Pro-nuclear movement

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Patrick Moore (environmentalist) in 2009.[1] Moore was opposed to nuclear power in the 1970s [2] but has since come to be in favor of it.[3][4][5] Moore is supported by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and in 2009 he chaired their Clean and Safe Energy Coalition.[6] As chair, he suggested that the public is not as opposed to nuclear energy as they were in decades past.

There are large variations in peoples’ understanding of the issues surrounding nuclear power, including the technology itself, climate change, and energy security. Proponents of nuclear energy contend that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security by decreasing dependence on imported energy sources. Opponents believe that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment.

While nuclear power has historically been opposed by many environmentalist organisations, some support it. In addition, besides organisations, some scientists too support it.


There are large variations in peoples’ understanding of the issues surrounding nuclear power, including the technology itself, climate change, and energy security. There is a wide spectrum of views and concerns over nuclear power[7] and it remains a controversial area of public policy.[8] The debate about nuclear power peaked during the 1970s and 1980s, when it "reached an intensity unprecedented in the history of technology controversies", in some countries.[9][10]

Proponents of nuclear energy contend that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions and increases energy security by decreasing dependence on imported energy sources. Proponents claim that nuclear power produces virtually no conventional air pollution, such as greenhouse gases and smog, in contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel.[11] Proponents claim that the risks of storing waste are small and can be further reduced by using the latest technology in newer reactors, and the operational safety record in the Western world is excellent when compared to the other major kinds of power plants.[12]

Anti-nuclear advocates believe that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment.[13][14][15] These threats include the problems of processing, transport and storage of radioactive nuclear waste, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism, as well as health risks and environmental damage from uranium mining.[16][17] They also contend that reactors themselves are enormously complex machines where many things can and do go wrong; and there have been serious nuclear accidents.[18][19] Critics do not believe that the risks of using nuclear fission as a power source can be fully offset through the development of new technology. They also argue that when all the energy-intensive stages of the nuclear fuel chain are considered, from uranium mining to nuclear decommissioning, nuclear power is neither a low-carbon nor an economical electricity source.[20][21][22]

Lobbying and public relations activities[edit]

Globally, there are dozens of companies with an interest in the nuclear industry, including Areva, BHP Billiton, Cameco, China National Nuclear Corporation, EDF, Iberdrola, Nuclear Power Corporation of India, Ontario Power Generation, Rosatom, TEPCO, and Vattenfall. Many of these companies lobby politicians and others about nuclear power expansion, undertake public relation activities, petition government authorities, as well as influence public policy through referendum campaigns and involvement in elections.[23][24][25][26][27]

The nuclear industry has "tried a variety of strategies to persuade the public to accept nuclear power", including the publication of numerous "fact sheets" that discuss issues of public concern.[28] Nuclear proponents have tried to boost public support by offering newer, safer, reactor designs. These designs include those that incorporate passive safety and Small Modular Reactors. While these reactor designs are intended to inspire support and trust, they may have an unintended effect: creating awareness of older reactors that lack the newer safety features.[29]

Since 2000 the nuclear industry has undertaken an international media and lobbying campaign to promote nuclear power as a solution to the greenhouse effect and climate change.[22] Nuclear power, the industry says, emits negligible amounts of carbon dioxide. However, only reactor operation is free of carbon dioxide emissions. All other stages of the nuclear fuel chain – from uranium mining, to reactor decommissioning and radioactive waste management – use fossil fuels and hence emit carbon dioxide.[22][30][31]

As of 2014, the U.S. nuclear industry has begun a new lobbying effort, hiring three former senators — Evan Bayh, a Democrat; Judd Gregg, a Republican; and Spencer Abraham, a Republican — as well as William M. Daley, a former staffer to President Obama. The initiative is called Nuclear Matters, and it has begun a newspaper advertising campaign.[32]

Organisations supporting nuclear power[edit]

