Tom Blees

Tom Blees is the author of Prescription for the Planet - The Painless Remedy for Our Energy & Environmental Crises. Tom is also the president of the Science Council for Global Initiatives. Many of the goals of SCGI, and the methods to achieve them, are elucidated in the pages of Blees's book. He is a member of the selection committee for the Global Energy Prize, considered Russia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize for energy research. His work has generated considerable interest among scientists and political figures around the world. Tom has been a consultant and advisor on energy technologies on the local, state, national, and international levels.

Assuming that anthropogenic climate change is an actual problem…

It seems ridiculous to start off with such a condition, but it’s the country we live in.

Once the discussion can begin with that assumption, the search for what to do about it quickly turns to how we can power modern civilization and diminish the climate change threat at the same time. The claim that one can provide sufficient energy solely with barryBrookso-called renewables, but without using nuclear power, is a question we’ve covered elsewhere here. As much as people might wish that were true, most serious discussions of the issue usually assert that we need an “all of the above” approach, using both renewables and nuclear power. Natural gas is often added to the solution scenario as a “bridge fuel” even though it produces plenty of greenhouse gases. The ultimate solution—one that should happen as soon as possible—eliminates natural gas too.

Renewables advocates who may purport to be open to the idea of nuclear power will sometimes argue that it just doesn’t make sense financially, that wind and solar can be built much faster and cheaper. Their argument is one of opportunity cost: the more you sink into nuclear the less you have to spend on wind and solar. The fact that nuclear is available 24/7 and that the others are notoriously fickle is frequently ignored in such discussions, as is the cost of the “backup” systems, vast grid expansion, and massive overbuilding that would be necessary to even come anywhere close to an all-renewables system that might work.

There’s another angle to the opportunity cost argument though. It’s a question that SCGI’s Barry Brook and Tom Blees address (along with two of Barry’s Australian colleagues) in a paper published in the journal Sustainability in January. The authors make the politically incorrect claim that an energy mix is neither necessary nor even sensible because nuclear power can easily provide all the energy human civilization needs to thrive while eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the energy and industrial sectors. The opportunity cost argument is turned on its head: the more money that’s funneled into wind turbines and solar panels, the less is available for nuclear power. Take a look at the paper and see what you think.

Also a recent article in Forbes by Michael Shellenberger entitled, We Don't Need Solar And Wind To Save The Climate -- And It's A Good Thing, Too, is an easy to understand explaination of why wind and solar are not new, are insufficient and unnecessary.