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Monbiot Goes Nuclear

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorApril 5, 2011 4:10 PM


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George Monbiot is on quite a tear. His latest riposte begins:

Over the last fortnight I've made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

Today's unambiguous rebuke to the anti-nuclear wing of the environmental movement (coming on the heels of Monbiot's recent string of pro-nuclear columns) represents a serious challenge to climate advocates who don't support nuclear power as a bridge fuel until renewables can be scaled up to help meet the meet the world's energy needs. Monbiot is also going off the reservation in a way that is reminiscent of this column and this one from two years ago. I agree with Barry Woods that Monbiot has entered "heretic" territory. And one reason for that is that he is providing ammunition for generalizations like this by one commenter at the Guardian site:

It's a interesting double-bind for environmentalists, of course: if large scientific collaborations are corrupt (as is claimed about nuclear) that leaves large scientific collaborations on climate change (which have essentially identical governance and participating institutions) where, exactly? Conversely, if climate change is bolstered by "listen to the science!" then that leaves the nuclear science where, exactly? Watching a man struggle with cognitive dissonance is always amusing, but in this case strangely moving: the first paragraph has the decency to admit that when it came to wild scaremongering, George was in the front ranks.

Monbiot is in for another wild ride this week. This one is going to be interesting.

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