The Nuclear Energy Institute[33] (NEI) is the main lobby group for companies doing nuclear work in the USA, while most countries that employ nuclear energy have a national industry group. The World Nuclear Association is the only global trade body. In seeking to counteract the arguments of nuclear opponents, it points to independent studies that quantify the costs and benefits of nuclear energy and compares them to the costs and benefits of alternatives. NEI sponsors studies of its own, but it also references studies performed for the World Health Organisation,[34] for the International Energy Agency,[35] and by university researchers.[36]

The United States generates about 18% of its electricity from nuclear power plants. Nuclear engineers in this field generally work, directly or indirectly, in the nuclear power industry or for national laboratories. Current research in the industry is directed at producing economical, proliferation-resistant reactor designs with passive safety features. Although government labs research the same areas as industry, they also study a myriad of other issues such as nuclear fuels and nuclear fuel cycles, advanced reactor designs, and nuclear weapon design and maintenance. A principal pipeline for trained personnel for US reactor facilities is the Navy Nuclear Power Program. The job outlook for nuclear engineering from the year 2012 to the year 2022 is predicted to grow 9% due to many elder nuclear engineers retiring, safety systems needing to be updated in power plants, and the advancements made in nuclear medicine.[38]

Individuals supporting nuclear power[edit]

Some people, including former opponents of nuclear energy, say that nuclear energy is necessary for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. These individuals include James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hypothesis, Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace and former director of Greenpeace International, George Monbiot and Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog.[39][40] Lovelock goes further to refute claims about the danger of nuclear energy and its waste products.[41] In a January 2008 interview, Moore said that "It wasn't until after I'd left Greenpeace and the climate change issue started coming to the forefront that I started rethinking energy policy in general and realised that I had been incorrect in my analysis of nuclear as being some kind of evil plot."[42] Such individuals (aka "Nuclear Greens"[43]) include:


James Edward Hansen
Prof. Barry W. Brook


Open letter signatories

The following is a list of people that signed the open letter:[80]

Future prospects[edit]

