Friends of the Earth (UK) considering evidence regarding nuclear. May change long held position
Mark Lynas has published a remarkable interview with Mike Childs, the head of policy, science and research for Friends of the Earth UK. The article includes a full transcript of the audio interview so that people cannot claim that Lynas has taken Mr. Childs’s views out of context.
The bottom line is that FOE UK – the organization that nurtured such famous antinuclear activists as Amory Lovins – is considering a change in its official policy toward the development of new nuclear power plants. The policy shift has not yet been made and the group is still continuing its current campaign against the development of new nuclear power plants, but it is also conducting what Mr. Childs promises will be a thorough academic review. That review will be conducted by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Manchester.
Childs claims that FOE UK is an evidence based organization that whose highest priority is taking action to avert the potential damage that would come from continuing to emit our current quantities of greenhouse gases.
If that is a true statement, I am pretty sure that FOE UK will come out strongly in favor of new nuclear power plant construction as an important tool in the fight against climate change. Here is Mark Lynas’s concluding paragraph:
I do not want to suggest that a reversal of the anti-nuclear policy is more likely as an outcome of the policy review than a restatement of the existing policy – I have no insider information here, and Childs was at pains not to speculate. But the mere fact that such an open-minded exercise is being carried out at all is surely a great credit to Friends of the Earth’s current leadership given the dangers involved in any possible challenge to green orthodoxy on the nuclear issue. However, as Childs concluded, policies should always be re-examined, “because the world is changing and evidence is changing” – and Friends of the Earth is an “evidence-based organisation”.
Watch this space.
If they, unlike other green-groups, are big enough to swallow their pride and admit that, then my hat’s off to them. I hope they speak to this renown Japanese author who’s getting accolades for a six-million signature petition to stop nukes in Japan to “protect the children” and cleanliness of life over there. I wonder whether he’s aware that it was a wave not nukes that hurt (any) people and whether he’s visited any children’s respiratory wards lately knowing a good percentage is from fossil fuel pollution over the ages, not to speak of the soft “grime” such plants blanket nearby cities with. Mr. Author’s either ignorant or a hypocrite.
I hate to be a cynic, but part of me wonders if this is just a well-orchestrated PR campaign, so that when they re-confirm their current anti-nuclear position, they can present it as having gone back and taken a “fresh look” and re-confirmed that nuclear power is “too dangerous”.
I’m with Jeff. This looks more like posturing than any considered attempt to change course. The problem is that groups like this lack the broad control over their general membership to turn around on big issues like this, without at the very least, causing schism, which would ultimately lead to dissolution.
Leopards do not change their spots
So FOE is running short on cash, need another sales drive, since most funding comes from Fossil Fuel graft filtered through Foundations and giant anonymous donations from Fossil Fuel barons. Great idea, threaten to become pro-Nuclear and blackmail their Big Oil sponsers into coffing up more cash. The ENGO scam is getting pretty crowded nowadays, they are springing up like terrorists in Iraq, riding the Big Carbon gravy train. And it has branched out into much more than just anti-Nuclear. Vested Interests, most likely OPEC, are financing ENGOs to oppose Canada’s Tar Sands, especially exports to China, and the Keystone pipeline to refineries in the Southern USA. Ten’s of $millions are being funneled into native groups to oppose pipelines through British Columbia and any Tanker traffic to China. Most of the cash is laundered through secretive Foundations, in some cases Foundations for Foundations, and the bonus is that these donations are not only kept secret but are Tax exempt. And many of these Foundations are Oil Baron Families like the Rockefeller Foundation and the Pew Foundation.
Latest is OPEC has decided that Fracking damages the water supply so should be banned. Look forward to big, fat donations to ENGOs opposing Fracking as well. Pretty obvious what is going on if the donations are made up front, so they go to great lengths to keep the graft secret.
You are right on many levels except the one that has given up and believes that fossil fuel money always wins.
There are plenty of people who are harmed by the way that the vested fossil interests spread FUD in an effort to maintain market share and market prices. My favorite solution is to gain enough support from energy consumers – including large industrial companies that would benefit immensely from a supply of clean, affordable, abundant energy – to build enough nuclear plants to drive down the market price of oil, coal and gas.
