Republicans don't believe in AGW, but favor fixing it with nuclear power. Greens like Joe Romm and Greenpeace believe in AGW, but are willing to sacrifice the struggle against it, if it winning the fight against global warming means using any form of nuclear power. Greens profess to believe that nuclear power is too dangerous because it is allegedly dangerous. Greens argue that a combination of efficiency, and solar and wind generated electricity works so well that large amounts of CO2 emitting fossil fuels can and should be burned for energy in preference to use of virtually CO2 free nuclear power.
The key to understanding these paradoxes lies in the role of social engineering in the formation of these positions. Republicans clearly feel uncomfortable with the sort of social engineering they associate with AGW, and in my view confuse scientific views on the role of CO2 emissions on current and future climate change. This view confuses the politics of AGW related social engineering with the politics of science. But the facts are incontrovertible. It is textbook science that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric concentrations of CO2, and the increase in atmospheric levels of CO2 bring with it the incontrovertible risk of AGW. More sophisticated right wing critics claim that some atmospheric mechanism or mechanisms bring prevent the increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 from increasing global temperature, but this theory is rejected by most climate scientists for scientific, not ideological reasons.
The Republican theory is that scientists favor the AGW view because they secretly favor a social engineering approach to AGW mitigation. But scientists who acknowledge the reality like NASA Climate Scientist James Hanson, and Australian Climate Scientist Berry Brooks favor approaches to AGW mitigation that utilized advanced nuclear power technology as a technological fix to AGW.
My view is that is the Republicans themselves, who have allowed ideological concerns to creep into their response to what can only be considered good science. Republican opposition to concerns about AGW can only be described as paranoid, and can only serve to discredit the Republican Party as the seriousness of the climate change problem becomes increasingly evident during the next few years. Republicans by their paranoid response to scientific concerns about AGW actually strengthens the hand of "green" ideologues that wish to use the reality of AGW as a pretext for social engineering of an extremely illiberal sort.
The "Green" program of opposition to nuclear power, reliance on "renewable" energy generation schemes and energy efficiency. It is my contention that these solutions are not likely to mitigate AGW, that they could succeed by reliance of large-scale programs of social engineering. Further more the consequences of the reliance on renewables and social engineering will be a significant loss of personal freedom coupled with increased and widespread poverty. Neither of these consequences is consistent with Liberal values, and indeed many Internet supporters of the nuclear technological fix approach are self-consciously Political Liberals, or father to the political left. Bloggers who support nuclear power and who are self consciously Liberal include Rod Adams, Kirk Sorensen, Jason Correla of Pro Nuclear Democrats, The Sovietologies (Edward Giest), Marcel F. Williams, and of course Charles Barton of Nuclear Green. Pronuclear bloggers who associate themselves with Marxist views include David Walters (see also David's Daily Kos blog), and N. Nadir. Indeed none of the prominent pro nuclear bloggers associate themselves with the political right.
The Liberal view does not condems the creation of wealth in capitalistic societies, but it insists that workers can and should be given fair wages that are consistent with a comfortable life style. Thus Liberals support the creation of wealth in human society, because wealth justly distributed brings about vast social benefits. Possession of at least moderate personal wealth increases human freedom to make choices, and improves individual quality of life. Liberals support social policies that lead to the elimination of poverty, not its increase. Liberals passionately believe in human rights, including the human right to make reproductive choices. Thus Liberals liberals oppose both interference with the right of women to choose to terminate pregnancies, and with the imposition of policies, which restrict the human right to reproduce.
For Liberals, population control is a natural result of increasing wealth and its fair distribution. There is abundant evidence that reproductive rates drop in societies as distributed wealth increases. Thus Liberals believe that population growth will be naturally controlled by economic development, fair labor laws, personal access to the medical tools needed to carry out human reproductive choices, and free access to information on reproduction control. For liberals population control through voluntary means increases per capata wealth, and thus is consistent with an improved quality.
Greens support the elimination of human reproductive freedom. Green guru and Amory Lovins mentor David Brower write,
"Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license. All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing."
In contrast to the humane and humanistic attitude of Liberals, "Greens" appear to be hostile to people and their well being. Greens do not like people, oppose many human rights, including the right to personal wealth, and oppose the enhancement of human powers through access to low cost energy. Green guru Amory Lovins stated,
“Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it.”
The late Paul Ehrlich agreed with Lovins,
Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.
Thus for Lovins and Ehrlich opposition to nuclear power has nothing to do with the alleged dangers of nuclear power, but with the perceived danger of putting low cost electricity into the hands of people. Nothing could be more illiberal, and Loins is in fact an implacable enemy of liberal values. Liberal values support nuclear power because it has the potential to provide us with clean, cheap, abundant energy, something that is highly desirable from the Liberal point of view.
What is not desirable from a Liberal viewpoint is for the control of major social decisions to be turned over to a small elite inner circle. Especially when that inner circle appears to believe,
“The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.”
"all these dangers are caused by human intervention and it is only through changed attitudes and behavior that they can be overcome. The real enemy, then, is humanity itself.”
These views are stated in Club of Roma reports. I would not go so far as to attribute them to the Club of Rome or to individual members who have not expressed them.
In contrast, Alvin Weinberg offered a view that a high-energy material civilization was possible, through breeder nuclear technology and substitutions for materials that were in short supply. If anything the picture of resource availability is better than Weinberg offered. For example, the co-recovery of seemingly scarce minerals with thorium mining is possible even at average crustal concentrations seems possible. The break-even point would be the point at which recovered thorium and uranium pays the energy bill and no more. That point would be substantially below the average crustial thorium concentration, and that point would never be reached.
Thus energy for the recovery of mineral resources will always be available from "burning the rocks." And with a burning the rocks approach, there will always be enough phosphate and other minerals available to sustain advanced civilization, without out the Malthusian consequences for the human population of the Earth.
Technological fixes without social engineering work provided the cost of the technological fix is low enough to offer economic advantages that will pay for the fix. Pay back is the name of the game for successful technological fixes. The LFTR fix will be out energy "silver bullet" provided that its cost is low enough to rapidly pay for the substitution of thorium fuel cycle generated electricity for fossil fuels generated energy. There is good reason to believe that LFTR generated electricity can be produced at a price that is only 1/4th that of the cost for electricity produced by current nuclear technology. I invite other analyses to test this statement.