Joe Romm, the lead thinker at Climate Progress, has once again exposed the fact that he is not terribly serious about fighting climate change. In fact, he is so casual about the effort that he wants everyone to dismiss nuclear energy out of hand as being too expensive to matter, without even thinking about trying to solve the often solvable issue of cost.
If the television manufacturing industry adhered to Joe’s understanding of cost control, we might all still be looking at large, flat screen TVs with longing lust instead of having watched their prices drop rapidly into the affordable range.
Of course, so far, the nuclear industry has done a bang-up job of not controlling costs. We have cooperated in a long term effort to burden our amazing technology with so many cost-increasing features that we have priced ourselves right out of the market. In the process, we have done as much or more as the antinuclear opposition to make the world a dirtier and more dangerous place.
Joe’s latest rant about the high cost of nuclear energy came in a post purposely aimed at discouraging his followers from going to see Pandora’s Promise. He has not bothered to watch the movie, but he apparently feels qualified to offer a “resounding no” to anyone who might be considering investing just 90 minutes of their time to gain a new and useful perspective on one of the most important topics of our time.
I strongly disagree with that recommendation. You should see the movie and you should take all of your friends to see the movie. You should organize outings to encourage strangers to see the movie. It is an valuable contribution to a vital discussion.
Here is the comment I posted in response:
Unlike Joe Romm, who lives in Washington, DC, where Pandora’s Promise is available to any remotely curious reviewer for an $11.50 ticket, I have made the effort to actually watch the movie.
I had to travel from Lynchburg to DC to do so, but I thought it was worth the effort so that I could write intelligently about the experience instead of just parroting other points of view.
Robert Stone might have creatively decided that his movie was not about costs, but about ideas and potential, but it seems kind of petty to criticize a creative effort merely because it did not talk about the topic you wanted it to talk about.
Pandora’s Promise includes frequent allusions to the scale of the challenge of changing our energy supply system and to the scale of the investments required to build new nuclear plants and develop a new nuclear supply system. His protagonists might not be elected leaders of establishment Environmental organizations, but that does not mean that they are not caring, concerned environmentalists who honestly care deeply about the fate of the planet.
Many reviewers have claimed that Stone “mocks” the opposition, but his technique is merely to film them and allow them to speak for themselves. He does not limit his footage to classic reels of ’70s or ’80s vintage “No Nukes” concerts, but also shows very current assemblies with leaders like Wasserman and Caldicott at the microphone. He even tries to let Dr. Caldicott explain herself and her position. I am not sure how that qualifies as “mocking.”
My wife attended the movie with me. She is an environmentalist with a degree in biology who worked for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for several years. We both recycle, we care about clean air and water, and we have a deep interest in leaving a better world for our children and grandchildren. She thought that the movie was well done, but asked me if Lynas and Stone were really as sure about nuclear as some critics have implied. It was her impression that they were still wishy washy in their support.
My recommendation to all of you – watch the movie with your critical thinking caps on before you dismiss it.
BTW – Joe, I will agree that nuclear power costs too much and that the “industry” is more at fault than the opposition. For too long, we have used the excuse that people are afraid of radiation. We have hiddem a lot of excessive costs (and generous salaries) behind the mantra that it is not yet safe enough and we have to spend even more money to make it safer still.
We need to change and to recognize that the public deserves access to abundant, affordable, RELIABLE power that is acceptably (not perfectly) safe.
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Nuclear energy professional