November 10, 1997
Return to this forum's introduction.
Questions answered in this forum:
Can the science behind global warming predictions be trusted? Can an effective program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions be created? Should there be a tax on gas-guzzling vehicles? Could nuclear power reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions? Can a system of emissions credits reduce America's production of greenhouse gases? Should developing countries be included in a global climate treaty? Viewer comments
October 22, 1997:
A discussion of President Clinton's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
June 25, 1997:
President Clinton is backing the EPA's push for tougher air quality standards, but critics say they're too costly.
February 18, 1997:
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new clean air standardsthat have been criticized by some industry, state and local officials.
March 6, 1997:
The fastest rise in temperature for perhaps ten thousand years is having a dramatic effect on the brittle ecosystem of Antarctica.
January 4, 1996
British meteorologists report that the Earth's surface temperature was higher than the average in 1995.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of science and the environment.
EPA Web site on global warming
Environmental Defense Fund
Ken Comer of Springfield, VA, asks:
The French get 75 percent of their energy from nuclear power. The Japanese and others have committed to building and maintaining a nuclear industry. Nuclear power does not pollute. Yet [President] Clinton and [Vice President] Gore have said that no U.S. nuclear plants are to be built in the U.S. on their watch. Isn't this a hypocritical position given that a major reason why we are exporting nuclear technology to China is to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions? Isn't it possible we have overstated the problems of nuclear power and understated the problems of fossil fuels?
Dr. Michael Oppenheimer of the Environmental Defense Fund responds:
The U.S. nuclear industry is dead in the water because its product became much more expensive than other approaches to producing electricity. Among the latter is natural gas, which is low in carbon dioxide, and investments in customer efficiency, which produces no emissions.
It is unlikely that the U.S. industry will revive unless and until it produces a technology that is safe and produces little or no waste, at a competitive cost. Citizens of other countries either are not concerned about the waste problem or, as in China, don't have much of a chance to express their concern.
Karen Karrigen of the Global Climate Information Project responds:
It is, indeed, a hypocritical position. As a matter of fact, developed countries which largely employ nuclear power are using this as a negotiating tool that provides them with a competitive advantage over the U.S. relative to CO2 emissions. Our major trading partners know that by squeezing U.S. energy use through binding and targeted CO2 reductions, they automatically gain a big competitive advantage due to the benefits of nuclear power.
On the one hand, Clinton and Gore swear that new technologies will mitigate the economic hardships caused by the treaty -- but, in the case of nuclear power, they refuse to allow us to use it.
Carl Pope of the Sierra Club responds:
Gee. Nuclear power is neither cheap nor safe. It is true it doesn't emit greenhouse pollutants -- but compared to energy conservation, renewables, or more efficient fossil fuel capacity, it is the most expensive way to heat our houses, light our bedrooms or power our stereos. And I think it is indeed hypocritical to export nuclear technology to China, when we know it is going to break the bank of our own utilities, so heavily that they are desperately trying to get the taxpayers to "rescue" their stranded capital.
Next: can a system of emissions credits reduce America's production of greenhouse gases?