1. This is the same phenomenon that CAMECO have discovered in their annual surveys of the publics perception of the Uranium industry in Canada.

    Respondents will often say that (in private) they are supportive, but then when asked what they think their neighbours (sorry for the “our” I prefer the Queen’s English) think about Uranium in Canada they say they don’t like it. However the overall attitude towards Uranium in Canada is positive in the majority. The perception does not match the reality. This is something I have seen time and again when surveys on Nuclear power ask these two questions. People think everyone doesn’t like the industry when in actual fact they majority do like it.

    Usually there is a 30% pro core, 30% negative core, and the rest don’t care until prompted to pick a side. Even then there will still be about a 10-20% undecided portion.

  2. I think you’re mostly correct here, Rod – most of the public doesn’t have strong feelings either way. Support for and opposition to nuclear by and large tends to be fairly shallow; the exception is the “deep” anti-nuclear sentiment tends to run stronger than the “deep” pro. (i.e., a greater share of those opposed – although by no means a plurality – are stronger about those feelings – than on the pro side.)

    One point I’d argue though is that I still think people’s fears matter quite a bit, even if it is for people who have a weak (or barely extant) opinion. While you and I would both love to see a society that enthusiastically embraces nuclear technology, I think at the very least there needs to be a (even if weak) reservoir of goodwill and trust – which we don’t have right now. And it matters precisely for things like Coles Hill (i.e., the uranium mining project) – namely because that “weak” sentiment can be easily turned as latent political pressure (i.e., even if they don’t come out and explicitly make themselves known, a general “temperature” of opinion more supportive of nuclear – even if generally apathetic in nature – provides a lot more political cover for politicians to do the right thing.)

  3. Interesting. I had a discussion this weekend about what the real challenge in energy is. The challenge is to move public opinion concerning nuclear *before* things like damaging blackouts or energy price spikes occur, let alone the effects of climate change are to stark to ignore. How to do that? Even while I think energy is a fascinating subject, like you I have come to realize that for most people the subject seems completely irrelevant and utterly boring. This will only change – I think – when the subject becomes a problem that nobody can ignore any longer.

    One thing that can work educationally is blackouts. In my work, we’ve had some positive enquiries lately about nuclear energy from a small island state we’ve done some business with. We have tried to interest this small state in the (small)nuclear options years ago, but we were rebuffed then ‘because they had already decided to use solar and wind energy, so they were not interested in nuclear’. But now that they have built their large windturbines and solar panels (~20% penetration), the island has been rocked with serious blackouts whenever the trade winds die down, sometimes for weeks on end. It is this direct experience of what ‘intermittency’ actually means on the ground, that has probably prompted this state to enquire about nuclear after all. Still, it would have been better if we had been able to convince them before they suffered their blackouts! But how!?!?! The subject is difficult to fully grasp for some of our own engineers, let alone most of our customers!

        1. I didn’t find anything on “Cook island blackouts” except for islands which don’t supply power at night.  Aruba had some news articles.

          1. I’m not going to reveal which it is at this point since everything is highly premature and obviously sensitive. However, the nuclear powering of island nations has been in discussion of and on for decades, since the application of nuclear seems such a no-brainer in this case. Rising oil prices in combination with the growing difficulties of reaching significant penetrations of renewables supports nuclear build, but fear of radiation, and the fact that island nations tend to be more dependent on tourism (and therefore are extra careful about their image to try to support tourism) and the fact they their economies are fairly used to high prices for pretty much everything (not just energy) means that nuclear power is never going to be a ‘no-brainer’.

            Still, the particular island(s) I’m talking about would be able to save more about 100 million dollars per year by switching from diesel and fuel oil to nuclear power electricity production and seawater desalinisation). This is a figure which is high enough to cause interest. But the thing that has pushed it this far does seem to have been the experience with blackouts even at limited penetration of about 20% renewables.

            By the way, I should say the penetration is actually probably closer to 10%, since this 20% concerns the amount of nameplate capacity installed as a percentage of stable supply.

          2. the nuclear powering of island nations has been in discussion of and on for decades, since the application of nuclear seems such a no-brainer in this case.

            Well, aside from issues of scale.  Hawaii, for example, had an average electric load of 1.14 GW in 2010 (10,016,509 MWh retail sales).  There’s no way to put an AP-1000 or even a smaller GE BWR on a site like Hawaii and still have enough other generation for spinning reserve.  You need units that are minuscule compared to current practice, somewhere between Big Rock Point (67 MWe) to the mPower (180 MWe).  While naval reactors are around this size range, nobody sells them for commercial electric generation.

            Rising oil prices in combination with the growing difficulties of reaching significant penetrations of renewables supports nuclear build

            It does, if you can get the unit size down far enough and sell enough of them.

            I’m curious about the difficulties, though.  A few years ago, Aruba got a fairly famous wind farm with Dexia helping to swing the financing and a second phase in planning almost immediately after the first went live.  I did not find anything about blackouts.  Diesel generators seem to lend themselves to use with wind, because they can not only be kept as spinning reserve but used as dump loads for excess electricity using exhaust brakes or compression-release cams (“Jake brakes”).  Blackouts would appear to come from planning or operations errors, which are fixable at least in principle.

            If you can share any white papers, I’d be fascinated.

    1. May I suggest convincing the decision-makers and key stakeholders of that island state to go public with you and share their experiences? As more and more of these ephiphanys occur, there may be more and more affected people prepared to bring their stories to light.

