Of all the attempts made by Madonna and Anthea Turner to reinvent their image, none have been as outlandish as the nuclear industry's effort to rebrand itself as a green project for a healthy environment. One spokesman responded to Tony Blair's speech on global warming by suggesting the answer is to build 45 new nuclear power stations. Soon the chairman of British Nuclear Fuels will appear on the news with straggly hair covered in mud, saying, "Yeah like the planet is our mother, man, and I'm healing her by living off fallen berries and building a thermo-nuclear power plant. That's why I'm, like, handcuffed to this plutonium rod, and the cops will never pull it down, 'cos radiation's like our sister, man."
In claiming that only nuclear power can save the environment, the American Nuclear Society tells us: "Waste from other energy sources is more dangerous than radiation." So we should be thankful the world's military powers have stuck to the benign nuclear missile and not moved on to the far more lethal "coal bomb". If one of those was launched at a built-up area the soot could ruin furniture for miles.They also tell us nuclear power is cleaner than oil because "No salmon have died as a result of nuclear power plants." I was surprised it didn't go on, "It is often said there is no greater delicacy than lightly grilled Chernobyl salmon."
They also make the point that nuclear waste isn't as damaging as a spillage of oil. For example, if you sit on a beach contaminated with nuclear waste, you might get cancer, but at least it won't ruin your trousers.
Defenders of nuclear power insist it's more environmentally friendly than wind power. One supporter of the industry complained yesterday that if the wind-power programme is extended as planned, "the view from the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl will be dominated by a monstrous phalanx of 30 turbines, standing 443 feet high." Unlike the view near a nuclear plant, where lovers of the countryside gather from miles around to catch a glimpse of the charming rustic features of Sizewell B. If only Constable were still alive to capture the full depth and beauty of those alluring funnels. Who wouldn't enjoy a picnic among the butterflies and yellowhammers that nestle gently beneath the quaint concrete towers and decorous armed security guards, with not a foul tall turbine in sight?
This isn't to deny the fossil-fuel industry is governed by an attitude just as reckless and devious. BP once spent $100m promoting a new green image, and on the day it launched its green logo, it was fined $10m for violating US pollution laws. And a Canadian energy company, TransAlta, boasted of its green credentials because, although they weren't cutting their carbon dioxide emissions, they did have a plan to feed cows in Uganda with a diet supplement to "curb methane emissions". …