It would not take that much additional nuclear power to shift the market dynamics enough to reduce the funding streams available for the deceptive NGOs.
A coalition of internet data centers would be a good start. These places are going to become (or perhaps already are) large enough for their own power plant.
I think the UK has crossed the tipping point with regards to nuclear power. They felt the warmth of natural gas when Russia cut off the supplies a few years ago in mid winter.
Also, I must stress that UK’s Lynas and Monbiot are doing top of the line journalistic work. Top of the line. They both impress me. Monbiot more than Lynas, but both off the charts.
We see none of that journalistic quality in the US.
Wait … they’re having the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to do an academic review of nuclear technology?!
Oh, this is definitely a facepalm moment. sigh
You would’nt want them to consult nuclear expert at Fairewinds Associates, would you ?
Jean – I’m not so sure that the results of a Fairwinds review would be all that much different from what we’re going to see in the Tyndall Centre review.
Let’s just say that I’ll take back by criticisms the day that FOE contracts with a group of nuclear engineers to review the current state of Climate Science.
Rod – thanks for the post. Brian – I had to go look for the Tyndall Centre to see where they’re coming from. By the look of things, you’re dead right. Tyndall seems to be only able to “re-examine” existing nuclear reactor technology and systems, instead of looking at the broader sweep of reactor types and what can (and should) be done with them.
I looked for the word “nuclear” in the Tyndall website’s lists of journal papers and technical reports, and came up empty. There are two research projects listed, SPRING – Sustainability Assessment of Nuclear Power: An Integrated Approach and
Nuclear Energy as a way of providing low carbon, secure heating services for the UK which seems to examine cogeneration from existing power plants.
Friends of the Earth (UK) aren’t casting their information net very widely, it seems. Still, it might be a toehold.
Organizations like this will not just flip sides, their membership would say “What the ????”
But, Maybe something good, could come out of this.
From their point of view I would hope they would say something like the following:
We can support new nuclear with the following improvements.
1) Invest in Gen IV reactors with passive safety systems, especially Molten Salt Reactors, Baroness Worthington supports this.
2) Improve the regulatory process to support Small Modular Reactors and new reactor types. (This is mostly a US problem, UK ?)
3) Remove the ban on reprocessing spent fuel, but have non-proliferation safe-gaurds in place. (Does the UK have a ban?)
4) Burn current & new spent fuel waste in these modern reactors. Do not create any long term waste (ie. > 500 years)
These organizations fight CURRENT nuclear technology, thinking any new reactor technology cannot be better or safer or cheaper. I believe our current reactor technology is stuck in the aircraft equivalent of the DC-3. It was a great airplane (Some are still flying) but it has its limitations. Nuclear needs the aircraft equivalent of the Jet engine. (I think its the MSR). But we need the public and political will to develop these technologies that could provide the better future we know it is capable of.
If we can turn these organizations that are against nuclear power into forces to fix the problems with current nuclear technology, politics, policy. We might stand a chance.
Angela Merkel has changed her stance on nuclear at least 2 times since being the head of Germany.
I give her 2 months to do another 360.
I recently gave both Japan and Germany 12 to 18 months, but I guess I am pessimistic!
I think this news from Mark Lynas is meaningful and promising.
I see this kind of argument sometimes: “If nuclear is so great, then why are major environmental groups fighting it for all this time?” There are many ways to react to that of course, but simply linking to this story about FoE is definitely not the worst way!
All the best!
Japan is already restarting their reactors.
@ Brian :
Japan is already restarting their reactors
The press has talking about 2 reactors coming back online soon as per Noda’s approval.
However, according to Daily Yomiuri, Ohi 3 will restart first in early July, followed by Ohi 4 and then Ohi 2 in late July.
That is 3 reactors!
My comment posted at 8:19 is visible on the site at 8:20… Sometimes it goes fast and sometimes it takes a couple of hours….
Hope this helps
Actually, I think it likely that FOE (UK) is undertaking this review BECAUSE of pressure from their members; a growing percentage of whom are already saying “WTF?!” to FOE (UK)’s anti-nuclear stance. The leadership of environmental organizations are “the bourgeoisie” in this microcosm. They have the cushy, prestigious “professional positions” funded by contributions from “trust funds” of various types, usually traceable back to fossil fuel entities. They have little reason to review their idiotic nonsense except due to pressure from their previously deluded membership.
