Being a longtime advocate for space-based solutions to our Earth-side environmental challenges I’ve found that my social media engages a lot of talk about climate change. While much of this twitter “dialog” consists of angry ideologues yelling past one another, I see hope for compromise, if we presume rational solutions the climate challenge. I have concluded that it is not climate science that actually worries the right; it is the left’s disastrous prescriptions.

Being a Teddy Roosevelt environmentalist, I believe humans bear an obligation to act as Earth’s stewards, protecting its natural splendor and preserving the only planetary biosphere we know of. As an avid outdoors person and SCUBA diver, I have seen many places that I love deteriorate over the last few decades. I recognize that we are dumping stuff into our oceans, ground water, and atmosphere with long-term consequences that we don’t fully understand. However, I also see that a counterproductive sense of panic is feeding growing climate crisis industry. Environmental activists, supported by corporate interests, are lobbying hard for irrational and unsustainable energy policies that will not solve the emissions issue, but are likely to destabilize our electrical grid, threaten our economy, generate a lot of dangerous waste, and leave the U.S. dependent on an increasingly belligerent China for our energy infrastructure.

Gathering data about a problem is the first step in problem solving. Data from space is the best source of information about our planet’s climate. NASA observation programs track ice, analyze clouds, and measure precipitation. Even the DoD’s Global Positioning System plays a part in refining our understanding of the composition of CO2 and other gasses in our atmosphere. NOAA buoys which are spread across remote areas of the oceans depend on satellites to relay their sensor data. We need to keep funding our space programs.

Analyzing the data is the second step. While climate models are complex and have large error terms (the parts we don’t understand), the data shows a strong correlation between an aggregate increase in temperatures and global emissions. CO2 levels aside, any non-scientist can look at NASA photos of the made-in-China Asian Brown Cloud and see something very bad happening in our atmosphere on a very large scale. We need to acknowledge this.

Finding real solutions is the third step. There is an excellent, proven, reliable , source of emissions free energy at hand. We must use nuclear energy as our baseline power solution. Nuclear power is clean, reliable 7x24x365 and. Seven decades of real world testing show that nuclear is safe, even safer than wind energy. We can even use nuclear to power the desalination and atmospheric extraction plants so badly needed to address the water challenges we are facing. Sadly, a rational discussion about revisiting nuclear is rarely on the table. Public climate debate has been hijacked by the distractions of hysterical self-promoters like Just Stop Oil and Greta Thunberg who seem to be far more interested in attracting attention, promoting panic, and stopping things than in fostering viable solutions. Worse, many “environmental” organizations leading the conversation, like Greenpeace, worked to halt the progress of nuclear back in the 1980s. They now urge us to panic over the global emissions “crisis” they helped to create.

So, what about the popular “renewable” energy sources like solar, wind, and biofuels? I have two EVs and I currently hold TSLA stock, but I recognize that we cannot waive a governmental wand and convert all our vehicles to electric in a few years. That would destroy our electrical grid, which is already becoming unreliable. Massive public investments in concentrated wind and solar installations aren’t fixing that grid, they are straining it. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that power interruptions doubled between 2015 and 2021. Many Californian’s have responded to the states “green energy” initiatives with purchases of natural gas-powered generators and battery walls.

Solar at my home in Southern California is a good thing. Power right at the source, plenty of sun and no environmental displacement by locating on the existing roof. This system runs my air-conditioning during hot summer days and sends some back to the utility to offset higher energy consumption of businesses during the day. However, solar is not available at night when we charge our cars. Since California shut down the San Onofre nuclear plant, my EVs run primarily on fossil fuel power.

Outside of the sunny Southwest, solar has obvious challenges in powering through a high latitude winter, when the sky is a sheet of gray and panels are buried in snow. Covering California’s desert landscapes and German woodlands with solar farms is obviously not “environmental.” More importantly the panels are not “renewable.” They require replacement in 15 to 20 years and are already posing a disposal problem.

Wind farms are even worse, blighting our natural landscape, slaughtering bats , birds, and maybe even whales. Like the solar panels, wind turbine blades are becoming a disposal nightmare. Wind also offers a tragically low energy density (the area required to generate an amount of power) and is among the least reliable sources of power. The massive energy storage infrastructure (batteries, massive reservoirs, etc.) required to make wind and solar full-time solutions are unrealistic and would create their own environmental disasters.

So why do we do we spend so much taxpayer money on dubious “renewables” and not on nuclear? Whenever you observe poor political choices backed by a constant stream of PR and media hype, ask yourself, “Cui bono?” Wind & solar farms may not be “sustainable,” but the profits from installing them are! Many firms in the booming climate crisis industry are run by the sort of exploitive capitalism progressives despise. They cloak themselves in green-virtue while lobbying U.S. (and European) lawmakers to subsidize their solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries. They apparently don’t care that their products are made in China with little regard for labor the environment. They don’t care if their disposal clogs landfills, poisons ground water, and put kids in developing nations at risk.

What about recycling this “renewable” mess? There is hope in the future, but today’s solutions for removing critical elements from solar panels and battery packs are nascent and economically dubious. Because of this and the artificial demand created by subsidies, incredibly destructive strip-mining of rare earth elements and acid leaching processing continue to destroy vast swaths of land in China and child slaves continue to mine Cobalt in Africa.

Efforts to repurpose the cured fiberglass and carbon fiber composites used in windmill blades are similarly challenging. Collecting, rewinding, and reweaving recovered fibers cannot compete with just making new fibers and injecting new resin systems. Experimental programs using acid or pyrolysis to burn off the plastic resin require fossil fuel generated energy and/or create their own waste challenges. Only governmental funding keeps these efforts afloat, but their impact is minimal and almost all the blades go into landfills.

In any case, carbon fiber starts as petroleum derived plastic thread and the resin systems used in both fiberglass and carbon fiber composites are petrochemical based. “Stop oil” and you stop wind power, a bit of actual science unfortunately lost on those angry climate-terrorists disrupting traffic, defacing artwork, and gluing their uninformed heads to stuff. Fossil fuels must continue to be an important part of our industrial base as the source of many important chemicals and because of the energy density they provide for systems like aircraft and rockets.

Hydrogen, another darling of the green movement, is produced, almost entirely, from natural gas, emitting a great deal of CO2 in the process. Nuclear could generate sufficient power for the heavily promoted, but mostly non-existent “green hydrogen.”

Lastly, biofuels have to be the poster child for policy via ideological self-delusion. The mental gymnastics required to make clearing North American forests, turning trees into wood pellets, and shipping them across the planet to burn them in Germany seem “green” should qualify Angela Merkel for top prize at Guinness’ World’s Biggest Liar Championships.

For the moment, nuclear is the only realistic option for getting anywhere near the emissions targets that jet setting globalist are so fond of proclaiming during their gatherings at luxury resorts. When our leaders find the courage to embrace real solutions, I suspect they will find more people willing to acknowledge there is a real climate problem. I’ll be writing a series of articles about exciting new nuclear efforts on Earth and in space. In the meantime, I strongly recommend Bob Zubrin’s brilliant new book, The Case For Nukes as well as Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never. Bill Gates also makes a strong case for nuclear vs. solar and wind in his Ted talk Innovating to Zero.

I know this essay will trigger strong reactions. Good, let’s have a robust and rational conversation, free of the ideological preconceptions that have stymied real progress. Don’t Panic!