fossil fuel technologies that enable the capture and sequestration of CO2; and

(c) the possibilities for reducing the carbon emissions from land-use change by means of reforestation, afforestation,avoided deforestation, and improved soil-management practices in agriculture.”

A press story on the report can be found here:

The report can be downloaded here: (13 megs)




Authors, Reviewers, and Contributors

Coordinating Lead Authors

Rosina Bierbaum, Professor and Dean, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan,United States

John P. Holdren, Director, The Woods Hole Research Center, and Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, Harvard University, United States

Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs, Climate Institute, United States

Richard H. Moss, Senior Director, Climate and Energy,United Nations Foundation and University of Maryland,United States

Peter H. Raven, President, Missouri Botanical Garden,United States

Lead Authors

Ulisses Confalonieri, Professor, National School of Public Health and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Jacques “Jack” Dubois, Member of the Executive Board,Swiss Re, United States

Alexander Ginzburg, Deputy Director, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation

Peter H. Gleick, President, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, United States

Zara Khatib, Technology Marketing Manager, Shell International, United Arab Emirates

Janice Lough, Principal Research Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australia

Ajay Mathur, President, Senergy Global Private Limited, India

Mario Molina, Professor, University of California, San Diego, United States, and President, Mario Molina Center,Mexico

Keto Mshigeni, Vice Chancellor, The Hubert Kairuki Memorial University, Tanzania

Nebojsa “Naki” Nakicenovic, Professor, Vienna University of Technology, and Program Leader, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria

Taikan Oki, Professor, Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Japan

Hans Joachim “John” Schellnhuber, Professor and Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research,Germany

Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Professor, Central European University, Hungary

Special Technical Advisor

James Edmonds, Senior Staff Scientist, Joint Global Change Research Institute at University of Maryland College Park, United States

Research Assistant

Nathan L. Engle, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, United States

Reviewers at the AAAS Annual Meeting, 2006

Anthony Arguez, NOAA National Climatic Data Center,United States

Ann Bartuska, USDA Forest Service, United States

Sally Benson, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, United States

Norm Christensen, Duke University, United States

William Clark, Harvard University, United States

Robert Corell, The Heinz Center, United States

Gladys Cotter, US Geological Survey, United States

Partha Dasgupta, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

Geoff Hawtin, Global Crop Diversity Trust, United Kingdom

Daniel Kammen, University of California, Berkeley, United States

Edward Miles, University of Washington, United States

Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Cornell University, United States

Richard Thomas, International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Syrian Arab Republic

Thomas Wilbanks, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, United States

Upon re-reading your post, I now realize you were quoting “heresy” from the NY Times article - heresy wrt the older environmental movement. I interpreted your title to suggest the position was heresy wrt whole population, which I’m not sure is the case.

…His name is Bill.

Mr. Brand has also been kind enough to endorse my thriller novel of nuclear power, which is based on my twenty years in the US nuclear industry and is designed to provide a good overview of the topic for a lay person. I cover the good AND the bad. It is available free online at and also in paperback via online retailers. “I’d like to see Rad Decision widely read.” - Stewart Brand