No Getting Around Nuclear?
After Howard Stern got pushed off of the public airwaves a few months back, it was looking like the old morning commute was going to be pretty boring. Yeah, I know, Stern's a racist, sexist jerk, and I'm a cretin for listening to him, but he's also funny as hell, and the greatest celebrity interviewer ever.
But then, just a short time later, Penn Jillette's new radio show appeared to save the day. A typical Penn Radio show is pretty silly, although several grade school levels ahead of Stern in maturity. And Penn is a Libertarian to boot.
One of the most interesting shows Jillette has done was relatively serious. The other day he had environmentalist, Patrick Moore, on for an interview. Moore was one of the founders of Greenpeace, but split from the group when, in his opinion, they became too involved in leftist politics and anti-scientific thinking. The split was not amicable -- some of the remaining members refer to him as the "Eco-Traitor" or "Eco-Judas" because he has had good words to say about things like nuclear power, genetic engineering, fish farming and managed forestry.
The interview covers a lot of environmental topics, but the part I found most interesting were Moore's views on the necessity of using nuclear power in any meaningful effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He brought up something I'd never heard before: that nuclear power is our only non-polluting option for a power source that can drive the base load of our power grid. More hydroelectric isn't an option because we've already built out all the good sites. And, although alternative power sources like solar and wind have an important role to play, they aren't steady state enough to drive the base load.
I also liked Penn's anecdote about his brother-in-law, Ed, who worked at the nuclear plant. Penn figured he couldn't possibly know anything since he had a crew cut. So, he got his information about the nuclear energy from "guitar players" like Bruce Springsteen. Then, one day, after he had grown up a bit, it dawned that maybe the guy with the crew cut knew more about the subject than the musician.
They also talk about the unfortunate irony that the people who care the most about global warming tend to be against nuclear power, while at the same time global warming deniers are very open to nuclear power. That is starting to change: prominent environmentalists are starting to talk about nuclear energy and climate change deniers are getting harder and harder to find.
(The nuclear power topic starts up about 18:30 minutes into the interview.)