Climate Scientists Promote Nuclear Power to Combat Global Warming

Image: Climate Scientists Promote Nuclear Power to Combat Global Warming Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato, in the orange helmet, inspects the contaminated water tanks at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Oct. 15. Radioactive water leaked from the tanks earlier in October and flowed into the Pacific Ocean.

Monday, 04 Nov 2013 12:11 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Four top climate and energy scientists are calling on world leaders to support the development of nuclear power as a tool to fight global warming, a position that amounts to a wholesale rejection of the traditional wisdom of environmentalists.

In an open letter to world leaders, the scientists outlined their belief that embracing safe nuclear power systems is the only way to reverse climate change, which they blame on the use of fossil fuels, according to CNN.

Environmentalists have long rejected nuclear energy, saying it's too expensive and dangerous, as evident, they say, from disasters such as Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island.

By releasing the letter, the scientists are "putting their reputations on the line to do something that the ultra-greens regard as treason," Stanford University Nobel-winning physicist Burton Richter, told CNN.

But the pro-nuclear scientists say that global energy consumption will outstrip the planet's ability to reverse the build-up of carbon dioxide pollution from burning oil, coal, and other fossil fuels believed to be the cause of global warming, resulting in the melting of the polar ice cap and rising sea levels.

In the letter the scientists concede that while "today's nuclear plants are far from perfect ... there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power."

The scientists' nontraditional position on nuclear energy is evidence that the debate on how to stabilize climate change is escalating, especially since some countries are taking divergent approaches.

Germany, for example, has chosen to phase out their 17 nuclear facilities by 2022, compared to France, which since the 1970s has invested heavily in nuclear power, resulting in some of the cheapest energy and cleanest air on the planet, according to CNN.

The letter is one of the scientists' strongest public statements to date backing nuclear power, according to CNN, and comes as the network plans to air a documentary Thursday called "Pandora's Promise," about environmentalists and longtime nuclear opponents who have changed their minds about nuclear energy.

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