      Even if they ultimately don’t commit to nuclear power and revert back to fossil fuel, their journeys can act as a warning to those who have made similar presumptions on the viability of renewable energy.

      1. We are not that far along in the process. Not by a long shot. We’re not even really out of the gate. All I can say is that at least one person with significant influence has stated to me that the nuclear option is on the table as far as he is concerned, the first time I have heard a top executive say that since Fukushima. Up to now, typical responses have ranged from ‘we are not interested in nuclear, because we have committed to ‘ or even ‘you are evil, nuclear power is out of the question’. That is still a long way from where there are going to be official announcements about how the current paradigm of ‘100% fossil-free (and nuclear-free)’ is going to be ‘re-evaluated’. For one thing, even while top officials may believe a ‘deep green’ plan was always unlikely to be achievable even in the best of times, that does not of course mean that they will get up and act on that belief. Why take the risk? Despite the cost and difficulties, it is usually politically convenient to simply ‘go with the flow’. Of course, when the very real costs start to come in (both financialy and otherwise), the politics do start to change and that is what I think I have seen occuring in this particular case.

  4. Something more inspiring?

    Since August 2012 the Curiosity Rover has operated 24/7 performing a series of high energy tasks with complete dependability. Its done so well in fact NASA recently extended its mission indefinitely and now plans to use its backup radioisotope thermoelectric generator on the next (2020) Mars mission.

    The power systems on Voyager 1&2 are operational as Voyager 1 is is now expected to be the first man-made object in interstellar space. ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18458478 )

    In my mind nothing can top that. Nuclear power will dominate our future if we are to have one. Nuclear fear has no place in it.

    1. Amen! we can only hope the current environment where nuclear power is being displaced by currently inexpensive oil and gas energy and aging nuclear facilities is also able to survive the current political climate. Let’s try to use commercial nuclear power facilities to produce the Plutonium 238 NASA so despertely needs to help both the commercial nuclear power industry, and to let NASA continue its truly amazing ability to explore our solar system …and beyond. We at AREVA have some great ideas – hopefully NASA has been listening and will begin to show interest.

      1. Oh I think they have and there is some incredible stuff being researched:

        NASA: A Nuclear Reactor To Replace Your Water Heater

        a low-energy nuclear reactor (LENR) uses common, stable elements like nickel, carbon, and hydrogen to produce stable products like copper or nitrogen, along with heat and electricity. ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2013/02/22/nasa-a-nuclear-reactor-to-replace-your-water-heater/ )

        I think I understand the concept but I hope they talk about it here.

  5. In my career as an instructor, it has been tradition to separate cognitive (knowledge and skills) domain from the affective (attitudes / beliefs / values) domain.

    The public at large, lacks a large knowledge base on nuclear energy, and that’s our fault.
    The program was born in a tradition of secrecy and involves esoteric technology. We need to bring the knowledge level up so that the public can have informed FACT based DECISIONS.

    Left without facts, the affective domain rules. The void is the playground of the anti-nuclear movement. They need only stir “beliefs” and “feelings” about nuclear power, with a facade of technical confusion to provide credibility camouflage. Unable to formulate informed decisions, the default is to adopt FEELINGS and BELIEFS of others.

    Therein lies the enemy.

    It is not the anti-nuclear blowhard.
    It is the low information public.

    We need to teach technically accurate facts about nuclear power, and I think Rod does a great job. We need to bring the public to the control rooms and simulators.

  6. Perhaps my web site, Skyscrubber.com, will provide a second reason to reconsider nuclear. Skyscrubber is calling for as many as 30,000 small high temperature reactors.

  7. Yes, I think you state the problem well, and it will become ever more difficult as drilling technology continues to improve. Getting people to think positively about nuclear power is a daunting task when fossil fuels continue to be extremely competitive with much lower established infrastructure costs (it is simply easier to finance projects that cost less up front).

    Nuclear power will be in the background for some time, until it becomes more “glamorous”, simpler and cheaper to implement.

  8. No, you don’t wait for the masses to be concerned about a problem till the martians are landing on Jones Beach. You want attention? You do “take down” Ads and PSAs that aren’t sheepish of freakless about showing respiratory wards of tubed up and wheezing children around the world from fossil health and environmental/accident impact — and DEMAND antis trot out legions of victims of nuclear power. People in glass houses, antis! Do the good, bad and ugly route. You strut out RAW images of ravaged mountains and forests from windmills and countryside and sea vistas murdered horizon to horizon by giant whirligigs.(anyone recall the “Hellstrom Chronicles”?) You perch LOUD Geiger counters in the middle of Grand Central Station and subways and schools your kids go to to compared with Fukushima neighborhoods. Pandora was simply not brutal enough, not revealing enough, not comparative enough in raw victim and damage from fossil fuel accidents and use. You shove cameras in from of pol faces and out loud where do you stand on nuclear — and why! You expose the hell out of the UCS which the media will NEVER do to their darling. I can go on and on but the quick get my gist. Again, you don’t wait for the public to see the dragon before they yell out for any white knights. You go after them to clear your name and concept ASAP. A hard successful PR lesson Tylenol learned long ago.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    1. But who’s going to do that, James, and who is going to fund it? Nuclear doesn’t have a paid, professional public advocacy organization.

