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CNA2015

Leading Climatologist Dr. James Hansen to Speak at CNA2015

James Hansen - cropped

By Romeo St-Martin
Communications Officer
Canadian Nuclear Association

Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s leading climatologists and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Dr. Hansen will speak to the CNA2015 crowd about the impact of emerging technologies and discoveries on our ability to maintain a sustainable climate.

“The sheer size of China’s electricity needs demands massive mobilization to construct modern, safe nuclear power plants, educate more nuclear scientists and engineers, and train operators of the power plants,” according to Hansen.

Perhaps the most prominent pro-nuclear environmentalist, Hansen has been credited for being one of first to warn politicians and policy makers about the dangers of climate change.

Hansen was one of four environmental scientists who wrote a 2013 open letter urging the green movement to give up its opposition to nuclear power.

“While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power,” the letter said.

Hansen has argued “nuclear seems to be the best candidate” to help the world move off of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

He’s thinks part of the problem going forward is with the public understanding.

“Nuclear energy is harder for people to understand, the idea of radiation,” he noted. “It’s been painted as very dangerous but it hasn’t been compared with the effects you will get from burning coal, which are very substantial and well known. It’s hard to get the public to understand and make that scientific comparison.”

Hansen has worked on increasing that understanding. In 2013, he published a paper with Pushker Kharecha that concluded nuclear power has saved 1.8 million lives by displacing fossil fuel sources between 1971 and 2009.

“Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes (Gt) CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning,” the researchers concluded in their study.