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, located in France, is the world's largest and most advanced experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor project. A collaboration between the European Union (EU), India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States, the project aims to make a transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to electricity-producing fusion power plants. However, the World Nuclear Association says that nuclear fusion "presents so far insurmountable scientific and engineering challenges".[82] Construction of the ITER facility began in 2007, but the project has run into many delays and budget overruns. The facility is now not expected to begin operations until the year 2027 – 11 years after initially anticipated.[83]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ TEDxVancouver - Patrick Moore - 11/21/09 on YouTube
  2. ^ Patrick Moore, Assault on Future Generations, Greenpeace report, p47-49, 1976 - pdf [1]
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  4. ^ The Nuclear Environmentalist 18 December 2009
  5. ^ "Interview with Italian Nuclear Energy advocacy group Atomi per la Pace". 
  6. ^ Nuclear Energy Institute article
  7. ^ Sustainable Development Commission. Public engagement and nuclear power
  8. ^ Sustainable Development Commission. Is Nuclear the Answer? p. 12.
  9. ^ Herbert P. Kitschelt (1986). "Political Opportunity and Political Protest: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Four Democracies" (PDF). British Journal of Political Science 16 (1): 57. 
  10. ^ Falk, Jim (1982). Global Fission: The Battle Over Nuclear Power. Melbourne: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-554315-5. 
  11. ^ Patterson, Thom (2013-11-03). "Climate change warriors: It's time to go nuclear". CNN. 
  12. ^ Bernard L. Cohen (1990). The Nuclear Energy Option: An Alternative for the 90s. New York: Plenum Press. ISBN 978-0-306-43567-6. 
  13. ^ Share. "Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina". Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  14. ^ "Nuclear Power". Nc Warn. Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  15. ^ Sturgis, Sue. "Investigation: Revelations about Three Mile Island disaster raise doubts over nuclear plant safety". Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  16. ^ Greenpeace International and European Renewable Energy Council (January 2007). Energy Revolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook, p. 7.
  17. ^ Giugni, Marco (2004). Social Protest and Policy Change: Ecology, Antinuclear, and Peace Movements.
  18. ^ Benjamin K. Sovacool. The costs of failure: A preliminary assessment of major energy accidents, 1907–2007, Energy Policy 36 (2008), pp. 1802-1820.
  19. ^ Stephanie Cooke (2009). In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, Black Inc., p. 280.
  20. ^ Kurt Kleiner. Nuclear energy: assessing the emissions Nature Reports, Vol. 2, October 2008, pp. 130-131.
  21. ^ Mark Diesendorf (2007). Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy, University of New South Wales Press, p. 252.
  22. ^ a b c Mark Diesendorf. Is nuclear energy a possible solution to global warming? Archived July 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "markd" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  23. ^ Leo Hickman (28 November 2012). "Nuclear lobbyists wined and dined senior civil servants, documents show". The Guardian. 
  24. ^ Diane Farseta (September 1, 2008). "The Campaign to Sell Nuclear". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. pp. 38–56. 
  25. ^ Jonathan Leake. "The Nuclear Charm Offensive" New Statesman, 23 May 2005.
  26. ^ Union of Concerned Scientists. Nuclear Industry Spent Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Over the Last Decade to Sell Public, Congress on New Reactors, New Investigation Finds News Center, February 1, 2010.
  27. ^ Nuclear group spent $460,000 lobbying in 4Q Business Week, March 19, 2010.
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  29. ^ M. V. Ramana (July 2011). "Nuclear power and the public". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. p. 48. 
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  31. ^ Mark Diesendorf (2007). Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy, University of New South Wales Press, p. 252.
  32. ^ Matthew Wald (April 27, 2014). "Nuclear Industry Gains Carbon-Focused Allies in Push to Save Reactors". New York Times. 
  33. ^ Nuclear Energy Institute website
  34. ^ Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health: Budapest, Hungary, 23–25 June 2004
  35. ^ Executive Summary
  36. ^ Ari Rabl and Mona. Dreicer, Health and Environmental Impacts of Energy Systems. International Journal of Global Energy Issues, vol.18(2/3/4), 113-150 (2002)
  37. ^ NFF
  38. ^ "Nuclear Engineers – Job Outlook" in Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014–15. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor
  39. ^ Environmental Heresies
  40. ^ An Early Environmentalist, Embracing New ‘Heresies’
  41. ^ James Lovelock
  42. ^ [3]
  43. ^ Robert Bryce (Winter 2013). "Rise of the Nuclear Greens". City Journal. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  44. ^ James Hansen (3 December 2015). "Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  45. ^ James Lovelock (24 May 2004). "Nuclear power is the only green solution". The Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  46. ^ David MacKay (March 2012). A reality check on renewables. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  47. ^ Mackay, David (2009). Sustainable Energy: Without the Hot Air. UIT Cambridge. ISBN 0-9544529-3-3. 