        1. Please read the NEI Membership roster (link at

          While there are many “nuclear only” organizations listed, the chairman and many of the board members are electric utility executives; further, I expect that such companies provide the bulk of the funding that supports NEI. These people are in the *electricity* business and they burn coal, they burn gas, they burn uranium. They have windmills and solar panels. In other words, “all of the above”. They sell electricity to make money. They are not nuclear zealots, any more than they are coal or gas zealots. Don’t expect them to show pictures of their stacks belching carcinogenic smoke on TV to explain why their nuke units are such a great idea.

    2. I think it may be difficult to get people to watch that kind of blatant propaganda (unless you broadcast it in advertising slots, which would greatly add to the cost).

      What about a conspiracy thriller about greedy fossil fuel execs plotting to sabotage the rise of nuclear power?

      1. The film isn’t propaganda. It wasn’t funded by the nuclear industry nor did it have an emotional arch over reason presented. It doesn’t qualify as propaganda. I somewhat resent that characterization, especially if you haven’t seen the film.

        1. “Blatant propaganda” was a reference (and a descriptive rather than a pejorative one) not to “Pandora’s Promise”, but to what James Greenidge was proposing.

          1. Re: “Blatant propaganda” was a reference (and a descriptive rather than a pejorative one) not to “Pandora’s Promise”, but to what James Greenidge was proposing.”

            Well, it might be blatant but was any of what was mentioned untrue? Unlike antis, the nuclear advocate doesn’t have to spin any numbers or “ifs” or “maybes” or “might happen” and wild Doomsday speculations out of thin air to cite our case. We got rock solid reality and historical records and research and empty hospital radiation wards and just plain physical laws to buttress our case. If it was another industry, such evidence certifying your safety and efficiency would win you public favor hands down. Yet, antis can get away with turning fact like a pretzel the most positive proof you have in your favor into a gullible negative! i.e. Nuclear energy is proven unsafe and bad because of _the catastrophe that almost happened_ at Fukushima! Say what?? Nuclear energy is unsafe and bad because nobody was hurt and surrounding communities at Fukushima are unscathed after a rare natural and part-fluke (by insufficient seawalls) worst case accident -3x- over??? So yes, maybe a down and nasty film pitting fanciful fears vs certified facts are in order to grab the public’s attention or at least create some useful controversy! Such FUD and mud-slinging sure helped the antis royally get over. Any YouTube pro-nuke Spielberg/Mike Moore wannabes out there want the challenge and fame?

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

          2. “Propaganda” doesn’t necessarily mean “lies” — for example we call the “Why We Fight” films propaganda, even though they mainly just exposed the aims of the Nazis and the Japs (often using footage from their propaganda films!)

  9. …Or American Nuclear Society… American Physical Society… Health Physics Society… Institute of Nuclear Materials Management… International Radiation Physics Society… American Atomic Workers Union…

  10. Anti-nuclear sentiment comes from a variety of directions: high cost, long approval and construction times for facilities, a general fear of radiation, fears of a nuclear catastrophe, fear about the long term storage of spent fuel, fears about nuclear weapons proliferation, and resistance from the fossil fuel industry that nuclear power could make their trillions of dollars of investment greenhouse gas polluting fuels as extinct as the fossil life they originally came from.

    From the other side, however, most pro-nuclear advocates are extremely timid about what they want nuclear power to do in the future. They seem to have a rather wimpish “we just want to fit into the electric energy mix” attitude instead of a far more positive and assertive attitude “nuclear energy is the safest, cleanest, and the most economically efficient solution– to all of our energy problems” which it is!

    The nuclear age has arrived. And its not going away because nuclear energy and radioactive materials are essential to a high quality of life in a first world society. Those nations and societies that most fully embrace this new age will be the most prosperous in the 21st century. And those that don’t will suffer the harsh economic, environmental, and social consequences of their reluctance.

    Marcel F. Williams

    1. “The nuclear age has arrived. And its not going away because nuclear energy and radioactive materials are essential to a high quality of life in a first world society. Those nations and societies that most fully embrace this new age will be the most prosperous in the 21st century. And those that don’t will suffer the harsh economic, environmental, and social consequences of their reluctance. ”

      Yes, and I don’t want the society in which I live to be one that suffers. I like my comfort.

      But there seem to be millions of folks bent on making certain that we do. Sigh.

    2. “The nuclear age has arrived. And its not going away because nuclear energy and radioactive materials are essential to a high quality of life in a first world society. Those nations and societies that most fully embrace this new age will be the most prosperous in the 21st century. And those that don’t will suffer the harsh economic, environmental, and social consequences of their reluctance.”

      There are perhaps quite a few people in the environmental movement who are *not* out to help us provide high quality lives in the first place. In their view, humans are little more than am infestation which can only be stopped from spreading by crimping of the energy supply. They call giving cheap energy to humanity similar to ‘giving a machine-gun to a child’. The very reason that these people oppose nuclear power *is* largely the fact that it would help deliver abundant energy. The general operating and handling issues of nuclear power are merely a tool for them to scare away the ‘dangerous’ human population.They are very different from the people genuinely (if mistakenly) fearful of radioactive emissions from accidents or otherwise, and from the people who are trying to protect their particular non-nuclear business or position of influence, that would stand to lose from expansion of nuclear power.

      I think the nuclear message should also be directed at this group, who need to be explained that nuclear pwoer can give abundance *and* ecological stewardship *and* easing of poverty and geopolitical tensions. No?

