(GMT+7)
Vicious words mark the war between pro and anti-nuclear environmentalists 10/04/2012, 10:20:50 PM (GMT+7)

(Guardian)-The dispute is getting personal and much closer to the political bone with the fallout potentially damaging the whole idea of 'environmentalism'

Damian blog : security fence at Heysham Nuclear Power Station

Heysham nuclear power station. The nuclear debate that has rumbled on for a few years has so far been largely technocratic and conducted with political and personal respect. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images


The war of words between the pro- and anti-nuclear environmentalists shows no sign of ending, with those writers in favour – George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, Fred Pearce and Stephen Tindale – now slugging it out with those campaigning against – Jonathon Porritt, Tom Burke, Tony Juniper and Charles Secrett. Everyone is pretending to be quite grown-up, polite and cool, but actually it's getting vicious.
 

Apart from a few gratuitous insults on either side, the dispute that has rumbled on for a few years has so far been largely technocratic and conducted with political and personal respect. In the latest skirmishes, the four former heads of Friends of the Earth (FoE) politely wrote to the prime minister advising him to drop nuclear power on cost and other grounds; whereupon the hacks also wrote to No 10 saying this advice undermined government climate change policy. Over the next month Porritt, Burke & co will issue four or five more intellectual blasts, and will convene a press conference, and we can expect the hacks to respond.
 

Until now it has been a classic "fundi" and "realo" split with the pros' (the realos) desperation to address climate change set against the antis' (the fundis) conviction that nuclear takes too long, is too expensive and won't actually work.
 

But now, the dispute is getting personal and much closer to the political bone with the fallout potentially damaging the whole idea of "environmentalism". First we have Lynas suggesting that nuclear protesters are not really environmentalists at all, then Monbiot doubted Burke's commitment to the environment – despite his 40 years' active service. Now, in an extraordinary exchange of emails between Monbiot and Theo Simon – who is one half of the renowned radical protest band Seize the Day – all opponents of nuclear power are said to have made their arguments "with levels of bullshit and junk science".
 

Here's part of Monbiot's letter, sent to Simon even as he was occupying a farmhouse in protest against the way that EDF were going about the works at Hinkley:
 
The uncomfortable fact is that the opponents of nuclear power (among whom I numbered until recently) have justified their position with levels of bullshit and junk science very similar to those used by the climate change deniers, and Stop Hinkley is no exception. When I wrote to Katy Attwater [a Stop Hinkley spokeswoman], expressing my concerns about the quality of the scientific evidence on their site, she told me 'I have no faith in the scientific peer review process as it currently works.' Just like James Delingpole, David Bellamy etc when it comes to climate science.

Monbiot then begs Simon to give up his protest, which he says is both "wrong" and dangerous:
 
We need you too much for the battles that need to be fought. God knows there are enough of them. But the inevitable result of this one, if it succeeds, will be to raise our greenhouse gas emissions, help threaten life on earth and compromise the life chances both of future generations and of people living now in countries poorer than our own. That is not what you or any of us began campaigning for. But as the results of both the German and Japanese experiments demonstrate, it's now clear that this will be the legacy of anti-nuclear campaigning. Please think again before you counteract all the good work you've done on other issues.

You can imagine how this appeal from the heart went down with Simon, who last month was given a conditional discharge of six months for the Hinkley protest and has been putting himself on the physical frontline for years. Describing Monbiot's email as "patronising", he waited a few days and then wrote back with a series of points that the pro-nukers have not so far addressed - like the assertion that the technology demands a stable and continuous technocratic society to exist for centuries, and entrenches power in the hands of a state-protected, unaccountable and ruthless elite.
 

Here's some of his letter:
 
We need more than ever to champion a vision of the kind of creativity which a democratic revolution would rapidly liberate. Nuclear … can give no ultimate assurance of it's safety or its costs. Neither can it demonstrate the kind of long-term resilience which may prove necessary if runaway climate change does, in spite of our efforts, develop. Resilience is to my mind something which we should be designing into our energy production plans now, as the future is so uncertain for our children. Nuclear requires a stable and continuous technocratic society to exist for centuries.

He goes on:
 
[Monbiot and other writers'] public promotions of nuclear have disorientated and disheartened the green movement and the left, while finding a willing audience among the broader middle-class who welcome a chance to salve their guilt about energy-intensive lifestyles with the reassuring news that 'apparently nuclear's OK now, and it's the only way to solve climate change'. You can't really be surprised – or even dismayed - that so many people respond emotively to your propagandising for nuclear. From their point of view you seem to have become a one-man pro-bono PR company! In the letter you just co-authored to Cameron you suggest that nuclear would be a lot cheaper and better by now if Porritt and FoE etc hadn't 'devoted decades' to fighting it. Well they did. Lots of people did. Personally I'm proud of it, even if I regret that our political naivety, coupled with the defeat of working-class representation in that decade, meant that capitalism and it's appetites continued unabated. If we had moved in a more rational direction back then, renewables and other energy options could also have been a lot further developed by now, and the fabled 'energy gap', which you say we need nuclear to fill, might look a lot smaller.

