Environmental Heresies? Brand vs. Romm

Brand’s four issues with environmentalists were:

  • Population growth: population has pretty much stopped growing, why do people still complain about it?
  • Urbanization: a good thing
  • Genetic engineering: also good
  • Nuclear power: better than them all! Because it’s the only realistic solution to global warming, according to Brand.

Romm’s response questions some of Brand’s points in reverse order – first, why is Brand so hot for nuclear power? “Before asking the environmental community to embrace nuclear power, let’s really push energy-efficient buildings and factories, hybrids, and renewables like wind for a couple of decades.” Romm should know that there’s a lot of room for improvement there – he was responsible for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the Dept. of Energy, whose budget has been in decline (except for the hydrogen mess…)

Second, of course, he gets into the hydrogen economy, which Brand claimed nuclear was ideal for. Romm points out that anything that has enough energy to create hydrogen to replace gasoline will displace four times as much CO2 by using the electric power to displace coal.

Romm’s critique doeesn’t address population or genetic engineering, but on urbanization, he wonders who Brand has been talking to – many environmentalists love cities and their natural efficiency, in transportation and other areas.

Brand’s argument starts by contrasting “romanticism” and “science”, as the powerful and sometimes conflicting driving forces behind environmental ideas. Is he right? And which side do you fall in?