Another blogger for nuclear energy – Decarbonise SA

I have just spent a pleasant hour perusing a fascinating site called Decarbonise SA (where SA = South Australia). Ben Heard, an Australian who operates a consultancy named ThinkClimate Consulting is the force behind the site. He is a man on a mission – to move South Australia’s electric power system to zero carbon dioxide emissions as quickly as possible. (Hence the name of his site.)

The message of “Decarbonise South Australia” scares the heck out of the very rich and powerful people who are rich and powerful because THEY SELL CARBON!

Like a growing number of thinking people who are deeply concerned by the realization that business as usual in our energy supply system is putting future generations at grave risk of a greatly changed environment, Ben evaluated all of the possible actions that might avert danger, including taking the time to reevaluate why he was reflexively opposed to nuclear energy. Though his story is told in a completely different manner than the way that Gwyneth Cravens described her own journey from antinuclear activist to pronuclear advocate in Power to Save the World, the journey of discovery was similar.

Ben has produced and continues to refine a PowerPoint Presentation that is worth a look. He calls it Nuclear Power from Opponent to Proponent and he is working to find ever larger audiences to hear him tell that story.

He also worked with Barry Brook of Brave New Climate to produce this punchy video:

His most recent post is titled Why pro-nuclear has failed when anti-nuclear has succeeded. It is an intriguing essay that points out a key factor – the antinuclear message is so simple that it can be stated in a single word that can be grasped and repeated by any two-year-old – “NO”. That is a message that is easy to propagate. In contrast, Ben believes that nuclear supporters have never developed a strong sales message.

Ben believes that having a mission and a message is the way to inspire active support for nuclear and he believes that his Decarbonise SA message is a template that can spread to other areas. It is very much a think global, act local way of thinking. That methodology has been quite effective for many movements over the years.

Regular Atomic Insights readers would be disappointed (or at least surprised) if I did not offer my additional thoughts on the topic of antinuclear successes in contrast to pronuclear stumbles. Here is a copy of the comment that I left on Decarbonise SA.


Your analysis leaves open an important question whose answer offers the key to pronuclear success – “Why?”

The mission of the antinuclear movement is clear enough, as you stated. It is a simple “NO”. However, pronuclear activists hand that opposition all of the moral strength that they need by accepting the premise that the basis for the “NO” is fear of radiation or fear of the bomb or fear of the possibility of a massively damaging accident that never seems to actually happen.

The real strength of the opposition to nuclear comes from the people who derive their wealth and power from the whole range of economic activities required to extract, refine, transport, distribute and consume the hydrocarbons that produce the emissions that you want to stop. Fossil fuel pushers have a fundamental reason for disliking clean, concentrated, abundant, affordable nuclear energy. They hold sway in a LOT of decision making bodies that can delay nuclear projects and add to their cost. They have influence in the media due to their continuous use of paid advertising campaigns sustained over many decades. They have influence in foundations that have been formed from fossil fuel derived wealth and they have influence in powerful unions like those associated with the railroads that derive most of their steady income from moving bulky fuels like oil and coal.

Your message of DecarboniseSA scares the heck out of the very rich and powerful people who are rich and powerful because THEY SELL CARBON!

The real way to defeat the “NO” to nuclear energy is to find people who benefit from “YES” to nuclear energy. The fuel suppliers have concentrated strength, but the majority of the world’s population does not supply fuel; they consume fuel and have to pay high prices, accept nasty pollution, and suffer through periods of supply constraints. Some of those consumers are major corporations in their own right and have a lot of sway – they just need to be told (over and over again) why fission is so much better than combustion.

Cheap fuel
No emissions
Reliable power plants
Responsive enough to power warships (so other ships are a piece of cake)
Great jobs
Tremendous growth opportunities for future generations
Incredible record of public safety

Pointing out the means, motive and opportunities that the fossil fuel industry has had to kneecap nuclear technology (including many “inside jobs” at supposedly “nuclear” companies) helps to knock the antinuclear movement off of the moral high ground of being ideologically motivated.

It is a worthy battle, but never expect it to be easy.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights

If you have a few moments, please follow at least one of the links that I posted above to Ben’s site and peruse some of the excellent material that he has posted over the past few months. Welcome to the world of active nuclear supporters, Ben. We need more like you.

About Rod Adams

20 Responses to “Another blogger for nuclear energy – Decarbonise SA”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. This a great occasion to post another link to the video Ben Heard has done together with Barry Brook recently:

  2. Rod Adams says:

    @ael – The debate was fairly interesting, though I have to admit that “my side” was far better prepared and passionate than the Greenpeace side.

    The top down approach that Roger Levett described for how he would reduce energy consumption was downright chilling.

    There was a “smoking gun” moment as Doug Parr, Senior Scientist at Greenpeace, described his organization’s strong support for gas fired combined heating and power (CHP) plants as a proper substitute for nuclear energy.

    • Daniel says:

      I have listened to both Levett’s and Monbiot’s call to curb world energy demand. Pretty smart move directed to third world citizens, who I now reckon, have no need for refrigeration or quality of life or economic growth after all.

      There is only one way to curb demand for anything, and you can ask your favorite ‘greens’, and it is to increase the price of the underlying commodity. People will behave in crazy and unsuspected ways to maintain their ‘economic utility’ curve unchanged.

      Don’t kid yourself, the german leader of Greenpeace ain’t taking no bus nor is he going to walk some more. His wallet is thick enough. He has no incentive to do so because GAZPROM finances his organisation at the rate of 100 million dollars a year to fight nuclear and stand aside when gas plants are proposed.

      There are no valid reasons that clean energy based on knowledge, like nuclear fission, cannot be the main source of base load energy to support family confort, economic growth and mass transportation in any modern economy.