      1. @Joris van Dorp

        There may be a few people in the environmental movement who are as misanthropic as you describe. However, I believe they only reach prominence because their message aligns quite well with more powerful people who also like to keep cheap energy away from humanity.

        After all, if you control access to expensive, dirty energy sources, the availability of cheap, clean, abundant energy is an existential threat to your business.

        1. I agree with that.

          I’m not sure it is ‘maybe a few’, though. I know quite a few people even in my own (not terribly large) circle of professional contacts within the sustainability consultancy sector who have clearly stated to me (when asked by me) that energy usage itself is a problem for them, no matter what the purpose of the particular energy use is. In other words, these people expressly claim that not only inefficient energy usage should be prevented or discouraged, but energy use itself.

          As an example: I was on a committee discussing sustainability standards for hospitals, where the participants were actually suggesting that rules should be set up to deny hospitals a high-level sustainability certificate if they have too many energy intensive apparatus such as MRI scanners! I was the only one who firmly said this was nonsense! Really, there are extremely fanatical people out there, acting with unthinking brutality, who seem to have little care for the needs and aspirations of their fellow countrymen, and who are clearly ready to undermine some of the best goods services our high-tech society has to offer citizens, in the name of a highly narrow and regressive perspective on sustainability. Conversely, people who champion the rational usage of energy for providing goods and services to society are few and far between in the sustainability sector, in my experience.

          1. To be sure: the reason that these people accept unthinkingly that energy usage should be crimped is because they expressly exclude nuclear energy from their thoughts. In their minds, energy production is *necessarily* bad for the environment, because it *necessarily* demands either fossil fuels or large amoutns of biomass, and therefore should *necessarily* be reduced, at any cost. Anyway, this is one of the very reasons why I became fascinated with nuclear power, because I see it as a way to convince such people that energy production (electricity production at any rate) *can be* truly sustainable, thereby removing the fundamental reason that they are so fanatically attacking the usage of energy (not merely the inefficient usage of energy). I hope I made myself clear now.

          2. One rather misanthropic participant on a forum which I read (sorry I can’t link — the particular sub-forum was members only) wrote that cheap energy should be opposed because it would merely lead to even bigger population growth, completely overlooking that the greatest population growth tends to be in the most underdeveloped regions of the world.

  11. My wife and I saw it Saturday afternoon in downtown San Francisco. By no coincidence, the theater was in the Embarcadero Center built with Rockefeller oil money.

    There were 6 people in the audience – four besides us.

    My take is that it is a movie about environmentalists FOR environmentalists. Some environmentalists are rational people and good targets for the movie’s message but unfortunately, they are few and far between. As Mr. Brixey noted, most are driven by feelings and social solidarity (ie follow the crowd).

    Fortunately its argument to tie nuclear to global warming/climate change was a minor part of the piece. I’ve long argued against pushing nuclear as a panacea for global warming due to suspicions about the ultimate legitimacy of the movement. If global warming is revealed to be a hoax or a scam, we wouldn’t want to be too closely associated with the issue.

    To the positive, it made very effective use of graphics and graphic images. When discussing the relationship between human energy consumption and human poverty, the scenes of little children playing in disgusting slum conditions made the point perfectly clear.

    This is a movie that pro-nuclear people should invite their anti-nuclear friends to. For all but the emotionally and socially invested in an anti-nuclear crusade, it might work.

    1. ” If global warming is revealed to be a hoax or a scam, we wouldn’t want to be too closely associated with the issue.”

      I wouldn’t worry about that too much. The following national academies agree that the need to address climate change is indisputable (sic):

      Academia Brasileira de Ciéncias, Brazil
      Royal Society of Canada, Canada
      Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
      Académie des Sciences, France
      Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher
      Leopoldina, Germany
      Indian National Science Academy, India
      Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
      Science Council of Japan, Japan
      Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, Mexico
      Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
      Academy of Science of South Africa, South Africa
      Royal Society, United Kingdom
      National Academy of Sciences,
      United States of America


      So people who want to fault the nuclear industry for trying to contribute to addressing global warming are barking up the wrong tree. They need to convince the worlds national academies of science first.

      IMHO Nuclear energy proponents should use the need to address climate change freely and often to support a firm nuclear build-out. We should use a ‘no step back’ approach to defending science as the only trustworthy source of knowledge, including the broad scientific concensus on climate change and anthropogenic global warming.

    2. The science is sound, climate change is real; if powerful sink for CO2 is found or the GG effect/extent has unanticipated feedback it will still stand. Acidification and pollution (esp heavy metals) as well are not going away.

  12. Rod, I’m not sure what you are referring to when you say “wrong target”, is it the audience, the ‘characters’ depicted, or both?

    I thought the movie took the right approach, and that 5 conversion stories about nuclear, while maybe not as “gripping” to some, is the stuff of movie making. Other story line approaches would make a decidedly dull film. That is the challenge of any documentary these days: don’t be dull. It wasn’t a dull film. It took what otherwise is a geeky topic and made it accessible to everyone.

    Perhaps your viewing context tainted your experience some. I got to see it on the Berkeley campus in a fairly packed auditorium with many noteworthy people present including the director, people from The Breakthrough Institute, many UC nuclear engineering professors, book authors,etc. – the crowd alone was worth the visit. After the movie there was a panel discussion. A quick survey of hands showed most people liked the movie and a good portion of those had a change of heart, but then this crowd was pretty packed with nuclear enthusiasts to begin with.

