The majority of articles about nuclear power are still centered around a rosy future as a climate-busting, jobs-providing cornerstone of any energy policy. And the majority of politicians in countries where nuclear power still holds sway continue to support it. Why do we let them? Because they think we want them to. As linguistic and messaging guru, George Lakoff, so often repeats: “Voters don’t vote their self-interest. They vote their values.” So when a nuclear company, or a politician, trumpets instant, well-paying jobs, voters line up to support it too. No matter that nuclear jobs are not likely to be instant, safe or long-lasting, will destroy the environment and do nothing for climate change — and even, in the case of promised new nuclear plants like Summer in South Carolina or Wylfa-B in Wales, may never materialize at all. A boost to the local economy is a good soundbite. Why look behind the arras, only to find nothing there? But when the media looks behind the nuclear arras they find small modular reactors, micro reactors, “new generation” reactors, and the perpetual promise of fusion. And they interpret this as news, even though none of these reactor designs are new and fusion has been decades away for, well, decades. These “new” nuclear developments are also often reported on as if they are actually happening. Such overstatements are routinely exposed in the annual World Industry Status Report, (a veritable Bible of empirical data, with the 2020 edition just released last week), which looks into the substance of such breaking news and finds it is almost always aspirational. Take a closer look and it is all about plans, not reality. The same with alleged turncoats. The media love them. So we get Zion Lights, a refugee from Extinction Rebellion UK, who is getting plenty of ink and headlines for her new found pro-nuclear delusions. She has positioned herself as an ex-co-leader of XR, a false claim the movement has corrected in a thorough takedown of Lights and her boss, Michael Shellenberger, which we published last week. But even though XR isn’t officially anti-nuclear — because the movement avoids platforms and positions of every kind — Lights is lapped up by the media as someone who saw the light and embraced nuclear power. Despite the fact that her prior affiliation with XR is no indication that she was ever, genuinely, and certainly not officially, anti-nuclear at all.
Beyond Nuclear 5th Oct 2020 read more »