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36 Comments

  1. At the beginning of the paragraph about 2/3 of the way down the posting:
    It is not likely that he was the person that Yergin described as a “wealthy Texas oil man” sent to visit with Kind Saud in September 1956.

    That would be King Saud.

  2. Rod Adams wrote:
    Not surprisingly, several people have already dismissed me as a “conspiracy theorist”, including @nirsnet.

    At root, conspiracy means breathing together. Let’s call this ‘group think’. I don’t think that having a group of people who think in similar ways is easily dismissed. Quite the contrary. There are many people who stand to make a lot of money from selling fossil fuels. Most of them can see that nuclear energy is a competitive threat to their livelihood. Making life difficult for your competitor is a normal part of business.

    It is not necessary to put a bunch of people in a room for a planning session in order to have a conspiracy.

  3. “It is not necessary to put a bunch of people in a room for a planning session in order to have a conspiracy.”

    If they’re not communicating with each other, or have not planned together and cooperated then it is not a conspiracy.

    However, what appears to be a conspiracy could easily be an emergent behavior arising out of the simple self-serving actions of many separate uncoordinated entities.

    This type of apparent “cooperation” appears in nature all the time, but is actually made up of individuals acting out their very simple programs in a way, which in the aggregate appears coordinated and complex.

    The reality regarding the anti-nuclear movement is probably some combination of emergent behavior and conspiracy. As Rod points out, it is almost absurd to assume that rich and powerful interests never communicate with an eye to cooperation on mutual interests. In general though, the antis are probably not coordinating, but they will certainly build on each other’s actions, and observe and copy things which may seem particularly effective.

    1. Bah. I need to do a better proof before posting. The word “all” after “probably not” and before “coordinating” in the fifth paragraph would be closer to the meaning I intended.

  4. As the NYT obituary you citedmakes pretty clear, Robert O. Anderson sounds to me to be an iconoclast, a person who’s ideas, activities, and interests cannot be easily categorized into neatly compartmentalized placeholders: “environmentalist,” “callous capitalist,” “climate-denier,” “anti-nuclear,” “oil barron,” “philanthropist,” etc. Environmentalism ended up being a major part of Prudhoe Bay history and Alaska oil pipeline development (some credit placing pipeline above ground to effectiveness of environmental opposition, and on good technical merits too). He argued for smaller government, and higher taxes on industry. “Mr. Anderson stood out as perceptive, unpredictable and outspoken.” I don’t see any earth shattering contradiction or incongruity between his wanting to see his business succeed, interest in environmental issues, and using his significant funds to bring greater awareness to issues that he felt were important matters of the public interest (presumably by funding organizations, not coordinating their policy actions and objectives, as a private citizen).

    Is this really any different from someone like John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil for US operations, who now heads a NGO advocating for energy efficiency, sustainable environmental policies, and greater public awareness and education on energy issues. I’m not aware of him being opposed to nuclear (he typically argued for broad ranging and diverse energy investments to meet rising global demand), and he also held positions on companies significantly invested in enrichment and defense contracting (and stakes in nuclear power).

    I don’t see where funding an independent organization with a Board and an activist leadership necessarily involves subversive policy coordination and ulterior motives. And yes, I feel to suggest as much does start to sound a great deal like conspiracy. As a humanist, why isn’t the answer much more simple: he’s a successful businessperson and a human being. Are these two things really all that irreconcilable?

    1. @EL

      I’m not implying subversion. I’m stating that commodity suppliers often work to restrict new supply and bad mouth their competitors. Clever ones who understand PR often use proxies. What’s controversial about those statements?

      Of course, these concepts might be foreign to an inexperienced grad student.

      1. What’s controversial about those statements?”

        That you imply cynical ulterior motives to someone who has an interest in environmental causes (FOE spans the gambit from environmental justice, sustainability, public health, education, climate change, food security, oil and gas development, social justice, etc.), and attribute this to a single cause (anti-nuclear self-interest).

        I’m not sure what you mean by “inexperience.” Are you suggesting someone has to be involved with astroturfing (corporately funded “grassroots” media campaigns) in order to have the skill and experience to recognize them? FOE doesn’t seem to be one of these organizations, with significant share of public sector and foundation support, and neither does the work of David R. Brower (who was involved in many environmental, conservation, and social development causes). Most people who make these one time donations just want a little bit of notoriety and influence (and perhaps be invited to some of the same parties and social network opportunities as their friends). I hardly see any evidence for a coordinated corporately branded media campaign here funded by oil industry dollars. Are you suggesting as much, or agreeing that Anderson was a bit of a strange duck who liked to spread his money around (and enjoyed some of the unusual attention and notoriety for doing so)?