I agree completely. The rank and file of organizations like FOE tend to be bright, caring people who are recognizing the cognitive dissonance inherent in trying to maintain both an antinuclear stance and solve the very real and pressing problems caused by a continuing addiction to burning massive quantities of fossil fuel.
Fossil fuel risks include not just climate, but risks to clean water from fracking, risks to mountains from explosive mining techniques, risks to harbors and bays from spills, risk of war to protect access to resources, risk of economic disruptions due to price fluctuations, risks to lakes and rivers from acid rain, risk to sensitive individuals from small particles, and risks to residents living near large, high pressure gas pipelines. (There are probably some that I have overlooked.)
In contrast to those very real risks that result in current negative impacts or deaths, antinuclear leaders have been trying to market the message that we should be very worried about the distant potential of contracting cancer IF we are exposed to radiation – which almost NEVER leaks out of power plants. Sure, Fukushima leaked a lot more radiation than anyone expected or is used to seeing, but that “large” amount of radioactive material still did not hurt anyone. I put quotes around large because the total mass of radioactive cesium that has people so concerned amounts to about 100 kilograms or less.
That mass is spread over a large enough area so that it will never harm anyone.
You can fool some of the people some of the time. You can even fool most of the people some of the time. What you cannot do is to fool all of the people all of the time. Eventually the truth wins. Perception is NOT reality, no matter how many times the advertisers tell you it is.
Hear Hear! This is very insightful, thanks Paul Wick and Rod.
Rather than criticise and doubt the FoE or the Tyndall Centre, I should think that nuclear experts, promotors and blogger should offer their support to Tyndall right away, by offering to review working documents, serve as expert panel for questions, etc, etc.
I think this study by Tyndall of itself could be another (rare) prime opportunity for again making heard the strong argumentation for safe, clean and abundant nuclear power. If this report is going to be what it is supposedly going to be, then it could be a watershed for the whole environmental movement, like Mark Lynas correctly notes IMHO. It could start a ‘chain reaction’ vapourizing the whole anti nuclear effort from those groups!
All the best
Sadly while I am sure your description accurately describes some of the rank and file, most of them are not like that at all in my experience. Modern environmentalism has really become a religion, and has far more in common with a religion than it does with providing realistic solutions. Typically the dogma is that wind and solar are the saviors and nukes are the devil. While of course there are some environmental factions and adherents that are pronuclear, sadly most are not. They are not largely because the Church of Gaia is constantly spewing all kinds of anti-nuclear disinformation and fear mongering about Fukushima, I was one of its disciples until a few years ago when I started thinking for myself and doing real research.
But their alternatives are dangerously disconnected from reality. Take for example where I live, the state of Oregon. 3/4 of our electricity comes from our network of dams, which provides inexpensive and reliable electricity. But, the environmentalists want them all smashed up…..and replaced entirely with their annointed Saviors. In addition to that they want to push “conservation” schemes which are really just Energy Aneorexia.
And it gets worse, they also have been trying to push for expensive “sustainability” white elephants such as the Oregon Sustainability Center Portland State University has been trying to build, despite their constant complaining of not having enough money and tightening budgets. http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/06/sustainability_center_at_psu_r.html
And it gets even worse. The Church of Gaia is very heavily embedded into our education system, where they prey on the naive youth to get more recruits into the church. Recently I’ve been aranging to take a term’s worth of vocational training at Portland Community College. What I saw was shocking: It was sustainability everything, green this and green that with wind turbines in the background. Their propoganda machines are working doubly hard.
And if all that wasn’t enough there’s still the stunning scientific illiteracy in the population, which continues to fuel converts to the Church. With that in mind I am fairly pessimistic. so I’ve come to the conclusion that as soon as possible I shall move to the moon and enjoy the abundance of nuclear energy. Just because those silly Earthers want to starve themselves of energy doesn’t mean we Lunarians have to.
