“Greenpeace is working to end the expansion of nuclear power. The U.S. already has more nuclear power plants than any other country. The United States currently has 104 operating nuclear reactors, and each one is a threat to public health, safety and the environment. Nationwide, 1 in 3 Americans live within 50 miles of a nuclear plant. Do you? If a meltdown was to occur, the accident could kill and injure tens of thousands of people and leave large regions uninhabitable”.
This passage, by the way, follows a section headed Greenpeace Speaks Out to Curb Global Warming, which main banner is: “Climate change is deadly. Get serious.”
Does that make sense to you?
It doesn’t make sense to me. If we want to keep the lights on, and at an affordable price, without increasing the risks of climate change, nuclear power —at the very least, the plants we have today, and quite probably, much more— has to be part of the solution.
We don’t need an all-of-the-above energy strategy —that’s folly, if it includes burning lots of fossil fuels—, but we do need an all-of-the-above low carbon energy strategy, led by a strong commitment to renewables and energy efficiency, but including nuclear and some natural gas to provide affordable base-load power. Instead of trying to eliminate nuclear power, environmentalists should work with industry to make it safer and cheaper. In fact, “the anti-nuclear movement is partly responsible for global warming” —activist Mark Lynas tell us—. “Everywhere, pretty much, where a nuclear plant was cancelled, a coal plant was built instead, and that’s because of the anti-nuclear movement.”
In any event, in the near term, no new nuclear plants will be developed in the US because natural gas prices are too low, and soon after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear meltdown in March 2011, Germany announced it would decommission all its nuclear plants. Switzerland and Italy rejected proposals to build more reactors, etc. So the issue is moot for now.
But in the meantime China plowed ahead with existing projects, being today one of the most important countries, if not the most important country, in the global nuclear industry. China has 17 nuclear power reactors in operation, 30 under construction, and additional reactors are planned, including some of the world’s most advanced, to give a four-fold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 58 GWe by 2020, then possibly 200 GWe by 2030, and 400 GWe by 2050. It is clear to me that the East Asian Model, as an economic system, is each day improving, both economically and intellectually, while the Anglo-Saxon and the continental (Ex-)Social Market (European) capitalism are in clear decadence.
But here —instead— we have Greenpeace’s pawns. The vast financial and organizational resources available to Greenpeace have helped narrow the gap with industry and their political allies across issues. Yet, I argue, in some cases this same organizational wealth has helped institutionalize an ideological bias that threatens progress on issues like climate change and food security. $336 million have been spent targeting the no nuclear campaign. Question mark would be: Who is behind these vast resources? Who Greenpeace’s pawns serve? Rockefeller Brothers Fund? Getty’s Marisla Foundation? Turner Foundation? China?
To add insult to injury, “Only NUCLEAR power can SAVE HUMANITY”, say now Global Warming high priests. Four of the best-known scientists espousing the belief that humanity’s carbon emissions are an immediate and deadly threat have issued a statement begging their fellow greens to support nuclear power. Doctors James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel and Tom Wigley co-signed an open letter over the weekend in which they address “those influencing environmental policy, but opposed to nuclear power”. The four scientists write that “continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change … there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power”… Full letter online: http://bit.ly/1fc6Dpu
So… How long is Greenpeace going to continue with its private agenda? Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear energy campaign —as anti-GM food or compact fluorescent lamp campaigns, among many others— may well do the organization’s reputation irreparable damage. If these were just rather eccentric activities, quite characteristic of the English upper classes of which the 4th Baron Melchett or Sir Richard Branson are so much a part (both able to pay any electricity bill), then they might be forgiven. But preventing the course of genuine scientific enquiry, which aims to answer the very questions that Greenpeace poses regarding the safety of nuclear energy, is both mindless and undemocratic.
If primitive man had had the same irrational fear of fire, the same is intended for us to have on nuclear power and scientific progress, we would still be in the Stone Age.
Paraphrasing Greenpeace’s banner above: “Climate change is deadly. Greens, get serious.”