Climate change expert quits NASA, pushes nuclear energy as solution

NASA’s climate change expert James Hansen has resigned from the agency to the surprise of global warming advocates, but his latest scientific paper is pushing nuclear power as a solution to CO2 emissions.

Hansen says nuclear power has saved nearly two million lives so far, and could save a further seven million lives by 2050 as a safer energy alternative.

“In the aftermath of the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,” write Hansen and his co-author in the new study’s abstract, “the future contribution of nuclear power to the global energy supply has become somewhat uncertain. Because nuclear power is an abundant, low-carbon source of base-load power, on balance it could make a large contribution to mitigation of global climate change and air pollution.

“Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. Based on global projection data that take into account the effects of Fukushima, we find that by mid-century, nuclear power could prevent an additional 420,000 to 7.04 million deaths and 80 to 240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels, depending on which fuel it replaces. By contrast, we assess that large-scale expansion of natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power.”

Hansen’s advocacy of nuclear energy is likely to send shockwaves through Green supporters, who’ve long hailed him as a climate change guru. It is certainly being hotly debated.