Leading conservation scientists from around the world have called for a substantial role for nuclear power in future energy-generating scenarios in order to mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity.
In an open letter to environmentalists with more than 60 signatories, the scientists ask the environmental community to “weigh up the pros and cons of different energy sources using objective evidence and pragmatic trade-offs, rather than simply relying on idealistic perceptions of what is `green’ “.
Organised by ecologists Professor Barry Brook and Professor Corey Bradshaw from the University of Adelaide‘s Environment Institute, the letter supports their recent article `Key role for nuclear energy in global biodiversity conservation’, published in the journal Conservation Biology.
“Full decarbonisation of the global electricity-generation sector is required soon to avoid the worst ravages of climate change,” says Professor Bradshaw, Director, Ecological Modelling at the Environment Institute and recently appointed Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change.
“Biodiversity is not only threatened by climate disruption arising largely from fossil-fuel derived emissions, it is also threatened by land transformation resulting from renewable energy sources, such as flooded areas for hydro-electricity, agricultural areas needed for biofuels and large spaces needed for wind and solar farms.”
New multi-scenario modelling of world human population has concluded that even stringent fertility restrictions or a catastrophic mass mortality would not bring about large enough change this century to solve issues of global sustainability.
Published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, ecologists Professor Corey Bradshaw and Professor Barry Brook from the University of Adelaide‘s Environment Institute say that the “virtually locked-in” population growth means the world must focus on policies and technologies that reverse rising consumption of natural resources and enhance recycling, for more immediate sustainability gains.
Fertility reduction efforts, however, through increased family-planning assistance and education, should still be pursued, as this will lead to hundreds of millions fewer people to feed by mid-century.
“Global population has risen so fast over the past century that roughly 14% of all the human beings that have ever existed are still alive today – that’s a sobering statistic,” says Professor Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modelling in the Environment Institute and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. “This is considered unsustainable for a range of reasons, not least being able to feed everyone as well as the impact on the climate and environment.
The University of Tasmania (UTAS) is a public Australian university based in Tasmania, Australia.
Officially founded on 1 January 1889, it was the fourth university to be established in Australia. UTAS is a sandstone university and is a member of the international Association of Commonwealth Universities.
UTAS offers various undergraduate and graduate programs in a range of disciplines. UTAS has links with 20 specialist research institutes, cooperative research centres and faculty based research centres; many of which are regarded as nationally and internationally competitive leaders. UTAS has a student population of nearly 26,800, including over 6,000 international students (on and offshore) and 1000 PhD students.