      Don’t give me that decreasing demand BS when the entire planet can benefit from carbon free energy.

      We have the knowledge to make energy. We can do without carbon.

      • Rod Adams says:

        Daniel – Greenpeace does more than “stand aside” when gas plants are proposed. As Doug Parr clearly stated during the debate, they strongly advocate for the construction of gas fired combined heating and power plants.

        After I heard that, I went searching and found this brochure:

        Greenpeace was pretty straightforward during the discussion – their chief scientist essentially described how his organization was employed to market large wind, solar and gas power plants to replace the nuclear plants that they oppose. Of course, he phrased it a little differently, but that is what he said.

      • DV82XL says:

        Combined heat and power is all very well, but I don’t see where the U.K. has the infrastructure to use it. Building a heat distribution network is hugely expensive which is why most existing steam districts are legacy systems that were founded in the early part of the last century or before. And this doesn’t include the cost of converting end-user’s appliances to take advantage of this source.

        Also, there is absolutely nothing preventing a nuclear reactor from being the primary heat source on such a system, and indeed there are several examples of just that in the ex-Soviet Bloc.

        Oh well at least Greenpiss is showing its true colors

      • George Carty says:

        I thought Greenpeace (unlike certain other environmentalist organizations) had a policy of refusing to take corporate money — where is your source for the claim that Greenpeace is taking $100m per year from Gazprom?

        If it could be confirmed, then that could blow Greenpeace out of the water if disseminated widely enough. For thing, it would paint them as traitors in Russia’s pocket.

        Historically, one of the biggest weaknesses of the international Communist movement was that it was (largely) centrally controlled from the Kremlin, allowing anti-Communists to portray Communists outside the Soviet Union as being traitors bent on selling out their country to the Russians.

      • Daniel says:

        Greenpeace Germany is the best financed national office in the world.

        At the end of 2006, it generated annual returns of approximately 40 million Euros.

        I read recently that huge amounts of money were being injected by GAZPROM into Greenpeace thru disguised personal donations. I do not recall the source but it is a very recent article.

      • George Carty says:

        Daniel, was the article in print, on the radio, on TV or online?

      • Daniel says:


        It was on the web.

      • George Carty says:

        Was it in English, or some other language?

      • Daniel says:


        It was in English. But the financing of Greenpeace by GAZPROM or Big Oil is not news from what I understand.

        It was not the first time I heard about Greenpeace’s corporate financing. The only thing green about Greenpeace is its huge financial resources.

        No wonder Patrick Moore jumped ship when he realized that Greenpeace was becoming an extremist organisation.

        And don’t kid yourself, the governments around the world do not mind exempting those organisations from any form of taxation as it keeps them busy focussing on other stuff than big politics. Better put their focus put on environmental stuff than real politics as far as head of nations are concerned.

      • Daniel says:


        Financing makes strange bedfellows. How do you think Cousteau was able to explore marine life and the oceans all these years ?

        While diving, he was giving important information to Oil companies (TOTAL to name one) on potential deposits.

        In exchange, he received funding.

      • George Carty says:


        I’m not disputing your claims, but I’d dearly love to be able to read your original source, and I was wondering if you could help me track it down.

        By the way — here’s an idea for a bumper sticker: the slogan “NO TO NUCLEAR! YES TO RENEWABLES GAS!” (with RENEWABLES crossed out — unfortunately I don’t think the <s> tag works on these comments), and underneath the Greenpeace logo with a red star after it, and the initial G of Greenpeace replaced with the G of Gazprom.

      • Daniel says:


        I spent 3 hours trying to find the specific article thru my web archives to no avail.

        But I did find this link that shows specific sections of Greenpeace USA Audited Financial Statements. The funding from the right wing and powerful oil is right in there and cannot be disputed.

        From there, believing that GAZPROM will find its way into Greenpeace Germany cannot be considered a leap of faith.

    • Daniel says:

      Regarding Roger Levett’s ‘top down’ approach to energy saving, need I remind everyone that the Buddha tried and rejected asceticism? Access to energy is what separates third world countries from rich countries. It’s time we all get this.

      Will we go back in time and finance the construction of our nuclear plants using John Calvin’s social and economic views? If we listen to Roger, we might.

      Nuclear energy is the ultimate ‘equalizer’ and carbon ressource bound countries should wake up and so should the WNA, IAEA and all the other nuclear promoters who are not doing such a great job.

  3. While energy saving is a necessary part of the solution, that doesn’t translate in less electricity, since all transport and heating needs to go electric in a zero carbon emission world.

    I kind of liked the fact that the fossil greens in this debate were defeated quite convincingly in the final tally and generally looked clueless as well as inept. Both of them read their statements from some paper. How do they expect the audience to remember what they say if they are unable to do so themselves?

    My favorite moment was at the end, when the Greenpeace guy had to admit being completely clueless about recent developments in Germany in answer to the question by Mark Lynas.

  4. Ben Heard says:

    I will make some more comprehensive response to the above on an additional DSA post, but a huge thank you to Rod Adams for his kind words and the (sometimes much needed) encouragement to press on. I am deeply appreciative. Thanks also to KF Lenz for posting the video link; we are very proud of that piece of work and would love to see a few more hits from the US.

    • Rod Adams says:

      Ben – thanks for dropping by. Good luck with your continuing efforts. I have updated the post with an embed of your excellent video. I hope that more of my pronuclear blogging friends do the same; it deserves wider exposure.

  5. James Greenidge says:

    What boggles me with NPR and Greenpeace and and their scare-seeding ilk is that the big ultimate Meltdown accident they’d been all dreading (hankering for) finally occurred — in multiple sets no less — yet Doomsday fell a poor long third to a overlooked quake. Instead of showing their let down they’re still fanning the flames to a bewildered public. Truth should douse their fire some.

    James Greenidge