David MacKay’s foreword to COP21 edition of Climate Gamble

Professor Sir David J C MacKay, famous for his excellent book “Sustainable Energy: Without hot air,”  very kindly provided the following foreword for our COP21 edition of Climate Gamble. He passed away on 14th April 2016 and will be much missed by everyone interested in “pro-arithmetic” energy discussion.

Climate change action is remarkably difficult.

Society has many levers available:

  • demand-reduction through lifestyle change or technology changes;
  • eating less meat;
  • bioenergy;
  • wind power;
  • solar power;
  • hydro-electricity;
  • carbon capture and storage;
  • nuclear power;
  • carbon-dioxide removal;
  • reforestation;
  • solar radiation management;
  • population reduction.

Every lever has technical limits and political difficulties. Bioenergy, for example, requires very large land areas, and may have environmental impacts. Eating less meat could make an enormous impact [see globalcalculator.org], but many view vegetarianism as a political non-starter. Some people object to the land area required for wind power and solar power, and the intermittency of wind and solar is a technical challenge.

Making a plan that adds up and that is politically and economically credible is not easy.

Anyone who suggests that one of these levers should not be used by society must recognise that this constraint inevitably makes the task of climate change action harder.

I think that some people view nuclear power as untouchable because the language for describing the dangers of nuclear radiation is too black and white. When we talk about other forms of radiation, everyone understands that there is a scale ranging from harmful to harmless, and we have nuanced language to distinguish between, for example “desert sunshine” and “moonlight”, and other levels of “bright” or “dim” radiation in-between.

Everyone knows that midday desert sun can be harmful if one lies in it without protection. And everyone knows that moonlight is essentially harmless. Yet moonlight is made up of just the same photons as sunshine! The reason why moonlight is harmless is that it is 400,000 times less bright than sunshine.

When people talk about nuclear radiation, our language lacks analogous terms for “bright” and “dim”. Nuclear radiation is just said to be “toxic”, “harmful” or “dangerous”. Black and white. But in fact nuclear radiation can be like sunlight, and it can be like moonlight. There are levels of radiation that are lethal, and levels of radiation that are essentially harmless.

Responsible citizens should not simply rule out nuclear power from the portfolio of climate-change options without properly, quantitatively understanding the true risks.

Yes, the nuclear industry has had accidents. Yes, in some countries, the nuclear industry has had a reprehensible track-record of mis-management and dishonesty. Yes, nuclear waste lasts a long time (as do many environmental pollutants).

But please don’t leap to simplistic conclusions.

We owe it to our children to behave like adults.

Have an open mind.

Read. Learn. Think.

Discuss.

David J C MacKay FRS

Regius Professor of Engineering

Cambridge University Engineering Department

Author of “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” 

and “Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms”

http://www.inference.eng.cam.ac.uk/mackay/

Former Chief Scientific Advisor, Department of Energy and Climate Change, UK.

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Rauli’s journal from COP21

Rauli wrote a journal on his 12 days of attending and handing out (3,000!) Climate Gamble books during COP21 with Janne.

The style is somewhat personal, so read at your own risk. Needless to say, it was a highly interesting trip, going from being teargassed by the riot police to meeting Jim Hansen to speaking at what amounted the first ever COP discussion panel on nuclear and climate that went well and without disturbances.

Here is a link to the articles, enjoy.

Press release: Thousands of Climate Gamble books to be handed out in Paris

About five thousand free copies of Climate Gamble will be handed out to negotiators and activists gathering in Paris for the COP21 climate negotiations. The authors behind this independent book phenomenon on climate gamble and its solutions, Rauli Partanen and Janne M. Korhonen, collected funds for this unprecedented print run through non-profit crowdfunding campaign. The essential facts are as follows:

  1. The book lays out the scale of climate challenge, as understood by most recent scientific studies, and the scope of solutions proposed to mitigate the dangers. Through IPCC and other studies, the book shows that mitigation plans that rely on renewable energy and energy efficiency alone are highly unlikely to succeed in time: we now need all the options, including nuclear power.
  2. The book also shows how the global anti-nuclear movement has consistently twisted and misrepresented the facts and even resorted to fabricated statistics as it continues its 1980-era battle against nuclear energy – despite all the evidence that the 21st century sorely needs all low-carbon energy sources possible.
  3. Non-profit crowfunding campaign collected enough money to print about 5000 books, which will be handed out free of charge to interested parties in Paris between 28th November and 12th December this year.
  4. Taken together, the independently written and published book has sold nearly 8000 copies in Finnish and English. French and Czech translations are scheduled to appear in 2016 as well.

