There has been a whole spate of scary stories published in the past couple of weeks about various aspects of nuclear energy. While the reason for the flood is not entirely clear, some atomic advocates — including me — believe that people who have invested their careers in working to halt nuclear energy are worried that they are going to need to struggle to remain relevant.
The postulated cause for their concern is the increasing number of people who are being moved by Pandora’s Promise to question their long held belief structures about nuclear energy. This guess about the origin of the antinuclear scare story flood is supported by a recent opinion piece in the New York Times by one of their food critics. (Yes, the grey lady is allowing food critics to share their opinions about nuclear energy.) Here is a sample quote from that piece:
There is a new discussion about nuclear energy, prompted by well-founded concerns about carbon emissions and fueled by a pro-nuclear documentary called “Pandora’s Promise.” Add a statement by James E. Hansen — who famously sounded the alarm on climate change — and, of course, industry propaganda, and presto: We Love Nukes.
Before we all become pro-nuclear greens, however, you’ve got to ask three questions: Is nuclear power safe and clean? Is it economical? And are there better alternatives?
No, no and yes. So let’s not swap the pending environmental disaster of climate change for another that may be equally risky.
Despite all-out efforts and international cooperation, Fukushima, which scared Germany right out of the nuclear power business, still isn’t under control.
Of course, the fear mongers are almost 100% wrong. For example, there is water leaking out of storage tanks at Fukushima but it is very lightly contaminated water that has no chance of measurably increasing the radioactivity of the harbor right next to the plant, much less the entire Pacific Ocean. In another example, Professor Kuperman’s grad student is correct; nuclear plants in the United States do not have special defenses against airborne attack. However, we have the world’s most capable military and defend the whole country against such attacks. Even if such an attack could succeed, there are far more consequential targets with far less protection.
I gathered some well informed friends for a round table discussion of the communications challenge of addressing the volleys of fact free stories in a constructive, non defensive way. As is my habit, I introduced the concept of shooting at the archers, not the arrows, but I’ll let you hear how everyone responded to that notion.
Guests on the show included:
Ben Heard, director of Think Climate Consulting
Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy and one of the stars of Pandora’s Promise
Meredith Angwin, publisher of Yes Vermont Yankee and director of the Energy Education Project
Suzy Hobbs-Baker, director of PopAtomic Studios and the Nuclear Literacy Project
Will Davis, publisher of Atomic Power Review and frequent contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe
Just in case you are interested in seeing what all the fuss is about, Pandora’s Promise is going to be shown on CNN Films on November 7 and will be available to purchase on iTunes on December 3. There is perhaps no better excuse available at the moment to gather some friends and associates together for an entertaining evening of a film viewing and discussion to help explain your nuclear energy advocacy.
Fukushima Commentary August 24 Japan’s Disastrous Flirtation with Worst-Case Scenarios
The Register – Oh noes! New ‘CRISIS DISASTER’ at Fukushima! Oh wait, it’s nothing. Again: But hey, let’s soil ourselves repeatedly anyway
New Scientist – Should Fukushima’s radioactive water be dumped at sea?