[Vision2020] Scientist James Lovelock: 'Only Nuclear Power Can Now Halt Global Warming'

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Sun Dec 16 18:35:23 PST 2007


Some on this list have portrayed the sources, data, theories and
predictions about anthropogenic climate change, that I have presented,
as "doom and gloom."   In fact, I have mostly offered the conservative
predictions of the consensus of the scientific community on this

But while scientists who question the consensus view on anthropogenic
climate change are quoted as though this justifies dismissing the
overwhelming consensus among climate scientists, and not taking rapid
significant action to lower CO2 emissions, there are another group of
scientists that the media mostly ignores, who are warning that the
mainstream IPCC scientific climate predictions are seriously
understated.  The evidence indicates that a global catastrophe of
massive proportions is in fact now unavoidable or nearly so, due to
human alteration of the climate.  And there is a substantial factual
and theoretical basis to support this much more alarming view of
anthropogenic climate change.

The statements below from scientist James Lovelock truly outline a
doom and gloom scenario, given his warnings of the deaths of billions
from climate change.  My view is one of optimism that the crisis of
anthropogenic climate change can be mitigated enough to prevent the
deaths of millions, if significant action is taken globally to lower
human sourced emissions within the next few decades.  Lovelock would

Below is an article on Lovelock's dire warnings of the death of
billions from anthropogenic climate change:

One of his main points involves the well known phenomenon of "global
dimming," the fact that human activity is also having a cooling effect
on climate due to particulates and aerosols, from coal fired plants,
for example.  Lovelock claims this effect amounts to a dramatic 2-3 C.
of cooling.  The irony is that if there is a reduction in pollution
from coal fired plants, for example, this will reduce the "global
dimming" effect from the coal plant pollution, increasing the warming
impacts of greenhouse gasses.

We are thus not yet even close to witnessing the full effects of the
increasing atmospheric CO2 levels from human activity, nor taking into
account the long term continued impacts of these levels over a 100
year or longer time span, without the human sourced global dimming
effect.  Lovelock below gives the 500 ppm atmospheric CO2 level, as I
have read from numerous sources, as the level of atmospheric CO2 that
renders catastrophic climate change inevitable (my wording).

Below are two articles, one on Lovelock's advocacy for nuclear power,
one on a discussion of "global dimming."

Lovelock states his disagreement with the IPCC, in this quote from the
article presented in full below:

"When the carbon dioxide in the air exceeds 500 parts per million the
global temperature suddenly rises 6ºC and becomes stable again despite
further increases or decreases of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

"This contrasts with the IPCC models that predict that temperature
rises and falls smoothly with increasing or decreasing carbon


Lovelock: 'Only nuclear power can now halt global warming'
By Michael McCarthy

Global warming is now advancing so swiftly that only a massive
expansion of nuclear power as the world's main energy source can
prevent it overwhelming civilisation, the scientist and celebrated
Green guru, James Lovelock, says.

His call will cause huge disquiet for the environmental movement. It
has long considered the 84-year-old radical thinker among its greatest
heroes, and sees climate change as the most important issue facing the
world, but it has always regarded opposition to nuclear power as an
article of faith. Last night the leaders of both Greenpeace and
Friends of the Earth rejected his call.

Professor Lovelock, who achieved international fame as the author of
the Gaia hypothesis, the theory that the Earth keeps itself fit for
life by the actions of living things themselves, was among the first
researchers to sound the alarm about the threat from the greenhouse

He was in a select group of scientists who gave an initial briefing on
climate change to Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Cabinet at 10
Downing Street in April 1989.

He now believes recent climatic events have shown the warming of the
atmosphere is proceeding even more rapidly than the scientists of the
UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) thought it
would, in their last report in 2001.

On that basis, he says, there is simply not enough time for renewable
energy, such as wind, wave and solar power - the favoured solution of
the Green movement - to take the place of the coal, gas and oil-fired
power stations whose waste gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), is causing the
atmosphere to warm.

He believes only a massive expansion of nuclear power, which produces
almost no CO2, can now check a runaway warming which would raise sea
levels disastrously around the world, cause climatic turbulence and
make agriculture unviable over large areas. He says fears about the
safety of nuclear energy are irrational and exaggerated, and urges the
Green movement to drop its opposition.

In today's Independent, Professor Lovelock says he is concerned by two
climatic events in particular: the melting of the Greenland ice sheet,
which will raise global sea levels significantly, and the episode of
extreme heat in western central Europe last August, accepted by many
scientists as unprecedented and a direct result of global warming.

These are ominous warning signs, he says, that climate change is
speeding, but many people are still in ignorance of this. Important
among the reasons is "the denial of climate change in the US, where
governments have failed to give their climate scientists the support
they needed".

