In response to this post, both Jeff and Ana have good points.

Jeff’s is that a parallel bit of slipperiness often pops up in arguments about nuclear energy. On the one hand, we hear that renewables aren’t “mature” and that only nuclear can get us safely through the global warming crisis. On the other, we hear that nuclear can do this (safely) only with a decade and billions of dollars in R&D costs for new technologies. But if we have a decade and billions of dollars, why not funnel them into clean energy?

Ana’s is about the related bogus argument that, to meet our energy needs, solar would have to carpet the entire state of Oklahoma! Or wind turbines would have to fill the state of North Dakota! Plus they are intermittent, so they would leave gaps in our power! Etc. But of course no one claims that any one of these alternatives can fill the gap. The point is that we should move to a distributed mix of sources: solar, wind, wave/tidal, biomass, and let’s not forget, conservation.

On Ana’s point, check out this story, which discusses research done at Oxford showing that such a mix could provide a much larger percentage of the U.K.’s energy needs than had been previously thought. Jamais looks at the research in more detail.

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Arguments against clean energy often indulge in these fallacies casually. It’s time greens started challenging them.