A new online space to plot the revolution—and an in-person event tomorrow.
Hi, Emily! Love your work. So glad you’re out there.
Ok, got it. Thanks for the new venue. Will keep an eye on it.
Here in Seattle we get these “aspirational” TV ads from the big natural gas supplier Puget Sound Energy (PSE). I may contact my local 350.org to see if they have a working group on PSE.
This is more in response to your Musk article but since you mentioned Jane Fonda I thought to comment here instead.
I agree with everything you said and your conclusion about Musk, but that is what is frustrating to me. I view things the same way as you do, but about people or organizations related to climate change, who are conventionally popular within the movement, doing what you did here and taking into account everything they say or do. But it seems like I'm relatively alone in that regard. I don't understand why no one seems to be willing or able to make the same assessment as me of the climate movement or the people in it, when I believe it would not only make the movement better but also help achieve its climate action goals.
You mention Jane Fonda, who is a relatively large voice in the climate movement, but who is also completely opposed to nuclear energy. I can't quantify how much damage she did because of her decades long opposition to nuclear power, when we had more time on the climate, so I'm just going to focus on how her anti-nuclear position conflicted with my work in helping keep Diablo Canyon open.
Here is a plant that provides about 9% of California's electricity, a state about to become the world's 4th biggest economy, and a prominent voice in the climate movement wants it closed.
"Q: And now, with emissions soaring and a global energy crisis underway, you have California lawmakers voting just last night to keep Diablo Canyon, the state’s last atomic power plant, open at least until 2030. Do you support keeping the plant open? And do you, in hindsight, wish people took a different message from that movie on nuclear?
A: No, they took the right message. This is dangerous stuff. It is dangerous stuff. We’ve seen that in Japan, we’ve seen that in Russia. Not only is it dangerous, not only is Diablo Canyon right close to the earthquake fault but there’s the problem of water. In the case of Diablo Canyon, it’s marine water. It’s the ocean. It kills marine life around there. Nuclear plants use up so much water. Water is like gold now, we know that very well now in California.
I understand Gov. Gavin Newsom’s concerns about rolling blackouts and what it did to [former Gov.] Gray Davis. He’s got ambitions, I get that. But I wish all that money would go to alternatives, to renewables. I think that would make more difference and we could have maybe made a big enough splash in time to help with that.
If I had been governor, I would have been planning this for four years. Do you know what I mean? Put in place a plan so when a time like this happens, we’ve solved it. Don’t wait until the last minute and then throw it out to the legislature when they don’t have time to think about it."
I mean this is just nonsense with no actual factual basis for any of it. Before it was decided that Diablo Canyon was to be kept open there was a "plan", a law was passed that emissions could not increase as a result of Diablo Canyon closing. It was just impossible to meet even ignoring more recent issues of blackouts or high energy prices.
Or a concept that isn't even considered, that if renewables replaced Diablo Canyon's output, a highly suspect belief at best, it would be much more effective in going towards eliminating natural gas, which provides 38% of California's electricity, resulting in actual decarbonization and not just replacing clean power with clean power. And there is no mention of the monetary cost to the state trying to reach clean energy goals if Diablo Canyon closed.
"If Diablo were to operate through 2050, then the cumulative savings to the energy grid would be $21 billion."
Instead it is just the banal, nuclear is one the most dangerous things on the planet, kind of argument. It uses up water? What? The "controversy" around Diablo Canyon is that it uses once through cooling of sea water, so it returns the water back to the ocean, which is seen by certain anti-nuclear groups as harmful. And Diablo Canyon is perfect for desalination anyways, as the above link mentions, if clean water is the issue to help solve.
My point is that I will never have the voice of someone like Jane Fonda, so to see her presented as this positive climate figure within the climate movement, who clearly has absolutely no clue what she is talking about with nuclear, while I worked relatively alone to keep Diablo Canyon open and had to fight against the actions of people like Jane Fonda, while the rest of the climate movement just looks on at best, it is just aggravating to say the least.
So even though Diablo Canyon is going to be kept open, why isn't what Jane Fonda wanted, its closure, something that would have resulted in 10s of millions of tons of preventable CO2 emissions, taken into account when viewing her as a figure within the climate movement? Just like Musk?
And I genuinely try not to hate people, but with someone like Jane Fonda who spreads just absolute bullshit that isn't remotely true, while also creating huge obstacles in my work to keep CO2 from being emitted, I don't know what else to do. It really is the same as you probably view Elon Musk.
And just as an aside, I hate how when talking about things like carbon capture being used to possibly delay decarbonization, no one seems to realize that actually happens all the time with renewables. Check any environmental press release about a nuclear power plant closing, or Fonda's answer. It is always a hand wavy "renewables will solve it" answer to the real consequences of nuclear power going offline.
Or take something like Indian Point closing as an example. It has now been over a year since it has closed, and the gas plants that replaced it are still operating and have put out millions of tons of carbon, despite saying renewables would offset any emissions, and there has been no accountability from anyone involved in the climate movement. AOC, who called for its closure, hasn't been asked to respond to the emission increases and is still seen as a climate leader. So again why is that, taking the holistic view like you did with Musk into account? Yes, she is a strong proponent of the climate, is a great legislator and highlighted your excellent journalism, but she also took a position on something that has resulted in millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere at this extremely critical moment, which to be blunt has killed people through direct pollution, not to mention how it affects the climate and the short term problem of methane be released in its supply chain.
Germany's Energiewende is another example with two people with a more global reach, Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein. Both supported Germany's decision to phase out nuclear instead of coal, while transitioning to renewables, and still do as far as I can tell. And that was an action that contributed to billions of tons of CO2 and 10s of thousands of deaths. Any fair accounting of their activism or work should take this into account as well, in my view.
"Our hypothetical scenarios show that if Japan and Germany had reduced coal instead of nuclear after Fukushima, they could have together prevented about 28,000 air pollution-induced premature deaths and 2.6 billion tons of CO2 emissions between 2011 and 2017. Thus, these countries’ post-Fukushima energy choices have resulted in major levels of avoidable impacts of the accident."
"This paper examines the impact of the shutdown of roughly half of the nuclear production capacity in Germany after the Fukushima accident in 2011. We use hourly data on power plant operations and a novel machine learning framework to estimate how plants would have operated differently if the phase-out had not occurred. We find that the lost nuclear electricity production due to the phase-out was replaced primarily by coal-fired production and net electricity imports. The social cost of this shift from nuclear to coal is approximately 12 billion dollars per year."
And I try to get people to understand this isn't some pro-nuclear screed, but about actual monetary costs, and specific numbers of CO2 emitted and real deaths. That is why I include the figures I do, because I believe most, who are more agnostic on this, think of it as some minor debate, like arguing if we should have 48% solar 52% wind or vice versa or something. It isn't, it is about literally billions of tons of CO2 that didn't have to be emitted. And I don't understand why I have to basically fight against the climate movement to keep emissions from rising.
I don't believe there is an intentionality behind this with the people I mentioned, like with Musk willing to let the planet burn because of his ego as you put it, and instead more of a ideological blindness to what is happening, if the result is the same, the planet burns, what is the difference?
And although I do hope you understand my perspective here, your listening already means everything to me, and not just as a climate person, so thank you.
Emily, do you find that playing drums helps bring things back to center? (sure helps me). Think every climate activist needs something unrelated and wholly life affirming to lose oneself in guilt free, even if just for a few minutes here and there
What time EST is this live chat today please?