And now an influential non-profit that for years has focused on climate change is all but begging that we not close down aging nuclear reactors. What the hell is going on?
I can’t wait for James Hansen and his fellow pro-nuclear, climate-concerned greens to face off against the anti-nuclear, climate-concerned greens outside one such aging nuclear power plant that a popular Democratic governor wants to shut down. Imagine this scene: The pro-nuke climate activists chaining themselves to the fence of the nuclear plant, protesting in favor of carbon-free nuclear power.
Or imagine this: A joint statement from the Group of Ten–a loose network consisting of the biggest, most established environmental organizations–vowing to enthusiastically embrace nuclear power to help solve the climate problem. (Why a joint statement? Because no major green group is likely to go out on a limb by itself.) Perhaps the foundation for such a large-scale conversion is being established with the steady drip of individual converts.
Or maybe not, CNN suggested last year:
Are we witnessing the birth of a mutiny within the environmental movement? Will typical 21st-century environmentalists eventually embrace the power of the atom? A leading environmental group opposed to nuclear power says no.
“I don’t think it’s very significant that a few people have changed their minds about nuclear power,” said Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Well, it’s more than a few people, but I take his point.
Let’s be honest. At this stage, the green movement is somewhat like the Democratic party just before Bill Clinton became president: Stale, rudderless, and unable to offer a compelling vision for the future. (The collapse of civilization has a nice ring to it, but it’s no I have a dream.) If environmentalists had been wise, they would have spent the green-friendly Obama years reinventing their brand. (If Radio Shack can do it, anyone can.) Instead, they’ve been content to snarl at the usual enemies (say no to oil and gas! ) and coalesce around climate change as the movement’s signature issue of the day. What has that vision for the future looked like?
Look, I’m not sure if pro-nuclear greens will ever overcome the fright factor of a technology that includes the occasional Fukushima. But if eco-pessimists continue to shape the green message, painting a relentlessly grim portrait of the future, then I wouldn’t expect people to rally around that, either.
Besides, that’s the picture (over-population, global famines, ecocide, etc) that’s been painted over the past forty years. The shock value of it has worn off.
It’s time to paint a new picture.