Monbiot joins Lovelock in the nuclear power camp
George Monbiot says risk of meltdown is small compared to damaging effects of ‘deep green energy’
Support for nuclear power has fallen among the British public by 12 per cent since the Fukushima disaster, according to a new poll. But the UK nuclear industry has reason to cheer regardless, because left-wing environmentalist George Monbiot has today explained why he now supports nuclear power.
Monbiot has written extensively on climate change and the radical steps needed to avert disaster. Among his other works are attacks on corporations and the dangers of Bob Geldof and Bono.
In his column for the Guardian today headed 'Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power', Monbiot explains that he still loathes "the liars who run the nuclear industry" but he accepts that nuclear power has to be part of a green energy mix.
Monbiot argues that the risk of meltdown at a nuclear power station is small in comparison to the damaging effects of coal power and even renewables. "Deep green energy production - decentralised, based on the products of the land - is far more damaging to humanity than nuclear meltdown," he writes.
As an example he explains how the damming of rivers in Britain before the industrial revolution was "renewable, picturesque and devastating", since it wiped out stocks of migratory fish.
Fukushima has not put Monbiot off nuclear because "a crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami... The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting... Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation".
Monbiot's support for nuclear has rather overshadowed a survey released today by Friends of the Earth. The GFK NOP poll shows that public support for nuclear power has fallen 12 per cent to 35 per cent following the partial meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. The ranks of those opposed to nuclear have swollen nine per cent and now stands at 28 per cent.
Despite these figures it is clear the nuclear industry is far from finished. Monbiot is not the only prominent environmentalist to support nuclear. Legendary scientist and Gaia hypothesis originator James Lovelock has been a proponent of nuclear power for years.
Meanwhile, much of the talk in the media in the wake of Fukushima has been not of a new blossoming of tidal and wind generation but of safer and cheaper nuclear technologies like Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors - a 1950s idea that has now been boosted by Chinese investment.
Opposition to nuclear power is now starting to look like a position occupied by the uninformed masses of the public (who could be easily swayed with a well-run propaganda campaign after they inevitably forget about Fukushima) and die-hard environmentalists who don't give too much thought to the practicalities of a world without cheap, abundant energy. ·
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