    1. @Jason C

      The wrong target reference is the idea that is popular among both pronuclear people and antinuclear activists that the antinuclear movement was responsible for the virtually killing the nuclear energy industry in the United States.

      Antinuclear activists, by themselves, are too few and too powerless to have had such an effect.

  13. We’re up against ‘Macabre Indifference’: http://prismsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/ … fuels.html

    99.9% of us don’t care where our energy comes from, as long as it’s there 24/7, on demand. If or when political ineptitude threatens brown-outs or blackouts, the screams will go up for a local Small Modular Breeder Reactor. They will be sited near out-of-town retail parks and look a bit like a modest sized supermarket. The working bits will be underground and all you’ll see are a few unimpressive buildings, lawns and trees, with a security fence round it all.

    Our time will come. It would be better if it was politically managed, but even if it isn’t, metaphorical ‘mob rule’ will ensure it does eventually happen very quickly. The era of the breeder reactor is inevitable.

    1. Yes, it’s a good idea but I don’t hear anyone’s state or county taking real-life or even interested orders for any serious future consideration. Maybe overseas but here? I just wouldn’t hold my breath — literally. The SNBR — or any neighborhood nuke (or even the biggies at this point) is NOT going to happen outside a concept model near anyone’s American town until you attack and challenge the media’s and Hollywood’s portrayal of reactors as extremely dangerous and eggshell delicate and inevitably failing devices. The way small gas power units are being shoved out there and even coal is thinking of going liquid to compete with them is quickly relegating nuclear as the grudging last-ditch power source when all the coal and gas runs out. This is a massive failure via nuclear not hawking itself and educating the public to counter nuclear’s bad name from bad movies and biased media. The very last time nukes had a “good” positive image in the public conscious was TV Batman’s nuke Batmobile and the $6 Million Man’s nuke bionic limbs but that won’t fly anymore thanks to antis stepping up FUD campaigns. Superman’s “Nuclearman” (a baddie of course!) aside, you know your image is pretty bad when your opposition can cry that you’re a hazard and dangerous because of a catastrophe that didn’t happen when rare natural superquake wrecks 3 nukes yet no one’s injuries and little outward damage. You know your image is REALLY bad if the public is willing to eat more Co2 and pollution and occasional massively fatal accidents than take your cleaner safer solution! If SNBR/nuclear companies want “in” inside America in any big way they first better hire a good PR educating firm to pave the way to public acceptance long before any concrete’s poured!

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

    2. ” If or when political ineptitude threatens brown-outs or blackouts, the screams will go up for a local Small Modular Breeder Reactor.

      Our time will come. It would be better if it was politically managed, but even if it isn’t, metaphorical ‘mob rule’ will ensure it does eventually happen very quickly. The era of the breeder reactor is inevitable.”

      Why in the world would you think that? The mobs have never even heard of the small modular breeder reactor and if they had, they’d be terrified of it.

      No, what is going to happen is that when the brown outs and black outs start, the folks who have the media upper hand, will claim that we just don’t have enough wind and solar installations. That we haven’t spent enough on our “smart grid”. That the brown out was caused by greedy people who won’t “conserve” enough, and that “smart” meters which let the utilties turn off *your* appliances must be mandatory on everyone’s home.

      Then after we’ve spent another trillion dollars on that and it doesn’t work, they’ll blow more smoke and more mirrors, and the media will never bother to apply a critical eye to the explanations.

      This is what has been happening for the last decade. This is the process which has caused us to waste more than $100 billion on useless wind and solar installations. And this is the process which has worked for forty years to keep nuclear down.

      Why do you think it will change one iota after the brown outs and black outs start? The folks who get put on the media will continue to spew the same story only writ larger (if your lie is in danger of being exposed, make it into a bigger lie). They’ve been getting away with it because the folks who know better; the folks who have known better since before the first modern wind turbine was erected, have no voice in the public eye.

      Why do you think that will change? Do you think a panicked public will suddenly develop sense and intelligence and the ability to do simple arithmetic? Or will they rush into misguided legislation analogous to the “Patriot Act”, the harvest of which we’re finally starting to see starkly?

    3. Oh, and one bit of evidence for my tirade. Consider California. Ten years ago they had brown outs and black outs because of their ridiculous energy policies. Have they changed? No, they just shut down two nuclear power plants. They still think that more wind and more solar and more conservation and smarter grids are going to solve the fundamental problem of not enough reliable generator capacity.

      The nasty side of me hopes that they suffer horribly this summer, while the rational side has kinder gentler thoughts. Surely there are a lot of innocent, uninvolved people who are going to suffer and become poorer because of the ill considered (or malevolently considered) actions of a few.

  14. Who decided to open “Pandora’s Promise” the same weekend that “The Man of Steel” was opening? A nuclear documentary vs. a superhero would explain the small audiences.

    1. I suspect the film will reach a far wider audience when it is put on broadcast TV as well as various online streaming services. Distribution costs quite a bit and when movie tickets are now running around $15 each, people would rather ride the roller coaster than go to class.

