Saturday, February 02, 2008

Patrick Moore: Thinking nuclear

I saw Patrick Moore speak a number of years ago. At the time, I was very impressed with his practical perspective on key environmental issues. However, his conversion from a hardcore, old-style environmentalist to someone willing to work with business to achieve real environmental progress has been hard for many of his former colleagues to accept, which is probably as good a recommendation he can get.

Here are a couple of interesting tidbits from a from a recent interview with CNET:

As a co-founder of Greenpeace, even though I was a scientist, I made the same mistake in those days as all the rest of my colleagues did. We kind of lumped nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons as if all things nuclear were evil. It was an honest mistake. We were totally focused on the threat of nuclear war during the Cold War. Nuclear testing was what Greenpeace started on and we were peaceniks, and I think it's fair to say that the antinuclear-energy movement to some extent was formed out of the peace movement.


How people manage to perceive that nuclear is dangerous when no one has ever been hurt by it is hard for me to understand, but there it is. It's a scared thing and it's like many of the campaigns today that are based on scaring people about something invisible. In this case, radiation. In agriculture, it's invisible pesticide residues. In climate, it's invisible carbon dioxide. In genetic engineering, it's invisible genes. Actually, a majority of the what are being called environmental campaigns these days are basically scare campaigns based on people not being able to see what it is that they are supposed to be afraid of. You can make up all kinds of stories about things people can't see.