Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the Global Change Institute has become the latest climate scientist to make an open call for the use of nuclear power to combat climate change.

OveHoegh-Guldberg, a well-known Australian marine scientist who will be remembered by many for his confrontations with climate change denier Andrew Bolt, has made a direct call for the use of nuclear energy in Australia and globally to improve our chances of preserving the Great Barrier Reef.

In a lengthy column in today’s issue of The Australian , co-authors Hoegh-Guldberg and Eric McFarland of the Dow Centre for Sutainable Engineering, take aim at both the misinformation that has slowed the uptake of nuclear energy and lack of transparency from within the nuclear industry itself.

“Our understanding and control of nuclear reactions is among the greatest intellectual triumphs of human beings and it provides us today with the one real option to significantly reduce global carbon emissions”

“Unfortunately, public focus has been only on risks to human populations highlighted by tragic incidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, rather than the hundreds of reactors that have been operating safely for decades. Nuclear power can provide low-cost, carbon free electricity improving the lives of billions of people. For too long this has been the butt of scaremongering and misinformation that has all but stopped widespread deployment”.

In a separate article, Hoegh-Guldberg was frank about the challenge in changing his position on nuclear energy.

“I have definitely changed my position on this. In all these debates it’s really important that one gets guided not by the position you have taken and stick to it- it’s about looking at the evidence and really thinking the issue through”.

Hoegh-Guldberg joins a growing list of scientists, environmentalists, experts and progressives calling for the deployment of nuclear power to meet the clean energy challenge this century.

Both articles can be found in today’s issue of The Australian

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19 comments

  1. Go Nuclear to Save the Reef…doubt the junior activists at the AYCC will take that on board.

    Also to those looking to go for the entire piece on The Australian, buy the paper and read it there. The comments thread is an interesting beast. Most comments are “More climate alarmist BS, but I like the Nuclear talk”. It’s a weird mixture.

    Is discussing Nuclear along with climate change the way to pacify the climate change denialists?

    I think there is merit in that.

  2. I think the GBR is in for a quadruple whammy from the shipments and subsequent burning of coal and LNG from the Qld coast
    1) coral bleaching
    2) ocean acidification
    2) silt from harbour dredging
    3) ship collision damage a la Shen Neng
    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/minimal-barrier-reef-regrowth-at-site-of-shen-neng-grounding-20140210-32d3d.html
    To his credit Premier Newman has spoken in favour of NP. Now we need Australia’s new political supremo Clive Palmer to get on board.

  3. Professor H-G should confine his public comments to marine biology. He is not a nuclear engineer, and he is not a Ph.D. climate scientist. He never qualified to operate nuclear power plants. With his inadequate training, he cannot know that nuclear power is on balance a good and safe choice for society.

    1. Thank you very much for giving life to the sentiment I know is out there whenever an important figure speaks in favour of nuclear:

      “Do shut up please”.

      I am especially tickled that you have attempted to down play Ove’s credibility in climate science circles. I mean, seriously… he is one of Australia’s most respected individuals in these circles and probably our peak scientist for coral and oceans. Publication record here http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/839

      “Not a Ph.D. climate scientist”. You either don’t know what you are talking about, or you do know and you are simply dishonest.

      “Climate science” is a multi-disciplinary field, where multiple lines of evidence from across scientific disciplines must be integrated to lets us build understanding. Atmospheric scientists, geologists, mathematicians and computing specialists, biologists, meteorologists and more… all may be “climate scientists” if this is their specialist field and the really annoying thing about these brilliant people (I know several) is that they are so often highly intelligent polymaths. As such, they are more than capable of accessing and assessing the evidence in relation to the use of nuclear power.

      Here is a group of Australian “climate scientists”. Many disciplines are represented and Ove is among them http://climatescientistsaustralia.org.au/about/members.html

    2. If you follow that logic, then since few if any nuclear engineers are Ph.D climate scientists, they shouldn’t say anything either, and since virtually no nuclear engineers or climate scientists are also Ph.D cancer experts, then they should also shut up. And of course, plenty of cancer experts aren’t epidemiologists. Many medical people have no statistical sophistication. Which basically leaves the only people who should comment are those with about 6 Ph.Ds: nuclear, climate, cancer, epidemiology, ecology and economics. And given the rate of progress in some of those fields, they must also be recent Ph.Ds. Have I missed anything relevant? In practice, of course, we have politicians, most of whom have no qualifications in anything relevant, making decisions based on their gut feelings about whose advice they trust … at best and, at worst, polls.

    3. As you feel strongly enough about this to publicly denounce Prof Hoegh-Guldberg’s professional judgement and capabilities, it’s only fair and honest to ask yourself this question:

      “What if he knows something I don’t?”