  15. Pandora’s Promise is an important film. If there is a shortage of people that fit the target description I would blame it on many factors. I would call it being too busy and too tired from trying to survive. Inflation has converted us into automotons leaving very little room for caring about anything but immediate needs while we need to work more to equal what we use to make. The kids are being neglected and without quality time from family they are met with an uncaring profit motivated society that allow psychiatrists and guidance councilors to recormmend drugs when what they need is someone to talk to. So PP is not a super hero, vampire, adolescent comedy or escape drama. It is still a much needed documentary. If we are disappointed by the attendance it is probably because we over estimate how many environmentalists are out there.

    1. @Rick Maltese

      If we are disappointed by the attendance it is probably because we over estimate how many environmentalists are out there.

      That is the point of my “wrong target” headline.

      Nuclear professionals like to blame environmentalists for our woes. If there are so few that a well-crafted movie about them brings out just a handful of people in a crowded city full of the kind of young political professionals who often attend documentaries, it seems logical to me to deduce that “environmentalists” are probably not as big a player in our market challenges as we have imagined.

      1. Rod, I think the movie would have a larger audience if you did the scene in front of San Onofre with the speedy swimwear. Word would get around about it and people would want to see that. It would also attract the gay community who like movies especially if they are “good looking” movies.

      2. Ha! Truth be told, Were it not for you and Meridith Angwin, I’d have no idea who Arnie G., Mark L, Whats-her-face (non-clinical Physician), or the dude in Colorado – who can grow bananas in his Foyer are. Thank you. To me they’re worth a chuckle almost as good as the late – great George Carlin, but I still can’t remember half their names.

      3. I knew that Rod I guess I wanted to help you articulate that.

        What happened to the old days when we used to go see two movies in the theaters. I am thinking Pandora’s promise might do better being paired with something in a double bill. Now what would be the ideal second movie? I’d like to see someone do a critique of The China Syndrome as a film. That would be fun exposing the myths and fabrications in the film.

  16. As I said – 99.9% of us don’t care where the energy comes from, as long as it’s there 24/7 on demand.

    A salutary tale: I parked next to a huge 4 x 4 SUV on a very hot day. I wound down my windows to cool off and soon got fed up of the SUV’s exhaust fumes. Taking my life into my hands, I knocked on the darkened window, to discover that the young male driver was running his air conditioning at full blast, to keep his newly born baby, strapped in the back, cool. Concerned about the future? I don’t think so – it’s what we ‘need’ to do today.

    1. Yeah, and whoever has the SUV should spend some of the money they spent on it on an appointment at Planned Parenthood, the worst thing anyone can do to the environment is have any more kids!.

      1. Wrong. Completely, totally wrong. There is enough thorium and uranium in Earth’s crust to supply a population of 12 billion people with electricity for the next 10 thousand years.

        1. If we planned for 14 Billion happy healthy actualizing people, then 7 billion would be a cake-walk. If we plan for 3 billion, that’s what we’re gonna get.

          1. But John, why do you WANT 14 billion people? Besides the problem is not hard to solve stop thinking you are Jim Bob Duggar and don’t have so many kids! So many problems could be solved with a pill or a sheet of rubber.

            Colin, next time you see this guy in the SUV toss in a box of condoms.

          2. My race is human. It is an arrangement of men and women that is perfectly fine and natural. Nuclear power enables us to provide low cost, pollution free energy to everyone. Nuclear power could enable us to spread throughout the solar system, colonizing Mars and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Who knows what the limits are? Appealing to people’s baser natures by advocating indiscriminate intimacy without responsibility or accountability by definition is a limit. One may argue that a people who cannot control their passions are equally incapable of acting with the logic, attention to detail and personal integrity that are the hallmarks of every successful nuclear professional. I would like to think mankind is capable of better – of rising above his baser instincts. Again, my race is human, man and woman, and I am proud to be human. It’s time we grew up.

        2. Agree. The problem isn’t the population. The problem is our failure to use the resources at our disposal in a well reasoned manner. The problem is our failure to continue building nuclear reactors from 1980 to the present day as fast as we could construct them, and our failure to export them all around the world to provide cheap, clean electricity to everyone we can practicably reach.

          1. We can expand human lebensraum, and all life habitat to the farthest reaches of the solar system simply with 4 technologies: 1) Appropriate Fission to power cities anywhere, 2) Scramjet technologies to achieve Earth orbit more easily, 3) Vasimir techniques to minimize time spent in upprotected space, and 4) tunneling and excavating habitat in low gravity environments.
            That’d all be easier than trying to whittle human populations down to some vague number, and a heck of a lot more fun.

          2. I agree with John Chatelle, except that I would use the term “urbs in colle” or “city on a hill” instead of the term “lebensraum”, a phrase which was hijacked by the Nazis before and during WW II to justify their aggression of expansion against the rest of Europe. I am sure that John did not intend to convey that meaning.

            Nuclear power can provide all the energy a population of 12 or more billion of men, women, children and babies need for the next 10 thousand years or more. Do we love ourselves enough to try? Or do we prefer to treat ourselves like mere animals, culling the herd? Will we be responsible and accountable for our actions, mastering our passions, whether those of ideology or those of physical gratification, or will we give in to the easier, softer way, surrendering to our baser instincts?

          3. But John I ask again, why? You mean traveling to other planets is easier than to go to a Planned Parenthood center and not have a truckload of kids? See, it is possible to have the fission, the scramjets, the vasimir (actually sounds like a new birth control method) and tunnels without having people everywhere.

