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Nuclear Reactions from the Green Movement

By Zinsmeister, Karl | The American Enterprise, January-February 2005 | Go to article overview

Nuclear Reactions from the Green Movement


Zinsmeister, Karl, The American Enterprise


Irrational antipathy toward nuclear power is so strong among environmentalists, it even overpowers other environmental priorities. lames Lovelock, a famous British ecologist and one of the founders of the international Green movement, published a highly alarmist essay in May 2004 publicizing what he alleged to be the imminent dangers from global warming. But then he parted company from Green orthodoxy. "Only one immediately available energy source does not cause global warming, and that is nuclear energy," he wrote. Nuclear power "is the only clean major source of energy we have as far as the atmosphere goes."

Lovelock went on to state, "Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies, and the media. These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks," noting that natural carcinogens are a vastly bigger risk than nuclear power, and that 20,00030,000 Europeans died in a single heat wave in 2003. "I am a Green and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy," Lovelock concluded.

The response? In the words of Britain's Telegraph, "he was duly pilloried by a Green establishment that sees the humbling of the nuclear power industry as its greatest triumph." Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club, and Greenpeace all emphatically rejected the professor's call.

A few other open-minded and brave environmentalists have risked similar reactions.

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