Image supplied by: George Erickson
Images supplied by: George Erickson

According to a United Nations report, “The same oceans that nourished human evolution are poised to unleash misery on a global scale unless the carbon pollution [that is] destabilizing Earth’s marine environment is brought to heel…”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change agrees: “Destructive changes already set in motion could see a steady decline in fish stocks, a hundred-fold or more increase in the damages caused by superstorms, and hundreds of millions of people displaced by rising seas…”

One of those carbon producers is located in Alberta, where Syncrude and its buddies pry oil from bitumen, using five times more energy per barrel of oil than pumping it from a conventional well. In the process, the tar sands complex has become one of the largest atmospheric polluters on the North American continent. 

In a previous Reader, Trent Wetmore, who works at Enbridge, which profits from transporting tar sands crude, attempted to greenwash the tar sands industry by bragging that they don’t pollute quite as much as before. In fact, the only green these corporations care about is the kind that fills their wallets.  

They are no different from BP, the company that gave us the horrific, 800-mile long Global Horizon “spill” in the Gulf of Mexico, from Exxon, which dumped 11 million gallons Alaska crude into Prince William Sound at Valdez, or from SoCalGas, whose Aliso Canyon methane storage facility ruptured, damaging our atmosphere as badly as adding 500,000 cars to our roads for a year. 

Because it’s all about money, it is not surprising that BP and Exxon promote inefficient wind and solar farms that (surprise!) require power plants that primarily burn carbon to generate the vast majority of their rated capacity that they fail to provide.

Yes, we need oil, but we should consider the source. We should electrify our transportation industry and supply that electricity by rapidly replacing every carbon-burning furnace at every power plant with properly sized, CO2-free, 24 /7, environment-benign, MODERN nuclear reactors that cannot melt down, can convert 90% of our stored “waste” into electricity and, like their predecessors, can continue to be  the safest way BY FAR to create electricity.        

The carbon industries know that safe, efficient, CO2-free nuclear power will kill their profits, which is why they support wind and solar farms. In their minds, profits come first, with the planet a distant “almost never.” 

Dr. James Hansen, the former chief climate scientist at NASA, now chief climate scientist at Columbia University, has calculated that “our use of CO2-free nuclear power PREVENTED 1.8 million, premature US deaths in the last 50 years.” 

During the same period, the pollution from burning carbon CAUSED 30,000 premature US deaths PER YEAR plus greater thousands of asthma attacks, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. (Scientific American)

Unfortunately, our efforts to expand nuclear power have been thwarted by fear campaigns from carbon industries, from well-meaning-but-science-ignorant “greens” like Bernie Sanders and the willfully ignorant, well paid leaders of the Sierra Club. 

Even Bill McKibben, the father of, whose book The End of Nature turned me on to climate change, has become part of the problem. Although he privately admits that nuclear power must be used to combat climate change, he refuses to say it publicly. His reason: “If I came out in favor for nuclear, it would split this movement in half.” (from Rolling Stone) This is tragic. His allegiance to the environment has shifted to his organization.

As climate change worsens and we burn tar sands oil from Enbridge and Syncrude or support North Country Power and Great River Energy, which burns lignite, the dirty runt of the coal industry, we are shooting ourselves the foot - and getting ever closer to cutting our throats.

To learn the well-hidden downsides of “renewables,” the many advantages of nuclear power and the often devious methods of those who oppose it, download the FREE, image-rich PDF of Unintended Consequences the Lie That Killed Millions and Accelerated Climate Change from or For paper copies, see 

George Erickson is a member of the National Center for Science Education and the Thorium Energy Alliance. Email or call 218-744-2003 for PowerPoint presentations.