1. I agree with most of this post, except the last statement: Nuclear energy has also not yet lived up to its promise. Personally, I wasn’t holding the technology itself to any official obligation of perfect safety or Strauss’ “too cheap to meter” sound-byte. I’d rather say it hasn’t lived up to its full potential.

    Maybe I’m picking on the semantics too much, but when I hear people say things like “nuclear never delivered on any of its promises”, it really grates my nerves. It’s an argument setup for building a case of failure because it doesn’t meet some nebulous promise of energy utopia. No promises were ever made or implied but plenty of hope and hard work has been put into nuclear energy by a lot of good people. And it did deliver what it was designed to do: produce emission free electricity.

    Focusing on the positive, nuclear has delivered more clean kWh’s than any other energy source (at least in the USA I believe). That’s not a disappointing result. That’s a resounding plateau of success that could be built upon to reach an even higher plateau. It reached this level despite setbacks and opposition. The same cannot be said for intermittent weather-based sources despite being coddled by governments all over the world. A big difference based solely on technical efficacy.

  2. First not many here will be surprised that FOE isn’t changing their tune – it was too good to be true from the beginning.

    Nor should anyone buy into the theory that FOE is an “evidence based organization” when it come to stated core values. The only evidence that motivates the leadership there is what sort of posturing brings in the most donations and nothing else, the common member is unable to evaluate evidence at all if it doesn’t support their existing prejudices.

    In the fight for nuclear energy there may be the occasional individual that crosses the line to our side, but the entrenched antinuclear organizations never will.

  3. For what it’s worth, Rod, I had hoped you’d be right about FOE and the study. We still have to see what the study will “find”, but I suspect it’ll find what FOE expects it to find – carefully hand-picked “problems” of nuclear plants without considering the solutions that people have already invented, and present those “problems” as much greater than, in reality, they are.

    What’ll be really interesting is if the Tyndall Centre actually produces an honest, fair report and forces FOE to ignore the evidence, but I don’t hold much hope for that.

    In the end, all we can do is point their rank-and-file members, and the public at large, to other studies and sources of information which tell the FULL truth about nuclear power. Then hope we can pull enough of the membership out from under those organizations, and persuade enough of the non-member public to decide those organizations are just wrong, to effectively undermine them.

    1. I think Tyndall will like to do a good job, that does real justice to the subject matter. But I also think that Tyndall will need outside help. I encourage nuclear experts and bloggers to contact Tyndall and offer them freely of their knowledge, and pointing them to the best, relevant blog postings, papers, etc, that touch all the bases.

      I think both Tyndall and FoE really are about facts, but a nuclear turnaround of an organisation like FoE is obviously not something that is easy to do cleanly. They are ships that need time to turn, or risk losing their passengers overboard I guess. Perhaps Mark Lynas threatened that turning process too much with his ‘jumping the gun’ story. (BTW I agree with Mark’s posting: time is becoming a factor, so it is worth pushing some things though by creating a stir sometimes.)

      I think the latest message from FoE does not completely close the door on a nuclear turnaround of that organisation. But it has probably shut-up the ‘paparazzi’ from the pro-nuclear camp for a while and ‘calmed the troops’. Nevertheless, to all concerned it will be clear that something significant is afoot. No?

  4. Unbelievable!! I know each organization has its own “Facts”, But how delusional can these people be. No fossil fuel plant has ever been shut down due to this huge investment in unreliable renewable energy.

  5. What’ll be really interesting is if the Tyndall Centre actually produces an honest, fair report and forces FOE to ignore the evidence, but I don’t hold much hope for that.

    No, not likely. Did it ever occur to you that Tyndall Centre was deliberately chosen by FOE because of the substantial bias supporting their ideology that exists there?

    Just look at the record — for example, this article in The Guardian, which reads:

    New nuclear power stations would do little to combat climate change, according to a leading expert who has hit out at what he calls the “abysmal” standard of debate on the issue in the UK.

    Kevin Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said claims that nuclear power was the only way for Britain to meet demanding greenhouse gas targets were fundamentally wrong. He said: “That argument is way too simplistic. We can easily deal with climate change without nuclear power.”

    Anderson was remarking on this paper, “Climate change or nuclear power — No thanks! A quantitative study of public perceptions and risk framing in Britain,” one of the few journal publications on nuclear power ever made by the researchers at the Tyndall Centre.

    Keep in mind that Anderson is the manager of the Tyndall Centre’s Energy Pathways to Global Decarbonisation Programme and was a co-investigator responsible for this report, released last year: Sustainability Assessment of Nuclear Power: An Integrated Approach.

    If you want to know what the FOE-commissioned “review” will look like, I’m sure that it will look very much like this report. The take-away line for the FOE people will be, “In very low energy consumption futures, the nuclear option is not essential.” And so, they will claim that they have “reconsidered” nuclear power and, once again, decided to abandon it.

    1. Then the focus of pro-nukes should be to encourage Tyndall to consider *at least* also the consensus energy demand growth rate where every human being on average has access to 7000 kWh of reliable and affordable electricity per year, at the same cost that was typical during the history in which developed nations came to their current wealth and civilisation. There will be no way to achieve that without nuclear energy if all the costs and limits are properly incorporated.

  6. I’m pretty sure that FOE regularly attacks the nuclear industry whenever there is major growth in recent monetary investment. When this happens they usually call it cost overruns.

  7. Have to wonder, just what is FOE & GP and their ilk doing to get across and THROUGH to so so many people that grass-roots nuclear advocates aren’t? We need to sip that water!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  8. As I said in a previous post . . .
    Credibility counts. If they didn’t have it yesterday, then today is no different.

