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James Hansen counts the undead

WUWT has an article on James Hansen pushing nuclear power as saving more lives than it has harmed.

I made a few points at WUWT that I won't repost here but haven't yet got around to discussing the "merits" of the common practice of using epidemiological figures published in Lancet.

Re: James Hansen counts the undead

It looks like the Hansen paper itself is now behind a paywall. From reading the WUWT comments it seems to have been free to view for a few days, but required registration with a website to view it.

The paper seems to be heavily based on the Lancet paper "Electricity Generation and Health", which is also behind a paywall, but I managed to find a free to view copy of available on this link:

The Lancet paper is in turn heavily based on the EU's ExternE Project to identify "External costs of energy" described on this website:

I think all you can really say about the Hansen paper is the brief comment that Anthony Watts has made: "This is sure to get some enviros in a tizzy." Enviros are probably the only people who would really believe the pollution death figures attributed to coal-fired power stations whilst at the same time being generally opposed to nuclear power.

Re: James Hansen counts the undead

I have sometimes wondered about how many climate scientists are pro-nuclear. The only ones I can really think of are James Hansen, Peter wadhams and the most well-known, James Lovelock. I've always assumed that the bulk of climate scientists are anti-nuclear, or at least more pro-renewables than pro-nuclear, by their apparent lack of concern over the distinct lack of nuclear power plant building that has been going on in Western countries over the last twenty years, the era of the global warming scare.

One of the recently released Climategate 3 e-mails provides a bit of evidence for the assumption that climate scientists are probably mainly anti-nuclear:

In this one Phil Jones, head of CRU, is writing to a US climate researcher in 1996 and includes a PS where he attacks British AGW sceptic and long-range weather forecaster Piers Corbyn. At the end, Jones throws in an anti-nuclear remark which suggests to me that being anti-nuclear might be a commonly held view in the climate scientist circle.

> Cheers
> Phil
> PS Britain seems to have found it’s Pat Michaels/Fred Singer/Bob Balling/
> Dick Lindzen. Our population is only 25 % of yours so we only get 1 for
> every 4 you have. His name in case you should come across him is
> Piers Corbyn. He is nowhere near as good as a couple of yours and he’s
> an utter prat but he’s getting a lot of air time at the moment. For his
> day job he teaches physics and astronomy at a University and he predicts
> the weather from solar phenomena. He bets on his predictions months
> ahead for what will happen in Britain. He now believes he knows all
> there is to know about the global warming issue. He’s not all bad as
> he doesn’t have much confidence in nuclear-power safety. Always says
> that at the begining of his interviews to show he’s not all bad !
> Cheers Again
> Phil
> Dr Phil Jones
> Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
> School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
> Norwich Email
> NR4 7TJ
> UK

Re: James Hansen counts the undead

But then again, many of the so called eco-warriors are actually class warriors making use of climate change as a means to an end. Hence it doesn't surprise that they should be largely anti-nuclear. Anything that will help destroy our society, it seems, is grist to their mill even if there are contradictions.

Re: James Hansen counts the undead

In reply to JMW, on the attitude to nuclear power by eco-warriors (Greenies) and class warriors (Lefties):

In the case of the Greenies it's very straightforward, they're predominantly anti-nuclear regardless of whether they might be identified as being left wing or not.

In the case of Lefties the story is quite a bit more complicated. The British left used to be pro-nuclear back in the 1960s and probably well into the 1970s. Harold Wilson tried to portray Labour as being the party of science and technology back in the 1960s and the modern image this gave Labour may have possibly swung him the 1964 General Election. Wilson's "white heat of the technological revolution" was supposedly based on the ideas of two left wing British science academics, CP Snow and PMS Blackett, and its main feature was a new government department called the Ministry of Technology, also known as "MinTech" which was run by Britain's top leftie Tony Benn. One big MinTech project was the further development of British atomic energy and Benn was responsible for the key bad decisions that were made at the time, such as developing the AGR, and on top of that, having three different AGR designs to spread the work around.

In the early 1980s the Left did a U-turn on nuclear power due I think to two events. The first was that Ronald Reagan became US President and took a much tougher line against the USSR which led to a revival of the CND movement. The British Left jumped on the revived CND bandwagon and adopted the CND-type view of nuclear power where it is seen as being strongly linked to nuclear weapons. The second event was that a hero of the British Left, Arthur Scargill, became president of the National Union of Mineworkers, and adopted a strong anti-nuclear power position, presumably because he saw it as being an impediment to the pursuance of successful coal-mining strikes. He advocated building a series of coal-fired power stations instead of the nuclear stations that the government wanted to build at the time. On top of this, the Left hated Walter Marshall, the head of the CEGB, because he managed to keep the lights on during the 1984-85 miners' strike. Marshall was effectively 'Mr Nuclear Power' in Britain at the time and so their hatred of him was extended to the entire British nuclear power industry.

In the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the British Left then jumped on the Green bandwagon and did a U-turn on coal as well. Piers Corbyn, who was a loony left wing activist in the 1970s (championing squatters' rights), and is also the brother of Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, is an unusual Leftie in that he didn't jump on the Green bandwagon. Corbyn has consistently maintained the views of a 1980s leftie, being anti-nuclear and pro-coal. I noticed in watching BBC interviews in the aftermath of Margaret Thatcher's death a few weeks ago, where various lefties railed against her treatment of the miners back in the 1980s, that little mention was made of the Left subsequently embracing Greenery and AGW which is what really did finish the miners off.

By contrast the French left must have maintained a consistent pro-nuclear power attitude over several decades. I would deduce this from the fact that left wing governments or presidents are fairly common in France, and I think it would have been impossible for France to have managed to build up to a figure of 80% electricity generation by nuclear power if the French left was opposed to nuclear power.