I’m sorry adults have frightened you about climate change and how it might affect your future. You might be less afraid if you knew some facts that adults intentionally do not explain to you. I’ll tell you here.
The news was once a source of real information, or so we thought. But in the modern world, the news people discovered they can make more money by presenting scary news regardless of whether it is true or not. Today, much of the news on the right and the left is opinion that is meant to scare you, not inform you, because scary things get more attention, and that makes the news business more profitable. The same is true for people who write books; authors often make books scary so you will buy them. Most adults know all the scariness is not real. Most kids do not. You just learned it.
Nuclear energy used to be dangerous, back in the olden days. Today’s nuclear power plants (the ones built in the past 20 years all over the world) have killed zero people, and are considered the safest form of energy in the world. More people have died installing solar panels and falling off roofs than have died from nuclear power problems anywhere in the world for the past few decades. And nuclear energy is the obvious way to address climate change, say most of the smartest adults in the world, because it can provide abundant, cheap, clean energy with zero carbon emissions.
Nuclear energy as a solution to climate change is one of the rare solutions backed by several Democrats running for president and nearly all Republicans. Please note that two Democrats in favor of nuclear energy (Corey Booker and Andrew Yang) are among the youngest and smartest in the game. To be fair, the oldest Democrat running for president, Joe Biden, also supports nuclear energy because he is well-informed.
If you are worried about nuclear waste, you probably should not be. Every country with nuclear energy (and there are lots of them) successfully stores their nuclear waste. If you put all the nuclear waste in the world in one place, it would fit on one football field. It isn’t a big problem. And new nuclear power designs will actually eat that nuclear waste and turn it into electricity, so the total amount of waste could come way down.
The United Nations estimates that the economic impact of climate change will reduce the economy by 10% in eighty years. What they don’t tell you is that the economy will be about five times bigger and better by then, so you won’t even notice the 10% that didn’t happen. And that worst case is only if we do nothing to address climate change, which is not the case.
A number of companies have recently built machines that can suck CO2 right out of the air. At the moment, using those machines would be too expensive. But as they come down in cost and improve in efficiency, we have a solution already in hand should it ever be needed. It would be expensive, but there is no real risk of CO2 ruining the world now that we know how to remove any excess from the atmosphere. (Plants need CO2 to thrive, so we don’t want to remove too much. Greenhouses actually pump in CO2 to make plants grow better.)
Scientists tell us that we could reduce climate risks by planting more trees. (A lot more.) That’s all doable, should the world decide it is necessary. There are a number of other companies and technologies that also address climate change in a variety of ways. Any one of the approaches I mentioned (nuclear energy, CO2 scrubbers, planting trees) could be enough to address any climate risks, but there are dozens of ways of dealing with climate change, and more coming every day.
Throughout all modern history, when we humans see a problem coming from far away, we have a 100% success rate in solving it. Climate change is no different. All the right people are working hard at a wide variety of solutions and already know how to get there, meaning more nuclear power plus CO2 scrubbers, plus lots of green power from solar, wind, and more.
If you are worried about rising sea levels, don’t be. The smartest and richest people in the world are still buying property on the beach. They don’t see the problem. And if sea levels do rise, it will happen slowly enough for people to adjust.
Adults sometimes like to use children to carry their messages because it makes it hard for the other side to criticize them without seeming like monsters. If adults have encouraged you to panic about climate change without telling you what I am telling you here, they do not have your best interests at heart. They are using you.
When you ask adults about nuclear energy, expect them to have old understanding about it, meaning they don’t know the newer nuclear energy technologies are the safest energy on the planet.
What I told you today is not always understood even by adults. You are now smarter than most adults on the topic of climate.
My generation has a lot of faith in your generation. You will be the most educated and effective humans of all time. My generation (and a few generations younger than me) already has the fixes to address climate risks coming online. Your generation will finish the job.
We adults respect your passion and your energy on the topic of climate. But it isn’t fair for us to deny you the basic facts while at the same time scaring you into action. I hope this letter helps you sleep better. We adults have this problem under control, or will soon, and you’ll help us finish the job. So get some good sleep tonight. Together, we got this.