@illumined, good comment and very true. But the truth is these enviro-wingnuts would remain a fringe group, laughed at and ignored, were it not for Big Carbon has found them to be “useful idiots”. So they are financed by 10’s of $billions in graft, mostly siphoned off the extraordinary difference between Oil production cost, often < $4/ barrel and the Oil selling price $100-$150/barrel. Tax man doesn't get his hands on that graft.
Sure … do you have Kevin Anderson’s phone number? I can’t seem to find it in my Rolodex.
I’m sure that a guy who is on the record saying, “We can easily deal with climate change without nuclear power” is going to love hearing from me.
After decades of destroying their own credibility with their anti-nuclear propaganda, they would become an advocate that still had no credibility.
“There are three things that come not back; the sped arrow, the spoken word, and the missed opportunity.” – Arab Proverb
The UK has definitely turned pro nuclear as a society.
From Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change Charles Hendry
“The key is market reform that creates conditions for such long-term investments. We will remove barriers that may prevent investments. There is strong bipartisan support for further nuclear investment in the UK. Our country’s support is broader than in most others. Parliament recently decided to back development of two new nuclear reactors. 520 representatives voted for, only 20 against,” the British Energy Minister says.
Poland is to follow along with the Czech Republic. Finland is moving ahead and so is Sweden.
Germany is really miffed big time on Poland and the Czech Republic.
Some change is beginning to percolate up through the haze of radical enviro. orthodoxy.
The recent incarnation of Rockefeller, JP Morgan eugenics program of past sponsorship for U.S. organizations like The Sierra Club are beginning to weigh on the political nouveau Left and its doom cult of Climate Change, DDT and Nuclear science unsubstantiated fear mongering. As Zubrin points in his book, “Merchants of Despair” the ideas of war, austerity & scarcity as necessary precursors in an effort to de-populate is really just criminal anti-human behavior.
Rod, dunno if you’ve seen this yet, but I saw over at NEI Nuclear Notes that FOE UK has issued a press release basically stating they have no intention of changing their position on Nuclear Power, apparently even if the “Report” suggests otherwise (although, since FOE is paying for the report, I suspect it’s setup in such a way that the customer will get what they want). You should probably update this article, or do a followup, about this:
Thanks for the update, Jeff.
From the link to the FOE site:
… as long as the “evidence” is provided by a group whom we trust to be sufficiently ignorant and biased to tell us what we want to hear.
Ignorant for 40 years and damn proud of it!
What a bunch of clowns! And some people actually fell for this nonsense! Geez!
Poor Lynas. When will he learn that he needs to drop all association with the cretins? Wishful thinking will just leave you disappointed every time.
I think the Tyndall Centre could provide a great surprise yet. There have been other studies recently, comparing the ‘climate change prevention potential’ of all the various energy options, and nuclear has come out very good everytime, at least as good as wind an solar. It only takes a small step to consider the difficulty of scaling-up wind and solar versus the ease of scaling nuclear, and you have a conclusion that favours new nuclear build. I am still having some good hope that Tyndall will come with such a conclusion.
Interesting that you can all sit back and comment from the comfort of you homes outside of Japan. I challenge anyone of you big mouths and propaganda junkies to spend 1 week at my wife’s B&B in the Fukushima area and tell me how you feel at the end of the week. TEPCO’s spin doctors have fooled the Japanese Government and the world at large again. If there is another natural disaster or simply the failing of the ramshackle repairs on the structure supporting the spent fuel rods, no place on earth will be safe from the fall out. The northern hemisphere will be first to reap the invisible cesium cloud. Have you all forgotten that the winds took radioactive material across the Pacific and dumped it on the US just days after the disaster. Just imagine the horror when levels 5000 times higher hit your shores in the US.
So wise bloggers, who should the people of Fukushima back? A collection of nuclear experts, journalists and concerned activists struggling to be heard, or TEPCO with its history of cover-ups and incompetence oh and of-course a lot of powerful rich Japanese business men looking to save face?
Time to wake up everyone, lets get this fixed before its too late for all of us.
Last time I looked at the radiation emitted from the reactor outside the gate at Fukushima Plant it was approx 330 microsieverts/hour. Very high. Tokyo was 0.5 microsieverts/hour, very low, similar to background radiation levels.
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