David Marchese interviewed Vaclav Smil for the New York Times: This Eminent Scientist Says Climate Activists Need to Get Real.
« we need a shared acknowledgment of the material realities of the world. Which is to say, an acknowledgment that our current way of life is dependent on burning that fossil carbon. »
« People don’t appreciate the magnitude of the task and are setting up artificial deadlines which are unrealistic… People toss out these deadlines without any reflection on the scale and the complexity of the problem. Decarbonization by 2030? Really? »
« We live in this world of exaggerated promises and delusional pop science. I’m trying to bring it onto some modest track of reality and common sense. »
« The official goal in the U.S. is complete decarbonization of electricity generation by 2035. That’s Biden’s program: zero-carbon electricity in 2035. The country doesn’t have a national grid! How will you decarbonize and run the country by wind and solar without a national grid? »
« Germany, after nearly half a trillion dollars, in 20 years they went from getting 84 percent of their primary energy from fossil fuels to 76 percent. Can you tell me how you’d go from 76 percent fossil to zero by 2030, 2035? I’m sorry, the reality is what it is. »
« the big emitters: China, the United States, India, Russia. What are the chances today of Russia, China and the U.S. signing on the dotted line as to the actual reduction of emissions by 2030? Also please notice that the Paris agreement has no legally binding language. »
« If the country doesn’t have any grid or has a weak national grid, how will you distribute electricity? Countries need electricity for giant plants, for making chemicals, processing foods, making textiles. So you have to have photovoltaics on a large scale, which means a big electric grid. As I say, even the U.S. has a poor active grid. »
« We don’t need pushing to the sides. What we need is the dull, factually correct and accurate middle. Because only from that middle will come the solutions… It’s also irresponsible to state the problem in ways where, when you look closer, it’s not like that. »
Vaclav Smil is the author of How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going.