Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?

Date:
April 23, 2014
Source:
SAGE Publications
Summary:
'I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway -- as well as doing everything else that we can -- then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering.' So says one of the world's foremost climate researchers, in a new paper. The author explains the two basic geoengineering strategies to reduce climate change: injecting aerosols such as sulfates into the stratosphere to block a portion of the sun's radiation and thereby cool Earth, much as volcanic emissions do; and the large-scale removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The aerosol-injection approach is much more likely to be pursued at current stages of technological development.

"I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway -- as well as doing everything else that we can -- then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering." So says Tom Wigley, one of the world's foremost climate researchers, in the current issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE. Refusing to take significant action on climate change now makes it more likely that geoengineering will eventually be needed to address the problem, Wigley explains in an exclusive Bulletin interview.

In the interview, Wigley, a scientist at the University of Adelaide, Australia and at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, explains the two basic geoengineering strategies to reduce climate change: injecting aerosols such as sulfates into the stratosphere to block a portion of the sun's radiation and thereby cool Earth, much as volcanic emissions do; and the large-scale removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The aerosol-injection approach is much more likely to be pursued at current stages of technological development.

To avoid the need for geoengineering, which could have enormous unforeseen consequences, the international community should pursue increased deployment of nuclear power plants, which do not emit carbon dioxide, to address the climate crisis, Wigley says. He contends that many of his colleagues in climate science are generally supportive of nuclear engineering and less fearful of it than they are of geoengineering. But his pro-nuclear stance has already sparked a public backlash from climate scientists who oppose nuclear power, geoengineering, or both those methods of dealing with climate change.

"When I talk to people from any walk of life, I do talk about geoengineering," Wigley says. "But I mostly push nuclear. Because I think one can argue that if we were to follow a strong nuclear energy pathway -- as well as doing everything else that we can -- then we can solve the climate problem without doing geoengineering."

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, which named Wigley a fellow in 2003, cited "his major contributions to climate and carbon-cycle modeling and to climate data analysis." Together with British climate researcher Sarah Raper, he introduced the widely used climate model MAGICC (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Induced Climate Change) more than two decades ago and continues to contribute to its development.

In the same issue of the Bulletin, the Center for Investigative Reporting contributes the results of a year-long investigation that has exposed major problems in cleaning up nuclear waste on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay, a former Navy base that is being turned over to civilian control. For decades before it was closed, the Treasure Island Naval Station housed nuclear war academies that used radium, plutonium, and cesium 137 in their training courses. The Navy knew for years that those materials were not always in safe hands. But it did not acknowledge that history publicly, and as a result, workers preparing for civilian redevelopment may have inadvertently spread radioactive material around the island, CIR found.

Tom Wigley: "Why nuclear power may be the only way to avoid geoengineering," an interview with Tom Wigley, is published in the latest issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, along with "Treasure Island cleanup exposes Navy's mishandling of its nuclear past," by Matt Smith and Katharine Mieszkowski.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Tom Wigley. Tom Wigley: Why nuclear power may be the only way to avoid geoengineering. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 20147 DOI: 10.1177/0096340214531174
  2. M. Smith, K. Mieszkowski. Treasure Island cleanup exposes Navy's mishandling of its nuclear past. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0096340214531186

Cite This Page:

SAGE Publications. "Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423101856.htm>.
SAGE Publications. (2014, April 23). Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423101856.htm
SAGE Publications. "Is nuclear power the only way to avoid geoengineering?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423101856.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A day after over 100,000 people marched against climate change, more than 1,000 activists blocked parts of Manhattan's financial district. Over 100 people, including a person wearing a white polar bear suit, were arrested Monday night. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday warned about the potential "catastrophe" if global warming was not dealt with in a "powerful" way. Duration: 01:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

Ongoing Drought, Fighting Put Somalia at Risk of Famine

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) After a year of poor rains and heavy fighting Somalia is again at risk of famine, just three years after food shortages killed 260,000 people. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins