At CDN we find schoolchildren advising adults on physics, economics or public policy a sorry sight. And we also regard Greta Thunberg as being far too often not just shrill but nasty. However, as our goal is to promote intelligent and civil discourse, we are determined to give credit where due. Last year we said that she was right that politicians jetting around eating fancy food and making hollow promises was an ugly sight. And now we note that she has hit the uranium on the head when she said it is foolishness to shut down nuclear reactors in the name of fighting climate change and replace the power with coal. It is, one might think, a high-school-level insight. But if many sogenannte responsible adults can’t see it, she is right to point it out.
Not everyone was impressed, to put it mildly. One Canadian pundit sneered “Looks like she’s got new sponsors” which seems singularly unkind given the way opponents of alarmism are so often accused of tailoring their views to their paymasters. Sky News also led off their feature on her new insights with a roundup of her least great hits including the infamous “How dare you?” But then they softened a little, letting her concede that some of her teenage rhetoric was over the top. And then they hit the key line about nuclear reactors: “If we have them already running, I feel that it’s a mistake to close them down in order to focus on coal.”
It not obvious that Thunberg sees a long-term role for nuclear (especially as this item reporting her views is in German). When pressed by the interviewer with “And then close them down as soon as possible” Thunberg actually gave a startling impression of humility, saying “It depends. We don’t know what will happen after this.”
Sky News didn’t seem hugely impressed. But when she says that it’s a mistake to shut down nuclear reactors and burn coal instead, she has passed a basic sanity test that a surprising number of people with college degrees and ingratiating smiles have flubbed across the European continent and all the way to California. And it would be churlish and unhelpful not to say so clearly and distinctly.