          4. But Paul, why so people greedy? One proposal I have is for all the nuclear power people to go to their local Planned Parenthood center and offer to pay their electric bill. It could not be that much (like that of a doctors office) and good public relations, and it helps people not have so many kids.

          5. BobinPgh,

            I thank the good Lord that your parents did not decide to go to Planned Parenthood before you were born, or to use condoms. I thank Him that you are alive. All human life is precious. Sometimes people are born with sad things like Down’s syndrome, or Aspergers, or Autism, or whatever. Nevertheless, if human life no matter how afflicted by what we cannot control isn’t precious, then why not just tear the Earth apart, burn whatever we find and kill everything we don’t like? Why go to all the effort that nuclear takes?

            No. Babies, children, women and men – that’s a perfectly fine and natural arrangement. And that’s why I so fervently support safe, clean, economical nuclear power – because my species is human, not animal. And PS, saving the environment saves the animals, too – a win – win.

          6. BobinPgh,

            It is greedy to say that I can be intimate and then do away with any responsibility I have for my offspring. It is generous to welcome new life with love. As a nuclear professional, I have been taught to be responsible for my actions and accountable. I have been taught to be a steward of the resources that I have been given, and to treat my fellow co-workers with all the dignity and respect that every living human being merits. I support nuclear power precisely becaus it enables us to care for the life we have been given and to be generous in new life. That is the opposite of greed.

    2. “running his air conditioning at full blast, to keep his newly born baby, strapped in the back, cool. Concerned about the future? I don’t think so – it’s what we ‘need’ to do today.”

      This is a point that environmentalists don’t get at all. To the average parent the **right now** is what matters first and foremost.

      If environmentalists succeed in their dream of making us all poor and technology and energy starved, it won’t result in a bucolic ecological paradise. Poor people won’t think even once about the future, that’s a rich person’s luxury.

      A father with hungry or cold children will chop down the last tree in the world if it will feed them or keep them warm for even one more day. That’s a simple fact of human nature. It may be mangled in some individuals, but on the average that’s how we behave.

      If we make everyone poor, the environment will be our last concern.

      The very best way to protect the environment is to make everyone so rich, starting with cheap, clean, plentiful energy from nuclear power, that they have time and energy and freedom from worry to consider the environment.

      1. And yet, environmentalists are exactly the ones who keep idolizing remote tribes of people who live in the now, take no thought for tomorrow, build nothing of permance or value and make everything of biodegradable stuff. Only, it invariably turns out that these inhabitants of idyllic little paradises have a taste for human flesh, or are at a constant state of tribal war with the neighbours, or do freaky human sacrifices or something.

  17. Brian and DV82XL,

    A while ago you guys asked me where I got my info that the Chernobyl reactors were for military purposes because you clearly thought I was wrong.

    I was pretty sure at the time that it was Sen Domenici but I was unable to find the source.

    Today, Dr James Conca seems to be along the same line that I was :

    … That is why comparisons between Fukushima and Chernobyl fail. That plus Chernobyl released ten times as much radiation into the atmosphere and was a weapons reactor.


    Anyway, you guys are probably right but there is another source to backup my old assumption.

    1. @Daniel,

      It’s common knowledge that Chernobyl was designed as a duel-use reactor. If operators wanted to they could insert U-238 slugs for short irradiation to produce plutonium for weapons. I think Nuclear News even mentions it in one of their issues. It’s interesting to note that the USSR stockpile was growing at a brisk rate right up to the point that Chernobyl exploded.

    2. Daniel wrote: “Today, Dr James Conca seems to be along the same line that I was …”

      Cool. Thanks for letting us know. Now there are two people who are incorrect on the issue, yourself and Dr. Conca. Keep saying it over and over again, and I’m sure it could become a populist meme, and you’ll be fortunate enough to start seeing it in other places too.

      Conspiracy theories never really go away … mostly because they are typically impossible to disprove.

    3. Daniel & John,

      All that is clear and undeniable is that the RBMK is a power reactor that is based on a weapons production reactor. Essentially, the RBMK is an old Soviet plutonium production reactor that was scaled up (the “B” in RBMK stands for “bolshoy” the Russian word for “big”) to be economical for providing electricity instead of making weapons.

      As such … yeah sure … it could be used to produce nuclear weapons material. I question, however, whether it actually ever was used to produce nuclear weapons material. Thus far, I have not seen any evidence that it ever was used for that purpose or that any used fuel from these reactors was ever reprocessed into weapons.

      If anyone has any evidence to the contrary (evidence not speculation or “common knowledge”), I would be glad to hear it.

      The Soviet Union was not so deficient in weapons production reactors or uranium enrichment facilities that it needed to conscript power reactors to do the job.

  18. I think the big problem is build time and cost. Nuclear just costs too damn much right now. Regulatory nightmares have assured that nuclear can’t come down in price. Most people really only care about how much they are paying for a kWh.

    I’m just finishing up a master’s degree in nuclear engineering, with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and am having an incredibly difficult time finding work in the nuclear industry (Canada). I just returned from the Canadian Nuclear Society’s annual conference last week and the entire conference seemed glum. The opening plenary was filled with dismal outlooks for the industry in North America due to 20 year, first to market, promises made to subsidized wind and solar farms, and cheap natural gas. I am all for cheap electricity and have would love for natural gas to stay cheap because it is better for the economy as a whole, but nuclear power needs to compete on price with fracked natural gas. Nukes must be made cheaper, not other forms of power production made more expensive.The most powerful message the industry can send is lower cost.

