Only nuclear power can stop global warming, says British environmentalist
LONDON (AFP) May 24, 2004
Only nuclear energy can slow down the rapid and potentially devastating warming of the earth, a veteran British scientist and environmental campaigner argued on Monday.

"Only one immediately available source does not cause global warming and that is nuclear energy," James Lovelock wrote in an opinion piece published in the Independent newspaper.

The 84-year-old is best known for fathering the "Gaia Hypothesis" in the mid-1960s that states the earth is alive and maintains conditions necessary for its survival.

Lovelock warned that environmentally-friendly energy sources were not being developed quickly enough to replace coal, gas and oil, whose waste gas -- carbon dioxide -- is at the origin of the so-called greenhouse effect or global warming.

"We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources, civilization is in imminent danger," Lovelock said in reference to renewables such as wind, tide and water generated power favored by most ecological advocates.

Lovelock also raised the alarm over the possibility of global warming moving at a faster pace than expected, as he recalled Europe's sizzling hot summer of 2003.

"If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from the overheating in Europe last summer," he said.

"Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media," he charged.

"These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources," said the scientist, who has attracted ire from other environmentalists for his pro-nuclear feelings.

"Lovelock is right to demand a drastic response to climate change but he's wrong to think nuclear power is any part of the answer," British Greenpeace chief Stephen Tindal told the Independent.

"Nuclear (energy) creates enormous problems, waste we don't know what to with," he added.

Tony Juniper from fellow green group Friends of the Earth echoed Tindal's position.

"Climate change and radioactive waste both pose deadly long-term threats, and we have a moral duty to minimize the effect of both, not to choose between them," he said.