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Why Is the 'Climate Change' Crew So Opposed to Clean Energy?
Michael Walsh • 17 Feb, 2020 • 6 Min Read
If you want to see how transparently phony the "environmentalist movement" is, and discern clearly what its real motives are, you need look no farther than its dedicated opposition not only to the dread "fossil fuels," but to the cleanest form of energy there is: nuclear power. Once a sign of an advanced technological civilization, and the pride of the nations that employed it -- not only the United States but France and Sweden -- nuclear power has acquired an onus that we might trace directly back to Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the movie that cursed nuclear energy with all the power Hollywood had to muster, director James Bridges's The China Syndrome.
The 1979 accident at Three Mile Island -- the same year the movie came out -- killed nobody, and was quickly brought under control but, hyped by the American media, it caused deep unease in the American public, in part because of the word "nuclear" and its radioactive-weapons connotations. The spectacular meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 and the lethal accident at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, understandably exacerbated fears. But the disaster in the Ukraine was caused by typical Soviet incompetence and unreliable technology, most likely compounded by classically Soviet drunkenness; the Fukushima meltown occurred in the aftermath of a major underwater earthquake (9.0 on the Richter scale) and tsunami and had nothing to do with intrinsic technological failure or human error.
Another Three Mile Island is unlike to happen again. As the World Nuclear Association notes, citing the Department of Energy's official report:
When the TMI-2 accident is recalled, it is often in the context of what happened on Friday and Saturday, March 30-31. The drama of the TMI-2 accident-induced fear, stress and confusion on those two days... "Because of confused telephone conversations between people uninformed about the plant's status, officials concluded that the 1,200 millirems (12 mSv) reading was an off-site reading. They also believed that another hydrogen explosion was possible, that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had ordered evacuation and that a meltdown was conceivable.
"Garbled communications reported by the media generated a debate over evacuation. Whether or not there were evacuation plans soon became academic. What happened on Friday was not a planned evacuation but a weekend exodus based not on what was actually happening at Three Mile Island but on what government officials and the media imagined might happen. On Friday confused communications created the politics of fear." (Page 50)
The Three Mile Island accident caused concerns about the possibility of radiation-induced health effects, principally cancer, in the area surrounding the plant. Because of those concerns, the Pennsylvania Department of Health for 18 years maintained a registry of more than 30,000 people who lived within five miles of Three Mile Island at the time of the accident. The state's registry was discontinued in mid 1997, without any evidence of unusual health trends in the area.
Indeed, more than a dozen major, independent health studies of the accident showed no evidence of any abnormal number of cancers around TMI years after the accident. The only detectable effect was psychological stress during and shortly after the accident.
We can see where the stress came from -- the media's garbled, confused, and inexpert early reporting, combined with its natural tendency to overhype the apocalypse at every turn. Little has changed since; indeed an irresponsible press now treats the most routine weather stories as potentially catastrophic events, for which running for the hills is the only rational response. And since all narratives need a bad guy, make Big Energy not only incompetent but malicious. As writer Andrew Tood notes in "How THE CHINA SYNDROME Brought Down The Nuclear Power Industry":
Bridges’ film doesn’t lay the blame at the foot of the technology - which, in an ideal world, would provide plentiful and accident-free energy to millions. It’s people, and institutions, that get the stick. From inspectors falsifying records to finish their job quickly, to managers reluctant to order costly repair work, to executives covering it all up to score new contracts, the nuclear industry is presented as criminally negligent at all levels. It’s even depicted as outright malicious - not entirely without cause, given foul-play theories over the death of nuclear union activist Karen Silkwood - to the extent that the company would murder multiple people to maintain its reputation.
Predictably, the nuclear industry had a fiery reaction. Westinghouse executive John Taylor described the film as “an overall character assassination of an entire industry.” Nuclear experts generally agreed that the film’s specific events were highly improbable (if not entirely impossible), but also that an inherent clash exists between earning corporate profits and spending the money required to keep reactors safe. The industry may have been correct to debate the film's finer technical points or melodramatic ending, but it’s hard to argue that unchecked capitalism doesn't encourage corner-cutting.