        1. @EL

          People who have spent little or no time making payroll, meeting sales targets, speaking to investors, making sales calls, or any of the hundreds of tasks associated with building a successful enterprise (or empire) cannot fathom what people will do to increase sales.

          Anderson was no oddball. He was the CEO of one of the largest oil companies in the world for a couple of decades. He was the president and later the Chairman of the Aspen Institute. He founded the John Muir Foundation.

          His support of FOE as a focused antinuclear organization that later diversified its product line was obviously related to his desire to operate an increasingly profitable business by ensuring sufficient demand and lucrative prices. Nothing wrong with that focus – other than the fact that his prosperity harmed billions of other people.

  5. “…he’s a successful businessperson and a human being. Are these two things really all that irreconcilable?”

    In the eyes of anti-nuclear activists, these two things are irreconcilable only when the business person is a pro-nuclear human being.

  6. Of conspiracy. The NRC chairnan has Fukushima high on her worry list. The évacuation zones are being lifted but you need an excuse to make sure that no COL for new nukes will be issued during her tenure.

        1. Well… Fukushima is “Spewing” (as the media likes to say) Water into the Pacific at a rate about twice that of a Garden hose. One report I read said it was an Olympic Sized Pool a week going in to the ocean.. but no reports on how much radioactive material is actually in the leaking water.

          1. Apparently either none, or about none.

            In this recent Tepco document,
            http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130722_07-e.pdf
            we see on page 6 that the radiations just in front of the buildings in the space that is tightly separated from the sea are stable in the 10-100 Bq/l range, and on page 7 that the level in the open sea, near the entrance of the port are barely detectable, between 1 and 10 Bq/l.The notification level shown on the graph is 60 Bq/l.

            Also even in the tight space where the radiation are detectable, the level is stable, not raising, despite some random oscillation without any specific pattern, and much lower than it was in 2011.

  7. Rod – If conspiracies are the products of fevered imaginations, why to prosecutors always throw in the charge? It seems to me that most crimes are committed by two or more people working together and not informing others of their plans. Isn’t this the very definition of conspiracy? The “conspiracy theorist” label is too often used by those that don’t want to confront uncomfortable contradictions to their world views. Yes, there are crazy, unsupported conspiracy theories but many historical events were undisputed conspiracies:

    – Assassination of Ceasar
    – Assassination of Lincoln (other simultaneous coordinated targets)
    – Watergate
    – Iran-Contra
    – Assassination of Arch-Duke Ferdinand (multiple coordinated attempts that same day)

    The Council on Foreign Relations has been funded by oil and banking interests since its inception. Its current headquarters in NYC is known as the Harold Pratt house after the oil executive who donated it to the council. Without getting into the details of the goals of the CFR (both the Right and the Left have done good work on this issue) it is my opinion that the CFR is generally hostile to nuclear power since it would enable nations to be more energy independent as well as have a rudimentary infrastructure for developing an independent nuclear weapons capability. One thing the CFR does not like is independence. If people are slaves to energy scarcity, they are easier to control.

    1. @FermiAged

      If people are slaves to energy scarcity, they are easier to control.

      That is one more reason why freedom loving leftists and environmentalists should be natural nuclear advocates, especially for smaller systems that may one day be truly “backyard nukes.”

      1. I am a freedom loving rightist and a believer in environmental stewardship, and I am a natural nuclear power advocate. It’s the one industry that demands personal accountability and individual accountability through and through.

        1. @Paul Primavera

          We both agree that freedom loving people are the natural allies of nuclear energy. It is the most amazing gift given to us by our creator – or by Nature for the people who are uncomfortable with the word God.

          Humans can choose to be free or slaves; we are enabled by all of the tools we need.

          1. If God Didn’t Want Nuclear Power
            He Wouldn’t Have Invented Delayed Neutrons

          2. If God Didn’t Want Nuclear Power
            He Wouldn’t Have Invented Delayed Neutrons

            Very funny, but very geeky; I doubt that one in a thousand would get it.

          3. I think that goes:

            “If God didn’t want nuclear energy, She wouldn’t have allowed neutrons to be moderated”. Think that’s more precise.

          4. You can have nuclear power without slow neutrons, as in all fast reactors – but without the delayed fraction you would only have bombs.

            As far as the He/She, both are right (and wrong).