Monbiot, who is offline until April 16 after becoming a new father, has yet to reply.
 

We are starting to get to the heart of what it means to be green today. One vision can justify a corrupt and odious state if it can make an odious technology work to overcome a terrible danger. The other argues that there are far better ways to achieve the same end without the resulting damage to society and the long-term dangers that the technology entails. The questions raised are profoundly difficult and need to be debated, but personal attacks are inflammatory and really help no one.

News
Disillusioned with authorities’ inaction on polluters, communities turn to “people power” Vietnam urged to build water pollution law One-third of Beijing pollution comes from outside the city Environmental laws necessary World must end 'dirty' fuel use
Other News
Tests clear refinery of pollution claims Backers of 340-hectare casino near Barrier Reef deny environment impact Titanium mining exhausts locals, land in central Vietnam Vietnam titanium miner suspended for causing pollution Challenges for Vietnam to reduce CO2 emissions James Lovelock: environmentalism has become a religion Rain could increase river pollution Young artists perform for environmental protection Lao Cai’s people told to evacuate from pollution, but not told where to go Environment violation cases found, but not settled
Focus
Beautification of natural heritage site unseemly t 24/04/2014, 06:58:39 PM (VOV, VietNamNet, dtinews.vn)-Many are upset with the upgrades being done to Nui Doi Mountains, among the most popular tourist attractions in Ha Giang Province, saying that they detract from their natural beauty.
Disillusioned with authorities’ inaction on pollut 24/04/2014, 06:56:49 PM (VietNamNet Bridge )-As local authorities have often been too late or too powerless to deal with environmental pollution, local people have found the need to take matters into their own hands.
Children most vulnerable to climate change: UNICEF 24/04/2014, 06:55:34 PM (VNA)-Children are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change so they must have a voice in limiting the risks, attendees declared at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on April 23.
Attempts made to conserve Bach Ma Park’s biodivers 24/04/2014, 06:54:37 PM (VNA)-Managers of Bach Ma National Park in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue are taking all possible measures to conserve the area’s biodiversity, which is being threatened by human activities.
Regional cooperation needed in climate change adap 23/04/2014, 12:31:05 PM (VNA)-Regional cooperation constitutes an effective solution to coping with climate change and rising sea levels in Vietnam, a symposium in Hanoi heard on April 22.
Most viewed
Illegally logged timber carried day and night across check-points 22/04/2014, 12:43:57 PM (VietNamNet Bridge)-Illegal loggers and timber traders now can easily escape the foreign rangers’ notice and carry illegally cut wood in broad daylight.
Phu Yen's "Village of lost teeth" 22/04/2014, 12:41:18 PM (ANTD, dtinews)-Nearly everyone in a village in the central province of Phu Yen suffer from severe dental problems leading eventually to tooth loss, and they blame it on the water source.
Regional cooperation needed in climate change adaptation 23/04/2014, 12:31:05 PM (VNA)-Regional cooperation constitutes an effective solution to coping with climate change and rising sea levels in Vietnam, a symposium in Hanoi heard on April 22.
The unique animals of U Minh Thuong 23/04/2014, 12:28:55 PM On August 12, 2013, U Minh Thuong National Park (Kien Giang Province) was awarded an ASEAN Heritage Park certificate.
Mekong River nations urged to drop 11 hydropower projects 23/04/2014, 12:29:54 PM (SGT)-The Save the Mekong Coalition has written to the government leaders of the nations in the Mekong River basin to cancel 11 hydropower projects in the Lower Mekong mainstream, saying the dams could impact on the environment, natural recourses, aquatic life and ecological balance of the basin.
HOME  |  ABOUT VFEJ  |  NEWS  |  ENVIRONMENT  |  CLIMATE CRISIS  |  BIODIVERSITY  |  SCIENCE - TECHNOLOGY  |  HEALTH  |  
© Copyright 2007-2011 Vfej.vn
Designed and developed by Ovem!Software
Management Agency: Vietnam Forum of Environmental Journalists
Address: 22/A2, Lane 49, Linh Lang Street, Ba Dinh District, Hanoi-Vietnam
Tel: (84-4) 37628933 - Fax: (84-4) 37628933
Publishing License: No. 513/GP-BC issued on 22/11/2007