Friday, October 3, 2008

“If you are pro electric vehicles, you are pro nuclear power”

This was the case built by BP Chief Scientist, Steve Koonin, at Technology Review’s EmTech conference last week (webcast available here). His case went like this:

• If every vehicle in America were electric-powered, and we achieved three times the energy efficiencies in those vehicles than we get today,

• It would require 50% more electric power capacity than we are currently producing.

• There is no way to meet this demand other than through significant nuclear power supply.

• Therefore, if you are pro electric cars, you are pro nuclear power.

This curious logic was followed by a confession of his later in the panel discussion:

Koonin noted that he had two houses: one in London, and one in California. When he was in London, he didn’t own or need a car. But he had three cars at his California house.

So I present another logic:
• If most people lived in dense mixed use communities that are well supported by a wide variety of transportation options that allow individuals (like London)

• It would require dramatically less energy – regardless of the source – to live happy and productive lives

• We likely able to meet this demand with alternative energy sources over the next 50 years in the time it will take to replace our fleets and refresh our infrastructure if we accurately incentivize individuals, developers, and cities to choose fuel-efficient and low-CO2 options (unlike the energy costs that built the California that Koonin lives in today).

• So if you are pro addressing climate change then you are a price on carbon emissions.

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