Friday, October 04, 2013

Pandora’s Promise Upside Down

We haven’t mentioned Pandora’s Promise for a while, but the pro-nuclear energy documentary continues chugging around the world and picking up play dates. Its director, Robert Stone, has written a very specific editorial in Australia’s national newspaper, The Age, not about his movie – though he does tout it a bit - but about nuclear energy down under.

Like much of the world, the main fuel that lights Australian homes and powers Australian industry is coal. The difference is that Australia's dependence on coal is nearly double the global average.

That’s actually a good point that one does not see too often. Australia as we’ve noted before is about as anti-nuclear energy as a country could be – with its neighbor New Zealand a close contender – it’s practically an article of faith there. All power to antipodean pro-nuclear activists, but from afar, it seems an intractable position.

But the result has been that the country has exceptionally limited alternatives to its coal plants. It’s become, ironically, an impressive polluter – it’s been working to decrease its emissions, but lately has moved to roll back its efforts.

And Stone makes the point that this has decided consequences:

Australia is particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, as evidenced by the recent drought, heat waves, floods and fires. That so much of the population lives close to the coast makes rising sea levels a concern. Ocean acidification, a direct consequence of CO2 emissions, threatens the Great Barrier Reef. So there's no question that Australians have an interest in tackling this problem. The commitments to renewable energy and carbon trading are examples of the seriousness with which it is being taken. But it's not nearly enough, not by a long shot.

Stone does make the play for Pandora’s Promise:

What if both accidents [in Chernobyl and Fukushima] (horrific as they were) when put into perspective actually prove the opposite of what anti-nuclear groups contend? What if this extraordinarily powerful technology once associated with the existential threat that defined the Cold War, turned out to hold the key to solving the great existential threat of the current era?

Hmmm! Might there be a movie that answers these questions?

Given what must be Stone’s primary objective – selling his movie - this is an impressively good op-ed that makes its case without hyperbole or overly partisan construction. In itself, it makes a good case for him as a filmmaker and as a man who takes very seriously what he documents.

For more on the movie, see NNN’s Unofficial Guide to Pandora’s Promise.

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