“Our goal is to promote science and evidence-based energy and climate policy, and bring out the fact that climate change mitigation is most likely more difficult, risky and expensive if we do not use all the tools at our disposal – including nuclear power,” says Janne M. Korhonen. “The anti-nuclear argumentation is largely based on unscientific claims, cherry-picked evidence and studious aversion to fair comparison between different alternatives. We’ve researched the subject for years, and also prepared a manuscript for a more comprehensive work detailing climate mitigation options available with nuclear power. This book is scheduled to be published in Finnish in early 2016.”

According to the two authors, it is obvious that if humanity wishes to prevent dangerous climate change, it cannot be too selective about the methods required. All the feasible solutions need to be considered, and nuclear power has track record of rapid, effective emission reductions. To act otherwise and limit solutions based on outdated, mostly unscientific preferences is a foolish gamble with the climate.

“The reception we’ve had for our book in Finland and elsewhere has been extremely positive. The Finnish edition of 2000 books has been nearly sold out in little more than half a year after publishing,” notes Rauli Partanen, who earns his living as an independent non-fiction author. “The international version will see French and Czech translations soon, and negotiations are underway for a Swedish version as well. This is extremely promising, particularly considering the fact that our book is self-published.”

In Paris, the duo will be distributing the books as well as taking part in several events either as speakers or in the audience. They will also take part in filming of a documentary, network with international energy and climate researchers and activists, and try to meet up with perhaps the most famous climate researcher of the world – Dr. James Hansen. Hansen, alongside with his three colleagues, Drs. Tom Wigley, Ken Caldeira and Kerry Emanuel, will be in Paris to deliver very similar tidings as Climate Gamble: mitigating dangerous climate change will almost certainly require radical expansion of not just renewable but also nuclear energy.

Contacts and further information:

Rauli Partanen, +358 50 560 3544, raulipartanen@gmail.com

Janne M. Korhonen, +358 41 501 8481, jmkorhonen@gmail.com

Twitter: @kaikenhuippu and @jmkorhonen

 

Climate Gamble in French – March 2016

cover-frenchLike we wrote a while back, Climate Gamble will be published in French. Now we have more information on the matter, and a confirmation (in the form of publishing agreement signed).

Publication will be in March 2016.

Publisher will be EDP Sciences, a reputable academic publisher in France.

In addition to this, there will be a pre-run of the French version printed for COP21!

We will be giving a small presentation and signing the books at Nuclear for Climate -booth at La Galerie on Tuesday 8th December from 16:30pm onwards! We hope to see you there!

Top Climate Scientists to Issue Stark Challenge at COP21

Top Climate Scientists Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigley, Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Kerry Emanuel to Issue Stark Challenge at Paris COP21 Climate Conference

The scientists will outline how only a combined strategy employing all the major sustainable clean energy options — including renewables and nuclear — can prevent the worst effects of climate change by 2100, such as the loss of coral reefs, severe damages from extreme weather events, and the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide.

The challenge from the scientists comes as nuclear power is back on the table at Paris as a major climate mitigation option, appearing as a significant component of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of major emitters including China, the U.S. and India. The four scientists call for an increase in ambition in the deployment of improved light-water reactors, with the accelerated development of advanced fission technologies to accompany planned increases in solar, wind and hydro power generation.

In light of the urgency of tackling climate change and nuclear power’s essential role in limiting temperature rises, the four scientists will therefore challenge environmental leaders who still hold anti-nuclear positions to instead support development and deployment of safe and environmentally-friendly nuclear power.

We must say that it is great to be a small part of this process of getting evidence and science back to the climate policies of the world. This is very encouraging, and we sincerely hope that climate activists of all persuasions refuse to gamble with our climate any more, and start backing the science on the matter. It is the good, responsible and sensible thing to do. It is these paths we now choose that our grandchildren will judge us upon.

We are also very pleased to be attending various events with said top scientists during COP21. It should be highly interesting and very enlightening.

Below is the full media alert from here.

*****

MEDIA ALERT

Top Climate Scientists Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigley, Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Kerry Emanuel to Issue Stark Challenge at Paris COP21 Climate Conference

Press Conference to take place on Thursday, December 3 at 14:00 in the Gallery of Solutions – Media Stage – Air and Space Museum, Paris, Le Bourget

Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigley, Dr. Ken Caldeira and Dr. Kerry Emanuel will present research showing the increasing urgency of fully decarbonizing the world economy. However, they will also show that renewables alone cannot realistically meet the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C, and that a major expansion of nuclear power is essential to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system this century. (1)

The scientists will outline how only a combined strategy employing all the major sustainable clean energy options — including renewables and nuclear — can prevent the worst effects of climate change by 2100, such as the loss of coral reefs, severe damages from extreme weather events, and the destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide.

The challenge from the scientists comes as nuclear power is back on the table at Paris as a major climate mitigation option, appearing as a significant component of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of major emitters including China, the U.S. and India. The four scientists call for an increase in ambition in the deployment of improved light-water reactors, with the accelerated development of advanced fission technologies to accompany planned increases in solar, wind and hydro power generation.

In light of the urgency of tackling climate change and nuclear power’s essential role in limiting temperature rises, the four scientists will therefore challenge environmental leaders who still hold anti-nuclear positions to instead support development and deployment of safe and environmentally-friendly nuclear power. For example, the Climate Action Network, representing all the major environmental groups, still insists despite all evidence to the contrary that “nuclear has no role to play in a fully decarbonized power sector.”  The four scientists will state that the anti-nuclear position of these environmental leaders is in fact causing unnecessary and severe harm to the environment and to the future of young people.

The scientists will outline the latest research on sea level rise, ocean acidification and ice sheet collapse supporting their conclusions about the increased urgency of tackling carbon emissions.

Dr. Hansen will brief journalists on his latest collaborative modelling and paleoclimate work, concluding that even 2C of global warming is “highly dangerous” and could lead to non-linear disintegration of ice sheets, ocean stratification and multi-meter sea level rise even within this century.

The four presenting climate scientists are each leading pioneers in the field of climate and atmospheric science, having made major contributions to our understanding of climate change. Dr. James Hansen is a professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Dr. Kerry Emanuel is a professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Tom Wigley is a climate scientist at the University of Adelaide and Dr. Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and at the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science. For brief biographies, please see below.

The lead speaker at the press conference, Dr. James Hansen, is widely regarded as having been the first to raise the alarm about climate change, more than 25 years ago.

Press Conference at Paris UNFCC COP21
Dr. James Hansen, Dr. Tom Wigley, Dr. Ken Caldeira & Dr. Kerry Emanuel
Thursday, December 3 at 14:00
Gallery of Solutions – Media Stage – Air and Space Museum, Paris, Le Bourget
Media may RSVP to: Paris@jmpverdant.com

Biographies

James Edward Hansen is an American professor at the Columbia University Earth Institute. Hansen is best known for his research in the field of climatology, his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988 that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to avoid dangerous climate change. In recent years, Hansen has become a climate activist for action to mitigate the effects of climate change, which on a few occasions has led to his arrest. From 1981 to 2013, he was the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. As of 2014, Hansen directs the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The program is working to continue to “connect the dots” from advancing basic climate science to promoting public awareness to advocating policy actions.

Tom Wigley is a climate scientist with the University of Adelaide and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) for his major contributions to climate and carbon cycle modeling and to climate data analysis, and because he is “one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change and one of the most highly cited scientists in the discipline.” He has contributed to many of the reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the work of the IPCC, including the contributions of many scientists, was recognized by the joint award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize).

Ken Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, where his job is “to make important scientific discoveries.” He also serves as a Professor (by courtesy) in the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science. Caldeira is a member of the committee producing the 2015 U.S. National Academy of Sciences report “Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts.” He is also a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. In 2010, he was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America’s Climate Choices report and was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He participated in the UK Royal Society geoengineering panel in 2009 and ocean acidification panel in 2005. Caldeira was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on Carbon Capture and Storage.

Kerry Emanuel is an American professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In particular he has specialized in atmospheric convection and the mechanisms acting to intensify hurricanes. He is the author or co-author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and two books, including Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes, recently released by Oxford University Press and aimed at a general audience, and What We Know about Climate Change, published by the MIT Press. He was named one of the Time 100 influential people of 2006. In 2007, he was elected as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences.

###

Contact:

Paul Roberts: paul@jmpverdant.com
Tel: +33 6 25 02 20 12
Julia Pacetti: julia@jmpverdant.com
Tel: +1 718 399 0400 or +1 917 584 7846


(1) Nearly every serious look at the energy technology required over the next several decades to supply the world’s growing energy appetite while effectively mitigating climate change has concluded that there is likely to be a need for large amounts of nuclear energy. In 2014 alone, reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, the UN Sustainable Solutions Network and the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate argued for a doubling or trebling of nuclear energy – requiring as many as 1,000 new reactors or more in view of scheduled retirements – to stabilize carbon emissions e.g. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group III – Mitigation of Climate Change, http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg3/, Presentation, slides 32-33; International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2014, p. 396; UN Sustainable Solutions Network, “Pathways to Deep Decarbonization” (July 2014), at page 33; Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, “Better Growth, Better Climate: The New Climate Economy Report” (September 2014), Figure 5 at page 26.