Planet Gore

How About Physics for Sitting Presidents?

Planet Gore reader Rober A. sends in the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s reporting on Cal professor Richard Muller’s performance as the inaugural Stanley Flatté Memorial Lecture at UC Santa Cruz.

Richard A. Muller’s Berkeley buddies from the ’60s might have been surprised to hear him tell the audience at UC Santa Cruz’s Music Recital Hall Wednesday evening that nuclear energy was a viable solution to America’s energy needs.
If they’d found an empty seat at the first ever Stanley Flatté Memorial Lecture, they might also have raised an eyebrow at some of Muller’s other facts — including that the U.S. is not running out of fossil fuels and that tropical storms have not increased over the last century.
The popular UC Berkeley physics professor lectured from notes developed for his “Physics for Future Presidents” class at Cal, a class designed for non-science majors.
“This is a non-partisan lecture,” Muller said, introducing himself to the crowd of students and lifelong learners. “I skip over the math to get to the advanced material.”
Intended to goad listeners to think skeptically about information widely parroted in the media, Muller’s lecture and class and book by the same name included facts he hopes the president, Al Gore and Congress will pay serious attention to. . . .
On terrorism: After comparing plutonium and uranium bombs, Muller showed why “gasoline is the terrorist weapon of choice.”
On energy: After proving that the U.S. has enough coal to serve its energy needs for the next two centuries, he added, “that’s bad news for global warming but good news for U.S. energy independence.”
On climate change: After calling Al Gore “an exaggerator” of facts and showing that Hurricane Katrina wasn’t proof of global warming and that the Antarctic ice sheet might actually gain mass this century, Muller added that carbon dioxide is, indeed, at its highest level in 20 million years.
With a twinkle in his eye, Muller ribbed Prius owners, pointing out that battery-operated vehicles are expensive, heavy and only for the wealthy.
And with charts and graphs at his disposal, Muller pointed out that the U.S. and developing countries like China and India are responsible for the bulk of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.
“Expensive green methods are worthless,” he summarized. “The only solution to climate change is cheap green or subsidized green.” . . .

UPDATE: Pardon: it’s the Sentinel, not the Chronicle.


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