I’ve been a climate activist for over a decade. I did all the stuff a good environmentalist is meant to do: never learned to drive (still can’t), went vegan in 2002 (before it was cool), quit flying, campaigned and even got involved with direct action.
For many years I argued and lobbied for 100% renewables. I wrote an evidence-based book on green parenting, which was endorsed by Bill McKibben, Natalie Bennett, and many other prominent greens.
An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report brought me around to nuclear energy. It wasn’t easy to admit that I had been wrong, but nuclear energy is included in all of the decarbonisation pathways in the landmark IPCC report. That is the scientific consensus, and it is as robust as the fact that climate change is real….
Solar and wind power cannot do it alone: they need a reliable back up energy source, which either comes from fossil fuels, or from nuclear energy.
Wealthy countries need reliable, non carbon energy to wean off of fossil fuels, and poorer countries need clean energy to develop. No matter how you look at it, the solution comes back to energy.
I have seen first-hand what poverty looks like, and it is never far from my mind because my family abroad still lives in that reality. I’m determined to create a space in the green movement to talk about addressing it. Offering developing countries intermittent renewables isn’t going to be enough. It’s not what we had to develop. We burned a vast amount of fossil fuels in order to develop the high quality of life we enjoy today.
In 2019 I became a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, finally able to talk about climate change to a large audience – but unable to talk about solutions. I started to question the idea of living with less energy, as I could see that the world around me was clearly finding new ways to use more energy, not less.
I used to argue that battery storage to make renewables better was just around the corner, and I still hear people argue this today. But over time, I realised that I couldn’t keep making this same argument. I realised that climate change was getting worse and that we don’t have time to wait to turn more corners.
So, I decided to publicly advocate for nuclear power.
No, I don’t work for any industry.
The changes that we make to address climate change must be based on robust evidence, else we risk making things worse instead of better. We need to react now, rationally, based on scientific evidence.
Environmentalism has done much good, but when it comes to clean energy sources, we made a mistake. That mistake has cost us the clean energy solution that is nuclear energy, and led to a longer reliance on fossil fuels that are destroying our planet and our lungs.
Alongside other concerned environmentalists, I have co-founded Emergency Reactor to help to tackle the climate crisis. Whether you agree with our message, or just want to learn more, I hope you’ll get in touch, and get involved.
Zion Lights, Co-Founder