Guest essay by Joseph Somsel
Go back and re-watch Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth from 2006 and you’ll find that he never once voices the word “nuclear” although there is a long visual scene of a nuclear warhead exploding and the subsequent mushroom cloud filling the screen. Early AGW enthusiasts never seemed to acknowledge that if fossil fuels were the problem, nuclear power would be the solution that would work.
But now it seems environmentalists are being told that nuclear power is not so bad after all. The current movie, Pandora’s Promise (http://pandoraspromise.com/), has as its major theme that nuclear power and radiation are not so scary, really. This is of course true, reiterating arguments that pro-nuclear advocates have been making for 70 years.
The selling point is that nuclear power will not lead to global climate change. Another webpage from the Breakthrough Institute is entitled Liberals and Progressives for Nuclear (http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/liberals-and-progressives-for-nuclear/). Quoting such luminaries as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, it argues for the coming “Atomic Age,” again, because of the “urgency of climate change.” Even Al Gore (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/02/notes-from-a-mole-in-al-gores-climate-leadership-training/) seems to be slyly acknowledging nuclear’s possible role.
As a long-suffering nuclear engineer, I have to ask (in a conservative webzine, American Thinker http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/08/nuclear_powers_new_friends.html), is it in nuclear power’s best interest to make public alliance with the climate change crowd? I say no, citing the growing awareness of the “tells” on display, i. e. signs of fraud, we see documented here on WUWT and elsewhere. “Lie down with the dogs and get up with fleas” is my warning. Of course, any rational environmentalist SHOULD embrace nuclear just on its relative conventional pollutant profile and would be welcome to say kind words about nuclear – just don‘t ask that the support be reciprocated.
Yet, others in the nuclear power community disagree (http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2013/08/progressives-for-nuclear-progress.html#.Uf7Ly23pySr) (and here (http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/)) and embrace our new Best Friends Forever (BFFs). Many are sincere believers in climate change themselves, as I had been until I read the 2001 IPCC technical reports. Others just seemed hopeful that we might no longer be the pariahs of polite (PC) company.
Yet, my simple question is, should nuclear reactor manufacturers like Toshiba, General Electric, Areva, Bill Gates, Hitachi, Rosatom, etc publicly advertise that their products can help prevent climate change? Besides the expectation of further public trust deterioration for climate change, one has to look at the companies that would buy a nuclear power reactor. Almost without exception, they also have substantial fossil fuel powered generation assets.
Plus, environmentalists, like revolutionaries, have a habit of changing their minds as to who was good and who was bad. Probably the most infamous event was when Ansel Adams resigned from the board of directors of the Sierra Club over his support of nuclear power (http://www.anseladams.com/ansel-adams-the-role-of-the-artist-in-the-environmental-movement/).
The Sierra Club had been generally pro-nuclear although they could oppose specific plants on specific grounds, like the Bodega Bay nuke to be build about 400 yards from the surface trace of the San Andreas fault in the bay‘s headlands. To this day, the foundation diggings are called “the hole in the Head.” But a tide of anti-nuclear feeling swept over the organization and Adams gave up his seat on the board in 1971 due to the ill will and back biting.
My take-away lesson is political winds change, and so do the policies of environmental groups. I’d rather nuclear power not get involved.