  19. Pandora’s Promise, as far as I can tell, seems to be failing to capture much attention. . . when Josh Fox’s GasLand came out, he was on talk shows (The Daily Show, etc), radio shows (NPR’s Fresh Air, etc), there was ‘buzz’ about it all over the Internet. Outside of a few professional film critics, and pro-nuclear advocates, I have failed to see ANY mention of Pandora’s Promise in “popular culture”.

    In part, I think the movie suffers from a lack of publicity. Conversely, however. . . I have only promoted the movie a little bit. Why? Because the lack of availability to actually see it, means that most of my friends who saw my share wouldn’t actually be able to go see the movie.

    Well, at least this was picked up by CNN, to air on Cable this fall. Maybe CNN will really promote this film, get it being discussed on talk shows, the Internet.

    I think Rod is right about worrying about the “wrong” audience, BUT, this film, I think, could appeal to the “apathetic majority” of people – by 1, providing them knowledge that most of them don’t have, which might move them from ambivalent, to actively supporting. Also, it provides a good resource if I start talking to friends about nuclear power, and they are concerned about nuclear waste, Fukushima, TMI, etc.

    Right now, I try to point people to Gwyneth Craven’s excellent book, “Power to save the planet”, but most of my friends aren’t going to go pickup a book which took *me* a couple months to read. But, they might watch a 90 minute or 2 hour movie.

    1. Why don’t each of us tell our family, friends, and others whom we personally meet about the film? I actually started my adult Christian Education class this last Sunday at my Parish with the trailer from Pandora’s Promise, reminding my students that we are only stewards of this good Earth and that it doesn’t belong to us. True, my theme had a certain agenda to it, but now 20 more people know. And if those 20 tell 20 and so on and so on…..we have to start somewhere. True, it’s a pitiful start, but as I said above, my race is human, man and woman, and I am grateful for what has been so freely given.

      1. Paul, while I have become something more of an agnostic at this point, something that occured to me back while I was still attending church. . .

        If God created the world, and everything in it, and then looked upon it and said, “It is Good”, then doesn’t that mean that he created the Uranium and Thorium, and that they, too are “Good”? Does it not suggest that, if one believes there is a God who created the world to provide what we need, then that the creation of Uranium and Thorium and every other element, was to provide something we need?

      2. . . . hit submit too soon before I finished my thought. . .

        . . . would an all-knowing God not know that we need energy? Since, so far that we’ve determined, Uranium and Thorium have very little in the way of other uses (there are a few, it’s true, non-nuclear related uses that those two elements can be put to [for example, I’ve heard that Thorium in a glass compound can make excellent camera and telescope lenses), but the relative usefulness of those other uses is trivial compared to energy production), doesn’t it stand to reason that God put them here for the express purpose of generating energy?

        1. Thank you, Rod, for your thoughtful response.

          To Jeff S., I cannot answer your questions of philosophy at this forum which should rightly be reserved for its intended topic: all things nuclear. Goggle and read the works of Professor Edward Feser or Dr. Stephen M. Barr or Dr. Hugh Ross.

          To BobinPgh, I won’t debate further with you on a non-nuclear topic over which we have very, very opposing points of view, and I don’t like being baited by oblique reference to non-nuclear persons such as Margaret Sanger or non-nuclear organizations such as Planned Parenthood. I come to this forum to discuss all things nuclear. Thank you for understanding.

      3. I was reminded of the following extract from an excellent article by the late Ted Rockwell:

        “The history of radiation protection is replete with examples where the ostensibly conservative practice of assuming that radiation might be a bit more dangerous than we expect turns out to be harmful in practice, rather than protective. For example, a new well was recently discovered in Arabia, springing from deep underground. It was clean and plentiful, but (gasp!) radioactive. So it was immediately decided that it must be diluted with water that is less radioactive, but unfortunately suspect bacteriologically.

        I can picture a Mighty Voice proclaiming from the Heavens, “Who dares to call
        unclean that which the Lord God hath provided?””

        Taken from:

  20. Paul, then explain how an all-knowing God would put rubber, birth control chemicals, Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood centers on Earth? Don’t you think he might want people to use them?

    1. @BobinPgh

      Agreed, especially when that same all knowing God created us with such wonderfully designed recreational centers, the frequent exercise of which is a terrific way to reinforce a strong relationship that persists long after the children have grown up and gone off to have children of their own.

      @Paul – We agree on the value of human life and the need to do all we can to empower and support the least among us.

      Now, can we all move back to this blog’s topic of using nuclear fission energy to provide power to an ever growing number of people?

  21. Lets hope that Pandora’s Promise gets on CNN or Current TV or someplace like that. If you are wondering why such slow attendance, tell me: When was the last time you paid money or took a date out to see a documentary? With me, it is never. People don’t pay money for those kind of films. Paul, for example, can show it in his classes and get a lot more exposure.

  22. Here is a factor that has not been considered.

    There is a human tendency to assume that if we don’t understand something, it must not be important. Because people do not well understand energy issues, including nuclear power, then tend to assume that it is not important to understand them. Until or unless they can be persuaded that it is important for them to understand these issues, they will make little effort to understand them.

    Part of the challenge is to get people to understand the importance of learning more about energy and nuclear issues. Unless we can to that, we will not succeed in efforts to educate the public.

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