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On nuclear power as climate solution, Bill Gates shows alarming ignorance

David Lowry’s Blog 16th Feb 2021 The multi-billionaire Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, in his new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”, is sceptical of the Green New Deal.(Allen Lane/Penguin) published on 16 February. Gates secured much pre-publication publicity for his new tome, including an interview in the Guardian Weekend Magazine, which wrote “Of the Green New Deal, the proposal backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [the Congresswoman who has promoted the merits of the GND in the US] that raises the goal of carbon neutrality in a decade, he is flatly dismissive, with Gates telling the interviewer. “Well, it’s a fairytale. It’s like saying vaccines don’t work – that’s a form of science denialism. Why peddle fantasies to people?”

Gates also opined: “I’m not a survivalist.” Instead his version of survivalism is to fund innovation, the reporter noted. “I’m putting money into carbon capture and nuclear fission” Gates told her. (Bill Gates: ‘Carbon neutrality in a decade is a fairytale. Why peddle fantasies?’, Guardian, 13 February 2021;

Indeed, his book is laced with positive, if inaccurate, mentions of nuclear power. For example, he asserts on page 84, in a section on “Making Carbon-Free Electricity”, uns der a sub-section titled ‘ Nuclear Fission’ he writes: “”Here’s the one sentence case for nuclear power: It’s the only carbon-free energy sources that can reliably deliver power day and night, through every season.”

Later on page 190, he repeats the fake fact, asserting “Nuclear is the only carbon-free energy source we can use almost anywhere. It is worrying that Gates can be so poorly informed he can believe such demonstable fake information, and repeat is, using it as a cornerstone for his pro-nuclear arguments. His editors at Allen Lane surely should have told him when he presented draft text that this information is incorrect, and should be removed. Gates should have known the following: Nuclear power will not provide any useful dent in curbing harmful emissions, when the carbon footprint of its full uranium ‘fuel chain’ is considered- from uranium mining, milling, enrichment ( which is highly energy intensive), fuel fabrication, irradiation, radioactive waste conditioning, storage, packaging to final disposal. Recent analysis by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, in a detailed study “Review of solutions to global warming, air pollution, and energy security ( demonstrates nuclear power’s CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewable energy technologies.
Gates should read it pronto. Gates is not an energy specialist (evidently), but clearly cares hugely about the global threat of climate change. He is, however, an enormously wealthy philanthropist, and says in his new book (on pages 8-9 ) “I put several hundred million dollars into starting a company [ TerraPower] to design a next-generation nuclear plant that would generate clean electricity.” Beforehand, he says, he “met with experts” (unnamed). Clearly the wrong ones. For a man who must have the contact phone numbers of presidents and premiers on speed dial, it is a pity this commendable venture into solutions to the climate change challenge, is so poorly founded. On Gates’ Breakthrough Energy web site, he says that he has assembled “analysts, experts and advocates working to advance smart public policy.” On nuclear, Gates’ approach is just dumb!

February 20, 2021 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, ENERGY, PERSONAL STORIES, politics, spinbuster

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