Michael Shellenberger, a pro-nuclear environmentalist, recently gave a TEDx talk about nuclear fear. You can watch it here. In the talk he discusses the origins of nuclear fear and how the Sierra Club created this fear campaign, which was wildly successful at stopping the construction of dozens of nuclear plants in the 1970s.
I will let you decide for yourself if his argument for how nuclear fear will end is persuasive or not, but first, I will show some of the critical statements that reveal the history of the Sierra Club and their anti-human leanings.
Many people are unaware that the Sierra Club was at one time in the 1960s pro-nuclear and believed that it was necessary for conservation of the environment.
To tell the story, let me start with my favorite moral midget, Amory Lovins, the caudillo of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who says we can power civilization with energy efficiency and renewables.
Amory claims to be a physicist, and thus would have to have known that we did discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy locked inside the nuclei of certain heavy metals. When I say we, I really mean Lise Meitner, Otto Hahn, and Fritz Strassmann, who discovered nuclear fission. Later Glen Seaborg and John Gofman (who later became an anti-nuclear crusader) discovered U233 and its ability to be efficiently bred from thorium. Seaborg called this a 50 quadrillion dollar discovery ($50,000,000,000,000,000). Amory calls this a disaster. That’s why I call him a moral midget.
The following quotes continue Amory’s misanthropy.
I find it interesting that anti-nuclear types now claim that nuclear was never cost competitive. Curious, then why did the Sierra Club need to embark on their fear campaign in the 1970s, when they explicitly stated that their fear campaign was intended to increase nuclear regulations and costs, if it was already non-competitive?
Brower prefers scenic vistas to human beings. He eventually left the Sierra Club and founded an even more radical misanthropic, anti-nuclear organization, Friends of the Earth (FOE). Amory Lovins was the first employee of the organization, which was started with a $200,000 donation from Robert O Anderson, chairman of ARCO.
I always find it interesting that corporate haters like Brower are more than willing to take corporate money from corporate oil interests. Perhaps it was just a cosmic alignment of the stars. Brower gets his own FOE and Anderson gets a bulldog to take out his nuclear competitors. (This is just a supposition, but maybe Brower agreed to not oppose the Alaskan pipeline in exchange for the money to start FOE.? ARCO was the lead company in building the Alaskan pipeline.)
This post is already getting way too long, but some important characters in the fear campaign still need to be introduced, Jane Fondue and Moonbeam (Moonshine?) Jerry Brown.
(I have just barely scratched the surface of this history that involves many players and many angles. Ten graduate students in history could spend their lifetimes researching this.)
In short, Jane was friends with Jerry, who was governor of California.
Jane made a movie in 1979, The China Syndrome, that played on nuclear fears. It was released 12 days before the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania and was eerily similar. How they were so prescient in making and releasing this film escapes human comprehension, unless it wasn’t an accident.
Coal fired power plants lead to the death of many because of air pollution. Nuclear does not. (I prefer coal fired electricity and possible air pollution deaths in the future to freezing to death today. See my previous post about the praises of coal, oil, and gas. I further prefer molten salt reactors to coal fired plants.)
If Moonshine and others are successful in closing Diablo Canyon NPP, premature deaths could result from the air pollution caused by fossil fuel burning to replace the electricity produced by Diablo Canyon.
Please comment on the end of the talk. Will love really overcome fear of nuclear?