Greens Still See Red on Nuclear Power

(…) environmental groups are nonetheless hostile to another Hansen view: that nuclear power is essential to attacking climate change as global energy demand rises

The unwavering opposition among several major environmental organizations isn't sitting well with Hansen, and he's comparing them to, yes, the very global warming skeptics they often lampoon.

“It is analogous to climate deniers. Their minds are made up, facts don't matter much,” Hansen said in an email exchange.

Hansen told National Journal he hasn't had discussions with green groups on the topic since he wrote the letter along with scientists Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley, and Kerry Emanuel.

“I cannot change their position. That change will require pressure from environmentalists. People need to understand the situation and put pressure on the environmental organizations, for example by withholding financial support until they become (honestly) open-minded and scientific,” said Hansen, who left NASA last year but remains affiliated with Columbia University's Earth Institute.

Hansen doesn't think getting environmental groups to embrace reactors is a lost cause. “I am hopeful that some of them are beginning to change, but it is too early to tell.”

He also believes that there's more support among the green-minded than the formal positions of environmental groups might suggest. “Environmental groups and environmentalists are two very different entities,” said Hansen, who first testified about global warming before Congress in the 1980s.

(…) Ted Nordhaus, Breakthrough's cofounder, said environmental groups' hostility toward nuclear power gives them a big credibility problem when it comes to offering a “plausible path to mitigate emissions.”

But he also sees a subtle shift. “We're not hearing much of the old scare tactics about low-level radiation exposure and meltdowns but now greens are just doubling down on the economic arguments,” Nordhaus, the group's chairman, said in an email. “This, sadly, still constitutes progress.”