“I guess this is the cynicism he mentions?”
Is it cynicism to expect that those who are deriving great wealth and power from the present system will not sign onto a mobilization to take all that away from them? Is it cynicism to expect Hillary will continue to behave in keeping with her long track record? Is it cynicism to expect that someone who can hardly write a piece that is persuasive even to progressives will succeed–in less than 90 days–in signing up the legions he hasn’t budged in the previous years he’s been working on this? Or is it simply realism? I’m actually fairly optimistic about our prospects, but my optimism is tethered to options which can feasibly be accomplished.
“There are always so many reasons to slap down the idealists”
There’s nothing wrong with an idealism of values. That’s the foundation of a just society. But untethered and irrational idealism, on the other hand, can actually be counterproductive and even dangerous. And ultimately, the best reason for slapping down that which is irrational is for the sake of reason itself.
“they’re such unrealistic idealists after all, they’ll never succeed.”
Their odds of success are certainly going to plummet if they let themselves become detached from reality.
“I have been pretty disgusted with the put-downs this article has received by the supposedly sophisticated CD audience.”
In the marketplace of ideas, your feelings of disgust are irrelevant. But if you think you can make a stronger case than the comments you disagree with, by all means, have at it. That would be a productive contribution.
“I work with young people, many of whom are activists. We need to continue encouraging them, not shrug and turn away.”
We should not be encouraging them to do things they have no chance of success at. We should be encouraging them to learn how to think critically, do evaluations, and to understand that some options are worse than others, and some options are simply so unworkable as to be doomed.
“As an aside, are you serious when you propose nuclear energy as a viable option?”
Improved and expanded nuclear, yes. Completely serious. Just like James Hansen.
“I suppose you are no living next to a nuclear waste dumping site.”
That would be a pretty safe assumption since extremely few people do. And with nuclear power, the only waste which has potentially serious dispersal potential is in the spent fuel, which isn’t in dump sites but kept in casks–with a much tinier profile and a far better record of containment than the toxins from most other energy industries. But the current repository of nuclear spent fuel is one of the reasons I support the development of better nuclear, including both reactors which have a much smaller waste profile and reactors which can consume the existing stockpiles of spent fuel (along with bomb fuel and depleted uranium).
And dozens of teams are working these better reactors right now. All of their approaches are viable and solidly grounded in physics and engineering, but it’s too early to say yet which approach will be the cheapest and the strongest competitor against fossil fuels. Several look like they have good prospects for success in that regard, but just one would be enough to precipitate an energy revolution. And unlike the spectacularly improbable global social, cultural, political, and economic revolution the greens say we need to have, economics-driven technology revolutions are comparatively easy, common, self-propagating, and work within pretty much any kind of economy. I see a lot of reason for optimism in that.