          5. Rod, I heartily concur. I have come to dislike describing myself in political terms of right versus left, or libertarian versus statist, or conservative versus liberal, or republican versus democrat. My views don’t fit into a nice box tied off with a bow string. But one thing is certain: constraining the energy supply by over-regulating nuclear energy into non-profitability makes people dependent in the long run on politicians and the corporate executives who support them on doling out the resources – including energy – necessary to live. This is the end result of corporate socialism (it’s NOT and has never been the free market), and both political parties in these United States have been equally guilty thereof.

            As for delayed neutrons and moderation, they are an inevitable result of the mathematical laws inherent in the design of the cosmos – an intelligent design to be sure (and I use that phrase without the baggage of my Christian fundamentalist friends to whose views with all due respect I do not subscribe). We humans are responsible for using the things of nature (such as uranium and thorium, as well as coal, oil and gas) with responsibility and accountability. We have been given brains and supposedly we are sentient. We should act as such instead of dumping (like wild, irresponsible baboons) fossil fuel toxins willy-nilly into the environment, and expecting the laws of physics will somehow become suspended so that solar and wind energy can actually work for a large scale technological civilization. Magical thinking and believing always results in disappointment. God doesn’t do miracles when we’re the ones responsible to act intelligently.

            As for the Higher Power (as we say in 12 Step Programs), technically “He” is without gender, being outside of space and time, and independent of matter and energy. I no longer worry about weighty questions such as that because I have enough to take care of: my two children, my job in nuclear energy, and what my Bishop tells me to do at Church. I think I’ll leave the theology to those better equipped to handle it than me (e.g., Sts. John Chrysostom, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas), and focus on “neutrons ‘R us” instead. 😉

          6. @ Rod – agreed. I am not going to get excited about politics or theology any longer.

          7. Paul – Thank you for being not only one of the one-in-thousand that can understand the physics behind my little bumper sticker, but one of the one-in-a-million that can expound the teleology of it! 😉

    2. Well, finally, FermiAged spills into the open what should be obvious.

      Its not about competitive energy pricing or “clean” energy or..its about getting rid of those bleeping deadbeat bankers and restoring sovereignty. Nuclear enables such…solar panels and windmills do not. The reams of various parasites (leftists, enviros, politicos, etc) in our so-called society selling out couldn’t care less if one city after another declares bankruptcy. That was the plan all along. Hello debt slave, are you listening?

    3. On a similar basis, how much is the opposition to GM food driven by people who want to ensure that third-world countries remain dependent on imported food (and are thus easier to control)?

  8. The most disturbing thing to me is not that oil and gas are fueling Green Group anti-nuclear activities as is their right, but that these groups are vehemently not coming clean that this is happening. It would change the whole PR and public nuclear receptiveness were this marriage widely know. That it’s hushed up so even by the most unorthodox and “renegade” mass media creates the conspiracy that the public ought wonder about. The willful psycho-engineering of public opinion and political policy by manipulating — or omitting — facts by the organs of the media should be a major concern in any venue.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  9. Circa 1950. TO THE END OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM by James A. Dewar

    I think what Rod is touching on is the continuation of battle royal between technologies and the industries they’ve built and huge Gov’t subsidies both enjoyed in the day:
    Electrical/nukes -vs- petro/chemical/gas giants influencing the ‘Dr.Strangelove’ movie like era that was the ICBM propulsion competition between nuclear propulsion and the inferior performing chemical propulsion for ICBMs & submarines . Many national labs, companies, States and even politicians lined up on different trenches of this battle.
    This ‘energy source’ battle between petrochem and nuclearelectric cast a long shadow, it still survives to this day in N. America.
    The outgrowth of this wasteful battle has restricted space exploration and newer commercial nuke demonstrations in the US. I’ve always sided with Rod Adams on the issue of Oil Money used in subterfuge against the nuclear industry this is legend.
    Russia the other empire choses a different strategy & to play a balancing act between the two competing energy sources. It needs nukes to build-out communities to spread out it’s population base and economy since Hydrocarbon is always dependent on the continuous movement of fuel to power manufacturing/processing energy transfers. Nuclear on the other hand can go years with re-fuel and is an independent energy transfer source. Recently Russia has invested in mobile barge SMR’s to power remote areas w/ power for raw resource processing. I would say their mixed energy use is a better strategy for economy, baseload energy use & shows less pressure on environment.

    1. @Bruce

      I’m fascinated by the apparent contents of Dewar’s book. I just read some reviews and then started searching to find a copy. They are few and far between, with used books in “acceptable” condition selling for $299.00.

      If you or anyone else has a copy that they would be willing to let me borrow, please use the contact button at the bottom of the page to get in touch with me so we can make arrangements.

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