He compares the situation to that in Europe in 1938, with the Second
World War looming, and nobody knowing what to do. The attachment of
the Greens to renewables is "well-intentioned but misguided", he says,
like the Left's 1938 attachment to disarmament when he too was a

He writes today: "I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the
movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy."

His appeal, which in effect is asking the Greens to make a bargain
with the devil, is likely to fall on deaf ears, at least at present.

"Lovelock is right to demand a drastic response to climate change,"
Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said last night.
"He's right to question previous assumptions.

"But he's wrong to think nuclear power is any part of the answer.
Nuclear creates enormous problems, waste we don't know what to do
with; radioactive emissions; unavoidable risk of accident and
terrorist attack."

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said: "Climate change
and radioactive waste both pose deadly long-term threats, and we have
a moral duty to minimise the effects of both, not to choose between

Below, Lovelock discusses "global dimming:"


James Lovelock: Reducing emissions could speed global warming
By Charles Clover, Environment Editor
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 29/10/2007

A rapid cutback in greenhouse gas emissions could speed up global
warming, the veteran environmental maverick James Lovelock will warn
in a lecture today.

Prof Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory that the planet behaves
like a single organism, says this is because current global warming is
offset by global dimming -the 2-3ºC of cooling cause by industrial
pollution, known to scientists as aerosol particles, in the

His lecture will be delivered as Hilary Benn, the Environment
Secretary, launches the results of a public consultation on the
Government's proposed Climate Change Bill which is intended to cut
Britain's greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Prof Lovelock will say in a lecture to the Royal Society: "Any
economic downturn or planned cutback in fossil fuel use, which
lessened aerosol density, would intensify the heating.

"If there were a 100 per cent cut in fossil fuel combustion it might
get hotter not cooler. We live in a fool's climate. We are damned if
we continue to burn fuel and damned if we stop too suddenly."

Prof Lovelock believes that even the gloomiest predictions of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are underestimating the
current severity of climate change because they do not go into the
consequences of the current burden pollution in the atmosphere which
will last for centuries.

He argues that though the scientific language of the IPCC, which
reported earlier this year, is "properly cautious" it gives the
impression that the worst consequences of climate change are avoidable
if we take action now.

Prof Lovelock believes that six to eight billion humans will be faced
with ever diminishing supplies of food and water in an increasingly
intolerable climate and wildlife and whole ecosystems will become

He argues that we have set off a vicious cycle of 'positive feedback'
in the earth system whereby extra heat in the atmosphere - from any
source - is amplified, causing yet more warming.

He will say: "We are at war with the Earth and as in a blitzkrieg,
events proceed faster than we can respond."

According to Professor Lovelock's gloomy analysis, the IPCC's climate
models fail to take account of the Earth as a living system where life
in the oceans and land takes an active part in regulating the climate.

He will argue that when a model includes the whole Earth system it
shows that: "When the carbon dioxide in the air exceeds 500 parts per
million the global temperature suddenly rises 6ºC and becomes stable
again despite further increases or decreases of atmospheric carbon

"This contrasts with the IPCC models that predict that temperature
rises and falls smoothly with increasing or decreasing carbon

He argues that we should cut greenhouse gas emissions, nonetheless,
because it might help slow the pace of global heating. We also have to
do our best to lessen our destruction of natural forests but this is
unlikely to be enough and we will have to learn to adapt to the
inevitable changes we will soon experience.

The pro-nuclear Prof Lovelock will say that we should think of the
Earth as a live self-regulating system and devise ways to harness the
natural processes that regulate the climate in the fight against
global warming.

This could involve paying indigenous peoples to protect their forests
and develop ways to make the ocean absorb and store carbon from the
atmosphere more efficiently.

Prof Lovelock intends to add: "We are not merely a disease; we are
through our intelligence and communication the planetary equivalent of
a nervous system. We should be the heart and mind of the Earth not its

Meanwhile a Commons select committee warns today that the Government's
response to climate change is "confused" and calls for a
cross-departmental Climate Change Minister and a powerful new body to
be created within the Cabinet Office to drive forward policy and to
diminish inter-departmental conflict.

Tim Yeo, MP, chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee, said: "The
way the Government has addressed climate change has led to a confusing
framework that doesn't promote effective action to cut emissions.

"Our recommendations would create a more effective framework for
dealing with climate change. However this framework alone will not cut
emissions. That needs committed leadership by the Prime Minister and
his Cabinet.

"The Government's commitment to sustainable development and climate
change will be judged by actions and achievements, not speeches and

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

More information about the Vision2020 mailing list