As utilities seek to build new nuclear power plants in the U.S. and around the world, the latest generation of reactors feature improvements over older technologies. But even as attention focuses on nuclear as an alternative to fossil fuels, questions remain about whether the newer reactors are sufficiently foolproof to be adopted on a large scale.
For years, free-market fundamentalists opposed to government regulation have sought to create doubt in the public’s mind about the dangers of smoking, acid rain, and ozone depletion. Now they have turned those same tactics on the issue of global warming and on climate scientists, with significant success.
The fear of being being branded as a “greenwasher” is holding back many companies from adopting and advertising their sustainable practices. While environmental advocates should continue to hold companies accountable for their claims, it is important for businesses that are going green to overcome their greenwashing fears and connect with their customers. The use of social media is a great way to establish authenticity, trust and transparency in this context.
Environmentalists have long sought to use the threat of catastrophic global warming to persuade the public to embrace a low-carbon economy. But recent events, including the tainting of some climate research, have shown the risks of trying to link energy policy to climate science.
President Obama forged a political accord with China, India, and South Africa that did not meet the modest expectations for the Copenhagen summit meeting. There was no legally binding treaty to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, but instead countries will be required to list their greenhouse gas reduction targets and a fund will be established to assist poor nations with dealing with climate change.
On August 11, the Financial Times reported on the promise of “synthetic biology,” including the development of algae that generates biofuels. In July, ExxonMobil entered into a $600 million venture with Synthetic Genomics, a firm founded by biotech pioneer Dr. Craig Venter. “Synthetic Genomics has already engineered strains of algae that secrete oil from their cells,” writes the FT’s Clive Cookson. Will oil companies transform themselves into algae companies? Or, a few years from now, could the makers of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” film a sequel about algae?