  9. “For the last three years more money has been invested globally in clean energy than conventional fuels. ”

    According to Bloomberg’s tracking of renewable expenditures since 2004, if the money wasted to date on wind and solar (35 and 85 cents a kwh) with low efficiency gas backup producing less energy and more GHG’s than if the wind/solar was just skipped and high efficiency gas used instead, had been spent on nuke power the world would now be coal free saving a million lives annually from coal air pollution. The US alone would be saving a half trillion or more annually on indirect damages from coal consumption.The impeding warming precipice would have be moved back 50 years or more potentially saving billions of more lives.

    Without gas or hydro backup and its enormous subsidy in money and blood of innocents, there would be no wind or solar.

    It is Impossible to penetrate the thickness of the fevered religious zealot with facts contradicting their faith based dogma.

    1. Nice. Luckily, we shouldn’t need to worry about the thick fevered zealots? They will be marginalised if the middle group can be persuaded to give nuclear the benefit of the doubt, rather than the handicap. That is what Rod and other nuclear bloggers are about, I should think.

  10. I see no reason to come to hasty conclusions on the FOE (UK) review. Of course DV82XL is correct to describe the motivations of the leadership of such fact-averse, pseudo-green organizations as less-than-honest scientific inquiry. It seems that blackmailing their anti-nuclear (often fossil fuel) donor base is one plausible vector, among others, making up the resultant “review”. But the process is complex. Monbiot and Lynas have apparently shifted “Green” public opinion in the UK in the last year since Fukushima. This shift, I would bet, is part of the underlying pressure behind the “review”. Of course the Tyndall Center is a crock. But the “review” is going on outside this arena too. And the review involves such things as a wide audience being schooled by the discussion posts that follow the Mark Lynas blog piece. I think it is possible that some FOE types are being exposed to robust, pro-nuclear arguments for the first time there. As for the FOE leadership, I suspect their Pandora’s Box has been opened.

    1. There’s another reason I won’t pass my judgement yet. Childs said in the interview with Lynas that FoE’s policy will not be changed before the results of the review.

      I think the article on their site is just to make clear to everybody that ‘business as usual’ really hasn’t been suspended.

      Another possibility is that Childs has been too outspoken and now Bennett is trying to limit the ‘damage’.

      I think it can still fall both ways.

      1. Second that.

        Cannot repeat it often enough: pro-nuclear experts should offer close assistance freely in digging out the details and maximising the exposure of all the critical positive arguments, while providing all the (often far more complex and subtle) information that allows a full and sound appraisal of all the negatives.

        I think there is a real opportunity here. I regret I’m not myself an expert that could contribute to this.

  11. I’m tempted to repost my previous comment about environmentalism on the last FOE thread, but it’s un needed. The Church has again refrained from reform and is still proposing unrealistic solutions that hopefully will not be fully implemented. I say hopefully because I think eventually, as this nonsense continues, many of its disciples will figure out that “lower energy consumption to Year 2000 levels” is really code for “permanent recession and massive expansion of poverty”.

    The personal checkbook usually wins out over dogma. Sadly that means more nonsense for quite a while. In the meantime shall we move to the moon?

  12. A look at the growth in global coal consumption does not suggest wonderful progress in “renewable” energy.


    An increase in coal consumption of 50% in a decade. How is that supposed to give rise to optimism?

    Fossil fuels are knocking the pants off of any other energy source. There is no renewable energy transition, it exists only in the mind of ideologically distorted organisations such as FOE.

    1. @Cyril R

      That is one more datum that indicates a successful deception campaign is the true root of most well funded, mainsteam pro renewables (aka unreliables) groups.

      I really do not believe there are that many delusional people in the world, but I do believe there a a large number of people who can be purposely deceived by skilled marketers.

  13. I think that you are perceiving the role of this organisation, and the dynamics of its change incorrectly.
    FOE is just a street performer, playing the tune that they know how to play, and picking up coins from the people who like what they play. Don’t criticise them for that, the chances are that you, or the organisation that pays your bills, behaves similarly.

    Change will not come from a given performer learning to play a different tune, but from the increasing popularity of the different performer, playing a different tune on the other side of town.

    Supporters of nuclear shouldn’t focus a jot of energy putting down FOE. Wait for the tune on the other side of town to get popular; when FOE sadly notes that the days scant takings can’t cover the repair bill on the rooftop solar, and the only people who give freely are either stuck in habit or reminiscing the soundtrack to a happy dream gone by, FOE may on their own accord pick up the songbook and learn the new tune.

    1. @Andy B

      The “organization” that pays the bills here is quite small and identifiable. His name is Rod Adams. There is no other source of funds used to support Atomic Insights; I pay the hosting bills and write the primary content (and get a lot of help from people who are interested enough in the topic to provide their own thoughts). I do get some amazing web development help from Jason at a rate that is far below his normal fee.

      I am fortunate enough to have a good job, but also fortunate enough to be living in an era where communicating to a wide audience is dirt cheap. I spend less every month on Atomic Insights than I do for a single meal out with my wife – even if we choose to eat at a chain restaurant.

      Preferences for tunes do not change automatically – it takes some amount of effort for new performers to develop and market new tunes. (There is no doubt that rooftop solar has enough disadvantages to unsell itself once someone has direct experience and pays true costs, but the knowledge of its foibles can be obscured for a very long time by its bright and shiny nature and excellent marketing for people who do not look very hard at reality.)

  14. @ Rod,

    William Tucker had a chat Bill McKibben at a solar festival in Vermont. McKibben is the founder of the 350 Movement and drove Jimmy Carter’s old solar panels to the Obama White House.

    Tucker and McKibben discussed about nuclear being emission free. McKibben simply answered :

    “I understand what you’re saying,” he said. “But supporting nuclear right now would split this movement in half.”

    I do not think that FOE is about to change stance. There has to be some other form of motivation like getting financing or something of that nature.

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