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Environment

Green Woo

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It's really a shame that the U.S. environmental community doesn't have anyone with the chops or reputation of George Monbiot, the popular British columnist. Monbiot, who has a high profile perch at the Guardian, combines essential talents for a communicator: He is lucid, engaging, and smart. He is also not afraid to call out his own constituency. For example, Monbiot this year has shredded European greens for their anti-science position on nuclear power, and laid out the implications of this for climate change. (I wrote about his methodical takedowns here.) He's at it again in his latest column, with a damning indictment that begins:

It's a devastating admission to have to make, especially during the climate talks in Durban. But there would be no point in writing this column if I were not prepared to confront harsh truths. This year, the environmental movement to which I belong has done more harm to the planet's living systems than climate change deniers have ever achieved. As a result of shutting down its nuclear programme in response to green demands, Germany will produce an extra 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. That's almost as much as all the European savings resulting from the energy efficiency directive. Other countries are now heading the same way. These decisions are the result of an almost medievel misrepresentation of science and technology. For while the greens are right about most things, our views on nuclear power have been shaped by weapons-grade woo.

The U.S. green movement isn't infected with the same strain of anti-nuclear hysteria (at least not anymore) as its European cousins. But it's still surprising to see baseless nuclear fear-mongering from self-professed champions of science who counsel urgent action on climate change. When it comes to peddling disinformation on risks and harms associated with nuclear power, the anti-nuclear crowd, as Monbiot says in his column, is second to none:

Anti-nuclear campaigners have generated as much mumbo jumbo as creationists, anti-vaccine scaremongers, homeopaths and climate change deniers. In all cases, the scientific process has been thrown into reverse: people have begun with their conclusions, then frantically sought evidence to support them.

Remember, this is coming from a card-carrying environmentalist, who worries as deeply as anyone about the health of the planet and the threats posed to it by climate change. Were there only more like him, speaking truth to green woo.

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