As a research engineer, I cannot agree or disagree with anthropogenic climate change (ACC) because I am not sufficiently informed on the subject. Therefore I avoid saying humans are changing the climate; I do not dispute climate change itself, of course, because it does change.
This is neither denial or approval of ACC, but rather an upfront admission of insufficient knowledge of this complex subject. More people should admit that they themselves are not "experts" on ACC (or other subjects), and therefore cannot formulate an educated opinion. Some subjects are relatively easy for a person to form an educated opinion, because the evidence is straightforward. More complex subjects, such as the complexity of climate modelling (a study in chaos), do not lend themselves well to forming an educated opinion. And, of course, there is always bias, even in science.
My gut opinion is that we humans do affect climate (we certainly do it on a local scale), just as we have done lots of things that have had an effect on our environment (smog, mercury poisoning, lead smelting, acid rain, ozone depletion, river disappearance, irrigation-induced soil damage, etc.) But having a "gut opinion" does not qualify me to espouse ACC.
Nuclear power avoids additional greenhouse gas emissions, along with all the particulates and NOx and SOx and other emissions - which either go into the atmosphere or into a landfill (i.e., scrubber slag + all the ash with its heavy metal content). It is this overall reduction in waste emissions (lower entropy) that won me over to nuclear decades ago, before ACC became a popular cause. It does not mean that I advocate nuclear science and technology as an answer to each and every problem; it is one of many technological tools we can use where appropriate. I also advocate turning down the (winter) thermostat (14 C at night in my house, 18 C during the day when we're home), plastic on the windows (yes, you can re-use the stuff, just don't heat shrink it in the first place), composting our kitchen waste (great for the garden) and cycling/walking instead of driving. There are many things we should be doing as a matter of course, to reduce our personal impact on the planet.
Finally, I avoid hanging my hat on ACC precisely because I work in the nuclear industry and am an advocate for nuclear sci & tech. It's a little too convenient for me to use ACC to promote nuclear, just because popular opinion has got hold of it. It's very good that the public has become much more aware of our impact on the planet, but I worry that people will tire of ACC and we'll just continue gorging ourselves on our finite resources. Especially if it is determined that CO2 is not causing ACC. I advocate nuclear sci & tech because it reduces our impact on the planet - I do not need to espouse ACC to do so.
Morgan Brown, P.Eng.
My opinions alone, and not necessarily those of my employer, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.
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