Nuclear Power’s Extreme Makeover

Page - November 18, 2005

The nuclear industry is attempting an extreme makeover.  The spin-doctors are trying to repackage the atom's tarnished image and convince a skeptical public and a wary Wall Street that nuclear power is the solution to climate change.  The Bush administration and others in congress will lavish huge government subsidies on nuclear corporations to encourage them to construct new reactors they would never build on their own.  

But this is not the nuclear industry's first facelift.  When the federal government first attempted to sell the public on this most dangerous technology, nuclear power was touted as "too cheap to meter."  However, after the first 75 reactors in the United States resulted in $100 billion in cost overruns, Wall Street and Main Street America abandoned nuclear power. When this financial meltdown was coupled with the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, the industry was forced to cancel almost as much nuclear power as it had constructed.

So the nuclear industry went under the proverbial knife for the first time. Rather than "energy too cheap to meter" the new selling point was that the nuclear industry was the solution to our dependence on foreign oil. The industry propagandists ran ads with photos of middle-eastern dictators implying that if you're afraid of nuclear power, you need to consider the alternative. Well, it didn't work, gasoline is now roughly $2.50 a gallon, and we're importing more oil than ever.

Now, the nuclear industry is attempting to alter its image yet again.  The nuclear corporations have found a new villain to exploit.  They have replaced the Middle Eastern dictators with the threat of climate change. Besides the expense and unresolved waste problems -- and the fact that terrorists could use reactors and spent fuel pools as pre-positioned weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear power will fail to address climate change for the very same reason it has failed to stem the flow of foreign oil. Nuclear power generates electricity and electricity does not power our automobiles.

While nuclear power undergoes yet another facelift, energy efficiency and renewable technologies will continue to provide the best opportunity to slow climate change.  Rather than another extreme makeover, its time to pull the plug on nuclear power, it will never address the threat of climate change and in the process we'll all get burned.

Wasting more money on nuclear power will only exacerbate global warming not solve it.

Greenpeace long ago raised the call to halt global warming and has taken non-violent direct action to help raise awareness and slow climate change. We respect those that share our legitimate concern over global warming. However, those that believe nuclear power has any role to play in addressing global warming are either ill informed or are merely seeking to profit from this global crisis.