Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Unsettled by Monbiot’s support for nuclear power

A debate between George Monbiot and the anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott.  The starting point was a Guardian article by Monbiot on 21st March “Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power”, unleashing a deluge of criticism from anti-nuclear campaigners. See my earlier post.

Then on 30th March, he debated with Helen Caldicott, who has spent decades warning of the medical hazards posed by nuclear technologies. She is the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

George Monbiot, Dr. Helen Caldicott, James Lovelock
Styled "Prescription for Survival", the debate was hosted by the left-wing US radio station Democracy Now!. You can listen to the debate (26 minutes incl intro).

Monbiot's espousal of nuclear energy and his dismissal of radiation risks is unsettling to me.  Were anyone else to say these things I should contemptuously disregard them.  You will hear Helen Caldicott indignantly rebutting Monbiot on radiation but he is unrepentant.

He's written about the encounter on his personal blog.  He says the green movement, which he vigorously indentifies himself with, has misled the world about the dangers of radiation. A great wrong has been done and we must put it right he claims.

On his Guardian environment blog he has written a longer piece decrying the double standards of green opponents of nuclear energy.

Monbiot is in the same camp as James (“the maverick environmentalist”) Lovelock, who has offered British Nuclear Fuels Ltd his back garden to bury radioactive waste in.  Here's a profile.

Lovelock is passionate about climate change.  “We have to understand” he said in a 2006 lecture “that the catastrophe threatened by global heating is far worse than any war, famine, or plague in living memory; worse even than global nuclear war. Much of the lush and comfortable Earth we now enjoy is about to become a hot and barren desert.”  In the same lecture he says : “Therefore, except where electricity is powered by abundant water flow or geophysical heat, there is no safe alternative to nuclear energy.”

If you want to follow this topic some more, here is an Economist debate staged over 5 days, finishing tomorrow. The motion is “This house believes that the world would be better off without nuclear power".