At the 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, world leaders at last seemed to recognize the reality of climate change. But the response they are pursuing is fundamentally flawed, given its dependence on "renewable energy sources" — such as solar, hydro and wind power, as well as biofuels — that actually damage nature. Ironically, the world's best bet to achieve the Paris agreement's goals is to rely on an energy source that is often demonized: nuclear power.

Water, wind and solar power cannot reliably provide energy on the scale required for a modern economy. One kilogram of water behind a dam that is 100 meters high can provide just 1/3,600 kilowatt hours of energy. One kilogram of coal, by contrast, provides about 7 kWh of energy — 20,000 times more. A hydroelectric scheme would thus have to be enormous to generate the same amount of energy as a coal-fired equivalent, implying high environmental and human costs. To build the largest existing hydroelectric project — the Three Gorges reservoir on the Yangtze River, which stretches for 600 km — 1.3 million people were relocated, as 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,350 villages were inundated.

Wind has a similar energy density. Even with their large and noisy turbines, offshore wind farms produce, at their peak, as little as nine megawatts per square km. To match a one-gigawatt coal-fired plant requires several hundred turbines. The same goes for solar farms: to be competitive, they cover vast areas of hillside and meadow.