Robert Bryce Interviews Jesse Ausubel on his “Renewable and nuclear heresies”

Jesse Ausebel and Vaclav Smil have been articulate guardians of effective energy/climate policy as long as I can remember. Recently I came across a 2007 email interview that I can recommend, concluding with this exchange:

ET: Given your long history of working on environmental issues, why are environmental groups like Greenpeace, Sierra Club, et. al, so married to renewables while refusing to acknowledge the low-carbon potential of nuclear power? Are there any arguments (yours included) which might bring them around?

JA: Arguments rarely bring anyone around. Everyone, including Greens, subscribes to a packet of ideas. The packet for many Greens includes dislike of large enterprises and fear of catastrophic events, which makes them anxious about nuclear energy even though “objectively” nuclear energy safely spares nature. But maintaining fervor is hard, and a law of conservation of concern allows only a few fears and enthusiasms to be in the foreground. Fervor about nuclear energy will wane, as fervor about dangers of steam engines waned. Steam engines did reorganize society, by the way, for better and worse; their explosions were almost completely controlled but the mobility they unleashed changed everything. Abundant nuclear electricity and hydrogen would transform Earth, including human society, in many ways we do not perceive. In 70 years we may have stopped worrying about greenhouse gases but may worry a lot about the ecological effects of nighttime illumination. Werewolf microbes might take power!