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Senator McCain: "We Have to Understand That The Climate May Be Changing"

No shit.

SCIENCE AF STAFF
3 OCT 2017
 

On Sunday, as Hurricane Irma turned its destructive eye towards Florida, John McCain made his first national interview since receiving his cancer diagnosis. The Republican Senator sat down with CNN's Jake Tapper to talk, among other things, about how climate change is altering our weather.

 

Tapper specifically asked McCain why he thinks the Republican party "acts as if climate change is not real" despite the fact that "many experts say this storm is more intense because of climate change."

In his question, Tapper also reminded McCain that after Hurricane Sandy, his daughter loudly condemned the GOP for their climate denial on Twitter.

tweet

"I don't know because I can't divine their [the GOP's] motives," McCain replied. "But I know this. There are things happening with the climate in the world that is unprecedented."

"Second of all, we need to have, in my view, nuclear power as part of the answer. It's the cleanest, cheapest, in many ways, source of power. My friends in the environmental community refuse to make that part of the equation. I'm not saying it is the equation but I'm saying it has got to be part of it, because they're basically anti-nuclear."

This tangent isn't uncommon for McCain, who has been a vocal proponent of nuclear power for several years.

"It's the cleanest, cheapest, in many ways, source of power," he said.

 

While it is amazing that a Republican Senator actually accepts the science of climate change, nuclear power is not the cleanest nor the cheapest solution. Nuclear power produces the most toxic waste known to man kind, and setting up nuclear facilities is an expensive investment.

"The reason nuclear power plants haven't been built is because they are too expensive," says Tim Greeff, deputy legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters. In fact, according to Greeff, it is "the most expensive form of power we have."

For example, between 2002 and 2008, cost estimates for new nuclear plant construction rose from between $2 billion and $4 billion per unit to $9 billion per unit, according to a 2009 UCS report. In comparison, there are several alternatives that are cheaper per kilowatt, including energy sources such as biomass and wind power.

However, McCain also acknowledged that "we can take common sense measures which will not harm the American people", like investing in other forms of renewable energy as well.

"In fact, solar and other technologies make it cheaper energy for many of the American people, including a state like mine where we have lots of sunshine," McCain said, taking a stance that many Republicans would balk at.

McCain ended the interview by arguing that "it's time for us to sit down again" on the issue of climate change.

But when the Trump administration is doing everything they can to avoid the conversation, a bipartisan conversation about climate change may be hopelessly idealistic.

Watch the full interview here: