Helping “The Sky is Pink” go viral

THE SKY IS PINK by Josh Fox and the GASLAND Team from JFOX on Vimeo.

I am unapologetic about my support for developing more nuclear energy so that we can use less fossil fuel. Methane is a valuable, naturally occurring, fuel source, but extracting it at the rate that oil and gas marketers desire is not as safe or as beneficial to the long term health of the world’s human population as using more nuclear energy instead.

The battle against nuclear energy is strongly supported by people who would rather sell something else to energy consumers. Though there are important health and safety aspects of the discussion, the underlying motives are similar to what they always are in a major business decision. Money and political power play a key role, but the rest of us do not have to bow down to the oil and gas guys.

As you watch this short film, remember that Governor Cuomo, the man who is pushing to allow fracking of the Marcellus Shale in his state, is adamantly opposed to allowing the continued operation of the Indian Point Nuclear Power station, a source of the energy equivalent of about 350 billion cubic feet of natural gas every single day. The electricity coming from Indian Point, however, comes with none of the risks of gas drilling and none of the pollution caused by burning the gas for power.

About Rod Adams

39 Responses to “Helping “The Sky is Pink” go viral”

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  1. Johan Simu says:

    To be honest I don’t see much difference between videos like that and the typical anti nuclear videos one can find on youtube. Nicely edited, sufficiently spooky and of course horribly slanted. Why would pro nuclear people want to spread the same type of FUD that the “greens” are spreading?

    It’s far more interesting to know what the geological society of america is saying, or the USGS etc. I don’t know what they say. But I do know the for instance that the royal society along with the royal academy of engineering find it safe if regulations are followed.
    http://www.nce.co.uk/fracking-safe-if-guidelines-followed-says-review/8632375.article

    • DV82XL says:

      Unfortunately in any propaganda fight one must fight fire with fire. Part of the reason that nuclear energy supporters have be ineffective is that they have laboured under the assumption that because they came to see nuclear energy as the right path through pure reason, the rest of the world could be made to see it too the same way. This is just not the case and our opponents have known this since the beginning. This is why they have been so effective in getting their message out, while we still struggle.

      Rob Gauthier

      • Daniel says:

        @ DV82XL,

        I hope Gates and Branson will start acting upon some sort of advertising blitz for SMRs. They understand the game and they have the resources. And with Branson on board, eh, maybe you’ll get the nuclear babes you have been dreaming about !

      • Johan Simu says:

        I see your point but I don’t fully agree. One can not fight emotional resistance with pure reason as you say, I 100% agree. But I don’t think one should try to scare people away from a competing energy source using the same tactics as the anti nuclear crowd has used to scare people away from nuclear. In essence that would be a tactic that would require us to make people more scared of everything else than they are scared of nuclear.

        I don’t see natural gas as an enemy (even if they have funded anti nuclear opposition etc) because natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and every coal power plant shut down and replaced with natural gas is a win for the environment. If countries shun fracking and shale gas due to movies like gasland and people like Josh Fox it will be a loss for the environment and a win for coal. If gas conquers production shares from coal I celebrate and I sincerely hope the shale gas “revolution” will come to Europe as well, that would be a hit both on Gazprom and on coal, win-win!

        I understand of course that cheap gas makes it hard to build new nuclear. But that simply shows that nuclear has to become cheaper. Regulations has to be made more streamlined and construction methods have to be improved. Fighting gas doesn’t accomplish either objective.

    • Daddeldu says:

      I second that. The piece is a terrible propaganda film and Josh Fox is a notorious liar.

      If you want to know if you are watching a propaganda film, listen to the background music. That is the tool with which they manipulate your emotions.

      About Josh Fox and the facts:

  2. James Greenidge says:

    Re: Cuomo:

    Crazy! The latest New York State tourism PSAs are constantly featuring windmills (just where ARE they here??) as part of the scenic attractions of the state, but of course not one glimpse of any of our nukes, yet Indian Point supplies over 40% of NYC’s juice. Is this thankless energy bigotry or what?

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  3. ondrej says:

    It is rather interesting that all those opponents of the short movie do not attempt to actually dispute it or present an argument other than vague slander.

    • NickL says:

      Ondrej,

      The only vague slander is in the video. Josh Fox can’t connect the dots; he just serves the information in a very crafty way. The dots are: some percentage of well-casings have failed; water supplies have been polluted; some people can ignite their water; the gas industry has the same PR firm the tobacco industry had decades ago; cancers occur where fracking occurs. This is the “argument” (if you can call it that) made in the video.

      Of course in the long history of drilling, well-casing have failed. What engineering endeavor is flawless? If a one-inch concrete casing cracks, does that mean the entire aquifer has been destroyed? Some water supplies have been polluted by the long list of chemicals (“plastics, carcinogens, neurotoxins…”), but watch the video again. It’s only implied this is due to fracking. A person lighting their faucet on fire is great eye candy, but it’s hardly a scientific argument. And why does it matter what PR firm the gas industry hired? This is classic guilt by association. The cancer argument put forth in the video is just silly. It’s the old “correlation=causation” fallacy, plain and simple.

      Do you hear Josh Fox’s hushed tone like he’s telling you a secret? Do you see documents and numbers flying by faster than you can examine them? Do you hear the music rising and falling? Those are not part of a logical argument, they’re there to “nudge” your perceptions toward the implied conclusion.

      I am not trying to excuse the natural gas industry of its problems (real and hypothetical). I am just a skeptical guy that has yet to see a smoking gun. And, I do think fracking *could* be hazardous and environmentally damaging. But this video does not demonstrate that conclusion. This video is FUD.

      I am unconvinced that natural gas is destroying drinking water supplies, but this issue appears to have the public’s attention. I wish there were more attention focused on the air pollution, CO2, and explosion hazards due to natural gas. Those are reasons enough to advocate nuclear energy over fossil fuels. We needn’t succumb to thinking the enemy-of-my-enemy (i.e. Josh Fox) is my friend.

      Nick

      • Rod Adams says:

        @NickL

        The “enemy of my enemy” is my friend is the theme that several Fox critics have offered on this tread. They imply that because Fox is using communications techniques that are similar to the ones that have been used against nuclear energy, I should be more sympathetic. at least one also implied that because Fox is a liberal, I should disregard his criticism. (I had to delete that particular comment due to other inappropriate language.)

        The fact is that I am a liberal. I have no love of the fossil fuel industry, though I have been a longtime, unapologetic customer. I think that oil and gas companies should stop doing a half-assed job of protecting the public from the risks associated with drilling. If they were paying the full cost of their operations, there would be no artificially low gas prices holding down the needed nuclear revival.

        • Johan Simu says:

          I don’ think one has to have any love for the fossil fuel industry to be skeptical towards Fox.

          If on one side there is Fox and on the other there are prestigious scientific institutes like the Royal society etc I will tend to trust in the later, due to my own lack of education in geology.

          If I had no education in radiation protection or nuclear engineering I would make the same judgement when it comes to Caldicott vs say the American Nuclear Society or the Health Physics Society.

          I know nothing of Josh Fox, what is his background? What is his expertise? Why should one trusts his words? All I can find is that he has a BA from Columbia University, but no where can I find in what subject he focused.

          If something sounds like FUD and looks like FUD it is pretty likely that it is FUD.

        • Brian Mays says:

          Johan – According to the Summer 2012 issue of Columbia Magazine (published by the Columbia Alumni Center and featuring a picture Josh Fox on the cover), Fox majored in theater at Columbia. It also mentions that, as a theater major, he studied Shakespeare with Shakespeare-scholar Edward Taylor.

          It all fits: long on showmanship, short on science and technical understanding.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian Mays

            So what is wrong with using showmanship to highlight issues and ask questions that the industry would prefer to sweep under the rug or dump into streams and rivers?

            Are you implying that only people with science degrees have a right to comment and to provide access to documents that were apparently created by people with science and engineering backgrounds?

            Fox is not claiming to be the expert. He is sharing information that he found in a way that does not bore people to tears. I think his techniques are worth studying and even emulating in certain circumstances. Pronuclear advocates have as much to learn about showmanship and communicating to mass audiences as anyone. In fact, it is likely that we can learn as much from Fox about his area of expertise as he can learn from us about ours.

        • Brian Mays says:

          So what is wrong with using showmanship to highlight issues and ask questions that the industry would prefer to sweep under the rug or dump into streams and rivers?

          Gee Rod, why are you asking me?

          Why don’t you go ask Jane Fonda or Michael Douglas? Or perhaps you can dig up a quote by Jack Lemmon on what he thought about it.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian

            None of them comment on my blog.

            My point is that the world is not run just by engineers and scientists. If we want it to be run in a more logical manner with more correct technical choices, we have to learn more about how to communicate our ideas. We cannot learn that skill from each other.

        • Brian Mays says:

          Rod – And my point is why should I trust Josh Fox any more than I should trust Maryann DeLeo, another documentary filmmaker who, like Fox, has had her work aired on HBO? Hers was Academy-Award-winning work. Fox’s film was merely nominated; although it did, unsurprisingly, win a couple of awards from “environmental” media groups.

          For those readers who don’t know who Maryann DeLeo is, she directed and produced “Chernobyl Heart” about a decade ago. She’s now on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Brian Mays

            The techniques and information sources used by Maryann DeLeo for “Chernobyl Heart” seem to be entirely different than those used by Fox. Her production is also a lot less interesting – I only managed to make it through the first 11 minutes before I had to take a break and get a cup of coffee.

            So far, there has been nothing but innuendo, a segment with what look to be quite healthy teenagers, one of whom cannot talk because she just had throat surgery and heart rending segments from inside a children’s asylum. I have a hard time thinking that anyone could believe the statement that there was no need for such a facility before the Chernobyl accident. Does anyone think that birth defects were unknown before 1986 or that the area near the damaged reactor is the only place in the world where they occur today?

            It was also amusing that immediately after the narrator warned everyone in a van to keep their masks and hoods on, the next scene was the narrator talking with her mask off pointing over to the Chernobyl reactor complex from a distance.

        • Brian Mays says:

          The techniques and information sources used by Maryann DeLeo for “Chernobyl Heart” seem to be entirely different than those used by Fox. Her production is also a lot less interesting – I only managed to make it through the first 11 minutes before I had to take a break and get a cup of coffee.

          Rod – Are you kidding me? So your argument is that Fox is better because he has more entertaining propaganda. Is that it?

          I didn’t figure you for one who would think that something as important as an energy policy or public health should be based on one’s attention span, or lack thereof.

          For what it’s worth, I only managed to make it through the first 5 minutes of the video that you have posted here before I had to take a break to puke, because Fox had jumped the shark and compared his target to tobacco companies.

          And his source? A “councilman”! Wow! That’s freak’n convincing. Then again, this politician does manage to get in some scary words like “radionuclides” and “radioactive waste water,” but it’s still pretty sad. At least DeLeo could have called on a long-standing, high-profile US congressman (from Massachusetts, you know who I mean) to make the same types of damning claims and statements against the nuclear industry. Fox and his sources are small-time.

          In the next few minutes of the clip, Fox instructs us that we should never trust an industry has hired Hill & Knowlton to do PR for them.

          Oh wait! I’m sorry, I work for an industry that has hired Hill & Knowlton and you do to, Rod. The NEI hired Hill & Knowlton to help launch its CASEnergy Coalition campaign, staring Patrick Moore. You remember him, don’t you? You used to like him.

          So far, there has been nothing but innuendo …

          That describes “The Sky is Pink” perfectly. Notice that Fox never manages to provide any convincing evidence that the inflammable tap water of Mr. Markham (the poster child of Gasland) was due to the gas industry rather than naturally occurring shallow methane leaching into the local well water. His only refuge from the criticisms laid on his film is to duck into innuendo, vague references, and cynical retorts.

          Keep on drinking the Koolaid if you want to. The more that I learn about Fox, the more I’m convinced that he is just a second-rate liar enjoying his 15 minutes of fame.

  4. Mike H says:

    Relying on Josh Fox to bolster an argument is a bad idea. He is the equivalent of Helen Caldicot but instead of the nuclear industry being the target of his misrepresentations, distortions and outright lies its the gas industry.

    Just like Caldicot claiming that TMI caused 10,000′s of cancers across Pennsylvania, Fox claims cancer rates around gas drilling sites has exploded. Well, guess what, both are lies. And just like Caldicot, he’s taking a page from the anti-nuclear playbook and exploiting the public’s fears of radiation.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Mike H

      Have you visited a drill site? Are Fox’s images somehow misleading regarding their industrial nature or their large amount of land disruption? Are you claiming that gas extraction is not hazardous and does not result in a large quantity of pollution?

  5. Mike H says:

    Josh Fox is a quack and charlatan. To the gas industry he’s every bit an empty suit as Helen Caldicot is to the nuclear industry. Just like Caldicot claimed 100,000’s of cancers from TMI, Fox claims there are spiked in cancer from gas drilling. Just like Caldicot, they have turned out to be BS.

    I thought there would be more skepticism about Fox around here considering hes taken a play from the anti-nuke crowd and is exploiting the public’s fear of radiation with trumped up claims of radiological contamination I flowback water that no one has been able to confirm.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Mike H

      The difference is that I know Caldicott is lying about nuclear energy, while at least some of what Fox says about natural gas extraction matches reality. People really die when gas explodes. Chemical really do contaminate drinking water supplies. Drillers really do leave messes behind when they have extracted all that they can from a well.

  6. Daniel says:

    I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games yesterday.

    My first comment is that I am totally against having barred the greek female triple jumper from participating in the olympics after she had made racist comments. She is a &?!# and so what. She qualified and game on.

    My other comment is more related to nuclear energy. It was shown yesterday how coal supported the industrial revolution in the heartland of industrialisation – England.

