Opening Keynote, Pushker Kharecha: “The Future of Nuclear Energy”

Pushker Kharecha replaced colleague and scheduled keynote speaker James Hansen, presenting an overview of what we know about global warming, and findings from a joint paper they had produced on the implications of nuclear power as alternative to continued reliance on fossil-fuel energy sources that are chiefly responsible for the problem. “Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power” by Kharecha and Hansen (2013), was written in the wake of the Fukushima accident.  Kharecha reviews the authors’ methodology and principal findings, ie., that millions of deaths have already been prevented through historical reliance on nuclear power, that millions more can be prevented through its continued use in the future, and that turning away from it will result in hundreds of gigatons of carbon dioxide exacerbating global warming in coming decades.

Dr. Pushker Kharecha completed doctoral work at Penn State before joining Dr. James Hansen at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in fall 2005 to conduct scientific research that can help to inform sound environmental policies.  His research at GISS focuses on the global carbon cycle, which in simple terms is the exchange of carbon in its various forms (CO2, organic carbon in biomass and soils, etc.) among the different components of the climate system (atmosphere, land, and ocean). He is particularly interested in the human dimensions of the carbon cycle, such as the impacts of past, present, and future land use and fossil fuel use on climate, as well as mitigation of anthropogenic climate change via changes in these activities.

June 5, 2015