Day 12 – Best Panel Ever
As if my life here had not been exciting enough, my last full day here in Paris starts with me sleeping too late in the morning. It’s always an effective wake-up -call to notice that ”Oh shit I gotta be going like half an hour ago!” So off we ran, to train, to bus, to a discussion with the local police (again), and eventually, inside the public conference area, the Climate Generations. Just on time. And not even sweating (much).
I had the priviledge to participate in a panel discussion, that ended up being pretty much the first of its kind ever to be held in any COP (from what I heard afterwards). A positive, polite, humorous and thoughtful discussion about nuclear power and its role in the fight against climate change. No trolling, no disturbances or hostile yelling, no objects being thrown or personal threats delivered. Just honest and calm changing of ideas, information and evidence. And the audience was not all pro-nuclear, back-patting supporters either.
There were some good points made, some interesting information presented. My short presentation was centered on the bottlenecks that all of our climate solutions had – be it political, physical/material, social, educational (skilled work force), regulatory or something else. And the conclusion was that we will need all available solutions if we are to have a fighting chance to stop climate change in time.
I also got to comment on the speed and price of constructing nuclear power (both of which we discuss in our book) and shared some insights about Finland’s plans for the waste repository, Onkalo, and the safety studies that have been done on it.
One of the key points I tried to bring out was that we need to do a relevant and evidense-based comparisons between energy sources. In isolation, all of them have dngers and harmful effects. And we also need to compare lack of energy (energy poverty) in society with the option of producing energy one way or the other. Energy poverty is the most lethal and dangerous of the options, by far.
I also managed to have the final remark in the panel. It went along these lines:
If we fail to address climate change, and if we choose to leave any relevant tools like nuclear power from our toolbox, for example because we fear that nuclear waste could possibly do harm to somebody several centuries or even millenia from now, I’m pretty sure people struggling with rising seas and much more hostile and unstable climate will be asking: ”How dangerous would that nuclear waste actually have been, compared to this?”
I think this is a valid point, especially on ethical grounds (and not just because I made it 😉 ). We cannot and should not gamble with our future, and our only planet. We, the people who care about environment and wish to stop climate change, should keep our eye on the ball and concentrate our efforts to succeeding together – for I believe we can only do it together – instead of bickering and arguing with each other on what might be the most efficient way to save the planet, or if it will be even possible to do it. We need all of them. We need all of us.
This has been an amazing experience, but now I’m heading home. I do have a feeling that this is only a beginning though, as of tomorrow I have to send few dozen books for Jim Hansen to China, where he will be attending a workshop on nuclear energy. So far, that request (more info on previous days journal) has been the best compliment on our book – and I am glad to say there have been many of those to go around. As an author, I could not be happier. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who made this possible and who helped to make it such an amazing trip. You will be remembered.