    In 100 years from now, when the games will be staged in China for the 3rd or 4th time, nuclear power plants (GEN II and above) will be revered for the cheap power and clean air they provided. It will be stressed that in same period lunacy invaded the western world with power plants based on wind, solar and anything but the atom. Lunacy.

  7. donb says:

    Watching the video, I see all kinds of “information” flying by at breakneck speed. I then grow suspicious that what is being presented is misleading or taken out of context. No industry, not even nuclear, is perfect, and never will be. There is a price to be paid to have a technological civilization. We could avoid the risks of this civilization, but we would wind up in a worse place for it.

    Having said that, it is clear to me that nuclear is safer and cleaner than natural gas. I would rather see coal-fired power plants being replaced by nuclear power plants, instead of gas turbines as is happening now. Natural gas has its uses — plastics, fertilizers, chemicals, process heat for some applications, motor transport. Promoting its use for power generation (except intermittent peaking) and domestic space and water heating is promoting the waste of a valuable resource.

    I want to see good science done. Doing good science is hard work. Good science is not “slick” like the video. Such videos are easily the bread and butter of the anti-nuclear types. For as much as we might want to fight fire with fire, in the end, doing battle like this has only limited positive results, at best.

    • Rod Adams says:

      How do Fox’s video techniques compare to the 30-60 second spots that the gas industry has been playing repeatedly on television?

      Does he give any less information than they do? Do the gas companies release technical details about the risks of their efforts or do they just tell us “don’t worry, be happy” that prices are low?

      Sure, it is not a science paper. So what?

    • Twominds says:

      Well, it is a link of a kind, but not as I had in mind. It’s an article in the Rolling Stone about the amount of carbon we still can put into the atmosphere without horrendous consequences, and the much greater amount that’s in the known reserves in the earth.

      You can follow it in my previous post, but I try again to get it more neatly here.

  8. Ciccio says:

    Check this out:
    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/30/business/ge-chief-nuclear/index.html
    Not Gundersen or Caldicott talking, it’s the chief executive of General Electric, Jeff Immelt.

    • Brian Mays says:

      “It’s really a gas and wind world today,” said Jeff Immelt.

      Wow, you mean the chief executive of the company that purchased Enron Wind in a fire sale ten years ago and has been making good profits from building gas turbines for electricity production since 1949 said that?

      Who’d’a thunk it?

      • Ciccio says:

        Brian, if i come here and post a link to a piece of news i found on the net is just information.
        I added my personal consideration below the link about who’s talking for a reason that goes beyond the information.
        This is my point of view: when a CEO of a big corporation (i think GE can be called that) says those things you can read in the article it causes an effect; an effect that is much bigger than what could be caused by you, me or Rod Adams.
        I don’t wanna imply that mr. Immelt is “better” than you, me or Rod Adams; i just mean that people usually gives some more “credibility” to the CEO of GE than to me.
        I don’t know much about GE’s involvement in gas turbines; does it still have that partnership with Toshiba for building nule power plants?
        Excuse my english, it’s not my mother tongue.

        • Ciccio says:

          Sorry for the typos :)

        • Brian Mays says:

          Immelt is practically the poster child for crony capitalism.

          Yet even after being appointed the head of current administration’s “Jobs Council,” he still managed to become disgusted with Obama’s failure to throw government money his way.

          Immelt’s words aren’t worth anything, unless you’re into favors, earmarks, kickbacks, and other sleazy dealings. Frankly, I’m rather glad that he is critical of nuclear power, because it indicates that nuclear is still outside of the crooked game of government favoritism exploited by natural gas and renewables, which is nothing more than a waste of the public’s money (Solyndra anyone?).

          I don’t know much about GE’s involvement in gas turbines; does it still have that partnership with Toshiba for building nule power plants?

          GE is partnered with Hitachi, not Toshiba, when it comes to nuclear technology. Toshiba owns Westinghouse. In the past, GE sold some of its technology to Toshiba, who replaced the remaining proprietary equipment with its own designs. Ironically, in recent years, Toshiba had been better at selling GE-based nuclear technology (the ABWR) in the US market than General Electric.

          This shows you that, when it comes to the new reactor business, GE’s heart just isn’t into it and hasn’t been for a while.

    • Joel Riddle says:

      I don’t find those comments from Immelt to be too surprising, considering how many gas turbines and windmills GE sells. Also, note the following from the linked article:

      “Analysts estimate GE’s nuclear revenues, from a joint venture with Japan’s Hitachi, at an estimated $1bn, or less than 1 per cent of annual global sales.”

      I do recall reading something a few months ago about GE projecting rather significant growth in their nuclear revenue over the next several years, however.

  9. Atomikrabbit says:

    Windmills and turbines burning fracked methane go together like polio and crutches. The only business opportunity they have missed is a cat food franchise for the dead bird collectors.