  48. ^ David Sheff (March 1983). "A candid conversation with America’s "photographer laureate" and environmentalist about art, natural beauty and the unnatural acts of Interior Secretary James Watt.". Playboy. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  49. ^ "Nuclear power's time has come". CNN. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  50. ^ a b c d e f Pandora's Promise at the Internet Movie Database. Specifically credited are Brand, Cravens, Lynas, Rhodes, and Shellenberger.
  51. ^ Carol Browner (5 May 2014). "If You're Concerned About Climate Change, You Should Support Nuclear Power". Forbes. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  52. ^ "To Carol Browner, Nuclear More Than Just Matters – It’s Essential". Breakthrough Institute. 27 May 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  53. ^ Cravens, Gwyneth (2007). Power to Save the World. New York: First Vintage Books. 
  54. ^ "2015 Emerging Explorers » Leslie Dewan, Nuclear Engineer". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 14 June 2015. At the most fundamental level I'm an environmentalist. I'm doing this because I think nuclear power is the best way of producing large amounts of carbon-free electricity. I think the world needs nuclear power, alongside solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal, if we want to have any hope of reducing fossil fuel emissions and preventing global climate change. 
  55. ^ Chris Goodall (23 February 2009). "The green movement must learn to love nuclear power". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  56. ^ Babs McHugh (20 Jun 2014). "Environmentalist argues in favour of nuclear power". ABC Online. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  57. ^ Margi Kindig (17 Feb 2016). "The promise of nuclear power". JSOnline. Retrieved 20 Feb 2016. 
  58. ^ Keith Kloor (21 Oct 2013). "Bjørn Lomborg: The resilient environmentalist". Cosmos (magazine). Retrieved 3 February 2015. 
  59. ^ "Nuclear power support from former sceptic Mark Lynas". BBC. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  60. ^ Mark Lynas thinking the unthinkable on nuclear power on YouTube
  61. ^ George Monbiot (21 March 2011). "Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power". Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  62. ^ Hugh Montefiore (22 October 2004). "We need nuclear power to save the planet from looming catastrophe". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2013.  Note, an expanded version of the same essay was printed the next day: Hugh Montefiore (23 October 2004). "Why the planet needs nuclear energy". The Tablet. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  63. ^ Patrick Moore (16 April 2006). "Going Nuclear". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  64. ^ Jonathan Miller (12 May 2016). "Lund debate focuses on nuclear power, climate change". Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  65. ^ a b "Breakthrough! Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute Discuss "Climate McCarthyism" And Why They Now Support Nuclear Power". Energy Tribune. 20 November 2009. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  66. ^ John Vidal (10 April 2012). "Vicious words mark the war between pro and anti-nuclear environmentalists". Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  67. ^ Jogalekar, Ashutosh (July 23, 2013). "Richard Rhodes on the Need for Nuclear Power". Scientific American. 
  68. ^ Fiona Harvey (3 May 2012). "Nuclear power is only solution to climate change, says Jeffrey Sachs". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  69. ^ Kate Breimann (30 April 2013). "Environmentalists Go Pro-Nuclear in 'Pandora's Promise' Trailer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  70. ^ Steve Connor (23 February 2009). "Nuclear power? Yes please...". The Independent. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  71. ^ Former Greenpeace/UK Executive Director Stephen Tindale on nuclear power and renewable energy on YouTube
  72. ^ Bryony Worthington (4 July 2011). "Why thorium nuclear power shouldn't be written off". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  73. ^ Leigh Dayton (10 March 2010). "James Hansen keen on next-generation nuclear power". The Australian. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  74. ^ James Hansen on nuclear power on YouTube
  75. ^ Thom Patterson (3 November 2013). "Climate change warriors: It's time to go nuclear". CNN. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  76. ^ Ken Caldeira; Kerry Emanuel; James Hansen & Tom Wigley (3 November 2013). "Top climate change scientists' letter to policy influencers". CNN. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  77. ^ "Aussie scientists dominate global energy talks". ABC News (Australia). 7 June 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  78. ^ Steve Connor (4 January 2015). "Nuclear power is the greenest option, say top scientists". The Independent. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  79. ^ Barry W. Brook & Corey J. A. Bradshaw (15 December 2014). "An Open Letter to Environmentalists on Nuclear Energy". Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  80. ^ as of the most recent access date, Brook and Bradshaw's letter had an additional 75 signatories; only those with biographical Wikipedia articles are displayed here however.
  81. ^ Ove Hoegh-Guldberg & Eric McFarland (30 June 2014). "Let’s go nuclear, for the reef’s sake". The Australian. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  82. ^ World Nuclear Association (2005). "Nuclear Fusion Power". 
  83. ^ W Wayt Gibbs (30 December 2013). "Triple-threat method sparks hope for fusion". Nature. 

Further reading[edit]