|Robert Stone behind the camera.|
Environmentalists? Supporting? Nuclear? Energy? Wasn't the environmental community unanimously opposed to nuclear energy?
But what I had begun to see at the time was a growing understanding on the part of a number of thoughtful people about the size and scope of the challenge before mankind. How do you support a world with a growing population that aspires to enjoy the same standard of living that we've grown accustomed to in the developed world? And how do you do it without causing catastrophic damage to the planet?
It's was that conundrum that led environmentalists like Patrick Moore, James Lovelock and the late Rev. Hugh Montefiore to reconsider their position on nuclear energy. What began as a trickle has since become a flood, which is why filmmaker Robert Stone has spent the past several years making Pandora's Promise, a film tracing the journey of five environmentalists as they reconsidered their beliefs about nuclear energy.
Many of the individuals featured in the film will be familiar to the readers of NEI Nuclear Notes. Stewart Brand is the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and one of the leading lights in the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. Richard Rhodes is a journalist well known for his work chronicling the race to build the first atomic bomb. Gwyneth Cravens is an author who cut her teeth fighting the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island in the 1970s. Mark Lynas is a veteran of the U.K. environmental movement who at times has been best known for episodes of bombastic public behavior.
So what can you expect out of Pandora's Promise? As I wrote earlier this week, it was impossible not to be heartened to see nuclear energy talked about in terms of the benefits it delivers instead of its supposed shortcomings, and to see that story be told in such a skillful manner. I think the world has a lot to learn from the five principal figures profiled in the film. It takes a lot of guts to seriously examine your beliefs, and decide, as Brand does near the start of the film, "that everything you thought about nuclear energy was wrong."
The driver for their change of heart, of course, is the fear that rising levels of atmospheric carbon are contributing to potentially calamitous changes in the earth's climate. Here at NEI, we're not climate scientists and have never taken a position on anthropogenic global warming. But like Pandora's gang of five, we've come to the conclusion that if you're looking for a zero emission source of baseload power, then nuclear energy is the only option that fits the bill. As Stone himself said in a post-screening discussion on Monday night in Pleasantville, NY, "To take nuclear out of the equation when we need it most is irresponsible."
Pandora's Promise opened in New York City on Wednesday night, and premieres in 15 other cities nationwide today, with additional screenings being added all the time.