The 2017 Arch Conservative Fall Lecture entitled “A Conservative Solution to Climate Change” hosted associate professor in the UGA College of Engineering Dr. David Gattie, who offered a dense breakdown of the global energy dilemma, as well as his precise policy prescription for the United States to move forward on the issue of climate change.
On Wednesday night, The Arch Conservative hosted its annual Fall lecture, featuring Dr. David Gattie. Dr. Gattie gave an insightful 30-minute presentation on the intricacies of climate change, comparing the United State’s energy consumption to that of nations around the globe as well as detailing a concise plan of action for easing the inevitable burdens of a carbon saturated society. A staunch conservative, Dr. Gattie’s perspective proved invaluable, considering the prevailing stereotype that the right either does not prioritize the issue of climate change or plainly denies its existence.
Dr. Gattie began his speech by defining the two sides individuals often take on climate change. On one side are the Al Gores of the world who believe that it is imperative that the United States become reliant on renewable energy in order to combat soaring carbon emissions and rising global temperatures. On the other side are the Jim Inhofes who believe that climate change is a grand hoax. Dr. Gattie clarified that he would not seek to indoctrinate anyone in the audience towards either on this bipolar spectrum, but rather he would simply explain the facts and offer his ideal solution. That being said, Dr. Gattie imparted the reality of a carbon constricted economy in the near future.
Dr. Gattie continued by showing the United State’s standing on coal, oil, natural gas, and overall carbon emissions outputs in comparison to other high-GDP nations, mainly India, China, and Russia. What Dr. Gattie made evident through his data is that the United States is nowhere near the greatest global threat to rising carbon emissions, despite popular misconceptions. In reality, China, who has been building its economy on electricity and oil for the past 25 years, surpasses the United States on energy consumption and carbon emissions and is continually on the rise. Where the United States has made such great progress in reducing carbon emissions in recent years is the usage of natural gas, much cheaper and less carbon-heavy in its emissions than its coal and oil counterparts.
With any discussion on alternative energy arises the question of nuclear energy. Dr. Gattie happens to be an expert on nuclear energy, and dedicated a large part of his presentation to highlighting its attractive quality of near zero carbon emissions. Dr. Gattie highlighted the fact that the United States is behind on nuclear energy development in terms of sheer numbers of reactors that have been proposed for construction and those under construction currently in comparison to nations such as China and India. All three, China, India, and Russia, are far beyond the U.S. in planning for a nuclear future.
Indeed, Dr. Gattie’s proposed policy solution towards the climate change issue was centered around the resurgence of the United State’s interest in nuclear energy. Essentially, Dr. Gattie explained the need for the United States government to recognize that nuclear energy is the most effective solution to combat the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change while still providing the energy necessary for the population, and that hindering the progress of nuclear development is a threat to national security. What Dr. Gattie proposed was a three-way cooperation between the Departments of State, Commerce, and Energy to encourage competition in the nuclear developmental market, while at the same time offering necessary subsidies towards nuclear energy endeavours. The subsidies, in turn, would offset the only hindrance to nuclear energy plant investment: high startup costs. Lamenting the idea that he was shifting from a conservative trust in free markets, Dr. Gattie was sure to note that his proposal was merely to leverage incentives in the market with strategic policy in order to accomplish a greater good. Showing data of the number of nuclear reactors that have been forced to shut down in recent years and the staggering result of lost energy output, Dr. Gattie reinforced nuclear energy as the quintessential method of supplying energy to the entire country without the immense carbon expenditure.
A fruitful question and answer session followed Dr. Gattie’s presentation, and the intellectual diversity in the packed room was readily apparent. Among those in attendance were Arch Conservative editors and contributors, students of Dr. Gattie’s, and also engineering students who were drawn to the event by the idea of hearing the issue of climate change discussed from a conservative perspective. The success of the event was made apparent in the productive dialogue that followed. We at The Arch Conservative thank Dr. David Gattie for devoting his time to expounding upon an issue not often prioritized by conservatives, and look forward to spreading his keen understanding in the future.
Connor Foarde is the Campus News Editor of The Arch Conservative.