With another nuclear company facing accusations of spying on Greenpeace, we’ve got to ask the nuclear industry a question: Dude, you’re 60 years old – isn’t it time you grew up?
In early January 2012 Greenpeace filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors in France asking them to investigate allegations made in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the country’s nuclear giant Areva – the world’s largest nuclear company – commissioned a consultancy firm to spy on Greenpeace’s activities. This news comes in the wake of France’s state electricity company Electricité de France SA (EDF) being fined €1.5 million and ordered to pay €500,000 in damages to Greenpeace in November 2011, after being convicted of spying on us. The four men involved - two of them senior EDF executives - went to jail.
Why would they do this? Well, it’s all about the disparity between how the nuclear industry wants us to see it and the how it actually is. When you read the nuclear comic books (industry press releases and propaganda), Nuclear Power is a squared-jawed superhero with his fists on his hips, staring towards the future and poised to save the world from the evils of climate change. KA-POW! Chill out, global warming! BAM! You’re going down, greenhouse gases!
But beneath the disguise, things aren’t what they seem. Nuclear Power is actually a 60 year-old guy with delusions of grandeur, still living with his mom and dependent on hand outs from her. He’s stinking up the place and is really high maintenance. He has embarrassing accidents that his mom has to clean up for him. Sure, he still straps on his corset and pulls on his tights and ignores his aches and pains to get out there to try and fight but it’s not working. He’s exhausted. He tells anyone who will listen about his former glories and triumphs but they’re looking and sounding a bit dubious nowadays. If he was honest with himself, he’d see that over the years he’s done more harm than good. Is it actually possible he’s been a supervillain all this time?
Not only that but the other younger guys, Solar Power, Wind Turbine and their teams, are racing about, beating evil with ease and making him look bad. The public turn out in the thousands to whistle and cheer whenever they appear. When Nuclear Power shows up they all look uncomfortable and say they have to be somewhere else.
Deep down he knows he’s beat but he can’t admit it. He can’t keep up. He thinks of a world without him and shudders. What can he do? What are Solar Power and Wind Turbine’s team up to now? What will they do next? How can he stop them and regain his glory? He needs to know. So he cheats, he sneaks, and he spies. He tries to stop people talking about the bad things he’s done. Then he gets caught because he’s not as clever as he thinks he is, and he ends up looking even more pathetic.
The nuclear industry needs to wake up to reality; the case for nuclear power should speak for itself but it can’t. If its promise that nuclear power is clean, safe, cheap, and able to fight climate change were true, the industry wouldn’t need to rely on dirty tricks, spin, propaganda, and – yes – criminality to further its agenda.
They say nuclear power, having been around for so long, is a mature industry. Its tactics show it to be anything but mature. Time to grow up, dude.
(Image © Patrik Rastenberger / Greenpeace. Greenpeace activists hold up banners as a protest against the nuclear power plant in Olkiluoto, Finland. The French company AREVA is backing the construction which is five years behind schedule and 3.3 billion euros over budget.)