Those darn capitalists, who can't wait to kill their customers just because they can. But therein lies the resistance to nuclear power, carefully fanned over the ensuing decades; it's now simply assumed that nuclear = death by the climate-change activists, freeing them from having to explain their opposition to entirely clean energy. Still, the fact that the "climate change" seems not only disinterested in, but actively hostile to, clean sources of energy ought to tell you something. Maybe it's not the cleanliness, or lack therefore, of energy they object to: maybe it's energy itself. Mike Shellenberger writes at Forbes:
Why is it that, from the U.S. and Canada to Spain and France, it is progressives and socialists who say they care deeply about the climate, not conservative climate skeptics, who are seeking to shut down nuclear plants? After all, the two greatest successes when it comes to nuclear energy are Sweden and France, two nations held up by democratic socialists for decades as models of the kind of societies they want. It is only nuclear energy, not solar and wind, that has radically and rapidly decarbonized energy supplies while increasing wages and growing societal wealth.
And it is only nuclear that has, by powering high-speed trains everywhere from France to Japan to China, decarbonized transportation, which is the source of about one-third of the emissions humankind creates. For many people the answer is obvious: ignorance. Few people know that nuclear is the safest source of electricity. Or that low levels of radiation are harmless. Or that nuclear waste is the best kind of waste... few things have proven worse for the climate than shutting down nuclear plants.
Ah, they say, we prefer "renewables" (boiling water, which is all nuclear power amounts to, is about as renewable as you can get). What about wind power and solar and pixie dust and unicorn farts? We might call this the pathetic fallacy, the 18th-century notion of attributing human emotions and values to inanimate objects:
Ordinary people tell pollsters they want renewables for the same reason they buy products labeled “natural”: they are in the grip of an unconscious appeal-to-nature fallacy. The appeal-to-nature fallacy is the mistaken belief that the world can be divided into “natural” and “unnatural” things, and that the former are better, safer, or cleaner than the latter.
In reality, solar farms require hundreds of times more land, an order of magnitude more mining for materials, and create hundreds of times more waste, than do nuclear plants. And wind farms kill hundreds of thousands of threatened and endangered birds, may make the hoary bat go extinct, and kill more people than nuclear plants. But because of our positive feelings toward sunlight, water and wind, which we view as more natural than uranium, many people unconsciously assume renewables are better for the environment.
But they aren't -- as investors in these chimerical solutions to a non-existent problem can attest. We're just now understanding the problems inherent in recycling wind turbines and solar panels, neither of which provide any direct power but instead simply contribute, in their meager and unreliable way, to the existing power grid. The truth is, the big-government globalists manipulating poor fools like Greta Thunberg and the members of her children's crusade are after only thing. As I wrote in this space last week, the people are the New Luddites.
Not saving the planet (George Carlin memorably skewered this absurd notion in a hilarious, scatological NSFW monologue years ago). Not creating a cleaner environment (the environment probably has never been so clean) -- because, when you get right down to it, their definition of "pollution" is... us.
What they're after is simply your money, to extract it by any means necessary: by manipulating children, by frightening the next generation into thinking the End is Nigh, by trying to outlaw legal industries that have brought nothing but good things -- like heat and light! -- to humanity at a relatively small cost and with effectively zero permanent damage to an anthropomorphized planet. Using a compliant, careless, and ignorant media, they push the narrative that we and our dirty lifestyles (only in the West! The Chinese and the Indians are just... ooops) are responsible for all the ills of the world. It's time we stood up to them, and reveal them as the monsters they are to the children they are trying to frighten.
Take a good look, kids:
And have a nice day.
Michael Walsh is a journalist, author, and screenwriter. He was for 16 years the music critic and a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine. His works include the novels As Time Goes By, And All the Saints, and the bestselling “Devlin” series of NSA thrillers; as well as the nonfiction bestseller, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace and its sequel, The Fiery Angel. Follow him on Twitter @dkahanerules