    4. You should stick to the social sciences seeing as your expertise is in that field.

      But you don’t because you had some work experience on a USN Nuclear sub. I had work experience at a mine, but does that make me a Mining Engineer? Nope. I’ve had work experience in a politicians office, but does that make me a Politician? Nope.

      Granted you have experience of looking at a reactor first hand and knowing people that operated them. However, I’d wager that Ben has had relatively the same level of exposure (excuse the pun) and many other commenter’s here.

      Does that make us engineers in nuclear reactors? No. But we do know our way around one and know who to contact to get a professional opinion. What you lack is the latter part of that sentence. Every other Navy Nuke that is similarly qualified, or better, has ripped you for not being publicly honest with your experience limitations.

      The key difference is whether the opinion is professional or not. I don’t get my Nuclear Engineering information from a social scientist (FWIW I am qualified one myself) I get it from a person that is professionally qualified to do so. I know my limitations, it’s OK to have some. What matters is how we react to them.

      I know a great engineer on another comment thread that is qualified to operate BWRs in the US today, I go to that person when I get out of my depth. Often he corrects me ant that is great. I have a better understanding, the readers have a better understanding, everyone wins in the pursuit of knowledge.

      Yours Dr Miller is just an opinion. The only supporting professional information you have is “trust me I had work experience 40 years ago for two years on a navy nuke”. Where is the professional who is actually received their commercial operating license backing you up? There are none, they all attack you for being selfish and dishonest.

      I think I’ll go with the guys that actually sat at the console and operated civilian scale BWRs, PWRs, and Fast reactors.

      1. Far more recently than Dr Miller was in the Navy, I was a qualified, registered and working occupational therapist as the result of a four year Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of South Australia. I passed with good marks and worked as an OT in various areas over about 5 years.

        I NEVER refer to myself as an occupational therapist anymore or suggest anyone defer to my qualification. That would be disrespectful to those who are working OTs. I am not interacting with clients, relevant organisations, not undertaking the necessary ongoing professional development to maintain registration, not being mentored in OT, not sitting in case meetings, not managing a case load, not undertaking assessments, not managing junior staff, not conferring with the other medical and allied health professionals in the relevant setting, not conducting research, not evaluating programs… I’m sure you see my point.

    5. When a non-nuclear professional proclaims his/her support for nuclear power, this is attacked ‘because he/she is not a nuclear professional’.

      When a nuclear professional proclaims his/her support for nuclear power, this is attacked ‘because he/she is a shill for the nuclear industry’.

      In the real world, everybody can know that nuclear power is on balance a good and safe choice. All it takes is a look at a historical data:

      1. Working in the nuclear power sector is safer that working in manufacturing, leisure, hospitality and the financial sector.
      http://www.nei.org/Master-Document-Folder/Backgrounders/Fact-Sheets/Safety-The-Nuclear-Energy-Industry-s-Highest-Prior.

      2. Nuclear power has the highest Energy Return On Invested compared to all other options, meaning it returns the most energy to society compared to the energy put in by society. More than enough to compete with coal.

      3. Nuclear power is the cleanest energy source. Even a meltdown like Fukushima causes less environmental damage than the routine operations of coal burning.
      http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2013/13-85418_Report_2013_Annex_A.pdf

      In summary, to assume that nuclear power is not a good and safe choice for society is a false assumption. There is no evidence for that assumption. The default assumption must be that nuclear is good and safe, simply because the evidence clearly points in that direction. Anti-nuclear activists need to provide evidence in support of their arguments, not promote assumptions for which there is no evidence.

    6. Dr. John Miller – you add nothing to anything, which is remarkable when you think about it. Just step away from keyboard and leave us alone. Thank you.

  4. I sometimes wonder which of the electricity generators would take the plunge on NPP. Rule out Alinta the operator of the remaining coal fired power station at Pt Augusta. They have decided solar thermal is the way to go
    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2014/7/3/solar-energy/stand-alone-solar-plant-best-option-port-augusta
    It will be 50 MW capacity with storage presumably molten salt which should have over 40% capacity factor in a semidesert location, not on the coast so much as a narrow saltwater inlet. If I recall Pt Augusta is connected by 132 kv line to Olympic Dam which needs another 650 MW to increase their mining operations including uranium.

    I strongly suspect well placed individuals within the SA parliament and bureaucracy are throwing everything at this project (just like they did with geothermal) to ‘prove’ SA doesn’t need nukes while the gas price escalates as we speak.

  5. Three-mile Island was a ‘tragic incident’ not because it harmed anyone, it didn’t, but because of the over-reaction to it, which has helped block the adoption of a clean, unlimited power source that can lift billions out of poverty, and protect our world.

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