Monday, October 19, 2009

What Environmentalists Know

Ken Edelstein over at Mother Nature News acknowledges that what we might call “classic” environmentalists, those raised on the Whole Earth Catalog and the No Nukes concerts, might have a bit of a problem.

How much less politically radioactive nuclear power has become was underscored Oct. 11 in a Sunday New York Times op-ed co-written by Sen. John Kerry. As Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor and then as senator, the Democrat was a vocal foe of the Seabrook nuclear power plant, then under construction in neighboring New Hampshire. He remains an environmental darling -- the climate-change bill co-author tasked with rounding up Senate supporters of the historic legislation.

Then, what about the fact that Kerry did co-write that editorial? Is it a sign of breaking faith?

The NYT op-ed generated buzz because Kerry wrote it with a Republican colleague, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. It signaled that some Republicans actually might support a climate bill this year if it contained significant compromises, and that Democrats might agree to such compromises to get the bill passed.

A lot of those compromises have to do with nukes.

Well, that’s a bit round about. More likely, Kerry saw that climate change legislation has no chance of achieving its goals without nuclear energy. Both EPA and EIA have concluded this. But Edelstein is right that climate change certitude is wreaking havoc upon the zeal that powers the anti-nuclear movement. These are bright folks and scientific consensus does speak to their interest.

Other environmental groups shouldn’t be described exactly as pro-nuke, but they are keeping their options open. The Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists -- all highly respected organizations with a strong bent toward research and policies -- have said they’re at least willing to consider nuclear energy as part of broader legislation.

Well, if you’re of a mind, that’s a bucket of cold water in the face. It’s like watching dominos topple.

Sadly, even Edelstein’s efforts to restore nuclear energy to its proper sinister place in the pantheon of evil seem a bit half-hearted.

With the start of this year’s National Hockey League season, NEI struck a sponsorship deal with the Washington Capitals; there’s nothing like rink-side signs that say “Clean Air Energy” to get your message across to members of Congress who happen to be hockey fans.

It gets “the message across to members” of environmental groups, too, which might be a cause for alarm. Nuclear energy has been the fear trigger for so long that we get why it would be tough to let go of it – we held onto our Amiga computer way too long, like a piece of ourselves we didn’t want amputated – but sooner or later, reality trumps all.

No comments: